My Garden This Weekend – 5th May 2014


Despite us having the luxury of a three-day weekend I don’t feel as though I have spent nearly enough time in the garden.  I’m not sure why I’ve been in and out like a yo-yo but there has been lots of faffing around rather than setting too in one area.  I have realised that all the major projects are more or less completed now and there isn’t really room for anything else major so unless I have a complete change of heart about something, as if (!), the garden layout will remain as it is.  So from now on my gardening will be faffing which in some ways is good as I am getting more and more involved in other horticultural things locally which makes demands on my time but will take some getting used to as I am prone to feeling I need to achieve great things all the time – I need to learn to slow down.


The new seating area should help with this as I love sitting here and looking down the garden to the house. At the moment there is a whole group of mason bees humming in and out of the dry stone wall around the bench.  We haven’t worked out whether they are making a nest in the wall or collecting the clay and taking it somewhere else but it is a pleasant hum to listen to as you drink your tea.


One of the areas of the garden which has bugged me more or less since we lived here is the corner of the patio.  It’s a small area but a nightmare.  Firstly there is no real soil here due to builders rubble, secondly all the water when it rains heavily flows into this corner and it floods.  When we first lived here we had years when the water stayed permanently and so I planted some bearded irises to make a sort of pond and put in lots of pebbles.  Of course once I had made this decision somewhere on the drainage system round here someone cleared something and the corner on fills up when we have lots of heavy rain and then drains fairly quickly.  This winter with the weeks of rain we have had to have a plank to get from the higher part of the patio to the bottom step but the water went weeks ago.  I did add some Cyperus glaber some years back and they did very well and self-seeded all over the patio.  But their stems get broken down by something and because of the way water drains into this corner and because I have a habit of potting up hanging baskets etc sitting on the bottom step and scattering compost all over the place, this corner has become a messy space.  Today I dug up all the plants, composting the cyperus, and dug up as many pebbles as I could find.  The soil isn’t too bad now due to the compost debris that have ended up here.  So I have decided to plant it with some plants that don’t mind the odd soaking but will make it look more glamorous and interesting.  I’m considering a canna for this time of year as I think they don’t mind a bit of damp – but we shall see.


Other things that have pleased me is this Rhododendron.  I have no idea what variety it is but it was being swamped elsewhere in the garden and suffering as you can see from the terrible state of its leaves.  I dug it up some months ago and relocated it to the top of the slope and it has rewarded me with new shoots and there is even a flower opening.


Finally, and probably what I have spent most time on this weekend, I have been prepping plants for the Malvern Spring Show.  I have entered some into the Open Garden section, mainly the succulents above but I think the competition is stiff and I don’t think they are all looking as fresh as they could be.  I am also, for the first time, entering the AGS show at the Malvern show in the novice section.  So more pan scrubbing, grit replacing and removal of old leaves and debris with tweezers.  I spent quite a bit of time watching the experts getting their plants ready at the AGS London show last weekend so I am hoping my attention to detail might pay off but I won’t know until next Saturday.

This week is going to be super busy as I have a number of commitments at the Malvern show and I also have to go to work.  However, it should be fun and its the side of horticulture that I really enjoy as I get to meet and chat to some really interesting people and that how you learn.

I didn’t have the courage the enter any cut flowers into the Open Gardens competition but if I had it would have been in the rhododendron category.  My large rhododendron is smothered in flowers at the moment.  I think it is a variety called Happy but its moved house at least once so the label is lost to the mists of time.





12 Comments Add yours

  1. Judy Mooney says:

    I love reading your blog and seeing your photos. Thank you.

  2. Kim gibson says:

    Enjoyed again Helen, love your rhododendron pic., can’t grow them in my garden, wrong type of soil, so I enjoy looking at them elsewhere. We had lovely rain yesterday, so the garden is happy and so am I.

  3. Julie says:

    Having been shamed last week by the standard at the Alpine show, I have tonight repotted all of my sempervivums. I then read your post, tweezers are the secret! Good luck with your exhibits.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Julie
      I don’t know how they get those sempervivums to grow so uniformly. I think there is a lot of editing going on

  4. That seat looks lovely, and good that you get to enjoy time sitting and relaxing in the garden, not just working in it.

    Good luck at Malvern.

  5. I love the idea of ‘faffing’! So much energy goes into these major projects that there can be little time left to do the most enjoyable job – pottering ! They are the times I enjoy the most, when there is time to really look at individual plants and plantings, and do the fine-tuning. Trouble is, this time of year is so chaotically busy that there is little ‘faffing’ time left!!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Jane
      I know what you mean. I havent sowed anywhere near as much as I have in the past as I havent had time and nor will I have time to prick them out. I think priorities are changing but it is nice to just potter.

  6. Anna says:

    The new seating area looks just perfick Helen. Good luck with your Malvern entries. Your exhibits look in good health but must present a challenge to spruce up with all those nooks and crannies. Look forward to reading about the show especially as we will not be there … two years running now…. I’m getting withdrawal symptoms.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      Sorry you wont be able to come to Malvern again this year, fingers crossed for 2015.

  7. Good luck at the show…that would have been a stunning rhodie flower to enter….I really that seating area. So many major projects here but now I am sidelined again…oh well I keep making notes.

  8. I envy you the faffing phase at the moment, I have nothing but projects! Lovely bench, looks perfect for a spot of tea and contemplation. Good luck at the show!

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