(agapanthus plus pot) minus (ceanothus and ground elder) equals X

…where X is a Project.

I have always enjoyed working with numbers, especially the logic of algebra and equations, quadratic or otherwise, and studied Maths beyond what was statutorily required at the time. This little project somehow reminded me of an equation, an equation with a neat and satisfactory solution, even though numbers didn’t actually come into it at all (apart from the number of recycled paviers needed). If mentioning algebra and quadratic equations hasn’t put you off, let me explain:

On numerous occasions I have mentioned that inspiration for projects is often triggered by a random thought or comment, and this is a classic example. Less than a week ago, I visited a friend I hadn’t seen since before lockdown and was thrilled to see her agapanthus in flower, grown from seed by me and bought at our open garden two or possibly three years ago, The seed was taken from the seedpod of a plant growing in the grounds of Bristol cathedral, a city we visited for the weekend back in December 2016. Not having seen the parent in flower, I had no idea what to expect, but this is it:

The seedlings I kept for myself have not yet flowered and look nowhere near as mature as my friend’s, but the pot hers were growing in was much bigger and I determined to repot mine as soon as I could.

Coincidentally, on the same day, one of our blogging community remarked on a particular pot she had spotted in one of the pictures I had posted, the big square pot that the fig had been removed from last year. This would look brilliant with mature agapanthus in, I found myself thinking, but the reason the pot has languished in the nursery area is because it IS so big, and therefore hard to place in the garden, so at the moment is temporarily housing a displaced rose. The pot was certainly too big to sit adjacent to the blue & white border, which is where I want to keep the agapanthus.

I went to bed that night and the moment I lay down, into my head popped X!

The uninspiring border next to the fence, shown below, is one of three that make up the overall blue & white border, although it has rarely offered anything in the way of blue or white. The fence, a neighbour’s, replaced mature leylandii some years ago and the soil has always been relatively poor and dry, despite attempts to improve it, and is partially overshadowed by our climbing hydrangea, H petiolaris. Increasingly it also suffers from an invasion of ground elder from the other garden. I had been trialling a prostrate ceanothus in the border, and earlier this year dug the three plants out to tackle the ground elder before replacing them. Stupidly, they weren’t watered enough when I replaced them and not only had one died but the ground elder was still popping up between them.

So what was X, the ‘neat and satisfactory solution’?

…remove the remaining ceanothus, dig out enough soil to lay paviers (on top of a weed-suppressing membrane of course!) recycled from a previous project, creating a level area to fill with pots – not just agapanthus but blue & white annuals in season and whatever else takes my fancy – thus removing the dual problem of ground elder and an unproductive border and replacing it with months of blues & whites to supplement those of the adjacent two sections of the border. Here is just a taster:

The Golfer, being a Whizz at levelling paviers, laid the blocks, whilst I sifted the soil and redistributed it around the garden, like a prisoner at Stalag Luft III. As projects go, it was a small one, completed in just a few hours, but the improvement was instant and even the Golfer commented on this, whereas he normally just accepts my improvement whims without expressing an opinion. We may or may not move one of the smaller benches to join the pots, but in the meantime I can now pin myself against the fence and get a better view of the rest of the blue & white border:

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22 Responses to (agapanthus plus pot) minus (ceanothus and ground elder) equals X

  1. magpiesue says:

    May I just say that I envy you the Golfer who does what you suggest and does such a good job of it? You are a fortunate woman/gardener.

  2. Cathy says:

    My understanding of maths is rather limited, but I do like the result and can just see it next summer. 😃

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Must it be potted so that it can be moved for frost protection? I never grew one in a pot. They are common perennials here, but form large colonies.

    • Cathy says:

      Some of them are not hardy in the UK, Tony, and would need to be brought inside over winter. This one presumably IS hardy as it was growing outside in the ground on a bitterly cold December day – I just like the look of them in pots

  4. craftycreeky says:

    Looks great, I did something similar in a large corner where the ‘soil’ was just solid silver clay, I levelled it, put membrane and cobbles down and lots and lots of pots. It’s been great, even seems to have it’s own little microculture as I don’t often have to water them 🙂

  5. Noelle M says:

    I like your train of thought….a great solution too. Congratultions of including the ‘energy’ you exerted, and ‘the catalyst’: your love for the garden and plants, and love of the Golfer for the Gardener.

  6. Lovely and a vast improvement. Details always shine! You have made me want to find a pot for my languishing Agapanthus (never bloomed)

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Amy – apparently it’s a fallacy that they like their roots to be crowded in the pot for them to flower!

      • I keep seeing that about Agapanthus and I should live in a good place to grow them. They suffer in my garden…I am envisioning blue and white violas in pots in yours. Do you get Lemon Cypress as a winter annual?

        • Cathy says:

          Yes, blue and white violas or pansies are definitely on my mental list already. I looked up lemon cypress which is available here as ‘Lemon Scented Monterey Cypress Goldcrest’ but as a permanent feature and not as a winter annual, or not that I could see

  7. Pádraig says:

    Kathy, you’re a mathematical tonic! I so much enjoyed reading through your thought processes. Great little project! Chapeau.

  8. Anna says:

    I struggled with numbers and was not entered for ‘O’ level maths. I have a CSE grade 4. Funnily enough though some parts of algebra did come quite easily and I almost enjoyed them. I like your logical thinking Cathy, the working outs and the result. Hope that your agapanthus comes into its own next summer.

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