Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Grand Entrance, or it will be when the plants grow

You can take the girl out her garden, but you can't take gardening out the girl. I know this is not a permanent house for us and we won't always be here, but I just can't help myself. There is a frame work of trees and shrubs, remnants of flower beds long overgrown with weeds and the chequerboard patio but no colour or interest. How do I justify spending time and effort on this garden? We will have some interesting plants and borders to look at for the next two or so years, the owners have said we can do what we want, we are paying a very good rate for rent, it gives me chance to trial some planting schemes and designs I want to do in our own eventual garden, I like to spread the love with plants and pretty gardens and if some of my plants in pots fail, I can dug up a bit of these to take with me (an insurance policy if you like). 

Before I let loose with spade and fork

Since we moved in two months ago I have been working on re potting many plants in my portable plant collection, feeding them and making sure they have the best chance possible. We've put the big greenhouse up and I've re potted the plants to go back in and filled it up. I've prettified the patio as much as possible to hide the slabs, so now it is the turn of the front garden. These are the steps up to the front door, Not an inspiring, grand, or even a tidy entrance, so something had to be done. Although we have cart blanch to do what we want, there are limits in time, effort and cost to what we will do. The slabs and steps have to stay, so plants it is, and since I have plenty of them to divide and share, that's easy. 

During, weeded and top dressed with extra soil

Daniel as always is enthusiastic and keen to help and I am never one to turn away a teenager that wants to help, especially when he is happy to barrow away the rubbish! We dug out all the weeds, then dug over the soil, removing any large stones and as much weed root as we could. Then it was up to the back garden where there is a mound of soil along the back fence, just what we need to bring the soil level up. Great exercise, digging and barrowing and very satisfying when you see it get to the stage as in the photo above.

Placing the plants

The most exciting part for,me, after planning is planting and seeing my ideas come together. This collection of plants creates colour and interest all year round with different leaf and flower forms and is designed to spill down either side of the steps in a lush and softening mass. There are tall upright Iris and Miscanthus, Bamboo and ferns to give form all year, a ground hugging dwarf betula that will spill over the small stone wall. Then there are geraniums, Acanthus and Liatris for summer colour and Rudbeckia, Sedum and Ligularias for late summer. There are purple leaves, green leaves, silver leaves, strappy laves and lush Hosta leaves. Again I have mainly divided up my own plants I brought with me from Easter Mosshat.

Rudbeckia fulgida 'City Garden'


Although some of the plants are begining to die back for winter, there is still plenty to give us an idea of how it will look in a year or so's time once the plants grow and mix into one and other.

Looking back down from the top

On the opposite side of the path I created a new wee border between the drive retaining wall and the Holly tree, both to mirror some of the planting on the house side and soften the other side of the slabs. We cut out the turf, found some nice stones to edge the bed and planted it up. I've weed killed under the Holly tree to keep it tidy and between the slabs to halt any weed regrowth.

Rudbeckia and Sedums for late summer

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

The New bed
This was a satisfying wee project which we achieved in less than a day, an advantage of a smaller garden, everything is on a smaller more manageable scale, which is rather nice. I will look forward to seeing how my design comes together and Daniel and I spent a lovely few hours working together, which is always nice.

From the drive

Planting List

Acanthus hungaricus
Astilbe arendsii  'Erica'
Geranium 'Wargrave Pink'
Hemerocallis 'American Revolution'
Hosta 'Honey Bells'
Iris sibirica
Lamium galeobdolon subsp. montanum 'Florentinum'
Liatris spicata
Ligularia 'Desdimona'
Liriope 'Big Blue'
Rudbeckia fulgida 'City Garden'
Sedum 'Karfunklestein'

Deschampsia 'Bronzeschlier'
Miscanthus 'Dreadlocks'
Spodiopogon sibiricus

Dryopteris coreano 'Montana'
Dryopteris 'Pinderi'

Fargesia murielae

Trees / Shrubs
Betula nana 'Glengarry'

My own plant collection

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

A House with 360 degree views

After a cold spell a couple of weeks ago, we've had unseasonally warm dry weather here in our wee bit of Scotland. The big greenhouse is now up and filled! Even if there is a touch of frost the plants will be more protected than outside. This weekend's mission is to get the last two replacement panes of glass and a gas bottle for the heater. Then the weather can do its worst. 

