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!

Texture In Magnolia Border

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.

LH Pond Border Aug11

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.

RH Pond Border End Aug11

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.

Miscanthus sinensis 'China' Flowers

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.

Sedum Plus Tenuissima

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.

Sedum Against Hakonechloa

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.

Contrasting Textures

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.

texture3
texture2
texture1

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.

Pontederia cordata (Pickerel Weed)

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…

55 thoughts on “End of Month View August 2011

    1. Hi Sue, I think I have just added an increasing obsession with flowers to my existing love of foliage! I always have been a bit of a “both and” girl…

    1. Oh dear, and there I was feeling good about the fact that I had managed to be more positive and less critical!

  1. Your post has helped (ish) me with two things. I have a newly planted big container with a Hakonechloa (the gold one) and I have been looking for something to contrast with it, ideally something I need to move in the big regig and you saying Sedums work well has made me realise I have a dark purple one that might look quite good and would pick up the purple in the Fuschia also in the container.

    Also I love your pond border, I have all year, but your comment about the shrubs being needed has made me think that this is why I am struggling with my top of the wall border as it open on both sides and has no backdrop. So I need to find another way of getting structure/background in without swamping a thinish border with big shrubs.

    Thanks for joining in again this month – I do love seeing your pond especially

    1. Hi Helen, your container idea sounds great, glad to have helped (ish) ;-) Thank you so much for the pond border comment, and it makes sense to me that the lack of backdrop might be one of the reasons for your struggles with your wall border. I’ve seen people use lots of wiry stemmed plants as semi-screen come spine on open-both-sides borders, (verbena, burnets, scabious, knautia) but I think they are really tricky unless they are deep enough to accommodate some large grasses or even shrubs. Could you deepen the border? I don’t remember what happens on the garden side of it.

      BTW, I was procrastinating earlier and found myself looking for when I first got a comment on my blog, and it was from my first ever EOMV post back in March last year – so another reason to thank you for hosting the meme, it started the interactions with other bloggers I find so stimulating and supportive.

  2. Your garden looks great for the weather everyone has been having this year. It looks so unaffected and beautiful. But, I do agree with you on each month not knowing what to show. Having a small garden keeps showing the same plants, just a little bigger and a lot rangier, at least my garden anyway. You have many pretty combos, in texture, color and scale. They are a good guarantee of season foliage interest.

    1. Hi Donna, thank you, what a lovely comment. The garden does seem to have (mostly) coped well with the weird weather, a little flopping aside. I really must get a good plant support method going. I’ve seen some wonderful things done with bent steel reinforcing bars, which then add year-round interest when they go rusty and are left in place.

  3. Hi Janet,

    It looks like you’re well advanced compared to me as I never, if rarely consider textures and shrubs as back-drops… Hrrrmmm, a lot still to learn young padawan. Not to worry, I’m still learning and have only had my own garden for the past 3 years now, so it’s understandable.

    Although I do think your pond border is looking very nice; in fact they all are. It’s making me want to run out and get plants to fill my many dead spaces.

    1. Well advanced?! Only in age, Liz, only in age! I don’t think the learning ever finishes either. Or the urge to rush out and buy new plants…

      1. Hi again,

        What is the purpley-veined plant near the ferns? That looks very nice…

        I’ve ordered some ferns off Beth Chato, and hope to fill some of the shady spots, but I’m thinking I probably need way more than what I got. I might pop to B&Q tomorrow to see if there’s anything going cheap for the end of year.
        Shady plants generally are a mystery to me, and I’ve only just started working with them after having worked mainly on the sunny borders first before moving onto the rest…
        There’s a really problematic border down the side of the house which is backed by a privet hedge and is about south-facing but gets shady because of the hedge, I’ve tried a number of different approaches and so far nothing has worked. So I wonder whether a row completely made of ferns is the best way to go. Do you have any really good shady plants that you particuarly love?

