The sun is shining. There is shock on Pig Row, neighbours disorientated by this unusual occurrence have been caught dilly dallying over whether to take their jumpers off to reveal t-shirts. Some want to hedge their bets and have opted for cardigans. Some whisper the hallowed word, layers. As in to wear layers that can be stripped off rather than layers that need to be chipped off because of the ice. This strange sight of the sun, blue sky and only the lingering memory of a cloud on the horizon sparks something primeval in all of us at Pig Row. Little D's sand table is put up, the parasol is put up with much hilarity when the foul water collected in the hole that the support stands in squirts up and covers me. There is talk of snacks, and picnics, rather than soup, stews and the ultimate warming food, toast. There is a mad rush to weed and finish off jobs. There are plants to go in the ground and structures for plants to grow up. We are whirling dervishes reaching out for new purchases, such as the wonderful White Angel Lavatera. At Drovers we had a Lavatera for many years and this plant give us a screen in summer and could be pruned back each spring to let light flood back in. It was a shame when it died but this new variety is breathtakingly beautiful.
The plants in the cloister from Fothergills and D.T. Brown's are doing well and are starting to fill their pots. The jasmine in the foreground is Clotted Cream and is a present for a friend.
Last week we started to get the new arch into its final position. It was concreted in with a dry mix; the holes it sits in are two feet deep, so the wind shouldn't bother it. We have placed it in the gap between the hedges and planted an Iceberg Rose on it that we brought with us from Drovers.
It's a very simple but beautiful arch, coppiced in the area and made by Wild Service. It nestles in well among the flowers and the red brick path.
You can see how bad the weather has been, the wigwams by now should be dripping with sweet peas and runner beans but they have barely started. To give you an idea of how poor it is, this is July of last year, same spot, same sweet peas.
But at least the arch is looking good. We now just have to alter the path to gently curve through it.
Even with all this foul weather the Pastel Annual Mix from Sarah Raven, that we are trialing, is starting to flower, and though the cosmos are a little slow to get going, they will catch up. The bees are loving these flowers and this is a lovely bee bar that spreads up to a perennial bed. We are hoping to replicate this for one hundred feet next year by the hawthorn hedge in the orchard, planting wild perennials rather than annuals.
The weather has had a terrible impact on our vegetables. We have barely hardened off our courgettes from Seeds of Italy and the Sturon onions are rather tattered, sad and slug attacked. The slugs have been awful this year and we are inclined to reach for the slug pellets.
Whilst we were away at Whitby, we took the chance on the way back to drop in on the wonderful nursery, R.V. Roger who supplied our orchard via Habitat Aid. It was like being a kid in a candy shop, and the level of knowledge was wonderful to behold, we purchased Honeysuckle Sensationalism off them. A heavily scented plant that will weave effortlessly through this tree.
Some rescued plants from my parents house are Zéphirine Drouhin roses. We cut them back hard and they have responded well. They have been crowded a little by the grass but they will romp away once the roots get down. It's not like we'll need to worry about water this year.