The Hedges and the Edges.

Waterford, south-east Ireland, Saturday, 1st May, 2021

When the hedges and the edges are neat and tidy in the garden there is a feeling that all is under control; that all is in order and that all is well. It is similar to having a good frame on a photograph or painting for very often a mediocre picture can be flattered and improved by being framed well. The hedges have received sufficient attention to date but the edges have been neglected for the past few weeks. Over the last 18 months I have had two battery-powered grass trimmers give up the ghost very early in their lives. When the first gave up, the seller replaced it and when the second went the same way as the first he reimbursed me the cost of my purchase. These were 38volt Black & Decker machines. After losing the last one I spent quite some time online researching possible replacements, almost to the point of total confusion, and eventually turned to a friend who is a professional gardener and she told me to get a Husqvarna and to get on with it. I followed her advice, not precisely, as I bought a bigger/stronger model than she suggested, with a battery which would run for longer and it is also one which allows me to change the tool head so that I can add a hedge trimmer attachment or a chain saw – though the Head Gardener has knocked that dream on the head already! (I detected a certain lack of confidence in my abilities and safety!). I could even add a blower, or revolving brush, a lawn scarifier or several other tools – no end of fun. With my new toy to hand, I cut the grass and trimmed the edges and it is certainly true that when the hedges and the edges are done the garden looks all the better. Happy Under Gardener!

There wasn’t a lot of work done in the garden this week but what was done will stand to us later in the year. Yes, I did the grass and the edges, but more significantly we spent two days staking those taller herbaceous plants which are inclined to flop over as they gain in height – galegas, heleniums, asters and the likes. It can be fiddly work but if taken at ease is very pleasant. We used twigs – hornbeam, hazel, lime and beech – for many of the plants, bamboo and twine for others and metal supports on the remainder and hope that we will have prevented the late season flop by our early intervention.

So, what’s looking well at the moment in the garden?

This little combination of the yellow flowers of Weigela middendorfiana above Pulmonaria ‘Glebe Cottage Blue’ struck me as being very pretty this week. I presume the Head Gardener had this effect in her head when she planted these but it always comes as a very pleasant surprise when I notice such moments in the garden.

The magnolias are not quite gone over completely but when the leaves join the flowers the attractive display of blossom is lost or at least muddled and these days there seems to be as many magnolia petals on the ground as on the trees.

The petals of Magnolias ‘Raspberry Ice’ and ‘Heaven Scent’ on the grass.

Thankfully, there are other trees to take on the display in the garden as the first of the crabapples have come into flower. Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ is the oldest of the crabapples here and has made a good-sized tree since being planted here over thirty years ago. It gives a good display of blossom at this time of year and another of yellow crabs in autumn – and thankfully, the blackbirds love them and strip the tree before the fruits turn an unattractive brown, an unfortunate disadvantage in this variety.

Malus floribunda is undoubtedly my favourite among the crabapples. We saw it first in the garden of the late Mrs. Rosemary Browne in Bray, Co. Wicklow and fell in love with it so sought it out immediately afterwards. It is one of the very few trees in the garden which is planted as a specimen.

Malus ‘Gorgeous’ – well, it simply lives up to its name! It gives an exceptional display of blossom and an outstanding crop of crabapples. Enough said!

Malus ‘Dark Rosaleen’ has flowers of a distinctly attractive colour, a striking dark red, which is particularly attractive. We planted it as one of a group of small trees and shrubs in a corner of the garden and those in front – Cornus mas, Viburnum farreri and a few others – have hidden it somewhat. Some branches reach over and through these frontline shrubs but this crabapple actually looks better from outside the garden and I went into our neighbour’s field to photograph it. I’m not sure of the origins of this plant but I imagine it must have been raised, or at least named, in Ireland for “Dark Rosaleen” (Róisín Dubh) was the title of a poem written by James Clarence Mangan, a love poem at its shallowest reading, but in truth an expression of love and loyalty to Ireland at a time when expressions of nationalism were against the law.

Finally, a change of scene: We went for a walk in Mount Congreve Gardens yesterday, the first such visit since the middle of last summer even though the gardens are only a few minutes away from us and we have been very regular visitors over the years. Here is a selection of views from the garden:

I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!

29 thoughts on “The Hedges and the Edges.

    1. It’s a garden we normally visit very frequently as it is so close to us and we are allowed in even when the gardens are closed to the public but hadn’t been there since last summer so it was great to visit again, chat with the gardeners etc.

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      1. Yes, blessed! And the Garden Curator is the most generous of people – he always has time to comment on what looks good in the garden; to take a quick walk around to show us what looks good and always has plants for us to take home.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your beautiful Malus selections Paddy. They are all stunning. As for Mount Congreve gardens I almost missed the click through arrow. Thanks heavens I spotted it since the photos are incredible – the acers, azaleas, the bluebells! What a beautiful place.

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    1. I think February to March are spectacular with so many magnolias in flower – some hundreds of Magnolia campbellii among others.

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  2. Wow, Congreve Gardens goes straight on the list! Glad you got your day out and looks like the weather did you proud. I have often been tempted by that yellow weigela, what is it like when not in bloom and is it well behaved? Lovely photos as always.

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    1. That weigela is smaller than the more common weigela cultivars and is perfectly well behaved. After ten years or so it is a metre and a half high and a metre wide – we prune out the older branches every few years.

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  3. I’ve really noticed the Malus this year, and yours are just perfect. We have a neighbour with a beauty, and I can just see it over the fence.

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  4. Wise advice re staking, I have done my peonies but need to consider other floppy plants. An interesting and pretty selection of crab apples, someone told me the birds don’t eat Yellow Hornet apples but clearly that’s not the case in your garden!

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    1. Blackbirds adore Golden Hornet crabapples. We seem to have a big winter population of blackbirds – we see as many as a dozen together on the lawn – and they scoff them with gusto.

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  5. I’m glad you found a tool you liked – battery technology is improving all the time. I use a Stihl battery trimmer for work and find it very good. As you say, once you have the battery/batteries, there are lots of other toys you can potential spend your pocket money on!

    The Pulmonaria/Weilgela combination is very nice indeed. Yellow and blue work anyway, but the particular shades of those plants are particularly good.

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    1. I’ve given the Stihl a run and am happy with it. It’s a big machine for trimming the edges, a little awkward initially but I’ll get used to it. It’s probably far stronger than I need but after two smaller machines failing in the last year or so I went for reliability – and the option of changing tools. A hedge trimmer will be top of the list as this machine gives me good reach.

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  6. My congratulations to the Head Gardener for the Weigela/pulmonaria combination which is beautiful.
    I’ve got a Black and Decker strimmer but the battery pack has been a problem and I’m on my second one. When it works it’s great though.

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    1. I’ve gone through two B & Ds very, very quickly. Light and handy to use but when they don’t last it’s disappointing. This new one is a bit of a beast in comparison but I erred on the side of strength this time.

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  7. Oh, my hat is always off to the head gardener! With each passing year I come to realise more and more that it is she who has made the garden with my muscles! LOL

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