My garden this weekend – 29th September


There is nothing like spending the day with a group of like-minded people to revitalise your interest in something and so when it is my Hardy Plant Society group I know, even before I get there, that I will feel enthused by the time I head home.

This month’s talk was from Nigel Rowland of Long Acre Plants which specialises in plants for shade; the talk was primarily on ferns and other plants that work well with them. Before that we had the usual round the room discussion about various specimens that had been brought in, albeit not as extensive a choice as last month, but still very good. The stars for me were the Colchicums and the Aralia continentalis, which I then spent yesterday evening trying to source and failing. The best lessons learnt was that you divide I as they emerge from the ground before they get their roots down and the wealth of ferns that do well in dry shade – I have Nigel’s catalogue so will be studying it for good plants to finish the border up the side of the garden which is dry shade. I also acquired a cutting of a Malmaison carnation! fingers crossed that it takes, and bought a copy of the Gardeners Guide to Snowdrops which looks a wonderful book and no doubt I will wax lyrical about it in future.

An unexpected late rose bud
An unexpected late rose bud

Sunday arrived bright and sunny although very windy and I toured the garden trying to decide which jobs to prioritise. As I have said before, many times over recent weeks, I haven’t been feeling great and I think it all comes down to stress and pressure so I am trying to be more realistic about what I can achieve in my limited gardening time and not over committing myself to other things. I have three clear weekends ahead of me, as far as I know, so I tried to remember this and not feel overwhelmed.

The Big Border looking lush
The Big Border looking lush

The priority was the Cottage Border which seems to be turning into a rose border. I needed to relocate the Abelia by a few feet. I knew when I put the path in that the shrub would need to move as it was overhanging it but I have been waiting for Autumn before I did.  I moved the Abelia right into corner and it was one of those moment where a small area you have struggled with for years suddenly seemed to work.  I under planted it with some Geranium yoshinoi which I have grown from seed and also the new Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ which I bought at the group meeting.  One of the pieces of advice was that planting Colchicums amongst other plants, particularly geraniums was a good way of supporting the flower heads which have a habit of flopping.

The Big Border from the top path
The Big Border from the top path

Moving the Abelia has meant I have a lot more space to plant between it and the path  and, having allocated a couple of spaces for roses I am yet to order, I replanting the Aquilegia, Delphinium and Francoa that had been lifted when the path was done.  Having weeded most of the border I got to just before the Amelanchier which is where the area of neglect really starts!  The border merges into the Woodland Border and I have neglected this area for a couple of years due to other demands on my time.  I made progress for about 4ft relocating another Abelia  which was unhappy in a shady location and also a rose which was meant to clothe the obelisk but has stubbornly refused to so I have decided to treat it as a tall shrub rose.  Having added a couple of bags of green waste to the weeded and replanted bit of the border I finished it off with a batch of White Honesty seedlings which I hope will light up this area next Spring.  I still need to plant the Narcissus bulbs through the border but that will be done next weekend now.

Neatness returns to the Primula collection
Neatness returns to the Primula collection

I am hoping that the rain we have forecast for the coming week actually turns up to give my new plantings a good soak and also to water the rest of the garden which is quite dry in areas.  Hopefully if it gets a good soaking the rest of the borders will be easier to tackle next weekend.

I didn’t get as far as planting up the rest of the spring bedding but then again the Bergonias, which are in the pots  I want to use for the bulbs, are still going strong and it seems a pity to move them on.

Viola waiting to be planted out
Viola waiting to be planted out

I am pleased with the garden at the moment.  The Big Border is looking stunning with its cacophony of dahlias, chrysanthemums, salvia and castor oil plants. I had planned this planting as a temporary filler for this year while I sorted out a theme/style for the new border but I rather like it as it is so I think next year will see something similar but maybe a little more thought through and with better spacing.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Anna says:

    We noticed that wind on the camp site in Hanley Swan this morning Helen but the sun seemed to trying to break through as we were leaving. There used to be a plant of the month table at the HPS meetings in Cheshire which was always a source of inspiration. I imagine that they still have it. Your big border from the path looks most blowsy and full. Which kniphofia is it growing so well there? The flowers look like candles in that soft light. Have been eyeing up the new snowdrop book too and think that I will be tempted 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna – did you go to the autumn show? The Kniphofia is toffee nose I believe, it is thriving in its new location

  2. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Your garden is looking lovely. If you lived in Auckland for your dry shade you would probably plant clivia – it does so well here and masses of the original apricoty one but now also lots of the wider leaved dark orangy/red which was bred in Netherlands. My clivia seedlings are coming on well from Dr Keith Hammets nursery. They even grow under dry pine trees. Snalils like the flowers so need to bait or get out with a torch! Unfortunately don’t like frost or holes in clay – need to be plonked on top of mulch.

  3. Dry Shade! I wish 😉 Your big border is stunning Helen. Those sure are pretty little violas patiently waiting for a new home. I hope you get on top of things without too much stress.
    I do wish work commitments didn’t stop me from joining a group like HPS – I think I would enjoy it.

  4. Cathy says:

    Both pictures of your Big Border look great, Helen – it certainly seems to be coming together, aided by a great show of cosmos in the second picture. Good tip for the colchicums – I noticed mine again when taking today’s photographs for EOMV, but they won’t look quite as stunning when the rain comes! I have made a note to remind myself to look into the nearest Hardy Plant Society, as well as to look out the nursery with plants for shade. Hopefully you be pleased with your progress yesterday without feeling too dispirited or tired.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I am lucky in that the HPS group I go to is exceptional because of the interests of its members – lots of nurserymen etc. However, it is worth checking out your local group to see if it has a programme that suits you. I am very pleased with my progress this weekend and now keen to get to next weekend to do more!

  5. kate says:

    Looking lovely, Helen – and those violas are so cute… I need more, more!

  6. You may be able to source Aralia continentalis from Crug, it’s listed there, probably one of the only places to get it from…… Along with the completely hardy and excellent a. bipinnata – which is a doer.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Blackmore I looked at Crug but they are out of stock as well, will have a word with Sue there see what she says, thanks for the tip though

  7. hillwards says:

    Sunday was a glorious day to be out in the garden, wasn’t it? Your big border is really looking splendid; I love the textures from all the lush foliage, with cosmos and dahlias sparkling through, really beautiful.

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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