My Garden – Mid Year 2013

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I thought as I was at the start of two weeks annual leave with no plans for going away just pottering around that I would start it with giving you a tour of the garden.  I have done this in the past but  not for a while and I enjoyed Loree’s tour of her garden so much I am copying her.

So lets start at the kitchen door – above is the view from my kitchen.  Unusually my greenhouse couldn’t be much nearer to the house if I tried.  This is essentially because my garden slopes and the area outside the house is one of the flatter areas plus it meant it was easy to run electricity to.

From the back door we will turn left and go along the narrow patio and look back

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I like this border as the foliage combinations please me and it has filled out well despite my heavy handed editing last year.  Back along the patio to the other side of the greenhouse.

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The ‘Japanese’ fern border planted up earlier this year.  I think I am pleased with it but I am waiting to see how it develops.  Looking to the end of the patio there is the ‘succulent theatre’

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This works really well for the succulents but I need to do something with the fence.  The ground is hardcore here so everything is in pots.  I have a young clematis growing up the trellis so I think I will have to wait to see how that does.

Turning left we go up the bottom steps that you can see in the Japanese fern border picture above.  At the top of the steps if you turn left again straight away you have the new path (not quite finished) between the Big Border and the Cottage Border.

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I so pleased with the path, it is exactly in the right location and really makes the Big Border work for me.  I am also very pleased with the Big Border which is really looking fab right now and you can see this is where I have been devoting my energies recently.

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We carry along the new path and at the end we come to the original Woodland Border which is looking a little worse for wear partly because of the time of year but also because I was going to put a path through here back in March but then the whole workshop scheme took over.  Now I don’t think I want a path through here so I need to think out the planting and fill in with more substantial plants at the back.

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We shall skip past here quickly and we come to the bottom of the Top Steps.  If we go up these we will see the compost bins to our left and ahead another neglected shade border.

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Terrible I know, I hang my head in shame.  I planted a Rhododendron up here earlier in the year but it has died.  I think it got waterlogged before planting but its dead.  I still want a substantial shrub in here so I may go for another rhododendron or maybe something else, the thinking cap is on ready for Autumn planting.

Turning right at the top of the Top Steps we have a long straight path which takes us along the back of the garden and along the top of the slope.  This is an access path as the slope is so steep.  You can see there is a raised border along the fence line and I have planted 3 large Bamboos in there to screen the fence but more importantly to provide height and mask the house behind.  They are in their third year and just beginning to get going.  The rest of the planting in this stripe is awful and its has been a dumping ground for plants so I want to clear it out and rethink the plant.  I think lots of big foliage plants or shrubs that will provide lots of interest would be good.

2013_08240027 On the other side of the path you look down on what is left of the Daisy Border (photo below is from bottom of border).  This was seriously reduced when the workshop went in and needs sorting out. I had to move lots of plants back in the Spring quickly and I’m not sure what is what now so I am watching and waiting as the Asters start to flower and then I can sort it out.  I had planned on a rockery here but I just don’t think it would fit my garden.

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So we go back along the top path and down the Top Steps and we can either head straight on or we can take a left and go along the hidden path behind the Bog Garden.

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The Bog Garden isn’t been that great this year mainly as we have had little rain.  However, I’m not convinced by it so I am giving it another year and if this time next year it still isn’t looking as I want I might have a re-think.

The secret path brings us out by the workshop and after a step or so we have the grass path on our right which takes us back along the top of the Big Border and to the bottom of the Top Steps.  We won’t go down there as we will be backtracking but here is the view if we had.  The border on the left is the other side of the Bog Garden which is quite dry and I am seriously struggling with.  It is very shady  and I am going to include this as part of the woodland area I think.2013_08240041Right so back to the Workshop.  When you stand outside the Workshop you are on the gravel steps which are an extension of the Bottom Steps from the patio – if you get my meaning!.  The only area left to show you is the fence border along these steps.  This is my current project.  I pulled a Ceanothus out of here some weeks back and have been painting the fence.  I have plans for the planting here which has to take into account the dry shade but I also have a plan for decorating the fence which may or may not work!

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So that’s my garden – don’t get me wrong I’m not dis-satisfied with it but my tastes are changing as is my experience and knowledge and I think this is leading the changes I want to make.  We are back at the steps which take us to the patio where you are welcome to join me for a cuppa and cake.  Oh there is the front garden as well but I am showing that each monthly in the End of Month meme so I won’t bore you with it now.

