Tag Archives: hostas

Babies!

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This time last year, prompted by a Black Friday deal from Chilterns Seeds, I went a bit mad with my seed purchasing:IMG_0089

And whilst I did plant the vast majority, some never got beyond the seed tray where they languished, sad and spindly, until I threw them out recently.  What a waste.

Reflecting on my reducing spare time (and likely move to full time working, with possibly even a fourth day in London every week, gulp) I decided that I really should curb my seed habit and curtail the number I grow in 2017.

And yet….

First of all I read Dan’s wonderful ‘Little Miracle’ account of growing Canarina canariensis from seed in the Frustrated Gardener, then I had a look at the Chiltern ‘preview catalogue’ for 2017 and finally, faced with the soggy mass of Hosta vegetation (above), what couldn’t I ignore?  Oh look:img_1909

My ‘real’ babies are adult now, but just think how many plant ones I can have!

Here we go again…..

Plotting and planning

 

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Prompted by Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden (and Helen, at the Patient Gardener), I too have spent a happy hour with the felt tips, creating a plan of my plot.

My starting point was a Google Earth photo which I traced and updated with the changes we’ve made since moving in just over five years ago.  What’s surprised me is just how busy the plot is with structures – some inherited, like the office and decking, but others new like the garage, the chicken shed (currently empty of chickens) the greenhouse, and the pergola with swing.  I’m surprised I’ve got any space for plants!

Unlike Cathy and Helen, I haven’t marked many plants at all, but instead thought I’d go round the garden from top right, sharing some favourite photos of each of the beds from the past year.

So, to start with, the veg bedsIMG_3852

the swing beds,

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Grass bed (spring, summer and autumn),2013 05 009IMG_2727

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the left hand lavender bed,IMG_2738

the oak bed (spring and summer).  IMG_1302

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the melianthus major,IMG_2645

wisteria,IMG_3643

herb bed,IMG_2060 (2)

hosta bed,IMG_4622

raised cutting beds,IMG_4617

shady bed,IMG_4619

the greenhouseGreenhouse (2)

right hand med bed,IMG_3667

and the troughs.IMG_1406 (2)

So, if you’re still with me, what about the two areas shaded with red dots, described in the key as ‘Decisions’?  Well these are areas where I’m considering removing lawn to create new beds. The first, marked with hose below, looking towards the chicken shed, I was envisaging as a rose and peony bed.  I can’t see this bed from the house (due to the changes in height which I haven’t really conveyed on the plan), but it would be very obvious when looking west from the swing.  And swinging would seem more like a rose time activity than spring or autumn.

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The second potential bed, would be on the northern edge side of the smaller lawn.  As you can see from the oak bed photos above, the bed is good in the spring, but in the summer is less interesting, once the canopy of the over-the-road-oak is established.

The advantage of the envisaged new bed is that the oak’s shadow wouldn’t reach it and so I would have a new, sunny, south facing patch to play with.  If we eat outside, we sit under the verandah (see wisteria photo), and the new bed would be in full view of the table and allow for much more interesting summer planting than I currently achieve in the shady beds.IMG_3646

The planting I imagine here is coppery toned (as a break from all the pink in the rest of the garden), with plants like Bupleurum ‘Bronze Beauty,’ Calendula ‘Sunset buff’, Scabiosa atropurpurea `Fata Morgana’, ‘Hordeum jubatum’ and maybe a rose or two – ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ or ‘Summer Song’.

So any thoughts?  I don’t think funds will extend to both as the lawns are on very heavy clay and we’ll have to dig well down and replace with better quality soil to have any hope of success.

My preference is for the coppery bed.  The lawn here is poor anyway (in many ways I’d like the whole lawn up, but that’s another story) and it would be lovely when eating outside to have some blooms to admire, and maybe some scent too, but what do you think?

End of month view – April 2014

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This is my first post joining in with Helen’s ‘End of month view’ meme at the Patient Gardener and it’s also the ‘big reveal’ of areas of the garden as yet kept under wraps.

