Six on Saturday – 30th March 2019

Narcissus Thalia

Like the host of this meme I find myself resenting time away from the garden at the moment.  Today I would normally go to an HPS meeting but it was either sit in a village hall discussing plants or actually be outside in the garden getting on with sorting out my garden – I chose the garden.

I prefer to garden early in the day or in the evening when others aren’t around as it allows me to turn off completely, hear the bees humming and the birds singing.  I like to immerse myself in the garden, thinking about what plant might work where, why is this plant not looking so good, how can I improve that border? So I am looking forward to the evenings getting lighter.

With the wonderful forecast this weekend I was out in the garden as soon as I had done the weekly shop. I wanted to take my Six on Saturday photos first thing as the sun was making the garden glow but it turned out that both my camera batteries were dead so unfortunately the photos don’t reflect the beautiful light we had today. The Prunus is groaning with blossom which in turn means the air is positively alive with bees.

After a couple of years of disengagement with the garden my gardening mojo is well and truly back but slightly different.  It has grown up, it is more mature and considered and better informed

My focus today was the very top left hand corner of the garden.  As you can see some of the fencing is missing which is down to my neighbours.  When they moved in they cut down all the trees and shrubs along the boundaries, which I can understand as it was so overgrown, but the trees and shrubs did hold up the fence which was collapsing from years of neglect by the previous owners.  I think they plan to replace the fence soon but in the meantime I feel a little exposed when I am in this part of the garden – my privacy is important to me. I sensed my neighbours were out today so it seemed a good time to tackle this corner.  It fits with my approach to getting a grip of the garden starting at the top and working my way down. This area used to be home to the compost bins which I removed last summer. I have planted it up with a number of shrubs which were either in pots on the patio or had to be moved to give other plants space.

I’m hoping that the range of shrubs: camellia, tree peony, hydrangeas will give round the year interest.  I had added a few ferns and also a helleborus foetidus which was over growing a path.  I also added narcissus and snowdrop bulbs back last autumn which put on a good display up to a week or so ago.  Today, I weeded, pruned, removed some brambles and sycamore seedlings from the very top and added a couple of Acunthus mollis.

Just to the right of the area I worked on today is an area I started work on almost to the day last year.  There used to be a woodchip path along the top of the garden but it led nowhere and I spent more time trying to keep it weeded then anything else.  The wood edging had rotted and to be honest the path was becoming dangerous so last year I removed the wood edging and I have slowly but surely been digging up and removing the rubble that formed the base of the path.  The area of bare soil in the photo above was the very last bit of the path which I finally removed last week.  I can now use this space for some ferns, epimediums and hellebores which need moving. I am trying to create a tapestry of foliage to give interest all year round.

My new approach is beginning to show dividends elsewhere in the garden.  Above is the top of the garden to the right where I removed the path last year.  This area is awash with honesty (Lunaria annua) which seeds itself around the garden.  I used to have a white variegated honesty but seem to have lost it over the past few years so I think I will try to find some more seeds and reintroduce it. I discovered that the Melianthus major above is also flowering like the one next to the shed which is really good.

Finally, I will leave you with the first tulips to open this year in the garden.  They were in a selection pack of tulips and I think they are Tulip ‘Elegant Lady’ – I do like the softness of the colour and think I may try to add some more next year.

I have had a wonderful day today gardening for far more hours than any other day this year and I ache all over which is often a sign of a good day.

For more Six on Saturday posts visit the Propagator’s Blog.

 

Early Spring at Ashwoods

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Having had a less than good start to the year I was determined to go on a garden visit to John Massey’s garden at Ashwood Nurseries organised through my local HPS group.  Not only was it a chance to get some horticultural inspiration and partake of a bit of retail therapy but also catch up with my HPS friends who I hadn’t seen since November.

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I’ve been to Ashwoods at this time of year for quite a few years now as my birthday is in early March and to be honest there aren’t that many good reliable horticultural destinations to head to.  I have also visited John’s garden in early Spring before but it was interesting how the difference of a few weeks and milder temperatures provided a different horticultural experience.

