Wednesday 14 July 2021

The garden in July

An advantage of the pandemic is that the garden continues to receive the most attention it has ever had! 

The winter was probably the most damaging one we have had so far, exacerbated by decisions in 2020 to leave out some of the more borderline exotics. The most painful casualty was my large Schefflera macrophylla. The bird of paradise is still alive, but not as hardy as I had thought. I am still crossing my fingers that Musa bordelon is sulking under the ground waiting for a moment to emerge… 

All the Musa sikkimensis and Helens Hybrid that were planted out in the garden or left in pots were cut to the ground. However, all have recovered. The ones in the garden have all re-shooted from the roots and I am surprised at how big some of the Sikkimensis are getting! I am also surprised at how the Brugmansia sanguinea which was super battered has also completely regrown from the roots. All the mature Musa Basjoo were fine. 

Big decisions in the garden have led to the removal of an almost dead cherry tree and the Loquat tree that was in the middle of the lawn. Planted before we moved in, it has got bigger and bigger, with quite a lax habit, and was not doing as well as trees I have seen growing in full sun. My Dad has always had a vendetta against the tree as it drops its leaves throughout the year, and in the end he won the war! The resulting removals have actually been great, as the lawn is a lot more open and the garden feels more spacious and airier. 

 I also took out a Paulownia that I had left to flower. Usually, I just stool them every year which leads to amazing steroidal tropical growth, but if you do this they never flower as they flower. Leaving one to grow it produced some flowers after 2 years, and was fabulous at 3. However, at this point it was also getting to be very big and close to the neighbour’s house! 

Fortunately, all the plants on our sunken terrace survived, with the most tender protected by a temporary plastic/polythene greenhouse. This comes down as soon as possible as it is ugly to see from the house, but a great decision was to move it up to a sun trap in the garden and use it to grow on bulbs, dahlias etc. Having the extra space was great and helped me do so much more than usual, and removes the stress of cramming everything into the greenhouse. Next year I think I will do the same from winter and use it to dig up and store dahlias. They are perfectly hardy in the ground but get battered by slugs…e.g. the one I had in the greenhouse this year is now 4ft and flowering, the ones in the ground are 2ft, ropey and in need of love… 

 I had completely over ordered on summer bulbs so having this space was great. A success has been Calla lilies which I am using for bedding, although only one of the three varieties has thrived. A success for the mice was 100 Tiger lily bulbs as they ate every last one of them ☹. I have also bought begonia corms for the first time. Again, not a great success as they have sulked and not grown as much as I would like. Some are still not yet of a good size. 

 The big plant out of all the exotica and bedding primarily took place over the two bank holidays. This was slightly speeded up by the prospect of some filming for TV which also provoked much soul searching of when does the garden actually begin to look good? 

This year I have tried to grow a lot of Nicotiana sylvestris as I love the scent and leaves…but I have forgotten how the slugs like them too…Some have survived but others are sticks. I have some emergency backups growing on, so I hope all is not lost. Tithonias will also be back…I have had to sow three pots of them as I completely underestimated how many I needed. I have also learned how it is better to sow them later as the first lot sulked in the cold and were quickly surpassed by a later sowing where they rocketed away. I am also onto my third lot of emergency Shoo Fly plants….These are such good plants as they are super easy to grow and grow almost anywhere. From an abused pot of seedlings that were all sown too densely it is super easy to rescue some to pot on, and in a week or so they are ready to go out again.  

Challenges of the pandemic remain and I find it impossible to get compost/key garden stuff delivered. I was very lucky to get the 30 bags I needed to get the garden going. Feeding my plant addictions has also been hard as many nurseries don’t have the plants I need. However, where there is a will there is a way 😉 

New plants I have got and am excited about trying are: Broussonetia papyrifera Doodia media Polypodium scouleri Woodwardia fimbrata Woodwardia orientalis v. formosana Matteuccia orientalis Begonia 'Torsa' Begonia pedatifida Polypodium glycyrrhiza x scouleri 

 Fingers crossed for a good gardening year!

Musa sikkimensis which was cut down the ground in the winter has regrown from the roots and is now about 6ft

Ganesh flanked by some fab big begonia

'Burning embers' marigold is back, and a few have escaped from the slugs

Zantedeschia albomaculata, by far the best Calla lily as the other two I have are still looking ropey

This was where I used to keep the bees and has been a witner project to revamp. It is now a seating area and new beds as it has this great view of the garden

The Echiums are the biggest that they have ever been! I think it is as these ones are all triannuals 

Hydrangea macrophylla which has great exotic leaves

I am trying out a few penstemons for flower....the Jury is still out!

Area where there used to be the chery tree and Loquat which has created a much more usable bed, the garden is also so much more open!

So fab that the exotica is coming back!

Another project to create some staging for many of the random pots of plants that I like but don't really fit anywhere else...

The terrace looking very lush and filling out more every week...

Romneya which I actually dug out last year, but it has suckered and clung on in a slightly better place. Fab plant when in flower wih these HUGE flowers, but ropey and a big plant when not flowering