My Garden This Weekend – 7th September 2014

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Autumn and the season of bounty is definitely upon us.  My step over apples have generous crops of apples considering how small the trees are; not bad for their third year.

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I finished off my period of annual leave by replanting the Cottage Border along the top of 2014_09070001the wall.  Last weekend I lifted everything aside from the roses and sage, potted it up although I threw a few plants.  Then I set out off the plants I had accumulated over the past couple of weeks along with the plants that were going back in the border.  I have adopted a pink, grey, burgundy/purple theme for the border with the grey and burgundy coming primarily from foliage.  The colour palette comes from the spring blossom of the step over apples which back the border and the flowers of the Abelia at the beginning of the border which is a key view of the border.

2014_09070003I struggle with getting the maximum impact from my borders and have taken various approaches over the years including mixed season interest and a key season of interest.  Neither approach has really worked as the borders have looked dull for too much of the year.  Therefore I am trying a different approach influenced from reading Christopher Lloyd and Margery Fish.  I am trying to have good structure with foliage interest and then having flowers to supplement this with hopefully interest at different times of the year.  I probably haven’t explained myself very well but I feel I have a plan in my head! The border planting is fairly restricted too, another part of the plan, and features sedums, stachys, roses, aquilegia, pink Japanese anemones, and geraniums.  One of my sons has suggested that I add some alliums to continue the purple theme in late spring and I think this is a good idea.

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Pleased with how the Cottage Border, which I am renaming the Rose Border due to the number of roses included, has gone I have moved on to the Big Border.

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The Big Border has always meant to have a late summer season of interest but is somewhat lacking at the moment.  There are a number of asters in the border which are still in tight bud so I am probably being unfair but I have felt that it needed zinging up and in particular the area nearest the steps.  As this is a particularly sunny spot of the garden I have planted quite a few bulbous summer plants here and the foliage has become very samey.  So this weekend I have really weeded this end of the border, removed a couple of poor kniphofia and a horrid pink sanguisorba – you can see how much space has been freed up. To this and along the far side of the border I have planted out the asters I bought from Pictons.  2014_09070019Anna asked which asters I bought from Pictons so just for her here is a list of my purchases:

Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’
Aster trinervius ‘Stardust’
Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis ‘Prince’
Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’
Aster x frikartii ‘Wunder von Staffa’
Aster linosyris

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I’m also really pleased with this combination – Crocosmia ‘Emily Mackenzie’ alongside the autumn foliage of Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’; there is also an orange flowered Geum tucked in further back in this border which I hope will bulk up and add to the colour. This combination is at the end of the path which goes in front of the Rose Border and like the way it acts as a focal point as you walk along the path.

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Finally I have been busy in the evenings repotting my bulb collection.  I still have lots more to do and am having to work out a new plan to accommodate everything that needs overwintering this winter given that I don’t plan to have the greenhouse particularly warm.  Mum’s mini greenhouse which she had decided to get rid of should help with this though and is probably going to become home for my non-bulbous alpines.

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So lots achieved despite the odds and the plans I have been forming in my mind over the summer are starting to come together.  The tree surgeon has been instructed to deal with the huge willow and I am waiting to see how this impacts on the light in the top half of the garden before move forward there.  I have though decided to not buy any more seeds. I love sowing seeds but never had enough time to look after the seedlings and this frustrates me.  I am someone who if they are going to do something they want to do it well so no more seed sowing; well not until such time as I have more space or time.  This should take some self-imposed pressure off me and allow me time to explore my new fascination – embroidery which is the subject of my other blog!

 

 

End of Month View – August 2014

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I have been off work for just short of two weeks and have completely lost track of time and the date so unfortunately the photos for this post were taken at midday when the sun was shining in my eyes so apologies. August has been very mild this year and wet and has, along with Dad’s illness and death, has meant that the garden has been somewhat overlooked.