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I’ve included some photos in this post of things that inspired me and/or I learnt from.  Firstly, I spoke in my last post about cramming lots of narcissus bulbs in the front garden borders and above is the look I want to achieve.  In between the bulbs there are young leaves of rudbeckia, geraniums and other late summer perennials emerging. I also like the idea of the large pots in the border to bring height and structure in the winter.

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John is keen for the garden to look interesting all year round and quotes Christopher Lloyd who says that a garden that looks good in winter will look great all year round (or words to that effect).  This is definitely an approach I agree with and am trying to achieve too.

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Part of this approach is to prune the shrubs and trees to create strong shapes.  John practises an approach to pruning which is essentially crown lifting and thinning the canopy of trees and shrubs so you can see through them.  This gives you more space under the tree or shrub for planting. The tree in the above photo is Prunus kojo-no-mai which I also have as a large shrub but I am now thinking I might start removing the lower branches to create a more see through effect.

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I don’t remember this area when I last visited the garden.  The focus of this garden is irises – sibirica and ensata.  The gravel forms a sort of river through the border into which the run-off rain water from the greenhouses is piped into.  The inspiration I am taking from this area is about creating the right growing conditions for plants which is something John strongly advocates. I have heard him speak before about the need to give plants the best drainage possible and this will help the less hardy plants come through the winter as it reduces the risk of them getting waterlogged.  In the front of his garden there is a mound of very gravelly soil which is used to grow Southern Hemisphere shrubs and bulbs – another passion of mine.  I have already used this approach when rethinking the planting in the Big Border.

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Another passion I share with John is ferns.  The fernery above was planted only a few months ago and already looks good.  I really like the fern panels on the fencing which remind me of some of the boundary treatments I saw some years back in San Francisco.

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I also liked the pot display.  I am getting more interested in creating pot displays particularly pots of one species.  I thought these were rather nice as was the display on the patio table…

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So all in all a very good visit and it was rounded off with a little plant retail therapy and much pondering on the way home and a determination to visit at a different time of year to see how the borders fill out.

End of Month View – February 2014

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After the delights of Wisley at the start of the week it is hard not to feel disillusioned when I look at my own garden.  I have to remind myself that I work full-time and my resources are signficantly less.  I also think it can be hard at this time of year not look negatively when we have had nothing but grey skies and the borders are looking bare so I shall start the End of Month View post with the jolly irises on the staging.

I really should have moved the plastic pots before taking the photos but this is a warts and all post so there they are.  I still need to come up with something to cover the fence.  It needs to grow well in a pot, cope with direct sunlight all day and preferably evergreen.  I think if I can find something suitable then it won’t matter that the staging is less interesting at other times of the year.

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The Spring Patio border is currently a border of two halves.  The Bike Shed end is looking good with lots of snowdrops blooming to be followed by other bulbs; these will be followed by some perennials including Astrantia and Acanthus.

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The greenhouse end is less interesting at the moment.  There are perennials in here which will fill the border in late summer including Kirengeshoma palmata and Actaea simplex.  However I need to have some interest now especially as this is the view from my living room.  So when the snowdrops have finished flowering I will be dividing the clumps and spreading them along the border.  I also think something evergreen in this space which would compliment the late summer planting would be good – thinking cap on.

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I won’t be including the border in the front garden this month as absolutely nothing has changed and despite it being a warts and all post I think another photo of a bare border with an almost dead lavender is going too far.  Anyway, moving on to the Cottage Border along the top of the wall (above) there is progress and narcissus are starting to flower albeit in the middle of the path (oops). This border is meant to have an early summer season of interest and should be a delightful mix of roses, delphinium, geraniums etc.  It will be interesting to see how the border lives up to the image in my mind but its a work in progress so this will be a watching brief.

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Finally the border formerly known as the Bog Garden which has been rechristened the Camellia Border.  I have been waiting for the weather to improve so I can finish the planting here and hopefully  that might happen this weekend.  The canes in the foreground relating to the hard landscaping that we are thinking of doing around the workshop.

So to sum up nothing has changed since last month but hopefully in the next month with more of the sun we have had in the last few days plants will grow and flowers emerge and there will be lots to report next month.

If you would like to join in with this meme you are very welcome to.  All I ask is that you leave a link to your post in the comments box and link to this post in yours.