A couple of weekends of neglect, the end of the first flush of spring colour, and not enough rain have taken its toll on my garden. It’s time to do a complete sweep through and get things looking like someone lives here.
It only takes a few flowers — in this case, the royal-purple aquilegias (also known as columbines or granny’s bonnets) — to develop seed heads and the garden looks dull and ‘past it’. Combined with the clover popping up in the lawn and pelargoniums dropping their petals, my weekend is going to be very busy, and my green waste tubs are going to fill very quickly.
The big jobs of course are mulching. My front garden (apart from the stretch under the birch trees) was never mulched properly. So while I’m on my January holidays (it’s good to have long-term goals), dad and I will truck in some compost, manure or some other fertile, nutritious layer, then cover that with the same mulched-up wood bark we used so successfully for the birches.
Some people argue against wood chip for various (environmental) reasons, but I like it: this stuff had a nice mix of fine and chunky bits, so it looked very natural, and had that lovely peaty smell. It’s started to break down into the soil already, which makes it look soft and natural (much better than the sharp-edged, yellowy gravel that was favoured by my home’s previous owners).
However I can mulch the vegie garden, as I still have a pea straw bale and half a packet of sugar cane mulch. Once I’ve cut off the aquilegias’ seed heads, pulled out some little johnny-jump up pansies that have seen better days, relocated some rogue rananculas to the rest of their tribe in the front, dug out the bright pink pelagonium from what should be just a vegie garden bed, weeded out some killer thistles (leather gloves required?), pruned the new tomato bushes’ lateral branches and tied them up, re-trained the scarlet runner beans that want to break free from their teepee-style trellises, pulled out the lanky California poppies, tidied up the bee-attracting larkspurs … had a energy-restoring cup of tea and piece of toast, perhaps … once I’ve done all this, then I can mow over the coarser straw and spread both mulches all over. It rejuvenates the look of the garden as well as providing essential insulating qualities for the soil.
And that long list was just the back vegie garden. There’s deadheading, mowing, pruning back, pulling up and thinning out to be done in the other backyard garden beds as well as out the front. I’ve had an extraordinary success rate of some little unknown blue things from last summer — every seed they dropped was successful, by the look of it. But even I — who likes to give every self-seeder a fighting chance — even I have to admit there’s just too many, and they must be thinned out for the sake of the other plants.
So that’s how I’m spending my weekend.
Is it tidy-up time in your garden?