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31 January 2019
For several years I have kept a group of dying lilacs....

For several years I have kept a group of dying lilacs because the spotted flycatchers like to hunt from them in the summer and they also screen us from the road. They are also extremely tough to saw through. Well, they are finally removed and the roots ground out leaving a fine young specimen of an Ilex oak I planted 3 years back to be ready for this very moment. Hopefully it will take on the mantle of flycatcher perch extraordinaire! 
This raises two questions: One the oak is surrounded by a mix of shredded roots and nettles and secondly, I do want lilac still in the garden. I love its scent and to me it really is the true sign of early summer. It has to be the common lilac with light mauve flowers, not the deep purple and definitely not white. Try Syringa Vulgaris ( Katherine Havemeyer and or Michel Buchner) if you are looking for it.

I will not plant it where lilac was before so the oak can spread its wings. I will make a new shrub border out of the existing lawn but symmetrically aligned to the wild flower borders and then use the existing turf to grass around the oak tree. First dig out the shredded roots and nettles and roll flat. Then remove turf where the new lilac bed is going and lay around the oak tree. Two jobs in one! Dig over the new bed and let the winter rain and frost breakdown the compacted earth, cover with fresh compost and we are ready for planting


While I was doing this I got carried away and have now ordered some extra plants for the bed – yes shrubs are back. The bed is sited North /South and will carry the lilacs along its spine East to West. On the sunny South side I will also grow buddleia ( buddleia davidii nanho blue)because I like butterflies and on the cooler North side shaded by the lilacs I will grow hydrangeas (aspera macrophylla), paniculata little lime and early sensation plus serrata bluebird. These should all thrive in the North facing partial shade and provide white blooms later in the season when the lilacs are over together with the lily of the valley which I shall grow around their feet. On the South side I will plant some persicaria which is so loved by the bees and will again flower right into the Autumn

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