I will start with the Big Border which I am really pleased with considering the planting was done this Spring.  Tweaking is required as there are far too many strappy leaves at the sunny end and I want to increase the amount of yellows, oranges and blues as the intention is that this time of year will be the real focus of the border.

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Conversely the Cottage Garden Border is having a real overhaul as it hasn’t been performing as per my imagination.  I now have a scheme for it which should have interest throughout the summer with some late spring interest.  I am currently digging up everything that isn’t in the right place or I have doubts about and then I am going to improve the soil and then plant out all the plants I have collected over the last couple of weeks.

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The Hardy Exotic Border is slowly filling out and I am pleased with the textures.  It will be interesting to see how it progresses next year and I want to add a mass of bulbs to give it Spring interest but I haven’t decided what.  My first instinct is tulips in reds and other rich colours but I am reluctant to do this as I am sure it will encourage the badger to visit and big up everything in the border.  I recently threw a load of tulip bulbs on the compost heap and surprise surprise the badger visited and trashed the place again.  I don’t want camassias as I have those in the Big Border so maybe a load of daffodils would be a good idea.

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The Not Bog Garden is looking OK but needs some work to give it more structure and definition. I am still pondering this but I feel a shrub is needed in the gap to the left.

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I am really pleased with the original woodland border this year.  I had been frustrated with it as after the spring bulbs and flowers it looked flat and uninteresting.  This spring I added a large persicaria from elsewhere and repositioned a shrub and this height at the back of the border has made a huge difference and added lots of interest.  In fact it has gone a little too far the other way and I need to reposition some of the original plants.

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I am also pleased with succulent border under one of the front windows but I still have to get rid of the dandelions! The sempervivums have really bulked up in the trough and I am now thinking of adding more around it.

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Nipping back round to the patio the Patio Border is entering its late summer period when the Kirengeshoma palmata comes into its own.  I need to reposition the Edgeworthia to the left of the border to balance it out better and add some more bulbs for spring.

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Finally the Staging area is at capacity with pelargoniums and succulents enjoying the last of summer.  I need to do more weeding here and remove the Mind your Business Plant yet again – never by this plant you will regret it!

So there we are at the end of August.  Not as much progress with projects as I had hoped when I wrote this post in July but then life has a habit of throwing curve balls and there isn’t anything that can’t wait.

Everyone is welcome to join in with this meme and I love visiting all your gardens to see what you are up to.  You can use the meme as you want whether its to look at one area over a period of time or just to have a tour of the garden.  All I ask is that you link to this post in yours and put a link to your post in the comment box below so we can all find each other.  Have fun.

My Garden this Weekend 17/8/14 – A Warts & All Tour

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I have weeded, dead-headed, cut back and generally given the garden a good sort out this weekend and during the evenings last week.  It was long overdue and the chaos that has been irritating me for weeks, if not months, is as a result of holidays, other commitments and weather either heavy rain or a heatwave.  I garden to relax, to de-stress and the lack of time I have had outside has taken a toil on me, the garden and the blog.  Anyway, as its all tidy, in fact over tidy, I thought I would take you on a warts and all tour.  I did a tour around this time last year and looking back I can see I have done some of the things I said but not others – some areas have improved and others not.

2014_08170020 We will start the tour by entering the back garden via the side path and you will see the ridiculous amount of seed trays and pots of seedlings I have.  I have been saying to online friends recently that I need to stop buying seeds.  ‘No’ they say, there is always room for seeds but to be honest I seem to have lost the fascination with growing things from seed.  I am sure it will come back at some point but I feel a real need to regroup at the moment.

Going round the corner we are on the patio with is long and thin and runs along the back of the house.  There are borders either side of the greenhouse between the patio and wall.  These were the first places planted up and have had a few changes over the eleven years we have been there but I am pretty happy with them now.

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I am especially pleased with the fern border as I love the textures here and most of the ferns are evergreen so it even looks Ok in the winter.

