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July 2006

Clematis montana proved indisputably dead, as did the Chondropetalum; a few things did not appear, but I have not given up hope for next year - and most of the plants did remarkably well, despite the hot dry weather.

With a hose pipe ban since the beginning of April, watering became a daily ritual, up and down the garden with a pair of watering cans, muttering...

Watering the front garden - less frequent as plants are in the ground rather than in pots or raised beds - was even more ridiculous. I 'extended' the tap, by way of the hosepipe, through to the front, to save wasting water by slopping it from full cans. I then let one can fill while I emptied the other - often right next to the can being filled! Of course, until we get an actual drought order, I can use a hosepipe to fill my swimming pool or hot tub (if I had them) as often as I wish, or even wash buildings, but even my neighbour (in her 80s), whose back garden is entirely given over to growing vegetables, has to water it all with a watering can.

Despite the heat, and partly because of it, I had plans for the garden. It wasn't possible to leave doors and larger windows open because the cats would have been out and about, earning themselves ASBOs round the neighbourhood. There were three possible answers - wire screens for doors and windows, a wired area at the back, with a door to the rest of the garden, or wire the whole lot in.

With a garden this size the decision was quite easy, plans were made with the friend who was going to do the bulk of the work and I started ordering the larger ingredients. When it had all arrived the work started - unfortunately coinciding with the hottest July on record!

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The timber was laid out, measured and cut. The uprights were attached firmly to the pillars and the cross-pieces at the narrow end of the garden were raised and fixed.

After consultation it was decided that the trellis would be reattached on the neighbours' sides so that the view was similar to what they were used to.

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This necessitated rather a lot of careful unknitting of Clematis and the other climbers - some were more cooperative than others! However, the trellis came down and the wire started to go up. The wire was even less cooperative than the Clematis, but it got bent into shape whether it liked it or not.
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Pots were moved around to keep them out of the way , trellis was moved around (carefully, so it didn't disintegrate) and rolls of wire were a major feature.

One side was completed, then the end part was completely wired over. In between holding lengths of wire I re-knitted the Clematis and friends onto their new home, encouraging them to climb upwards before they spread sideways.

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More climbers were detached, the trellis came down on the other side and the posts went up. I dug up and rehomed the Chaenomeles and Mahonia (the Pyracantha at the end had already been evicted and was, apparently, flourishing in its new home).

The wire, then the trellis, went up on the other side with great care, avoiding all of next door's vegetables. The pots were moved back into place, climbers were woven over the wire and the garden began to look more normal again.

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The little greenhouse could have been a hazard and/or escape route for the cats; it had been seriously under-used since I moved in - mainly to store empty pots, for which there was plenty of space in the garage. It was dismantled and left with my friend, giving more space to rearrange the garden - and a gap for me to buy yet another Clematis.
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The 'water feature' (waiting for me to sort out a non-immersed pump which could be run on solar panels) moved to a rather better position and the seat moved round a bit so I could actually use the little steps if I wished to.
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The Wistaria has been moved further up the garden, where I am encouraging it to grow along the first cross-piece: so far, it is cooperating. Many of the climbers are very happy with the new arrangement - the Passiflora particularly so: I wind new tendrils into place at least once a day. Others were less happy about being disturbed but seem to be recovering.

With luck the wire, which is not too obvious anyway, will end up almost covered with a green screen, with flowers in various places throughout the year. Even if it does not, life is much more pleasant in the hot weather with doors and windows open. There is even a wire screen door for the lean-to so that can get ventilation even when the rest of the house is shut up.

The cats are enjoying the garden - even if the garden is less sure about enjoying the attention of the cats!


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