Notes from the Garden – 24/4/16 – Bye bye lawn

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So this was the front garden this morning.  Regular readers will know that I have been procrastinating for some time, maybe years, about the front garden and getting rid of the lawn.  I decided this year that it would go but instead of embracing it head on earlier in the year I have occupied myself with various other ‘essential’ tasks in the main garden.  I suspect there was a small voice questioning whether I was making the right decision, and then there was all the work that would be involved lifting the turf and getting rid of it and really can I keep on top of the main garden so why do I want to make the front garden more work! However, the patio has been filling up with pots of plants for the front garden in anticipation of its make-over so either I donate them all to local plant fairs or I just get on with it.

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Anyway I have completed all the jobs I had come up with that had to be done before I tackled the front garden and set my mind to starting work today.  I have to admit that it was tough going especially as the turf needed to go to the far corner of the main garden up a considerable slope with two sets of steps and a garage in between.  Luckily my youngest son popped round to help and my eldest joined in for the afternoon so between us we started to get a system going between us.  We managed between us to lift about half of the lawn which is a good start and means that I can start to dig over the soil and add some compost.  I have a couple of shrubs that I really want to get in the ground asap so that is the first priority.  And the reason my final niggle was put to bed is because Noel Kingsbury, who visited yesterday with his wife Jo, within a very short time made the observation that the front garden just isn’t me – which I think is what I have been trying to say for a while.

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Now, what to do with the turf?  Yes, I should stack it neatly to rot down and make wonderful potting compost but I don’t really have space for a stacked lawn.  Some of the mossy crumbly bits were placed on top of one of the compost bins to slowly rot down.  Then in a demonstration of how not to lay turf I have started to turf the area in front of the compost bins – creating what my youngest has decided to call Hobbitland!  It has a 50:50 chance; if the turf takes then it will stabilise the slope but if it doesn’t take then so be it.  Even more amusing to my sons was that I turfed around the plants that have self-seeded on the slope – as I said a lesson in how not to turf!!  If it takes then we will keep it in check with a strimmer but the intention is that it will be more wild than tidy and I would love to add crocus and other bulbs and maybe plant some primulas amongst the turf.  There will be more turf to add when we lift the rest of the lawn and it needs tidying up once we have assessed whether it has taken or not – in the meantime the blackbirds are having a lovely evening looking for worms in the sodden turf and I am feeling very pleased.

 

 

 

My garden this weekend – 11th January 2014

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

Plans for 2014

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I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. To me it seems that you are just putting yourself under pressure to achieve something which will undoubtedly not be achieved and you will feel like you have failed! But that is just my view. Instead I like to have aspirations and plans which I hope to achieve but with the full expectation that life may throw a curve ball and mean they are put on the back burner. Indeed when I read back through my garden journal from this time last year I was going to create a fern border up the top of the garden but this space was taken over by a wood store for my son and then there was the unexpected decision to give up some of the garden for his workshop which put all the other plans on hold and changed the feel and focus of then garden, albeit for the better.

This year I have a couple of ideas I am hoping to implement. First up is sorting out the corner of the patio. As you can see from the top photo it floods when we have heavy rain. I have had a pond here but the someone somewhere must have cleared some drainage and it dried out. It is now dry most of the year but I can’t risk planting anything here that isn’t a marginal plant. The other problem is that all the dust and detritus from the patio finds it way here and it is a challenge to make it tidy. I also feel that some height is needed here. So the plan is to put in some bricks or concrete blocks in which I can rest a wood plank platform. My eldest and I have worked it out so that any flood water could drain away through a gap below the planks. I then fancy a nice acer in a large pot here.

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Then there is the Big Border to come up with an approach for. I feel an inclination to lush exotic looking foliage coupled with some more traditional perennials but it hasn’t crystallised in my mind yet. The far end of the border is partially shady so I will be planting some of the woodland perennials I love here. This is an area that I think will cause much pondering over the coming months.

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The other major project we will definitely have to do is to finish the landscaping around the workshop. Guttering and a water butt need to be put in and the wood store which is where the fern border was going to be needs to be relocated to its final position. We want to create a small seating area by the workshop (in the area above) – it’s one of the few flattish areas. I will need to rejig some of the plants and bring in a load of gravel. There should be enough room for a bench.

