Cornwall Hardy Plant Society had Fergus Garrett as their speaker on Wednesday and three days later my head is still buzzing. He talked fast and he packed in so much content, all about what he calls layering, the business of building communities of plants growing together such that a piece of ground has something interesting happening in it at all times of the year. It’s something I’ve been trying to achieve for years but it became all too clear I’ve not reached first base yet. It didn’t leave me downhearted though, rather the opposite, fired up to do better.
Dixter would have no problem coming up with six things on a Saturday, they could do six every day of the week, all year round, and have plenty to spare. I went round on Friday afternoon and took pictures of about ten things but the number is slowly dropping towards six and then below. I offer up this lot:
Nerines. Barely happening, I move them all last year and there should be a broad swathe along the side of this path. Instead, almost nothing. They evidently don’t like being moved. I’m hoping for better things next year.
On the other hand Amaryllis belladonna are having a pretty good year. I don’t remember having this sort out the front but here they are. I’ve another clump in the back garden that need moving, I suppose they’ll go into a sulk too.
I took the Amaryllis picture and looked up a bit, thought that for October the front garden, which is pretty small, was punching above its weight. Fergus came back again and again to the notion of making your eyes do some work, by which he meant you need contrast, in colour, shape, texture or whatever. Look for the homogenous areas of your planting and change something. I love the way the Echiums are echoed in the top-knots of the Eucomis behind them. If they survive the winter they’ll be monsters next year.
Geranium ‘Little Monster’. Plants with inappropriate names are common enough, there are fewer with outstandingly appropriate names. I planted this, moved it because it was too big where it was. Now I have it where I moved it and where it started out too, plus at least one equally thuggish seedling. The crown of the plant is quite compact but the amount of growth it makes in a season is something else.
“Joan’s Aster”. As in it came from the garden of a lady called Joan and I don’t know its name. Having massacred a million slugs and more than a few adult wine weasels on the two clumps we have of it this year it has grown much better than usual and collapsed in all directions. Perhaps I should have done a Chelsea chop, perhaps I should have staked it. One clump was in afternoon sunlight, the other in shade; they’re the same colour really.
As good as it is to grow something new and different, gardeners get regular reminders of why some plants are popular and common and have stood the test of time. Like Fuchsia ‘Mrs Popple’. Raised in 1899 it is vigorous, hardy, free flowering with large blooms for a hardy variety. I’ve been cutting all our Fuchsias to the ground in late winter for the last few years becasue of gall mite so they’re flowering pretty late, but I’m happy with that.
The sun is starting to break through the mist this morning, picking out the cobwebs festooning every plant in the garden. I shall press on with digging things up and moving them about, moving tender plants under cover, chopping things down and shredding them. The same old same old. Checking the links to other sixers at The Propagator’s, the Saturday routine.