The stars were aligned and the conditions were right. The kids napped, and it stopped raining for long enough for me to get outside for a couple of hours.
I haven't actually done anything in a good couple of months (probably more like ten weeks...) as the combination of a new baby and horrific weather does not make for great gardening conditions. This means that everything was in a pretty lamentable state.
I decided to start with the front garden so that we have something rather nicer to look at when arriving home. I've filled a couple of bags with slimy piles of leaves, and put them aside for leaf mould, then I started by hacking back the less compostable stuff. The short box hedge that runs part of the way down the side is finally starting to recover from the butchering I gave it when we first moved in. It was a towering, patchy, lanky mess that had lost all of its shape and was sprawling across a good metre of lawn. I hacked it right down to a sensible size, but it's spent the last couple of years being yellow and looking decidedly sorry for itself. This was the last year I was giving it to pull itself together, so to speak, and it finally has. It's actually starting to be green, and is nice and compact. I've then cut back the big old rose on the corner of the garden. For that I decided to use a pruning saw and take out the thick woody central trunk, and then use lopers to cut back the remaining branches to a good open framework. I'm hoping that this will reinvigorate it a bit, but we shall see.
After I'd finished this and pruned back the other roses a bit, it was time to start on the perennials. The very mild, but wet winter we've had so far has meant that things don't seem to have actually died back, so I still had lots of green foliage there from last year. I've chopped all of this back, hauled out the two big festuca grasses that kept just drooping over and swamping everything, moved a trio of poppies to the front of the main bed were the grasses were, and filled the space at the back with some verbena bonariensis that I grew from seed last year. They were a bit on the pot-bound side, but hopefully they should be happy there.
The bluebells and daffodils are all coming through, so hopefully things should fill out and start looking good soon. I'm hoping that at the end of this year I'll actually be able to put in the tulips I've been wanting, and I'm keeping my eyes open for some "in the green" snowdrops at the moment.
So, not exactly pristine, which to be honest is how I prefer it, and the paths could do with a good sweep, but worlds better than it was and well set up for the year to come. Now I just need to find time for a couple of sessions of paddling around in the quagmire that makes up the main garden around the back...