Sunday 9 October 2011

09.10. Revamp of my garden

I have had a nice, long day outside in my garden today, doing what I enjoy most; pottering about in my garden planting and taking photographs. I have quite a few photos for you tonight, both of plants in flower right now, and the progress of my big revamp of the garden. Did you read my post from earlier this week, where I wrote about last week’s amazing weather? It culminated with a temperature record last Saturday, and although the record was only 29.9 degrees, in my garden I recorded 31 degrees – a week ago. Yesterday it was 14 degrees in my garden. FOURTEEN!! But today the sun was shining and we were back again in someone’s ‘good book’ and got 22 degrees in the afternoon. That’s quite a difference in one day, from 14 to 22, but I am not complaining when the difference goes the right way :-)

So let me show you what I have done the last week since my post last Tuesday. The new bed on the left side is finished, with log-rolls, plants and bark laid down. Last time I wrote here, this area looked more like a building site with the gravel pushed aside and the soil watered, ready to start digging. After all these years the soil is very compact and almost impossible to get through, so I have to dig a bit, then water it, leave it to soak and then dig a bit more and keep repeating it until the trench for the log-rolls is deep enough. A slow process, but the only way I can manage to do this kind of work.

Here is the bed close-up, with the plants I have chosen to put in. Most of these are evergreens, so this bed will look like this all year round, which is important to me as it is close to the seating area. The rhododendron at the front looks gorgeous when it flowers, but that’s just for about 4 weeks every year, the rest of the year it is a nice, green bush like this. It is a dwarf rhododendron, so it won’t grow much taller than perhaps a foot more than what it is at the moment, perhaps not even that much. Behind it are two Skimmias, two different ones, and in the confusion of cold and hot weather every other week, both have started to flower, which they really shouldn’t have done until January. They are not the only confused plants in my garden…

Here is the bed seen from the other side, the open areas with bark are left like this because I have planted bulbs there; different types of daffodils and a large area of tulips in the middle of the picture, right at the front of the bed. The tulips will look wonderful next spring, but they are unfortunately not the types that come again, so after flowering they are best lifted and just thrown away. They do come up the next year if you leave them, but they rarely flower much in subsequent years so it’s hardly worth keeping them. I will need to think of something else to put in at the front next summer when the tulips are gone, perhaps some shrubs that will last for a bit longer than tulips. The daffodils will come again year after year, often making a bigger and better display after some years in the ground.
And here is the new part of the garden, seen from the other end. This is as far as I have got by now, about half the garden done. Both beds are stuffed full of plants and bulbs and there are only a few spaces here and there were I could possibly cram in another small, slim plant, if I could find any plant sure to stay slim enough that didn’t get too invasive after a while!

Here is the next stage already planned; I laid out the garden hose to see where the rest of the path should go, that’s a good way to see what will be suitable and also an easy way to measure how much more log-roll to order. And that’s next on the agenda; order more log-roll. I can’t get anything else done with the rest of the beds until I have the log-rolls in place. But before I can put them down they need to be painted, on both sides, twice. More work, sitting on my stool....oh, and it can't be raining, for 3 days in a row :-)
I have a lot of ‘guests’ in my garden at this time of year, some of them less welcome than others I must admit, but the spiders are part of autumn it seems, and they tend to turn up every September and stay most of the winter, at least until we have had any snow, if we get any – we don’t have snow every winter, thank goodness for that! I can’t say I like the spiders, but I tolerate them better in my garden than I do in my house! And they build spectacular webs in no time at all.  

Here is another spider, I think I counted 8 today, including the one I walked right into, getting my face covered in a huge spider-web! Ugh! But they are not always that easy to see, and they actually make a web across the path so quickly, sometimes whilst I am inside having lunch, so when I go out again, walking through the garden, thinking the coast is clear, one of the spiders might have managed to fence off the path in just half an hour or so!

OK, back to more familiar things; plants. This is a sedum in flower, it is called Sedum erythrosticum 'Frosty Morn' and it is one of the oldest plants I have. Every spring I nip off the tops to make bushier plants, and the tops grow into a couple of new plants that I can give away or replace with damaged or too old original plants. I have another sedum too, but it is not flowering yet, so picture of that one will have to wait a few weeks :-)

Here is the 'Frosty Morn' close-up, some of the plants bear pink-ish flowers, other almost white ones, and I am not sure why they vary as they all came from the same plant originally – but this is the beauty of propagating yourself; you never quite know what you will end up with :-)

Here is a close-up of a 'Frosty Morn' from a different plant, but from the same mother plant, much lighter shade of pink. Sedums are great plants, very undemanding and forgiving – they can go forever without a drop of water, but if they get knocked over and get a bruise or a kink, then that’s it, the branch or the whole plant, if that’s what got knocked, dies. But what’s underground is still alive, so next spring it will come back again, just as lovely. My cat had a fight with another cat in my garden about a week ago, and it went particularly bad for some of my sedums and dahlias; they got really knocked over so I just had to cut off everything that had been trampled on. The dahlia is also a quite fragile plant, fortunately it doesn’t harm the actual plant, and it will come back just as great next year. Oh, and by the way, my cat is fine, just a few cuts and scrapes, nothing major, it was probably worse for the other cat; I picked up large chunks of white cat hair all over the garden the next day, so it must have been a bit of a fight!

One more plant? A begonia in flower :-) I have waited patiently for these ones to flower, I got three of them and one has still not started to flower, the other one barely started but this one is in full flower as you can see. Better speed it up before we get any snow, because any hint of frost and all three begonias will die! Although if I wrap the pots in bubble wrap, the tubers might survive the winter and come again next year. It all depends what kind of winter we will get, and that’s anybody’s guess; I have stopped listening to the long term weather forecast; they never get it right anyway!

And here is the same begonia in a close-up, this particular begonia has single and double flowers on the same plant, a result of someone tinkering with their genes at some point I guess! It looks great though, although many people regard begonias as ‘granny plants’, but I think they have a place in the garden and as I always keep them in pots they are good plants to use to fill in open spaces as they appear; I just move the pots around as and where they are needed.

That’s 12 pictures for you, I think that must be a record so far! More pictures about the revamp of my garden when I have done a bit more work, just keep checking in here, until next time, take care :-)

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