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.
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.
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.
Today I went to the inaugural meeting of the HPS Shade and Woodland Group which conveniently for me was held near Tewkesbury where I go for my monthly HPS meetings and in addition to this the talk was by one of our committee members, Keith Ferguson with a visit in the afternoon to his and his wife, Lorna’s, garden. The meeting was attended by some 80 people at a rough guess which isn’t bad for the inaugural meeting of a national group.
Keith’s talk on Trilliums and other US woodlanders was fascinating and I learnt lots, how much I will remember remains to be seen. I did learn that it was a myth that trilliums need acidic soil, there are one or two which do, but generally this isn’t the case. I still think trilliums are a bit tricky, I have a couple and only one flowers and in 5 years it has only bulked up to two flowers! I think I need to start mulching more with leaf mould etc. I overheard Keith telling someone that they mulch extensively in November so that seems to be the answer – worth a go anyway.
After lunch we drove 20 minutes to the Ferguson’s home which is set down a narrow country road within sight of May Hill – a very pretty part of the world. They have lived here nearly 20 years and worked hard to develop the garden. Both Keith and Lorna are botanists and are real plants people. Whenever there is a tricksy shrub that needs identifying at our group meetings it is them we look to and inevitably they know or can make a knowledgeable guess.
I frequently visit gardens generally on my own, sometimes with a friend or two but this, and a visit with some of the same group last week, are the most enjoyable garden visits I have had for some time. I think the secret lies in visiting with such knowledgeable plants people who are generous with their knowledge and not in a stuffy or superior way. We had a laugh and it is wonderful to hear a real hum of people talking about plants and indulging in their passion. One half of the garden, in front of the house is more formal and is very bright being home to lots of wonderful colourful perennials and also the vegetable garden. The other half of the garden (which altogether is around 2.5 acres) is the newer garden which is devoted to shade loving plants. Here were clumps of trilliums which make my tiny specimen look even more pathetic. I enjoyed the planting style here as everything intermingles giving a wild appearance albeit managed. I suspect William Robinson would have approved. So many new plants to discover and learn about and at the same time familiar plants to see afresh and covert. I was particularly taken with the Papaver orientale ‘May Queen’ which I have been promised a bit of, although it comes with a warning of being a thug!
There were also plants that I doubt I will ever grow such as this Berberis jamesiana which Sally Gregson and I were completely bewitched by. It is hard to propagate and given its size I suspect this is something I wouldn’t be able to grow unless I moved but still it is something to aspire to.
Whilst the reason for the visit was due to the HPS Shade and Woodland Group meeting what I really took away from the Ferguson’s garden was a wonderful demonstration of ‘right plant right place’. Being botanists they understand what conditions each plant needs and the plants repay this care and attention by growing incredibly well. It was a lovely afternoon.