        1. The purple foliage is Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’, which will take partial but not full shade. It also comes into leaf quite late, somewhere around the end of April for me, which can leave a large bare patch. Great Autumn colour and white plumes of flowers. Nice plant. I used to have a purple hazel in the same spot, which was wonderful until it got too big. Heucheras would work well though, lots of geraniums thrive, if there is partial sun then aquilegias of course, Phlox paniculata makes great ground cover, and lots of ferns… With ferns, I tend to go to a good garden centre and browse around until I find three or four (or five) that all tolerate deep shade but which have different leaf shapes. Oh, and there is a rose (actually more than one) a rambler called Madame Carriere which can handle a north facing aspect, that might scramble through your hedge? As would the various clematis that work in deep shade. Good luck! Happy shopping…

          1. Hi Janet,

            Thanks very much for the suggestions; much appreciated.
            I’ve a few Geranium elsewhere around the garden and haven’t yet tried any in this border… It’s a strange one you see because although it’s South-facing, the house and hedge cast it in shade, but during summer for a few hours a day it’s in full, blistering sun. I think that’s why I’ve struggled, and no doubt the hedge is taking all the water so plants aren’t doing very well. I’ve been tempted to plant the new rose ‘Susan Williams-Ellis there, but have been dithering around trying to decide. There’s a huge Lavender in the border so clearly it must get dry enough to keep them happy…

  4. LH Pond Border looked very nice. The different plants are very attractive and the colors blended very well. I like magnolia border because of the white flowers. Thanks for sharing the stunning photographs of your garden.

  5. Sounds like you’ve been very busy, Janet; I hope your nephew’s swan dive ended well:) You have so many lovely textures in your garden; I can’t think of a single suggestion. But I think it’s typical that we look at our own gardens more critically than others do. Still, I hope you take time to just sit and enjoy this beautiful place you have created.

    1. Hi Rose, I’m working on the “sit back and enjoy it” bit, I tend get all twitchy noticing the things that need doing though… Nephew survived the pond, it is now one of his favourite words…

  6. Janet, thank you for the link and compliment. Your garden is all looking lovely. I love the texure of the foliage in all parts of your garden. You have so much to put in a post about foliage on the 22nd if you’re feeling up to it. You are also so correct about waiting for the effect you have in your head. It’s great if it happens quickly, like my slope, but we have to be patient for most things! It will be so sad for you to leave your beautiful garden, but also exciting to start again and be able to use plants you maybe can’t where you are now. You are very perceptive about the background to your plants and I think your comment to Helen is helpful. We often don’t know why we are dissatisfied with something and it can take someone else to bring the reason to out attention. Christina

    1. You’re welcome Christina, I get a lot of inspiration from your garden. I have a note to myself on my monitor to remind me about your new foliage meme, and have started collecting photos, which will of course need retaking when we get that far in to the month, but hey! At the moment I am more excited about starting again than I am sad to be leaving here, but that could all change.

  7. OH wow, WOW – your pond border is absolutely gorgeous, and as for that Sedum/stipa combination… words fail me.

    Lovely textures, lovely colour and not a hint of couch grass anywhere (if you want some I can supply)… Whoever inherits your garden, no matter what you take with you to wherever it is – Wales, perhaps – will be very lucky!

    1. Thank you Kate, but I think I will say no to the offer of couch grass. I don’t want to appear ungrateful, but after all, I have a fine crop myself up at the allotment should I feel the need! And thank you for saying such lovely things about the garden. I hope it goes to a good home.

  8. so glad you managed another end of month view Janet. Shows me only too well what my planting lacks – depth and contrast. Another reminder that the drawing board begins with green and this garden has shown you (and your readers) so much of what can be achieved. The impending uprootedness is no doubt having a mixed effect – both adverse and positive. Not sure I could cope for so long with adventurous nephews in the garden.

    1. Hi Laura. The nephews bring laughter as well as chaos, but I was happy to wave them off again. “Impending uprootedness” captures it perfectly, so much uncertainty, potential, not to mention work! Good luck with the quest for depth and contrast, this will be a hard garden to leave in many ways, not least because of a lingering fear, what if I can’t do it again, build a new one, that satisfies me and teaches me as much as this one?

  9. Janet, your combinations look lovely–I’m with you in finding foliage and texture almost more interesting than flowers. Those lower photos of the ferns and other greenery (and purplery) are stunning–although that’s too forceful a word. Refreshing and serene, really, but in a stops-you-in-your-tracks kind of way. I also couldn’t agree more that you have to live with a plant for a while before you know how to bring out the best in it. Catalogues and books and helpful people at nurseries are all quite useful, but you never know what something will do in your garden until it’s done it. Best wishes with the forms–I hope they yield good results for you. Stacy

    1. Hi Stacy, I like the idea of stops-you-in-your-tracks serenity. Maybe the answer is a large nursery bed in which to try plants out and play around before committing to a planting scheme. What a lovely luxury that would be. On the other hand, I have enjoyed learning-by-planting and suspect I will continue to be baffled by things being floppier, taller, shorter, brighter, redder etc than I anticipated and will carry on moving plants around as if they were furniture in search of that illusive “rightness”.

