Virginia Barton

Honorary OUS Gardener’s Notes, August 1989


Entries in the Oxford Union Society Garden Journal


August 3, 1989
It’s been so very dry I dare not do anything in the garden bar water the pots and bar beds whenever possible. Seems better not to disturb the earth when it’s so dry. Last Sunday it did rain quite a lot, even so the top 3″ are dry as dust.

Another deterrent to being in the garden are the scores of young language students. Today most of them were elsewhere so I spent a couple of hours dead-heading and picking up rubbish. The bit of lawn in front of the lime trees is like a giant ash-tray — revolting. Needs sweeping.

Alyssum has really not flowered at all, lobelia pretty good, roses terrific — and no greenfly! — on to their second flush. But all the flowers tend to go over after 24 hours as it’s so warm. Paving still not done, have him a rocket last week so hope he gets on this weekend as he promised.

Garden 6

Agapanthus flowered and evening primrose. Put in 2 Summer Snow today (Physostegia virginiana, the Obedient Plant!) which I got at New College last weekend when the Warden’s Garden was open to the public. The nursery selling is in Brill and specialises in “cottage garden” plants — must visit some time.

Begonias in rose beds look very good (Beautiful Britain really smashing! — even vandalised Lili Marlene coming back. Yellow ones — ? — very prone to black spot). The bar beds are far too pink — this because alyssum failed and by chance most of the petunias were pink, drat it, but pyracantha and ceanothus both doing very well there.

Hope to be back in garden tomorrow, shoulder permitting. A lot of neuralgic pain running from right shoulder up right side of face — drugged to eyeballs for 3 days and nothing shifts it. Also notice definite diminution of “strength” in right hand viz when cutting, pulling, gripping, etc. Have to use left hand a lot. Hope it isn’t a sign of disintegration — what with that and left foot which has no feeling in 1/3 of it due possibly to my dropping a length of lead piping on it so frequently!

Courtyard looking good. Lobelia would be better if it rained more but shoots all OK including the petiolare I took from my garden and bargain cotoneaster. Always litter there.

Chris back from seaside hols, office in fine form, all gardening stuff now in basement of Steward’s House which is supposed to be easier. But needs 3 keys to get at it all!

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August 5, 1989
Peter H. actually on the paving job! Hopes to finish this week. Tried yesterday to stake chrysanthemums etc. but ground too hard.

“Mayfly” Theatre in full swing — suggested they might like to donate a tree or rose…

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August 17, 1989
Brief but regular visits — twice yesterday as M and I went in the evening to try and make sure TV people didn’t trail all over beds. Not too bad, actually — Inspector Morse. Tied things up this week, so windy.

Met Peter H. there yesterday and decided on a smaller oblong bed to match that in front of the New Library — Peter’s idea and so right. No more trellis! (my idea)  Brenda miffed as her Boston ivy cast aside but I quickly re-planted it in the courtyard and hope it’ll take off. Garden looking OK, despite litter, and loads of comments.

Today I went to Wests and ordered white-berried Sorbus for Ray W to give — bumped into him yesterday and he gave me £20!) — a fern and a berberis. Planned for rest of shrubs in big bed, only need 5 or so, and 5 more roses. Underplanting of mixed begonias very good. Have still a lot of earth to shift, and Joe M has left Oxford with his D.Phil…

[P.S. This episode of Inspector Morse was shown in December 1989,
about 90 seconds in the OUS for which ITV paid £500.]

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August 22, 1989
Peter H. nearly finished paving on the 20th, then ran out of stone. It’s going to look very good. The plants arrived yesterday but I only managed to put 4 in — it’s rock hard because so dry; also great mounds of earth to be shifted from back of the big bed before I can plant. I did a bit though and put in tanquitica by the cherry tree, ribes in the back left-hand corner, a fern in the Jackson bed, and a bargain marguerite.

Worked for 2½ hours and nearly collapsed! Too tiring.

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August 25, 1989
Went yesterday to water, suffering with head and neck pains — too much digging! Today it’s raining again at last — lovely.

Ray W gave me £10 for Sorbus koehneana which I hope to plant next week, if the ground has loosened up a bit. Weeded paths today.

Paving finished and looking very good –so nice Brenda decreed beastly green bins must go elsewhere! They’re now behind the green door which has been taken off its hinges.









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