A burst of summer colour in the greenhouse in our previous garden
As you can see there's been a lot of progress in building the big greenhouse since it featured in the last greenhose blog. Autumn is arriving with speed and the nights are colder. So there is incentive to get on with it.

Roof glazed, benches in, walls to finish

While building the greenhouse one of my jobs was to wash all the greenhouse pieces and the glass, this for aesthetic and hygiene reasons. I knew the glass was dirty and hadn't been washed for a long time, but I was amazed and really pleased how clean the whole greenhouse looks and I can see out! It looks like new.Unfortunately we had to replace 12 panes of glass, having experimented with cutting it ourselves, we decided it was worth paying a glazier to cut the sheets to size than waste any more glass! A small fortune was exchanged but (apart from two pieces) the greenhouse is complete again.

Clean glass, dirty glass.

The doors installed, although I do have to source a set of
rollers that got lost in transit. How much for two wee wheels
 and screws? Thank goodness for ebay.

The cacti and succulent collection

First to go in were the more vulnerable succulents and cacti. Added to my collection were several belonging to my boys who no longer have room for them in their tiny shared bedroom.  Having repotted and fed them all, they are looking rather impressive back in the greenhouse. Some are even beginning to flower.

Getting fuller by the moment
Next to go in was my Pelargonium collection. This has been growing since I was given some scented varieties over 20 years ago. There are now well over 50 species and cultivars jostling for space here. Most of them are scented or species, others I have chosen for their dark coloured flowers or interesting foliage. My favourite is P. 'Ardens', a leggy creature with fantastic small red flowers.

Pelargonium 'Ardens'

There is still an awful lot of plants to fit in for winter
Because our rented house is much smaller there is no room for the larger house plants. These fitted in no problem in the large house, but here we have space issues! Hopefully they will survive in the greenhouse. I have still to fit in the grapevine and kiwi plant which are planted up in huge pots having been dug up from the greenhouse bed when we moved. Then there are all the smaller plants dotted about the patio that need winter protection too ....................... Time to get on with building the wee greenhouse!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Creating the Herb and fruit planters

One of the things about gardening I really like is producing food and useful plants. It's not just about the lookers and pretty ones, there is always room for the clever, creative and useful ones too. So what to do in the In-between garden? There is a weedy corner at the far side of the patio which we may turn into a wee veg patch. Daniel has expressed an interest to grow some veg, which is great to encourage.

Red Currant 'Red Lake'

Back to the troughs. I wanted containers that looked good, were big enough to be home to some fruit and herbs and could be dismantled and moved when we move. After some surfing on line I came across these wooden containers. At a reasonable price, robust and made from sustainable wood they were duly bought from Primrose and arrived flat packed.

Lots of bits!

A bit of persuasion with a hammer, screwed together and finished, it was then up to Daniel to fill them with a mix of compost, John Innes No.2 and cheap grow bags, all mixed up together.

Filling up the planters

Planting up

The fruit planter has two Red current plants, cuttings taken from the plants at Easter Mosshat before we moved. Red, white and black currents propagate very easily from cuttings. I've always had 100% success rate. Putting 12" long pieces of woody stem in deep pots of compost, then leave them, watering occasionally. it couldn't be easier. The variety is 'Red lake', always fruiting abundantly, and tough its well worth growing. Infront of the currants are Strawberry 'Cambridge' and Fragaria vesca, the wild strawberry. 'Cambridge' fruits well, and produces many runners if you are interested in producing plenty more hands! The wilds strawberry, is a native, occuring on grassy banks and in dappled woodland. Again I have mainly divided up my own plants I brought with me from Easter Mosshat.

The fruit trough

I can't wait until next summer to harvest the fruits of our labours from these troughs. The herb trough is usable straight away, and being opposite the kitchen door makes it very handy. We can choose from Rosemary, Parsley, chives, thyme, parsley, tarragon and marjoram. I have alvia cuttings coming on and once big enought one shall be planted here too.

Lots of yummy cooking herbs

Plant List
Chives     ~ Allium schoenoprasum
Tarragon ~ Artemisia dracunculus
Oregano  ~ Oreganum vulgare 'Tomintoul'
Rosemary~ Rosemarinus 'Mrs jessops Upright'
Parsley    ~
Sage        ~ Salvia officinalis
Thyme    ~ Thymus vulgaris

Red currant 'Red Lake'
Strawberry 'Cambridge'
Fragaria vesca (wild Strawberry)

My own plant collection

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