I started this blog in 2008 to record how my garden developed, it quickly became a gardening journal and I have loved it every since. I am passionate about horticulture despite working in higher education administration. I have started to re-engage with other hobbies: knitting, sewing and drawing so sometimes the posts on here may be less garden focussed. However, as I don't want to bore you with my new crochet obsession I have started another blog for this and if you are interested there is a link further down this side bar.
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A lovely autumnal weekend although the weather man is telling me that meteorological we are in winter. It doesn’t feel like it yet especially as the leaves are taking so long to fall this year.
On Saturday I went to my HPS group meeting. I have to admit that I left at lunchtime as I just felt out of sorts. The last few weeks at work had finally caught up with me and now that the pressure is off, well until January, I think my body just needed to rest. So instead I came home and spent the afternoon on the sofa selecting my seeds from the Alpine Garden Society seed list. I have been amazingly decisive this year and I have decided not to sow as many seeds next Spring. I have said this before but I need to focus my efforts more as my gardening time is limited and I need to manage my expectations of what I can achieve more realistically.
Today, with recharged batteries I set too and collected up some bags of leaves. I’m not a gardener who is obsessive with collecting leaves but I’m also not a gardener who turns their back on their garden at this time of the year. I am working through the borders tidying those with lots of spring bulbs first. I really don’t agree with the idea of leaving the leaves on the borders when there are lots of perennials and bulbs as to my mind I am just providing a nice warm home for the slugs to live in. I have also read that leaf mould is very good for adding to alpine and bulb compost so I am determined to try to make some this year.
The patio border had the most drastic tidy up and it looks very bare at the moment. The focus of this border is early spring and I have been adding snowdrop and narcissus bulbs over the recent year. I can see this border from the living room and seeing the spring flowers appear always cheers me up in February and March.
The border looks particularly bare as I removed a large clump of Japanese Anemones from it. They have annoyed me for a couple of years now as there wasn’t really enough room for them and every year they end up flopping over the patio. I have others so this clump has gone to the compost bin and instead I added a Disporopsis perneyii which I think will do well in this location.
I was pleased to see that the bulbs are already pushing their nose up so it wont be long before a green sheen fills the border.
I also tided the other end of the patio border which has been planted up predominantly with Japanese ferns. It struck me today how many ferns I seem to have acquired this year and how good they are at this time of year for providing autumn/winter interest (see top photo). I love their structure, texture and the variety of greens. In fact I seem to be more and more interested in foliage and texture and flowers are becoming more of a bonus.
The next job on the list was to review the larger plants in the Big Border. Everything was planted in a bit of a rush in April/May and before there was any real thought of putting a secondary path in. Needless to say this means that the main shrubs are no longer in the middle of the border but adjacent to the path. I have moved the Viburnum a couple of feet and its new position looks much better and hopefully this poor plant will get a chance to get its roots down. I also relocated the Giant Scabious as it is just too big for the border. It may be called the Big Border but it really isn’t big enough to fulfil all my aspirations!
The Giant Scabious has been relocated to the border along the top of the border which is slowly but surely becoming a bit of a rogues gallery housing more and more of my bigger and butcher plants. Hopefully they will continue to do well and screen the fence.
Moving these two plants get me to get my mind in gear about this border. I don’t want to fill it with dahlias etc again next year but I havent been able to work out an alternative. I already have a young tree peony in the border and it seemed sensible to add more peonies especially as I had three sitting on the patio waiting for a new home. I added some Aquilegia and Thalictrums that were also waiting to be re-homed, hopefully I have worked out correctly which is which!
The Big Border is also looking a little bare and I really need to think about adding some foliage and texture to it but I will see how the peonies, Aquilegia and Thalictrum do next year before I make any hasty decisions. I have tended to give the different borders a particular season/month of interest so it isn’t surprising that some of them look very bare at the moment. There is plenty of interest elsewhere in the garden so I’m not too concerned.
So a busy and rewarding day although it is clear I havent done so much gardening for a while as I really ache now. More plant moves are planned but it will depend on the weather and we have also decided on a small seating area adjacent to the workshop behind the Sorbus which will be a winter/spring project, oh! as well as painting the workshop and the fences!
