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I made a mistake. When planting the kitchen patch, I bought two cheap Prunus domestica trees from Aldi, bearing the labels “Greengage” and “Victoria”. After five years of fairly constant feeding and watering, I have come to the sad conclusion that they are neither. The first is a common or garden cooking plum, which fruits modestly in monsoon years and makes a lovely pudding. The other seems more like a rather mean spirited bullace, which squeezes out four miserable purple pellets in a good season, which are all skin and stone. In dry times it squats in prime position with a recalcitrant look on its face, producing no blossom and hence no fruit, being bedecked instead with aphid leaf curl and snails.
Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark) & some kind of Coccinellid (ladybird)
Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark) & some kind of Coccinellid (ladybird)

I don’t like chopping down trees. They have to get me really irked before I reach for the chainsaw. Attila, on the other hand, needs little excuse to unleash his inner lumberjack. My husband said that the tree was inoffensive and had done nothing to me, to which I replied that was my point. I haven’t enough room for the ineffectual. The heavy kit was plugged in, the armoured trousers were donned and the offending article was dismembered for firewood, with remarkably little fuss. He didn’t smash the adjacent rhubarb forcing pot, which had been my main concern. He failed to trample on the hellebores, about which I had been worried. He missed his chance to destroy the arum which has never performed despite preferential treatment. Not one blunder to bitch about. Nice job.
Rhododendron yakushimanum & Cotinus coggygria (smoke bush)
Rhododendron yakushimanum & Cotinus coggygria (smoke bush)

While his attention was elsewhere, I thought about the space to be released. Some time ago I realised that the hot box was in the wrong situation. The idea is that rotting vegetation in the bottom creates heat for a bumper crop of courgettes on top. The sides are supposed to be festooned with nasturtiums but these are lost in the depths of the artichoke foliage, since I made an error with the placement. Before Attila could stash his equipment and change his clothes, I asked him to lift the framework, spread the cubic metre of well rotted compost and re-site the box on the newly vacant ex-plum plot. Without a squeak of complaint, he did the lot.
Apple, kitchen garden & house
Apple, kitchen garden & house

While my partner in crime sweated at my behest, I did the weeding. This was made more difficult by the Geranium phaeum “Samobor” which I put in as a single plant and has now spread incontinently all over the garden but has made particular use of the vegetable area. It takes a lot of effort to dig out the roots and unless this is done it will return, together with its seedlings. Whilst working I couldn’t help but notice that the Crambe cordifolia is being subsumed by the cardoons, to the extent that it no longer blooms and the leaves are looking wambly. It would appear that I slipped up in putting them too close together. Flowering sea kale is a tough specimen snuggled within the Brassica family. It has a huge taproot with which it mines for moisture and nutrients, making moving the bugger an arduous prospect. I did what any sensible woman would; I handed my man exhaustive instructions and a spade.

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