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The original woodland border needs some focus and better planting. This was on the list for last year but was a victim of the Big Border/workshop project. I want to add more shrubs along the fence and rejig the smaller perennials more to the front of the border. Originally when the border was created I intended there would be an informal path through the border but with developments last year I no longer think another path is a good idea. This means the focus of the border has changed but I think what I have in mind will be much better than the original plan.

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Then there is the grass path dilemma. This is what was left of the back lawn. It has a camber which means I find cutting it with the mower exhausting and a strimmer justo doesn’t do the job well enough. Then there is the badger and it’s penchant for digging holes in it looking for grubs. Why I don’t know since there is a vast area of grass next door which is neglected and which the badger has to cross to get to my garden! I am toying with putting in a gravel path instead but there is a small voice saying the grass is a nice pause in the chaos of the garden. I suspect that I will still be pondering this in a year’s time.

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Finally two projects I did plan and complete last year. The small conifer bed in front of the workshop is looking fresh and there are bulbs beginning to push through the soil. The woodland slope is my favourite area at the moment. I have planted it with ferns and epimediums and again there are snowdrops and special narcissus in here. I am hoping it will look wonderful in a month or so.

So lots planned and filling my mind in the early hours of the morning but at least there will be things to report back on here!

My Garden This Weekend – 12th May 2013

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I think this weekend’s gardening can be described as wet, windy, muddy with brief intervals in the greenhouse.

The big project has powered forward with the last of the turf being lifted.  This last bit was used to square off the front garden lawn and also to replace a large bare path on the grass path.  Whilst my son was turf lifting I had the job of rescuing and replanting the plants I wanted to keep from the left hand side of the slope.   This was quite tricky as the plants on the slope are all late summer perennials and so identifying which was which aster or helianthus was a challenge.  I did know that I wanted to get rid of the Helianthus Lemon Queen which dominated the slope last year, as well as a day lily which only looked good when the foliage appeared in spring, some Luzula nivea which only the cat likes and a large Achillea grandiflora which was threatening to take over.  Once these were removed it was a case of working across the slope that is going and transplanting the plants I wanted into the gaps the other plants had made.  The bulb leafs were just as challenging to identify with no flowers – at one point I thought I was digging up some blind daffodils only to discover that it was in fact an eremurus.  I tried them on the slope two years ago and they never flowered so they are getting a second chance in the new border.

The blossom on the step-over apples is about to open
The blossom on the step-over apples is about to open

My son’s next step was to remove the dry stone wall my Dad had built some years ago to hold up the slope.  We were impressed at what a good job he had done and how big the Malvern stone was once we had dragged it out from under the earth.  There is now a large pile of stone which we will use to landscape around the workshop and to do a better job of edging the new steps.  A substantial amount of top soil was removed and put onto the new border which after some racking and leveling will be ready for planting up next weekend.  There is still lots of soil and even more clay to be removed but that is now a job for bank holiday weekend.

Molopospermum peloponnesiacum
Molopospermum peloponnesiacum

Our  efforts were frequently interrupted by the rain so I used this time as an opportunity to dive into the greenhouse and catch up with pricking out seedlings and sowing yet more seeds.  Several packets of various primulas have been sown, probably a little late, but they are in the cool greenhouse so hopefully they will get a chance to germinate before the temperatures  go up.  I pricked out violas, nicotiana, geraniums and Centaurea ‘Aloha Blanca’.  The Dahlia tubers are sprouting well with one batch far ahead of the others.  I think this is because they benefitted from some direct sunshine in the top of the coldframe whilst the others were under the greenhouse benches.

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With another quick visit to the Malvern Spring show to collect plants I am feeling a little gardened out.

Pot Amalgamation

Finished pot
Finished pot

I  have the strange and unusual experience of sitting down on a Saturday afternoon to do nothing.  I have been busy though, the last two weeks at work have been very very busy physically and mentally and I think I did lots last weekend on the back of the adrenalin rush I got from being involved in a very successful week of graduation ceremonies at work (or commencement ceremonies as I think they call them in the US).  However, now I am feeling a little weary so it is time to listen to my body and put my feet up.

