It was time to take on the tall grass of the meadow. The primrose, cowslips, fritillaries and pyramid orchids were all gone – the cow parsley and other umbellifers were setting seed. So out came the scythe and the whet-stone and back came the memory of the steady stance, the slow swing and the regular sharpening routine I learned some years ago at one of Simon Fairley’s classes.
Inspired by Painting the Modern Garden, the exhibition at the Royal Academy earlier this year, the gift of a book on iris from a friend on my birthday, and some wonderful flowers in Tuscany, I decided to make an iris bed between the greengage trees in the glade beside the meadow.
The bed gets plenty of sun from early morning to mid-afternoon. Digging it out and removing roots of perennial weeds took ages but the hard work was interspersed with dipping into books and catalogues to decide what to plant and where to go for them. Woottens of Wenhaston provided Jane Phillips, Souvenir de Mme Gaudichan and iris germanica. Peter Beales Roses had a lovely dwarf bearded iris called Hocus Pocus and in Diss I found four pots of an iris germanica named Black Stallion. I plan to plant iris reticulata in amongst these to get some early blooms.
This photo was taken at 5.30am on a still, sunny morning. Shortly after this a single kingfisher flew down the pond – a brilliant, fleeting flash of turquoise and orange.
Lots of blue in the garden this spring. Masses of forget-me-knots have seeded all around, especially in the bed beneath the ash trees by the pond and the bluebells are spreading nicely in the copse, following on after the snowdrops. They do well under the Motley holm oak and go well with the foxgloves and various primula I planted nearby. The meadow is full of cowslips and cow parsley now as the fritillaries fade and set seed.
The gunnera have come through the winter in fine form. They are thriving by the pond. The small pieces we transplanted two years ago have quickly caught up with the three plants bought from a nursery in 2010. All are now pushing up large flowering spikes. Last year I took a picture of ER standing underneath the leaves, looks like this year they may be even taller.
As the first delicately marked mauve flowers opened just after Easter, I decided to do a census of the fritillaries in the meadow this year. Using the prunings from the cornus sibirica on the far side of the pond, I marked each plant or group of plants with a twig. There were about 70 in the end marking some 85 plants – definitely an increase on what was here when we arrived. They have quite a wide spread over the dampest parts of the meadow. I have been scattering seed from the existing plants each year but four plants are newly established at the far end of the pond where no seed was scattered, so how did they get there? There are four plants in the paths I regularly mow through the meadow, several more alongside the path from the gate to the house and quite a number in land which was disturbed, trampled and driven over by our builders in 2009. Ginny, our next door neighbour who has lived here for many years, has found that fritillaries have established themselves for the first time and very rapidly over the past two years in her shady orchard – she now has over 100 plants. We both wonder how this has come about.
Primula denticulata in the copse by the pond. These and primula florindae are flourishing but I’ve not had much success with bulleyana and pulverentula so far.