Take one Aeonium….

Take one group of overgrown leggy aeoniums add…

a pile of old terracotta pots and

a few trugs of sandy gritty compost and you get

a whole load of aeoniums which I am now wondering what I will do with if they take.

When I got my first aeonium it took me some time before I had the courage to chop the top of the plant and pot it up.  But when I did I also, having read up on the subject, took stem cutting which took surprisingly well.  Whenever you cut the top of an aeonium off, if you are lucky, the plant shots from the cut and produces branches so you end up with a more interesting plant.

As you can see I have quite a few stems which I am hoping will reshoot to create interesting branched plants.  As for all the pots of aeoniums, if they take, quite a few of them will be donated to the work charity plant sale next year, where this year, the last batch of aeonium cuttings I took proved to be surprisingly popular.  That is most of my succulents sorted aside from the Echiverias which need to be divided but thats for another day.

 

 

A garden of inspiration

The trouble I find with spending a number of days visiting gardens is the sensory overload.  So many gardens, plants, owners, ideas and experiences and when you then start to try and think about how to distil your experience into a blog post; well sometimes it seems to be a challenge too far.

I have a habit of writing blog posts almost immediately I return from a garden visit but work demands have got in the way and I find myself a week after my return skimming through my photos, only a 1000 in my case, trying to decide what to blog about. What strikes me is the direct correlation between the gardens I enjoyed and the number of photos of them.  In each case these gardens are very much those of enthusiastic plants people.  They are full of texture and form often more from plants than structure and they offer me inspiration on so many levels.

I think Jenny and David Stocker’s garden was the real winner for me.  We visiting on a very wet day, although by the time of our visit the rain was light but poor Jenny had experienced a trying time during the gullywasher earlier in the day.  However, despite the overcast skies the garden sang to me.

Initially, it was the extremely skilled placement of pots and small vignettes that intrigued me.  I can learn so much from these.  My pots end up scattered around the garden, randomly placed, but as you can see from the above a small collection with a mix of leaf shapes, size of pots and a couple of small accessories takes on a whole identity of its own; a small work of art.

The cacti remind us that we are indeed in Texas, and I have included it to humour those of my friends who are convinced I spent the week looking at cacti and tumble weed.  However, as you can see from these photos the garden is far from a barren landscape.  David and Jenny built their home on the side of a hill and enclosed the garden with a wall creating a sense of enclosure and presumably creating a microclimate.  I think I am right in saying that the various spaces between the house and perimeter wall create six different garden spaces each with its own theme. 

I think this is what Jenny calls the English Garden. I loved the exuberance of the flowers in this space.  There is no formal rigid border, instead the plants spill out over the paving creating a very naturalistic space and a space I would love to waste a few hours in, listening to the bird and insects and watching the lizards run along the wall (which we were lucky to do a couple of evenings later).

The first and third photos are of the front planting area which as you can see is full of large succulents.  I am not informed enough to attempt to name any of them but I loved the juxtaposition of the spiky succulents with the surrounding trees which I think are oaks.  I developed a  love of the trees in Austin which seem to have quite broad and open canopies giving much needed shade but also with their small leaves bringing a lovely diffused light to the space beneath. I have been trying to think of a tree I could use to create a similar effect in England.

I think one of the reasons I love this garden is because of the polished combination of very English plants such as the Aquilegias, Geraniums and Poppies with succulents and cacti; I think this one is a Prickly Pear. So often you see plants corralled into a restricted planting scheme – succulents, hardy exotics, herbaceous border – and never the twain shall meet.  Jenny has shown that you can ignore these preconceptions and building on the plant’s cultivation needs and looking carefully at colour, form and texture you an create exciting and intriguing planting.

Although Jenny has been blogging for as long as me, if not longer, I hadn’t come across her blog until this trip but I am now following her assiduously and I feel that I have found a kindred spirit albeit on the other side of the pond.

 

 

 

 

 

My Garden This Weekend – 26th April 2015

 Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Valentine'
Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Valentine’

Today the forecasters predicted low temperatures of around 10C and wind and maybe rain.  Now I would certainly have welcomed the rain since it hasn’t really rained all month and whilst the established plants are fine those I have been planting out over the last month are struggling.  However, the reality of the weather is that we have had an amazingly beautiful spring day with temperatures reaching around 18C this afternoon.  We had rain overnight, not enough to make much difference to the water butts but at least it was some.  I was meant to take my mother out to buy a lilac for her garden as a birthday present but she was so convinced by the weather forecast that we went and bought it during the week meaning that today I was free to play in the garden.