Saying that I have managed an hour in the garden today to get my fix and to feel like I am getting through all the jobs I need to do.  Having  sat in a cold hall this morning at the Allotment Association AGM I needed some sort of physical activity to  warm me up so I decided to amalgamate some pots that I have been looking at for a few weeks now.

The raw ingredients
The raw ingredients

The first pot contains a bay tree which I bought for a couple of pound at a garden club plant sale probably 4 years ago.  The bay has grown well and withstood two very cold winter (-18C) but is looking too top-heavy for its pot.  When I looked at the bottom of the pot the roots were emerging so definitely well over due for some potting up.

The second pot which I forgot to photograph before starting is a large grey pot with two sprawling ivies in it. It did have something else in the middle, I forget what it was now, but whatever it was it died over winter and the pot has been looking forlorn and in need of something ever since.  I have been looking at it and wondering what I could add to contrast with the ivy, which I wanted to keep, and to add some height.  Suddenly I thought of the bay tree and the penny dropped.  This was during one of my middle of the night mental plant moving sessions which are proving to be quite inventive although a little tiring.

underplanting of violas
underplanting of violas

Anyway this afternoon I decided this would big a quick and easy job to do before I sat down.  Silly me!  It took ages to get the bay tree out of its pot and involved a lot of compost moving and much huffing and puffing but I did it in the end.  I am pleased with the result I think the bay tree adds the needed height  and its new pot will allow it to grow more without it being swamped by compost.  I had the foresight to buy a tray of violas at the garden centre yesterday and these have gone in to finish off the pot.  They are white and pale yellow and I think they pick up on the white variegation of the ivy well.  I  deliberately decided not to include bulbs as I think it would be too much.

I also planted some  more violas in a pot on the table of delights and some bargain bucket tulip bulbs are planted in spare pots for  an extra bit of  spring colour  I can sit down.

Divide and Conquer

I have had a very satisfying weekend gardening this week which makes a nice change and is hopefully the first of many to come.

The allotment is coming on well and we are much further ahead than I thought we would be thanks to my parents, or the A team as I like to call them.  Half the soft fruit bushes are in, as is the rhubarb (3 plants) and also a whole load of garlic  which I had started off in pots back in January.  So at last there are signs of things growing on the plot apart from weeds which is good for the soul.

However, my focus has turned back to the garden as there is so much to do especially as I have quite a few plans for it and these seem to be growing on a weekly basis!!  But before I can start of my new plans I have to finish one of the projects I started planning back before Christmas.  I am on a mission to make my fence boundaries disappear.  As I have said before I have tried climbers but they just seem to draw attention to the fences and the back fence is really dominant plus the neighbour on the other side doesn’t like anything crossing the boundary so I have had to really think about how to deal with this boundary.  My solution is to go for bamboo.  I know this makes some people gasp as bamboo has a reputation for sending out rhizomes and spreading.  However, I have done my research and sourced some bamboo rhizome barrier.  This  is made of a material which does not allow the rhizome to push through it.  But before I can plant my 3 bamboo plants I have had to clear the border in front of the fence and relocate the plants.  The last one to be moved was a large Buddleia.  I planted it far to close to the fence and so I had a limited amount of space to dig it out which meant that I ended up breaking my spade.  The wooden handle snapped with quite a loud bang and I went flying backwards!  My back is now hurting quite a bit so I obviously jarred it.  Never mind, I won in the end and the Buddleia was out and moved to a new location.  As you can see from the top photo I am now waiting for the barrier to arrive so I can dig a trench to put it in before planting the bamboo.

Having conquered the Buddleia I decided to tackle a Stipa  gigantica  I have.  I have  been thinking of dividing this plant for about 6 months.  The books and experts say that Stipa don’t like being disturbed and if you want to divide them then you chop off a bit of the root ball with the plant in situ.  Really!  Well it is certainly not that easy to do.  In the end I resorted  to using a fork to lift part of the rootball and then I managed to chop some bits off.  I have planted three divisions at regular intervals along the top of the wall border.  They are only small but it is amazing how much they lifted the border.  I think it is the repetition, maybe that brings the border together.  Anyway, we will wait to see if they take.

