Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Patio

I think of the garden as being in three parts.  

At the bottom of the garden is the gravel area which is pretty much in sun all day and has a couple of seats and table for those half hours here and there in the summer when you can step out with a cuppa.  

In the middle (and the largest section) is a lawn with a five foot wide border each side; this is pretty much for looking at, although my three year old grandson gets a lot of running around joy out of it. This has very mixed levels of daylight.  It is predominately in shade as the back of house faces North, but it will get some hours of sunshine as we move into summer and the sun is higher in the sky, reducing the shadow of the house.  

Nearest the house is the patio area with seating for four.  This actually got a lot of use during last year's long hot summer as it gave some respite when it was too hot and, to my surprise, proved a very pleasant place to sit in comfortable warmth and minimum squinting.  It does get a little sun in the late afternoon.

The largest and, I hope permanent, plants in this area are some ferns and roses.

The ferns have done their usual browning off and crisping up over winter and I absolutely know I should be cutting off all the rubbish to help the new growth come through but when you have spent an arm and a leg on something it takes nerves of steel to hack away at them.  I promise myself I will do it on the next fine day when I can get into the garden.  It is currently cold and wet.

hart's tongue fern

soft shield fern

Happily its not all doom and gloom out there and this is the right hand  corner which I see all the time from my dining room patio doors.

a bought-in hanging basket

its fraternal twin

a chimney stack which  I planted with some lovely huge primulas
Beneath the hanging baskets is a teeny herb bed which served me very well all last year and has kicked back into life.  Reading left to right:  Rosemary, Sage at the back, Parsley (I have a new plant to replace that), Thyme at the front right edge, the two plants at the forward edge are very healthy chives.  I may take those out as I barely use them.  The mint is grown from new each year in a large pot.  It will replace the dying muscari and daffodils seen here.  I never put mint in the garden as it can be a nightmare to control.

On the other side, seen from my kitchen window is a small rose border and another hanging basket.   The roses were chosen from David Austin as a good 'doer' in shade.  They do seem to be vigorous and flowered for ages last year so I am very pleased with those.  White flowers and scented and will only grow to 3.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

three Susan Williams-Ellis

Above the roses is another hanging basket

a bought-in basket ,but different from the ones opposite.

The Christmas tree has survived its re-potting and is putting on new growth.  It should never grow beyond 120 cms/4 feet, so the plan is to bring it round to beside the front door and light and decorate it every year as we did for our first Christmas here last year.

Alberta Spruce - Picea glauca 'Conica'

Wooh, look at those weeds creeping in under the fence - must get to those pdq.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The Borders

On close inspection I don't think we have lost much over the winter and some of the plants I tugged out a month or so ago, because they looked dead, seem to be appearing again in fresh new growth from the roots.  I did pull up the very cheerful Tickseed (coreopsis) - bright yellow daisy - and I rather hope that doesn't rejuvenate.  My original mixed colour plantings last year were lovely and gave a great show for year one, but I would like to work my way back to my more modest colour palette of pinks and whites and blues.

Our gardeners came to do their first cut of the lawns and weeding and, as usual, managed to leave more weeds than they removed!  On their second visit I got my other half (I am a coward) to point out the areas they had missed.  I preempted their desire to pull out plants that aren't weeds by marking any new growth with sticks. They are not not very pretty in the borders but they help prevent plants disappearing.  Note, I said help.

I hate 'not-gardeners' being any where near my stuff.  My poor other half has to work alongside me, now I am not fit to do the stuff I once did, with me constantly chirping, 'don't put your foot there', 'look out for your elbows', 'that's a weed' etc etc etc.  The deal is that I go around marking where I want the planting holes, describe how big, then supervise his size tens and large hands as he works.  I then do the actual removal from pots and planting to prevent his enthusiastic plant crushing.  Sadly it would be embarrassing to do this alongside the people we 'employ' as actual gardeners.  After their second visit I prowled the borders and discovered that where they had weeded, they had also managed to snap off the newly burgeoning delphiniums right at the root.  Much wailing was heard in the land.

Hey ho,  never mind I had plants to plant.  The next two photos show some decent size perennials from Dobbies - three for eight pounds.  It doesn't look like eighteen plants here in these two trays but there are.  So, with these and the moving of a dozen plants forward in the new deeper border and putting in some sweet peas round the obelisks I had enough work for a few days.  I honestly would have cracked that lot off before lunch in my glory days.

