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Plant choices

I think my plant choices may be changing. I am not sure if this happens to us all as we get older … or if it’s just me!

Gone seem to be the days when I grow the strange, the difficult, the interesting, the all green, or all black, the downright odd. I think it started 3 or 4 years ago when I bought roses for this garden. In that year a lavender hedge also got planted and I all-ready had a river of alchemilla mollis. The following year tall bearded iris were added to the planting, then more peonies and hardy geraniums and now …. now I have an urge to plant delphiniums. Why? Who in their right mind would grow delphiniums in a windy slug-infested garden? In fact I have spent the last few days with bits of bamboo and string as yet more high winds and wet welsh rain lash across the garden – to late to save the Echium wildpretti which was to be a central feature in one of the borders when the garden opens next month.

I know that sometimes we re-create a snapshot of a garden from our childhood, this can be a romanticised half remembered idea of a garden, or it can include plants much loved and passed on from a Grandparent, Parent or Aunt. I don’t think my grandparents particularly grew any of the plants mentioned above. My parents certainly had peonies. Mum’s memory of the peonies is that every time they were starting to flower gloriously, a thunderstorm would arrive and the flower-heads would shatter in the downpour showering the garden with a confetti of petals.

All the plants mentioned above are the ones my eye would pass over when visiting gardens, perhaps a “Oh that’s a nice scent” about a rose. or a “Look at the blue of that” about a delphinium. I noticed, but didn’t give them a second thought. So it is with some what of a surprise that I find them in my garden now. If I list my plants …. it is starting to sound a bit “Quintessentially English” or “cottage garden style” not terms that those people who know me well would apply to my planting schemes.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not unhappy with the way my garden is going, just a bit bewildered! I suspect that some of it has to do with creating a garden for all seasons. In the past I have perhaps neglected the early summer and my focus has been on the stars of the late summer border, still my favourite time of year in the garden. Perhaps in the past I found the high summer garden too wishy washy, too pastel too “Old fashioned” …. I don’t know. What I do know is that I have spent an inordinate amount of time recently looking at delphiniums on the internet.  Who can fail to be seduced by “Amadeus” on the Blackmore and Langdon’s website, and then I started reading about the New Millenium Series bread by Terry Dowdswell in New Zealand and suddenly the world of growing delphiniums is a much bigger place than I thought!

I wonder if lupins will be the next things to sidle into my garden when I am not concentrating. What about you? Do you have plants growing in your garden and you are not totally sure how they got there?

Meanwhile, despite the weather, the bearded iris are still standing and look rather glorious. Of course, another side effect of the ageing process is that the name of this variety completely escapes me at the moment, I do have it written down somewhere, but that place also escapes me. I do know it came from Woottens

Tall purple bearded iris



Hello Stranger!

Humm, after writing the title for this blog post, perhaps it was an unwise choice, I might get all sorts of spam!

So Hello world … How are you?  I feel as if I have been tied to the potting bench for 8 weeks. If last year I got worried because I nearly ran out of plants, this year my worry is that I have too many. Yep – the balance that I talked about in my last blog post does not seem to have materialised (yet). However, we have a poly-tunnel full of bedding plants and I am working my way through the rest of the plants ready for the June NGS open garden.

The garden is slightly neglected, although to fair, Dobby has been here the last two weekends and cracked on with the weeding. Dandelions, which made a bid for garden domination last year, may have succeeded in their total garden take-over this year.  I get very cross, and then I see all sorts of bees and hover-flies resting on them. Sadly, the favourite place for dandelions to put themselves is smack bang in the middle of a clump of ornamental grass, or perennial planting and I seem to be digging a lot of clumps up simply to get the weed out, and then putting them straight back – it seems the easiest way to do it. I would divide them, but I am slightly worried that there will be some big spaces in the garden if I do that … a lot of plants have “gone missing” this winter. Although it was mild, I think it was the wet and the grey not to mention the high winds that killed them off! The after-effects of the gales we had did not really make themselves known until some weeks later. All around the area established holly dropped all its leaves. Bamboo turned crispy brown. Rhododendrons and other tough evergreens dropped their leaves and gardens all about the area are looking rather frazzled. High winds full of salt and sand will do that.

The mild winter and spring has meant that the plants that have survived are coming on a treat.  I had words with the peonies and explained to them that if they could hold themselves back a bit until the 8th June I would really appreciate it.


My pasithea caerulea has started flowering this year. It really is an amazing shade of blue. The flowers are small and starry and they are quite difficult to place in the garden to be seen at their best. I am not sure I have found the “perfect spot” for them yet. Variegated white honesty has sprinkled itself through the key-hole garden in a very pleasing manor, which just goes to show, that sometimes, its quite good to leave the garden to its own devices ….. except where dandelions are concerned.

A Rude Awakening!

On Monday morning there was a large thump as the post hit the front door mat.  The Yellow Book had arrived. I thumbed through to find our entry.

I holler for Shedman “Sweetie” (Yes, that is what I call him when no-one is listening).

“The yellow book has arrived, our entry looks fine

“Oh cripes!” I muttered  “It is 16 weeks until our first open garden!”

Now, I know that 16 weeks is a long time, I mean after all it’s 4 months, an absolute age, but here is the thing – the garden got a bit neglected last year and, at the beginning of September I lost heart all-together. The eagle eyed amongst you will probably have noticed that I haven’t been around the internet very much this Autumn and Winter. Lots of little bugs seemed to attack me repeatedly, leaving me rather flat and disinterested. Although we did have some fantastic high points, No3 sons handfasting, my brothers wedding and a huge family christmas.  All wonderful and joyous occasions. It was just the bits in between that were, well – dire.

But now its February, the hellebores and snowdrops are poking their way up between the marigolds, argyranthemum and gazania (What can I say, we haven’t had any frosts yet). So after doing nothing and I really do mean NOTHING in the garden, poly-tunnel, or greenhouse since the middle of August, yesterday I made a start in the garden. There is so much to do!

Every year and I am sure that I have probably mentioned it on more than one occasion I yearn for a bit more balance in my life, while I was “not gardening” all winter I was doing things in the studio, mostly making handbags and creating something really interesting for a textile related day school for next October. So my perennial question for myself will be how to achieve the studio / garden balance, who knows this year I might actually manage it!

Naturally, now that I have a sliver of gardening mojo back, I am sitting here amid high winds, with gusts of 96 mph being recorded locally. The plants like tumbleweed are flying about the blasted heath, swamp, garden, and all the fences will need replacing. However, compared to the devastation in other parts of the country, as long as the silver birch dangling over the poly-tunnel doesn’t decide to keel over, this is simply an inconvenience, that is a bit, well, actually a lot scary.

So back to the yellow book and a plea to make this year the year when you visit some open gardens. After the weather we have experienced, the garden owners need all the encouragement they can get, and you will be doing something marvellous by supporting the NGS, who give away over 2.5 million to charities.

Sorry about the lack of images in this post – I may have my gardening mojo back – but the photographic one is still on its holidays.