2015_04250061The focus of my efforts today was to address all the seedlings that have been germinating and need pricking out.  I am very good when it comes to sowing seeds but the looking after them once they have germinated, certainly beyond the initial pricking out, leaves something to be desired. I am trying very hard to do better. It is that time of year when space is at a premium and I am conscious that in a week or so I will be sowing the tender annuals such as zinnias.  Both the cold frames are full on the top shelves although the bottom halves are empty since this is very shady and not ideal for seedlings but good for storing tall plants over winter.  Anyway, as ever it started out with some organised pricking out and then the greenhouse got yet another reshuffle.  The temporary shelf was replaced with a wider one – its amazing what wood you have to hand when your son is a cabinet maker.  Whilst this was a distraction I finally took cuttings of the aeoniums and malmaison carnations which I have been meaning to do for weeks. I am really hoping that with a little care I can get the carnations to flower this year. I have started to pull some of the larger plants out during the day to start hardening them off so hopefully it won’t be too long before the space issue is no more.

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The border along the patio which I really sorted back in March is looking so much better now. By removing all the bluebells the lily of the valley has re-emerged and its fresh leaves look very pretty.  Sadly there aren’t that many flowers and I wonder if this is because the plants have been swamped for years; time will tell.  The four meconopsis poppies are still in existence and have grown slightly, hopefully if we have the rain they forecast later this week they will put some real growth on.  2015_04250021

But the thing that has been occupying most of my thinking is the front garden.  I was going to say I have a love/hate relationship with it but that would be far to generous – I hate it.  I always have and it has defied all my attempts to engage with it and make it something I am proud of.  Maybe that is a little harsh since obviously it’s not the garden’s fault that I don’t like it but I do despair particularly with the area at the very front by the birch.  I have added loads of organic matter and mulched it over the years but as soon as we have some dry weather the clay in it turns to rock and it is pointless trying to weed or plant or anything.  I have blamed some of my apathy on not enjoying working in the front garden as it’s not very private but both the laurel (not my best idea) and beech hedges I have planted have grown and provide a degree of privacy. I squared off the lawn a few years back to provide some formality and have tried an approach of planting an edge of alchemilla mollis, bergenia and as you can see ballerina tulips but whilst I love the tulips I think this style/approach isn’t me. When I was weeding here earlier in the week I found myself telling myself off.  The front garden is the size of many a small garden and here I am ignoring it whilst I am desperate for more space for the plants I love in the back garden.   It dawned on me that part of the problem is that my favourite plants are woodland plants and I enjoy planting shady borders. Whereas the front garden is anything but shady and I need to embrace a new range of plants and a new approach to make the most of this space.  2015_04250020Where to start? It occurred to me that I needed to consider plants that could cope with baking in the clay in the summer so I started to re-read Beth Chatto’s The Dry Garden which was quite inspiring.  The thought process lead to the notion that really I should just dig up the lawn and be done with it.  Lawn is far to grand a term as it is mostly moss which goes dry and yellow in the summer. I think I find the strong shape of the lawn quite limiting for some reason, I much prefer the more relaxed approach I have in the back garden.  I also looked at the recent book on A Year in the Life of Beth Chatto’s Garden which is very photogenic but lead me to conclude that a dry garden wouldn’t necessarily work given the wet clay in winter and to be honest I struggled to see me working with this style of planting.  Then by chance yesterday, I won Dream Plants for the Natural Garden in the raffle at the local HPS meeting and this coincided with a thought that maybe I could finally get grasses to work in the garden.  So the current thinking is to go for a naturalistic approach.  I want to add a small tree and I can visualise some Stipa gigantea catching the morning sun, then….. well that as far as I have got.  My block at the moment is that there is no reason for anyone to go in the front garden.  The front door is roughly in line with the side border where the tulips are so anyone coming to the house walks up the driveway and to the door.  I have toyed with putting some sort of path through the garden but again it would be too contrived and no one would use it.  I think there needs to be some sort of path or clearing if only to assist me with working in the space but I just can’t visualise it yet.