So having spent an afternoon indulging in extreme gardening I am going to have a well-earned soak in the bath.

Why are grasses so hard to get right?

 

Grasses used at Malvern library provide good all year round interest
Grasses used at Malvern library provide good all year round interest

I’m in a quandary. To be honest I think what it really boils down to is whether I want to my garden to be more designed or whether I want to focus on plants?  A year ago I would have said plants, but reading blogs and magazines has caused me to start being more interested in the overall appearance so now I am in a complete dilemma.  I will never be a slave to design but I am thinking more about the overall impact of putting this plant here or there, which is hopefully a good thing.  However, I am struggling with making the plants I like work together.

 

Take for example grasses.  I love grasses and admire the big swathes of prairie planting that I see in gardening magazines, although so far I haven’t had the chance to see them in real life. However, I am struggling to get them to work well in my garden. I think that successfully using grasses in gardens is a lot more problematic that people realise.  To me they often look as though they have been plonked in the border as a nod to the latest trend.  But conversely there are times when they can look stunning and I want to try and work out what exactly it is about grasses I like and how I should use them for best effect in my own garden.

 

Grass planting at Arley Arboretum

 

Interestingly, I have come across a couple of blog posts this last week which have added to my pondering. The first  was a blog post by Mike over at Hazel Trees.  He refers to Alan Titchmarsh’s comment about prairie planting looking like perpetual autumn and questions whether ornamental grasses should be allowed to dominate.  This resonated with me in a way since I have been contemplating planting more grasses en masse in the garden but whenever I look at photos of such planting there seems, to me, to be something missing.  I know that grasses are renowned for the movement they bring to the garden but I find block after block of grasses, albeit of different heights and hues, boring.  I think I need the contrast of texture such as broad leaved perennials and, yes, flowers.  This feeling was confirmed when I recently visited Arley Arboretum which has a fairly new grass garden which really disappointed me.  The area wasn’t that large and the borders were of an organic shape but it was more a collection of different grasses  than a good design with the plants working together and it made me realise that it can be difficult to get grasses to look fantastic.

As Mike says not many of us have large areas that we can give over to prairie planting.  My garden is I suppose on the small to medium size and I could give it over to grasses but then I would have to restrict my plant palette  and that is just a non-starter but more importantly I think prairie planting not only works best on a larger scale than the suburban garden but it also works best in the right context.  So I can see that the prairie planting at Pensthorpe in Norfolk would be excellent given it is surrounded by arable farmland and there are large skies and great light levels.  After all for me grasses come into their own when the light shines through them – so careful siting is also a consideration.

So how can I make grasses shine in my humble  suburban garden? As a start I have planted a row of Calamigrostis  along the top of the slope in front of the path.  The slope causes me real problems as my garden is prone to a wind blowing through it, which is weird given the amount of trees and shrubs growing along the boundaries! My thinking is that as plants on the slope tend to get blown over and because it is difficult to work on the slope the best approach is for me to use plants that can cope with being blown around a bit therefore grasses are near the top of the  list.  As well as the grasses along the top of the slope I  have planted some shorter grasses in swathes along the lower part of the slope. I am in filling with perennials so far mainly asters and other late summer perennials.  I’m not at all convinced this will look good in the overall scheme.  I wonder how it will fit with the rest of the garden, I wonder if I’m not being daring enough, too conservative?

 

Grasses with strange sculpture Showborough House

I had been pondering using more grasses along the top of the wall border as again there is a wind problem here (if you know what I mean!) but I think I might be going for what I saw as an easy option.  Whilst I believe planting with grasses is difficult to pull off well I think grasses provide an excellent ‘glue’ to hold a border together.  I have often looked at borders, including my own, and felt that the planting is disjointed.  I try to contrast textures, leaf size, heights etc but I just don’t have enough experience and plant knowledge to pull it off well.  I did wonder if grasses could be my secret weapon in this quest but I am not so confident now. However, I have been encouraged by Christina’s blog ‘Creating my own garden of the Hesperides’.  Like me Christina has a slope to contend with, though on a much bigger scale, and like me she is turning to grasses to help her out.  Her recent post on Stipas was quite inspiring as she posted a number of photos of Stipas, which self seed all over her garden, growing alongside other perennials and some of the combinations surprised me in how well they worked.

