Lou C is back with more adventures in her garden renovation from last month…
I don’t care what the weatherman says… 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.
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.
Here’s a guest post by Lou C, on her adventures wrangling her Montana Clematis plants earlier this month.
May bank holiday — A time when gardeners traditionally overexert themselves in the garden and bedding plants come out to play. Suddenly everyone is a gardener and the neighbourhood battles of the baskets commence. Unfortunately, this May everyone is a little behind with things and for one reason alone– Rain has stopped the play. I can now imagine how Noah must have felt.
The forecast for the bank holiday weekend is for showers rather than torrential rain. Promising. Since the start of April we have lived with a half painted fence that is begging to be finished. Initially we planned to allow our two (yes, two) Montana clematis that are clothing said fence to finish flowering but the rain seems to have put them all behind as well.
We have a montaña to climb and we’re going to need the best in the business. Undaunted, I contact the Impossible Missions Force, also known as my mother. The challenge, should she choose to accept it, is to help us remove the clematis from the fence so we can paint it and put the clematis back a) before it rains and b) by sacrificing as little of it as possible.
We plump for Sunday – predicted as the better day. The Force arrives, all 73 years and 5 ft 2 of her. She’s bought a packed lunch so she really means business. Before I can ask if she wants a cuppa, the first Montana hits the floor and my mother is nimbly scampering up my rockery incline to the second with no thought to the possible hip replacement that might be necessitated by a nasty fall. The second Montana proves slightly trickier as it has also wound its way through a trellis planter and we have some serious untangling (not to mention a little sacrificing) to do. But not to be beaten, less than half an hour later the first part of the mission is accomplished. Sadly it takes a lot longer than this to finish the fence. In the meantime, the Force makes herself at home with a bag of potting compost and a queue of plants.
A lot later and we set about resurrecting both Montanas. The fence is dry, we have only had to dodge one shower and most of my planting has been completed, just not by me! As they are trained onto new wires I stand back to admire their new svelte physique. Yes, there is less of them, and yes, I could have waited until flowering was over, but flowers they still have and they will grow back very quickly if the number of new stems is anything to go by. They stand out beautifully against my new “seagrass” fence and I cross fingers and hope that I will not be greeted by a mass of wilted stems in days to come.
Mission accomplished and no one disavowed. The Force will be suitably rewarded with a trip to her favourite garden centre. May the force be with you, too.
In this series of posts on the Primrose Blog, gardening writer Paul Peacock, alias Mr Digwell, will talk about the gardening month including tasks for the month and what to look forward to. Work alongside Paul to turn your garden into the haven you want it to be.
Things are getting really exciting now as my ‘new greenhouse dream’ is actually happening. Last weekend my husband and I emptied the old greenhouse and took all the glass out, only smashing one pane! We moved the frame onto a flat surface which we are going to eventually cover with a sheet of clear polythene so I can continue to protect my new seedlings and reasonably established tomato plants which are at the moment cluttering the windowsills in the house. Both water butts that were attached to the greenhouse had to be moved. We emptied the first one into a smaller butt and numerous receptacles and moved it to a safe place then filled it back up. We did the same with the second butt so feel happy now that we have not wasted any precious water.
The builders came and dug out the foundations which have now been filled with concrete. Now waiting for the weather to improve so the brick wall can be built ready for the greenhouse to be installed. Can’t wait.