I don’t plan to do anything drastic until late summer/autumn so lots of time to think and plan and draw up lists of plants.

 

End of Month View – October 2014

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October seems to have been a wet and windy month but it has certainly been a busy month for me resulting in not much gardening time and of course with the evenings drawing in things aren’t going to improve until the Spring.

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I’m amazed at how much the succulents have filled out in the trough in the front garden.  I was worried when I planted it back in the spring that I hadn’t included enough plants but now I am far more happy.

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Here it is in situ and I am again pleased with how well the succulents planted in the border have done.  I do need to lift the Aeonium but I am going to risk the other succulents.

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The staging area is entering its winter period and is currently home to various pot of mixed alpines.  There are also a number of tender perennials in pots that are being collected here ready to overwinter storage. This area continues to work well and keeps my rapidly growing and eclectic collection of plants in some order.

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The patio border is now loosing its summer clothing but I know that there are lots of bulbs waiting to appear come the spring and this is one of the first areas I am going to tidy this weekend.  It is definitely more balanced since I moved the edgeworthia to the left which just shows you shouldn’t shoe horn plants into spaces rather than make an appropriate space for them.

2014_10300021The cottage border hasn’t really changed.  There are still some roses appearing but the plants are definitely shutting down for the winter now so I will give it  bit of a weed and tidy and wait for the bulbs to appear.  I am pleased with how this area has developed over the last couple of years.  When I dug up the back lawn two years ago I was completely intimidated by the space and procrastinated for ages trying to work out where and if to put in paths.  In the end the path showed itself as it was the logical route to the plants.  It was meant to be a narrow access path not a feature but its now my favourite route around the garden and also the cat’s favourite sun-bathing location.

I need to do some tweaking to the Big Border on the right of the path.  Its just a case of re-positioning some of the plants so the lower ones hide the legs of the taller ones.  I find that planting a slope, as this part of the border is, quite challenging as you not only have to take into account the view from the front of the border but also how the plants relate to each other as they go up the slope and in this case the border is also viewed as much from the back so in fact it is a sloping island bed – what a ridiculous idea!  I am still pondering moving the Cotinus at the end of the border.  Its rather large and whilst I know I can prune it I think the rest of the border will work better without it so I am considering a new location for the shrub.

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The far end of the Big Border is quite shady and home to several spring flowering woodland plants and a small Magnolia but I need to add some interest for other times of the year – maybe improve the foliage textures and find something to go in the bare patch in front of the magnolia.

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Finally my favourite part of the garden – the new seating area.  Its looking a little messy as I have added some fine gravel from the greenhouse which might not have been the best idea but with use the small grit will work its way down between the larger stones and hopefully it will look OK.  The tin bath pond is being emptied over the winter and I will start again in the spring once I have decided what plants to use in it.  It has had Zantedeschia in it but they won’t overwinter in the pond so I will probably store them overwinter under cover.

I think there is still a lot of interest in the garden but mainly from foliage which is rapidly becoming more important to me than the flowers. I do think that there needs to be some stronger structures included to give it winter interest so I will have a think about this over the coming months and see what ideas I can come up with.

If you would like to join in with the End of Month View meme you are very welcome.  There are no real rules, you can use it as you want. You can feature one area through the year or you can do a tour, whatever.  I do find it is very helpful in making you look critically at your garden but also it helps you to see how things have changed and improved over time.  All I ask is that you put a link to this post in your post and add a link to your post in the comments box.

 

 

 

 

My Garden This Weekend – 5/10/14

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Autumn has arrived and a sense of panic marred my gardening today.  With evening gardening over due to the shortening days and a wet day yesterday, I felt an unexpected sense of urgency in the garden today.  To such an extent that I found myself not enjoying myself at all but this may be tangled up with the pervasive feeling of unhappiness I am experiencing currently – which I know is hardly surprising and I need to be kind to myself.

