The garden has had some major surgery over the past few weeks and I am still getting the place back to rights. The Hawthorn hedge bordering the garden on the west side had gradually got higher and higher so that it was no longer possible to trim it without a stepladder so drastic action was needed. FRom the field side the whole hedge was reduced back to its original height just above the timber fence. It looks awful at the moment but should look really well when Spring comes along. The other surgery was for a different reason. I originally planted Poplar trees along the street boundary in 2008 or 2009 when the garden was first planted. My intention was to remove them after about 7 or 8 years once the other trees had matured so about 4 years ago we removed most of them but the two each side of the gate looked well so I left them be. Bad decision! I was unaware that Poplar roots spread to two and a half times their height and I became aware that the shoots from the roots were approaching with a few feet of my house so there was nothing for it but to remove these very tall trees. This task was also completed in the past month or so! The tidy-up was my main focus since then but sometimes the garden can surprise me with a treasure to lift my spirits! The reliable Mahonia is one such plant.
When I started collecting Clematis I was fascinated to realise that there were some which were evergreen and also winter-flowering so I acquired a few. Clematis Pixie did well for me for a few years but then I lost it to the winter. Cartmanii Joe survived a bit longer. The evergreen Armandii is not fully hardy and I have struggled but have managed to get it to survive long enough to give me one or two flowers, but the most frustrating one which I acquired in 2014 was ‘Wisley Cream’ – much praised on various websites. It is a small-leafed climber, not at all like a Clematis leaf, and it produced a fair bit of growth each year, but never a sign of a flower! I ignored it for most of the year, but each autumn when I was tidying the borders for the winter I would come across it and wonder would it flower that year but it never did. I lost some of my larger clematis last year and so Wisley Cream had a bit more scope to spread itself which it duly did. The other day I was passing the Clematis arch when I noticed that Wisley Cream and Armandii seemed to be twining roudn each other for support. But what was that? Could it be a flower? Yes! At last! After seven years Wisley Cream has decided to flower!
As you can see Armandii is also showing signs of buds too! It is looking good for us so long as we don’t get too much frost! I am particularly pleased that the flowers on Wisley Cream are quite plentiful and look exactly like the pictures that tempted me to acquire it in the first place!