This post nearly didn’t happen. I’ve spent the past two weeks picking tomatoes with nephews, changing computers and filling in forms that require me to go in to brutal detail about my current health, or lack thereof. The nephews were delightful but exhausting, the rest just exhausting, and it has left me feeling a tad jaded. I looked out the window and thought, what’s the point in doing an EOMV post, it looks the same as last month, and anyway, we’re going to move. Then I started reading other people’s EOMV posts, and actually bothered to take the time to wander around the garden and actually look.
As Helen herself says, these EOMV posts can be brutal, they reveal the truth about the parts of our garden we have chosen to put in the spotlight. But that’s also why they are so useful. While Sara is happily creating a brand new garden out of rubble and weeds, for me it is more about learning what works with the idea that I might try and re-use combinations, or plants, wherever we end up next. So here is a little of what I see and what I think about it – for more celebrations and critiques of gardens check out the End of Month View meme at the Patient Gardener’s blog. And thanks for hosting it Helen, the discomfort is very useful!
The magnolia border is in a very quiet phase, all textures and fading flowers. I am hoping for lovely autumn colour here later – preferably much later, I haven’t given up hope of an Indian Summer.
In fact, for all that the pond border is an experiment in colour this year, it is actually texture that I found my eye drawn to even more than the flowers, lovely though many of them are. I don’t think that it would work nearly as well without the backdrop of shrubs and trees, something I want to remember for the future.
Ignoring the gaps that I didn’t get around to doing anything about, the geraniums that would probably be flowering again if I had ever cut them back, and the fact that the “doesn’t need staking” Echinacea have decided that lying down on the job is preferable to standing tall, I have to admit to smiling when I look out at this.
Ignoring, for the moment, that Miscanthus sinensis ‘China’ is turning red almost a month earlier than it did last year, I noticed that the fading pink of the Echinacea tones beautifully with the grass flowers and those colouring leaves, and both look great with the deep purple foliage of the Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ behind. I can definitely see me using the miscanthus plus echinacea combination again in the future, they are both quite strong and assertive plants, they play well together.
The rather more airy tangling of this purple sedum and Stipa tenuissima is also rather lovely. I like the contrast between the more airy, flighty stipa and the more muscular miscanthus, but would plant more stipa and more closely together another time to help it stay more upright between the other plants.
I certainly understand why so many designers advocate using sedums with grasses. The combination of this pale pink sedum with another favourite plant of mine, Hakonechloa macra is totally different to the one above, but works just as well.
Overall, I still think the pond border lacks the strength in texture that I was after. Although in theory I really like the idea of ribbons of the same plant woven together, things like the nepeta, which has been invaluable for colour and as an insect attractor, need strong companions to avoid it all looking too bitty. I am still struggling to put into words what I am feeling my way towards, I think there is something about strong repeating shapes and contrasts that always seems to draw my eye in books, gardens and blogs. It’s something that I think both Karen and Christina do really well. So although I am really pleased that the rudbekia and achillea foliage does indeed look really good together, its something I still want to work on. Its funny really, because foliage was my first love when I discovered gardening, and one of my favourite areas of the garden is one that I don’t ever quite seem to get around to posting about. It lies around the acer, and is full of ferns, edging into another eupatoroium and a Japanese anenome.
I think one of the reasons I have so much more difficultly achieving what I want in the pond bed is my lack of familiarity with the plants I am using. I was chatting to Gardening SIL about this at the weekend, we both feel we need time to get to know a plant by growing it for at least one full growing season before we really know how we want to use it. Books and pictures help, but not enough, there is just no substitute for getting your hands dirty, literally and metaphorically.
And of course sometimes it is just a matter of time. When I originally planted the Pickerel Weed (Pontedera cordata) at the back of the pond, I did it in the hope that it would add another layer of texture and interest to the whole area. It has taken years to really take off and establish, but now the wonderfully sculptural leaves are densley packed and do just what I always hoped they would do. Just in time for me to move.
Ah well, I just hope that I remember to be patient, with myself, the plants, and the garden, wherever we end up next. FIL has almost retired, and over the next few moths we will be grappling with the where, when and how much of the next stage of our lives. I don’t know whether I will be gardening on chalk or clay. Dealing with wet Welsh weather or balmy southern days. Working within an already established garden or starting from scratch. I just hope I remember to enjoy this garden while I still have it. It is the perfect antidote to swapping computers and filling in forms, even if we do have to edge the pond with large heavy pots to prevent my youngest nephew from repeating his swan dive experiment…