The start of winter.

The final double handful of red chillies are harvested, along with all the seed heads from mustard “Golden Streaks”, dry as a rattle and placed head down into a small bin bag, to be shaken and slapped and rolled until the bottom of the bag is a collection of full stops. It’s my favourite mustard. It has an aftertaste exactly like new potatoes.

Down come the cannas, and I’ve been a bit clever. When I planted up this spring I put in miscanthus gracillimus in each big planter. They’ve been completely invisible among the cannas and the huge thuggy froth of the cosmos … and today when both those things were taken out, ta-daa! There are these huge graceful grasses in flower. And they’ll look grand all winter. I have some wallflowers and wotnot coming to fill in the spaces between the big canna stumps – half of which are promised to friends and family early next year.

I’d love to show you photographs, but guess which eejit broke their phone? Oh well, I can take pictures next week.

I made a little more progress on the most dodgy bit of the Long Wide bed – which is to say, the most steeply sloped deathtrap bit. There’s only about 1 sq metre left to do. Then it all needs intensive weeding, which is going to be a worthwhile but crappy endeavour on that slope. I have bindweed. Or it has me. You think you’ll be able to weed it out, but you can’t – those roots can disappear down to 15 feet, although they rarely do. And the tiniest bit of white root left in situ regenerates like something out of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The trick is to weed out every strand of white root you can possibly find in about the top ten inches of soil, and forget the rest.

I’m good at getting on top of it, but it’s a repetitive, annoying job you know will take you a good couple of years when you start. You just get out there every few days and where it’s come up, you pull it. And never stop doing that until it’s all dead. Fortunately it sort of gives up through the dry bit of the summer, so it’s really only spring, early summer and autumn when you’ve got to get your pull awn.

Still: the final square metre of the Long Wide bed! This is HUGE progress, and all whittled out in ten minute or half hour chunks because I’m stuck with this wonky body that’s managed – in the absence of regular walks and visits to my mum – to become more wonky during this year’s (2020) Covid Lockdown.

The first part of the Long Wide bed is now overpopulated with achillea, verbena, baby foxgloves etc, and is ready to be split up and planted on so I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to put in this new section of bed – which is just as well, as I’ve absolutely no money! Next spring I’m going to plant more stuff that blooms in the late summer and autumn, and experiment with the “Chelsea Chop”. This year the bed was absolutely terrific until about the end of July and then looked very grumpy from about mid August on. I’ll be embedding soaker hose in both stretches of flower bed as well. I plant for drought – and it does incredibly well, but that fortnight of stupidly hot weather we had in August even left the achillea looking fed up, and I cannot stand in that heat, watering for hours as it affects me in much the same way it does the plants. Plus it’s a very inefficient way of watering plants, whereas an embedded hose is effective.

What remains to be done? A lot.

The top of my rockery needs to be thoroughly weeded and planted – I might go with fennel, verbena bon and some more of that miscanthus. The actual rockery bit, which descends in an unruly manner from the ground level of my top garden, to just outside my kitchen window, is a work in progress, but this week I broke off a lot of the delosperma I’ve been growing on in various pots and poked a tuft in here, a tuft in there. The stuff is famously invasive and I’m really banking on it covering that very underwhelming rockery in the lairiest possible colours next year. I’ve bought three species – and stole one – and I have great hopes that, in time, and perhaps one day with the addition of an exciting agave or two, I can make that unprepossessing rockery into a tiny copy of the planting at the Minack Theatre, which I’ve seen pictures of and love very much.

Elsewhere, the front bed (nothing but bindweed, 3 gigantic weigelas and 3 roses when I came) is coming on. I’ve put irises in – the biggest I could find. I have bulbs coming for it, tulips and daffodils, and have whacked back one of the enormous weigelas very hard, and am now watching nervously to see if it will sprout again (it seems to be). The grass, destroyed entirely by my builders last year, has just been reseeded and has sprouted, and the whole bald area has this almost hallucinatory green fuzz on it, which you can see and sort of not-quite-see at the same time. I have about 2 metres of that bed to plant up for the summer and I’ll have a think about it. It gets scorching hot, and takes a kicking from the wind. Much to ponder.

I’ll have some new beds to create on the new pebbled area next to the purrgola (that isn’t a typo, it’s a pergola I have created for my cats); and then, lower down, a new bed below the new sleeper wall, and then, at the lowest level, the new veg beds. Lots and lots to do. And no rush.

It can take me years.

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1 Response to The start of winter.

  1. Britton Jasper says:

    Hey Chills,

    What a lovely update. I’ve marvelled at your gardening triumphs all year. Thanks for this.

    I’m back despatching which is treating me reasonably well.

    What do you know of narcissistic personality disorder? It’s not a trick question. I’ve read a lot on the web and my sis lent me a book. My gut feeling is that I got suckered. I’m still confused tho.

    Hope you’re well, and your mum, and the felines xxx


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