The International Steam Pages


Oh, to be in England..., the Mitcheldean Garden 2017
The Merrie Month of May

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


Everyone can surely recall the friend or relative who came for a very welcome short stay and then extended it so that everyone was thoroughly glad when they finally took the hints and reluctantly left. So it proved with our dry spell. There were great bonuses like not needing to cut the grass, the moss that vanished almost without trace and the almost complete absence of slugs and snails. The downside was that we were into a near high summer routine of watering and it was impossible to remove the remains of the tulips and hyacinths. Then just when the two water butts and next door's reserve supply were almost exhausted, the great British weather came to the rescue and at the time of writing, after a few days of showers with more expected to complete the job, the butts are full and the ground is nicely damp ready for summer plantings.

It's been a month of firsts. Our wisteria was no more than a twig five years ago, now look at it - actually there's a second slower growing one mixed in there too but it suffered from being moved when we put the greenhouse up. It needs a good prune to ensure that next year we get flowers ahead of the leaves.

If the wisteria could be accused of taking its time, our two Magnolia Susan were about the same size two years ago but have flowered with indecent haste.

The bluebells started early and only now, nearly a month later, are they fading. With some encouragement from me, they are now turning up all over the place including the bed in front of the house. 

We have a fuchsia at the north-east corner of the house which rarely features in the blog. At the moment it's well over 3 metres tall and covered in flowers. Some years back I took some cuttings from it and planted them down by the road where nothing else wanted to grow for me. After a slow start, its children are now quite large too, I'll feature them soon if they flower well.

Almost exactly two years ago, Yuehong took a fancy to this orange bush at the Abergavenny Steam Rally. We nearly killed it by letting it dry out too much but it recovered and like many of our shrubs it rather likes us. We have visitors in a couple of days and spot on time, the first iris has come out.

This is one of three sets of blooms on our young lilac. I can see it's going to give us a 'size' problem quite soon. Also at the bottom of the garden steps, just one of the hebes has decided it likes the location, the others like most of the plants we have trued there are not at all happy.

If it's May then it ought to be azalea and rhododendron time:

We have four unusual deciduous azaleas and after several years to get adjusted they are coming into their own. These rhododendrons show that you don't have to pay a fortune for a great show of colour, they all came at less than five pounds from Tesco and B&Q when they stocked far more than could sell. Of course they are now several times bigger than when they arrived here.

Finally, the glorious colours didn't happen by accident, it was down to planning and hard work, of course. The plastic bags contain several months supply of horse manure from the 'mine' at the top of the hill behind us and it will be my job to dig it into the beds. Meanwhile Yuehong is in charge of the annuals and the hanging baskets.


Click here for the next installment.


Rob and Yuehong Dickinson

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