Sunday 7 April 2013

Planning and jigging

I first drafted this post on Friday when it was cold, very cold! all week I have been wearing my woolly hat and gloves to work! however we have just had a weekend of sun! I gardened in my t-shirt, we ate lunch outside, I set out benches on the freshly mown lawn, I saw a butterfly, bumblebee and my bees were having a field day!
So all this when it was a snowy week, and so far we have had the coldest April in 50 years! All a bit bonkers and I have to watch out for frost. My seed sowing is on hold and I’m hoping those sown so far are ok. Things seem to be moving towards spring, and I have taken all my Cannas out of the metre cupboard where the warmth has brought them into a rather etiolated and aphid covered early growth. Sunny days look fabulous and inviting, it’s just when you step outside that you regret not wearing a balaclava and hard core Russian fur hat.

However not is all bad, and secretly I’m a bit relieved by the cold as it will push back spring so that on the crucial May 19th garden safari opening day is more colourful than I had hoped as I'm thinking those forget me nots will still be flowering away
Despite the weather the gardening bug is well and truly there and my mind is awash with plants I want to move, planting combinations and envisaging the future. I think this is the fabulously exciting part of gardening although the fact that we only really have a window of a few months to do this is a little daunting.  I am also trying to brave and moving things that aren't working and trying for new things. There is also something very liberating about actually digging up all the plants in an area and rejigging them. Its also fabulous being able to divide plants as I hope to be a more generous garden....
Anyway as a lot of my gardening at the moment seems to be sitting in the summerhouse under several blankets with hot cups of tea planning I thought I would share some of my ‘rules’ for the year
Closeness without being bitch slapped: I love close planting where plants brush up against you as this feels like the plants are in control and emphasises the lush exuberance of things. However sometimes I go a bit too close to paths and the frequency of being slapped in the face by a Chusan palm or tripped up by straggly Cordyline or Phormium leaf is increasing and I think I need to be a bit more restrained
The palm is a little close to the path (well I don't think so but everyone else in the house complains) Iris confusa also looking fabulous here, and Ive just taken my Cyathea medularis out the greenhouse as I am being very brave/stupid.
Bald and empty edges: I found that in a few places, particularly where the Dahlias were, that their legs were a bit naked, and bare earth was exposed (oh a terrible sin!). I’m planning an invasion of Lilly grass, Polypody and Cuphea and other invited special guests
Thinking more about succession: I’m reading a lot of the Great Dixter blogs at the moment which are all about succession which is something to think about especially as my framework of perennials and shrubs and big bad ‘boos is settling in. Ive been trying to plant more bulbs and letting things seed (I should have an invasion of Nigella and Foxgloves)
Having space for annuals: My plant buying compulsion is not quite as bad as it has been, however I still haven’t sought medical attention and feel it may be untreatable. This all means I have loads of plants, especially as I move things making more refugees than need housing. So slowly the space is getting filled and there is less room for the annuals and showstoppers....I think I have planted about 30 Ricinus seeds and have about 8? Abysinnian bananas which I’m not quite sure where they will be going! So a big thing is trying to think where will there be/how I can create space for annuals
Fertilizing properly: Last year I wasn’t as liberal as the year before but this year I think I need to airdrop several tons of blood, fish and bone onto the land to help it grow
Less is more/avoiding hatpin gardening: Beth Chattos words about avoiding hatpin gardening still ring in my ears. I am trying to group things more and divide clumps to make broader spreads.
Being tough: I think I need to start ditching things that I don’t like or aren’t right....when I had loads of space my attitude was hurrah! something to fill the vast gaps, however now space it a lot more precious. I particularly need to ditch some dahlias as I don’t think a bright yellow cactus dahlia is right for me....
So still lots of planning, and some pictures of other things I have been doing below. Good luck with your own moving and jigging...

This weekend I moved my 6 yr old Blechnum chilense...this should make a corner under the tree fern with an aspidestra to the left, Tetrapanax at the back and ground cover of polypody.

Ive dug a lot of this bed out as it hasn't worked massively well yet....I think it is just too dry. I also moved the Waggy palm to the left as I looked around and all the palms were planted a bit too uniformly near the boundaries, I hope this will stagger things a bit

This was the biggest project so far assembling the arch, making a bigger secret/private seating area behind it and making the bed more flowing....Ive also moved most of the plants around to make a deeper bed so I can get more height. I'm also trying giant Rudbeckia here

Benches are out, although the day the hammock is up I will know it is summer!

The greenhouse is getting a bit bandito as the empty pots pile up and the hardier side of the sheltering plants are made refugees
 Inside the greenhouse space is a little tight, and I have been planting more seeds and potting up salvia cuttings. I have also made the age old mistake of not labelling pots so what was an obvious tender thing (which has now died) is just a pot of earth. some have a hedychium/musa???? label but who knows what else is there...
 I have also rejigged my terrace finally potting up my Jelly palm....I tied to rescue its small side shoot (well rescuing involved jabbing with a spade, me hurting my foot, Dad getting bashed with the sharp foliage and me heading to the shed to get a saw) however it came away with no roots...however it had to go as it spoiled the elegant shape of the palm. The schefera also has a new pot as I find the Crug soil dries out far quicker than I can water it, so I hope it is safer now...
 This is the bit of garden I try and keep clear for annuals however the soil sucks (its very heavy clay) I'm trying to dig it over every year and the spent compost from big pots ends up here along with some old bark chippings
This is my sideway, blocked one end by the door, open at the other, covered with plastic sheeting. The bananas have been here, unwrapped all winter and are still in leaf as well as a Canna musifolia. The yellow cannas at the front are the etiolated ones which came up from the metre cupboard last week

I have even sown veg seeds and the allotment bit looks vaguely presentable. Behind is a bit of the main bed which I have completely rejigged as I'm going for a wall of big plants rather than a graded approach. I have also just put in a  Romneya (giant white poppy) which I am excited about as this was a mini obsession that was sated at the RHS show. So hopefully it will form a large clump at the front

 Another area which is having big changes as the sea of geraniums becomes something more substantial. I have planted 5 giant grasses here (Miscanthus x giganteus) which should get to 6+ft. The path also has a new archway and the allotment area is more screened by giant fence posts....
The bees are getting very active with lots of new bees emerging from the hive for the first flights investigating the area. Oddly they always seem to come down to the terrace to drink from this pot of Thalia

Finally I couldn't not put more pictures of daffodils up, apparently it is Spring!



  1. Wow you've done and achieved loads already! Busy busy times ahead but so glad that spring has finally arrived after a long wait!

    1. Lets hope it has arrived! it is amazing how motivating the sunshine is!

  2. yay for more succession planting - your bees will love you even more! I can see masses of weird alliums [like the one called 'hair'] looking great in your garden. I have lots of blue Nigella's self-seeding - they are cottagey but the intense blue is so lovely. My Romneya made it through the winter so I'm also v excited about that. - Really we must do that drink sometime - maybe when I have some tulips out (Muriel is a particularly bonkers one).