End of Month View – August 2015

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Finally I can stop moaning about the lack of rain as the last week has been decidedly wet leaving the garden looking very lush.  I surprised myself at how much things had grown in the last year when I looked back at last year’s August EOMV post.  It just shows you how easy it is to forget what progress has been made and how things have developed and I think it reinforces the benefits of taking regular photographs of the garden, and maybe participating in this meme.

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So to start with the usual path up to the workshop.  I have been on a bit of a grass-fest this last month while I have been on annual leave and you might just spot a Stipa tenuissima  near the foreground.  I want to soften the edges of the steps and given how sunny this part of the garden is with good drainage grasses seem a good partner to the numerous bulbs I have planted here. If you look closely at the far end of the steps you can just spot the cyclamen that have been flowering for the last couple of weeks.

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Turning left from the bottom of the steps we have the lower path which runs almost along the top of the retaining wall.  The border to the left is really a rose border, although the flowers haven’t been that great this year, and I have been adding other plants such as sedum and penstemons to bring some late summer colour. To the right is the bottom of the Big Border which slopes down from the grass path.  This border’s season of interest is primarily late summer due to the various asters that are planted here.  I am still trying to get their arrangement right since they were originally acquired for the back slope before the workshop gobbled it up.  I struggle with balancing the tall and shorter varieties in a border where they are seen from both sides and which slopes.  I am slowly moving most of the tall asters to the middle of the border and it does seem to be working.  I now need to work on planting around the bottom of the border to disguise the legs of the asters.

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From the far end of the bottom path you can look back to the workshop through the Calamgrostis ‘Overdam’.  The Calamgrostis has been victim to my tweaking, being moved by all of a foot backwards into the border.  It was right against the top edge of the border and hemmed in by a tall aster to the point where it didn’t seem to be able to waft in the breeze and what is the point of having grasses if they aren’t allowed to waft.  The aster has been relocated, it’s not looking very happy but hopefully the rain will help, but the grass looks so much better now and there is movement and that’s what I want in the garden – a realisation that has crept up on me during my various garden visits this year.

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At the end of the bottom path you come to the lower part of the woodland border.  Looking back it hasn’t changed much since last year except the plants are larger.  For now I think it is working although there is a bare path where the Solomon’s Seal was before I cut it down to counter the invasion of the Solomon Seal Sawfly.

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The other end of the woodland border has seen major upheaval a year ago when the acer died.  I am beginning to get an idea of how I would like it to look and you might spot a miscanthus in the background along with a carex and hosta still in their pots waiting for planting.  This area isn’t as shady as it was due to the removal of the willow canopy and it is interesting to see how the shade lovers have thrived due to the increase in moisture despite the border being sunnier.

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From the top of the woodland border you find yourself looking across, again, to the workshop, across what was the Bog Garden.  This is now a much drier area due to the holes I over zealously punched in the liner – opps.  If you look back at last year’s post you will see how this area has grown up over the last year and last week I moved the Paulwonia tomentosa from the back slope to this border.  I felt that the Paulwonia was struggling on the slope which is very free draining and  think its height will add interest to its new home.

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Finally the grass path which runs along the top of the Big Border and is looking very neat thanks to a quick haircut ready for its photocall. In the foreground you can see the Anemanthele lessoniana that has been added in the last week.  There is another to the right of the path and a third at the far end of the border.  I hope that the third one will draw the eye and add some cohesion to my eclectic planting.  I need to work on the border to the right of the path next year as whilst I am happy with it in spring it falls apart the rest of the year.  There are some phloxes here which I have persevered with for a couple of years but I am really tired of now as they aren’t performing and the large white one looks terrible when the flowers fade or get damaged by rain.  I seem to be adopting a warm orange, rust and yellow theme here so I think I might try to see where that goes.

If you would like to join in the End of Month meme you are very welcome – the more the merrier.  All we ask if that you add a link to this post in your post and that you leave a link to your post in the comment box below so we can all find you.