 

Foilage Follow Up – August 2013

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Some of the foliage in the garden at the moment is nearly as bright and colourful as the flowers.  The Coleus Henna is looking wonderful after a bit of a rocky start when the weather was so hot.  I have a pot full of 6 of these plants and they really look wonderful en masse with nothing else to distract.

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I like this monthly meme as it makes me look past the flowers and appreciate the foliage more.  I hadn’t realised that I had hostas which had so far escaped the dreaded slug/snail attack which is quite an achievement this far into the year.   I don’t know what hosta this is as I have had it for years and the plant, or its parents, has moved house with me at least three times.  It is interesting as the variegated stripes are stronger on some leaves than others.

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Like  the Coleus I am rather pleased and surprised by the Castor Oil Plants.  This is the first year that I have grown them successfully from seed and like many of the annuals they seemed to sit for a while doing nothing but in the last couple of weeks with more rain they have shot up and the glossy  foliage is a wonderful contrast to the dahlias around them.

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I am beginning to realise that I have quite a few purple hued foliage plants in the garden.  Like the flowers this seems to be a garden I am drawn to.  Above is Actea simplex, another plant I have had for years.  When I bought it its name was Circumfuga but it has been renamed and now there are lots of named varieties so I really don’t know what this plant should be called.

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Finally, one of my Japanese Painted Ferns, Athyrium niponicum, I love these ferns and they are surprisingly increasing in my garden as I keep buying more, each one slightly different to the other – well that’s what the nurserymen say but I’m not so sure!!

For more foliage follow-up posts visit Pam’s blog Digging

My garden this weekend – 11th August 2013

Centaurea Americana 'Aloha Blanca'
Centaurea Americana ‘Aloha Blanca’

Yet again I have had little time to do proper gardening this weekend and I have to say it is beginning to get to me.  Also as I have started to go swimming to get fit I have found my evening gardening time reduced so I have decided to reduce my swimming until the evenings are too dark to garden.  I think all my other non-work commitments are now complete so hopefully I will be able to use my spare time to catch up with the gardening more plus I have two weeks leave coming up which I can’t wait for.

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The reason I was busy this weekend is that I was helping with the local horticultural show and my duties including stewarding the flower judge.  It was very interesting as I started to learn from him how they judge the plants, what they look for, what counts against the entry and how sometimes the judge really struggles to make a decision.

Big Border looking lush
Big Border looking lush

Back in the garden and as ever its a case of wondering where to start there are so may jobs to do.  I decided to carry on with the new path through the big border as it will make life much easier and it will help me plan the planting much better.  In order to do the next bit of the path I had to move some plants.  I know it is not an ideal time to move plants but I do believe that if you water the plants well and take care of them most will survive.  All the plants I have to move had already done their flowering and had been cut down to put on new growth so I think this is as good a time to move them as ever.

The new path runs parallel through the new Big Border and more of less follows the edge of the old cottage border before it was extended although I think it is a little wider.  However, the planting in the old border needed thinning out anyway and I wanted to sort out the planting so it was more coherent rather than one of my electic mixs.  I have decided to go back to original plan for the border but to do it better.  The planting will be planned to peak early Summer and will be a mix of old English traditional favourites: Delphinium, roses, geraniums, purple sage, maybe some daisies.  It will be pinks and blues and I am already mentally calling it the Sugar Border or more honestly the Schmultz Border!

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The plans for this area are really coming together as are other projects in my head.  I will need to re-organise the Big Border once the Dahlias are finished but at the moment I

Lobelia tupa
Lobelia tupa

cannot visualise how it will be as the current planting is so lush.  I suspect it will have a late Summer feel and I am pretty sure the wonderful Lobelia tupa which seems to like this garden will feature in it.  I think the colour theme will be rich red, purples, burgundy and cerise pink as these are definitely my favourite colours at this time of year.

Sadly I have a lack of physical energy today due to all the running around I have been doing but it has given me the perfect excuse to sit down and ponder bulb catalogues.  I have written up my short-list for Avon Bulbs and Peter Nyssen and I now need to actually price it which may be a little scary.  I seem to be developing a bit of a bulb addiction which is beginning to revival my already substantial seed addiction!!   I was going to restrict the tulip bulb order this year due to loosing so many to the evil badger  in the spring.  However, I love tulips so much I can’t bear not to order some so I have decided to go back to planting up pots which will live on the patio and  hopefully thwart my stripey friend.  I am also ordering lots of narcissus as I try to add more each year and also extend the season.  I have chosen some common ones but also a few more unusual ones.

Saying all this there are still some parts of the garden which aren’t working and I really need to address but at the moment I can’t decide what approach to take with them so they are on the back burner until inspiration hits.

