Six on Saturday: Holes

When I suggested to the Golfer a couple of days ago that we ought to trim some of the ivy from the apple trees I did not expect to see so many holes in the canopy when the trimming began – there must have been a time when you could see daylight through it, but we had certainly forgotten this, and hadn’t appreciated quite how much of the canopy had become ivy rather than apple. Once the apples have been harvested, the branches that overhang the fence will be removed to tidy up the shape of the tree, which we guess will be at least 40-50 years old.

With the current lack of rain and my loathness to plant out the accumulation of new plants while the ground is so dry, I have compromised and begun removing plants that have outlived their usefulness or need more nurturing. I mentioned the clematis I had recently potted up for additional TLC, and here in the blue & white border this has left quite a hole, especially when accompanied by cutting back exuberant Centaurea montana. It occurred to me that this border has not been overhauled for many years, with non-functioning plants just superseded by new additions, and that renovating the veritable plant graveyard and improving the soil could inject new life into the border – another task waiting for damper weather.

There is an even larger hole at the back of one of the main borders, where today I removed a large hollyhock, an uninvited Japanese anemone and an acanthus that was ousted years ago but keeps trying to make a comeback. The hollyhock always looked out of scale here so I shall be looking for tall, but not quite as tall, alternatives to fill the gap – and having a ‘spare’ obelisk makes another clematis look a likely contender. The border seems also to be home to a number of gladioli, none of which has ever flowered, although some have much healthier foliage than the lacklustre ones you can see in the photo below – if they don’t manage to flower this year (and I am not holding my breath) they will be out on their ears…

The bronze heuchera bed that surrounds the Acer griseum is a feature that worked pretty well right from the start, and removing the slate mulch and renewing some of the plants earlier this season spruced it up nicely. However, there were two heuchera that stood out like sore thumbs by not being ‘bronze’ enough – not what you would expect from a variety called ‘Bronze Beauty’! On a whim this afternoon I removed them, potting them up for later replanting elsewhere – leaving two adjacent holes…

Bolstered by this spontaneous decision, a vigorous geranium from one of the nearby main borders was also removed, possibly planted there as a temporary filler and gradually ingratiating itself with adjacent plants. When work was carried out on these borders in the lockdown summer of 2020 this border, being unaffected by the realignment, remained the same and would probably benefit from the same overhaul as its blue and white near-neighbour, with all plants being removed and the soil improved before their replacement. In the meantime, there is another hole…

The Sixth Hole on Saturday, my contribution to the weekly meme generously hosted by Jon the Propagator, is rather more discreet, hidden at the back of the dahlia beds. These beds are usually home to twelve different dahlias, six in each, complemented by sweet peas until the latter run out of steam. The sweet peas have now been removed and the supports stored till next year, but the dahlias are also struggling to perform with this summer’s heat and lack of rain. Eleven of them are, that is, as one of them hasn’t even begun to struggle, having barely emerged from the soil. This variety always seems to produce no more than a single stem, but this year even that seems too much of an effort, but at least the hole it leaves isn’t as obvious as today’s other five holes…


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19 Responses to Six on Saturday: Holes

  1. Pauline says:

    I think ivy just wants world domination, I spent a long time yesterday and today pulling ivy from a fence, miles and miles of it! Sometimes I just cut it at the base and then it seems to come away easier when next tackled.

    • Cathy says:

      Haha – miles and miles indeed! I wonder how many times round the world all the ivy in the world would go…? 😁 To keep it from being too wayword I suppose regular culling is needed…

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Not bronze enough?! How funny. Just prior to reading this, I was debating the ‘bronzeness’ of different cultivars of canna. ‘Wyoming’ is bronze, so goes well with green foliage, and can also go well with the very dark bronze of ‘Australia’. However, most other cannas with bronze foliage are similar to but lighter bronze than ‘Wyoming’. There is not enough contrast. Of course, I will need to ask someone who is better with color, but I do not think that my observations are too off base.

    • Cathy says:

      If you saw the photo Tony, the ones I took out just weren’t bronze at all, just dull green. But yes, colour is very subjective

      • tonytomeo says:

        I have found that being inept with color has actually been an advantage. Neighbors select colors that I would not select myself, and it has worked out very well! That is how I got my yellow and orange gladiolus, and my ‘Australia’ canna. I still can not believe that I enjoy growing ‘Australia’ canna so much. It is SO not my style!

  3. Rosie Amber says:

    Some of my dahlias are just crisp and brown, such a shame, maybe they will do better next year. I plan to have a good potter in my garden later and see what needs working on.

  4. Noelle says:

    You are certainly planning some great improvements, this is something we all need to address every now and again. Your apple tree will breath a huge sigh of relief too with a lot more light and I guess water too. Very interesting post to read through.

    • Cathy says:

      Not sure about what will be filling some of the holes yet, Noelle, although I will certainly order two bronzer heuchera. I was just pleased to be able to get on with something practical in the garden!

  5. Just when everything in the garden was blooming well, we have a drought! I look at the flowers and how well they are doing and feel sad, knowing what will happen next…

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, at least it was looking good in June when we opened the garden – I would be ashamed to be showing it now!! 😁

  6. Holes are good. Well done! It can take me a very long time before I am brave enough to remove well established stuff, particularly en masse. I’ve never regretted it yet though. Have fun filling them πŸ˜‰

    • Cathy says:

      These days I have no qualms about getting rid of non-performers, even more expensive things like roses (although I would find someone to have the roses). I will put the heuchera somehwere else in the garden, but the hollyhock and anemone are disposed of!

  7. pbmgarden says:

    I like your take charge approach Cathy that lets you constantly assess and modify the garden as you identify issues. Are these eating apples or cooking apples?

  8. Linda Casper says:

    Making these holes creates wonderful opportunities.

  9. You’ve got some big projects and changes going. It will be interesting to see how it adjusts over time. I’ll send you some of our rain…we just got more than three inches last night!

    • Cathy says:

      Ooh, if only, Beverley! 😁 Is 3″ at a time ‘normal’? I don’t think we have ever had that amount in one day!

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