End of Month View – November 2016

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I initially started this post by saying that as I have been away most of November very little has happened to Hugh’s Border, the focus of this year’s End of Month View.  How very presumptuous of me! Of course things have happened as Nature has no interest in whether or not I am present to witness the seasonal changes, nor does she really need me to assist her.

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If I am honest this time of year is very helpful in re-engaging my interest as I do enjoy tidying in the garden and I spent a happy couple of hours after taking these photos dead-heading, weeding and clearing up.  It is so satisfying to see a tidy border especially when you compare it to a shambolic one next door.

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Whilst Hugh’s Border has sat there minding its own business slowly fading into it’s winter slumbers there have been changes elsewhere.  I have a need to improve the structure of the garden which has been a little Heath Robinson in the past.  I doubt very much that any self-respecting landscaper would think the updates are much of an improvement on Heath Robinson but we take what we can get and the thick board edges to the Big Border are already changing the feel of the space. Previously the edging was made up of a collection of Malvern stone but it was uneven and not clearly defined.  The intention is to repeat the edging on the other side of the path, but using narrower wood so the edging sort of steps down.  I am toying with what to finish the path with. It was originally wood chip which has a habit of breaking down and needing regularly updating; the other problem with wood chip is that at this time of year you end of up with brown borders and a brown path and it is all a little uninspiring.  Therefore I am thinking of finishing the path with gravel – despite the cat’s protests – as this would give a visual break to the border and will also link to the gravel steps that the path runs off.  We are also replacing the risers on the gravel steps as some of them are showing their age.

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There has been another key change in the garden which will have a significant impact and that is the removal of the majority of the trees from my neighbour’s garden.  Whilst I was away the tree surgeons have removed the large sycamore tree which was planted on our boundary near the house, as well as some ash seedlings. They have also removed most of the trees along the far boundary so now on a good day we can see a wider view of the hills.  The light is positively flooding in, even on a grey autumnal day, so it will be fascinating to see how things hold up in the height of summer. Having spent some 10 years battling with shade it is quite strange to consider the option of more flowers and I have already found myself mentally changing the focus of what was the woodland border to something more floral.

However, whilst I am happy to embrace the challenge of new lighting to the garden I do miss the height that the trees bought.  Having received a photo from my son, during my travels, of the new garden view I spent some time day dreaming about potential trees that could be added to the garden.  I carried out a lot of research whilst on trains and buses, considered the various acers and sorbus in the Japanese gardens and then bought a Liquidamber on impulse from the local plant nursery this week. It’s already been planted with the expectation that the dark leaves will provide a good contrast to the green of the Euphorbia.

I could also bore you with my mini-rockery that I constructed last week but there really is nothing much to see at the moment but hopefully in the spring there will be something worth sharing.

Given the above I am hopefully that 2017 will bring more time and enthusiasm for the garden and that the quality of the posts on this blog will improve accordingly.

End of Month View – October 2016

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Well Autumn is truly upon us now.  The Colchicums are flowering, the leaves are falling and the clocks went back an hour last night.  I’ve always enjoyed Autumn, just as I do Spring.  I remember as a child one of the highlights of the season was raking up huge piles of beech leaves and jumping into them. For some reason autumn leaves always seem to be damp these days so not conducive to jumping in.

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Hugh’s Border is slowly losing its foliage and preparing for winter but many of the plants are deciduous so some interest will remain through the winter.  Come early spring the snowdrops will flower and if I remember rightly some narcissus.

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I’m including some photos of the wider view mainly because I have treated myself to a wide-angle lens ahead of my trip to Japan in a week’s time.  We will be doing a lot of travelling to temples, castles and into the wider landscape so I thought a wide-angle lens would be a worthwhile investment – well that’s the excuse I am making to myself! The photos on this post are all with the new lens and it means I can show you the wider garden view so the different bits make more sense and you soon realise just how small the garden is and inevitably how much it slopes.

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Oh and you are probably spotted the large timber scattered around.  These are to replace some of the risers on the steps from the patio and also to provide a more definitive edge to the bottom of the Big Border.  Work has started now that many of the plants are being cut back and there is less chance of damage from large feet.  The aim is to get the new hard landscaping completed over the winter before my spring bulbs start making life more challenging for the landscaper.

