It’s been a busy few months here in sunny Wales and we’ve achieved quite a lot. We’ve definitely had a spring in our step! This is the first of a few posts about what we’ve been up to so far this year.
The bathroom has had a lick of paint and we’ve put some new flooring in, nothing flash, but it has certainly brightened the place up and it will last a few more years until we can refurbish it properly.
One weekend Mr Bumbleandme decided to tackle the bank behind the cottage. This is no light undertaking, believe me. The bank runs along the back of the house and extends further to one side before sloping down to the same level as the cottage where it meets a very short path to a spring, which used to serve as a water source for the cottage. Immediately behind the cottage, the bank consists of large slate rocks that are visible and as you climb higher earth covers the rock and it’s summit is almost level with the top of the cottage roof. At the top of this bank there is a path at the edge of the wood that runs from the veranda to the summerhouse.
Ever since we moved here the bank has been overrun with bramble. To be honest it was a bit of an eyesore, but when you’re faced with twenty foot long bramble branches arching here, there and everywhere and the steep terrain, it’s something I’ve been putting off.
However, this particular weekend Mr Bumbleandme had had enough – he brandished his strimmer and set to clearing the bank! Thank fully at this time of year, it was easier than expected. Once we’d cleared the now strimmed bramble branches, we set about pulling up the roots. As luck would have it, the soil is quite loose up there and so most of the roots came up without too much of a fight (well, compared with other areas we’ve tackled so far!).
The following weekend, Mr bumbleandme decided to build some steps up the now cleared and very bear bank. So he set to looking for suitable sized branches to make some rickety old steps up the newly cleared bank! He’s become ever so resourceful! Before you know it, he’d reached the top and so decided to build a fence along the path at the top.
Of course, all this bare earth could only mean one thing – plants! I decided to think carefully about the planting on this bank, as it gets a lot of sun, and is very dry and I didn’t fancy having to tend to it every weekend. I dragged myself to my local nursery, armed with a list of sensible plants that, once planted would take care of themselves. That list got thrown out of the window as soon as I arrived, save a few must haves. I’m like a kid in a sweety shop when it comes to nurseries. There’s so much to choose from and I always get carried away. I’ve always been a fan of perennials and not had much time for shrubs, until we moved here. Here there is just so much to do, I don’t have time to tend to the garden like I used to.
After wandering around for about an hour, drooling at all the bare pots with plant labels promising endless summer colour, I decided to try something I’ve never done before and ask for advice from the nursery. It’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time. I described the terrain, soil type and aspect and then spoke about the plants on my list and the lady was so helpful. We spent about an hour wandering around choosing plants that would love it in this demanding area of the garden.
At the top of my shopping list was a flowering dogwood and magnolia. Thankfully my research had paid off and the lady at the nursery agreed these would do just fine. Sadly the magnolias were just a little bit too expensive, so I bought two of the flowering dogwoods instead! I’m so excited about these, and although they will take some years to become the beautiful small trees that fill my imagination, I’m happy to wait patiently for the day I see them flowering for the first time.
I also tried to keep the variety of plants to a minimum, but buy lots of them – this is much harder than I realised. I bought some low growing and taller architectural euphorbia, hebes to line the steps, and some geraniums to cover the ground. A flowering boxwood also snuck itself into my trolley – the flowers smell devine!
Armed with a car full of plants, I set off back home and carefully laid them all out before planting. Despite having almost filled my car with plants, it was surprising how bare the bank looked once I’d planted everything! Hopefully the rich soil will help them fill the space soon enough. I’ve added some seed grown foxgloves and wallflowers that have been overwintering in the polytunnel and sitting patiently in the veggie patch hardening off, waiting to be given a home. My mother also kindly gave me several geraniums, divided from her stock in the autumn, so these have taken up residence at the bottom of the bank and will hopefully cover it, securing some of the soil.
I’ve also purchased some cat mint, which I adore, and so does my cat! So much so that he eats it! I’m not sure they’re supposed to eat it, but he does and he spends hours rolling around in it, drooling and purring uncontrollably. The kittens have also cottoned on to its feline magic and become equally obsessed with it. In an attempt to save the poor plants, I’ve fashioned some wire cloches together with chicken wire, shaped around an old mixing bowl and staked them into the ground over the stubby remains of the plants. Hopefully this will allow the plants some breathing space to grow and once they peek through the cloches, the cats can once again enjoy the leaves. Well, that’s the plan anyway, but I did spot Austin in a state of ecstasy rolling around in the dirt next to a cloched catmint the other day, so we’ll have to see if they survive.
Today, only a month or two after clearing it, bluebells are popping along the bank and the plants are settling in nicely.
Look out for the next post to see what else we’ve been up to.