2014_10050014With cooler temperatures forecast the tender plants were the priority.  I am in a bit of a quandary at the moment since I am using the greenhouse for my alpine bulbs which presumably means that this space won’t be very helpful for overwintering the tender perennials.  I intend to keep the greenhouse just frost-free, or even cold, and the door will be open on warmer and sunnier days and I suspect this won’t be good for the succulents and pelargoniums.  There is part of me which thinks “give it a go and see what happens”.  I’m not emotionally attached to any of the plants so if I lose them I won’t be heartbroken but then my sensible and risk averse head kicks in and I wonder how to accommodate the diverse range of plants I have accumulated in recent years.  The solution, at the moment, is that I have tided up my work space in the garage and all the pelargoniums are now stored in there by the window where they will get lots of light.  The tender succulents are currently in the greenhouse whilst I come up with a better solution.  I only ever keep the greenhouse frost-free  and they have always been fine so I wonder if I corral them in one area and give them some extra

Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’
Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’

protection with fleece whether that will be sufficient.  The rest of the borderline plants in pots have been collected on to the patio so they can be quickly put under cover if a frost is forecast.  There are still some planted out but again I am thinking of risking them to see what happens.  Bob Brown told me the other week that he thought if you planted them deep enough and mulched plants you didn’t expect to survive do. I have also heard John Massey say the same so I might give it a go.

Sorbus vilmorinii
Sorbus vilmorinii

As I collected the pots up I was deeply conscious of the fallen leaves which weren’t present last week and how much I still wanted to achieve in the garden to prepare it for Spring and finish off projects before Winter commences. Then in the next breath I experience a strong feeling of just needing to give up and ignore it all.  There are areas of the garden where I still feel very strongly that the planting could be better.  I spent some time talking to my sons about my loss of confidence in my horticultural abilities, how the borders don’t replicate the images in my head and our conclusion was that writing about the garden on this blog may be partly to blame.  I have always shared my plans and thoughts about the borders and in the last few years on a weekly basis, much as I have done today.  I have always tried to treat the blog as a record for myself but at the moment, in my heightened emotional state, I am feeling quite vulnerable and sensitive so it may be that the garden won’t appear here for a while until I am feeling a bit more positive and confident.

Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’
Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’

 

 

End of Month View – September 2014

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September has been a very dry month and has ended with exceptionally warm temperature. a real Indian summer.  Although the garden is dry at first glance luckily because we have had the odd day of rain and there is frequently a heavy dew in the morning the plants are looking quite good.

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Starting with the smallest area of this monthly post – the hardy succulent trough has really filled out.  When I planted it up at the beginning of the year it looked so empty but now it seems I under estimated how much and how quickly the plants would grow and no doubt I will have to edit it in the not too distant future.

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The staging area got a bit of a tidy up.  I mentioned a few weeks back that I was planting up my various perennial alpines into bigger pots and you can see the results here.  You can also see the huge flower on the Aeonium tabuliforme which is quite wonderful; sadly the plant will die when the flower finishes.

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The Patio Border is looking a lot better since I moved the Edgeworthia along from the end on the right – it seems more balanced out.  The Kirengeshoma palamata is now beginning to go over but it has looked wonderful for about a month now.  The border will now start to fade but come Spring it should have lots of spring bulbs appearing.

2014_09280018The Rose Border (formerly the Cottage Garden Border!) is settling in with its new planting.  The Japanese Anemones have continued to flower since I planted them a few weeks back and some of the roses have buds appearing so I may get a second flush of flowers.  I am pleased with how it is looking but it will now be a case of seeing how it comes through the winter and how the plants fill out. One day I will work out how to photograph the border to show it at its best.

On the other side of the path is the Big Border which I have added a number of asters too over the last month.  I haven’t felt the border was right yet and I have decided that the two shrubs in it are just too large for the space and are dominating the planting.  When I visited Old Court Nursery a few

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weeks back I was very taken with the borders and they didn’t have any shrubs in.  I have been following a principle of having a range of plants e.g. shrubs, perennials, bulbs in a border to add interest but I think that this border can do well without the shrubs.  There is plenty of interest elsewhere in the garden in the spring and winter that the border doesn’t need to be interesting all the time. I want to improve my original plan to have the focus of the border on asters with some other late summer perennials.  The asters are a little thin at the moment so making much of an impact but I think given another season they should start to look very good.

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The new seating area and Hardy Exotic Border is great and has exceeded my expectations particularly as they were only created earlier this year.  It will be interesting to see how the plants in the border come through the winter and how much they fill out given another year’s growth.

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The original Woodland Border is looking a little faded now with plants beginning to fade for Autumn.  However it looks so much better than last year and I am glad I added plants at the back to add height.  I still need to edit the front and middle of the border now I know what is where so plants have the best chance to show of but this will be a job to do over the next month or so and in early spring.

