The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

May 2019


I have been spending some very enjoyable hours in the garden over the last couple of weeks. I am a self-confessed fair-weather gardener but once I get going, I get well and truly stuck in. Having said that, I am also a tweaker rather than an innovator. I realise, to my surprise, that it is over twenty years since I took the bull by the horns and redesigned and tamed, to a greater or lesser extent (some would definitely say “lesser”), the garden.

This week I have taken the slightly risky step of filling the many containers with bedding plants. I know it is a bit early but, here on the Lancashire coast, we are fortunate enough to enjoy mainly mild weather. The patio area right by the house is very sheltered also, so I don’t think I’ve been too foolish. Perhaps I’ll keep quiet about it if I have!

A lot of my containers have become semi-permanent as some of the plants manage to over-winter – pelargoniums on the window-sills, for example, and the occasional fibrous begonia. Then, some of the pots contain perennials such as ferns and a couple of lavenders. Where there is space in these pots I just squeeze in two or three annuals. I love antirrhinums, which I always plant in window boxes in front of the greenhouse. They always grow surprisingly tall. I like impatiens in pots and am so glad they are available again – I missed them when they were stricken. Cosmos is another favourite, trailing lobelia (I like the multi-coloured variety), wherever there is enough height for it to trail, and petunias; and I cannot resist non-stop begonias. They are such good value for money, flowering spectacularly all summer.

I have several pots of lilies, and they are all looking promising. After a few terrible years, I have had a couple where (dare I say it?) I have been visited by very few lily beetles. I’m not sure why, except that two years ago I managed to destroy just about every one I saw. I always buy a couple more pots when they appear at the garden centre because I cannot resist them!

I am re-reading my favourite gardening book: The Virago book of Women Gardeners, edited by Deborah Kellaway. It is wonderful for dipping into and I find it inspiring. Here is a quote which could be about me:

“I love all things most gardeners abhor! – moss in lawns, lichen on trees, more greenery than ‘colour’ (always said as though green isn’t a colour) … more foliage than flowers … I like the whole thing to be as wild as possible…
I like to throw myself into an inviting chair in the green shade of a large tree with my books on a low table beside me, but you might prefer to dig and to plant. I like to do that too – sometimes.”
Edna Walling, 1948

I think “as wild as possible” may be slightly overstating the case, and a glass of wine would be a nice addition to the table! But if you have never come across the book, I thoroughly recommend it.

My dead plum tree finally succumbed to the gales in February and has had to be removed. The clematis which was growing through it seems to have disappeared, but the honeysuckle is irrepressible and is thrusting up again. I shall have to think about what to do with it. I think it is too mature to move and it is growing at quite a rate. We shall see. I also had the cotoneaster tree removed. I really don’t like cutting down trees but this was not in the right place and cast a great deal of shade over the surrounding bed. So now I have extra light and extra space. The John Waterer rose which had become increasingly overshadowed is thanking me. We have a large whitebeam in the front garden, right by the gate. It was here when we came in 1972 and needs some serious cropping, but I don’t want to get rid of it. It is a beautiful tree, currently smothered in white flowers. We left it too late this year and it will be dealt with in November.

Sitting here in the late afternoon sunshine I am feeling very content. The half-barrel “pond” has just been visited by both a wood pigeon and a magpie (amazing feathers) looking for a drink. One’s garden gives great pleasure, whatever one’s gardening style – happy gardening, everyone!

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What a lovely blog. No photos required, you describe your enjoyment of your garden so well. Funnily enough, I just realised today that if I am not working in my garden I find it very hard to enjoy it. I actually feel as though when I am working in my garden...weeding, pruning, planting, dead-heading, mowing...whatever....I feel like I become part of it all. I suppose I become part of the 'life' of it. I absolutely love to be working in it...smelling the smells, hearing the bees. One day I shall learn to sit still ......

20 May, 2019


If you sat still in your garden as much as I do, Karen, it would not look as beautiful as it does. If I spent more time working in it, my garden would not be the same either! But I do understand about the enjoyment of being part of it. The wonderful thing about gardens, gardeners and gardening is that the diversity is everything. It’s an activity which is “infinite in its variety” (to misquote Shakespeare) and that is one of the reasons GoY is so fascinating.

20 May, 2019


I’m so glad you have a Whitebeam, Mel, one of my favourites, and how wonderful to make a story out of your enjoyment of your garden. Thank you very much for the book recommendation - it sounds very much my sort of thing! To return the favour, you might enjoy Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth Von Arnhem.