As for the lovely trays of sweet peas.... I had a bit of a brain blank when shopping.  I knew I needed a dozen plants and there were six pots to a tray so off I trot with two trays -you can see the thinking and the maths involved there.  It would have been useful if I had registered the obvious; each pot contained at least ten plants.  After fifty years of gardening I kind of knew this.  So, where I thought I had my twelve plants, I actually had something like a hundred and twenty.  I gave away a box to a neighbour which halved the problem.  I then over-planted the remainder round the pergolas and put some in a couple of other places too (may prove to be a mistake) but I still have some left.  I am considering trying them as hanging plants rather than climbing.  I have no idea if that would work and suspect not as I have never seen it done. (Note added later - don't try this apparently it really doesn't work unless you buy the miniature ones bred for the job)

These are the other plants which have been dotted around the new, improved, wider borders.  They are all old favourites which I have had many, many times.

I thought I would add in a couple of pictures for the labels seen in the above photo.  Those six plants were bought from Crocus with a gift voucher my daughter wasn't able to use.  I really don't shop at Crocus any more as their prices are way beyond my budget these days.  I remember when they first started and their prices were fine and the quality excellent.  

The first is a picture of Bowles mauve (a perpetual wallflower) - a real 'doer' - in flower from May to first frost.  Simply glows in the border and has a nice perfume too.  It will make a plant this size in its first year in the right place.  It is perpetual but it tends to go a bit scruffy by its third year.

This one is knautia.  I had already bought some mixed pastel colour ones from Dobbies for one of the borders but I love it so much I thought it might be nice to have a single colour one in the other border.  It just flirts around mixing itself in amongst other plants without being too bossy.

This is the east-facing border after planting.  

looking up the garden towards the house

east facing top third

east-facing bottom third

east-facing centre

This is the west-facing border, still waiting for a handful of plants to go in

looking down the border towards the gravelled area

west facing top third

west-facing bottom third

west-facing centre
I came to realise when taking pictures that I have actually planted both borders in thirds.  This was quite unintentional but actually works well.  The top and bottom thirds are pretty much identical and the centre third differs slightly.  I was very focussed on having a different left and right hand border but each with echoes of the other so they looked harmonious but not the same and by default I have actually done that and something else as well.

The clematis in the centre of both borders is 'Early Sensation' and is one of my all-time favourites.  It is evergreen so it gives you something in winter and a lovely backdrop in the summer after it has finished flowering.  If its happy it really lives up to its name.  In a couple of years, with luck, it will be fabulous.

Meanwhile this is what it is doing for me right now.

I am pretty pleased with the planting so far and can't wait to see them fully flushed out in the summer.  Watch this space.

I am happy to say I can still see room for more little gems.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Free Sweet Peas

Local ad.....

Free to anyone who can use them - maybe split with someone else? One of these trays of sweet peas. Really lovely healthy sweet pea plants from Dobbies ready to go in. Six pots in the tray and each pot contains roughly ten plants. I bought too many!!!

Friday, 26 April 2019

2019 in the garden begins

Thanks to the glorious Easter weather we had I have finally managed to get some gardening mojo back.

I have added two trees to the gravel area and had the borders widened to five feet.  

The borders were both supposed to be four feet deep - it turned out our 'landscaper' had managed to cut one four feet wide and the other three feet.... yes, I know ????  So my original plan was to get the three foot one made right which led to..... "they look very puny, so why not do both".

They definitely look much better - less like a strip down a fence and more like two proper perrenial borders.

It was also the opportunity to move some plants around, do the weeding and top dress with some fresh compost.  We did a lot of price comparisons but in the end an offer at Dobbies worked out the cheapest per litre.

We moved some 'edging' plants forward as they were left in a silly position mid-border.  I removed six achillea which were swamping the bird bath.  A neighbour had a couple which I love and sadly the others found their way to the brown bin.  This is where I miss my 'home' where I had some folk who would have given them a home.  I also moved three salvia from the white rose border as they turned out to be in strong competition with the roses rather than a companion plant.  Also that border needs four such plants and one had died over the winter.

I do have a huge dilemma with the trees.  They were an absolute bargain from R & B Nurseries at £23 each plus VAT.  As they are Amelanchiers they have been grown into a single stemmed tree from something which really wants to be a multi-stemmed bush.  They have, therefore, been trained along a cane and pruned to shape.  The problem I have is - should I remove the cane and then stake normally to prevent root rock or leave them to 'settle in' for a year and the reduce the cane by a third each year for three years.  They are very tall and whippy (thin stemmed in proportion to their height) and we have an incredibly windy garden.