Firstly, (and nothing to do with the end of month view as she’s there all year) meet the ‘Lady Diver’, another Denis Fairweather sculpture bought for our 25th Wedding Anniversary to keep the ‘Gentleman Bather’ company (see Don’t f-stop me now).  Unfortunately when we got them side by side we realised they were a slightly different scale and didn’t work together, so the lady has been moved to preside over the veg patch.  In retrospect this is probably the secret of a happy relationship – a certain amount of distance!

In this shot you can see the two ‘swing beds’ and at the rear of the picture, the ‘grass bed’.  The highlights of the swing beds this month have been the Euphorbia characias Wulfenii, forget me nots and the Avignon tulips – some in pots and some in the ground.  However, whilst I love these tulips in isolation (they look great in a pot my the front steps), I have found the fact that they clash with both the crab apple blossom (now over) and the pot of pink marguerites (almost in the centre of this picture) rather disconcerting, and I think next year they’ll be replaced by something equally bright but better toning.

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Working east from the swing beds is the strawberry bed which sits below the Lady Diver.  The soil in the bed has definitely sunk considerably since the beds were built four years ago, and this year I meant to dig out the strawberries (which have been in since that time, and are now rather congested) give them a sort out, top up the soil and replant, but somehow with a poorly ankle it just didn’t get done, and now I look and they’re already flowering.  Too late for this year I feel.

Above the strawberries is the main veg bed full of nothing but promise.

IMG_2081 I have hundreds of seedlings growing in the greenhouse destined for here, but this year I’m considering scaling back the veg and scaling up the flowers for cutting.  At the moment the seedlings would easily fill a plot ten times this size, so some difficult decisions will need to be made (or I need to find more space somewhere…)

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Nearer the house than strawberry bed (you can see the strawberry bed at the back of this picture) are the two troughs.  The daffodils are now very nearly over, but the lovely stocks are continuing. Sitting on the swing yesterday I had a sudden burst of inspiration as to what I can do about the dying daffodil foliage – turn the troughs around by 180 degrees.  This should hide the foliage by putting it behind the stocks, put also, it makes sense as at the moment, the emerging Allium Purple Sensations are actually coming up in front of the stocks.  Turning the troughs around would put them behind the stocks.  And come next spring, I can reverse the whole process.  Sounds foolproof, all apart from finding someone strong enough to lift them!

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Sitting on the decking above the troughs is a cold frame made out of some unused windows.  It never got closed this winter as it’s full of hardy things, generally grown from seed by me, including lots of both Verbascum chiaxii Album and Agapanthus.  I desperately need to get planting so that I can 1. free up the space for hardening off and 2. free up the pots for potting on.

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At the westerly end of the decking the OH created a small new bed which has become home for my lovely daylilies bought from Nick at White Cottage Daylilies, just across the harbour in Bembridge.  Obviously the daylilies aren’t doing much at the moment but the Cerinthe (which self seeded and overwintered) is stunning, and I love the little silvery Sedum.

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This is looking due south from the daylily bed towards the chicken shed.  Sadly the chickens got killed by a fox last year and we haven’t yet replaced them.  However the shed is providing a useful support for the Montana flowers.

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The garden is really east and west of the house (at either side, rather than front and back) and the drive is in the middle.  The drive bed, above, which previously was looking very ‘springy’ with lots of daffodils, pulmonaria and a few bluebells, is now looking a little tired apart from the Erysimum.  However there are Alliums to come and then i’ll pop in something I’ve grown from seed.

At the west side of the drive (alongside the porch) is the east facing herb bed.  Many of the herbs survived over the winter – most noticeably the parsley, which goes from strength to strength.

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And round the corner from the herbs, facing north, is the hosta bed.

IMG_2061I’m afraid the ‘Slug Gone’ hasn’t been a complete success as some of the hostas have got a little chewed, but they’re filling out nicely and I’m trying to resist the temptation to reach for the little blue granules…

Further back behind the house is the shady bed:

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The Old Pheasant’s Eye daffs are the highlight here, although there are ferns and hostas emerging (including Blue Mouse Ears, hurrah!)