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Finally the enigma which is the former Bog Garden and which continues to perplex me.  There is something not right with the border and I can’t work out what to do to make it zing.  I am sure the penny will drop in the near future but it definitely needs something added or removed – it’s just been dull this year.

So that is my garden at the end of September and with Autumn upon us I am hoping to undertake a number of small projects over the next couple of months to get the garden ready for next year. I find writing this monthly post very helpful as it makes me look critically at the garden and analyse why different areas please or irritate me.

If you would like to join in with the monthly meme you are very welcome to do so.  You can use it however you want there are no rules – you can show us around your garden, feature a particular area whatever you fancy.  All I ask is that you include a link to this post in your post and you put a link to your post in the comment box below so I can find you.

 

End of Month View July 2014

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It seems like forever since I wrote the last End of Month View so much so that I couldn’t remember what photos I usually included so this post might be a little hit and miss.  I’ll start with my favourite part of the garden – the new seating area.  The hardy exotic planting behind the bench is beginning to fill out and the Cautleya spicata ‘Arun Flame’ is really adding to the effect.  My collection of ferns seems to be proliferating so much so that my mother has even commented on the number of ferns in the garden.  My intention is to add more to the back slope to the left of the bench.

2014_07300018The staging area is currently home to pelargoniums and my tender succulent collection.  It is slightly crowded as I grouped plants together on the patio to help my mother with the watering whilst I was away the other week.  You can also see that the dahlia is trying to climb out of its pot so I will need to do some staking this weekend.  The jasmine in the corner planted on the recommendation of readers has started to get into its stride and I am slowly beginning to guide its stems across the lattice-work.

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At the shady end of the patio the Patio Border is moving into its second period of interest.  It is full of bulbs in Spring and now the Kirengshoma palmata is beginning to produce flower buds which should look stunning in a few weeks.  I need to cut back the Astrantia which has done its stuff. I am thinking of lifting and dividing it hasn’t flowered that well in recent years. I also think I need something here with foliage which will contrast better with its neighbours.

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The Cottage Border isn’t quite as I want it to be at the moment.  I was a little unhappy with it last month and contemplated removing the Delphiniums which have been here for some years and take up a lot of space and crowd out other plants.  Since then I have decided that they are definitely going as I want the roses that were added last year to be the stars of the border.  However I need some perennials to plant around the roses feet and provide interest and I am thinking on focussing on foliage to provide year round interest but something that will have a floral season of interest.  I have been pondering various alternatives.  I want to keep the plant palette fairly small; it is currently roses, geraniums, delphiniums, aquilegias with the odd addition.  I have thought about foxgloves instead of the delphiniums but have gone off this idea as very tall plants have a habit of leaning in my garden due to the way the light works.  I have also considered some stacys which would compliment the purple sage but still I am dithering.  This evening I found myself thinking that bearded irises might be the best idea.  They would flower before the roses providing early summer interest and I think the border is sunny enough for them to do well.  They were here a few years back before the back lawn was dug up and then they got swamped in the chaos that followed last year.  Currently my irises are dotted around the garden whilst some have thrived others have languished.  So I am thinking of lifting and dividing them and replanting amongst the roses.  I will see if the idea remains a positive one over the next few days. Oh and maybe some dark sedums to provide late summer colour and contrast with the glaucous iris foliage.

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So those were the better bits.  The Woodland Border is struggling with the dry heat we have had for the last few weeks.  It was looking good at the end of June if not a little chaotic but now many of the plants are losing the fight for moisture to my neighbours trees.  Once the weather cools and we have rain I want to get in this border and tidy it up.  There are a few plants that need rescuing from their unruly neighbours and I have still to finish painting the fence which I started back in the spring but life got in the way and stopped me completing the task.  Despite the border looking sad I am pleased to see that to date the Solomons Seal has escaped the sawfly which it fell pray to last year. I also need to add lots of mulch and organic matter over the winter to try to help retain moisture.

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The former Bog Garden isn’t too bad.  The Cardiocrinum giganteum was spectacular and a complete surprise given I only bought the bulb this spring.  I am planning to collect the seed and sow it as soon as it is ripe and I am hoping that the bulb will produce bulblet so I have more lilies in the future.  I now need to look at the left hand side of the border and think about what I want here.  There is a Syringa here which isn’t very inspiring and as there are other shrubs I covert I am thinking of replacing it.  It’s a difficult space as the ground dries very quickly so I need to find plants that will enjoy the clay soil but also look good at this time of year when it all gets a little dry.

