The gardens at Pear Tree Cottage sit in a cider apple orchard in the green and rolling countryside of Worcestershire, England. It enjoys a sunny south westerly aspect with sweeping views across to Martley Hillside, Woodbury & Abberley clock tower. The Teme Valley lies just over the hill and, not far away, is the Herefordshire border. Although our climate is temperate, our seasons are often uncertain and always a challenge to a gardener!

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16 April 2018

Removing the Invaders!

It's difficult to imagine that weeding around a little pond would take all afternoon!  Well actually more than that as it went on well into evening. two reasons, wet soil - especially around the margins and more importantly removal of as much Lysimachia as was possible. I have never pruned Dogwoods this late in the year as usually, they're all done in early March.
Anyway, 'tis all now done! Chris has placed a stepping stone at the entrance to the jetty and we have reshaped the grass border and its levels. Having replanted some pretty striking stripey irises near the Jetty, the plan is to allow the Symphitum to grow down towards the edge of the jetty. Where we had planted Lysimachia to hide the electric box, there is now a low growing conifer stolen from the bottom of the Sofa Border! Lysimachia was just far too invasive and it just flopped everywhere. After yet another day's rain; will I ever get around to edging the grass with long handled shears and the half moon edger???

All Change in the Greenhouse!!

Botanical Neonatal Unit!
A Saturday without glacial temperatures or rain!!  Instead, spring arrived and not a moment too soon. Although very late, it was a good time to move out the biggest winter hibernators from the greenhouse before the inside temperatures start to rise and give overwintering plants too much of a shock in the outside world. Out came the Oleanders and the lemon tree leaving the need for much reorganisation in their wake. It's that brief in between time when the big things are out and the babies are all most definitely in. In this case, the babies are Nemesias, Antirrhinums, Tomatoes, Gazanias, Chrysanthemums, Chillies, Geraniums (of all types and ages!). In the cold frames are Lilies-ofothe-Valley, Heleniums and some Geneva Mallows of differing varieties. Next job is to prepare tomato beds and secure a cane framework for their supports.


 Who knows? With some really settled spring weather later this week, we may even get some vegetables sown and planted and borders weeded!

11 April 2018

Balancing Garden Jobs!

At the end of a really busy day when it was really time to call it a day and have a beer (or, in my case, a G&T,) Chris appeared with ladders ready to remove the pond pump and see if there was any obvious reason for its unusually loud noise.  As it turned out, there was no apparent fault and the following day, it was replaced and the frog was cleaned allowing the pump to work more efficiently.  Chris balancing on a bouncy extended ladder hauling out a very heavy bucket of water with a concrete slab wired to it with one hand & no board on the ladder on which he could comfortably kneel was the reason for my mirth! 

9 April 2018

The Magic of Making Compost!

As much as I enjoy a bit of creosoting, doing the compost heap is not the most joyful of jobs but,  as they say, someone has to do it!   A once a year job which, due to a combination of incessantly wet and cold weather and until February a  distinct presence of compost, means that the window of opportunity has been smaller than usual this year. Anyway, having now done it, Chris will turn last year's compost into the freshly painted bay and then I'll give the left hand bay the same treatment and it will be ready to receive this year's vegetable and garden waste. 

Whilst anything too woody or pernicious is burnt, the ash is returned to the compost heap  along with grass cuttings, soiled chicken newspapers and all soft garden waste. After turning and covering, it will be left for a year by which time it will have reduced down to half its volume. Unlike Monty, we have better things to do than turn compost every 5 minutes!  Patience makes perfect compost and, early next year, these contents will be ready to top dress all borders. Ain't nature magic!!

The New Branch Line!

Service path down to the cairn
The new 'Branch Line'
I've always extolled to virtues of service paths! A service path at the back of a wide border is super useful for discreet access.  We put one in behind the Lower Border some years ago but, since building the cairn buy a swing seat; it was lost beyond. Thanks to Chris who secretly left a load of Ilex wood chip on the drive we have now been able to continue it from the cairn down to the Henclosure with access from the lawn at the bottom of the Sofa Border.  To contain the wood chip, it's lined on both sides with mossy branches and logs which used to reside where the jetty now sits. Some are pretty rotten but it does give this new path age and maturity. This provided an ideal opportunity to do a little planting!  To the left of this 'branch' line, are a couple of huge clumps of Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum) some wild ferns and Pulmonarias.