Its interesting looking at these photos how much colour there is still in the garden and how much of it comes from foliage as opposed to flowers – reinforcement of my view that if you get the foliage right the flower are just the icing on the cake.

Anyone is welcome to join in with the End of Month meme.  You can use it to follow a specific part of the garden through the year or to give your readers a tour of the whole garden – whatever works for you. I like to follow one area through the year as it helps me to be more critical of the space and make improvements.  All I ask is that you leave a link to your post in the comments box below and link back to this post in yours – that way everyone can connect.

My Garden This Weekend – 9th October 2016

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Amarine belladiva

So its been many weeks, no months, since I wrote a ‘My garden this weekend’ post. I won’t bore you yet again with my emotional struggles with the garden and my lack of enthusiasm.  Suffice to say that this weekend I had to really push myself to get on with some of the tasks that are needed.  The patio is full of purchases from the summer that need planting out or I will be struggling over the winter to protect the plants.  However, of course it’s not that simple.  I bought the plants for a particular project – the Big Border revamp – but I haven’t made as much progress as I had hoped.

I think I may have mentioned before that I want to replant the Big Border to benefit from the soil which drains very well. My plan is to use it for the various bulbs that I have a weakness for.  I think last weekend I reported that I had started to relocate some of the peonies to Hugh’s Border and I have added a couple of Miscanthus to the Big Border which weren’t happy behind the shed.

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Bits of it are coming together but the main part of the project is to formalise the lower edge of the Big Border.  The path has for some years been edged with Malvern stone found in the garden or logs from  tree pruning.  I have always gardened on a shoestring and never had funds for major landscaping so the garden has developed through hard work and making do with what was to hand.  When the Big Border went in around 4 years ago I wasn’t sure about the path and waited to see where the natural path appeared.  It’s all been a little Heath Robinson.  Originally the path was finished with woodchips but over the years this has disintegrated and the stone edging isn’t strong enough to clearly define the border from the path.  I need it to look smart and tidy.

The trouble is that I have concluded that I need structure and tidiness in my life or I become stressed.  With less time, energy or enthusiasm for the garden this year it has become untidy and this in turn has made it harder for me to re-engage as I just don’t know where to start.  I feel that if I can get some good structure or bones in place then the messiness won’t be so bad – just like edging the lawn makes a huge difference to a garden without you doing much else.  Thankfully funds are a little more plentiful these days and my long-suffering eldest has ‘volunteered’ to help me with putting in some thick wood edging.  Then, probably in the Spring, we will put some wood edging on the other side of the path but probably something thinner.  I will then cover the path probably with wood chip – the cat doesn’t approve of gravel!

img_6741I have moved all the plants along the path edge and the Malvern stone so my eldest can get on with the improvements.  We now have a large pile of Malvern stone to find something to do with. A suggestion has been made that I could use them to create a home for my hardy succulents, alpines and tiny bulbs.  I am resisting using the word ‘rockery’ as I really dislike rockeries but there is a small gem of an idea mumbling away at the back of my mind.

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In my bid to take control of the garden again I have seized the day and removed a couple of large shrubs that I haven’t liked for years.  One went from the border above, as did a large persicaria and some common ferns which swamped the area and used up all the moisture.  The photo doesn’t quite show you how much space there is here but  I am quietly excited as it’s quite a big space and will, after some feeding and soil improvement, provide a home for the remaining peonies that need rehoming.

Hopefully with all our efforts this Autumn the garden will be more manageable next year so I don’t feel I need to spend as much time working in it and I can do some of the other things I want to do without feeling guilty or maybe even just sit and enjoy the garden.

End of Month View – September 2016

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Seriously how is it October? I’m sure it’s only midway through September! But at least I have kinda remembered this month to do the End of Month View, albeit a day late.  I forgot all together last month – sorry.

Anyway, Hugh’s Border isn’t doing too bad considering the general neglect of the garden for some months now.  Things are getting back on an even keel and changes are afoot.  I’m always happier in the garden when I can relocate plants – poor plants.  Because my new neighbours have cleared the boundary line there is now a wealth of sunlight streaming in from the south which means the lighting in the garden has changed giving me new opportunities.

