The Unfinished Garden – Emergency Planting

30 July

The little wallflowers are now in a desperate state. I was only able to move about half of them to larger pots from the plug trays and they have all been subject to heat, water shortage and then two days of torrential rain.

The only good news is that the rain has also loosened the rock hard soil in the bed I was planning to put them in. So at last I have been able to dig up the rather nondescript (but nonetheless welcome when they first appear) pink hardy geraniums. They’ve gone ruthlessly in the garden waste bin, I know there are enough roots left to ensure they’ll be back next year.

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Then I transplanted the long suffering wallflowers, putting all 80 of them in one bed.

My vision is for a massed Persian carpet effect, taking over from the snowdrops later next Spring. How’s that for forward planning? If they will only survive I shall feel I have snatched a small victory from a near death experience.

The ‘blue’ hydrangeas I grew from cuttings from those in my brother’s garden are in the same corner. They won’t be in bloom at the same time as the wallflowers of course, but they are looking good now, even if they are pink.

The Unfinished Garden – Rain, rain beautiful rain ..

26 July

… is one of my favourite songs by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. We had a solid day of rain on Friday and another one today. I know it’s a shame for the school holidays just starting, but for the garden it really is beautiful.

The Crocosmia are taking over from the hardy geraniums. I don’t know which version these are but I prefer their warm orange to the rather strident ‘Lucifer’ red.

As well as the traditional hydrangeas, I also have a Paniculata and an Oak Leaf which seem more exotic somehow.

Something’s eating the little wallflowers, which is a worry. I hope they will hang on until I get them planted out.

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The sedum buds are always a sign that there’s another season on its way.

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The Unfinished Garden – The Year Turns

19 July

Mid-July and there’s a growing feeling that the year is turning, the weatherman even mentioned the word ‘autumn’ the other day, which seemed a bit harsh. Perhaps it depended where you were. Our plot continues in a dust bowl, well practically. There’s very light rain that falls from the sky but doesn’t seem to reach the ground and certainly doesn’t do much for the plants other than refresh them a little. And the other evening a short thunderstorm where it rained so hard for a few minutes that it just ran off the borders. But there it is, summer, and preferably dry than wet.

I haven’t been very busy in the garden as the soil can’t be worked. So it’s a matter of deadheading, tidying up the hardy geraniums Psilostemon now they have done their thing, and nudging the little wallflowers along. The fox gloves are proving hard to start and very tiny, but a few were large enough to pot on. Overall it’s just rather nice to sit back and enjoy what nature has to offer.

I’m not sure what these begonias are up to. The leaves are huge, though attractive, and the yellow flowers I was expecting are turning out red.

There’s a huge Scots pine (or Douglas FIr?) that’s king of the back garden, Far too big really, but it does make a home for some good lichens.


The Unfinished Garden – Sweetness

9 July

The sweet peas are beginning to get going, at last, and there are some to pick every day. The scent is rather elusive unfortunately, but I didn’t exactly chose the seeds with care. Still, there is definitely a hint of sweetness.

They aren’t quite as glorious as the prize winning bunches at the village fete, mind you. I will have another go for next year and plant the seeds this autumn.


Not mine, I hasten to add

The Clematis ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’ has worked her way up to the top of the fence.

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9 July

19 March

19 March


And she’s ready to show off her wares on both sides, through the trellis.

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The Unfinished Garden – Catching Up

6 July

Well, far too much time in meetings recently, and then time writing up the meetings, which meant that any time left was better spent in the garden than writing about it.

Summer has arrived in a big way, bringing on all the annuals – I love it when they begin to join up.


The roses – are luscious

I especially like these ones by the front door.

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And there was a surprise when what I thought was going to be a Stachys:

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Turned out to be a Lychnis.

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In my defence, the leaves at pretty similar, and at least they look good next to each other.

The Hollyhocks are starting and the Mallows are in full bloom.


We’ve had a mini heatwave which made us all flake out a bit, and not much rain for quite a while. Not even the hefty thunderstorms some other parts of the country have enjoyed/endured. When I ran early this morning the ford in Ford Lane was completely dry ,,, but allegedly tomorrow a couple of hours’ precipitation is forecast and that, for once, will be welcome.

The Unfinished Garden – Summer solstice

21 June

This is always a melancholy day I find, with the feeling that the daylight diminishes from here on. But one has to remember that the summer, as such, is still to come and the weatherman pointed out this evening that the sunset remains at the same time (about 21:20 round here) for the coming days. It’s the sunrise that gets later than 04:47 and I don’t think that’s going to bother me for a while.

On my garden tour yesterday I found these, nestling among the hardy geraniums.

