Tag Archives: astilbes

The Garden

Last summer, I decided to change our front garden. PIL was in full agreement. One side of the driveway had already been done and was established and looking good, even if I do say so myself! It had that packed, cottage garden look that both PIL and I like.20160709_130151

The other side was a tatty bit of lawn that really was a bit of pain with having to drag the mower around from the back garden and mow a bit of lawn covered in bald patches.

Part of the front garden before we went on holiday to Florida at the beginning of July

Part of the front garden before we went on holiday to Florida at the beginning of July 2015

So last year I started on it. Now considering that it was a relatively small area, it’s taken an age to get it sorted but that really came down to time and the fact that a lot needed doing to it. I began by removing the remaining grass.

Front garden two weeks after our return from holiday

Front garden two weeks after our return from holiday

Rather than using chemicals, I just took off the top layer. It would mean that grass would sprout up in a few places again but it would be easy enough to pull out and it would eventually disappear completely.

The front garden just before I went to Wales at the end of August.

The front garden just before I went to Wales at the end of August.

Then I turned the soil over and removed all the rubble that the builders had buried. I then dug in some pea gravel to improve the drainage. It’s London clay around here so it’s like concrete when dry and an absolute bog when wet. After levelling out again, I covered it in half of ton of well rotted horse muck that I got from my sister. I could of done with another ton but I made do with what I had.20150918_134248

Horse muck dug in and ready to plant. It's now mid September!

Horse muck dug in and ready to plant. It’s now mid September 2015!

Then I began the process of planting up. I put in bulbs, I put a couple of hebes in but the main planting was of hardy perennials. I like perennials. You put them in the ground and they grow and they spread so every 3 or 4 years you divide them up and hey presto, free plants! Brilliant.

Planting up begins. It's now October.

Planting up begins. It’s now October 2015

20151007_114408I had an idea in my head of what I was trying to achieve. I was after a cottage garden effect again and that meant lots of plants but I had to be careful as plants spread if they’re happy and I had to leave space for that to happen. For instance,¬†Echinacea¬†or Cone flowers start off with a couple of flowering stems but quickly establish into a clump nearly 2 feet across. I also wanted to attract wild life into the garden. Attract insects and birds follow. Plant open flowers like cone flowers, geraniums and Rudbeckia and bees, butterflies and hover flies arrive in masses.20160803_120828

Now I read somewhere that bees “see” ultra violet as well as other colours and they are drawn towards purples and mauves so a lot of the plants in my garden are purple or mauve along with plenty of red splashed around with blobs of blue and yellow dotted here and there with some white flowers in the mix too. It sounds awful and I must admit I thought it would look terrible. I’ll let you decide.20160803_120839

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There are mistakes that I am in the process of rectifying. When the Lupins and Astibles planted in the centre died back at the end of July, there was no height in that particular section of the garden. I have plants out there that I can divide and replant that flower later in the year and provide some height. Fingers crossed that it works. I need to move the asters which are in flower now but are being crowded out. The sedum is also in flower and both it and asters are an excellent source of late season nectar for bugs. The sedum needs dividing though. Never mind, I’ll get another plant or two out of this!20160802_111236

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The best time to divide plants or move them is either now when the soil is still warm and roots can start to establish or in the spring once the ground has warmed up a bit. Of course, you can plant stuff all during the summer too.20160802_111230

 

20160812_091813Here’s a little snippet of information that I read recently that is of particular interest if you have any apple trees. We don’t, although some years ago we had about an acre of old orchard. We never actually did anything with it and that’s something I regret. One day, I’ll grow an apple tree or two. My sister has a couple so this will be of interest. Listen up Boo. Apples often suffer from “scab”, it doesn’t make the fruit inedible but it doesn’t look very nice. (what scab does?). Planting bulbs under the tree helps to stop scab and if those bulbs happen to be wild garlic, it can completely stop the appearance of scab on apples. Only one problem. Wild garlic spreads like Billy Oh so be careful. Mind you, wild garlic is pretty cool anyway. Eating the leaves raw or cooked is apparently very good for you, tastes good, smells good if you walk on it AND it keeps vampires at bay to boot! A miracle plant if ever there was one. The woods around here are full of it and I love walking through it all in the springtime. Next Spring, I intend cutting some leaves and bringing it home for use in the kitchen. (Mainly to disguise the smell of burning).

