My Garden this Weekend 6/7/2014


What a rewarding weekend in so many planty ways.  I spent Saturday at the annual HPS Variegated Specialist Group meeting which was held near by and was fascinating.  The attendance was much smaller than at the annual Galanthus group meeting but being  smaller number, possibly 30ish, the welcome to a new member was wonderful and the day was good fun.  There was an informal AGM, followed by a fascinating talk by the Treasurer, Jane Kilpatrick, on the theme of her first book Fathers of Botany.  This was Jane’s first ever talk and I was completely hooked on the story of the missionary plant hunters in China.  Then we had a plant auction led by Bob Brown, the Chair, which was great as you learnt about the plants as they were sold off.  The afternoon saw us visiting World End Nursery and the owner’s garden which was a great garden but the visit was so much more interesting given the knowledgeable company (at least 3 experienced nurserymen and a plant historian).

2014_07060043I came home feeling really recharged and my interest in the garden reinvigorated. I have cut down all the delphiniums which were just going over.  Clearing the flower stems away showed me that the echinacea I had given up on were still there hidden away under the foliage. I am rethinking the Delphinium, which I know may surprise readers given how wonderful they have been, but they take up a lot of room and once they are cut down they leave large gaps in the border.  I have made the decision this weekend that as the garden is full I need to be more ruthless and only plants I absolutely love will be given space.  I like the Delphinium but I don’t love them as is evident from the few photographs taken of 2014_07060050Delphinium compared to the roses.  The Delphinium are also suffocating the roses and you could almost hear the sigh of relief as the delphiniums left.  I haven’t dug the plants up but I think I might replace them with more foxgloves and aquilegias which  I enjoy far more.

I spent today tweaking the Big Border.  I removed some campanula and also thalictrum flavum which just don’t appeal to me any more. I moved some of the Calmagrostis ‘Overdam’ around as I didn’t allow enough space for everything when the border was planted up in the spring.  I think the border is looking better now as the plants look less hemmed in.  As I am on a mission to plant out all my purchases I added a fern, epimedium and peony to the far end of the border.  Before I completely ran out of steam I removed a load of Japanese Anemones from the border on the other side of the grass path.


There are a number of plants which I am really pleased about.  Firstly the digitalis in the photo above which is just so elegant.  It is meant to be digitalis trojana but when I compare my flowers with images on the web they seem far more yellow.  I might have to find an expert to ask.  I am also waiting for the Cardicronum giganteum to flower hopefully it will do this before I go on holiday next week.  I am also pleased with the Watsonia which has come through the albeit mild winter in the ground.  Again I’m not sure about the identity of these plants.  I had the seed labelled as Watsonis pillansii but this has been queried on Facebook.  Whatever they are the flowers are very elegant and make me smile.


Now I just need to find something to recharge my interest in this blog – I am currently struggling to maintain my interest in it so it may be updated less regularly for a while.



16 Comments Add yours

  1. hoehoegrow says:

    I know what you mean about plants having to earn their place in your garden – you have to love them ! Delphiniums are a massive plant, and they leave a massive hole when they are cut down too! You have to really love them to commit to that. I can imagine your roses breathing a sigh of relief when you cut yours down.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi HHG
      Glad you agree about delphiniums. Get a satisfaction from being able to grow them but it’s at the cost of other plants love moreo

  2. pianolearner says:

    Sounds like a great day out. 🙂

  3. Yvonne Ryan says:

    what a busy weekend! Watsonia’s are another ‘weed’ here now, the orange one, grows wild along water races in the South Island and goes mad up here. I have seen whole sections of 1/4 acre covered in it – the only way to get rid of it would be to scrape the top 20cm or so off and spray spray before being able to build and make a garden. Your white one looks lovely! Also collanised around the cliffs of East Coast Bays on the North Shore of Auckland are the old fashioned freezias – just love them – the smell takes me back to childhood. Don’t forget that garden seat is for sitting on!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne
      I promise I have been sitting on the bench, best thing I did in the garden this year was to add it. I was talking to some garden friends other day about invasive plants and commented that everything I seem to grow you say is a weed or invasive in NZ!! Person had visited NZ and was saying how much damage heather had done to the native flora

  4. Diana Studer says:

    I use Gail at Clay and Limestone’s Wildflower Wednesday meme to capture my garden each month. That single post is enough for me to capture the changes thru the year. Can’t see a watsonia quite like yours on the PlantZAfrica site. Mine are all a more electric pink. Their leaves starting to come up now.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      I’m thinking I might end up with just a weekly post sand the end of month meme

    2. Diana Studer says:

      weekly is good, Suits me. Leaves time for life and the garden and reading blogs.

    3. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Diana
      Weekly is definitely better, I already feel like a weight has come off. The blog was dictating to me too much – where I went, looking for things to write about, organising my evenings around writing it – madness. I am going to try to re-train my brain to only blog when I have something I want to share. Thanks for the support

  5. Noelle Mace says:

    I love reading your blog, and am learning from it. However if you blog less, I realise you will be gardening more perhaps! I often scroll back over previous entries, to hear how different plants are doing with you.
    On the subject of liking different plants, its amazing how my feelings evolve, and change. Nice to hear how fellow gardeners rise to the challenge of ‘getting rid’ of plants. Sometimes, I just put them outside near the road, and invite passers by to take them away! They rarely last half a day. Better than putting them in the bin!

  6. bittster says:

    The garden beds look so neat and re-tamed! Odd that you should mention the delphinium. After weeks of anticipation and enjoyment I’m wondering if my own plant ‘does it for me’ anymore. They’re far more trouble here in my part of the US and need pampering, so maybe it’s also my time to move on. Funny how interests keep evolving .

  7. Cathy says:

    Your garden looks so much bigger in these photos, Helen – and well done for making the decision to take things out. I keep looking at a huge thalictrum which is far too tall and may remove that, or perhaps move it to the back of the border as a short term solution. Interesting to read about your feelings about the blog – so easy for a blog to spiral out of control and take over your life. I have tried hard to cut down my posts and it was hard at first, but the blog needs to serve you and not the other way round, so don’t fear the response of your blog followers who will no doubt be disappointed that you blog less.

  8. hillwards says:

    Your foxglove is beautiful, Helen. Do update us if you find an alternative id for it: I could be quite tempted! Life has rather got in the way of blogging for me of late – reading or writing – though I am hoping to catch up a little, but like you I suspect I’ll be writing less regularly than of old for a while!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Sara
      But,you have A wonderful excuse not to blog, must be due soon.

  9. hillwards says:

    I’ve still over two months to go! In theory… 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      I wouldn’t be complacent, my second one was just on a month early. Enjoy a rest before the big day

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