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The passion flower in the big square pot has died. It followed its predecessor into eternity, except this one never formed a bud, much less a bloom. I decided to get to the bottom of the problem. I called Attila and asked him to move the other large containers out of the way. Thank you. Then I asked him to shift the huge obelisk, festooned with twining stems of defunct climber. It’s too heavy for me to manage. I’m obliged. The soil was wet, hefty and compacted. “Oh Honey, here’s a bucket, would you take out the soggy compost and put it on the heap around the back? And remove the crocks, yes please, all of them.”
Passiflora “Purple Haze”
Passiflora “Purple Haze”

I asked him if he had seen any vine weevil grubs, or anything else that might have been chewing roots, cocooned in the dark out of sight. He complained that the sweat from his brow impeded his detection skills, which was fair. The pot had one drainage hole, entirely inadequate for such a vast container. “Oh Darling, would you drill me some more, to prevent future waterlogging? Don’t break the trough”. “Sweetheart, get some more crocks from the shed and make a decent layer at the base. Get the gigantic bale of fresh compost from the garage if you would and empty it in. Put the obelisk back on top, now that I have cleaned it off. Now get out of my way, while I plant it up with new Passifloras”. “Constance Elliot”, all white and “Caerulea” in blue and green are evenly matched in growth rate and will look wonderful, scrambling their way up to the eaves of the conservatory. “Now put the other colossal pots back in place, if you would be so kind.”
Asplenium bulbiferum (mother spleenwort) & Phlebodium pseudoaureum (Virginia blue fern)
Asplenium bulbiferum (mother spleenwort) & Phlebodium pseudoaureum (Virginia blue fern)

Other residents are afflicted with a nasty dose of mealy bug. The white fluff around the swines protects them from spray-on insecticides and they seem to laugh at systemics. The best method of control is to dab them with a Q-tip loaded with methylated spirit. Try to resist making jokes at the chemist, that the stinky substance is for drinking. They give you a somewhat humourless stare otherwise known as the fish eye. I quartered the tropical plants, removing deceased cacti, trimming faded leaves, tying up drooping stems and rehoming spiders. I swept the floor most thoroughly.
Reaching the roof
Reaching the roof

Spouse had gone outside to cut lumps off the old cherry tree, which has fallen off the twig to my immense regret. He says that ladders and power saws come as something of a relief, after a little light hothouse gardening with me. He’s proud that he hasn’t broken any terracottas or residents therein. I don’t care about the ceramics. Husbands are hard to come by, especially one as good as him.