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At the end of the patio we find the steps up to the back garden and just to the right is the staging which appears every month in the End of Month View.  The steps are quite narrow 2014_08170030and are the only access to the back garden so everything – plants, compost etc have to be dragged up here by hand; wheelbarrows are useless.

The gravel steps, at the top of the steep steps,  which were finished last year have been a boon. When we moved in this was all grass, in fact the garden was mainly grass, and there was a path of large paving slabs which sloped with the angle of the garden and were really slippery.

If you stand at the top of the steep steps before the gravel steps and turn left you have the newish path that runs between the ‘Cottage Border’ and the ‘Big Border.  This was put in as an access path but I use it more than any other path in the garden and its the cat’s favourite place to sunbath.

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The Cottage Border has been the focus of much irritation over the last few months.  You may recall that it has been home to a collection of delphiniums which looked wonderful.  However, they only flowered for a couple of weeks and the foliage and size of the plants were smothering everything around them and then when the stems were cut down large holes in the border appeared.  I made the decision to take them out as they were boring me!  Today they were lifted and the border tidied and sorted.  I have a collection of plants waiting to go in which should add texture and foliage interest and compliment the roses.

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Big gaps in the borders have appeared which made me smile as I have been saying for a while I don’t have any more room.  However, I want to think through my options carefully.  I have had a range of plants in this area and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t do messy or the billowing prairie/grass look – I am too much of a neat nick. The plants I love are ferns, roses, irises, epimediums, peonies and bulbs such as narcissus and crocus and I think I need to focus on these more.

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As the path curves up to the right you come to the original woodland border.  This is the first year I have been pleased with it – I am such a tough critic.  I have been mentally stuck with having small short woodland plants in this area which are great in the spring but dull the rest of the year.  This spring I moved things around and added some large plants

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including melianthus, some asters, persicaria and euphorbia.  They have given the border substance (although the persicaria really needs reducing before it engulfs its neighbours).  This is the sort of planting I enjoy and am trying to replicate elsewhere in the garden. The

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path brings you to an area of sadness.  Here was an Acer that my sons and late sister bought for me some years back.  It has looked stunning for years but for some reason that I cannot fathom it died this winter.  This weekend we pulled it out and it has left a large gap in the border.  You can see how dry the soil is and this is due to the neighbour’s trees whose roots fill this area.  Interestingly though the fatsia planted two years ago just the left of the photo is going great guns.  Turning our back to this area we have the grass path in front of us which runs along the other side of the Big Border to the first path.  On the left of the path is the front of the Not Very Bog Border and this is another area I struggle with.

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I am pleased with the Big Border – I need to add some shorter plants along the edges to hide the legs of the asters etc and I need to sort out the far end as there are too many strappy leaves here so its all a little samey.  I have some ideas I just need to implement them.

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This is the most, probably, troublesome area.  The ground gets quite dry here and I have been trying to find a character for it for years.  In fact I said the same a year ago when I did the tour of the garden.  There are some rusty foxgloves which do well here and also ferns but then, as you will see, I have lots of ferns elsewhere.  I am toying with removing the Spirea to the right of the variegated Cornus and replacing it with a Cotinus.  I think this might give the foxgloves a good backdrop and I have some Crocosmia and Geums that I was thinking of putting in here which would also look good with a purple background.

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At the end of the grass path if you turn left up the gravel steps you head to the new seating area which I love.  However, there is this corner which perplexes me.  It the other end of the border in the photo above – in fact the whole border challenges me.  There are phloxs in here which have looked wonderful albeit bitty and also Lobelia tupa.  I am thinking of moving the lobelia to the Big Border and also maybe the Phloxes and starting again but with what?

