Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Friday, September 02, 2016

All is not well in the garden

The garden has been a bit disappointing this summer, and not just because one of our wood pigeons has died.

I spent a LOT on plants this year and virtually remodelled my border, as well as planting a lot of pots which I don't normally do for summer. The early summer garden was fine:

But the garden today, in late summer, has run out of steam:

There's a huge empty space which would normally be taken by towers of hollyhocks. Unfortunately they were very seriously affected by rust and showed no signs of flowering, so I had to remove them.

Earlier in the summer, I usually get a great display of foxgloves too. But I didn't like the different type that I planted, foxglove x mertonensis; they flowered later, were weird colours and didn't last very long.

I was inspired by Joe Swift's containers of purple plants, and Sarah Raven's white plants in pots. But some of the white plants - the phlox and cosmos - didn't thrive and were dominated by lobelia. The purple and mauve plants, particularly the verbena, looked great but in my trademark green pots somehow didn't have any oomph.  Next year I'll add some bright pink flowers.

I planted a rose in the border for the first time, Olivia Rose Austin, and sadly because she was planted on a slant, she kind of collapsed and didn't grow upright. I will have to replant her when dormant.

Meanwhile Shed Corner was a complete disaster.

I've learnt that if I put containers of tall and very vivid plants by the shed, beyond the decking, it leads the eye down the garden and makes it look bigger.  The previous owners built a garage in the garden which made it a lot smaller;  Shed Corner is a reminder of its glory days.  I planted up osteospurmums, which I've never grown before, along with a salvia and a fuchsia.

The osteos all died;  it wasn't sunny enough. I tried moving the pots but it was a bit too late.  The fuchsia was great but turned out to be a trailing type, which was unsuitable for the pot it's in.

I've rescued Shed Corner a little by buying a couple of celosia which are short lived but very impactful.
Finally, the Japanese anemones were very poor this year - the flowers were tiny! - and my beloved salvia Hotlips, which is actually 2 plants that grow huge like a shrub, started taking over the grass.  It leans forward to try to escape the hedge and and to catch the sun, and encroaches over our tiny "lawn" of artificial grass. The border it's in is particularly problematic, being mostly shaded and very dry.

It wasn't all bad. Some plants were wonderful. The roses in the front garden have never been so good. I've been watering them more than normal and it's paid off: they have hardly any black spot or other ailments. The honeysuckle too was very good.  I was a bit uncertain about pruning it last year but this time I pruned it after flowering, and I'm hoping for the best.

I've already started preparing for next year.  I've got some healthy young foxglove purpurea plants and  a new cordyline to replace the one that died last winter  (it gives some architectural shape to the border). I'm awaiting my bulb order and I've got three trays of forget-me-nots and some wallflowers ready to plant out with them. I'll persevere with the hollyhocks because I do love them. I'm going to move a few things around;  the salvias got very unruly and fuchsia Hawkshead, a white hardy variety, is not enough of a show stopper to retain its current position.

I'm always pleased with my spring garden but next year I'll be aiming for better results in high summer too.

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