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Finally the small succulent border in the front garden.  The sempervivums are bulking up and filling the trough.  I need to weed along the front and I am thinking of moving the lavender at the end of the bed and devoting the whole thing to succulents as to my mind the lavender looks a little odd.

These are the key areas of my garden, warts and all, at the end of July which for me isn’t my favourite time of year.  Hopefully by the end of August I will be feeling a little more positive about the garden and will have managed to take some areas in hand.

Anyone is welcome to join in with this monthly meme; there are no rules.  All I ask is that you link to this post in yours and that you leave a link to your post in the comment box below.

 

End of Month View – June 1014

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We are going through a bit of a floral lull in the back garden at the end of June.  I have just cut back most of the geraniums which had finished flowering so the Big Border isn’t looking as voluptuous along the grass path as earlier in the month.  The focus of the Big Border is meant to be late summer and I am hoping that in about a month the border will be full of Asters although it will be its first season so it will be interesting to see what happens.  The border to the right of the path is the far side of the old Bog Garden and is in need of an identity. There are phlox and Lobelia tupa about to flower and I think this is an area I might work on next year by which time inspiration may have struck.

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The bottom path runs along the bottom of the Big Border and on the other side is the Cottage Border which is really too narrow and proving troublesome.  The delphiniums are just going over and I think they will be cut back hard next weekend.  Next year I need to be more ruthless and remove the skinny side blooms so the main flowers are even better.  The trouble with this border is its depth.  I had under estimated how big and floppy the Artemis ‘Sauce Hollandise’ was and although I like pushing amongst the flowers it had become impossible so is pushed back now by supports which isn’t showing the plants to their best.  I have a few ideas of where they can be moved to so they can look wonderful next year and I am thinking of replacing them with Astrantia which need a new home. It is clear that the Echinacea planted last year haven’t returned, just as I suspected.  I think slugs are to blame.  Instead I have some pots of Gladiolus which I will put in amongst the cut back delphiniums which should continue the show.

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The succulent trough in the front garden is filling out and despite my dodgy cement repairs I think it is looking quite good and adding some real interest to the border.

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The popular staging area is now playing host to pelargoniums and succulents and looking very jolly.  I could swap the pelargoniums around and move the Red Vogue ones elsewhere and add more scented pelargoniums with pink flowers but I quite like the vibrancy of the red and pink!

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The patio border is very full and about to come into its second season of interest.  Its first season is early Spring with snowdrops and other bulbs.  Now it is mainly foliage with a 2014_06290031yellow and purple theme. The large green bush in the middle is my favourite Kirgenshoma palmata which I adore so it is a real event when it flowers.  There is also a yellow rose in the border, Chinatown, which has a fabulous scent and seems to be disease free.

An added view – from the top of the bottom steps looking towards my son’s workshop.  I really like the gravel steps as they were built in two stages by my father and then my eldest and they just work so well.  It this time of year the sun makes a wonderful effect through the tree and Stipa gigantea to the left.

Finally I will leave you with a view of the new seating area which is adjacent to the workshop.  It is a little busy at the moment as I have trays of

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perennial seedlings hiding away here in the shade.  The tin bath in the foreground is probably going to be used as a small pond which will take the rain water collected by the shed guttering.  We are trying it out at the moment to decide if we think it is a good idea.

So this is my garden at mid-year.  Please feel free to join in with this meme.  You can use it however you like all I ask is that you link to this post from yours and add a link to your post in the comments box so we can all come and have a nose around your space.

 

My Garden this Weekend – 1st June 2014

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After all the rain and cool temperatures we have had it has been a lovely warm weekend; even at times, dare I say it, too warm for gardening.  Saturday was spent at the local HPS group meeting which I always enjoy as I rarely come away without learning something.  I also inevitably come home with some plants despite telling myself there really is no more room.  This week’s purchases are an Iris Louisiana ‘Sinfonietta’ and a Phyteuma scheuchzeri.  Apparently the Iris Louisiana likes the same conditions as Iris Siberica and will cope with a little flooding from time to time.

