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Thinking on new beginnings

Its late autumn two years after Dad's death. I am trying to bring back some order to the huge garden he had which has gone to wrack and ruin in the last decade and more since Dad actively managed it due to advancing age.

Mum is more settled into a routine now but she is very saddened by the deterioration of the garden and rarely goes out because of that.

I think it would help if she had a purpose to get involved in with the house or garden.

She has never really been interested in gardening but loves to look at the garden and birds as well as other wildlife. She loved visiting gardens and garden centres and finding new and unfamiliar plants to try and persuade Dad to grow. She succeeded in getting him to grow several things which were not suited to the environment and needed a lot of nurturing to survive.

Her favourite thing in summer, when I was a child was to walk up to the gooseberry patch and pick them ripe, there's nothing quite like the taste of gooseberry’s sun warmed and nearly bursting with ripe juice.

Mum loves flowers, bulbs in particular.

I decided to do something with the gooseberry patch. I wanted to clear out the nettles and prune them back so that we can have gooseberries. A lovely reminiscence. This however will take a little longer to sort out and is some distance from the house. In spring I cut back the gooseberry bushes and cleared back nettles with plans to plant ground cover and bulbs for colour next spring. When I came back a month later the nettles were chest height. I couldn’t see the gooseberries at all. I think I need to allocate more time so I had a rethink.

Over the summer when I've had free time, I've been trying to clear the drive of moss and clear the gate posts and surrounding hedge of weeds, particularly ivy. I've started painting the gates but am also trying to clear ivy as well as bind weed out of the hedge. I've found quite a few roses which have been swallowed up into the hedge, I need to work out how to liberate them while keeping the line of the hedge and minimise weeding. Keeping the skin intact on my arms would also be preferred.

While doing this I realised it would probably be nicer for mum if I did the bits nearer to the house rather than further away. That way she can see what is being done and may take interest and make suggestions.

The negative aspect of this is that she may take an interest and make suggestions!!!

I decided to plant bulbs in the border where the wisteria and Cotoneaster are planted, it isn't the sunniest of borders but it's next to the house. I planted grape hyacinths in blue and white hyacinths for now. The hyacinths are nearest to the house so will be very scented when mum comes and goes. Then there are white narcissi and deep purple tulips with Anemone dotted in between. Fortunately it rained for a couple of days after I planted them, so hopefully they will flourish.

There is more work to be done to remove the wisteria from the garage roof and a tiny section of hawthorn hedge at the end of the border.

Sounds easy enough.

The main problem was originally clearing the border. It's been neglected for ever. Where the Cotoneaster once was, there are piles of leaves and dust, preventing any air flow. I collected almost a full green bin of this from behind the Cotoneaster. Excitingly I found a number of Holly bushes self-rooted and their leaves in amongst this. I discovered that fabric garden gloves don't protect hands from being impaled by Holly leaves. Also that they are hard to remove from palms. I found 8 nests, probably blackbirds or thrush, in various states of decay. I felt guilty but when the Cotoneaster grows back it will be available again, in the meantime there are plenty of other options around. I had to take down most of the Cotoneaster as with so much clogging it had died back. I discovered hidden new regrowth once I had cleared everything out. I pinned it back onto a brace frame so that it can create one of those pretty fans full of berries in autumn and winter.

That should be all apart from mulching next autumn and adding a few ground cover, shade loving plants such as geranium and maybe some Brunnera. I would love a toad lily but I think they prefer moisture and I haven't managed to grow one yet which has survived slug munching. I'm not even sure they like a northern temperature or chalk soil. Fingers crossed I get something flowering from early spring to mid-summer. Eyes crossed I get it again the following year.

Oh and then there’s the dead hawthorn to remove and the wisteria to crop back.

Dad said the devil makes work for idle hands- chance would be a fine thing

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