 

I’m was also surprised when looking at Christina’s photos of how I preferred the young spring growth of the Stipa more than the autumnal browny growth and again this makes me wonder if grasses are the way to go for me.  Interestingly, whilst looking for photos for this post I couldn’t find any which showed grasses looking good mixed with perennials so I obviously haven’t seen any in the gardens I have visited.  I wonder if this is because people are slightly intimidated by grasses, as they are bright flowering perennials, so they tend to stick them in a border together or whether they are going for the whole grass-scape approach which some designers have made popular.

So my conclusion? I have no conclusion!! I think I will continue to look and see how others use grasses and think long and hard about what I like and don’t in planting style and also wait to see if the slope works – so procrastination is the way forward for now.!

 

 

Obscuring the View

Back garden April 2008

I’m a person that needs a project to motivate myself.  Without a deadline or plan I have little impetus to get going.  As we are heading into Winter my thoughts are turning to next Spring and what I want to try to achieve in the garden.  Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know that I have been trying to find an identity for the slope at the back of the garden.

When we moved in 6 years ago the back slope was dominated by a huge Laurel.  I found the above photo which was taken in April 2008 but it didn’t survive much longer than that.  The Laurel drove me mad as it dominated the view of the back garden as well as sucking up all the moisture from the soil around it.  I knew when it came out that my view would change dramatically but decided to go for it anyway.

Behind my garden is the a bungalow.  As we are on a slope the bungalow is about the same height as my upstairs windows so this now means that we look straight into their garden and vice versa.  This didn’t really bother me as we now had a good view of the Malvern hills.  But over the last two years the neighbour’s washing line has begun to irritate as well as the neighbour.  He is one of those little men who has to stick his nose in things that are nothing to do with him.  He also has what I call the ‘scorched earth’ approach to gardening.  From what I can see there is little growing in his garden more than a couple of feet tall.  However, what really irritates me about him is his refusal to let anything cross the boundary line so my beautiful Prunus which must have been there for years, gets butchered from his side on a regular basis.  It is the only flat backed Prunus tree (as you can see from the photo).


I did win a small victory this month as when he informed me that he was pruning the tree again back to the fence I told him that he would be getting rid of the prunings.  He started to argue, last time I came home to a pile about 4ft high thrown over my fence.  Luckily after the last time I had checked my facts and informed him, with more authority than I felt, that he was required by law to offer me the prunings but if I didn’t want them then it was up to him to get rid of them – and I didn’t want them.  Well that didn’t go down well but it made me feel better!

Anyway, I need to sort the fence out as I am sick of looking at it – to me it dominates the view. This year I bought a beautiful Vitus to grow along the fence to cover it and provide some fab autumn colour.  Needless to say as soon as my son  started to drill the holes for the vine-eyes irritating neighbour was peering over the fence wanting to know what was happening (we share responsibility for the fence).  I went for climbers in order to cover the fence and also because if I plant a tree or large shrub it will get massacred by the mad neighbour and I don’t want that to happen.  However, I have now got to the point where I don’t want him to be able to look over the fence, nor do I want to look at his house or his washing line any more.

So I have decided that the best plan will be to plant some bamboo along the fence.  I have a large clump forming bamboo which I have divided before successfully so I think come the Spring  I will divide it again and plant at least two clumps along the top.  No doubt that will make mad neighbour twitch as of course all bamboo is known to be invasive! I will move the Buddleja down the slope a little and I am going to add a dwarf Crab Apple to add a little height but far enough from the fence to protect it.  I might move the vine to the side fence as I don’t want it getting destroyed by his pruning.  I am thinking that if I use Bamboo as the backdrop then I can add shrubs etc along the top of different heights etc to produce a thick shrubbery which he can’t see through.  Hopefully the Bamboo will grow tall enough to block the house from the view but still leave me the hills.

