Plenty of Musing

IMG_7813My mind has been working overtime whilst rambling in recent weeks, musing and cogitating, assessing and reviewing, identifying ways to tweak the garden to up the ante before next year’s NGS opening. Some things I can’t plan for, like the combination above which has to all intents and purposes composed itself – the herbaceous clematis C ‘Henryetta’ has never flowered as well as this before (previously climbing half-heartedly over a paeony which was relocated to the shrub border last year), the grown from seed Teucrium was unceremoniously shoved at the back of this border as there were several seedlings to find spaces for, whilst Phlox ‘Lilac Flame’ has occupied its position for a few years but has only just joined this year’s serendipitous picture. Equally unplanned is the red nasturtium weaving its way along the front of one of the bold borders, possibly self seeded from a previous year, but a ploy I shall deliberately use in all bold borders next year.

IMG_7817Another ploy which is easily taken on board is to sprinkle Allium christophii through all the main borders – they hold their heads high for so long after flowering and continue to make an impact well into autumn and beyond, so this corner where the effect can already be seen will be extended with the purchase of additional bulbs in my imminent Peter Nyssen order.

IMG_7812

Photographs of all the borders will show me where these allium can be added, but will also provide a record of the gaps to enable me to plan whether to fill them with annuals or something more permanent. Front of border seems to be where most of the gaps are, especially in the main borders:

IMG_7809IMG_7810IMG_7811More thought is required for underplanting the clematis colonnade, where the geraniums have underperformed – some, like G ‘Dragon Heart’ have done well but are too lanky without the support of adjacent perennials, and others have just failed altogether. The lanky ones will be removed to other borders, perhaps being swapped for tough as old boots varieties that have thrived on partial neglect and will enjoy the drier conditions under the leafy canopy.

IMG_7814A similar issue has arisen in the rose garden, where I have tried lavender and various annuals under the roses with no real success. On a whim earlier this week and with inspiration from our recent visit to Kate and her Barn House Garden I decided to use massed grasses here instead. Stymied by my current plant buying embargo I have temporarily added divisions of my Luzula sylvatica and planted them around the perimeter, potting up divisions of the Pennisetum orientale kindly given by Kate to add to the two main beds in due course. In the short term I have added alchemilla as an alternative.

IMG_7818Not definite yet, though, is a decision on whether to abandon the Magic Carpet roses in the two big urns either side of the bus shelter – these have very definitely underperformed and although they have only had a couple of seasons to show their potential they have had to contend with their position under the ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ roses, which are vigorous at the best of times. Replacing them with summer annuals that can withstand some shade and drier conditions, such as New Guinea impatiens, would provide more reliable colour. Ground cover rose ‘The Fairy’ at their feet fare better, but to add interest, texture and movement I shall add Stipa tenuissima between them, grown from seed or division of plants I already have – or, come 1st January 2017, by purchasing new plants.

IMG_7815This year has seen partial success with planting annuals amidst perennials in the borders for added colour and variety but in many cases they are but mere specks, reminding me that planting in groups will make more impact; there are colour imbalances such as not enough blue in the blue & white border and still a predominance of oranges and yellows in some of the bold borders!

IMG_7816Yes, plenty to think about, plenty of notes to jot down and plenty of opportunities for suggestions from my blogging friends!

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16 Responses to Plenty of Musing

  1. When you are uninhibited by your purchasing ban you will be able to bring these borders to par excellence. It is good that you have a whole year to think things through too.

  2. homeslip says:

    Tough as old boots G. maccrorhizum would do in poor soil and shade and the leaves of mine are already turning a gorgeous fiery red. I underplant A. Christophii with Alchemilla mollis to hide the tatty foliage. How about Stachys under your roses? Neat rosettes of furry grey foliage and they respond well and look good after the lanky flowering growth has been cut off round about now. Final suggestion is the purple leaved violet, which produces masses of tiny scented flowers (which I crystallise) in April. The foliage can be kept neat by cutting back hard every other year. I’m sure all these plants could be available for free from any good gardener’s garden. I do love a ‘make do and mend’ approach to gardening!. I’m not going to recommend Erigeron as a filler because I’ve decided, pretty as it is, that it is on a mission to world domination.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for all these suggestions – I was assessing all my other geraniums yesterday to see what might suit and you are so right about G macc which would spread nicely there whereas others are more clumpy. I like the stachys idea too but don’t know that violet so will look it up. My 12 months freeze on buying plants has really encouraged me to look at existing plants with fresh eyes and a ‘make do and mend’ approach has a lot to recommend it ps my erigeron must be quite cowardly as it has no such mission…are you being held to ransom by yours?!

  3. What a year to ban plant buying! It must be fun planning though.

  4. It’s interesting to see the spaces you are musing about, Cathy. I agree with Homeslip, at least while you’re waiting for choice things to grow on why not fill the areas up with something like G.maccrorhizum, the bright pink flowered ones are the most vigorous. I just break bits off and pop them straight in the soil. In milder winters it’s nearly evergreen which is a bonus.

    • Cathy says:

      Although photos of ‘gaps’ were not perhaps very inspiring! I am now waiting for less dry weather to have a blitz on geranium rearrangement – heavy rain forecast for tomorrow!

  5. Christina says:

    Nice assessment of what’s good and your ideas for improvements. We’re entering the time when I wonder why I garden at all! But I should at least write some of my thoughts down.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Christina – it is so easy to notice where or what you might want to tweak and then forget, particularly if you get distracted before you get back to the house! It’s such a useful exercise though, even without a garden opening to work towards. You have worked hard to maintain plant interest in your summer garden and hopefully there will be features to appreciate throughout the hotter months

  6. Pauline says:

    Lovely to listen to you thinking out aloud! I love making plans and then putting them into place, I’m sure that yours will all be in place in time for your special day next year.
    I have herbacious Clematis durandii in one of my borders and mine is a definite navy blue with a bright yellow centre?!

    • Cathy says:

      Oh silly me – I used to have C durandii in the same bed but lost it. This will be C Henryetta – will go back and change the reference. Thanks for pointing it out and for your kind comments – I am in my element with the planning and scheming of course!

  7. smallsunnygarden says:

    It will be fascinating to watch you work this out, Cathy, as I know the results will be wonderful! 🙂 Are you aiming for one particular month? (I don’t know quite how all this works… 😉 ) I do like the grasses idea as I’m really appreciating all two of my ornamental grasses just now!

    • Cathy says:

      People can open when and as often often as they like, as long as the local NGS organisers agree there will be sufficient interest in the garden to make visitors’ journeys worthwhile. Most only open on just one day and I shall certainly be doing a June opening but possibly one in July when the cutting beds and summer perennials have got going – need to come to a decision on that soon! I have been slow in coming to appreciate grasses but increasingly I am realising their valuable role in a garden

  8. Brian Skeys says:

    I love nasturtium they self seed in my garden every year, I agree Cathy alliums do give such good value. Haveing a plant buying freeze and opening for the NGS is a challenging situation! One grass I like is the pheasant tail grass (I cannot remember the Latin name they keep changing it), if you don’t have it and would like some I will send you some seed, it is very easy to grow, just email me your postal address.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Brian for the offer – I will email later. The plant buying freeze will encourage me to be more selective and the discipline has been empowering – more than half way through now… ☺

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