Potted Relief

It’s fair to say that I don’t do well in the heat at the best of times so you can imagine that over the last week or so with temperatures reaching the low 30Cs (high 80Fs) I have been pushed to engage with the garden.

I’m coming to the end of a weeks annual leave when in the past I would have really tidied up the garden ahead of the rest of the summer.  However, this week the most I have managed is to continue with the endless watering of the pots and trying to keep the newer plantings going.  Luckily, I have been distracted by a lovely day out in cloudy damp Wales and two days of embroidery workshops with friends;  the workshop room had a couple of vast ceiling fans which made it more bearable.

Today we have had a rather cloudy day with heavy rain and storms forecast over the next 48 hours.  Whilst it has still been very warm for this time of year the patio is fairly cool first thing in the morning so I spent an hour tidying and potting up my succulent collection.  The above are Agave montana seedlings which have been bidding their time on the patio and in desperate need for potting up.  The seeds were sown in 2016 and I expect that if I had potted them up earlier this year they would be much larger now but I didn’t.  I think they look rather cute in their matching terracotta pots and they are now residing in groups along the edge of the gravel steps.

I also potted up a few other pot bound residents of the patio including a large branching aeonium, a sad pelargonium and my Bird of Paradise seedling which may flower one day.  I finished with potting up two Sempervivums which I bought in Somerset. These are now forming a group on one of the patio tables along with a Daphne which I am trying to revive.  I’m trying to display my pots in more interesting groups, as per the pot displays I saw in Austin but I think I have a way to go yet.

After an hour I was hot and sticky and retreated back to my sewing which I wont bore you with.  Here’s hoping the promised rain arrives soon.

My Garden This Weekend – 20/9/15

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We have had a lovely early Autumn weekend which has allowed for some gardening as well as a wander round the local flea fair.  Parts of the garden are looking really good right now and I am particularly pleased with the combination of Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ and the Melianthus major.  I hadn’t heard of the Salvia before this time last year when I bought my first one from the local HPS group but having included it in my September GBBD post I then spotted it in Helen Dillon’s article in The Garden.  It really is a beautiful salvia and I would highly recommend it; though it needs winter protection.

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Having felt inspired about the big border in the front garden after Kate’s recent visit and having pondered a visit to a nursery to buy some beefier plants, I decided in the early hours the other morning that I probably had everything I needed already around the garden.  So I have been busy relocating plants, all of which were too crowded in the back garden,  to the front garden. The objective is to try to stop the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ from dominating the border.  It is a beautiful plant especially when it is covered in its spidery red flowers but given its size it really draws the eye.

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I have struggled with this border for a few years now and because I don’t spend much time in the front garden I have never really engaged with it so my mind doesn’t ponder it late at night and no ideas form.  But my front garden is a good size, it is the size if not bigger, of many a suburban garden and so it is outrageous that I, a keen gardener, neglect it.  The planting here has been too polite and the plants too dinky to compete with the Grevillea.  Kate and her husband’s comments triggered something in my mind and I had one of those light bulb moments.  I decided to embrace the space and to find large evergreen foliage plants to provide some balance to the Grevillea.  So I have moved in an Euphorbia stygiana, a Melianthus major that was in too shady a site, a Phormium Yellow Wave, a young rosemary and a young sage.  These will hopefully add substance to the existing planting which include Libertia, some bearded irises, and other Euphorbia whose name escapes me.

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I relocated the Libertia peregrinans to the driveway border as the amber leaves were just jarring.  In the driveway border they pick up on the orange tones of the crocosmia and of the flowers of Grevillea victoriae.  The driveway border is coming together especially as I have made an effort over the last few weeks to tidy it up!  The new Stipa tennuissima add some movement and I have also added Oenothera ‘Sunset Boulevard’ whose flowers are of a similar colour to the Libertia foliage.

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I also added some Wallflower ‘Fire King’ which should take over the red baton from the Geums. Now that I feel I have got a handle on two sides of the ‘lawn’ I need to turn my attention to the third side – alongside the beech hedge.

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Not very inspiring is it!  My son suggested widening the border along the hedge but that will mean the proportions of the lawn will be affected and I think its size works well in the space.  I have Alchemilla mollis planted along here to mirror the same on the other side of the lawn.  I want to break both sides up and I am thinking that maybe some ferns might work here – I will need to research some tough native ferns I think. But then again maybe I should consider widening it by a foot?!

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The end of this border nearest the house has a little more variety and I have a rodgersia and another euphorbia to add which I think will work.  The soil here never really dries out and the clay in it means that most things grow well.  But I am constantly improving the soil in my garden.  I have confessed before to being a bad compost maker, I am more a compost ingredient piler upper.  My excuse of a bees nest in one of the heaps has now gone so I have also removed the top of one of the heaps and I will now start to add the compost to the borders as I plant and weed.

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You can see how out of control my compost making is from the photo above.  The gap through which you can see the wheelbarrow is where the middle bin is – somewhere under there! The compost just a few inches from the top is ready to use, I just need to excavate the actual compost bin.  Then it will be a case of emptying the tops of its two neighbours into it and over the winter and spring emptying them as well.  It really isn’t the right way to make compost but it works for me.  I want to get on with this as we are planning on putting a screen here in front of the heaps to disguise them.

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The hardy exotic border on the slope is filling out having been planted about 18 months ago.  I have had to do some thinning as I was over optimistic about the space and this is where the Euphorbia stygiana in the front garden came from.  I have added some ferns to the slope behind the bench which should fill out well and add a nice backdrop to the bench.

I am now going to order Will Giles book on the new exotic garden, so sad I didn’t get to visit his garden and meet him before he died recently. I am slowly beginning to focus my efforts and plant buying on the plants I really love and move away from my normal magpie tendencies to plant buying and I intend to be less polite in my planting from now on.

Apologies for the misty photos. I thought when I took them first thing this morning they would be atmospheric but actually they just look foggy!

 

An update on the Hardy Exotic Border

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As I have been weeding the Hardy Exotic Border this evening I thought I would give you an update.

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May 2014

 

The border was first planted a year ago this month.  The premise is that it is an opportunity for me to indulge my love of foliage and to create a lush border to cover the slope.  Previously I had grown various flowering perennials on the slope but with the introduction of the shed I lost the sunny part of the slope and the area that remains was very shady.  The shade has reduced since I had the willow loped but there is still sufficient leaf coverage from the Prunus to provide the shade the plants need.

 

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The border looks a little scruffy due to the dying narcissus foliage.  I added some mixed narcissus bulbs this spring but I’m not sure that it really worked as when the bench is back in place you can’t see the narcissus.

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The observant of you will notice the increase in ferns over the last year.  I just can’t resist them and I am trying to learn how to identify them but it is a very steep learning curve.  The dark leaved plant in the front of the border above is Impatiens stenantha and is twice the size it was last year so much so that I have had to relocate an Epimedium that it has engulfed.

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The scent on the Buddleja salvifolia is already wonderful and the flowers haven’t quite opened fully.  There are only 3 flower heads this year but I am thrilled that there are lots of new shoots appearing and hopefully next year they will each have a flowerhead. Euphorbia stygiana has also started to throw up new shoots and I suspect will become a real thug in the not too distant future. I would like to try and propagate both of these plants so will have to do some research.

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From the very shady end of the slope and you can just spot the sprinkling of Arisaema consanguineum all of whose flowers seem to be facing up the slope.

I am pleased with the progress in just one year and although there is still quite a bit of bare soil I am going to stop adding now as I know the plants will soon fill out and cover the soil.