Gardening, Guest Posts, Lou C

Blooming Marvelous!

What a difference a week makes. This week definitely brought the sun and the flowers where there used to be rain! In fact, my little garden is currently being slow cooked at Gas Mark 2 due to the open south-facing nature of the site. Being on an incline doesn’t help either as there is very little shade. Even our pergola which hasn’t yet celebrated its first birthday doesn’t currently provide much respite.
Red Clematis Blooms
Having at least a third of the garden grown in pots and planters doesn’t help either. Thank goodness the hosepipe ban has been lifted for now. (We are still struggling to find somewhere to fit a waterbutt due to a complete dearth of drainpipes).

At least there are upsides to this weather, the most obvious being that it’s not raining! However, I’m not an exotic creature and struggle almost as much as my garden in this heat. My priority is not lying out in the sun either – I’ve never liked lobster in any form. No, the reason I’m most excited about this weather is because so many flowers have suddenly and gloriously come into bloom!
Purple Clematis on Trellis
In particular, my spring flowering clematis have suddenly gone mad and after several patient years in some cases, I have flowers where no flower has bloomed before. Admittedly, in some cases, blink (or work all week) and you miss them, so this year I’m capturing as much as I can on camera.

For a small garden we probably have more clematis per square metre than the corresponding section of the garden centre and counting… It’s amazing what you can pack into a small space (and yes, my talents do extend to shoes and suitcases, much to my husband’s exasperation). However, this does mean that each morning this week I have been greeted by another surprise – a large nodding head of another clematis greeting me.
Pink Clematis Flowers
In some cases they have been slightly nibbled, in others they are holier than the Bible due to our slug infestation but some of them, to my delight, are perfect! I can’t be sure that my neighbours have taken as much delight in my finds or my squeals of excitement at silly o’clock each morning (I can’t resist just popping out to check before I head off to the rat race each day). I would try and restrain myself for the sake of being a better neighbour but it really is like Christmas at the moment … and long may it last. Ho ho ho!

Lou C

Gardening, Guest Posts, Lou C

Painting in a Thunderstorm

Lou C is back with more adventures in her garden renovation from last month…

I don’t care what the weatherman says…
Lou C's trellis
It’s spring! Well, according to the calendar anyway. Normally by now we would be experiencing an abnormally early heatwave, at least a quarter of the population would be grilled a painful shade of pink by the sun and gardeners everywhere would be out in full force. After a promising false start in March, sadly this year we seem to be playing a game of cat and mouse with rain showers and I am losing my patience. I’m desperate to paint the fence and plant the hanging baskets amongst other things. Lulled into a false sense of security by abnormally hot weather just before the start of April, we re-turfed our little patch of lawn, jetwashed the patio and wielded a paintbrush on the shed. The shed now makes the fence stand out as shabby in stark contrast and my tulips really have seen better days. Our pots are begging for fresh bedding plants. My sweet pea seeds are fighting for alpha status in the comfort of the garden room which is having to double as a greenhouse as I make my first foray into the world of seeds. But even more importantly than that, after a great deal of hard work, I have finally convinced my husband to erect a trellis screen in front of our patio. The time to act is now, not least before he changes his mind, but sadly Mother Nature has other ideas. Or so she thinks anyway. Not one to be beaten, I am throwing down the gauntlet. Yes, I will be taking on the weather; after all, I’m not made of sherbet.

Now, the neighbours overlooking us are not enthusiastic gardeners. Large expanses of patio, decking and paving sit empty, punctuated only by the odd lonely pot here and there. Each to their own but this does mean our garden stands out, just a little. Our tiny wilderness is crammed to the fence tops with plants and garden features. Our garden is like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. My point? Well they already think we’re slightly mad. Therefore the sight of a somewhat possessed woman wielding a paintbrush and garden timbercare (and in a pale pink hue too!) as storm clouds gather overhead make amusing yet unsurprising viewing for our neighbours.

Lou C's trellis with montana clematis
My chosen afternoon began promisingly as it looked as if the cloud would blow over. It wasn’t long however, before it became a race against time. Could I finish painting the new trellis we had bought for our screen before the heavens opened? Now I’m not a betting woman but even I began to realise that the odds weren’t in my favour!

Undeterred, I forged ahead. Half time and I had to dive inside, trellis and all. One hour later and I could resume. Two thirds of the way through and in the distance I could hear thunder approaching. The rain however was still some way away. For the next half hour the thunder rumbled as I painted. Closer and closer, louder and louder it came. My transition to insanity was complete in the eyes of the neighbours; painting in a thunderstorm? Really?
Downing tools, the job was finally complete. The thunder applauded me as the first raindrops started to fall. The trellis and I dived inside one last time for cover. I’m sure my victory dance didn’t help my certifiable status in the eyes of the neighbourhood.

Two days later and dodging further rain showers we finally erected our new screen. It is now perfectly placed to break the view into our garden, giving us a certain amount of privacy on our patio whilst still letting in the light. We’ve just started to encourage our Montana to weave its magic through the gaps. This time next year it should be a well established part of the garden. The weather might be better too.

Lou C

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