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We are thinking of our opening on April 1 and it is a matter of fitting in all the gardening jobs that need doing and making sure the garden is looking neat and tidy for the big day!
It has been a good winter but oh so dry. Johnny and I have done a lot of planting on the steep banks and usually at this time of year the soil is possible for planting, but it is already hard work to get a spade in. We have added a lot of compost and mulched around the plants as much as possible, and will keep our fingers crossed that they survive. We had an expensive but exciting visit to Junkers nursery in Somerset where we bought some magnolias, cornus and acers. A marvellous collection is held there by Karan Junker who is a passionate plantswoman and a very good saleslady!
This year we emptied the semi circular swimming pool as it needed re- painting. This is done with black rubberised paint and takes the gardeners a good week. We are now re-filling rather carefully, as it is with our own water supply which is unusually low for this time of year.
I pruned all the floribunda and shrub roses which were beginning to show signs of growth. The bed of felicia roses planted by my grandmother are very woody and old but always give a brilliant display in June and after dead heading again in August. My mother always said that roses will live for ever if pruned properly and as these must be nearly eighty years old I think she was right!
It is an exciting time of year with bulbs and herbaceous plants appearing every day, the daffodils will be perfect for early April and so will the magnolias as long as we do not have a late frost. I am just about to go and prune the summer flowering ceanothus and penstemons which we leave till now for protection but are looking messy and need a trim.
The new black iron bench which has been made over the winter is waiting for its seat covers. We were inspired by a holiday in Morocco two years ago and copied a simple design on the roof garden of our riad. This is going to be placed in the summerhouse overlooking our water garden so that people can relax and enjoy the peacefulness of this area.
The tea room has also had an update and been re-painted in the same Farrow and Ball colour as before which we all liked. New tablecloths in a floral design have been made locally as the old ones had badly faded over the years. We have re-placed all the pictures too with photographs that Johnny has taken of the garden. We suddenly realised that Andrew Lawson’s beautiful old photographs were getting very out of date so have had modern unframed ones made via the internet!
The next two weeks will be flat out getting everything spic and span and the plants ready to bring down to sell. Tina has been up in the nursery for most of March re-potting and planting seeds, all looks in good order and we should have an excellent selection on our stands for April.