July 31st, 1997
Unfortunately, the summery March was followed by some very hard frosts. Plants that had been fooled into putting on some soft early growth got zapped - in some cases fatally. Of course, the weeds and brambles were not set back in the slightest.
Since then we have had some very hot dry weather and some gloriously wet weather - moderation has not been the order of the day - and the weeds have loved it.
I tidied up the patio and crazy paving area yet again. The Sisyrinchiums had gone mad and I pulled out vast clumps after they had flowered, but there are still plenty left.
The Lily of the Valley had also progressed even further under the paving, poking up between the stones in a lovely fragrant display.
Fuchsia magellanica alba, all the better for being pruned back to a stump, is flowering exuberantly in its pot.
Clematis cirrhosa balearica and "Freckles" flowered for months and have now been followed by C.florida sieboldii and C.glauca akebioides against the wall.
One easy-care part of the garden is the water feature: I added the copper "leaf" cascade last month (after a rather expensive visit to the Hampton Court show) so the water now trickles down five leaves before tumbling down the three bowls.
The sound of the water, plus the two different wind-chimes (and the higher wind-chime next door) go so well with the restful green, especially after a busy day.
There are times when I really need this tranquility! The garden wildlife is getting out of hand. The birds are fine, especially as there are far fewer pigeons since the woman who used to feed them next door moved away: prior to that all the pigeons in the neighbourhood came here for a quick snack while they waited for their main course.
The grasshoppers half-way down the garden chirp delightfully on a sunny day, I enjoy the wide variety of butterflies (even the Cabbage Whites - I don't grow cabbages!) and I am very pleased to have the frogs and toads although I think there are fewer than there were. I have no real objection to the squirrels either - they do little damage and it is quite easy to pull up the excess oaks and chesnuts they have planted. I quite enjoy their raucous arguments with the magpies.
But the foxes think they own the place and look most affronted when I tell them to b.... off. It isn't just the holes they dig, although that is bad enough in the middle of a flower bed, or the bits of half-eaten dead bird they leave around - it's the extra damage they do for the sheer fun of it. I really do not believe that they thought the garden hose was a snake, but I now have to arrange it carefully half way down, so that the added sprinkler caused by their little perforations does something useful instead of soaking the path.
They also demolished a bag of bark top dressing; I could understand them wanting to open it to see what was inside, and possibly to scatter it - but to tear the bag to pieces all over the garden was just sheer bloody-mindedness. I suspect they are also responsible for the reduction in the rest of the wildlife, so I really do wish they would move away, but as fast as I block one earth they open up another.
I may now have hedgehogs as well although I have not seen them for a few days. One was a youngster brought in by a well-meaning person who had seen its mother squashed on the road and thought it was not safe to leave it - it will probably be squashed on a different road now instead, but at least it had sense enough to curl up when approached. The other one was a different matter: it is a bit disconcerting to wander out into the garden to be approached, at speed, by a small spiky object demanding food. I walked - it followed and nuzzled my toes, I suggested it should try a slug or two - it refused. I explained that hedgehogs have to earn their keep by keeping the slugs down, and left it to it. I suspect it has now moved on to find someone it can bully into feeding it. (I haven't found any bits of half-demolished hedgehog, so I hope the foxes didn't get it.)
I never have the camera handy when the wild-life is being interesting, but maybe one day I will and you will see pictures of some of it here.
In the meantime you will have to put up with the bronze guinea-fowl, perched on the patio wall among the thymes.
Beneath him, at the base of the little wall the Cyclamen hederifolium album have just opened - very early.
Usually, by the time they appear the Convallaria leaves have all died back, but not this year. With this year's odd weather there are some very confused plants around!
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