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The new seating area is in front of the Hardy Exotic Border and I though I would pull the seat out so you can see how it is coming along and so I can weed.  Again I am pleased with the textures here and its all foliage based.  I could move the Lobelia tupa here but I’m not sure there is room.   Turning around we have the Not Very Bog Border which is alright but looking back to last year’s post there was more interest with the bronze foliage of the Ligularia.  However, I am going to leave it to establish and fill out and see how things go.

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If I moved the Cotinus to this border it will also provide a backdrop to this area which might be good.

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There is a secret path which runs between the Not Very Bog Border and the Slope.  I have been planting my growing collection of epimediums and ferns around this area but there is room for more. We go to the end of the path and there are some slabs steps which go up and to the right and lead to a path along the top of the slope.  You can see a small border at the base of the tree and I need to sort this out as it has suffered neglect.  There is space in here for a shrub at the back and I have a number of ideas which I will investigate.

2014_08170051The long narrow border along the fence has been a struggle over the years.  I planted some bamboo in here four years ago to act as a screen to the neighbour’s house behind and they are now finally establishing and filling out.  I want to add some more big foliage in here but again need to decide what.

As you can see the path needs sorting.  It was covered in wood chip which the birds and badger loved and in the winter it was like a mine field to walk along because of the holes dug in it.  I want to replace the bark with gravel and hopefully I will find the time and energy to do this soon.

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All my tidying up has added to the compost heap which was out of control before I started.  You can just see the bamboo to the left of the heaps which I thinned today.  This is just to the right of where the Acer has been taken out and acts as a screen to the bins when it isn’t collapsing everywhere.  I am thinking of taking the bamboo out and possibly moving it somewhere in front of the back fence and replacing it with an ever green shrub.  The biggest problem I have now which only came to light yesterday is that the top branch of the willow has snapped and it has partially fallen.

2014_08170053I need to get a tree surgeon to sort it out and also to look at the whole tree which is far to big for its location.  I’m not sure how the surgery will affect the light in this area so I will probably have to wait and see before I make any significant changes to the planting.

I am currently reading Margery Fish as I like her attitude and she liked the plants I do.  I think I might try and fit in a trip to East Lambrook in the coming weeks to see what it looks like at this time of year as this is when I struggle most as my favourite plants have all finished.  I have a couple of weeks leave coming up so I hope to do some planting and planning then.

Anyway, that’s my garden warts and all

End of Month View July 2014

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It seems like forever since I wrote the last End of Month View so much so that I couldn’t remember what photos I usually included so this post might be a little hit and miss.  I’ll start with my favourite part of the garden – the new seating area.  The hardy exotic planting behind the bench is beginning to fill out and the Cautleya spicata ‘Arun Flame’ is really adding to the effect.  My collection of ferns seems to be proliferating so much so that my mother has even commented on the number of ferns in the garden.  My intention is to add more to the back slope to the left of the bench.

2014_07300018The staging area is currently home to pelargoniums and my tender succulent collection.  It is slightly crowded as I grouped plants together on the patio to help my mother with the watering whilst I was away the other week.  You can also see that the dahlia is trying to climb out of its pot so I will need to do some staking this weekend.  The jasmine in the corner planted on the recommendation of readers has started to get into its stride and I am slowly beginning to guide its stems across the lattice-work.

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At the shady end of the patio the Patio Border is moving into its second period of interest.  It is full of bulbs in Spring and now the Kirengshoma palmata is beginning to produce flower buds which should look stunning in a few weeks.  I need to cut back the Astrantia which has done its stuff. I am thinking of lifting and dividing it hasn’t flowered that well in recent years. I also think I need something here with foliage which will contrast better with its neighbours.

