My Garden This Weekend – 28/7/13

Cautleya spicata 'Arun Flame'
Cautleya spicata ‘Arun Flame’

At last we have had rain.  Good steady persistent rain through the night resulting in 16.6mm of rain, although when you convert that is only just over half an inch.  However, it’s a start and the garden feels and looks fresh as a result.

The Dahlia Bath
The Dahlia Bath

Whilst I have been doing an hour or so in the evening most of this has been potting up and tidying pots of alpines on the patio so not much to report really, there has also been a lot of research going on into plunge beds etc.  Saturday was spent at my favourite garden club, the Hardy Plant Society’s Western Counties group.  I think this group is incredibly unusual as it attracts serious plant growers and gardeners from a wide area.  The main attraction is the morning discussion, usually hosted by Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers, which is completely fascinating.  People bring in plants that look good at the moment and this stimulates the conversation which can be varied, wide-ranging and often very funny.  This month’s afternoon speaker was Fergus Garrett, from Great Dixter, and anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I am a huge Christopher Lloyd  and Fergus fan so I was in my element.  As ever having listened to Fergus talk for an hour and half I came away inspired, excited but also deeply aware of how small my plant knowledge it, but then for me that is what it is all about – learning.  And of course there were plants for sale mainly members own and as good a selection as you will see at any plant fair – I came away with Pelargonium Artic Star, Oxalis triangularis and Clematis bonstedtii, oh and Christopher Lloyd’s book on foliage.

The Under-Gardener
The Under-Gardener

Sunday, the plants were hanging under the weight of the rain but at least weeds could be pulled from the ground.  Generally most of the plants looked a lot happier and I am hoping that the Prunus incisa ‘kojo-no-mai’ which has lost quite a lot of leaves already will rally.  With my head still full of images of Dixter and ideas from Fergus’s talk I spent time considering the garden until I was completely confused!  So instead I decided that pruning was the answer, a therapeutic past-time which I find good for clearing thoughts.  I started with the Deutzia at the top of the patio steps which is glorious every May/June but really is too big for its space so needs regular pruning. Moving quickly on to the Ceanothus and my secateurs started to get a little snip happy.

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This shrub has been growing against the fence more or less since we moved in nine years go, it is meant to be an autumn flowering one.  I have to admit that it does flower but you have to look for the flowers and compared to one I had in a previous garden we could be talking about two completely different genera.  It was hit hard two years ago when we had the very cold winter but rallied and every year it puts on nice new growth but few flowers.  The border along the fence is narrow and cannot be widen due to the path and steps and the Ceanothus fills the gap but doesn’t really contribute any thing good.  I also had to cut it back hard as the electrician will shortly be running electric cable along this area for my son’s workshop and well ….Sir Roy’s voice could be heard in my head (worrying I know) saying if the plant doesn’t perform get rid of it – so I did.  It has gone, it is no more!

A random zinnia
A random zinnia

It’s amazing how much lighter this area already feels and although the plant never overhung the path it feels more spacious.  I am pondering on its replacement.  I am not desperate to hide the fence since I noticed in the States that there isn’t such a move to hide fences many of them are decorated in some way and this is something I might explore.  I have a Cistus I was given which might work here but then I also have a fig in a pot which either needs drastic pruning to make it suitable for growing in the pot or it needs training against  fence.  So I shall be hitting the books again to research growing conditions and training of figs – there’s always something to learn in gardening

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. What a treat to be able to grow a fig. I think it depends on the fence here….but a good wooden or picket fence is accented by plants here as you saw…many decorate their fences now.

  2. Cathy says:

    The dahlias are looking good – and much easier to lift from the bath. You always make the Hardy Plant Society sound really tempting – I must look into the nearest ‘branch’ to me. I recommend you ponder your bare fence for a time and wait for inspiration – after all, planting against it and using it in an artistic way are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Well done for your pruning activities and being decisive!!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I think the HPS I go to is exceptional – I have been to another localish one and they have a speaker and its OK but the one I attend is lucky to have such knowledgeable people

    2. Cathy says:

      Yes, Helen, you certainly do a bit of name dropping! Having speakers like that must make a huge difference to the group though.

  3. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Your resistance is definitely low when buying new plants are concerned. What was that old song?

  4. ginnytalbert says:

    what a lovely tub a dahlias! And the under-gardener looks quite comfy. How lovely to have a new spot to fill against the fence. And what fun choosing… What about some bulbs for spring and then a different clump of annuals every summer?

  5. Every garden needs a cat. Love how grey tabbies just blend into the shadows of the plants.

  6. rogerbrook says:

    The plant you call ‘this shrub’ looks like Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ I am sure you know this but I often forget my own plants and need a memory jog!
    Mine has not flowered well for a year or two and has been hit by winter cold – although over the years I has done well and I love it’s orange blossom scent.
    I wonder if yours is perhaps in too much shade

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Roger
      The plant that has been removed and wasnt flowering wasnt the Choisya, that is still there and looking better already. It was a Ceanothus that has been removed.

  7. Ricki Grady says:

    I love your comment about always something to learn: so true, so true…

  8. Julie says:

    I know that feeling of having removed a shrub, its satisfying and almost thrilling in the what to replace it with possibilities. Happy choosing!

  9. Pauline says:

    Ceanothus has never done well for me, I’ve tried 3 times and don’t intend to kill any more but space makes for another planting opportunity, have fun deciding what you are going to plant!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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