The International Steam Pages
Tua Pek Kong Rules, the Mitcheldean Garden
This page is part of a series of garden blogs from 2019. Click here for the index.
Until someone invented the European Union, the 'Chattering Classes' were forever complaining about the difficulty of getting a plumber / electrician / builder / nanny / cleaner, then the Poles arrived and solved the problem at a stroke. No wonder they solidly voted 'remain' in the UK's notorious 2016 Brexit Referendum. Here in the backwoods we have Polish bus drivers, dentists and farm workers but I have yet to meet one who might be called a 'tradesman'. Consequently, we have all the issues which our urban elite used to face although mercifully our tradesmen come at a more acceptable hourly rate.
Just over a year ago, it was clear that my temporary solution to holding up the 'new' flower bed in the upper garden had run its course and we needed something more permanent along the lines of the timber clad concrete block walls in front of the house. Our charming local builder talked a good wall, but it was always at best 'next month', summer came and went as did autumn and off we went to Penang. When we got back, I decided on a course of harassment and took to knocking on his door twice a week just after he came home. It worked and eventually a sensible quotation appeared through the letter box with a note 'CAN START THURSDAY'. We were away.
First though, I removed the life expired rock roses and dug an exploratory trench for the footings after I had reinforced the tulip bed. I then had one of my worst bonfires for a while as I had a heap of leylandii cuttings to dispose of as well. Having watched me at work all last summer, Richard next door showed me how it should be done as we had a parallel 'burn'. On the appointed day, we walked to Cinderford to do the shopping and when we came back stage 1 was complete. Next came the really unpleasant bit, two packs of bricks had to be carried all the way up one by one - this was the real reason for the delay I am sure. Next morning we were off early to Camborne and when we got back, there was 'the wall' in all its glory. I settled the bill and at the same time asked for another row on top as and when time could be found. Next, I dug over the earth in front of the wall removing stones and builder's debris, back filled the wall with an assortment of stones from the 2018 pond project and added a generous amount of horse manure topped with soil. I hope to report a successful conclusion to the project next time around.
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At the bottom the larger lilac is even more impressive than last year while the geraniums which overwintered successfully in the greenhouse now provide a colourful display on the patio. They are already being moved on to the beds to replace some of the hyacinths.
The top of the garden is usually the 'Cinderella area' - more like 'permanent work in progress' but it's slowly getting where we want it. Our #1 magnolia may be less than a metre tall but it has been covered with a first flush of flowers and there are more to come.
The camelias are a treat and the bluebells a carpet of blue much earlier than usual after the mild winter. The wooden 'frame' is to support a pair of honeysuckles which came from cuttings some time back. That on the right will reach the top this year.
Finally, yet another 'before and after' pair. On the left is from Google Streetview in September 2009, before we had set our eyes on the place. On the right is a mid-April 2019 view. What a difference 10 years can make.
As I write, the rhododendrons are starting and there are developing buds on the roses. Yuehong is working on bedding plants and preparing hanging baskets but it will be a little while before they all reach their peak.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson