On one of the rainier days last week I finally got to some financial admin I had been putting off. I had to query a tax claim. Well, the long and short of a very dull story was that the tax lady’s understrapper replied to my missive (she being too busy) giving up all claim to the vast sum previously requested. My natural response to this, the funds having been set aside just in case, was to hit the Binny Plants website with gusto. The VAT component will perhaps go some way to fill the gap in any HMRC estimates. Well, the Binny chap came a few days ago and delivered the vast quantity I had ordered (I had abstemiously refrained from ordering the more expensive tree peonies and therefore felt wholly justified in going for broke on the lactiflora). Just as he was packing up to go, a van delivering the Burncoose order drew up. I had sneaked in a few azaleas on Keith’s camelia order and, as these had been on a buy two get one reduced offer, the net result was a most impressive array on the patio. I have been digging holes ever since.
In the new quadrant bed between our house and Anne and Raymond (just after the centurion with his trusty pig statue – some have suggested it is a dog but those people are simply wrong.) I have planted a backdrop of yellow, red and white azaleas with some rather snazzy red peonies in the front and plan to intersperse with ferns and such like for added greenery. (I am gradually reconciling myself to the idea that constantly adding new herbaceous borders is going to finish me off. There is only so much weeding, staking, splitting, cutting back and mulching a woman can do in a year. I need to embrace shrubs. To make this palatable I have designated peonies as shrubs – like the pig/dog I feel this is simply a question of perspective). Having dug through some ericaceous compost to welcome the new azaleas I decided to trial some blue meconopsis as well. I have had little joy of these in the past but the soil in this bed (mostly – there is a bizarre seam of clay) seems quite leafy and I have decided it is worth a last whirl. I am really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.
The yellow, red and green theme with the new planting was curiously echoed today in wildlife encounters today. Lyra and I took to the lanes for a morning walk slightly earlier than usual and as we approached the wood next to the back lane I could hear the pile driver notes of a woodpecker. There are woodpeckers in the wood just behind our house and I never seem able to see them, so my hopes were not hugely high, but the increasingly deafening note of the drilling suggested there was one right overhead. I stood craning my head for what seems like an age, letting the canopy come into focus (it is oddly dizzying to stare upwards through the trees) and finally caught a flash of red. There he was. Once I had focussed in I managed to follow him darting about, drilling away for a while. I noticed that after he had rat tatted away for a bit there would be an echoing, but fainter, drilling song from up the hill. I wonder if as well as a way to find handy termites the drilling acts as a mating call??
Passing some bare trees just south of Kersfield I noticed the yellow birds I had spotted over the winter. I had half convinced myself then that the yellow was just a trick of the light and they must just be a warm brown but looking at them again today they were distinctly yellow. One of them obligingly sat just out of range for long enough to get a slightly blurry shot and subsequent consultations with my old friend George Oogle suggests a yellowhammer.
The green in the Culture Club triptych was supplied by the pond frogs. Now the ice is melted they have emerged from wherever they have been hibernating and taken to the water. Grovelling down by the bottom pond in the new marginal bed planting butomus (flowering rush) this afternoon I could distinctly hear them singing. Later when I was weeding around a tree peony (I thought it had pegged out, defeated by an encroaching geranium, but there is new growth at the roots!) I looked up to see two little eyes peering back at me. I’m petty sure it was Trevor.
In other news the sun has brought out the crocus and they are lovely.