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The Cottage Border isn’t quite as I want it to be at the moment.  I was a little unhappy with it last month and contemplated removing the Delphiniums which have been here for some years and take up a lot of space and crowd out other plants.  Since then I have decided that they are definitely going as I want the roses that were added last year to be the stars of the border.  However I need some perennials to plant around the roses feet and provide interest and I am thinking on focussing on foliage to provide year round interest but something that will have a floral season of interest.  I have been pondering various alternatives.  I want to keep the plant palette fairly small; it is currently roses, geraniums, delphiniums, aquilegias with the odd addition.  I have thought about foxgloves instead of the delphiniums but have gone off this idea as very tall plants have a habit of leaning in my garden due to the way the light works.  I have also considered some stacys which would compliment the purple sage but still I am dithering.  This evening I found myself thinking that bearded irises might be the best idea.  They would flower before the roses providing early summer interest and I think the border is sunny enough for them to do well.  They were here a few years back before the back lawn was dug up and then they got swamped in the chaos that followed last year.  Currently my irises are dotted around the garden whilst some have thrived others have languished.  So I am thinking of lifting and dividing them and replanting amongst the roses.  I will see if the idea remains a positive one over the next few days. Oh and maybe some dark sedums to provide late summer colour and contrast with the glaucous iris foliage.

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So those were the better bits.  The Woodland Border is struggling with the dry heat we have had for the last few weeks.  It was looking good at the end of June if not a little chaotic but now many of the plants are losing the fight for moisture to my neighbours trees.  Once the weather cools and we have rain I want to get in this border and tidy it up.  There are a few plants that need rescuing from their unruly neighbours and I have still to finish painting the fence which I started back in the spring but life got in the way and stopped me completing the task.  Despite the border looking sad I am pleased to see that to date the Solomons Seal has escaped the sawfly which it fell pray to last year. I also need to add lots of mulch and organic matter over the winter to try to help retain moisture.

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The former Bog Garden isn’t too bad.  The Cardiocrinum giganteum was spectacular and a complete surprise given I only bought the bulb this spring.  I am planning to collect the seed and sow it as soon as it is ripe and I am hoping that the bulb will produce bulblet so I have more lilies in the future.  I now need to look at the left hand side of the border and think about what I want here.  There is a Syringa here which isn’t very inspiring and as there are other shrubs I covert I am thinking of replacing it.  It’s a difficult space as the ground dries very quickly so I need to find plants that will enjoy the clay soil but also look good at this time of year when it all gets a little dry.

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Finally the small succulent border in the front garden.  The sempervivums are bulking up and filling the trough.  I need to weed along the front and I am thinking of moving the lavender at the end of the bed and devoting the whole thing to succulents as to my mind the lavender looks a little odd.

These are the key areas of my garden, warts and all, at the end of July which for me isn’t my favourite time of year.  Hopefully by the end of August I will be feeling a little more positive about the garden and will have managed to take some areas in hand.

Anyone is welcome to join in with this monthly meme; there are no rules.  All I ask is that you link to this post in yours and that you leave a link to your post in the comment box below.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 22nd June 2014

Cautleya spicata

Cautleya spicata

I’m not really a summer person nor for that matter a winter person.  I am much happier in spring and autumn as I prefer the weather and the way nature changes so dramatically during these seasons. I have found in recent years that around this time of year I start to lose interest in the garden and it becomes more of a chore than an enjoyment. Strange I know given all the work I put in to make the garden look lovely.  In the past this has bothered me but this year I am accepting my eccentricities and enjoying more of my other interests.

Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern)

Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern)

Instead of spending the day gardening I am spending an hour or so in the evenings or earlier during the day and then retreating indoors or sitting reading in the garden and I have to say that I am realising that this is far so enjoyable than my usual manic approach to things.  Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

This weekend has been wonderful and refreshing.  I had no plans to be any where or to do anything.  I spent some time on Saturday cutting back early summer perennials such as Aquilegia and planting out, somewhat belatedly, a few annuals.  I have little space for annuals now and I don’t think I will even bother sowing them next year as it has become quite a challenge finding homes for them.

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I am fascinated with how the geraniums have grown taller up amongst the other perennials rather than low and floppy.  I am sure that someone who knows more than I do about geraniums will say that it depends on the cultivar you are growing however I am sure that some of these geraniums weren’t as tall last year.

