The garden suddenly seems to be developing in leaps and bounds. The perennials that Jane and I planted during her last visit have settled in well and are starting to put on plenty of new growth and all the trees are either in bud or flowering. The grass is growing at an alarming rate and everything around us feel like spring has arrived.
Between the showers (and torrential downpours) yesterday, I took a walk around the garden to check the fences and see how the plants were coming along. I cut back the purple willow to encourage new growth from the base, rather than becoming straggly. So I cut the stems into approximately 30cms lengths and pushed them into the ground along the fence line that borders the large field. This is the only boundary that doesn't yet have a hedge planted next to it. So I am hoping that these little willow cuttings will grow roots and sprout shoots and become the start of a new hedge. At the moment, they just look like little sticks poking out of the ground, but I am sure it won't be too long before they grow.
The second of our raised beds is now completed and filled with the very poor soil from a mound in the paddock and rotted poultry bedding. This photo shows how much space there is in the kitchen garden that hasn't had raised beds built yet. I am sure it will look and be highly productive and attractive once the other beds are completed and planted. Right now, it still looks a bit daunting. In my mind's eye I can see it finished, but I do wish that my mind's eye could make and fill those beds as easily as it can imagine them!
I've started to plant up the second bed with red onion sets. I put in two rows, one on each side of the bed with space in the centre for spinach and salads which will go in over the next couple of weeks as I harden off the small plants that are in the greenhouse.
After all the rain, the soil and compost in the raised bed looks rich and rather attractive, but I know that it's going to take a few years of TLC to make it a really good medium for growing in.
In the perennial bed I have constructed wigwam to which I will fix some pea netting for the sweet peas to scramble up once they are hardened off. They are currently about 6 inches high and I've pinched out the growing tips so that they bush out. Hopefully they will give us a lovely display and some cut flowers for the house.
The day lily plants that I lifted from Mr J's mother's garden last year seem to be flourishing in their new home. You can see how stony the soil is in this bed. I haven't bothered to go through and lift out the pebbles and stones in this area yet, I may do one day, but I feel my energy is better used in removing stones from the soil in the raised beds where we are growing food. Stones in decorative areas will have to wait.
I had a quick look in the green cone compost bin that I filled to the brim only a few days ago and was surprised at how much it had settled already. The contents are slightly warm to the touch on the top, so I imagine that it has some good heat in the centre of it.
This lovely old elderberry tree sits within the duck's area and lies along the ground with branches growing upwards to the sky before branching off to the sides. It was growing in an old commercial size greenhouse that was on the plot when the previous owners bought the house. I love the way the lichen covers so much of it's gnarly old wood and the way that contrasts with the fresh young growth.
The tiny flower buds of the elderberry are starting to form. They are tight little pale greeny-cream heads of flowers which I'm really looking forward to opening. Some of them will be used to make our first batch of homemade wine and cordial (for those of us who don't drink alcohol except on very rare occasions).
Today I have a friend who lives in the Cotswolds coming to visit for lunch and a catch up, so I am pleased that this morning's fog has lifted and that she will be able to see the beautiful countryside that we now live in. Perhaps I should tackle the washing up before she gets here...