I forgot to take a photo when they had all their blossoms, so this is just a 'taster'.  Amalanchiers are good all rounders.  They tolerate pretty much any soil and situation and have blossom in summer, light leaf so no dense shade in summer and the leaves turn fantastic colours in autumn.  They pay back for sure.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Bye bye July

The major addition for this month was the arrival of of our two 'bespoke' sheds.  We found a maker on our doorstep which meant we could get the 6 x 3 ship-lap with pent roof with two doors that we wanted.  Basically we wanted a (slim) bike shed design but full height and we hadn't managed to find a ready made one that ticked all the boxes and any of the comprises didn't suit us.  I don't think they were a bad price as they are nice quality and came in just over £300 each.  The guys delivered all the sections ready built and they were both erected in something like twenty minutes!

I lived with them a while but decided even though I like the honey colour and the finish they were a bit too bright squatting down there in the corners.  We intended to screen with a large 6 x 6 trellis at this point.  Even so I think they need to be painted into the corner, i.e. made darker.

Cuprinol Shades - Old English Green - seemed to be the nearest to a vegetation colour and even though I thought they looked a bit army Nissan hut I am coming round to them.  We are now forgoing the large screen and will just trellis the side and grow a jasmine on each.

 So here is a compare pair of photos at lunchtime with one shed done and the other waiting.  

 We went away for a few days this month, right in the middle of our brilliant long lasting heatwave which was obviously not going to be great for the pots.  My other half rigged up the timer from our previous incarnation and a hose and the watering pods.  Each of them has five lines and we have four pods - total of twenty lines - everyone was used.  Not bad for a lady who said no more pots when we move.

Our strawberries are starting to crop nicely.  I find a couple of pots like these do us enough not to have to buy them.  In the few days between picking they come up with the next batch in time for when we fancy them again.

Even our sad little pot of battered runner beans gave us five nice ones as a down-payment.  They worked just fine with a few peas added and they certainly have a load more taste than shop bought.  That is maybe the only vegetable I really miss not growing...... or rather eating ....... plus lovely new potatoes.

In this glorious weather our days start nicely with our cup of breakfast tea and coffee and sometimes even breakfast itself taken into the garden.  Then it is a case of a pootle round the homestead, deadheading for me and a bit of pulling up any weeds he can see for my trainee gardener, aka husband.  This is the first garden (out of the many I have done) that he has been interested in and its so nice to be doing it together,

When we were away I had a great time (back in Bury and its environs) buying up the various garden centres I know and love.  Sooooo much cheaper than here in Edinburgh.  I have succumbed to solar lights and have no idea why.......?????   I always thought they were a bit naff and utterly pointless for us.  There will never be a time when we are sitting out in a dark garden to appreciate them.  Right now we make a point of coming into the kitchen and stare out of the windows a couple of times in the evening and say how nice it looks..... as I said a utterly  pointless really but its pleasing me on some level.  I am living in hopes that they manage to charge up in the winter when they can be appreciated by us by four o'clock in the afternoon!

I will have two pairs at the bottom of the garden, this pair over the herb bed and one over a new rose bed in the patio; so basically marking out the boundaries of the garden.

The spinner also lights up

...... and we have some smaller lights on the coffee table in our outside 'sitting room'.  The dragonfly was also a visit-to-Bury purchase.  

..... as were the bird feeders

Needless to say I didn't make it back without plants either.  This is my new rose bed.  Three David Austin roses (at great expense), four salvias (£20) and twelve baby lavenders  (£7.99).  I had been looking for a a salvia up here for a while, it needed to tolerate shade and not cost an arm and a leg.  So these at a fiver a piece 'down South' were a find.  The lavender may very well be a hide into nothing - they really don't like shade and damp so I don't expect them to thrive but at £7.99 for twelve it was worth a shot.  I planted them and the salvias on gravel in hopes of giving them a fair chance of getting through a Scottish winter on solid clay.  If I just manage a grey lavender hedge running down each side of the bed with only sparse flowers it may well do me as I don't want the roses swamped.  The roses will gain a foot (30 cms) or more on the salvias so they should be layered.

Here are a few photos of bits and bobs looking nice right now.

As a less happy footnote our gardener discovered a wasp nest in the front lawn when strimming - bet that was a bit of a shock.  Luckily for him it is underground and we are so glad he found it, maybe on a dull day (less active wasps) it would have been missed.  

I am not a believer in killing stuff ad hoc but no choice with this I'm afraid; gardeners and a two year old grandchild may not find it conducive.  Off to B & Q for a spray and seems to have already done the trick.  Will do a follow up to be sure.

So moral the of that story is beware underground nests.  If you have a lot of wasps around you might have one.