The garden at the rectory is ever full of surprises, as is any garden really. Just when one thinks that one has seen it all before, so something pops up and reminds you, that, with all the potential variation in weather conditions and the passing state of insects and disease, not to mention the busyness or otherwise of the gardener, and there is little wonder that one year in the garden is never entirely replicated by another.
The most exciting things unfolding in the rectory garden at the moment are the roses. The rambling rector is filling the place where we sit with scent. There are masses of flowers, even though each year we cut it back severely, it being one of the plants that will take over an area of the garden, given the right conditions and too timid a pruner. The other rose coming into its best, and much longer lasting, is that called, “The Lark Ascending”, which is one I planted just before Christmas in 2017, and its beautiful apricot blooms are well into their cycle of bud-opening to full bloom, to overblown and collapse, that covers the bush in a variety of stages at any one time.
Today we may have our first sweet pea opening, which will be very exciting, for the plants are growing vigorously and are producing plenty of buds; with irises, hollyhocks and ox-eye daisies not far behind. I am a reluctant hoer around these plants that are putting on such growth at the moment, as I also want the self-seeded poppies and nasturtiums to survive, and I need them to be big enough first, to allow me to separate them from the weeds. So initially they grow together. I remind myself of the parable.
Vegetables are coming on. I will give the potatoes another four weeks I think, and before then we shall have our first broad beans and the first row of peas will be in flower. The runner beans are coming on, and the French beans are germinating as I write. A succession of salad leaves is underway, with two-weekly sowings, and all-round snail protection is pretty vital. This year, Helen has devised a new barrier to pests from the old, unpleasantly-rough dead Christmas tree branches, from 2019. They might not look very good, but help bar the way to the pigeons and may even deter the slugs and snails.
Daily watering is part of the routine of early evening, maintaining life in the pots, and the beds of seedlings, and the wigwams of beans. But, even with much t.l.c., water and sunshine, some things are resolutely failing to grow well this year. Maybe they are past it and need to be replaced, or perhaps they can be shocked into action with some extra feed.
I have a compost heap to turn, the aforementioned ground around the sweet peas to weed, the grass to cut, the next pot of lettuce to sow, as Helen ties in the straggling broad beans, weighs up the right moment to harvest the gooseberries, and brings on this year’s annuals, whilst nurturing fuchsia, geranium and strawberry. The daffodil foliage is dead now and ready to go, currants and berries are needing protection, rhubarb is coming ready for another picking and the peonies are about to burst into full flower. There is an ever-changing scene and one, through all the disappointments and failures of gardening, that is filled with delight and wonder as each day dawns.