One of the nice things about flower gardens and cottage gardens in particular, is the way that a seed will settle somewhere, think to itself, “I like it here” and up pops a plant in the most unexpected and usually brilliant place.20160622_091658

Once I have the front sorted, it will be time to go and sort out the somewhat neglected back garden. Having said that, I quite like the slightly dishevelled look of our lawn. It’s full of daisies and clover and that, in turn, brings lots of bees and bugs into the garden. There is a hedgehog house out there now and a bird box to put up. I’m looking forward to it. Not so sure my back is though!

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On that note, it is time to go. My son is due at the station soon and I need to go pick him up. PIL is busy watching The Great British Bake-Off. She’s discovering new ways to burn stuff I think.

I hope you have a truly fantastic evening. Until the next time peeps…..

More Dick soon.

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The Garden

The front garden, which has been my project for the last 12 months is coming along nicely. It needs more plants in it and I got another dozen to plant up on Sunday. Typically, since then the weather has been foul and I’ve not had a chance to actually put them in the soil. I’ve got Astilbes, Lupins, Freesias (my mums favourite if I remember correctly), Anemones and a couple more Geums. I also got several ferns for Eeyores place down one side of the house that is particularly gloomy. I think that once they’re in it will begin to look more cottage gardeny although I suspect more plants will be required to get the desired effect but I’m pleased with it so far.¬†20160531_113633

The tulips out there did very well on long, straight stems but didn’t last as long as I had hoped mainly due, I think, to the wet weather. The alliums are looking particularly good at the moment as do some other plants I put in last year but have no idea what they are now.

I have been disappointed with the foxgloves though. After writing about how easy they are to grow and how they self seed everywhere, this year, despite having loads growing previously and possibly a billion seeds falling to the soil, only half a dozen have started to grow. What a bummer!20150612_100703

I like foxgloves for their height, their attraction to bees, their beautiful flowers and how easy they are to grow (usually). I can’t help thinking that the extremely wet winter we had has caused the seeds to rot away or, knowing my luck, the seeds floated off and one of my neighbours has a beautiful display.20150612_100842

Having said that, apparently it’s one of the joys of gardening insofar as you never quite know what each year will bring. I’m inclined to go along with that although the sense of disappointment when something doesn’t quite work out how you planned is a pain in the neck or, in my case, a pain in the lower back. Still, very soon now the front garden will be looking splendid and it will be time to contemplate the back garden which is looking more than a tad neglected. We (by ‘We”, I mean PIL) have plans for the back garden. Just about any plants we put in the beds last less than a season due to being flattened by youngsters playing, in no particular order, cricket, football, basketball, tennis, trample dads plants and take off the flowers with a frisbee (the last two being particular favourites with our kids). Once the front is finished, all the plants in the back garden will be transferred to the front to fill in any spaces there and the ensuing space planted with shrubs.2004_OND-BELL-HEBEVI4

Shrubs tend to be more resilient to the kind of abuse my kids hand out plus they don’t seem to be so sensitive to being pissed on by the dog (and by me from time to time when I can’t be arsed to come in). The additional bonus of having shrubs there is that they quickly grow large enough to devour all kinds of balls, frisbees and water pistols. Either that or shrubs have some kind of portal to another dimension where stuff like that disappears for all time. A bit like washing machines and socks.

Now that I have made my sister Boo

Boo. My sister. She often looks like this

Boo. My sister. She often looks like this

happy by writing about gardens and my toiletry habits I am going to go and dig some holes to put our new plants in cos it’s stopped raining. I just hope there isn’t any cat crap out there.

Have an outstanding day. They are the best ones to have.

More Dick soon.auto