  10. I’m glad you did do your end-of-month review, Janet. Your garden is looking really colourful. I’m jealous of the ferns! I think I must get some more, though my soil is very dery and not well-suited to ferns – I may end up growing them in yet more pots!

    1. Thanks Mark. Am puzzled by your “too dry for ferns” comment though, lots of them thrive in such conditions, I’m sure I’ve often had to reluctantly put one back because I knew my soil would be too wet and heavy.

  11. I have exactly the same issue with plants in that it takes me time to get to know them, sometimes a couple seasons to see how I feel, before I can place them. Hard to plan a garden when you’re unfamiliar with the plants! Glad you decided to do a post. I can hardly bear to look at my garden this month. It seems to be getting worse instead of better but taking a good hard look is necessary.

    1. Hi Margeurite, your poor garden has had to deal with such dreadful weather, I’m not surprised it is hard to look at. When I am struggling to make sense of my own next garden and understand the plants that will thrive there I will seek solace in your own adventures with the same thing.

  12. Interesting comments about texture in borders, something that I still continuously experiment with on our gardening here. I especially agree with the importance of shrubs and trees serving as a backdrop, and backbones to the garden.

    Your pond border is gorgeous as always, but I must admit my favourite is your ‘foliage/fernery’ patch, my sort of planting ;) and so much you can play with contrasts and textures on foliage gardening.

    I’m glad you managed to do your blog, enjoyed reading it as always. And sounds like your nephew had a bit of a misadventure , hope he’s fine now :)

    1. Somehow I knew the fern corner would float your boat! Flowers are great, but you can’t beat contrasting foliage for creating that feeling of peace and calm. Nephew is fine thank you, still fascinated by the pond, but no longer allowed to go close enough to count the frogs in the bottom…

  13. I need to focus on (and appreciate more) foliage, too. Especially in a shade garden–usually there’s less color so unique and varied foliage can make the monotone garden more interesting. But you have lots of color and lots of texture. Simply beautiful! This would be a great post for my “Garden Lessons Learned” meme: http://bit.ly/oV7By4. Good luck with all the forms, decisions, and transitions. I hope the garden continues to give you respite.

    1. Thank you! And you are right, texture can create a magical garden in the shade. I’ve only ever had quite small areas to play with, but I can imagine really enjoying a larger area to plant up. Will check out your meme.

  14. Thanks so much for posting, Janet – certainly worthwhile. It all looks beautiful. Really. I too love ferns so that area about the acer certainly works for me! We moved house last September and I’ve missed our old garden terribly. Five years of planning, execution, planting and training and tending. The new one has been pretty much ignored whilst we’ve concentrated on ‘doing up’ the house, but now that is pretty much done we’re starting to look outside and gather some thoughts. It’s daunting but damn exciting too. Good luck with it all – your comment re forms just made me groan.

    Dave

    1. Thanks Dave. It might not be a bad thing to have had a period without really being able to garden in your new home, time to get a feel for the place and work out what you want? You certainly have the makings of a great veg patch. Funnily enough I think getting the food growing side sorted will be my main priority in my next place, assuming we don’t manage to inherit one of those perfect dream kitchen gardens complete with established rhubarb, asparagus, fruit… Hope you are soon so engrossed in creating your new garden that you no longer miss the old.

  15. Janet, what a lovely review and wistfully put. Love the sedums and the grasses and we are also holding out for an indian summer! I agree getting to know plants before we use them is certainly a good way of understanding them. I’m glad you’ve had a busy time, sorry if some of it has been frustrating (ie the form filling in) but you sound in better spirits for having a wander around the garden. I’ve never done a ‘end of month review’ before, always figured I’d not have much to show, but looking back on last year myself, whilst progress is slow, there IS progress so I may be inspired to join you all, fashionably late, of course. I blame the time difference from my latitude to yours……….(tee hee).