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The shady areas have significantly decreased which is good as it means I have more areas where I can plant more sun-loving plants and most plants that do well in shade don’t mind a bit more sun.  It does mean that the Big Border which was always sunny is now much more sunny and some plants have struggled this year as it is has been too dry for them.  The Big Border has good drainage so I am going to use it for my hardy Mediterranean and Southern Hemisphere plants and bulbs which are one of my plant weaknesses.  I am slowly but surely relocating the more traditional border inhabitants such as the peonies and roses from the Big Border into the surrounding borders where they should benefit from the improved light but with more moisture retentive soil. If you peer closely at the photo above you will see the rusty metal obelisk which was in the Big Border and hosts a rose and clematis.  They have all been moved to Hugh’s Border and had a good dollop of horse manure to get them going.  I like the vertical accent that the obelisk gives this area.

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To be quite honest the improved lighting has, I think, made my gardening life easier.  I have really struggled over the years to get good seasonal interest in the shady parts of the garden.  I love foliage but it gets a little dull being the same, more or less, all year.  So for example in Hugh’s Border I will be adding some peonies, some more Japanese Anemones, and probably some Pacific Coast irises, as well as more bulbs for Spring.

I’ve a lot of relocations to do over the coming weeks so I am hoping for some dry weekends as my gardening time is really minimal these days.   And then there is the tidying up and the bulb planting to get on top of ….it is nice to feel enthused again.

 

End of Month View – July 2016

IMG_6076Opps sneaking in a day late with the post which is disgraceful as I host the meme but there you go.  Life moves on, you find yourself blogging less and less and losing track of the days and the pattern of posting and the next thing you know you are late like the proverbial White Rabbit.

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Anyway, what is there to say about Hugh’s Border except it is very full and interestingly and is probably faring better than most of the garden given the dry conditions we have had recently.  The only real casualty are the Sensitive Ferns (Onoclea sensibilis) which are looking a little frazzled.  They need moisture even when they are in the shade despite what the reference books say.  I have some in a very damp corner of the garden which look wonderful but the ones in Hugh’s Border despite it not having as good drainage as the rest of the garden give in at this time of year every year and every year I think I really must pull them out.  But I forget and then in the spring the new fronds with their red stems appear showing that they are spreading around and I relent.  “No more” I cry – well mutter.  I am determined not to be hoodwinked into a reprieve and I intend to drastically cull the Sensitive Fern and replace it with some ferns that are  a little more robust and not so touchy about things.

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As for the front of the border the phlox are looking and smelling wonderful and I find myself thinking that as they seem to like these conditions then maybe I should add to them but I need to be very particular about the colour as I don’t want a garish pink and I think the colour palette for phlox is quite limited.  Anyway, a bit of research is needed.

There isn’t much else to say about the border as its one of those areas that just gets on with it and finally has filled out enough to have a bit of interest happening whatever the time of year.

As ever any one can join in the end of month meme just decide on what part of your garden you want to feature or maybe give us a tour of the whole garden.  The instructions are on the tab at the top of the blog.  I look forward to seeing your links in the comment box below and having a mooch over to see what is happening at yours particularly as it is now raining here.

Helen

End of Month View – April 2016 – Hugh’s Border

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Hugh’s Border has really filled out in the last month especially with the hostas planted under the Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ emerging. I am determined to crack this border this year.  It looks Ok but in previous years there has been something lacking and it has felt bitty and not really me.  Over the last month I have added some lupins with red/orange flowers and also Rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’.  These will add to the red and orange theme that seems to be the emerging in this area.

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Here’s the other end of Hugh’s Border (Hugh is the owl).  This part of the border is more woodland/shade planting.  The Pulmonaria are beginning to go over which I am sure will disappoint the bees.  Just behind them are some trillium and lots of Onoclea sensibilis as it seems to have decided to spread after sitting quietly for years – I presume due to the mild wet winter.

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Here is the other end of the woodland bit of the border (nearest the bench).  The big round leaves are Cardiocrinum giganteum which has reappeared this year and hopefully will flower. The lime green strappy leaves are Iris sibirica, I think it is a pale blue variety but it hasn’t flowered for a few years due to being moved so maybe this year will be the year when I discover which variety they are.

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This is the front of the border and the area of the border which has been really perplexing me.  I have moved a couple of hellebores here from near the bench as it was difficult to see their flowers in their old location.  It seems hellebores like to face the sun so from the bench you just saw the back of the flowers in their new location you can see the flowers from the grass path.  I am trying to bulk up the planting and foliage textures in this area so plan to add to it as the year progresses.

