March 2021


It was when I saw the blisters on my hands that I realised just how much time I’ve spent away from the garden and gardening over the last twelve months.

It’s been feast or famine for me as we have yo-yoed between opening and closing whilst watching the seasons pass. This time last year saw the first lockdown when we wondered if we would survive.

This year we are in much better shape and hope – subject to further government announcements  – to reopen on Wednesday April 14th.

However, we haven’t been able to have our volunteers in to work their magic. Consequently, I’m out every moment I possibly can, working with Heather and June who are also juggling all their different responsibilities to prepare the garden for opening.

Currently we are on the Clematis Garden. Those of you who were able to visit last year will know that we closed the Clematis Garden. We simply did not have the time or the capacity to undertake the work needed to bring it up to scratch.

We concentrated on the rest of the garden, reclaiming it back from three months of total neglect whilst we were furloughed. All I can say is a garden really puts its foot down in the months of April to June and everyone did an amazing job to get it looking good again.

However, we now want to bring the Clematis Garden back to full beauty. That means a thorough digging over to rid it of all the perennial weeds (oh creeping buttercup how do I hate you? Let me count the ways…) and decompact the soil which has developed a hard pan on the surface due to the torrential rain we’ve all experienced.

We’re also moving a lot of plants as we redesign the perennial planting. I’ve been doing a job I am very fond of but don’t often get to do which is move snowdrops in the green. Snowdrops had been planted at some point but they had become scattered in an unattractive fashion over time so I am collecting them and replanting them in groups in Alison’s Garden where they will bulk up over time to make a stunning winter display.

In the green means simply moving whilst they are in leaf and flower which they are supposed to prefer. I’ll be hoping to add winter aconites to the planting as well but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

Once all this is done, we can start to replant the bare areas and also replant clematis where required. Most have survived the benign neglect bestowed upon them, but a few of the more fussy ones have petulantly turned up their toes leaving only a bamboo cane and a label behind them.

As we are planning to lengthen the time we are open, we will also be considering winter flowering clematis. I’ll be angling for personal favourites such as Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ and Clematis armandii as well as new to me varieties such as the greeny white flowered Clematis cirrhosa ‘Ourika Valley’ or the pure white of Clematis x cartmanii ‘Avalanche’.

I’ve a day away from digging today as I must write this or I will be in deep trouble with Karen Darley for missing my deadline. I also need to write some pages for our embryonic new website which is coming along nicely.

But on Monday it will be back outside to dig the Clematis Garden which will be heaven. In the meantime does anyone have any good ideas on how to harden off blisters?

Filed under: Blog