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I think this is what you might call ‘cheek by jowl’ gardening and I doubt it is sustainable going forward especially when you think I only planted the border up last year and this spring.  I am determined not to diminish the impact of the border by over jealous tidying and thinning, my usual approach, so will need to practice a more measured approach.

Anthemis tinctoria 'Sauce Hollandise'

Anthemis tinctoria ‘Sauce Hollandise’

2014_06220012Today I potted up some of the perennial seedlings.  I have decided not to propagate so much in future.  I have found that as with so much in my life at the moment I over commit and under-estimate my time and so I have pots of seedlings needing sorting out and if I don’t get on with them the seedlings go leggy and die making the whole process pointless.  So the plan is now to concentrate on what I have and be more selective in the future – hopefully I will stick to this resolution.

Then another hour was spent sorting out plants to enter into the AGS show in a couple of weeks time.  I find sitting and carefully picking over a plant, removing old or damaged leaves and flowers very relaxing.  I am hoping to enter six classes in the Novice section and I have thirteen plants potted up and ready to choose from.  Ideally you want plants that are in flower, unless of course it is a foliage category, and I so I am hoping with a range to choose from I will get lucky.

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Aside from gardening I have had a happy time finishing off a sewing project, reading and knitting and enjoying the view from the patio.

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The June Border

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It’s nearly the longest day of the year and I finally have my camera back after a month at the repairers so I have spent some time this evening photographing the Cottage and Big Borders.

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For the first year since we have lived here I am thrilled with how these parts of the garden are looking.  The images in my head are finally beginning to appear in reality.

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Many of the plants are supporting each other but there are one or two that I need to stake next year to improve their appearance.  I must write-up some notes in the garden diary to remind myself next spring.

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End of Month View – May 2014

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Due to the amount of rain and cool temperatures we have had in recent weeks the plants in the Cottage and Big Border have grown quite big and lush but the flowers are being slow to show their faces.  The Aquilegia are almost over but the Delphinium and Roses are getting ready to take over in the Cottage Border.  On both sides of the path the Geraniums are forming buds and hopefully it will just take a few days of sunshine and warmer temperatures for them to open.

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The path from the other end.  I have under planted the Cotinus with white Corncockle which may or may not work, we shall see.

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The staging is now home to some of the Pelargoniums, Sempervivums, some sun loving alpines and a few late flowering bulbs such as  Dichelostemma Ida-Maia.  The remaining gone over bulbs will shortly go into the greenhouse under the staging to dry out and I will move the tender succulents out to replace them.

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I am pleased with how the ‘Hardy Exotic Border’ is going.  There is some filling in to do with smaller plants.  I also have a trug full of tulip bulbs from the big pots and I think I am going to plant them out in this border.  If they flower, and I know many tulips don’t do well in their second year, then they will bring a colourful splash before the hardy plants get going again.

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The Damp Border is filling out with ferns and astible.  It isn’t the most photogenic border but one of those that you can appreciate more close up.

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The Trough in the front garden also isn’t that photogenic but it was only planted out a month ago and I need to add some pots of tender succulents around the Trough.

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For those long-suffering readers that endured last year’s End of Month Views on the front garden here it is now and finally I am enjoying it.  I think it just needed another year to bulk up.  There are gaps to be filled and some balancing to do but finally it makes me smile when I pull up on the driveway.

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Finally the middle path along the top of the Big Border.  I should be including a shot of the Patio Border but I am camera-less as the camera I have been borrowing from my son has gone with him to London for the weekend and mine is at the menders.  I am very pleased with how well the Big Border has filled out.  You wouldn’t believe that this time last year it was only a month old.

All are welcome to join in with this monthly meme and use it how they wish.  All I ask is that you link to this post in your post and leave a link to your post in the comment box below so we can all come for a nose around your garden.