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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.

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