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My garden this weekend – 4th August 2013

2013_08040091logo I don’t feel as though  I have spent much time in the garden this weekend.  Partly, as you can see it has been raining and when I say raining I mean a lot of rain.  Which is excellent as the ground has been so dry for so long.2013_08040084logo

The dahlias are really coming into their own and I am so pleased with the choices I made this year from Sarah Raven.  I would tell you which is which but that means scrambling around amongst soggy leaves.  However I can tell you they are either from the Butterfly Collection or Essential Dark Collection.

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I adore these colours and I have noticed recently that I seem to be buying more and more plants in them.   Today, I went to visit Meadow Farm Nursery which I will write about another time but the owners are heavily into Echinacea breeding so needless to say I came back with 4 beautiful pinky plants.

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The Big Border has seriously filled out the last couple of weeks which is amazing considering that it was only created in April/May and the plants were put in randomly due to the workshop development.  The border is  going to be unpicked in the Autumn when the annuals and dahlias are over.   I have been struggling, even before the border went in, on how to plant it and also the best way to access it.  It became obvious fairly quickly that a path of some sort was needed to get into the border rather than my heavy feet squishing unsuspecting plants.2013_08040089logo Saturday, saw a big step forward and the path started to go in.  It is going to be a simple wood bark path just wide enough for someone to walk down.  As you can see it is edged with branches as I really wanted an informal look and the intention is that the plants will grow over the edge and disguise it a little.  However, with the best laid plans it turned out that I did not have enough branches to act as edging. The answer was to mention this to my son who reminded me that we had identified some branches that needed to come down off the Willow and Prunus but we hadn’t got round to doing it.  Within 2 hours the boys had been up the trees and branches were forthcoming along with a lot of twiggy leafy stuff which I now need to sort out.

The only problem is that I cannot complete the path as there is a whole load of annual planting in the way and it would be such a pity to be digging it up just as it is coming into its own.  There has also been much debate about the exit point.  Plan A has been deemed unsuitable as it isn’t where you would want to come out and is rather steep.  Plan B has also been ruled out by the youngest son as although it is eminently sensible and practicable it is dull and straight and provides no interest or mystery – he really has been to too many gardens with me!  So Plan C it is but this involved shifting the Stipa gigantea about 3 ft so the path will be completed in a few months.  In the meantime whilst it is giving me excellent access to the border and helping me visualise how to plant it, I am reminded of those films where the car chase ends abruptly on a section of the freeway which has just stopped being made.

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Foodie Penpal Parcel One

I have a real weakness for a parcel, I adore receiving them.  In fact the actual receiving of the parcel is often more exciting than the contents which is why I love internet shopping.  I also like eating, well who doesn’t, although I am now on a diet but more of that later.  So when I came across Foodie Penpals via @Carllegge on twitter I was curious.  I umm’d and arh’d for a few weeks, did some snooping on blogs to see how it worked and what sort of thing people sent then this month I signed up.

The premise comes from the US and they now have around 1000 Foodie Penpals.  I don’t know how long it has been going in the UK and Europe but there are around 100 signed up now.  At the start of each month you are emailed the email address of your penpal to whom you are to send a parcel during that month.  You email your penpal to enquire about preferences, dislikes etc etc.  There is a £10 limit to spend on the contents of the box and as I discovered you have to really think clever if you don’t want to pay as much again for the postage.  I originally had ideas of sending chutneys etc to my penpal but am very glad I re-thought it.  My foodie penpal for August was Lucy over at OffallyGood and you can read what she thought of my first attempt of a parcel here.

Of course this is not a one way activity, as you are busily scouring the shops for good ideas someone somewhere else is doing the same for your parcel.  My parcel this month came from Elaine and Simon at Luv4Fashion – you see it isn’t all foodie bloggers who participate.  It turned out that this was their first parcel as well.  I told them I was trying to follow a GI diet lots of wholemeal etc, my dislikes and favourites etc.  I then joined weightwatchers – opps.

Anyway my parcel arrived very promptly.  I had had a tweet from Elaine when she posted it the parcel so I was anticipating its arrival but the whole mystery of what might or might not be inside was rather thrilling.  I hoped for some baked goodies  as I have noticed that this seems to be a bit of a theme in the posts I had read.  Elaine didn’t let me down and had included some raisin cookies.  My youngest son and I soon demolished these, I went for a few extra walks to work off the calories, and my son said they were so good I should get the recipe from Simon and Elaine.  Also enclosed were some chocolate macaroons which we haven’t opened yet as we were waiting for my other son to return from his holiday plus I need to factor them into the diet!