The wild bunch

The wild bunch

They are tiny, and a little sharp but hugely full of flavour and perfume once you’ve added a little sugar.

I intended to act like a proper gardener and work through today’s long evening, getting on with pricking out the Wallflowers.

21 June 2015

However I’ve wimped out as it’s actually not very warm out there, fine if you’re moving around but not very conducive to standing still.  I have 80 little pots ready, but having filled 40 of them the tray of seedlings looks hardly touched. I am aiming for a massed effect, so maybe it will have to be 120 – at least. But then where do I find ‘a corner of the garden’ to grow them on in the autumn before planting them in their final positions?

The Unfinished Garden – A London garden and a progress report

19 June

I have been fairly busy with churchwardenly duties this week, but we spent a very pleasant day yesterday in the Fulham garden of some good friends. It was a shady courtyard with flagstones and sweetly aromatic roses and luminous white foxgloves. I was envious of their handsome Hostas – ‘Halcyon’ I should think – for the most part untroubled by the molluscs. It’s tempting to try again.

But for much of the week I have only had time for a quick inspection of our own patch, pulling up a few weeds as I go. Today I re-visited the Pyracanthus and trimmed back this year’s growth, hopefully to avoid another titanic struggle next year, and also hoping that the flowers will come on the old stems, not just the previous year’s growth. It has put on a great show this year.

The little Gazanias are coming along, and they look nice with the refreshed Pulmonaria under the kitchen window.

In the tricky dry shade where this year’s gardening began  the Alchemilla Mollis is great. People say it’s rather liable to spread everywhere, but I don’t mind if it lights up that corner like this (with its hardy geranium friend).

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There will soon be pricking out to do, now that the Wallflowers have germinated.

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And there will be an impressive gathering of Roses, just at nose height, outside the front door before long.

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The Unfinished Garden – Inspiration

14 June

A bit of a cheat today – last week we had an overnight stay in West Sussex which included a visit to Arundel Castle gardens. Possibly the perfect time to go in order to see an English garden reaching its peak as the summer gets underway. Even the weather was right – warm but not too hot and lots of sun and blue sky overhead. It was gratifying to recognise a few plants from our own plot in such elevated company.


The Unfinished Garden – So long, Honey

8 June

The honeysuckle on the far pergola is another plant with which I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship. Who doesn’t love the scent drifting across the lawn on a summer’s evening? But it’s rampant and there have been remarks about the need to bend double to reach the back of the garden where shreddings are dumped etc.

So today it was time to give it a haircut, notwithstanding it will soon be in flower; there’s most of it still remaining and enough is as good as a feast, as they say. I decided to start from the back as there was a real tangle of dead wood under this year’s fresh growth. I even came over all Health and Safety and put on some protective goggles because it didn’t seem worth losing an eye for and the dry twigs were shooting in all directions.

I quite like the way it sweeps over the top into the next border so I left that, but it’s overall much lighter.  And then it was possible to tidy up the shape of the privet balls which are supposed to flank the entrance to what lies beyond.

The only lilies I have are in a big pot, and they have made a good start this season – I’m not sure where the lily beetles are which normally wreak such havoc on the leaves. Probably they’re just biding their time.

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The Unfinished Garden – A Sunny Sunday

7 June

It’s funny how, at least in the case of my garden, you wait for weeks for things to get going and the next thing you know you are busy restraining and cutting back. I’ve had to pull up more Geraniums to give the Hemerocalis I split and transplanted some room to breathe and establish themselves. And cut back the Cotinus which was beginning to bully the adjacent Rose.

I’ve also had to do some invisible weeding – grubbing up those young weeds which had stealthily grown under the Pittisporum where I’d dragged out all that ivy in the early Spring.  Just because you can’t see them, there’s no point leaving them there to make all kinds of trouble later on.

The Salix is looking just lovely –


and I finally worked out why. Up until this year there has been a Stipa-type grass planted in front of it.  Being past its best the grass was taken out when we had the gravel garden re-done. Now you can see the Salix in all its glory.

Behind it the Rosa Glauca which was dug up and moved a couple of years ago has settled in and decided to present itself somewhat in the form of a ballerina. Maybe it’s just me.


Ballerina – or Flamingo?

The Psilostemon and Heuchera combo is still looking grand too.  With some fresh Crocosmia leaves in the background, Almost like it was meant to be.


Yesterday evening there was a fundraising garden quiz at church, and I came away with a packet of Chrysanthemum ‘Tricolour Single Mixed’. A bit late for planting, but it’s only just June, and if I can get them going to give some colour later on until the frosts come, I shall call that a result. A jolly evening, additions to the sum of knowledge, free seeds and £400-odd raised for the building development fund – what’s not to like?