My Garden This Weekend – 8th March 2015

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What a wonderful weekend it has been.  Saturday was bright and sunny and warm enough for gardening in a T-shirt and for sitting and contemplating with a cuppa.  Luckily I bothered to check the weather forecast for a change and focussed all my energies on outside gardening jobs leaving Sunday for seed sowing and potting up which can be done under cover.

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I have dug out the cane domes and placed them over the new peonies that were planted over the last few weeks.  This will help me remember where they are until they put in an appearance and I also think the domes are rather charming.  I have added an Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ to the border, you can just see it in the top left corner.  I had been looking for one having seen it in ‘The Layered Garden’ but having secured one at the local HPS group I started to wonder why I had been attracted to the plant.  It is rather a strange combination with yellow streaks on the foliage and pinky new growth – it was christened the ‘ugly plant’.  However, when I planted it out I was won over again as it works very well with the pink hellebores so maybe my first instinct was right – I knew where I wanted to plant it before I bought it.

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I am pleased with this bit of border now especially when the sun lights up the hellebores.  This border is ‘done’ for the time being while I wait to see how the plants fill out and then the plan is to try to add a little late summer colour.

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I’m thrilled that the Hepatica noblis are flowering although I have to admit that they were only bought last month – the test will be to see if they reappearing next year.  I have bought a couple more and I am planting them over the other side of the garden so hopefully at least one group will establish.  However, I also have some hepatica seeds germinating in the cold frame which were sown as fresh seeds last April.

2015_03080015I got myself in a bit of a pickle the other week when I finally got round to doing a soil test and discovered my soil was alkaline, which wasn’t great given I had just bought two small rhododendrons.  I have been dithering around about them and decided to plant them up in pots and display them by the shed.  Once they have flowered and it gets warmer in this part of the garden I will move them into the shadier part of the garden and make sure they are watered well so they produce buds for next year.

I haven’t been very good at using pots in the garden for some years now.  I used to be really good at baskets and summer bedding in pots but I seem to have lost the knack and I do actually prefer the more mono planted pots but with several grouped together.  So the plan is to do more of this to create seasonal displays.

Finally I found enough energy to remove an unnamed and unloved shrub growing near the compost bins which has never really done much and had got battered when the tree surgeons were throwing the large willow logs around.  It came out fairly easily which was perhaps part of its problem.

I had come up with a scheme for this small area the other week when I was having a tea break – its to the right of the bench.  After adding lots of green waste compost I planted white Digitalis, Epimedium perralchicum ‘Wisley’, some lily of the valley, and a Polypodium cambricum ‘Oakleyae’.  I also replanted some self-sown Pulmonaria.  There is a gap left in the middle of the planting for a Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ which is growing elsewhere but has needed a new home; I just need to wait for it to put in an appearance so I know where it is.

 

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It’s only a small area but it is a start to the style of planting I am trying to adopt with lots of texture and contrast and hopefully not much soil showing once the plants get going.  I plan to add some white honesty next year so I will need to remember to show honesty and white digitalis on an annual basis although I may get lucky and they might start to self sow.

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Sunday was grey and damp so I used the time to sort out the greenhouse.  The pots of bulbs which have finished flowering were moved out to the cold frames – I am regretting, a little, getting the plunge staging (not in the photo) as I haven’t enjoyed the pots of bulbs this winter and I want to plant them out in the garden.  I am toying with getting some sort of warming cable system for them to create a propagation unit but I am waiting to see how I get on this season before I invest more funds in something I might change my mind about.  There is a sorry tale associated with the empty space but I will share that later in the week when I join in the monthly greenhouse meme.

However, I am happy to say that my seed sowing mojo has returned with gusto and I have sowed quite a few packets today.  I found myself really enjoying the process.  I had forgotten how much I love that sense of anticipation. I also potted up a dozen aquilegia and dianthus and 3 primrose digitalis; some of them might even be good enough in a few weeks to sell at the local HPS group – wouldn’t that be good.

 

 

 

My Garden This Weekend – 19th January 2014

2014_01190002 logoFinally, a good weekend for gardening albeit very soggy due to the endless rain we have had for weeks.  It has rained so  much that on Friday my journey to work was doubled in time due to flooded roads despite a fairly limited amount of rain overnight; it just shows how saturated the ground is.

The days are starting to get longer but not enough yet for me to be able to see much of the garden when I get home so I can wait to get outside on a Saturday morning to see what has been happening over the last week.  I was pleased to see all the hellebores with plump buds and I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t opening by this time next week.  However, what really thrilled me was discovering the very faint but definite sign of flowers opening on the witch hazel.  The the last couple of weeks on twitter there have been photos of witch hazel flowers and there is a magnificent specimen not far from me which is covered in amber flowers so I was getting a little worried but I needn’t have been.

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But it wasn’t all peering and cheering.  On Saturday I managed to get some time outside and planted out two camellias in the old bog garden.  I don’t know what species they are as I have had them for several years.  One of them has been in a pot full of ericaceous compost for a couple of years having looked like it was about the give up the ghost; this treatment had certainly helped and the shrub is full of dark glossy leaves and flower buds.  The other plant was in the shadow of a fatsia and as the fatsia has got larger and larger the camellia has got more and more wane.  They are now both in the new border and the intention is to add candelabra primulas seedlings and also hopefully some meconopsis seedlings if they  reemerge this Spring.  Interestingly today although only one day later I am convinced that the paler shrub has greened up already, although I could be deluding myself.

