The big snag about being away for nearly 5 weeks at this time of year? It’s the weed world domination situation. When we left there were, of course, small signs of the usual suspects breaking out all over the place- but 4 weeks plus of sun and rain, and whoopee, they are romping home in large numbers and are knee-high in some more pampered corners. I am normally tranquil about weeding actually, as I take the view that I weed only a few times a year in the cooler months, and then rely on very tough plants to tower over any remaining weeds and basically smother them. On the whole, this works, and it disturbs the soil less and I am not that garden-proud that cardiac arrest sets in if I see a dandelion. Just as well, actually. But I have to say that, right now, tranquility has evaporated.
Yes, my spirit was a little shaken when I returned and met the reality of my absence face-on. What would have been a case of gradually getting on top of things early was now too little, too late- and what I needed was arm-to-arm combat. So, that’s why I am sitting here, as it is bucketing outside, with soreness in the shoulders, wrists and the right hip- I am so right-handed in every way. It’s been a unrelenting job for the last week and I have probably another 4-5 days to go, not to mention that one big area has a nesting blackbird with 3 babies in it, so it is on maternity leave for the moment.
But some things rise above the mundane. Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’ is a lovely thing at the time of year, with arched branches weighed down by over-the-top custard yellow blossoms, a bit like a fuchsia on speed. I have another one, much bigger, but it needs rescuing from a badly over-planted area by the front gate, and I need a bloke with a serious digger to move a palm tree at the same time- so this probably means next early Spring, not now. But the second Sophora, having started out as a 1 foot weakling 5 years ago is now as tall as me, and in very good shape. It does nothing much for the rest of the year, but this Spring display is so sumptuous that it deserves a rest.
Last year, on a walk with friends, I came across a clump of the most gorgeous double, fringed anemone- and I spent months trying to find bulbs online, at vast expense- well, E30 for 3 teeny bulbs seemed a lot to me. Once grown in many country gardens in France, Anemone x fulgens Multipetala is now really rare- probably because as it shows hardly any growth outwith the flowering season of March to end April approximately, it would be very easy to disturb and rip out thinking that nothing is there. It is showstoppingly lovely- fringed and tousled in a brilliant red that shines. So, I am really pleased to have a couple of flowers per bulb for the first year. I have planted it near a Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Tiny Wine’, whose emerging foliage is a deep plum colour- a happy accident as I had forgotten the spring Physocarpus colouring.
And, whilst our daffodils and tulips are splendid- there is something very entrancing about the tinyness and delicacy of an Epimedium. I only have a couple of clumps in the dampest, shadiest bit of the garden. I don’t cut the foliage to show the flowers better, it seems to me to be too much like hairdressing, and it is beguiling suddenly finding the flowers hiding themselves. Here are the two that I have, somewhat abashed by the breeze and the heavy rain…