|View with new stone 'wall'|
But before any planting took place, we had to exclude the chickens. While they are good pest and weed control, they also have the unfortunate habit of scratching the hell out of the soil and destroying any young plants in the process. It's quite a challenge to do gardening with hens around and since we have several plans for the top paddock this year (wild flower meadow strip, tea herb garden), we had to contain the poor chucks in a quarter of an acre.
|Hens, keep out|
The heathers come in all shapes and forms, some flowering in winter and spring, others in summer and still others in autumn. For the record the varieties are: Erica carnea (Winter Sun, Ann Sparkes), Erica x darleyensis (Ghost Hills, Mary Helen, Jack H Brummage, J W Porter, Furzey, Ada S Collings) Erica erigena (W T Rackliff), Daboeica cantabrica (Alba Globosa, William Buchanan Gold), Erica x stuartii (Irish Lemon), Erica cinerea (Autropurpurea, White Dale, Mrs E A Mitchell, Eden Valley, Pentreath), Erica tetralix (Pink Star), Erica vagans (Valerie Proudley), Calluna vulgaris (County Wicklow, Golden Carpet, Guinea Gold, Salmon Leap, Glenfiddich, Silver Knight, White Lawn, Allegro, Caerketton White, Alex Warwick - a cultivar from St Kilda originally).
For those who think heather is plain, I include a couple of close-ups:
|Erica vagans Valerie Proudley|
It will take a couple of years for the plants to fill in and form a carpet and in the meantime we'll have a struggle to keep the ground elder out. We'll mulch around the plants when the grass gets cut next time, to help with that and to keep the moisture in.
Other than that, I've started on the spring weeding in the upper part of the garden:
|The sweetpeas are out|
|Herb pond with thyme, oregano, Vietnamese coriander, parsley, coriander and nasturtiums|
|Strawberry pond ready for action|
|Tomatoes and cucumbers|