So that is the border at mid Spring, lots of new shoots appearing and promise of things to come.

If you would like to join in with the monthly meme you are very welcome.  All I ask is that you add a link to this post in your post and leave a link to your post in the comments box below.  You can use the meme however you want – to focus on one area in particular, to look around the whole garden, whatever suits you.

 

End of Month View – February 2016 Hugh’s Border

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Ok so the quick-witted amongst you will have spotted that this isn’t my front garden which I said last month was going to be the focus of the End of Month Meme.  And you are right. I had fully intended to focus on the front garden in the meme this year but having written last month’s post, received lots of inspiring comments and done much pondering I think I have decided to dig up the front lawn and re-design the space.  Now I am sure that would be very interesting to follow on the blog month by month but as I don’t know when I will have the time and/or energy to start the work and as I am pro actively working on reducing unnecessary pressure on myself to compensate for the pressures of my new role at work it seemed silly to me to set myself up to feel like I was failing every month. No doubt when I do get my act together I will be showing you the progress on the front garden but I’m afraid you will have to settle for another year of the main garden this year.

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Having made that decision I was then perplexed about what to focus on this year.  My garden isn’t that big and there certainly isn’t anything new to showcase but I was determined to focus on something I hadn’t focussed on before so I have ended up with the border you can see in the photographs.  This is what has been known as the former bog garden and you can locate it if you look at the garden plan.  When I first started blogging a large portion of this border was a pond put in to the convenient hole left by a huge inherited conifer that we had removed.  It was a foolish place to put a pond as it was under the Prunus and Willow so I spent my life, or so it seemed, fishing leaves out and really putting a pond near the top of a sloping garden is just fundamentally wrong.  Some years back I decided to fill it in and create  bog garden.  To be honest this was a very lazy approach to dealing with the pond liner and not the best idea I had especially given that I become a little over enthusiastic in puncturing holes in the liner and inadvertently improved the drainage so well that the likelihood of a bog garden was remote.  So now it is just a border which is mainly in the shade but with the shed end in the sunshine.  Interestingly, when I took the photographs for this post I was struggling to find a good view, which is why it has rarely featured on the blog, but then I stumbled on the view from the shed (top photo) which I really like.  It’s almost as if I designed the border deliberately to be that shape!

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Like I have said the border has a sunny end, just in front of the bench and when we put the bench and gravel in a few years back we cut into the border to create a bigger gravel area where I could also put some of my pots.  Not a very prepossessing collection I know but these are the remnants of my dabbling in alpines and they need to be sorted and tidied.  My intention when I put the bench in was to try to create an area which would be surrounded in plants in high summer like a hide away.  I haven’t achieved this as I have been just too conservative in this area and I need to throw caution to the wind and go for it.  You will see there are a number of hellebores in this bed.  These are last year’s hellebores acquisitions and I was looking for a new location, rather than group all my hellebores in one area.  The only trouble with this location is that, just like dahlias, hellebores face towards the sun (well they do in my garden) and consequently when I sit on the bench I am looking at the back of the flowers.  I have decided to move these plants further along the border to the shady end near the grass path  so I can actually see the flowers.  Then I need to start thinking about how to achieve the feel I want here.  I think some big leaved plants would be good….more pondering will now take place.

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This is the view of the shady end from the grass path.  Again I have struggled with this area – in fact I have struggled with all this border.  I am trying to get a more cohesive feeling and move away from the bittiness that predominates so much of my garden;  the downside of having a magpie approach to plants.  In the back of the border there is a paulownia, which I am growing as a tree rather than pollarding, and lots of ferns.  I think I need to start incorporating some hostas in this end and the hellebores will also add interesting foliage when I move them but I feel it needs something maybe a bit more architectural or striking to give it some sort of focus…. maybe the fatsia japonica Variegated that found its way home from today’s HPS meeting would be a good starting point.

As for what I call this border, well the ‘former bog garden’ doesn’t trip off the tongue so I am think maybe I will call it Hugh’s border as that is the name of my willow owl.

If you would like to join in with the end of month view meme you are very welcome to.  There are no rules but I do ask that you link to this post or blog from your post and if you leave a link to your post in the comment box below then we can all find each other.