    I hope your next garden is on a rich lovely loam, in a garden not too established that you feel overwhelmed by it, but not so blank as you’re starting from scratch – unless that’s your ideal? its frustrating moving gardens, but does open up a wealth of opportunities for you :)

    1. Hi Fay, glad you joined in – am off to check your post out once I reply to the other comments here. Your recipe for my next garden sounds perfect…

  16. Hi Janet, your garden looks glorious as ever, if you’ve any gaps I can’t see them. I do like the foliage mix you have and the shrubs ad grasses make a great backdrop. I agree with you about the importance of repeating shapes. We did start out with a plan and limited number of plants, some of which were real statements. That idea seemed to have died a bit of a death and partial replant will soon be necessary. Got some sedums grown from cuttings to go in. Yours look lovely with grasses.

    1. Hi Janet. The theory of repeating shapes is great, but there are always so many lovely new plants to try out… Thank you, you have reminded me I should really try and take some cuttings from my own sedums. I’m not very good at cuttings, but I really need to crack the technique!

  17. Yes, please mind the nephew near the pond. When my son was learning to walk, he walked face first into our pond. His mother and her friend stood shocked in amazement as I pushed them aside and grabbed my son by his overall straps and pulled him out. It all happened in 5 seconds, but was scary nonetheless.

    1. It is scary, isn’t it – his poor father watched the whole thing from the kitchen, but luckily I didn’t freeze and no harm done.

  18. Everyone else has already said what I want to say … so good luck with your move, maybe it will be fun to start again from a blank canvas or from someone else’s idea of a dream garden. I’ll miss your walks through the fields on your way to the allotment …

    1. Hi b-a-g, I’ll miss those walks too, hopefully there will be an equivalent wherever we end up, even if there is no allotment to walk to I hope I will still get out and about. I know exactly what you mean about everyone else already have said what you wanted to, big thank you for commenting anyway.

  19. Your garden seems to be shining in August Janet both with foliage and flowers. I have noticed that my one and only echinacea ‘Kim’s Knee High’ is a flopper too despite its name! Will be investing in some support next year. I am off to find out more about miscanthus sinensis ‘China’. Could be tempted :)

    1. Hi Anna, ‘China’ is a lovely grass, one of the few that doesn’t seem to have any downsides to it, at least in my garden. Garden isn’t shining any more – too battered by wind and rain, EVERYTHING is doing the imbo under a non existent pole… Except ‘China’…

    2. Anna, I am having trouble reading your blog – google keeps warning me off it, telling me it is full of malware. Are you aware of any problem? I have been looking forward to catching up, particularly now it is so easy with the email link, but I don’t want to pick up a virus. The message I get is “greentapestry.blogspot.com contains content from http://www.languageisavirus.com, a site known to distribute malware. Your computer might catch a virus if you visit this site. Google has found that malicious software may be installed onto your computer if you proceed. If you’ve visited this site in the past or you trust this site, it’s possible that it has just recently been compromised by a hacker. You should not proceed. Why not try again tomorrow or go somewhere else?” I keep chickening out…

    1. Thank you, and I agree about the entanglements, but there again I am that kind of gardener, I enjoy a bit of tangling!

  20. I love the second and third photo, and the one with all the ferns.

    It looks like you might have a deer’s tongue fern. I’ve been wanting to get me one/some for my heavily shaded yard.

    Beautiful pond area!!

    1. Thank you, yes I think it is deer’s tongue. You wouldn’t think the pond was quite as nice if you could see all the duckweed…

  21. I’m glad that you joined in, lovely to see the change in your garden, even if small. There are some wonderful colour and texture compositions in your foliage and flowers, and the pond bed looks very harmonic – it would make me smile too. Your pictures remind me that eupatorium is on my wish list, both green and dark forms, and the purple sedum and stipa make a lovely sight together.
    Sara

    1. Hi Sara, thank you. I’ve been wondering what bursts of the ephemeral I could add to the mix to add a little more dynamism at this time of year, but I think it all comes from the development of the grass flowers rather than the flowery flowers. I really must take some cuttings of the sedums…

  22. I agree with you about getting to know a plant for a year. I think your garden is so lush and full. Love the layers of greens…with a dark foliage tossed in for good measure.

    1. Hi Janet, I have something of an addiction to dark leaved plants, I have to take care or my entire garden could go a little goth!

  23. You have beautiful plants. I see you have a Dryopteris sieboldii. I had one but lost it this winter. I miss it.

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