There was a huge bag of good risotto rice which is quite exciting since I always use the supermarket’s own brand.  I had risotto this evening and I have nearly used up the boring stuff and can’t wait to try the posher version. Simon and Elaine also included a recipe for their favourite risotto, including a written letter, recipe etc is one of the requirements of being a Foodie Penpal.

Finally there were some crisps and some white tea with cherry blossom.  I have saved these for when I go back to work next week.  I love white tea and drink it as work as I have it black and it avoids the whole milk war issue in the office kitchen.

I really enjoyed my first go at Foodie Penpals and have to say how relieved I was that Lucy loved her box which has made me feel more confident about continuing for another month.

If you are interested in joining up contact RockSalt   and for more Foodie Penpal blogs  visit the founders’ blog Lean Green Bean

End of Month View August 2012

The End of Month View is a day early this month as I have signed up to FoodiePenpals and you are meant to post  about your food parcel on the last week day of the month e.g the 31st August.  I’m not sure how long I will continue with Foodie Penpals but I will also continue with the End of Month View post although it may end up moving to the Start of the Month post!!

Anyway here we are at the end of a soggy August.  I don’t really mind the rain too much as I hate heat but it has been somewhat frustrating when you want to spend a day off work in the garden.  Anyway, as you can see from the soggy photographs we have had more rain this week.  The patio border is very full and the Kirengeshoma palmata is about the flower.  I love its flowers as they remind me of curls of butter.

The Cottage Garden border hasn’t delivered as I had hoped this its first year although if I am honest my plans for it and the planting was a little haphazard this  time last year.  I have made the decision that I want this border to peak May – June with the baton being picked up by  other parts of the garden.  So I have some Delphinium seedlings  to add as well as more Geraniums, Evening Primrose and Verbascum.  Then I will fill in with lots of cosmos to give some interest at this time of year – well that’s the plan anyway.

The daisy border has filled out in the last year and the daisies are beginning to burst.  However, I think I need to remove one of the clumps of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ as they are dominating the border and I would like to add more variety and in particular more Echinacea.

This is the ‘I haven’t got a clue’ border and this winter/spring’s project.  Its in the corner and one of the few flat places in the garden.  I did say I was putting the raised vegetable bed here but the voice in my head has convinced me that I should  listen to it and that I will be happier and more content with no vegetable growing.  So what to do with this corner.  I  toyed  with an alpine raised bed but having looked at the rockeries and crevice gardens at the Alpine Garden Society garden in Pershore I decided this wasn’t really for me at all.  I really like alpines but prefer them in pots rather than in a big planting.  So instead this week’s plan is to transform this into the bench border.  I want to gain access to the bottom of the slope so a narrow path will  go  in there and then we are going to get a nice bench  and choose the best position for it and move plants around as needed.  Well …….!

The ‘front of the pond’ border although there is no longer a pond so a new name is needed.  I have planted a monarda and phlox this week in this border to see how they do.  The books say they both need moist  and well-drained soil – heavens knows what that really means.  My soil is definitely moist so I have added a little gravel under and around the plants.  I want to do something like the wonderful phlox/monarda border I  saw at Stone House last week which was smothered in insects.  If the phlox and monarda come back well next  year  I will add to them.  In the meantime I have some narcissus to add for Spring interest.

The Woodland border at the end of its first year.  I am pleased with this area as it has done very well given my poor preparation during the dryness of last summer.  This border is designed to be of interest in Spring with lots of bulbs which I will add to this Spring.  I do need to do some editing and tweaking as some plants are swamping each other or not in the best position to show them to their best advantage.  Notes have been made in the faithful notebook.

The bog garden has done well  in its first year, no doubt due  to the rain we have had.  We have decided to remove the branch of the prunus  tree which runs above it as it is forcing the flowers to lean at an angle in search of better light.  I want to move some candelabra primulas to this area but apart from that I will be leaving it be for the coming year.

So that’s most of the back garden this year.  There is also the top raised bed which runs along the back  fence  and leaves me cold.  I can’t think what to plant  in it amongst the three bamboos that have been planted to provide a screen.   I think maybe some big leaved plants would be the answer but I am waiting for the lightbulb moment.  There is also the little wood store border which is only a few months old but maybe I will show you that in the future – who  knows.

If you would like to join in the End/Start  of  the month meme you are very welcome.  You can do use it for whatever purpose you want, it’s entirely up to you but it would be nice if you could  post a link to your post in the comment box so we can share.