I can’t believe it is the end of May already. A slew of visitors for most of the month mean I have been an utterly dreadful blogger, neither posting nor visiting. Sorry, but there has been some gardening, in between the chatting, eating, walking, and general enjoyment of this wonderful location. Despite the weather, which has been so cold I begin to despair of getting any tomatoes, let alone peppers or chillies. But wrapped up appropriately this makes for a wonderful way to enjoy the sea and admire the thrift growing on the cliffs:
Even if enjoying the beach has required rather more layers than one would hope for on a late May Bank Holiday weekend:
We are teetering on the brink of buying a cheap waterproof camera so that we can take photographs when on the beach without fearing spray or sand, and even better, so that I can take photographs of the fabulous flowers bedecking the cliffs at the moment. But in the mean time, it is the end of the month which means I am joining Helen’s meme and recording where I have got to with my front garden.
Did I mention that weather has been a tad cold? Well my Spring border has been rather battered. One evening I was sat over dinner waving my hands enthusiastically at my wonderful Epimedium perralderianums, extoling the virtues of the beautiful foliage and pretty nodding pale yellow flowers. Next thing I know we have been battered by cold northerlies and suddenly the epimediums look like this:
It had been quite dry in the preceding week, and although I had watered, the poor things hadn’t really had much chance to establish well, and boy does it show. I have no idea whether they will recover, but they are not the only casualty, the dwarf cherry copped it too, and it had been growing away really strongly.
I know I wanted to use browns in the garden to echo the colour of the rocks etc., but I had coppery sedges in mind, not this. Thank goodness for the very vigorous Spanish bluebells, if not for them the Spring corner would be a very miserable sight right now.
It isn’t all bad though, there is a distinct lack of slugs, and the hostas are perfect – and very happy indeed. As am I,about them, at least. I had hoped the gritty surface from the remains of the gravel mulch would proffer them some protection, but I honestly didn’t expect to see them so pristine, so I am going to enjoy them while I can!
Inbetween bouts of cleaning and bed changing, not to mention cooking of bread etc., I managed to order some plants which, with a wonderful bit of timing, arrived in a two day pause between visitors. So yes, I rather over did it for those two days, but some of these plants are making me positively wriggle with delight.
I am concentrating on planting the larger shrubs and perennials that will hopefully form the backbone of the two long borders nearest the house. For the fence border I was after plants that would provide an evergreen foil to the spindle and cotinus. I am aiming for a palette of blue (of course), bronze, pale yellow and white along here, with accents of acid green, so although the lovely Karen (An Artist’s Garden) has promised me some seedlings of Anemanthele lessoniana I succumbed to impatience and bought one so that I could start getting to know it. It was love at first sight.
It is planted at the rather bare base of the spindle, along with a plant I have been lusting after for years, Euphorbia charachia ssp. wulfenii. I am excited about the contrast between the rather stiff blue-tinged euphorbia and the wafting grass, but of course at the moment it all looks rather pathetic. Not least because for once in my life I am attempting not to cram new plants so closely together that they have to be moved just one year on. I am hoping to have to wait for at least two! And I will find things to fill the gaps other than weeds…
Further along the fence border is an inherited photinia, Photinia davidiana ‘Palette’. It is semi-evergreen, which given the past winter and what was supposed to be Spring, means it is very bare, but the new leaves are a wonderful pinky-coppery colour.
Given that it is clearly not going to be reliably evergreen for me, I wanted something to anchor it, something architectural, as it is a rather delicate shrub. I was going to get a purple leaved phormium, but then I fell in love with one called ‘Alison Blackman’ which looked as if it might have exactly the right colours in its leaves to complement the gentle variegation of the photinia, as well as contrasting well with the cotinus on the other side. I was a bit nervous as I had only seen it in photographs, and it wasn’t the cheapest of plants, but I needn’t have worried. I know it won’t be to everybody’s taste, but it makes me smile, so there!
The fence border needs deepening and a lot more plants, but I am beginning to really like how it is coming together – scorched leaves not withstanding.
On the other side of the garden I am aiming for white, blue, silver and purple. I want a rather wafty feeling, lots of movement, and have planted a ribbon of the ubiquitous but lovely Verbena bonariensis towards the back with Ammi majus to fill in for the perennial Selinum tenuifolium which I am hoping to grow from seed over the winter. I have added a small block of another plant that has been on my
lust list wishlist for several years, Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’, and am hoping that together they will help loosen up the rather stiff pair of hydrangeas that sit at the end of the baby escallonia hedge. I am still slightly ambivalent about the hydrangeas, but they definitely get to stay this year, I need some stature given how much of the rest of the planting is brand new and tiny. However, one can have too much waftiness, and given that I already have a purple elder with deeply dissected leaves and a tamarisk, I wanted something silvery but evergreen (!) as a contrast, to tie in with the pittosporum I posted about back in March. I fell for Euphorbia characias ‘White Swan’, thinking that it would balance the ‘wulfenii’ on the other side of the garden, but Plantify, who I bought the latest plants from, contacted me to say that they couldn’t get hold of it. The very charming lady that phoned suggested I try another euphorbia with pale flowers and creamy-margined leaves called ‘Blue’ saying that it was very similar but had in her opinion, a better, more upright and full, habit. She sent me a photograph and I was happy to give it a whirl. It is really pretty, so I am glad I took her advice. It is always hard buying plants you don’t know on line, but nowadays it is my only option, so finding companies like Plantify who provide well-packaged and healthy plants at a reasonable price is a great boon. They even delayed my order slightly because the first phormium they sourced for me was too tatty for them to feel happy about sending it out. They source British grown plants from nurseries all over the UK, and I have been happy with the plants and the service so far – and I have no tie in to them, I am just happy to recommend them. Anyway, back to that euphorbia.
Like the fence border the new plants are barely visible, and the border needs deepening.
It would also help if the strimmer I keep trying to buy actually arrived – the first I ordered got lost en route, and although I got a delivery date for the second it didn’t turn up and then I got a refund! No explanation, no apology, just a refund. I really, really need a strimmer…
We have a break from visitors for a while, and hopefully I can do some more work on the garden, although I also have work to do, a bathroom to plan, a kitchen to start ripping out, and I really want to read some blogs occasionally, not to mention go out in the kayak when it is sunny and sow some French beans in the kitchen garden. But I have more plants waiting in the wings, ready to be placed and planted…
Ah well, hopefully it won’t be another month before I visit your blog, or post again, but thank you Helen (The Patient Gardener) for hosting such a useful meme.