2014_01190019Sunday was finally a bright and sunny day with a bright blue sky – something I don’t think we have seen for a while.

Due to a chilly start and impending visitors I contented myself first thing with pruning roses and tidying up along the top of the wall border.  I spent quite a bit of time thinning out hellebore seedlings.  I really should have done this more often over the last few years.  My neglect resulted in a tough job trying to extricate the seedlings from amongst the older plants.  I think I managed to reduce the seedlings down by about 80% and this means that the emerging flower buds can now be clearly seen.

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There was one last job I really wanted to do this weekend.  For sometime the Spirea ‘Bridal Wreath’ planted at the far end of the top of the wall border in the woodland shady corner has been bothering me.  It is the view I have of the garden in the winter and I really need something green and interesting to look at not a mass of woody stems.  Also as with the hellebores I have neglected this shrub and I really should have pruned it back so the result is that it has become very tangled and also appears a little wind-swept.  I mentioned recently that I want to create a shrubby backdrop to the woodland border which will break up the fence line.  Having dithered for a while I decided to move the Spirea back into the border by 2-3ft.  Due to all the rain we have had the ground was fairly easy to dig despite the tree roots.  I also decided to prune the shrub drastically.  I know this will mean no flowers this spring but I decided that the plant would take better with less top growth and it would also means that I could shape the shrub better.

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As you can see from this photo I have gained quite a bit of space and now my mind is busy contemplating potential new additions.  As I  said I want evergreen plants here and my list so far includes Euphorbia robbiae, evergreen ferns although I need to decide which ones. I did think about hellebores but the photo shows how close you can get to the border without actually walking on it so I don’t want anything with interesting flowers that you  will want to look at closely. So now hellebores, epimediums, primulas, snowdrops but maybe some rusty foxgloves would look good amongst the ferns and when they flower there is a black elder which  would provide a wonderful backdrop.

So more thinking and planning to do on top of the planning and thinking for the hardy exotic border.  I love this aspect of gardening.

The Valley Garden

The wonderful thing about bank holidays is that they give you an opportunity to go garden visiting and still do all the other things that demand time at the weekend.  So Easter Monday found me taking to the road and wandering along the wonderful A449 from Ledbury to Ross-on-Wye – this road is worth driving down just for the sake of it, the countryside is gorgeous.

My destination was The Old Corn Mill near Newent which was opening for the NGS.  I didn’t do any research in advance so had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly pleased with what I found.  The garden surrounds an old Mill which has been modernised, in fact it was awarded the award for Best Conversion/Renovation in the 1999 Daily Telegraph Homebuilding competition.  Being a Mill Garden there is naturally a stream and the whole site is located in the bottom of a valley.  You are given a leaflet when you arrive with information about the house and garden and I quickly spotted that the garden was designed for ease of maintenance, to provide year round interest and included a woodland walk.

The leaflet also explained that most of the plants had been propagated by the owner and this probably explains the repetition of plants around the garden and the huge drifts.  To be honest I find myself moving more and more towards this approach in my own garden instead of the mad dotty approach I have had due to my inability to resist plants!!  The planting throughout the garden is predominantly herbaceous with a backdrop of shrubs and trees.  This is not a garden for people who like strong structure such as hard landscaping, topiary, hedges etc.  The structure of The Old Corn Mill Garden comes from the way the slope has been used and I found this particularly interesting since like my garden the land slopes up from the house.  They haven’t gone for lots of hard landscaping but instead have put in grass or bark paths and planted up the rest of the slope.  The paths are wide and generous and I spent quite a bit of time looking at this and wondering if I could do the same instead of my sloping lawn which is a pain.

The only thing that jarred with me was one bed where there were colourful bright tulips amongst the planting.  The brightness of these flowers amongst the subtler planting surprised me and I’m not convinced it was right but that is purely my personal opinion and I expect the owner welcomed the brightness of the flowers after the long grey winter we have had.

I liked the shadiness of the woodland walk and the cool stillness of the pool.  I also liked the way that from the shady areas you were drawn forward to the sunny open areas and vice versa.  As it was a very warm sunny day the shade was definitely very welcome.

Another feature of this garden was the sculpture doted around the garden, as in the top photo.  There was a combination of quite formal sculpture but also amusing whimsical ones.  Given that the garden is about 1.5 acres this worked and again I wondered about introducing some sculpture into my garden.  Sadly my purse doesnt stretch to the sort of sculpture I  like but I did leave wondering about looking for reclaimed items that I could put in the garden to draw the eye etc.

All  in all whilst the garden wasn’t as pristine as some would expect (there were weeds but I didn’t think they detracted, better than bare earth!) it made me think about my garden and consider ways  of doing things differently or better.  To me this is  everything I would want from a garden visit – food for thought and impressions that will stay with me for a while.