More Mid-Year Maintenance

OK, so I’ll admit that keeping up with the blog hasn’t been particularly high on my priority list, but I honestly didn’t mean to have such a long gap between posts.

This year is turning out to be challenging for working in the garden. Firstly, I seem to have less energy than I used to. I’m not sure how, but I used to be able to fit in the gym, a full day’s work, several hours of gardening, chores, house admin and the blog all in one day – not everyday, but a few times a week. Now my choice seems to be work plus, “pick one and only one from the list” and even then I would wile the evening away playing games on the computer and sometimes, just sit in the dark nursing a bad headache from (most likely) eye strain.

Foliage rules after main the main summer flowering

Secondly, work has had me travelling a great deal for a week at a time this year. This is the loss of a whole week of evenings and a weekend’s worth of gardening work, which adds up significantly. It’s put me so far behind that there are some winter jobs that I haven’t yet got round to doing. I’ll still be doing winter 2018 jobs in winter 2020.

The weather hasn’t been playing ball either, between heavy squalls and roasting heat, it’s either too wet or too hot to be out doing work (I’m a fair weather gardener). It appears to have calmed down recently and I can plan the evenings that I’ll be out in the garden in between days of showers.

The 2+ metre tall buddleia is a “dwarf” variety

All this has added up to a “gap year” essentially, a year where the progress I had planned to make has had to be drastically scaled back. I expected to start on the large herbaceous border this summer – something that I’ve been planning for a few years now – but instead, I am still in full maintenance mode.

Previously, I’ve been skimping on the maintenance in the garden for the parts “completed” in favour of breaking new ground and making new borders, but this year is the “pay back” year, where I need to return to the established areas and prune back thuggish plants, clear out the weeds that are threatening to invade and generally just spend some time getting things back under control.

Crocosmia over the path

There have been small highlights such as a new wisteria and jasmine that has been planted against the house and a new (and major) stone feature in the garden. The maintenance I’ve been doing (essentially pruning and weeding) have seen the fruit trees finally pruned back hard to encourage a better shape for more fruiting, the canopy lifted on the Judas tree and Fruit Avenue finally given some attention to reclaim it from the weeds.

Weeding and pruning doesn’t make for riveting reading so I’ve used that as an excuse to not spend much time writing, which I do regret now.

Yep, “that border” still needs starting

I think I might need a little attitude shift though – all this time I have been thinking of the maintenance work as “time lost”, time that could have been spent on making new areas in the garden, but seeing an established border pruned back from being out of control, all weeded and neatly edged with a few plant additions here and there to fill in gaps isn’t “time lost” but more an appreciation and continuation of the hard work already done.

The borders still look out of control, but the difference is this time, it’s intentional.

10 Comments


  1. Sunil, sometimes “sh*t” happens! We were away the month of June and the garden had gone bonkers by the time we returned. The neighbors said the roses were beautiful. Sadly I missed most of them. But never mind, I will be here next June so I can enjoy the show (and the benefit of all my work last spring) in 2020. It is amazing how much your garden has grown since I visited.

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    1. Thanks, Lynn, the garden has grown a lot and recently, it feels like all I’m doing is pruning, pruning, pruning to try and regain some control over wayward shrubs that were planted somewhat close together and rather close to the paths.

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  2. The view from your patio looks pretty good to me. It’s certainly normal not to have the same level of energy over time, and sounds like you’ve had a lot to deal with.

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    1. Thanks, Jason, I like the view too, particularly how the patio pots have turned out this year. I’ve not had a lot of big things to deal with, but it’s more a case of dealing with maintenance work that I’ve put off previously.

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  3. Be kind to yourself. Life happens and the garden will be fine and we’ll always be here when you get back. Having been in your incredible garden, I know how much there is to maintain. You haven’t lost any time. You’ve simply been doing what needed to be done, even if it’s different from what you had planned.

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    1. Thanks Tammy, I can try and look at it as necessary maintenance, if I didn’t do it, I’d soon be writing a blog about restoring a garden being restored, if that makes any sense!

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  4. Sunil, you are at an age when so much is going on, its understandable you can’t keep up the same pace continually. The transformation in your garden these last few years is amazing and I love your patio.

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    1. Thanks, Alistair, I do wonder what’s changed, such as I can’t do as much as I used to, I’m just getting old, or perhaps this “Year of Maintenance” is a year out. Having said that, I am about to place an order for five bulk bags of manure, so I guess some things haven’t changed (just yet).

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  5. Ah Sunil! so good to have you back, and thanks for visiting my kitchen (smiling and waving).
    Don’t worry too much about what has not been done; as I always tell myself there’s always next year.

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  6. Sunil, I’ve had a very similar experience this year, and for similar reasons — May and June were exceptionally rainy and July was hot. The result was that I was scrambling to finish my “spring” garden chores by the beginning of July, and then July was too hot for me to do heavy work on my new garden area. By the end of July, I had scaled back my expectations and resigned myself to the fact that my five-year front landscaping project is now a six-year front landscaping project. And I can’t even claim to have used my time away from new garden projects by getting older plantings under control. Oh well, let’s hope for more cooperative weather next year.

    Reply

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