Sometimes it seems like I get nothing done in the garden and it’s all pretty much as when we bought the summer house two years ago, so I think it’s sometimes important to go back and see what has happened:
We got the drainage installed in 2011 after a late summer in 2010 that saw the above scenario repeated again and again. A drain pipe was dug down in a large circle around the house, two strings that converged in a shallow cleaning well near where this picture was taken and in a deeper pumping well at the back of the house.
The pump, though, has proven more or less unnecessary; the mere fact of the digging having pierced the thick layer of pure clay that lies 8″ under the soil level seems to have made it possible for the water to soak into the ground without us needing to pump it into the small stream at the back of the house.
The Ambitious Border is still very much a work in progress; I nearly finished weeding it this weekend, though I took a break on Sunday because my back was aching, my shoulders were sore and I was generally tired. Still, it is now possible to see the perennials that I planted over the past two years, and there is the promise that they will fill out the border and turn it into the lushness of the dreams I harbour…
Still, it so far houses plants from my parents’ garden, the Flâneur Husband’s grandparents’ allotment, my grandparents’ garden as well as plants from the courtyard by my old apartment. It’s not really meant to be a “heritage border”, but these recycled plants are just so lovely as well as being proven performers in the Danish climate.
Apart from The Ambitious Border, the Sunny Border (newly carved from the lawn) is perhaps the most ambitious bed in the garden; whereas The Ambitious Border was sort of just thrown together more or less on top of the lawn, the Sunny Border is dug down into the lawn, the soil fluffed and mixed with compost to create perhaps the best soil in the garden so far.
The main part of it is dedicated to dahlias this year, though of course that might change next year, but the bed is marked at either end by perennials; Japanese anemone (or is it Chinese? I can never remember… I actually have an easier time remembering that it’s anemone hypehensis!) at one end, and blood iris (oddly enough also known as Japanese iris… I sense an accidental Asian theme!) backed by red L.D. Braithwaite roses. The honeysuckle, perennial sweet peas and a single clematis bring up the rear of the border.
The Sunny Border is on the South-Western side of the covered terrace, and on the North-Western side is the Evening Border, which is a narrow border that had been so unattended that it ended up looking like part of the lawn. I noticed some struggling perennials along the terrace and did some exploratory digging which revealed an edging of concrete paving stones an inch under the lawn, so the bed has been restored and – unfortunately – planted with rudbeckia and alium, both of which need much more sunshine than they get in this shaded border.
It might be a good spot to stick the hostas from my parents’ old garden; they will get lots of light but very little direct sunshine.
The vegetable garden is currently just two narrow raised beds made from the planks that formed the frame around a delivery of firewood, but I rather like that rustic look. Last year I had beans and peas, and I plan to grow the same crops this year, though with the addition of 2-4 inches of compost to the soil so it will be rich enough to sustain the same crop for another year. Mind you, this year I will sow the pulses in rows near the edges of the beds and then a row of brassicas in the middle, so at I’m trying not to wear out the soil.
There’s also a concrete circle which is used for rhubarb and horseradish; I might move the rhubarb up on the bank by the small stream to give the horseradish more space, and I think the rhubarb crowns could benefit from getting more space.
There’s also the area that used to be a large, flat-ish yew, but it was so ugly that I cut away half of it, though perhaps some “cloud pruning” might have been a better option. Mind you, it gave room for the three rhododendrons that the Flâneur Husband had on his deck in Aberdeen and which I brought home in a suitcase on a plane. They survived with not even a broken twig!
And of course I – WE – have shared the garden with other people. The above picture is from last year at pentecoste when my parents and my grandmother visited me in the summer house. My dad mowed the entire lawn and together we sawed loads of firewood. It is perhaps the last time my dad ever did anything practical for me; he really enjoyed being useful, and I hate to think about how he feels these days when his cancer has returned and reached the point of no return. He will never see our garden again, because he’s simply too tired to take the three-hour trip across the country to visit us here.
My mother is hoping to make it over some time in late May or June, just so she can get away from being the dutiful wife and nurse. She loves gardens and plants, and she seems thrilled that I share that passion with her and her mother. The mere concept of loving plants and gardens seems to be almost an heirloom, passed down through generations.
Also, my mother doesn’t have a great theoretical knowledge of plants and soil types, but she has a very basic – almost gung-ho – knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. “These plants prefer this, but they will be just fine here anyway” and so on. And she’s a mean weeder!
Anyway, this post has gone on for long enough. For one thing I’ve got other things to get done, so must run off, and also this post has fulfilled its purpose of making me feel that I have done at least somethingin the garden over the past two years.