My garden this weekend – 11th January 2014


I’m a day early with the weekly review post but I am planning on a horticultural outing tomorrow so I thought I might as well get blogging.  As I said last week at this time of year with the short days I don’t see the garden apart from at the weekend, although I did notice towards the end of the week that it was more twilight when I drove home from work than dark so the days are definitely getting longer.  A walk around the garden, or should I say squelch given the amount of rain we have had and how sodden the ground, is and I discovered that the hellebores will soon be flowering.  The one above was a purchase last year from Ashwoods Nurseries and I am so pleased to see it flowering as I have lost the witch hazel I bought at the same time. Also I located the Eranthis in the patio border beginning to push through the mulch



The main objective today was to lift the chrysanthemums from the Big Border and pot them up for storing over the rest of the winter in the greenhouse.  I am still not convinced I like chrysanthemums or where they will reside if I replant them later this year but the task was completed.  As the sun was shining so strongly this afternoon it seemed a pity not to take advantage of some fresh area despite the low temperatures.  I decide to tidy the rest of the slope border partly as this is the only area that hasn’t had a tidy up and also as I wanted to refamilarise myself with the space as I have plans forming for it.


I have recently been calling this area the Slope of Indecision and the plans for it seem to have changed on an almost daily basis.  This space has always been a challenge.  When we moved in the whole of the back slope was dominated by a vast laurel.  Removing it gave me access to the slope but opened up the view to the neighbour behind.  I planted bamboo a few years back to provide a screen to the neighbour’s house – he has a habit of pruning anything that crosses the fence so I didn’t want to plant trees or shrubs for him to savage with his shears.  I have added pyracantha and chaenomeles along the fence and they, along with the bamboo, are starting to fill out and establish.  The slope until last year was the Daisy Border and was planted predominately with Asters in front of a row of Calamagrostic ‘Overdam’. However with the addition of the workshop the slope was significantly reduced and the asters shoehorned into a tiny space which is shader than before – in my view the planting was not as effective as when the whole slope was planted in this style and I decided a few months back that it had to change.

But what? The lower narrow part of the slope is planted now with ferns and epimediums and bulbs and so it would make sense to continue this style but the bit we are talking about is much deeper (taller) and needs some structure, height and I have been at a loss what to do.  The current television series Garden Revival which has looked at various garden styles and interests had led to me thinking for 48 hours about putting in a rockery which could house the alpines I have but I wasn’t really convinced.  Last night my thoughts crystallised and inspiration from a number of sources came  together.  Two editions of the Great British Garden Revival programme had covered stumperys especially ferns and tropical plants, particularly hardy exotics plus I had read an article in one of the glossies about hardy exotics.  The conclusion is to indulge my love of ferns adding more to the slope but to add hardy exotics which will give structure and height – I am thinking  of Tetrapanex, Fatsias, Paulownia, Acanthus and Hostas.  At the base of the slope there will  be a small seating area so the pile of stones and pebbles will be sorted out.


I feel excited about this idea and now the slope is cleared of debris I can see the space and how  much I need to relocate.  It has been like a slow burn light bulb moment if such a thing can exist.  I have been attracted to succulents for a while and dabbled with exotics such as cannas although they  have never really done it for me.  I love big  leaves and lush foliage and the majority of my recent plant purchases have been strong on foliage.  Interestingly, when I was in San Francisco  this summer my friend Victoria commented that she thought I was an exotics addict.  I disabused her of this idea and even convinced myself. I think I was thinking about agaves, cannas and bananas which really don’t appeal.  However I think she was right and quite perceptive so I have given in and it feels a very comfortable capitulation.  Planning and scheming will  now commence!



7 Comments on “My garden this weekend – 11th January 2014

  1. Good to overhear some of your thoughts again, Helen – I am sure many of us face these periods of indecision about parts of the garden, which or may not be eventually followed by a light bulb moment, low voltage or otherwise! Look forward to seeing this one develop – I actually managed to see the tropical plant episode of GR, but haven’t found time to watch the rest of them yet! Enjoy your day out 🙂

  2. Good luck – to a non – gardener it doesn’t look much at the moment – but you are like me and don’t see a packet of seeds – we see the plants and flowers!! Hope the flooding in South clears up – looks awful! Am off to hippy-land Coromandel for a week with daughter/grand daughter and great grand kids. Not sure if in tent or what? NZ’s love camping in the back block beaches over Christmas New Year and usually there is a big down pour somewhere. Here’s hoping the weather map was correct last night as fine weather forcast for all week!

  3. A good bed purge really does get the creativity flowing! It seems like quite a nice bit of space to plant. Just think of all the little bulbs you could squeeze in amongst the ferns to show off before the hardy exotics fill in!

  4. Oh it’s wonderful when those eureka moments happen Helen. You are no doubt going to have much fun planning your new exotic border which I think will merge smoothly into the lower growing ferny/ woodlandy area. I could become a convert to this style of gardening as long as they were hardy specimens as I could not cope with all that wrapping up for winter protection 🙂

  5. Sounds like a wonderful plan for the space. You truly are a patient gardener to allow the space to ‘speak’ to you – and to wait for that moment of inspiration. Can’t wait to see the results!

  6. I think big and bold is a great idea with lots of lovely foliage. Paulownia tomentosa will have enormous leaves if you keep coppicing it. Acanthus does have lovely leaves but in my garden it is terribly invasive. It is great to have a clear space to work on. I look forward to seeing what you do with it.

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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