The International Steam Pages

Oh, to be in England..., the Mitcheldean Garden 2017
Now that April's there

This page will be part of a series of garden blogs from 2017. Click here for the index.

We had left for Penang in mid-November 2016 after a mild autumn which had seen gladioli, dahlias and begonias dug up before their time. I prepared myself to need a shopping expedition to replace a pile of 'rotters' and so it proved. I think in future, I will take the easy way out and leave them all in the ground covered with an insulating layer of fallen leaves  Our tender fuchsias had a poor season owing to fungus and they did not overwinter at all well either, mainly because a warm spell just before our return saw them dry out too much. However, it's a small price to pay for being able to avoid 90% of the UK winter. Last year someone decided that a few of our our tulips would make the perfect mother's day present so the tubs at the bottom were tidied away.

It was mainly damp and gloomy for a few days when we returned, then the sun came out and while it has clouded over from time to time there has been no significant rain. So apart from tidying the garden we have been out walking (and even cycling) at least twice a week. The hyacinths and daffodils were out to welcome us.

If those blooms were precocious, look at the leaves on the roses, they were nearly a month ahead of 2016.

There is a price to pay.. The yellowish patches in the grass are caused by moss, masses of it and when I came to give the forsythia its annual post flowering hair cut, I discovered it was covered in debilitating galls. So it got not so much a trim as a scalping and it is on the 'at risk' list, fortunately the galls are species specific. 

Moving on to April, this is how things look when we pull back the bedroom curtains:

Our camellias have now firmly established themselves and, while not yet large, are good bloomers, the first picture was taken at dawn, the second in the afternoon.:

Here are some of lesser heroes which tend to get ignored come mid-summer

The top level of the front garden now qualifies as being 'mature'. The hebes just need an occasional firm hand, the aubretia (aubrieta) just need encouraging, the primroses are the ultimate 'rescue' plants, they love to grow everywhere in the lawns but they are difficult to cut around so they get relocated to areas where nothing but weeds will grow and they always do me proud for long periods in the spring. As it is they are threatening to take over the rockery.

Yuehong keeps me flooded with plants and in the last year or two I have hastily dug some 'pop up flower beds' for her. This one in the front is just perfect for her tulips, behind is our dwarf willow and next door's lilac in full bloom. Magnolias grow well in this area, there are many which give a wonderful display each year. After a false start, we have four small ones which are in their third growing season with us, so it will be some years before they are big enough to bloom. The canes are to stop the village idiot from maiming it while cutting the grass.

Down by the road, there are further developments. The flowerbed behind the new wall was being 'conditioned' last Spring so the tulips there are a new feature. The honeysuckle arch was an act of desperation to allow it a 'way out'. Behind the row of tulips is a reminder that gardening is a long term project, the lilacs were planted here in 2012, as were the honeysuckle and camellias.

We have been asked to participate in the village's 'open garden' weekend in mid-June, normally we are very reserved but the event is for local charities and it would be churlish to refuse. I wonder how many of our visitors will remember how things looked in June 2011 when we arrived to take up permanent residence; of course they could only have guessed what the back looked like?

Click here for the next installment.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson