Following on my blog about overgrown corners I took advantage of a dry day and tackled that Japanese Quince at the weekend. You may recall it looking like this.
A tangle of branches bereft of foliage after years of struggling under a blanket of ivy.
The clippings filled my garden waste bin and three more bags besides, and took me an entire morning but I think it will have been worth the effort.
Today it looks like this. In the words of my father, who was head gardener for a small estate, If you’re going to prune the damned thing then prune it! Don’t tickle the top!
Yes I could have taken it down to ground level but that seems a little extreme even for me, not least because I uncovered the pale bones of three shrubs that the ivy had been bludgeoned out of existence altogether and to reduce the quince to nothing would have left the corner a barren waste until spring
The space left once I had cut back the quince-nest (which also has contained long anemic strands of holly and rose from either side of it) was substantial.
Fortunately I had plants in reserve. One is a buddleia that had self seeded itself into the side of a potted Hypericum. Doubtless it will be the kind of common or garden mauve variety of buddleia that you see along railway sidings – but the butterflies will not care – and besides which – free plants!
I also had a Lacecap Hydrangea in the rear courtyard, that my other half was not fond of, which will fit the space along the front wall very well once it gets growing next season.
The space it left in the rear courtyard is now occupied buy a deep pink mophead hydrangea that I had revived in a pot over the summer from the deep shade that my predecessor had given it. I am not a particular fan of hydrangeas but inherited no less than five of them and have been looking for the best spots for them all year.
Next job is to resurrect (Or rebuild) the brick pier that the ivy had pulled down so that we can replace the rotted fence panels that had also been lurking beneath that cursed ivy. Apart from anything else the fallen corpse is occupying the space needed for a white shrub rose in the rear courtyard garden that is dominating a large space and rather vicious for a confined area.
The corner in question had gone from a dark den to open space. It does seem a little bare now but the plants and trees will recover from my slash and burn policy and provide a tranquil corner – just minus that thuggish ivy.
Note – if any book ever tells you to plant ivy in a small city garden… don’t, unless you are prepared to stand by with the secateurs. As a plant it may well be good for wildlife but it is labour intensive and not for the faint hearted. Unchecked it will become genuinely destructive, able to pull down guttering, drain pipes and even entire walls.
In other courtyard garden news the bulbs planted a few months ago in pots are already showing green.