Sensory garden update, May 2012

The Sensory Garden is emerging quite well from the long, cold winter of 2012/13. Dark blue 

Clematis alpina

is in full flower; pink, downy buds are unfurling on the grape vines (cross your fingers for no late frosts) and the


'Red Sentinel' is spectacularly wreathed in delicate blossom, pink in bud, opening white. The rosemary is flowering, surrounded by sheets of (mainly self-sown) forget-me-nots, and the tulips are rioting, colourfully! The daphnes are in full, fragrant bloom, and the


'Aztec Pearl' are in bud, as are the


(lily of the valley).

The tulips have done remarkably well, having weathered this long, wet winter (not to mention last year's long, wet summer). Some have disappeared or come up blind, but others have actually increased in number to give three, four or five flowers per original bulb. There seems to be little difference in the numbers surviving in the bed on the left as you enter, which is heavy clay, and the one to the right, which is light, sandy soil. In the clay soil, Each planting hole had a handful of gravel put in before the tulip bulb was planted; otherwise there was no different treatment. By contrast, the "Pictorial Meadow" annual seed mix, which did quite well in both beds, has left a large number of seedlings in the dry, sandy soil but hardly any in the clay.

Unfortunately, there's still lots of weeds, on both of the front beds and in between the shrubs in the back beds. Why couldn't the local wildlife help out by eating them? They had a go at everything else!

After having had several of our expensive shrubs, and numerous other plants, completely devoured by rabbits and/or deer, despite their mash guards, we have decided to put chicken-wire around the perimeter of the garden to keep out the rabbits and perhaps dissuade the deer from entering the garden so often. There will be double gates into the garden from the car park and also from the garden through into the Meadow. 

The shrubs almost completely eaten by the animals were Hydrangea quercifoliaCistus x hybridus (I still think of it as corbariensis) and Berberisjulianae, all recommended by various authorities as being relatively or completely rabbit and deer-proof! One of three Prunus lusitanica was heavily cut back (the two others next to it were virtually untouched). 

Many different annuals, biennials and herbaceous perennials were eaten or uprooted at various times. The tulips had some flowers and leaf-tips eaten the first spring (2012) but hardly any have been damaged so far this year. The Allium sphaerocephalon were eaten almost to the ground before they had a chance to flower. Other bulbs (eg the snowdrops and Camassia) fared better.