Gardener built a new leaf bin out of small trunks and sheep wire. The old bin was rotten and falling down. It takes a long time for my leaves to rot down, 18 months at least. Last year I stopped using the leaves from the sick horse chestnut, they go straight on the bonfire now. It is so sad to see such a magnificent, venerable tree slowly dying. Tree surgeons have shortened the sail; as the tree overhangs an English Heritage park, any branches coming off would have fallen on an area used by the public. We have been assured that there is now no danger of that. Still, I wish something could be done to rescue these trees, but the sickness is slowly covering the whole of the country.
We carried on tidying. I've pruned three of the largest clematis: clematis tangutica BillMac- Kenzie, C. viticella Polish Spirit and Abundance. All three provide luxurious tangles of leaf and flower every year; in spite of the cold weather buds on all three are large and healthy.
I've also severely cut back cotinus coggygria Palace Purple, another splendid grower. By pruning it so severely I'll probably lose the smoke-like flowers in autumn, which are really the reason for growing this large cotinus, but it does rather outgrow its space and the deep purple leaves are quite spectacular by themselves.
The large triangular mixed bed has had its first trim of the year, all dry and brown herbaceous plants have been cut down. Gardener said he'll do the "tickling" next. "Tickling" a border means forking it over fairly lightly with a small fork, weeding and loosening the soil ready for a generous mulching with home-made compost which is sitting by the hedge, ready bagged up.
The first anemonies under the plumtree are out too.