And at the end of the drive, facing the road, is the greenhouse, but that needs a post all of its own.

To the west of the drive and in front of the house, there is a small lawn, a table, (where the wisteria is) and the so called ‘oak bed’ because the bed spends almost all of its time shaded by the over-the-road oak .  The beds are fine in spring as they get more light, but in the summer once the oak is in leaf I do find them challenging.  My biggest success has been planting a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (just coming into leaf in the left hand picture), but otherwise the bed is dominated by a large viburnum I’d like to have out, and, at this time of year, a lot of green perennial foliage.

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At the border with our neighbours is my lovely Melianthus major, and also our Wisteria, extending its influence next door.

And lastly, some tender plants I’ve recently moved out from the greenhouse, are also at this end of the garden –  firstly a shallow bowl which sits on top of a large olive oil jar and then a series of succulents in pots in a lovely old wire ‘carrier’ bought from the gorgeous Petersham Nurseries, close to where we used to live.

Many thanks to Helen for hosting this meme, check out her ‘End of the month view’ using the link at the top.

Where are you blue (kangaroo*) mouse ears?

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It started with a gift from lovely neighbour Martin a couple of weeks ago – a large pot containing a hosta, already showing its ‘horns’.  It made me wonder where my hostas were, and the answer was, they weren’t.

Fast forward three weeks and they’re all coming along well apart from one – ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.

I have two beds including hostas, the first, the aptly named ‘hosta bed’ was created last year in a small north facing strip of a bed behind the new porch.  I was due to open the garden in June, together with others in the village, under the ‘Secret Garden of St Helens’ banner, and thought this bed was looking particularly tragic with nothing but a rather untidy Hydrangea Petiolaris to offer.  So when I was at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, I sought out the Bowdens stand, had a lovely chat and picked up a catalogue.

I returned from Chelsea and, of course, a few weeks went by before I finally got round to phoning Bowdens.  The phone call started well with the charming man at the other end of the phone saying ‘hang on a sec, just let me wash my hands’ – talk about hands on knowledge!  I decided to order their ‘Surprise Collection’ of ten hostas, plus one – the Blue Mouse Ears which I couldn’t resist – Just what it says on the label, blue, small and rounded like the ears of a mouse, but with a remarkably thick texture”.  He gave quite a long delivery time, but when I explained the opening date was only a week away he quickly revised his estimate and said he’d get them to me within a couple of days, (despite the Chelsea rush) which he did.  

The hostas were all fabulous – bigger than I’d anticipated, an interesting mix and in wonderful condition.  I planted up the hosta bed and still had some left over to add to the ‘shady bed’ too.

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See below some of the hostas up close (I did bury the lables with the plants, but haven’t dug them all up to identify them, sorry!)   I’ve bought a huge tub of the wool based ‘Slug Gone’ which seems to be doing fine (the only one looking a little holey was the first one up which I hadn’t noticed, but of course the slugs had).  However the OH doesn’t seem to trust in the natural method and has added a few slug pellets.  I’m not happy, partly because I don’t want to be using them, but also because it will now be difficult to see whether the Slug Gone has actually worked.  I think a little pellet picking is in order….

The second bed is the so called ‘shady bed’, which actually gets more sun than I’d originally appreciated, but late in the day.  The surprise success here is the inherited white rose (out of shot to the left of this picture), which rather undermines the theme of the bed, but is beautiful so I just go with it, and have actually used it as a prompt to make this a largely ‘white’ bed.

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Above you can see the Fatsia and hellebore leaves, and also the Poeticus daffodils just out, as well as, below, a newly emerging hosta (amongst the honesty seedlings):

IMG_1827However, what’s sadly missing so far is my extra purchase, my Blue Mouse Ears.  Let’s hope they’re still coming.  Fingers crossed.

*For those without relevant aged children “Where are you blue kangaroo?” by Emma Chichester Clarke is a lovely children’s book about a lost toy.   Thankfully it has a happy ending, let’s hope mine does too.