Cherrie's Notes

I spent a happy hour or two in the garden last week. Having failed miserably to tidy things with any sense of order in the autumn, everything was very badly in need of a spruce up or at the very least a short back and sides.

So, submerged plants are finally seeing the light of day, set free from their leafy blankets. The Maple tree, which started life as a tiny thing plonked into an unlikely space on a sloping bed is the main culprit. Now it greets you as you open the gate into the garden proper, casting not just leaves in autumn, but also welcome shade in summer.

It’s a favourite place and a cool vantage point to sit and look up at the terraces. But with summer just a daydream at the moment it was back to the task in hand and leaves were scooped, shovelled and sent on their merry way for recycling. Don’t you just love the cyclical nature of it all?

The maple leaves were joined by the old foliage of the ferns, which absolutely love my garden and which, alongside the ivys can be very invasive if you don’t keep a close eye and the secateurs, handy.

But in spite of their dominant ways I wouldn’t be without either of them. I love the new fronds of the ferns and the way they thrive where other plants won’t and the way the ivys soften the stone and clamber up fences and walls reminds me that they were here before me.

And as I tidied and pruned I made my annual promise to myself and to the garden to do us both a favour and mulch the ground well with good sustaining compost, to give the soil the heart it needs to carry it through the growing season.

The Witch Hazel is looking wonderful, even if, like the maple, it is in the wrong place. One of the challenges which comes with a small garden is resisting the temptation to buy plants which may well outlive their space.

At the moment it has pride of place up the steps in a semi-circular raised bed, which I can just about see from my kitchen window and it most definitely the plant of the moment.

Behind it against the fence is a lovely Ornamental Quince, which produces more fruit each year and whose creamy white flowers I am impatient to see. It is, I know, in the wrong place as well. It needs to be re-harnessed gently to the fence and it needs a gentle prune too and even though it wants to be a wonderful contorted thicket of branches, leaves and fruit, it will have to be substantially restricted if it is to stay where it is.

Beside the Witch Hazel and nestling beside a lovely big lump of stone (very handy when I am reaching in to weed or prune) is a pretty Hellebore and all around it another lovely little invader, which is great for ground cover, but in reality is a tiny thug. Pratia pedunculata has tendril like foliage and tiny blue star shaped flowers when they appear in summer. Coming through it at the moment are the early shoots of the grape hyacinths and the little tete-tete daffodils.

And elsewhere clumps of snowdrops fattening up nicely with more recently planted snowdrops popping up in tucked away places.

Buried treasure indeed. I must plant more.