This new access will make hedge cutting and weeding much easier and there was enough wood chip to top dress the original service path. Thanks very much Chris!

Furthermore and for the first time all weekend, the sun actually came out on Sunday evening making it feel vaguely spring-like!

Access between a Hazel & a Lilac

7 April 2018

Nakedness!

Naked wall.
Pyracantha outline
Following the loss of our Pyracantha and paving over its grave, it's still looking VERY bare. We await the return of Brian who has promised to paint virgin wall next month.  In the meantime, a seat reposes in its spot along with some Yew logs and a couple of old steens (not sure how it should be spelled. Some people called them coppers - even though they were clearly cast iron! I do remember lighting the fires beneath them). Anyway, if the weather ever does warm up, I plan to put the Oleanders, Lemon tree and other tender plants in its spot. Meanwhile it does look very bare!

No wonder I miss it!

Spring arrives for just a single day!

The Woodland Border
Pots of spring flowers by the back door
Spring arrived yesterday but, has now disappeared and we're back to the normal rainy, grey, cold weather....sigh!  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.  Everything in the garden is late, late, LATE!  The vegetable garden is still not dug, pond margins not weeded and no HOPE of sowing seeds or planting potatoes.  We have plants laid in waiting to be planted in soggy wet borders. We flatly refuse to tread or compact wet soil so there they wait!
A strange blue colour in the sky!!

Hellebores in the Woodland Border.
Despite the appalling weather, the Camelias are blooming their socks off, the Woodland Border is looking very springlike and the Magnolias are beginning to exhibit a little colour as the flower buds swell.  My first Trillium looks amazing and I can't wait to see its flower. Pulmonarias, Wood Anemones, Euphorbias and Hellebores have overtaken the Snowdrops and Aconites and, coming up in the outside lane are Lilies-of-the-valley.

26 March 2018

The Sun Sets on a Pyracantha for the Last Time!

Laying out the flagstones
The felled Pyracantha.
The sun went down on a much loved Pyracantha....sniff.  For the years we have lived here, it had reposed against the conservatory wall. Blackbirds built their nests in it and enjoyed feasting on its berries so it was the end of a mini era in Pear Tree Cottage Garden.  One Chris arrived with his chainsaw and removed all the top growth while the other Chris dug out its roots and laid some reclaimed York flagstones in its place - all rather grave-like! We have decided to pave over the area and, when the wall has been repainted, to place another garden seat and some planted up pots in its place. On the upside, we now have a lot more room on a paved and flat area. In a sloping garden like ours, that's a bonus! Talking of bonuses, it was a relatively spring-like day and a trusty apprentice appreciated ending the day no longer numb with cold!



In happier & healthier days!

21 March 2018

Jetty Building - Phase I

Building the base
The vernal equinox - the real first day of spring not the meteorological first day of spring! (Haven't quite worked out why we now have 2!) saw the beginning of a new garden project in the garden at PTC The pond is getting its very own jetty! A idea which has been on the cards for some time but now work is well underway. The general idea is to get as far away from the appearance of  'decking' as possible and to achieve a more rustic appearance altogether. We made huge progress and, with Chris's usual attention to detail and accuracy meant that the entire structure is 100% square, level and upright! He even cut, inserted and trimmed tiny wedges to ensure both fence posts live up to his high standards of excellence.

Boarding the base

We plan to erect a small fence around part of 2 sides to enclose it a little and to reduce the chances of a chair leg being dangerously close to an edge! I know it's difficult to imagine enjoying a sundowner when it's -4C outside but I'm ever the optimist!



Overhanging the water - safely!

2 of the 4 fence posts in position.

17 March 2018

Snowdrops in the Snow!


March blizzards??? Not exactly the best weather for dividing and planting snowdrops but, I wouldn't mind betting that these little beauties don't even know they've been moved! They have brought both light and life to the Aspen Grove. In the past we planted Dogwoods and Alchemilla Mollis but neither were a success. For a couple of years, we've just had wood chip which had the benefit of smothering 99% of all weeds. Both Chris and I love the woodland look and when the Aspens are in full leaf and the ground beneath in full shade, the snowdrops will have quietly died back and will flower again next spring when they have more light. I'm not a Galanthophile but would guess that these are probably Elwesii. Hopefully they will thrive and spread in their new home!

It took more time removing ski trousers, over trousers, 3 pairs of socks and 6 layers of fleeces afterwards!! Such Arctic weather in March just 'ain't natural!