I do love to just sit in a comfortable chair and enjoy looking at everything I’ve planted, maybe with a mug of coffee and a crossword: perfect contentment :)

20 May, 2019


Yes, it’s a lovely tree, Sheila. It is very big, but we love it. It really needs a trim, though - its branches are reaching towards the house and making one of the front bedrooms very dark. It was pollarded when we arrived in 1972 and looked very odd. It took a long time to grow (unlike the contorted willow in the back garden which we have cut back every few years)

I shall look out that book, Sheila. There are excerpts from it in the Book of Women Gardeners.

20 May, 2019


A lovely blog and I agree that some things have to stay, like the moss in the lawn. At the top end where it grows bigger (or a different variety) the birds really go to town in the Spring, it looks as if it has been raked! So if I every get round to putting weed killer on the lawn I shall have to leave that area, or I shall suffer a real guilt trip!
I too have a 90% dead Plum tree, the pigeons killed it I think as they eat all the buds of the leaves as they appear and now there is only one lonely small branch that actually has leaves. Trouble with that is it supports a very large Clematis which has been a mass of pink, masking the fact that the tree is nearly dead. If I cut the tree down this will not have a home. Like Karen I hardly ever sit still in the garden, except when I am weeding having to sit with an arthritic back. Then I enjoy the company of the Robin who always waits for something edible to appear, more bugs than worms it appears to enjoy. We have several, though they are supposed to be territorial, very tame, but I did tell it off this morning when I left the door open and came in to find it in the Living room! It was not really bothered, it let me pick it up and put it out.

21 May, 2019


I hope your plum tree survives for a few more years, Honeysuckle. I have got used to the gap now, but I did miss it at first. I expect the birds did too: it had several bird feeders hanging on it. Like you, I love to see the birds in the garden. I have just been amused by a large wood pigeon perched on a water feature, drinking from the rather small cascade of water coming out of a miniature pot. He (if it was a “he”) had his head right inside the pot! Usually, the birds drink out of the half-barrel, which is full of oxygenating greenery so the small ones can actually perch in the middle. The large birds stand around the edge. Pigeons can drink while reaching down, but the others have to lift their heads to let the water trickle down their throats. We have robins, too. They are pretty bold, but none has ever come inside! There are robins inside at the local garden centre - they nest in the roof. I think they are indeed territorial so I expect there are only a couple. I loved to see the various tits “steaming” through the trees, especially the plum which I could see from the kitchen window. One or two would arrive, stripping the branches of insects, then more would follow and then eventually move off to the next garden. Blue tits, great tits and coal tits seem perfectly happy flocking together. Sometimes I see long-tailed tits too, which I love.
Enjoy your garden!

21 May, 2019


I'm glad you're enjoying your garden. Nice to hear from you again.
That book sounds interesting, I may try to see if I can borrow it from our local library.

21 May, 2019


I recommend it, Hywel. The fact that all the writers in it are women is irrelevant. It is just a selection of writings by different gardeners with different points of view. Some of the entries are instructive, some more like diary entries. I love it and often dip into it.

23 May, 2019


I enjoyed your blog and as Karen said, no pictures needed ! I too have done more pots than I usually do of busy Lizzies and Begonias . But I have got to know my new neighbour who kindly watered my pots and toms while we were away. I was a bit concerned as I always had two or three neighbours in Laceby , so that if one forgot, then the others would carry on. As we have a big back courtyard I wanted to make it as colourful as I could. The main garden areas look after themselves.
I will have to look out for that book.
Enjoy sitting in your shady corner too !

27 May, 2019


Hi Rose! I am happy to say the weather held as expected, so no casualties amongst the annuals. It always amazes me how very quickly the plants put on growth once they are planted on. I have had two more trips back to the GC since I wrote the blog, but only for very specific things - a few perennials for the new space in the border (mainly foxgloves, which I love) and four trailing non-stop begonias for a hanging basket. I have sown some runner beans around a bamboo wigwam so we shall see how they do. After a shower a few days ago, I observed a positive glut of snails, so I’m a little nervous. I usually plant such things in pots. I may get a couple of tomato plants as well, and try them outside. I am glad to hear you have someone to water your pots. I have a good neighbour who used to water the tomatoes when we went away but, to be honest, I don’t think I can ask her to water the pots - it takes over half an hour! I usually give them a really good soak, use water-retaining gel and pray! They are usually ok for a week, though I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy!

I am hoping for good enough weather to spend plenty of time in the garden this summer. It is dull here today, but warm enough to be sitting under the gazebo checking up on GoY, so that’s all right!

1 Jun, 2019

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