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August 2011

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Cardiocrinum breaks, Cornus kousa, choosing roses and digging daffodils

I hate the wind - it is the most destructive force in the garden. Just as I was getting over the loss of the oak tree, Quercus dentata ‘Karl Ferris Millar', I had to contend with the breaking in two of what promised to be the tallest and best of my stand of giant Himalayan lily, Cardiocrinum giganteum. When one has waited seven years for the cardiocrinum to flower, it is a bitter blow to lose two at the point of flowering. The other seven flowered beautifully and are now sporting their majestic seed heads. I also have to report that the replacement oak, planted in Sept last year, died in the winter while I was in Australia. If I had been at home I would have covered it so I shall have to try again. Such are the trials of gardening but, of course, next year will be better. August

The wall to replace the lost Leyland hedge has been built. We filled the stump holes and hollows with compost and leaf mould from many heaps stashed all over the garden. We emptied every bin and heap and it wasn't enough, so we had to get a load of topsoil. We decided to let it settle all summer before planting it in the autumn. Loose soil will settle quite a bit and we will top it up again before final planting. At the moment the plan is to put two Cornus kousa at either end of the wall. I am going to go for plain Cornus kousa because I really like its small flowers. The flowers of kousa may be smaller than others, like ‘Eddies White Wonder', but they crowd the branches and they fade to a glorious pink.

Next we will fill the wall space with English roses and maybe add some catmint between the roses. I'm not sure of the catmint plan, because, many years ago I under-planted the rose variety ‘Margaret Merrill' with hellebores and that proved to be a disaster. The hellebores took over to the detriment of the rose and so that bed has to be completely renewed this autumn. I have to add that this plan for the wall is not set in stone and could change again, as it has many times already. But the planning is the real fun bit of gardening.

We also moved a lot of daffodils. They had multiplied hugely in the borders and the dying foliage was becoming unsightly. Digging up hundreds of bulbs is no bother, but is there any more tedious and backbreaking job than replanting them? It will take us all of September to get them in. I know I'll feel different when they flower in the spring, if the back holds out. The dying foliage of the daffs should cause us no trouble in their new home between the apple trees.
I am now enjoying the sweet pea that I planted, very late, this year. Well, truth be told, the first planting failed. I think I'll plant them late in future. They are really more welcome now as they have less competition.



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