My Garden This Weekend – 2nd November 2015

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An interesting long weekend has been had.  I had a couple of days off at the end of the week as the tree surgeons were coming to tackle the vast weeping willow at the end of the garden.  I really should have tackled sorting out the tree when we moved in some nine years ago but given the lack of access from the front and the slope I have put the problem off.  On top of that the tree is situated in the far corner of the garden and its roots disappear off across my neighbours gardens.  To remove the tree completely would result in considerable upheaval not just in my garden but in three others.

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You can see how the tree dominates the top of the garden and completely swamps the cherry next to it. The tree was approximately 40 foot tall and the branches twisted and contorted causing the tree to be incredibly top-heavy.  Earlier this summer, in the high winds we had, one of the top most branches snapped leaving the branch hanging over the neighbour’s garden.  Luckily the neighbour to the left isn’t very interested in her garden and the top of her garden is quite overgrown so she wasn’t bothered with the branch hanging down into it.

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The chaps, four of them, had a tough job working out how to deal with the tangled mess.  Luckily the non-gardening neighbour had agreed to them accessing the tree through her garden and this proved to be a huge bonus as all the whippy branches were taken out this way instead of the guys having to negotiate my busy garden. It was quite mesmerizing to watch the tree surgeon up the tree.  I was stunned at how they move around without seemingly any thought slowly but surely reducing the tree.  We spent some time considering the cherry tree which had grown mainly to the right due to the willow engulfing it on the left.  It looks terribly sparse but with some consultation it was trimmed and shaped to try to give it a better appearance and hopefully with  the better light it might re-shoot and grow better.

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You can see that we have kept the logs.  Some my eldest is going to keep for wood turning but the very big logs are going to go to his scout group for them to use to sit on round the camp fire and also to use when they train the scouts to use axes – a vast improvement on the pallets they currently use.  I am sure some will also disappear off to various friends’ wood burning stoves. The willow was reduced to 4m and I have to admit that for 24 hours I was wondering what had possessed me as it looks so stark.  However, being willow, I know it will bounce back next spring and in no time at all the compost bins will disappear from view under its cascading branches.

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After all the excitement of the tree surgery my efforts the following day seem paltry but I succeeded in sorting out the front border in the front garden which has been irritating me for ages.  As long-term readers will know I featured the front garden on the End of Month View last year and it perplexed me all year.  I removed a line of deschampsia which edged the lawn as I felt they were a barrier to the rest of the border.  When I first cut the lawn into a rectangle I had a notion to edge the borders with alchemilla mollis to provide a lime green cohesive edging. I did this along the two long sides and it looks quite good.  I then added alchemilla mollis along the bottom edge when I removed the grasses but they haven’t done well at all; probably due to the border being in full sun which becomes quite baked in the summer.  So the Alchemilla was ripped out.  I then dug up the various plants in the border apart from the shrubs as well as some bergenias in the side border and also some libertia that was disappearing under the laurel hedge  These, along with the two shrubby salvias, some francoa and a bronze leaved libertia which I divided, were replanted in the border.  I know all these plants do well in the conditions as they are the plants that have been thriving here for the last few years.  I tried very hard to avoid planting in straight lines and create a more random flowing effect but I don’t think I have quite achieved it.  However, I am really thrilled with the effect I have managed to achieve especially as it has been done with existing plants.  Hopefully the plants will now settle in, bulk up and spread and give me all year round interest with little maintenance.  The intention was to use a limited plant palette which picks up on the red of the grevillea and shrubby salvias.

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My Garden This Weekend – 7th September 2014

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Autumn and the season of bounty is definitely upon us.  My step over apples have generous crops of apples considering how small the trees are; not bad for their third year.

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I finished off my period of annual leave by replanting the Cottage Border along the top of 2014_09070001the wall.  Last weekend I lifted everything aside from the roses and sage, potted it up although I threw a few plants.  Then I set out off the plants I had accumulated over the past couple of weeks along with the plants that were going back in the border.  I have adopted a pink, grey, burgundy/purple theme for the border with the grey and burgundy coming primarily from foliage.  The colour palette comes from the spring blossom of the step over apples which back the border and the flowers of the Abelia at the beginning of the border which is a key view of the border.

2014_09070003I struggle with getting the maximum impact from my borders and have taken various approaches over the years including mixed season interest and a key season of interest.  Neither approach has really worked as the borders have looked dull for too much of the year.  Therefore I am trying a different approach influenced from reading Christopher Lloyd and Margery Fish.  I am trying to have good structure with foliage interest and then having flowers to supplement this with hopefully interest at different times of the year.  I probably haven’t explained myself very well but I feel I have a plan in my head! The border planting is fairly restricted too, another part of the plan, and features sedums, stachys, roses, aquilegia, pink Japanese anemones, and geraniums.  One of my sons has suggested that I add some alliums to continue the purple theme in late spring and I think this is a good idea.

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Pleased with how the Cottage Border, which I am renaming the Rose Border due to the number of roses included, has gone I have moved on to the Big Border.

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The Big Border has always meant to have a late summer season of interest but is somewhat lacking at the moment.  There are a number of asters in the border which are still in tight bud so I am probably being unfair but I have felt that it needed zinging up and in particular the area nearest the steps.  As this is a particularly sunny spot of the garden I have planted quite a few bulbous summer plants here and the foliage has become very samey.  So this weekend I have really weeded this end of the border, removed a couple of poor kniphofia and a horrid pink sanguisorba – you can see how much space has been freed up. To this and along the far side of the border I have planted out the asters I bought from Pictons.  2014_09070019Anna asked which asters I bought from Pictons so just for her here is a list of my purchases:

Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’
Aster trinervius ‘Stardust’
Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis ‘Prince’
Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’
Aster x frikartii ‘Wunder von Staffa’
Aster linosyris

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I’m also really pleased with this combination – Crocosmia ‘Emily Mackenzie’ alongside the autumn foliage of Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’; there is also an orange flowered Geum tucked in further back in this border which I hope will bulk up and add to the colour. This combination is at the end of the path which goes in front of the Rose Border and like the way it acts as a focal point as you walk along the path.

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Finally I have been busy in the evenings repotting my bulb collection.  I still have lots more to do and am having to work out a new plan to accommodate everything that needs overwintering this winter given that I don’t plan to have the greenhouse particularly warm.  Mum’s mini greenhouse which she had decided to get rid of should help with this though and is probably going to become home for my non-bulbous alpines.

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So lots achieved despite the odds and the plans I have been forming in my mind over the summer are starting to come together.  The tree surgeon has been instructed to deal with the huge willow and I am waiting to see how this impacts on the light in the top half of the garden before move forward there.  I have though decided to not buy any more seeds. I love sowing seeds but never had enough time to look after the seedlings and this frustrates me.  I am someone who if they are going to do something they want to do it well so no more seed sowing; well not until such time as I have more space or time.  This should take some self-imposed pressure off me and allow me time to explore my new fascination – embroidery which is the subject of my other blog!