Back from the Brink

August 15, 2018

Nipping out into the garden between showers this afternoon, I thought I’d tackle the ‘hare’s toothbrush’ which was looking dead back in May and has spent the summer gradually looking deader and deader. Even the hares have stopped nibbling on it so it was time to hoick it out and find something more interesting to put in its place. Or anything, indeed, that wasn’t an eyesore.

dead spiky plant

Hare’s Toothbrush back in May, since when it has only got sadder and deader looking …

Except, when I went to pull away the dead fronds I found it had been quietly reshooting from the base and now looks slightly more attractive and certainly less dead. If, as has been suggested, it is a Cordyline australis, it’s pretty amazing it has survived at all as apparently I should have been protecting it in winter and it needs a mild and sunny location.

hare's toothbrush

Hare’s toothbrush, or more properly, probably Cordyline australis

Of course, as regular blog readers will know, I’m a complete sucker for a plucky survivor in the garden so regardless of whether it grows back into an attractive or striking architectural addition to the garden or just like something that’s been chewed by hares, I’m stuck with it now. At least the hares will be happy

And speaking of back from the brink – if you recall the willow tree which I thought I’d killed last year, but was showing signs of life?

regrown willow

I think we can safely say it’s recovered.

Perhaps there’s hope yet for the olive tree …

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Green Shoots

May 28, 2018

Now that spring is firmly established, I’ve been going round checking just which of our plants really did die over the winter, and which were just playing dead. Frankly, it was no winter to be a Californian lilac, although ours has got over the fact that it’s not in California any more, Toto, and is struggling back into leaf, if not flower. A small hibiscus that suffers from the fact that it’s one of the hares’ favourite plants has also unexpectedly gone from ‘stick’ to ‘green shoots’ in recent weeks’ albeit still looking pretty nibbled around the edges. Half of the the dianthus plants from Aldi that did so well last year succumbed to the snow, but Homebase were selling them even more cheaply last week – not only could you buy six and get change from a fiver, we could have bought six, plus the entire shop and still had change for a fiver …

But there was one thing on my conscience, and that was our huge willow tree which I had rather cavalierly had re-pollarded in September. I was pretty confident you couldn’t kill a willow, at least not without trying a lot harder than we had done, but as winter passed and spring set in, things were beginning to look less than encouraging. Indeed I was starting to feel rather guilty (while enjoying the extra light in our sunny entrance hall). When a woodpecker started to show some interest in it, we comforted ourselves with the thought that standing deadwood is a valuable ecological resource, and my thoughts began to turn towards suitable flowering vines to scramble over the stump and hide the evidence of my crime.

And then, looking out the window this morning I realised, it really does take a lot to kill a willow. And we were going to have to try harder than merely attacking it with a chainsaw.

willow putting out shoots

Sadly, the same can’t be said for olive trees, at least olive trees in Scotland…

dead olive tree

And then there’s this, which never looked all that much, frankly, and now looks deader than a dead thing. But the hares seem to like nibbling on its fronds so we may be stuck with it until they’re done.

dead spiky plant

Any idea what it might be (& if it’s worth replacing)? Until then, I’m calling it the Hares’ Toothbrush