The Glen, from the start of the grass path

Recorded as a Voice Memo (with one or two subsequent edits) on Thursday, 12.40pm, after a morning of rain:

“It’s 12.40, it’s rained all morning and I’ve been strimming. Strimming the Glen, or rather the sinuous path that winds down to the foot of the hill and winds back again. Behind me, the housemartins and swallows traverse the short grass leading up to the pond, screeching as they go and searching for newly hatched flies presumably to feed their young – criss-crossing like an aerobatic display team.

The Glen sits just east of the house, just over from the pond and I walk past a series of unlit bonfire piles which we have never got around to setting alight and which now may never be. They have become natural sculptures, wildlife havens, constructs of branches, twigs, old bits of wood, secured firmly by grasses which have softened their edges. I suspect they are inhabited by frogs, toads, hedgehogs as well as some of the smaller birds as well, maybe.



I’m walking further down the strimmed pathway, past a pallet of different shades – the white umbrels of the cow parsley, the mauves of the knapweed, a mini thistle with shiny prickly leaves, all shades and heights of grasses, and willow herb, the only place in the garden where we allow it to grow – large statuesque clumps with their bright, bright, pink-purple plumes. And yes, some yellow ragwort, not the farmer’s friend, it has to be said, but very popular with the hoverflies and bees.


Cow parsley in the foreground, willow herb at the rear

And this year has got to be one of the best for wild flowers. They seem to have benefitted from the dry summer; they are shorter this year but they appear to have more flower.

It’s peaceful but it’s not quiet – sounds of sheep baa-ing in the distance, birds of the field with their constant chorus, the occasional unworldly mew of the buzzards, soaring through the steam wreathed the tree tops down at the foot of the glen, steam caused by the heat of the sun on the wet branches presumably, like a tropical rainforest; still the sounds of the rain, still falling through the canopies of the huge broadleaved trees adjacent to the Glen, rain which stopped falling from the sky half an hour ago, maybe longer.


Willow herb

I’m surrounded by insects: by bees -honey and bumble, by hoverflies with their incredible ability to hold their position in the air like miniature Harriet Jump Jets, and by little white moths, and yes, one or two butterflies starting to emerge now that the rain has gone.


Cow parsley

I walk past the big clump of wild raspberries – these would never grace Tesco’s shelves but they will provide a welcome food-source for the birds,  Finally, I come to the old seat at the foot of the hill.



The Glen is our wildlife area, where apart from an occasional strim to carve out some paths, it receives no attention from the gardener. It’s an area which has been allowed to return to nature, an area which we haven’t improved, and which I don’t think we can. Nature seems to do it so much better than me with my plethora of hoes, mowers, hedgecutters and strimmers. She is The Master Gardener. Nowhere else in the garden do I feel more inspired.”


one of the detritus heaps which started life as a bonfire but now serves a far more useful purpose




Daft about daffs

wpid-20130427_122812.jpgwpid-20130427_122440.jpgThe continuation of a relatively cool airstream has meant an outstanding spring bulbs season so far. We still have a few snowdrops, even now, although the spotlight is now firmly on the daffodils, with most of them in bloom.

wpid-20130427_122555.jpgIf truth be known, I’m actually quite pleased that next wpid-20130427_123156.jpgweek is to be cool, as this will hopefully mean we get a good long flowering spell from these, surely the cheeriest of spring flowers, almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face! I’m not sure how many varieties we have here in the garden, but we do have quite a few and I thought I’d feature a few on this post.wpid-20130427_145635.jpg




Very pleased to see the hyacinths coming out too with their evocative scent; we grow them in dry, dusty soil in a south facing position round the front of the house – in common with the daffs, the local rabbit population makes no attempt to snack on them!


Forsythia flanked by tree paeonies

Nice to see some real growth in the borders, particularly the south-facing one. The forsythia is in full bloom now and the buds on the tree paeonies are really starting to open .


Solomon’s Seal with Primula denticulata




P. Ice Ballet

The hostas are unfurling and the Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum) is at its best at the moment, a sea of writhing serpents rising up out of the ground. We’ve got it in a few places in the garden where it spreads easily; we also have a variegated one in the shade border but I’m not so taken with that. What is good in the shade border at the moment are the Pulmonarias;


P. Blue Ensign

I’ve mentioned our white one before, mistakenly calling it ‘Sissinghurst White’ in previous posts, but it’s actually ‘Ice Ballet’ according the invoice that I dug out the other day; our other one, ‘Blue Ensign’, is now out with an intense blue flower, and mauve buds. Oddly so are some dwarf daffodils, perhaps ‘Minnow’, which I really can’t recall planting there. The Good Lady thinks this could have been the gardening exploits of a rather horticulturally-challenged, not to mention forgetful, squirrel!

The grass-cutting season has started, certainly in the walled garden. We have more to cut here now, as we put the two productive vegetable areas to grass late last summer; we’ll mow these as we do the main lawn, leaving the bulb areas under the fruit trees un-mown until later in the summer. We have been growing some wildflower seed in the greenhouse which is coming on nicely and which we’ll plant in these areas shortly. The grass round the front of the house is much more exposed and it will be a couple of weeks before that needs attention.

wpid-20130427_123856.jpgIn the greenhouse, all the hardy annuals we planted a couple of weeks ago are now through, I’m pleased to say, although some of the perennials are a little more leisurely in their germination. They are starting to come through now, though, so one shouldn’t give up hope too early! Probably starting next weekend, we shall be pricking the seedlings out into modules, a time of year when the greenhouse is at its most productive.


Helleborus, the Lenten Lilly

This last couple of weekends, I have been working over the borders, removing grassy weeds, willowherb and creeping buttercup, all very determined to withstand the rigours of the hoe. I don’t like hoeing at this time of the year as there are many interesting seedlings coming through and I prefer to wait until I know what they are before I remove them. Lovely to hear the hum of the bumble bees, though, as they feed on the early flowers of the wall-trained gooseberry – worth having if only to provide this early food-supply!


Doronicum, Shepherd’s Bane

wpid-20130420_123609.jpgSpring is definitely here. Daybreak comes before 5am now, we have daylight until beyond 9pm, and there is warmth in the sun when she chooses to show her face. A new flock of proud mums and their newborn lambs have arrived in the field; each day they gain a little more strength and a little more confidence. The buds are starting to break on the fruit trees but I’m just hoping that they don’t fall victim to the late frosts scheduled for next week. This is what happened last year over much of the UK, leading to an almost non-existent apple and pear crop. Fingers crossed that they will be okay this year.