Garden Journal - 21st March, 2007

Wildchicken Garden Journal - Miranda Hodgson

 

next journal entry

 

previous journal entry

 

See links to all journal entries

 

21st March, 2007 - It's spring - sort of - and the house is up for sale

Yes, I know, Iím late. The thing is that we want to move and the house is on the market and Iíve been dithering about what to do in the garden. If we want to move, how many changes do I want to make? Anyway, after a great deal of though, I decided to carry on as usual. After all, the house may not sell for some time and then Iíd be cross not to have done it.

 

"...the house is on the market..."

So, the idea from last November (has it really been that long?), to dig up more lawn at the side of the house, is still on the boil. Iím encouraged to do this by the amount of moss that has grown in that area over the winter. Raking it out and trying to get the lawn looking half way decent again has been a twice yearly chore that Iím not sure is worth the effort and I still think it would be better to just get rid of the grass and make the woodland garden.

 

In the March issue of The Garden, Ursula Buchan advocates being radical in the garden. She says that if part of a garden isnít right then we should just dig it up and put something else there. She cites a respected horticulturalist who once said that to be a good gardener you need to be Ďa mean, ruthless b*****dí. Well, thatís what Iím going to be here, while thereís till time to be that way.

 

The other thing I was thinking about was the front garden and the three beds in it. There is plenty of room for ruthlessness there. Iíve enjoyed the front garden but it has never been quite right, so it seems like a good time to make some sweeping changes. A poorly performing Philadelphus, bought from a supermarket four years ago, has gone, as has an always under-whelming white flowered Lavandula angustifolia, the label for which I lost long ago. A weedy Euphorbia was whipped out at the same time.

 

 

Front garden in September '06

Front garden in September '06

 

As I stood back to look at the empty spaces, now ready to take something new, I wondered why, for so long, Iíd been looking at these plants and thinking ĎHow long should that really be allowed to stay there?í. This garden isnít big enough for plants that donít earn their keep, so there isnít a decent excuse for leaving them there.

 

Other plants will go, too. There is a tall grass, a tiny bit of which came in the pot of another plant I bought. I planted it out and now have two large clumps. It has outstayed its welcome because, unfortunately, it canít withstand the battering it gets from the wind here. Iíve never been entirely sure of what it is, but think it could be Molinia caerulea arundinacea. It wonít be thrown out, mind you, but will go to one or more good homes.

 

What else? ProbablyStachys byzantina. It arrived by itself and I left it to grow, since when it has seeded all over the garden. Granted it is drought tolerant and can make a good ground cover but, unless it can be found a spot where it really fits, it will have to come out.

 

So, how to rearrange it all? Thatís where the Colour Spectrum Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew comes in. There, they have made nine beds, roughly in the shape of radiating petals. Each petal is planted in a narrow range of colours Ė for example, there is a bed of blues, of purples, of purple and red, of orange and yellow etc Ė and each bed/petal is planted up with 30 or so plants in its colour range.

 

Kew has masses of space, huge greenhouses, thousands of plants, staff and volunteers. We have three smallish beds, the perennial plants that are here already, plus a few packets of seeds - and me. What we do here certainly wonít be anything grand, but there is still plenty of scope to create something colourful and interesting.

 

Initial plan for the red/orange/yellow/green bed

Initial plan for the red/orange/yellow/green bed

 

After listing and categorising all the suitable perennials for height/colour/flowering time, I thought we could try one bed in shades of red/orange/yellow/green, one in yellow/orange/green and one in blue/purple/pink. None of the Kew beds includes white but I was thinking of adding it to the blues bed as white can Ďliftí the other colours and help hold them together.

 

Quite a lot of plants have already been dug up and divided and many seeds have been put into trays. As soon as Iím sure on the planting plans, the digging and planting will start. This may need a slight delay because of the small feathered being mentioned below.

 

In other areas Ė there is a robin nesting again, behind the Ceanothus, on the front wall. The eggs are due to hatch within a week so this weekís sudden snow and freezing temperatures has had us up at dawn to put out fresh water and extra food. Another scare came last Sunday, when we woke to find that this wretched Ceanothus had blown over! Karl went out to put it up again straight away and that bold little bird only left the nest briefly, when Karl couldnít avoid moving too close for her comfort. She was back on the eggs within minutes of him coming back indoors.

 

Last year's robin

Last year's robin

 

Thatís it really Ė fretting over the birds, garden changes and the Ďwaiting to sell the house vs ĎShould I actually start digging stuff up if weíre doing that?í' question. By the way, if anyone wants a detached, cosy, two-bedroom dormer bungalow, with surrounding gardens, opposite mature (mainly broad-leaf) woodland, with nice neighbours, then let me know.

© Copyright Miranda Hodgson 2007

 

back to top

 

next journal entry

 

previous journal entry

 

See links to all journal entries

 

 

 

 

Garden Article List

 

Garden Plant Information - Alphabetical list

 

Wildlife gardening for children

 

Professional Gardening Service