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June 2011

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‘Margaret Merril’, ‘English Miss’ and a new stone wall

June is normally the month of the rose, not so this year, at least not in this garden. Our roses took an awful hammering in the winter. We will have to wait until July to see flowers on those that are recovering. I am not sure what approach to take in the rose garden. It is the only mildly formal bit of what is a country garden and if all the roses don't recover, the symmetry of this space will be spoiled. Rose

If we are to replace the dead roses, we will have to change the soil in order to avoid so called rose sickness - new rose bushes don't thrive when planted into soil where roses have been growing previously. We have three rose beds in this area. I'm pretty sure - well I'm hoping - the beds planted with Rosa ‘Silver Jubilee' and R. ‘Just Joey' will be fine.

The bed of ‘Margaret Merril' however is not so good. I made the mistake of under-planting them with hellebores. The hellebores thrived at the expense of the roses and contributed to their decline. I think I will have to take out all the hellebores and the remaining weak ‘Margaret Merril', change the soil and start again with new strong plants. I am also wondering if I might mix the pale pink ‘English Miss' with the white ‘Margaret Merril'.

I know that a bed with all the same variety looks the best but I think the pink and white would work. I got a present of ‘English Miss' in April and that is what set me off in the direction of the mix. On the other hand I might just go for a complete change and just use all ‘English Miss' variety, which has a delightful silver-pink fragrant blossom and is very healthy. It will take me a while yet to make the decision.

Thirty years ago when we knew no better we planted a Leyland cypress hedge. We kept it cut but it was always threatening to overwhelm us. It was not in the best of health going into the winter and, lo and behold, it died. Among all the devastation in the garden after the winter, the demise of this hedge was the only cause for celebration. We had talked many times of taking it out. It would be costly to remove and what would we put in its place? I had long dreamed of replacing it with a dry stone wall. Now we have no choice and I am going to get my wall. I can't tell you how much this pleases me. This again is going to take some time but what fun I'm going to have researching what to plant in that wall when it is built

Along with all this scheming and dreaming, we have been busy. Earlier in the year we marked and labelled a lot of the daffodils in the beds. Now we are lifting and planting them in drifts in many of the grassy areas throughout the garden. They were becoming overcrowded in the beds and were not flowering as well as they should have. The potatoes are growing and the peas look great and we are already eating young spinach.

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