November 21, 2017

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 4.5.2014: Greener on this side

There’s so much happening in the garden that you need to look round it at least twice a day, and even a few days away at this time of year are painful. Missed it while away in Devon, but while there, visited an interesting garden, rather hippyish, i.e. wild with large statues of pigs. Also found two wonderful tree nurseries within a mile of each other. Couldn’t fit the tulip tree in the car but have come back with a couple of uncommon shrubs.
Hadn’t planned for the shrubs, they were simply on the bucket list, Deutzia pulchra that Roy Lancaster had raved about, and Enkianthus campanulatus that I love from seeing it in Ray Wood. But meanwhile, the garden is getting fuller by the minute; the new shrubs are more a shoehorning than a shoo-in.

As well as getting fuller, with plants filling out and growing up, there’s a big colour change in the garden, most prominently in what I think of as the spring bed; I’m just realizing that it isn’t because it has a lot of spring flowers, hellebores and special primulae, but because it has a beech hedge as its backdrop. And once a beech tree starts to come into leaf, you don’t see the flowers any more – the effect of that curtain of zinging green is so overwhelming that they lose their impact, spring is over.

Maybe I can learn to see it as also an early summer bed that is a shrine to new-beech-leaf-green. Then change ideas about suitable planting; what is working is a big block of tall euphorbias in full flower, whose yellowy-green is a perfect complement.

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Caroline’s Garden Diaries 8.4.2014: To dig or not to dig?

Had a busy garden week, visiting gardens and then planting out new plants. It’s the time of year that inspires me to do the sort of gardening I like best, walking round with a trowel looking for plants I can divide and put into new places (more primroses!)  It’s a time also when it feels possible to do the work I find daunting, renewing and changing areas that have got out of hand.

Reinvigorating the garden is hard work if you’re digging out things that have been there a long time, although after a lifetime of using a fork, I’ve finally accepted that spades are better. But in changing, you risk losing things; putting in a new day-lily, I stupidly dug up a little group of Love-in-a Mist seedlings self-sown from last year; similarly, I’ve lost potential generations of scillas in one area that I’m unhappy with and keep disturbing. Meanwhile, Anemone blanda is showing what’s possible if you leave things alone – they have spread very satisfyingly because their home hasn’t been disturbed. There’s something very peaceful about a garden that looks as if the plants have always been there.

As always, however, it’s a matter of balance. A garden I visited this week was Beth Chatto’s. Mecca! But something was wrong – although it’s a lovely garden, I wasn’t swooning with delight to be there. Partly, I think, location, location – that part of Essex is not a terrifically beautiful landscape, and the setting for a garden can add a lot. Or was it something more uncomfortable; much of the garden was overrun with Arum “Marmoratum”, Italian lords-and-ladies that I wrote about last year after merrily spreading it around. As a Beth Chatto’s disciple, I worship the natural approach, but nature needed a slap there.

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