We found it a novelty, now that the world outside the Gardens is getting back to normal, to share the gardens with the rowing boats and punts on the river. After having the place entirely to ourselves for so many months it was a real shock to hear voices and laughter coming up from the river. We’re getting used to it now and often say hello and have a quick chat to tell everyone that the Gardens will be open next Easter.
We have spent quite a bit of time in the Master’s Lodge over the last couple of weeks. We put in a new “old” gate (recycled from our own garden) at the glasshouse end of the fence, much more secure for the residents and better for us than having to unhook and hoist the chestnut fencing out of the way every time we want to go in! We have given the borders a general tidy and cut back lots of the overgrowth spilling across the pathways. In the large border by the back door we’ve started to thin out the masses of overgrown loosestrife, phlomis, borage and golden rod and have now created narrow paths which wind through the border. Not only does this add a new perspective to the whole garden, standing in the very centre of the planting and looking out, but it also means we can more easily get the middle of things to weed and keep things tidy! The old apple tree is smothered in apples and dropping many already, which the birds clearly love. They taste good and even bruised and slightly unripe will be great for baking or preserving.
In the main Gardens the wisteria is having its second flush of flowers, and the majority of the lupins which we replanted there from the wildflower meadow border are showing new growth, which means that hopefully next year we’ll have a lovely show of colourful lupins beneath the wisteria in early summer.
Robert painted the tool shed, it looks good and will help to preserve the wood for a few more years.
We spent one morning digging out the tangle of periwinkle by the Chapel door. It had completely taken over and formed a dense, impenetrable thatch. The 3 small myrtles which we planted back in April have been completely choked by it and sadly we lost one. Now that the area is cleared and dug over the two healthy myrtles will be able to thrive and the small slips of periwinkle that we replanted at the front will not be allowed to get so out of control! From the mass that we dug out there were plenty of healthy clumps with sturdy roots that we have used elsewhere in the gardens – mostly along the old wall at the back of Assisi Cottage and around the chestnut fence there, to help soften the fence line and create a bit of a green screen in future.
As well as all this we foiled a murder ……… one morning we noticed an exhausted and drenched pigeon flailing helplessly in the river, being carried along by the current and clearly too wet and weak to be able to get out. As if this wasn’t bad enough a large eel was trying to pull it under and wrapping itself around the terrified bird. Without really thinking about it Robert clambered down into the river, (fully clothed!) and waded across to wrestle the pigeon away from the eel and bring it up to safety. We made the poor thing a makeshift shelter in an old terracotta pot hidden in the ivy and it had cake crumbs and half an apple for sustenance. It was gone the next day, and no sign of any feathers, so we are hoping it was able to fly away once rested and before Basil had sniffed it out!
Tracey and Robert… the gardeners