 

In a Vase on Monday – Faded Elegance

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This week’s vase is a simple one of Agapanthus ardernei hybrids.

I have two wonderful clumps of agapanthus, this one and a very dark blue one and they are situated in ideal conditions soil-wise. However, it seems the sunlight that reaches them, although appearing full on to me, isn’t to the agapanthus’ liking so they have been growing horizontally presumably looking for better light.  I have given up trying to straighten them and made plans to reduce the neighbouring tree instead.  As they are growing so horizontally it has been difficult to admire the flower-heads and with the torrential rain we have had over the last two days I decided to cut them all and bring them inside so I could enjoy them as they go over.

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I rather like these white flowers, they make a nice change to the blues that seem to be more popular.  I am also wondering if having the blue and white clumps together isn’t a little passée so I might think about moving one of the clumps a little further away.

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As for the vase I seem to remember buying it for my mother from Woolworths for a small sum of money many many years ago when I was probably around 8 or 9.  I must have reacquired it from her at some point possibly when I got my first home and was in need of a vase.  The vase works well with the glass dish from my viewpoint on the sofa but in the photograph it does seem to clash a little – oh well I think it looks good.

For more weekly vases pop over to Cathy’s and have a ramble around while you are there.

Turning Japanese

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I have to start with declaring, as it will quickly become obvious, that I know nothing at all about bonsai.  But with the power of google I am willing to have a go.

At our recent horticultural show one of the members donated a couple of bonsai trees to the plant sales table and my youngest bought one.  He has always had a fascination with Japan and had wanted a bonsai for years so at £5 it was rude to turn it down.  As the show drew to a close and we were clearing up there were a couple of small cotoneaster shrubs which were being grown as bonsai but in a standard plastic pot.  The gentleman who had donated them, having noted my son’s interest, gave him one of them and needless to say it ended up sitting on my patio table waiting for something to be done.

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Having found an old shallow square terracotta pot while tidying up, the germ of an idea started to form.  I looked around the garden and sourced some bits of Malvern stone and set to creating a Japanese masterpiece – being a natural optimist what else would it be!  It took some time to tease the roots apart and clipping the more tangled fibrous ones so I had something manageable to handle.  I then carefully assembled the rocks into an outcrop, although I am sure it is completely incorrect geologically.

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Getting the little tree to balance on top of the rocks while I spread the roots over the rocks was very tricky and fiddly. I can spend ages doing embroidery but this sort of thing I find very difficult and have little patience with probably because the roots didn’t want to stay where I wanted them to.  I weighted them down with gritty compost and then top-dressed with gravel.  I think maybe bonsai are normally topped dressed with moss but the gravel will hopefully hold everything in place until it establishes and then I can always add moss.  You will note in the top picture there is a small cane holding the branch up and this is to try to push the tree into a more upright position.  Saying that I recently saw some photographs of venerable old trees in Japan which were supported in just the same way!

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Continuing the Japanese theme I was thrilled that little fernlets of Cyrtomium fortunei (Japanese Holly Fern) have started to appear.  The spores were collected from my own plant so this makes them extra special.  Building on this success I sowed Pyrrosia lingua ‘Ogon Nishiki‘ spores which I got from my favourite nursery Growild in Scotland.  You have to sow spores on sterilised compost and my preferred method is to bake the compost in the oven – leading to cries of ‘What is for dinner today? Oh the old family favourite John Innes!!’.

There’s a chance I might be going to Japan next year so maybe I will get to see these growing in the wild which would be amazing.

Ferny Make-over

Athyrium niponicum

Athyrium niponicum

It’s interesting how your approach to the garden changes when you have time on your side.  I don’t mean a few hours but when you have a couple of weeks with few plans and so you can ponder and potter without clock watching and worrying about everything you want to achieve in an unrealistic time. Yvonne, a regular commentator on this blog, is often nagging me about the need to sit on the bench and rest.  What she doesn’t realise is that I do a lot of sitting on the bench but this leads to pondering and considering and then ideas form which then turn into tasks or projects.

