Gardening Magazine

A Tidy Up

By David Marsden @anxiousgardener

Now that we’ve finally had a couple of frosts at the Priory,


The Priory tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

I feel that I have permission to start tidying away.


So I’ve been carting stuff off to the compost bins or bonfire site.


Bishop of Llandaff – weary

In the topical border, the freezing temperatures have collapsed the tender plants


into a soggy, exhausted (and, if you ask me, melodramatic) heap.

I needn’t have waited for the first frost to start hacking back the growth but it seemed ungrateful somehow, impolite even, to cut down still-flowering dahlias.

Some plants such as this Persicaria filiformis had barely begun to flower when the first frost struck.


And this toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta) only had time to flower because I moved its pot indoors.


Tender fuchsias, dahlias and Colocasia esculenta

Many of the plants, including fuchsias (F. ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’) and the colocasia won’t survive hard frosts and I have transplanted them to the heated greenhouses.  I’ve left most of the dahlias in the ground but a few – which I wanted to re-site – I have lifted for drying and storing.

A thick mulch of my excellent (if I do say so myself) garden compost will keep the dahlias and


other plants left in the bed (marked with canes) warm and toasty.  (The ‘straw cages’ protect the stems of Musa basjoo).

The larger of the two red bananas (Ensete maurelii) was very, very heavy – even with all its leaves removed.  I needed help to manhandle it into a barrow and plant it in the greenhouse.

Speaking of planting – not all the gardening at the moment is about cutting back and digging up.  My bulb order has arrived and I have been caressing my box of promise – though I ought to stop that and crack on with planting them.

Speaking of cracking – we’ve had some fierce storms down here in Sussex.  Thankfully, we escaped lightly and only lost one small tree, a copper beech which we had decided to fell anyway.


It sat squeezed between two large oaks, you see and would always have been stunted by them.  I removed it with the chainsaw.


September 2013

Speaking of chainsaws – the tree surgeons have been again.  You might remember that the main island on the west pond had become congested and that seven alders were crowding out the one weeping willow.

Well, those alders are gone now and, unlike the copper beech, the willow now has the space and light it needs.


I’ll leave you with another shot of the tulip tree.  It isn’t a display that lasts very long (soon I’ll be raking up each of those leaves), so let’s make the most of it.

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