The Culling Fields

IMG_5345Don’t worry, I shan’t be culling my little Hamamelis vernalis ‘Amethyst’, the tree I am watching for Lucy of  Loose and Leafy‘s tree watching meme. Unlike many of the other trees that people have been watching, my tree’s main period of interest is from autumn to spring – with its leaf colour, flower bud formation, the flowers themselves and then, finally, the emergent new leaves. For the rest of the year, as a young tree, there is not a lot happening, as it is not large enough to attract interest from most wildlife – not even a tiny nibble yet! However, it is sitting happily, dutifully putting out terminal leaves at the end of every stem and growing a further 7cms since last month to reach the grand height of 1.02 metres.

Elsewhere in the garden, as plants wax and wane through the summer I have been noting on my rambles that there are some which have served their time and could be culled in favour of alternative and more deserving specimens. Some like the astrantia, Geranium  thurstonianum and the other sprawling geranium are duplicates which plugged gaps temporarily, but what about the acanthus which suffers this same fate year after year?

culling.fieldsIMG_5334It’s not just herbaceous plants that are being threatened with eviction  – even one of the roses is not safe. Having been pleased to have found more than a couple of dozen buds on climbing rose ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ this year they were a complete and utter let down as  none of them opened to the ‘beautifully proportioned flat quartered’ blooms they are meant to be (a recognisable and notorious state of affairs). Well, I could replace it with something more reliable – how exciting, another rose to choose! What should it be I wonder…?

Things like centaurea, tradescantia and crocosmia are regularly taken in hand and clumps reduced, but I wouldn’t be without them altogether. However, there are some  cutting bed lodgers that might not get their tenancies renewed – is it worth the effort with zinnia when results are so variable? The not surprisingly dwarfish ‘Seven Dwarves’ larkspur will be replaced with a taller and more grown up variety next year, and I shan’t be autumn sowing cornflower for the benefit of lanky and leggy plants again, with a sowing in mid May flowering in six weeks and an acceptably compact size.

culling2I have enjoyed the blooms of the poppies, both the self seeded ones and those I have chosen to grow, especially the huge white heads of ‘Apple Green’ (larger and prettier even than the earlier flowering ‘Swansdown’ – but their short flowering season would make them more at home in the other borders, where they could be supported by other plants, instead of the cutting beds. They haven’t made it to a vase as the time was never right and before you know it their petals tend to be shed in a heap at their feet, like the clothes of an eager lover.

culling3Let the cull begin!

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16 Responses to The Culling Fields

  1. Pam Walker says:

    I have also decided on a major cull in my small back garden. Only one of the Alchemilla Mollis will remain, and several of the hardy geraniums are for the chop. They have grown ‘Just like Topsy’ They were very useful to fill some gaps, but have now developed thuggish tendencies, along with several self- seeded Hypericum, and I need the space for other, more interesting perennials and shrubs.

    • Cathy says:

      I removed all hypericum some years ago for that reason! I love all hardy geranium so am very tolerant of any thuggish tendencies but reducing clumps won’t go amiss 😉

  2. Amy says:

    Yes, a good hard look at the garden in July… Too bad about Souvenir de la Malmaison; Charles de Mills did the same for me years ago and should have been culled. As you say, it’s exciting to look for the replacements 😉

  3. Brian Skeys says:

    I shall never look at a poppy in the same light again!

  4. As I weeding, I am also culling plants that are overproducing, not producing or just not working in the bed….looking forward to clearing the beds and making room for other plants.

  5. Noelle says:

    Just like you I am looking around, and deciding which plants to cull, and make room for better ones. I have a couple of rooted white centaurea ready for you, so do email me where you would like them posted to. They will have time to establish themselves before the winter.

  6. Gina says:

    I’ve already started the cull. Things are being moved and notes taken on what came good and what struggled. The garden will have a different feel to it next year

  7. Joanne says:

    It’s all part of the fun of gardening, I believe, to try out different plants, decide if you like them, work out the best position in the garden for them to grow in and if they are growing how you would expect them to, then either keep them or cull them! Gardening can be like working out a puzzle at times. 🙂

  8. A very interesting post! I dread culling. I just have a really difficult time pulling out my plants, even when they’re half dead! I even hate cutting them to put in a vase. But I must admit to myself that some has to be done soon and that I need to rearrange some of my plants, especially the drooply ones.

    • Cathy says:

      For years I used to tolerate half hearted performers, rather than have an empty spot – but I am learning to be more selective 🙂 And as for picking for a vase, well Monday’s posts show how enjoyable that has become!

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