I woke this morning to dark, dramatic skies and a wrist complaining of over use. After a full week of spending as much time in the garden as my energy levels permitted (perhaps a tad more, if I am honest), I took the hint and decided to stay indoors and review progress.
I love this time of year, the low, golden light, the slight nip in the air, the planting of bulbs. It’s always a really busy time too, cutting back the plants that, with the best will in the world, won’t provide attractive winter structure, planting the bulbs that it seemed such a good idea to order until faced with the work of getting them in the ground. It is also the perfect time to move the horticultural furniture around. The warm soil and ever present threat of rain means shuffling plants around still gives them plenty of time to establish themselves before winter sets in. So, after five days of battling with weeds, including face height nettles (they missed), yesterday I rewarded myself with some editing.
I’ve been quietly chuffed with how the fence border has begun to settle down and develop an identity, but ever since I planted it the positioning of the Phormium ‘Alison Blackman’ has been bugging me. I had originally intended to plant it in between the smoke bush and the Anemanthele lessoniana (Stipa arundinaceae), having seen a similar combination on Karen’s blog. When I came to it, I was so struck by the commonality of colouring between the phormium and the Photinia davidiana ‘Palette’ that I swapped it with the Euphrobia wulfenii. I’ve been regretting it ever since, it just jars. So I moved them.
I should have stuck to the plan in the first place.
The blue-tinged foliage of the euphorbia is a lovely foil for the aster, though it remains to be seen what I think of it next to the photinia when it is larger. Mind you, the photinia is on notice. I am not generally a fan of variegation, despite having bought that phormium, but the photinia has very pretty leaves, and is semi-evergreen. The really cold Spring made mockery of that “semi”, it lost all its leaves and has been looking straggly and sorry for itself ever since. I remain to be convinced. It has been warned.
The phormium fits in much better now, and if I move one of the cephelaria gigantea the pale yellow flowers should echo the creamy yellow stripe in the leaves quite nicely. I’m also hoping to get some divisions of the aquilegia ‘Lemon Queen’ that I bought at Malvern a few years ago, which will likewise work well near it – assuming I cram them in…
While I was messing about in there, I also removed the variegated leaves from the holly, which I am trying to encourage to revert fully to glossy dark green.
I also had to trim what I had previously assumed was a completely dead stump, but which is attempting to resurrect itself into another yellow variegated holly.
The wall border is far less established, not least because it needs widening before I can plant it up in anything approaching the “final” (hah! what an idea…) design. The shrubs in it are still teeny, though the Tamarisk (‘Pink Cascade’) has started to flower, and I love the red stems on it.
One of the things that is taking a little getting used to in this garden is all the self seeding. It wasn’t ever anything I had to contend with in my previous garden, it was so densely planted, and the soil was so heavy, that only the euphorbia amygdaloides and the hellebores ever managed it. Here, everything self seeds, from the weeds to the stipa. And the Lychnis.
I inherited the white lychnis, which has self seeded prolifically this year, making a rather attractive ground cover. It does need rather a lot of editing though, you can have too much of a good thing, and anyway I have a load of seedlings of the magenta pink form to add in to the mix next year, to fill gaps that will eventually be filled by the shrubs. I am gradually thinning out and moving the seedlings to create blocks of colour for next year, and doing likewise with the forget-me-not seedlings.
The Sambucus nigra ‘Black Beauty’ is rather disappointing. Can you even see it?! I am hoping that, with a hefty mulch, it will put on a bit of a growth spurt next year, it is still pretty much the same size as it was when I planted it back in the Spring.
I am a fan of re-using the plants I have inherited where I can, and earlier this year I rescued a white flowering hebe to make way for the perovskia. I don’t like it enough to keep it though, the leaves are not sufficiently interesting, at least in this context, to make up for the horrid way the white flowers die.
Fortunately mil and fil reunited me with a hebe I grew from a cutting in my old garden, which has lovely silvery foliage and makes a very neat dome shape.
A definite improvement.
I really like hebes, they provide evergreen foliage and pollinators love the flowers, but I am still exploring how to combine them well with the perennials I want to fill the wall border with.
So much still to do. When the bulb order arrives I have yet more seedling – and weed – clearing to do in this border so that I can plant the tulips really deeply, in the hope that they will persist, and then replant various seedlings over the top so that I am not staring at bare soil until April/May. I have a dahlia to plant – and mulch heavily – and a very pretty hebe to find a good home for.
Dahlia ‘Fascination’ is very pink, which is worrying, but it does tie in beautifully with the – also pink – flowers of the tamrisk, and has lovely purply foliage. The hebe works well with the silvery euphorbia but I don’t like it against the mid green of the forget-me-not foliage. Not sure what I am going to do with that. It was a gift, and I love it, it has beautiful black stems, but it needs the right setting.
I also have plants to rescue and rehome in the overgrown rockery at the side of the garage.
As well as lots of lovely pieces of stone – and a lot of bindweed and leaf litter – this border is home to loads of gorgeous purple leaved ajuga, some pulmonaria and a Potentilla fruticosa. The ajuga will help me run purple foliage through the fence border, bridging the gap between the purple cow parsley at the house end and the sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ at the pond end. The pulmonaria will go beautifully round the lacecap hydrangea. I’m not sure where to put the potentilla. It has lovely pale creamy-yellow flowers, for months on end, so for now I think I will put it in the circle bed, where it will get plenty of sun.
So many plants to move, so little time… Not to mention a hedge to prune, fruit trees to choose, buy and plant, yet more weeding, grass to cut… Wonder if my wrist is rested yet…
How is your Autumn going? Are you disenchanted? Run off your feet? Enjoying a good harvest of fruit? Wishing you hadn’t ordered so many bulbs? We’re lucky, it is very windy but still warm here, but I know it won’t last, and I will soon be gardening in a heavy fleece and blowing on my fingers again. But while it lasts, I will enjoy every moment of plant-moving, weeding and planning, because soon I will only have the planning left. That and the fencing. Oh joy.