This week I have taken the approach of doing chores first thing, crossing things off a long list, and then going out into the garden and seeing how the mood takes me.  One of the first areas I have tackled is the patio border.  The border is in two parts either side of the greenhouse.  This is the first area I planted when we moved in some 11 years ago and it has benefited over the years from continual adding of compost.  The foundation of the beds is some form of builders sand or grit, I’m not sure what, but either way it drains pretty well.  However, due to the shade of the wall the borders are shady and retain moisture for longer than the rest of the garden giving me that elusive moist but well drained soil that is often mentioned in gardening books.

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As this border is the view from my living room  I have tried to make it have year round interest.  In early spring there are snowdrops and some narcissus but I have been increasing the amount of foliage interest rather than relying on flowers.  There is a loose colour theme of yellow and white which is fulfilled by a yellow Chinatown rose that has just gone over, the Kirengshoma palmata, the white flowers of a siberian iris and the various variegated foliage.

The changes I made this week are minor but have made a huge difference to the impact of the border.  When I was in Ireland the group commented on how the Irish gardeners seemed to always be moving their plants. I kept quiet at this point as I am a terrible mover of plants and to demonstrate this I have to confess to moving the Blechnum chilense above all of a foot to the left. As you can see the Edgeworthia is making a bid to be a tree rather than a shrub and it needed under-planting.  The idea is that the Blechnum will provide interest beneath the canopy of the Edgeworthia. I don’t know why the Edgeworthia is growing like this.  I bought it mail-order and it arrived with a bare stem and 3 buds at the top and has carried on from there.  I don’t think I would have chosen one growing like this if I had been looking in a nursery but it will be interesting to see how it fares.

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I love the Blechnum chilense. I am trying to learn more about my ferns and blechnums are one group that seem fairly easy to pick out as their fronds are quite distinctive.  Once it is established I understand its fronds can grow up to 5ft which will be quite something and no doubt will lead me to having to move some of the smaller surrounding plants.  It is also meant to be evergreen so I should have something lovely to look at all winter.

Kirengshoma palmata

Kirengshoma palmata

The Kirengshoma palmata is becoming very large now and I think that I might have to pluck up the courage and divide it next year before it completely outgrows its space.  It is a wonderful plant which really should be grown more.  They suffer a little from slug damage when young but once they are established the slugs don’t seem to bother so much with them.  As I have said before the flower buds always remind me of butter curls. The plant dies back in the winter and I am left with the rose and an acanthus which are somewhere underneath it and the winter jasmine on the back wall.  As I sit here pondering, looking out of the window, I think some yellow and white crocus might do well in here for early spring interest – now where is that bulb catalogue!

 

 

In a Vase on Monday – Daisies

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I have been very remiss in participating in recent months in Cathy’s Monday meme – In a Vase on Monday. Life has been so busy at work and at home that it was one thing too many.  Anyway, the various things that have been challenging seem to be moving in a positive direction towards a resolution and I have felt the weights that have weighed me down lifting.  Today, I start two weeks annual leave so I thought I would celebrate by joining in again with the meme.

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As I have said before when posting on this meme I have no preconceptions that I have any flower arranging abilities beyond the picking and plonking in a vase.  I wanted to showcase the echinaceas and rudbeckias growing in the garden.  Sadly on going to cut the rudbeckias I realised that my lack of time in the garden recently meant that all the annual rudbeckias were growing horizontally and then curving upwards which makes flower arranging, even of the plonking kind, a but of a challenge.  Anyway, I have done my best and I have also included a couple of zinnias although I think they are a little lost and would probably have been better in a zinnia only combo.

So that’s my vase this week and I am going to try very hard to keep up with the meme now.

For other vases on this sunny Monday pop over to Cathy’s