What has been a spiritual, emotional and physical “thorn in my side” has been the Fragrant Cloud border. This border of roses planted forty years ago (I am cringing just typing that) has in the last couple of years been continually devastated by the deer. This wanton destruction has left them weak and ever more vulnerable. I am all for a bit of sentimentality in the garden; sentimentality generally gets my vote. So although I have never been a fan of monoculture beds I have tried my best to keep this border in tip-top condition. I have tried; I have really tried. I have mulched with mushroom compost and fed with chicken manure to try to keep their strength up under the relentless onslaught; I have protected with chilli and curry powder, Jeyes fluid and scary windmills, tape and fleece. All with limited success.
Today I snapped. Enough is enough. We are opening to the public on Monday and a half chewed, weed ridden, disgrace of a rose bed is not the image I was hoping to exude. So I have begun the rebranding of this bed. Forthwith it will be known as the Salvia Bed (with lots of other goodies to make up the numbers and to avoid another monoculture just asking for attack from the Salvia monster). To be fair the rose Fragrant Cloud is a stunner, both in looks and perfume, and we will keep a few in the bed in the hope that the other plants will divert Bambi’s attention. Still, as I dug out the first sickly rose, I felt a stab of guilt. It was if all the head gardeners of the last 40 years winced disapprovingly (from their graves mainly). Then I got into the swing of things, surprising how easily they came out after all that time!