IN LATE APRIL, when the deciduous trees are leafing out, the birds are chirping, and the early bulbs are waving their wanton blooms, I enjoy taking Lily the Beagle for “walkies.” Would you like to see what we see when we tour the gardens here? Join us:
We are in the upstairs guestroom now, looking down at the Rose Garden. Surrounding this plot in a figure-8 pattern are 190 yews (Taxus hicksii). And edging the 8 rose beds are 320 boxwoods, most of which I grew from cuttings.
The yews, which entered the garden in 2004 as tiny, 8-inch tall shrubs, and which grew very slowly into a handsome, 6-foot-tall hedge, were in dire need of a haircut. Mr. G., above, managed the job in only 30 minutes. He’s returning next week to prune and shape the boxwood.
Some sad news. I lost several David Austin roses during the dreadful winter of 2014. I know they are dead, because I scratched their lowest canes, and found not a trace of green. Fortunately the vast majority of the roses are still among the living. These were recently pruned, and then fed an organic formula.
I don’t use systemic pesticides (or any pesticides, for that matter) on my roses. Why? Because these products infect the entire plant, including the pollen that bees gather. The only warm-weather treatment the shrubs receive — if I’m feeling energetic — is a weekly spray of plain milk. Yes, milk. It’s as good as anything for controlling blackspot.
Swoosh! We are at the entrance to the Serpentine Garden now. As you might recall, I carved this garden into a hillside that was too steep to mow. The details.
And this luminous ‘White Pearl.’
The garden’s second terrace is a sea of blue just now, courtesy of the Vinca minor I planted there 8 years ago. Sprouting through the vinca are dozens of soon-to-bloom tulips.
Also strutting their promiscuous petals are clumps of species tulips. These are the tiny ancestors of the tall, familiar Dutch tulips. Pictured above is ‘Dasystemon Tarda,’ a sweetly-scented, yellow-and-white variety.
If you’ve never tried them, species tulips are a cinch to grow. They are also easy to force for indoor winter bloom.
I had intended to walk you through the Woodland, Kitchen, and Herb Gardens today. But now the wind has kicked up, and the temperature has dropped. So let’s head back to the house, where a refreshing dessert awaits.
As we sit in the parlor and enjoy slices of The Best Lemon Tart in the World, perhaps you can tell me what’s happening in your own garden. As always, I cherish your thoughts.
Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly email updates.