Sunday 23 April 2017

When April Showers ~~~

Hello Friends!

When April showers may come your way
They bring the flowers that bloom in May
So when it's raining, have no regrets
Because it isn't raining rain, you know
It's raining violets ~~~

We all probably know that sweet song from the film of the same name, and we do, indeed, have many sweet showers of rain in April, and we also get some very sharp, sudden downpours too ~ the sort you really do not want to be caught out in!  There's much truth in it, for all gardeners know that the business end of gardening really takes off in April, whether you are a lawns and borders gardener, or a grow your own fruit and vegetables gardener, or, as I am, a mixture of both, and we need that rain to help bring our seeds and plants to life.  So far, though, our April has been much drier than average, and this weekend and into next week we have an unexpected cold snap descending upon us from the north, with plummeting temperatures, the strong possibility of frosts, and the Met Office is not discounting the possibility of snow ~~~

So, shall I share an update on my "Raspberry Patch of Shame"?  Well, I am no longer ashamed of it!  If you recall, last year my back decided to do its own thing twice, both at key times in the garden, so even the most basic maintenance just didn't happen ~ so the weeds, and everything else took off! I admit, the prospect of clearing it was daunting. It looked a complete mess, a thicket of overgrown Loganberry, brambles out of control, a thatch of couch grass {and you know how that climbs and goes viral!} rampant honeysuckle clambering in from next door, sycamore saplings, ivy, countless weeds the names of which I know not, and somewhere in amongst all of that are my raspberries, blackcurrants, and gooseberry. ~~~Sighs~~~

Where to begin? What to do first? Oh, the word "overwhelmed" didn't even begin to come close to what was going on in my heart over the parlous state of affairs ~~~ so, I stood at the top end of the thicket, armed with sturdy gloves and secateurs, and did the only thing I could do ~~~ grabbed for the first offending bramble I saw, traced it as far back to the root end as I possibly could, cut mercilessly through the vine and began to pull ~ and I pulled, and I pulled, and I pulled ~~~ eventually, the other end of the vine came into view as it made its way along, ripping everything with it's thorns, until finally it was free and I cut it into smaller pieces and started a pile of weeds for the compost bin.  After that, it became easier to find the roots of everything that needed to be removed, so the clearing continued, little bits and often, and that's the great thing, once you make a start it is always easier to continue, in fact it becomes almost addictive ~ just one more vine, just one more weed!

Soon, I had a place to stand, still surrounded by chest~high brambles, but a place nevertheless, I'd gained a foothold! Before I knew it, I was moving merrily along, chopping and cutting my way along, and suddenly, not only did I have a place to stand, but a large patch was emerging, big enough to really move around in, and so it continued until the entire patch is nearly free of all the things that aren't welcome!

A cleared spot to stand from which to move forward, and some of the stones from my old rockery that will now be used to build some new retaining walls

How dry is the earth? Another spot in which to stand, half way down the patch

one of many piles of pruned and pulled weeds for the community garden composting bin

It was then I realised I was standing where raspberry canes should be! Oh! No! Disaster ~ the raspberries and blackcurrants do not look as if they are doing very well at all. I seem to have lost a lot of the canes, and I can only put this down to the fact that there were so many competing weeds, and raspberries do not like competition.  The Loganberry is cut right back and will be maintained this year as a tamed shrub, and the gooseberry looks quite happy, although it is not as big as I'd hoped, or expected but it did not have a fair chance last year to grow.

The Logan Berry which may be a Tay Berry {long story} pruned into a shrub!

This spot was previously full of raspberry canes but they are tenacious and will recover soon

The small gooseberry bush ~ it is clear around but does not look like it here, I know

The next thing is to get the ground as clear as I possibly can and then I plan to strew a good mulch {I am using Strulch} over it all to surpress the weeds. I know it will not stop them, but I am hoping it will slow them down enough to enable me to dig them out or cut them back enough to discourage them without the use of nasty chemicals on my fruit crop.

Bags of Strulch waiting to be strewn {I will need a lot more}

Other things that have been happening {and I'll talk more about these later} are the weekly chore of mowing the dandelions and daisies lawn, general weeding and pruning of the borders, and moving a few plants around.  I have a very wildlife friendly lawn, as you can see here ~~~

In the meantime, here are some photographs I've taken of what's blooming in the garden ~ and which will hopefully survive the coming cold snap!

The seed head of a Pasque flower. Soon there'll be a summary post with all of them for comparison ~~~

Osteosperum, aka Cape Daisies, in the bright sunshine looking so fresh and pristine

I found a "primula" in the border and I potted it on to give it a chance ~ Imagine my pure delight to find it is a native Cowslip ~ the fragrance of which is incomparable {well, maybe to that of Gorse}

A very special Cape Daisy with a beautiful centre, see below ~~~

Aquilegia in bloom already!

Arum Lilies in bloom too ~~~

I love ferns as the croziers slowly open and unfurl to reveal their magical fronds

Native Hart's Tongue Fern

The recently tended Dwarf Clematis responding well to the TLC and some warm spring sunshine

another type of Cape Daisy

Plenty of Dandelions in my wildlife friendly garden!

My free mint is also responding well to the TLC ~ soon there will be a pot full for tea!

Finally, how gorgeous is this bright purple against the pristine white on this stunning Cape Daisy flower in the bright sunshine?

Until next time ~~~
~~~ Deborah xo


  1. What wonderful progress you are making in your lovely garden, Deb. The flowers are rewarding you for your labors. I love the photos you have taken so beautifully as they begin to open. A garden can get quite overgrown if the gardener is not feeling up to par. I'm so happy you are better this year to do the job you love. And I must mention those lovely stones--what beauties to see in the garden. xoxo ♥

    1. Thank you ~ slow but sure will win the race! I am a woman armed with a sharp secateurs, thorn~proof gloves and determination ~ move over weeds! It will come together.
      ~~~Deb xoxo

  2. Enjoyed looking at your garden photo's, weeding I find very theraputic, GOOD LUCK with clearing your fruit bush patch. I am interested to know the name of your Dwarf clemais, I have a beautiful old chimney pot that is asking for something like your clematis

    1. Thank you Kathy ~ I've tried to find that clematis name for you but failed, and I've had it so long now the label is long gone, however there are a lot of very lovely ones to look at online, so I'd pop along to your garden centre to ask them what is suitable for where you live. Good luck! OH, and yes, weeding is incredibly therapeutic!

  3. Beautiful photos - so enjoyed seeing some of the plants you grow in your garden. Great work on the raspberry patch - I share your horror of couch grass as over the last few years it has taken over our mini wildflower meadow! As a last resort we planted loads of yellow rattle last year!

    1. Thank you ~ yes, I fear I will always battle couch grass as the site is a former field. Apparently, the only successful way to rid yourself of it is nasty chemicals and I will not go down that route.

  4. Your garden is lovely and so many flowers I've never heard of, but anxious to see if they'll grow here in the south. Isn't spring glorious!!

    1. Thank you ~ yes, spring is glorious and rivals autumn as my favourite season, and I adore winter too, but summer you may keep!

  5. I though my raspberry patch was hard going but the task I had (nearly finished) was nothing compared to yours. At least my adversary was mainly couch grass. We have a tayberry that may be a loganberry.

    1. Weather stops play again! The couch grass is laughing again! The loganberry that may be a tayberry {is probably a loganberry} was simply due to double labelling of all things.

  6. gorgeous, gorgeous photos!