October has raced past in a blur of unseasonal warmth. I’ve not done much gardening, what with one thing and another, but the addition of the ‘Heavenly Bamboo’ alongside the bargain yellow stemmed dogwood has created a very pleasing little tableau in the back corner of the park border.
The back border has seen a few changes, as heralded in my foliage post, and there begins to be a promising carpet of ground cover around the ‘Pinky Winky’ hydrangea.
When I bought myself Hydrangea ‘Hot Chocolate’ I thought it would sit beautifully alongside ‘Pinky Winky’, leaves and stems of each complimenting one another. The plant label said it could reach 2m (6.5′) in height and spread, but further research suggests it could grow quite a lot larger. Some umming and ahhing later, I decided to move it further away, to give both plants space to flourish, and I inserted yet another in my growing collection of persicaria, ‘Blackfield’, in its place.
I was a little nervous as to whether the deep pinky-red of the persicaria flowers would work with the ‘Pinky Winky’ flowers, but so far they complement each other rather nicely, and the peachy flowers of the Geum rivale ‘Leonard’s Variety’ blend in too, though I have completely failed to capture that on camera. I think the muted tones make colours that should otherwise clash just meld together. Time will tell. Though I was interested to see that something is evidently finding the geum rather tasty:
Next year will be the real test for how well this back border actually holds together, as perennials begin to bulk out and I get to see everything flowering. I am hoping that by repeating flower forms through different geums and persicarias, in this and the park border, I will achieve a certain level of coherence without limiting my plant palette quite as much as I am trying to in the front garden. That’s the plan, anyway! Not that all persicarias have the same flower form, ‘Red Dragon’ (one of many plants given to me by the lovely Cathy) is flowering away with small clusters of frothy white, very different from the spires of the others I have.
I am really pleased with how the foliage on ‘Red Dragon’ emphasises the red leaf stalks on the Drimys.
Not all is happy though, I fear some oil got spilt on to the end of the back border when it was being siphoned off to relieve pressure on the split in the tank. This used to be a healthy escallonia ‘Apple Blossom’. I am hoping it just curled up its toes in the dry summer, but this is the moistest area of the garden despite the sycamores nearby. I will be watching this are with close interest as we debate what to do with the space freed up by removing the oil tank. Once we get around to it.
The biggest change in the back garden is thanks to the replacement for our smelly old oil boiler and attendant tank – the Air Source Heat Pump. It is a Stiebol Eltron WPL-18, for those who are curious, and its, well, rather large…
We wound up with it placed rather closer to the door in to the conservatory than I think was ideal, but there again placement was always going to be compromise, and it will soon have a different case that will make it slightly larger but with no ugly visible vents. Next year’s challenge will be to re-shape the herb bed into an ‘L’ that curves round the pump, helping to soften it whilst still allowing space for servicing (not that this should be necessary, they are very reliable). We’re going to have to widen the path that runs down between the current herb bed and the greenhouse, as it is now the only way in to the back garden from the front, and must accommodate the carrying of furniture, compost, boats etc. But I fear that there won’t be space for a cherry now.
I am inclined to plant an evergreen something alongside as you come in to the garden, so that the pump isn’t the first thing you see as you round the corner, but to be discussed.
In an ideal world we would have sited it where the oil tank is now, but it would have cost a lot more and been far more disruptive. Planting will soften the impact greatly, and I can’t argue with the heat it is providing – not that it has been exactly cold so far! We had several very old and inefficient radiators replaced with new ones, as the water circulating from an Air Source Heat Pump is much cooler than that typical for a boiler installation, 45C instead of 65-70C, and granted, the pump doesn’t have to work very hard when the outside temperature is so unseasonably high, but the whole house is pleasantly warm, too warm, actually, for us, so we are going to be able to turn it down and therefore run it even more cheaply. You do need a lot of space for all the gubbins that goes with it though, look at the corner of our garage:
The huge cyclinder is the hot water tank at the bottom and then a buffer tank for the heating circuit on top. Then there is the cut-off, the pumps, the control panel, the pressure vessels, and lots of piping… Apparently in norther Europe, where heat pumps are in widespread use, houses typically have plant rooms to take all this stuff! On the up side, we now have a huge storage space where the old hot water cylinder used to be upstairs.
So, that’s my back garden at the end of October. I am pleased with the progress I’ve made on the borders, it begins to feel like a more established space, with much more colour and interest. It is a bit of a shame that my lovely herb bed didn’t even get a full year before it will need to be re-shaped, but hopefully even if we do get a really harsh winter once the warm Autumn finally stops we will be warm and cosy and no longer dependent on oil deliveries. Thanks again to Helen for hosting the End of Month View meme, do check out links to other people’s reviews.