Monday, March 21, 2016

My new toy, or how not to plan a rose bed

This weekend I have done the work of a small mechanical digger.
And now I have a new rose border.

My husband ‘bought’ me some rose bushes for my birthday in November.
Winter is the perfect time for planting bare root roses. 
Bingo, this could have been a text book enterprise.

Way back last June our good intentions were firmly intact. 
We visited some gardens with splendid roses. We inhaled their unrivalled perfume, made notes, took photos. 
We searched the internet when we got home... and were overwhelmed by a thousand choices.

But first things first, there was the ground to prepare. Perennials to move, weeds to eradicate, mulch to spread. 
Well, that’s a breeze to postpone!
My birthday came and went and still we looked out on a tangle of seed heads and choking tendrils.   

Fast forward to March and I’m in a spin.
Not wanting to let the year pass without my roses materialising I contacted a lovely garden designer friend Kate.

“Please tell us we’re not too late to order some bare root roses?”

Her supplier had a limited choice in our preferred colours and types. Perfect. That made choosing so much easier. 

And the border?

I ripped through it in a weekend with ‘my’ amazing new toy, a long handled grubbing hoe, or azada that I bought my husband for ‘his’ birthday. 
With the correct relaxed arm swing, the blade slices deftly into the soil. So much easier than the back bending, wrist jarring action of a conventional fork or spade. 
I might have tackled the job much sooner if I’d known about such things. 
Go on, put one on your birthday wish list.

Oh, the banana skins? 
Sloppy couldn’t-care-less labourer?

Kate’s tip of the week... pop one in the planting hole of each rose, they’ll love the potassium.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


There’s no plan that can handle the vagaries of March
Sicilian proverb

One day the sun is bright, the air is brisk and I can be tempted into the garden. The velvet grey pussy willow buds are dusted with yellow pollen and the birds are frantic in their song.

Then it rains again. The pond level rises, the drive is more puddle than gravel, I have to make the dash from studio to the house with an old towel draped over my head and the front door won’t open without a forceful jab from the hip. Gardening is reduced to cosseting tomato and cucumber seedlings on the windowsill. They cheer me up.

When the sky clears it’s a different story altogether. The hedges glisten with swollen rosy buds and the occasional burst of spring green. Wispy blades of winter wheat and barley shimmer to the horizon and I can hear the skylarks high over head.

And if it rains again at the weekend? 
I’ll be content to stay indoors, I’ve got 4 kilos of oranges to turn into marmalade. 
Carpe diem.