Evening light on a fern.

The staghorn sumac that I thought was dead (after it was badly mauled by wildlife, probably deer) has put out new shoots. I’m glad I haven’t had time to dig it up and throw it out yet.

I really, really want to finish the hedges this season, and I’m starting to feel a bit of time pressure. I intend to get the digging done by end of September, so I can plant in October.

This third and last section of the hedge has the hardest soil of them all. The first 20 centimetres is soft and light, partly because of the digging that was done last year for the wall. Below that, it’s all heavy clay. It’s slow going. Some parts feel like concrete, especially where it’s really dry. I aim to dig for about an hour every evening. This corner has been so hard that I’ve barely made any progress in the first days.

Almost every evening, Adrian is there to keep me company. Digging in this hard soil is no fun for him, so instead he just plays nearby. Currently he is building a small army from some plastic flowerpots. Each size is a different creature, strongly inspired by Kingdom Rush. There are goblins, and orcs, and some other thing… it may have been trolls; I forget the details. Some monster or other, in any case.

They all climb around on the wall and the mounds of earth and occasionally chase or attack each other. But their fighting appears to be good-natured: when a goblin fell off the bridge into the ravine, an orc quickly came to the rescue.

A quick trip to Ulriksdal garden centre to buy some plants. There are some gaps in the border in front of the house that I want to fill in. And the Bergenias at the top of the border, nearest the entry porch, were just not doing their job at all. When we came home and replaced them, I discovered that they hadn’t rooted themselves at all: I could almost lift out the original square clumps of soil from the surrounding earth.

We also took a walk in their self-pick fields and came home with a mixed bouquet of flowers. It was also nice to simply walk around in fields of beautiful flowers.

We got a delivery of two cubic metres of fresh earth for the hedge. Adrian and I had great fun spreading it out.

When we moved here, some gardening tools became ours together with the house. (Others we bought ourselves.) One of them was a small spade which has now become Adrian’s. It’s smaller and shorter than standard spades, but it’s a real tool that can be used real work, unlike the plastic toys that are sold under the label of children’s tools in garden centres. Those are way too short and too flimsy – they might work for some pretend gardening for a three-year-old, but Adrian has outgrown that age.

In reality, though, he spent not so much time shovelling and more time climbing, sliding, crawling and rolling around in the soil.

When he tired, he used the spades to make catapults instead.

Bumblebee and lavender.

I’m almost done with the second section of the trench for the hedge. This one ends in a corner that seems to have been a dumping ground for large rocks when the garden was first landscaped. If they had just been another ten or twenty centimetres deeper, I wouldn’t have touched them, but now the earth above them is so shallow that I decided they really needed to come out. Over the decades, the earth around the rocks has become super compacted (because of pressure from all sides, I guess) and I can barely get the edge of the spade in. Digging is replaced by hacking and prying.

The shadow border that I planted two years ago, in September 2015. Most of it is coming along decently, and the whole thing is quite nice to look at. It would probably be doing better and looking lusher if it had gotten more water… but we were away during the driest period. The plants in the bottom end are all looking especially puny. I hope they will catch up next year. If they die because of one dry summer then I don’t want them here anyway. And all the Lamiums are all still looking near death, just like last summer. Perhaps this is not the right place for them.

Now that I’m on vacation I can start catching up on all the things I had no time for during most of June. Such as buying clothes for the kids. And digging a trench for the hedge.

One edge of the trench is easy to dig because it was recently moved, when the retaining wall was built. Along the other edge, after less than the depth of the spade, I’m already digging down in hard-packed, dead-looking, gravelly soil untouched by any grass roots, and prying out rocks of various sizes.

In the middle, there is an area that is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you get. It looks like the soil hasn’t been touched in decades. But it has been moved at some point, probably either when the house was built, or when the extension was added. I’m leaning towards the former, because among rusty tools (such as this rake) and building materials (broken bricks, chunks of concrete, bent and rusted L-bars) I find pieces of animal bones. The extension was built in the 70s and I’m kind of guessing that people did not throw bones in the garden at that time. But in the 1900s they might have thrown them on a compost heap in some corner of the garden.