Iris danfordiae

Above: Iris danfordiae

Garden diary: January

10 February 2004

The garden has been filled with birds singing and chirruping, particularly a pair of blue tits who have been dashing about from tree to tree and making a lot of excited noise. For birds so small they certainly are loud. It's a good noise though, and so energetic, signalling that spring is on its way. Robins and dunnocks too seem to be singing from my garden and the surrounding ones.

The weather, and demands of work have meant I've been unable to get out into the garden to tackle all the tasks that need doing. The Mme Alfred Carriere rose in particular, growing up the east-facing house wall, has been caught by recent hard frosts and looks a bit sorry for itself. As I've now decided what I'm doing with this rose - training it up around the bathroom windows - I guess I don't need to do any drastic pruning, just some tidying. This is a relief, particularly if it can be achieved by leaning out of the bathroom window. I'm a bit tired of going up and down ladders.

Though trying to distract myself with thoughts of roses, I have to face up to the fact that there's an old bath still, outside the back door. Over the last few weeks I've been formulating plans about how best to use it as a large planting container, while disguising its bath-like nature.

Conveniently, the outside of it is painted an olive green colour, in paint that looks quite old and conveniently not shiny. That part of it would blend immediately into the garden scene. The inside is, however, white enamel, as is the conventional ledge around it that baths of the more modern type tend to have. It has also still got two large bath taps attached. And it's very heavy.

The plan to re-use it as a planting container will only work if I can a) remove the taps from the bath and b) find a dark-coloured paint that will cover the white enamel surface on the parts of the bath that will be visible. Also if I can find several strong people who are available at the same time to lift the steel construction into place against the wall. (Saturday afternoon gatherings for football matches are probably the best time.)

It is large, wider than the current raised bed, so I'm hoping it won't spoil kitchen corner completely by dominating the area. I think I'll need several ivies planted inside it to drape over the edge, and plants standing in front of it. I really hope it doesn't just look like a bath plonked in the garden.

I'm quite excited about it really. It's a while since I made any major changes in the garden, the kind that involve the removal of large areas of earth. I guess though that before I get too far into planning this, I should check that the two shiny chrome bath taps can be removed. Otherwise it will just look silly.

How the project went - the old bath

. . . . .

The garden is showing many signs of spring, with bulbs pushing up through the soil and new growth visible on the clematis. The highlight of the week has been the flowering of the winter iris - Iris unguicularis - as this is the first year in all the years I've had this plant that it has flowered in winter - and indeed last year was the first time it flowered at all. Last year it bloomed on the 21 March. This week I've had two flowers. It's a very beautiful pale mauve. It grows at the base of a south-facing wall which does get a bit of sun even in winter, and in summer is very hot and dry.

. . . . .

Must go and investigate whether the old bath will let go of its taps, beginning by spraying the no doubt rusty nuts with some WD-40.

Back to February highlights and diaries


Iris reticulata

Above: Iris reticulata

Garden diary: March