View from our upstairs window
View from our upstairs window

If you have any bright idea of plants I can plant along the fence line that will grow tall but won’t grow over the fence please let me know – all  ideas will gratefully be received. I have even considered Leylandi but this would cast a huge shadow in my garden so that’s out.

Wildflower Meadow – Maybe Not!

Anyone who reads this blog regularly, and thank you if you do, will have noticed that I am having a bit of a dilema about the direction my garden and my gardening is to go in over the next year.  I made a sweeping statement here which included that I was going to replant the slope with a wildflower meadow.  I love the idea of a wildflower meadow but the more I think about it the more I am beginning to think that it just won’t work in my garden in this context.  It will jarr against the planting around it.  I wanted to attract lots of insects into the garden but I have noticed when I have been in the garden recently that there are masses of buzzy things already.

I have been looking at my garden with a critical eye and thinking about what I like and what I don’t.  It is no secret that I don’t like how the bank is at present and there is another area along the top of the wall that isn’t coming together and lacks an identity.  But on the other hand and to be positive I do like the grouping in the top picture.  I like the combination of leaf shapes, size and colour.  There are flowers from time to time but they really enhance it rather than being the purpose for the combination.  I like the planting above, well sort of, still needs something to lift it just behind the prostrate Rosemary.  I’m thinking another tall grass though I have toyed with a smallish fruit tree but I don’t think that will work and I would  be better moving towards a prairies style.

This is the other side of the border and as you can see it narrows as it goes round and I think this is restricting my planting.  The narrow bit is the area that doesn’t work, so I am wondering about making the border deeper after all the books always say that you should be generous with your borders.  Will need to work out how to shape the ‘lawn’ so it doesn’t look wrong but widening the border would also help with the slope which is quite steep up from the border.

This is the border which sort of runs parallel with the border that I may widen.  It is at the top of the ‘lawn’ and is quite deep; it hides the wildlife pond which lurks behind and is accessed from the two ends.  I am getting happier and happier with this border.  I tend to put the late summer hot colours in here and at the other end there is Dahlia Chat Noir, Lobelia Cardinalis, Ligularia Desdemona.  I need to lift the planting at the end nearest the camera.  I’m thinking that something like the Lobelia Tupa planted in front of the Rodgersia would pick up on the redness of the leaves.  This is the sort of planting I am liking more and more and I can feel this is the way the garden is going so you can see that  wildflower meadow really wouldn’t sit well in this context despite how much I would like one.  I had planned to plant the wild flower meadow on the slope at the back of this picture.  I am struggling with the slope; it only really appeared about 2 years ago when we removed a ridiculously huge laurel.  The biggest problem is that there is a wind which blows through my garden despite the trees and so anything tall needs to be robust or bendable.  I  thought that a wild flower meadow here would solve the problem as the plants wouldn’t mind the wind but I think it will just look wrong. I would like to put some exotic big leaved plants on the slope to create a big of depth and mystery; the path that runs along the top would then be secret; but I am worried that big leaved stuff might not cope with the wind and being a slope it drains well and so far most exotic looking stuff needs a bit of moisture so I will think about it a bit  more.

So I think I have talked myself out of the wild flower meadow and I think I will think about widening the bottom border and continue collecting the plants I love though I will try to think about where the plant will go before I buy it !!

PS Sorry  about the darkness of the photos, it has been raining all day and I wanted to take some pictures to help me process my ideas

Update on my display area

I thought I would entertain you while I am away with an update on one of the projects we completed in the garden this year.  I wrote here about how my eldest had constructed a raised planting display area for me at the end of the patio out of some breeze blocks and scaffolding board.  I initially used the area for hardening off seedlings etc but now these have been planted out I am using it for all my tender plants which are enjoying a holiday from the greenhouse.  I am really pleased with the area as it has fully lived up to my expectations.  I am wondering whether I can tack some horticultural fleece to the fence behind the shelving to drape over plants stored here in the winter – just an idea which I will ponder further.