Virginia Barton

Honorary OUS Gardener’s Notes, March-April 1989


Garden 1

Entries in the Oxford Union Society Garden Journal


4 March 1989 (St. Casimir)
Nearly expired in the big bed today. Rather carried away with turning in manure, and it was such a lovely warm day! Did the Printing House bed — dicentra coming up and the herb plants I put in doing well except for Pieris which has never liked the Union.

Joe M helped me pick up a lot of rubbish strewn around and fold a huge blue tarpaulin left from the Ball. Lots of daffodils, crocus and cilla out — very pretty. “Lawn” frightful. But most else looking pretty good.

Dug over half of the big bed and clematis (5 of !) looking ok. Tangutica sickly but I’ll leave it. The montana seedling from my garden has buds!


6 March 1989
First proper days’ gardening — 4 hours just about. Still trying to dig in manure — it’s really very hard work and next time I think I’ll get the turkey s–t to put on top. Did the rose beds then continued in the big one, just about finished. So good to see things popping up — even where the wretches have stomped about.

Hope to prune roses and laurels within the next week! Very mild and sunny this morning, rain p.m.  Zelman’s tree peonies all OK so far! Two at ends of rose-bed, new Library, one in big bed thriving!

Lots of people stop to chat unless I keep my head well down. Older ones always complimentary, younger ones want to discuss their own problems.

Contorta No. 1 back to a stump again. Hope to persuade Wm. Hague M.P. to give a holly for that spot or a winter hazel.

Viridiarium fell off the wall and glass broke — now it’s “lost”!


30 March 1989
Two or 3 really spring-like days have brought out leaves, aubretia etc. and nearly finished daffs and cillas. Most of the wallflowers are out and the scent is heavenly and hyacinth.

Spent 3 hours shifting earth (to Chambers bed) and cutting edges — as Chris actually mowed 2 bits of lawn. Cut it too short I fear and goodness knows when he’ll do the rest. But a good start.

No sign of Peter Paving — or a donation from Wm. Hague . . . but garden looking good really, apart from crates of empties, an old fridge etc. etc. which lie around for weeks it seems.

Put some anemones (free from Littlewoods) under subhirtella — cyclamen never did anything. Four tiger lilies showing! Dicentra already flowering. Seem to have lost Tradescantia.


1 April 1989
Intended only to “pop” in and look — but since Chris was mowing, raking, clipping and brushing I couldn’t resist joining in.

Wretched photographer from Harris jolly nearly broke the one and only snake’s head fritillary to bloom — I yelled at him.

Finished edging in lovely warm sun. Terry showed me the blackbird nest in the courtyard — 3 hatched, second year running! Perched on top of the pillar of the unused door to the Old Library, with the Arthurian bas relief (photo below). Very exposed but so far okay. Like my fritillary.

Chris made welcome tea for me and Brenda and everything in the garden’s lovely! So lovely, I dragged Pa there to admire — and to photo.


Garden 2


7 April 1989
Popped into OUS after super lunch in Oriel. £13 check from Wm. Hague M.P. waiting for me so rushed home and ordered his medlar!


10 April 1989
Went to meet Tim who has agreed to take on the mowing and edge-cutting at £5 a week. Great news — should make the garden both smarter all summer. He’ll do it Saturday mornings, early. Have only to get it through the various committees . . .

Noticed one of the Albertine pods had been broken at the base; awful bore as I shall have to dig out the 18 inches below ground before replacing. The rose is at least 8 feet now, so it’ll be a tough job. Put in 3 saxifrage, red, pink and white, at base of urn in Frewin Yard.


23 April 1989
Was in the garden most days, briefly, this week and it’s looking good. Today Tim started mowing. We don’t have a decent long extension cord, so had to join 3 together which was OK but took ages. Will organise a 100 foot one.

Anyway he did it but there wasn’t time to do all the edges. Chris was sweet and so helpful and came out with coffee unprompted — amazing (Having told me 2 days ago there was no point in having the mowing-man as the lawn was dead!). Anyway he came up trumps.

I did the narrow bed next to BNC as yesterday they cut down the huge sycamore which had kept a lot of light off the PHS bed. Also heaps of leaves. But it was a lovely tree. Wilders did it, and told me it was rotten inside. Brian and I watched it come down yesterday. He kindly came to help grub out Frewin Yard but it was too wet and we didn’t do much.


25 April 1989
Organized 50m. extension cable for mower so Tim doesn’t have to join assorted lengths. Hope it won’t be stolen.

Standing Committee voted £700 for garden furniture. Benches to be chained round the trees.

Garden looking very respectable despite a little snow today — it’s been very cold and wet. Geraniums still OK.





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