Saturday, September 07, 2013

New term

In a fruitless effort to find the pruning saw (it was in the kitchen, under the cat treats) I discovered that we've had a nice little crop of damsons this year. I've had more fruitful years but they've always included a large percentage of wastage. This year I got down a few pounds of nice, show-quality damsons so I'll have to have a bit of a worry about doing something useful with them (I'm thinking perhaps a damson cobbler).

A few weeks ago I cut back all the dead bits off the old flowering currant at the bottom of the garden, revealing that the old currant's gone the way of the great wardrobe spider and that a couple of layered shoots have taken nicely just in front of the original. This has them competing a bit with the damson and a couple of self-sown Cotoneaster. I'll grub out the Cotoneaster as they're not bringing a lot to the party, not even very much in the way of berries. Once I've done that I'll put a heavy mulch over most of the area, taking a bit of care around the hellebores' evergreen leaves and a bit less care where the hardy geraniums will have died down for the winter.

The pruning saw was for the first stage in my "tidying up that hazel tree," The Small Object of Desire's way of saying: "Chop most of that down." I'd already decided that it was time to do a bit of coppicing; I'd last done it five years ago. And I'm not so worried about losing a year's crop of hazels as the squirrel only left the one on the bush (and a huge pile of hazel shells in the back border). So I've taken down the first couple of dozen two-year-old pea sticks and a couple of four-year-old trunks. This involved finding new homes for some red admiral chrysalises (chrysalides?) which puzzles me rather as the nearest nettles are a couple of hundred yards away.

Cutting back the hazel is just one component of this summer's effort at resurrecting the patio. I've cleared out most of the old pots, which had become a bit tatty and haphazardly-supplied with various species of willowherbs, dismantled the relict rose trellis and tidied up most of the paving. I've decided that the marjoram, lemon balm and self-sown black violets can stay but the flag irises (I know, I know) will have to go (I have a home planned for them) and some of the more thuggish elements of the hardy geraniums will need curbing quite a bit. All this will please The Small Object no end as she has a dream of being able to sit on the patio playing tennis with The Cat I Do Not Have.

I've not told her yet that I'm planning on a buying splurge on new plants for the bottom of the garden...