This is probably the last End of Month view of the front garden as to be honest I think it hasn’t been that interesting a theme for this year. Saying that I will do what I did last year and do a montage of the above view through the year in December so it might become more apparent than the changes.
I have started to put bark chip mulch down partly to keep the weeds at bay but also to keep the moisture in as being a predominantly clay based soil it really dries out in the summer so I need to add lots of organic stuff and also try to stop it driving out too much.
Any one who has read this blog for some time will know I have a love hate relationship with the front garden so I am aiming for planting that will mainly look after itself. I have tried to build up a bit of a red theme in the flowers although I am primarily trying to focus on the foliage and texture. The reason for the red theme is because the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ which now dominates the end of the lawn has wonderful red flowers which the bees adore.
Admittedly the grass desperately needs a cut and who knows this weekend the sun may shine and the dew might dry out and it may get cut. I also need to tidy up the side border but generally it can will be fine for the winter.
Anyway, I am now thinking about what I will focus on next year for the End of Month View – I am thinking on a couple of different areas in the main garden which will make this meme a little more interesting.
Please feel free to join in with the meme and use it as you wish. I would ask though that you add a link to this post in yours and also a link to your post in the comment box so we can all find each other.
After a couple of weeks when I have been nothing more than a vegetable in the evenings after work and have spent my time staring at the television not really conscious of what I was watching I am now back to my old self and my itchy fingers means that I have picked my crochet hook up again.
I need to finish some projects as I hate having things half done and so I'm trying very hard not to be distracted by more ideas on Pinterest.
I would like to think that Monty Don would be proud of my compost making abilities but deep down I know that he would despair at my complete lack of organisation and efficiency. I have good intentions and even got a third compost bin this year with the plan to have an efficient and well organised system where one bin is turned into another thus aerating the compost and producing fine crumbly compost at the end. However, as ever in my life it seems, my plans and what actually happened bear little in common.
It was all going well until the grand workshop plan come into being and as a result the back lawn was dug up. This presented us with a large amount of turf and nowhere to really stack it. Lo and behold an empty compost bin was just sitting there and before I knew it the bin was no longer empty but full of turf. Because of this unexpected ‘harvest’ all the bins were full by mid summer and with my recent tidying up I have had to resort to using an old dustbin and also making extra piles of material as you can see above.
Emptying compost bins is way down the list of jobs I want to do of a weekend but I realised on Saturday that I had done all the essential bulb planting and really I should sort the bins out before I created even more chaos. Amazingly the compost bin full of turfs had completely rotted down into loam. There were a handful of mossy bits but that is it. So I spent Saturday afternoon spreading the loam around the borders as a kind of mulch.
The majority of it went on the back border by the top fence. The slope is quite steep here and the soil is predominantly clay based so a struggle to dig. I have a rhododendron I want to move here and then I went to develop this area, along with the other bits I have mentioned in recent weeks, for my growing collection of spring bulbs and woodland plants. Hopefully the thick layer of loam will make this easier for me to do.
Of course once I had emptied the bin it was full again with the contents of the dustbin and the extra pile but at least there is some semblance of order – or so I tell myself.
I have spent the last week attending graduation ceremonies at work. Part of my job is to look after the University’s VIP guests, escorting them to and from Worcester Cathedral. It can be fascinating and I get to speak to some amazing people including this week a Noble prize winner, a Duke, an Earl and a medieval scholar. But it can be quite exhausting making small talk, chasing after people, managing senior staff expectations not forgetting two late evenings after two dinners. Therefore it was hardly surprising that when Sunday dawned grey and with biting winds I retreated inside. It is strange at this time of year to only see the garden two days a week but I was thrilled to see the buds on my Crocus pulchellus ‘Zephyr’ beginning to unfurl. My eldest also managed to source me a free supply of bark chip so hopefully next weekend, when I am less weary, I can mulch the front garden which is one of the few things I would really like to do before the really cold weather arrives.
I think from now until the New Year any jobs I do in the garden will be a bonus.