May in the Garden: the Mixbury bed

Who knows how it came to be there but it said ‘flower bed’ to me.

With the advent of better weather, I’ve been busy in the garden.  They do say to leave a garden alone for the first year and see what comes up.  I did plan to do that, but I’ve brought some plants with me and homes must be found for them, plus there are certain must-haves which were not evident here when we arrived, so they had to be bought and planted, and while I was ordering those, a few other things slipped into the basket.  One things just leads to another…

So here’s what I’ve been doing.  First must-have: snowdrops.  I simply cannot have a garden without snowdrops.  Harbingers of life as the year turns, I love their brave little spears of green and their cheerful, pure white blooms.  Yesterday I realised that I had actually brought some with me from the old garden.  I had forgotten that when I ordered a mass of them online a couple of weeks ago.  No matter: one can’t have too many snowdrops.  So the new snowdrops are now distributed where we shall be able to see them most easily when it’s cold and harsh outside.  Some are spread along the side of the drive to greet arrivals; some are grouped around the tree nearest to the house and the rest are clumped along the edge of the lawn.  Essentially, they’re all in the eastern part of the garden because that’s the part of the garden most overlooked by the windows.  And we shall be able to see them when we come and go from the house.

The forgotten snowdrops are in the Mixbury bed: so named because it is filled with plants from our old garden.  And it’s a new bed.  I created a new flower bed having only been here a month.  So much for letting a garden alone for the first year.  But one thing led to another…

Along with snowdrops, I also love hellebores.  And I brought three with me: one a magnificent Christmas gift, one from the old garden, and one from the nursery which closed down in the village last year (giving us a chance to grab some lovely plants for next to nothing).  I considered keeping the trio in pots: I plan to have a permanent display of containers welcoming us by the front door.  I’m not sure how, why or when the plan for the hellebores changed but change it did – spontaneously.

IMG_0209There was once a tree growing on the corner of the eastern lawn.  It must have been a large one from the girth of the levelled trunk.  Next to this is a hollow. Who knows how it came to be there but it said ‘flower bed’ to me. And now it is one.  It’s the fastest bed ever, with the minimal of preparation.  Fingers crossed that it works.  If not, I can always re-pot the hapless hellebores and revert to plan A, whatever that might be.  This spot is ideal for admiring from the window in winter.  Early next year, when the wind blows hard and cold and outdoor life is restricted, we shall be able to look out and admire our new hellebore patch.

In the existing small flower bed on the other side of the garden is a massive hellebore.  It has exotic, nodding, multi-petalled pink blooms which fade from dark to dusky to vintage green.  Beautiful!  It currently resides in the sunniest spot in the garden: a plant which prefers dappled shade and which flowers in the winter months is sited in its least favourite position, where, when in flower, it can’t be seen from the house at all.  I can’t imagine going to see it in the midst of winter.  Odd.  It’s also hugely overgrown and cramped and in need of loving care.  I decided it had to be moved.  Another candidate for the new bed.  I tried; I tried hard.  My back ached; both the spade and the fork and my back were at risk of breaking.  The hellebore refused to budge.  It refused to be moved; it refused to be divided.  It did deign to be trimmed and tidied but it isn’t going anywhere. I accepted defeat.  Poor hellebore: now I have to hope my attacks around its roots haven’t damaged it irreparably.  That would be very sad.

And so, in the new bed are the trio of hellebores I brought with me, two still quite small but with new growth emerging already.  Then there was the delightful small pot of narcissi that Pat had given me when we left Mixbury to adorn our very new home.  They had bloomed happily on the kitchen window sill; I couldn’t possibly just toss them away.  So I popped those in as well.  They may grow; they may not: the bulbs certainly looked fat and healthy.  It was then I remembered that I had brought some snowdrops with me from the Mixbury collection.  So they went in too.  Which is when I realised that if everything takes, come late winter/early spring next year, we shall have a lovely reminder of old friends and our old village.  I have created the Mixbury bed!


For the rest of the year, when these beauties will be gathering their strength for the winter display, I’ll pop in some annuals.  And looking down at my handiwork from the window, another idea came to me. The felled tree trunk is close to ground level.  It could be the perfect place for a bird bath.  With all our avian visitors, there is no source of water for them in the garden itself.  A bird bath would be perfect, and I have some garden vouchers given as new home gifts.  The search is on for local nurseries…

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