I’ve sold my baby, my beautiful car. Although I got more for her than expected since she is a classic, I still feel like a traitor. I waved the cash proceeds at Attila and demanded something tangible to show for my thirty pieces of silver. Off to my favourite hardware stockist then, for winter pots. Much like my adored automobile, the old terracottas have seen loyal service for many years. Since I never throw anything away, these have been emptied of finished back season bedding. Violas are vile things. To heck with your heartsease, I’m tired of pandering to pansies. I’ve watched the last ones that I shall ever buy, expire in a purulent heap of stringy stalks. The pots have been scrubbed and set aside for re-filling with tender annuals, as soon as these can be trusted with the weather.
Enkianthus campanulatus, ten years of leaves and no flower, until now
The new models are shiny go-faster black, frost proof clay to accord with the gloss painted woodwork. I’ve filled them with lime green Choisya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Gold’ (Mexican orange blossom), two Juniperus squamata (flaky juniper) “Blue Star”, a Pieris, an Olearia (New Zealand holly), Photinia “Red Robin” and some variegated ivies in dusky shades, amongst others. I’ve put them in a sunny spot for the summer, so that they can put down some roots. I’ll sprinkle the arrangement with miniature spring bulbs when they become available. I’m thinking pale blue Iris reticulata and Muscari armenaicum (grape hyacinth), ‘Valerie Finnis’ perhaps. Maybe tiny daffodils and dwarf yellow tulips, “Tarda” for preference, that sounds lovely. In the autumn, I shall drag the display to the front door, where it will light up the corner with a discreet dollop of colour. With a little luck nothing will die by inches or fester in unattractive sodden lumps, since there won’t be a pansy in sight.
Jasminum officinale & Camellia japonica “Nobilissima” in the conservatory
With the containers corralled temporarily, I can blitz the porch with weed killer and disaccommodate the grass which grows between the tiles. If I can find the tin of brick acid in the shed, I’ll give the surface a birthday it will never forget, at least until next year. While I’ve been fiddling about with my small scale gardens, my right hand man has shipped huge bales of compost to the garage and discovered that the building needs a complete reorganisation, in order to fit them in. Whilst in pursuit of the caustic to enable me to clean the floor of the portico, he found a tin of white paint and remembered another job that needs doing. Therefore he’s been rushing around anointing all of the windowsills, along with anything else that holds still for a moment. Propping up a spade and lost in plans for my miniscule landscapes, I’ve had a couple of close shaves myself.
Akebia quinata (chocolate vine)
We retired to the kitchen, me with sore knees from crawling, Attila with an ache all over. In recompense in part, I made him cock-a-leekie for dinner, the broth fragrant with vegetables and a bouquet garni made of parsley, bay and rosemary tied with thread. He was so bushed that he ate the herbs, string and all. He was so weary, that he didn’t complain that the strange garnish got stuck in his teeth.