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This photo doesn’t convey the wonderful iridescent blue of the flowers which in fact almost match the pot.  It is such a wonderful blue that Bob Brown made me go outside to admire the plant before I bought it. Anyway it is planted in the corner of the patio and fingers crossed it will do well.

imageI also wired up the side fence and planted a Rosa mutabilis which hopefully will spread to cover the fence under the neighbour’s Photinia – I think the colours will complement each other.  I then planted out some Aeoniums in the succulent border in the front garden and moved most of the other succulents out of the greenhouse placing them around the patio and up the steps.

To continue the small planting theme I also emptied out the spring bedding in the Jasmine planter and replaced it with Begonias.  This is a repeat of what I did last year which isn’t very original but it worked well and I walked round and round the garden centre and imagenothing really inspired me.  I sense that any interest in bedding I may have had is waning and I am tending towards more permanent plantings in pots.

I also did some tidying up in the front garden, cut the grass and pondered what I could add to the Driveway Border to add some extra height and interest now the Irises have gone over and the Crocosmia aren’t yet flowering.  I think I need some Verbascum.  I am going to go for the Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’ as the white will continue the theme of the Potentilla and the dark red/burgundy flower centres will pick up on the Alliums and Erysium.  I just need to decide whether to buy some plants now or whether to sow seed and be patient.

I then set too and tackled the patio border which has been swamped with Welsh Poppies and Bluebells.  The new Edgeworthia is being eaten by something and I am assuming its slugs although the Kirengeshoma next to it is also suffering from holes appearing on the leaves and I’m not convinced this is slug damage as they are very regular.  Anyway, I thought if I cleared away all the bluebell and narcissus debris then this would reduce the places for pests to hide and provide a healthier environment.  I dug up all the Welsh Poppies. I know some people love them but they are like a weed in my garden self-seeding everywhere and I find their yellow flowers distract from the rest of the plants.  I am sure en masse somewhere they would look fabulous but not dotted through my border.  I also dug up what bluebell bulbs I could locate and I have replanted them up the garden.  I know there are still some in the border but they are mixed up in the roots of the perennials and it would mean lifting plants etc.  Anyway, the border looks a lot better now and I think the plants will be healthier.

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Not bad for a day in the garden.  Still lots more to do but then that is gardening for you.

The Greenhouse Year – May 2014

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I am a few days late with the Greenhouse Year post but I have been distracted with the RHS Chelsea Flower show.  Whilst inspiring in many ways not least the plant quality it is a little dismaying to come home and see my paltry efforts.

Anyway, the greenhouse house has been through another significant transition this last weekend.  The dahlias and pelargoniums that were occupying the floor and lower parts of the staging have come out and are now on the patio waiting to be planted out or potted up.

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I have still to move the tender succulents out but there is enough chaos on the patio at the moment so they will have to wait.  I am also not in desperate need for greenhouse space so the sense of urgency that I normally have in terms of the greenhouse isn’t present.  This is because this is the first year since I have had the greenhouse that I haven’t grown tomatoes or cucumbers.  The last few years it has been a struggle to get the tomatoes past blight and last year I just grew cucumbers which were fine but there are only so many you can eat.  To be honest my heart just isn’t in growing edibles and I neglect the plants and then feel bad.

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I’m not sure what will occupy the greenhouse over the summer months now that I have no vegetable plants to accommodate.  There are some Peruvian Daffodils (Hymenocallis) which will flower in July and I might spread the succulents out a bit more.  There are a few other tender plants which I might now have room to show off better.

I have been moving the pots of spring bulbs into the greenhouse once the leaves have died so that the bulbs can rest and benefit from the heat.  I’m not sure if this is the right approach but I know alpine growers do this with alpine houses so I can’t really see the difference.  We will have to wait and see.

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So there is my greenhouse in May.  The weather is warming up now so the door is left open most of the time.  I don’t tend to bother with any shading as I don’t think it helps with good strong plant growth plus as soon as I put shading on the weather changes and we have a grey and damp summer!  I think air circulation is more important and the small electric heater can also be used as a fan to circulate air. I also wet the ground down quite a bit to keep humidity levels up and the gravel beds also help with this.

As I have said before I didn’t start this monthly post with the intention of hosting a meme but if you would like to use it as an excuse to show us your greenhouse that would be great as I think greenhouses are poorly covered in the media and blogs.