Old friends and new opportunities

It’s not been a great month really, January. There’s the weather – incessant rain and quite a lot of wind. There’s the whole “recovering from doing too much”, which combines really badly with “so much to do”. But since part of the enforced downtime has been due to a wonderful Christmas/New Year with friends and family, I don’t have too many complaints.

I love meeting new people, making new friends, but there’s something really special about old friends, the people you have known for years. All that shared history means that when you meet up again, even after years, you can pick up where you left off.

When I first started work in my early twenties it turned out there was a small group of us who all started together, and unsurprisingly we tended to hang out together. J and I soon became really good friends – his outrageous sense of humour frequently had me convulsed, and as we progressed from being the new kids on the block to being old hands, even, in my case, management, humour and shared values helped us both navigate the ups and downs of life in a large company. We stayed close after I got ill and had to give up work, J & TNG also being close friends by this point, and then J left and went to start a new life in Canada. TNG and I visited *cough* years ago, and later met J’s wife-to-be JC and her son. I helped reassure JC that J was good husband material – happily I was right!

Living on different continents and both living busy lives, contact has been sporadic, though when we do talk on the phone it is for hours. Literally. So when he got in touch to say he was going to be in the UK and could he come visit just before Christmas, we were both thrilled. He was only here two nights, but we didn’t stop talking from when he got of the train to when he got back on again. I know, I know, what does this have to do with gardening. Not much, to be honest, except that I find, 18 months after moving here, and much as I am enjoying learning my way around lots of new plants, there are still one or two plants from my old garden that I miss.

Some are perennials, and given time I will probably get new ones – Aquilegia ‘Lemon Queen’ springs to mind. They cause a slight pang when I come across them in old photos, or on somebody else’s blog. As it turns out though, one plant causes me rather more than just a slight pang. To the extent that I struggle to say nice things about them when featured on other people’s blog posts. Shameful but true. The identity of this much loved and much missed old friend of the plant world? The silver birch.

I had a trio of Himalayan birches, planted as maidens, now beautiful mature trees with brilliant white bark and pretty catkins. I miss them terribly, but I just couldn’t work out where I could put them – well, not “them”, as such, but others, new ones. Besides, I had promised myself that I would branch out and try new plants. New opportunities etc. etc. And then this happened:

ex ceanothus 'Puget's Blue'

That sad specimen, all brown and almost dead, is Ceanothus ‘Puget’s Blue’. It was supposed to grow in to a beautiful evergreen shrub, screening us from the house across the road, and provide a dramatic mass of deep blue flowers in summer. Turns out, it really, really doesn’t like cold northerly salt-laden winds. I thought it might struggle, but hoped the mild climate and good drainage would make it happy. They didn’t. So it had to go. Leaving a gap. Well, you can see where I am headed, can’t you. I read up again about planting trees near houses – and looked at the three huge sycamores a mere two meters from the house on one side, and the mass of willows almost as close in the park. And I ordered myself a new trio of Betula utilis jacquemontii. I almost went for a single multi stemmed specimen, which was what I had originally wanted when I planted my first trio nearly fifteen years ago, but these were cheaper and smaller, and I prefer to plant trees young.

It turns out that a lot seems to have changed in the tree growing industry in the intervening years. Way back then, I bought bare rooted maidens – birches and a lovely rowan. They were a lot cheaper than container grown trees and the advice was that they would establish better and soon catch up and surpass larger and pricier container grown specimens. So I hunted around for bare rooted birches. And found very few. Which was confusing. Until I learnt that nowadays the best way to grow trees is in containers which essentially air-prune the roots, encouraging lots of bushy growth and stop that terrible circling round and round which is part of the reason container-grown trees can take so long to establish. The company I bought my trees from actually describes them as being container-grown, but these were not conventional containers.

newfangled tree growing

I was delighted, my trees came beautifully packaged, in these weird root-training pots, covered in promising buds and nicely shaped. But I do think the company should explain the advantages of growing in this type of pot, I was disappointed that all the bare rooted Himalayan birches I found were considerably more expensive than what I bought, as I thought I was, in a way, buying second best. Unless I have the whole thing wrong, that is. Anyway. Back to the trees.

betula utilis jacquemontii

I know it will take a lot of years before I have a mini grove again, but I love planting trees, it is such an optimistic thing to do, and it made today the best day of the year so far. As they grow they will change the planting conditions in this corner too, which will be fun to adapt to, and in the mean time a combination of forget-me-nots and snowdrops around the base, perhaps with some pulmnonaria, will be quite magical.

My tree planting was the first “proper” gardening I have managed this year, and I followed it up with a quick bit of weeding. If it doesn’t get dramatically colder in the next month or so it looks as if my Verbena bonariensis will be coming back with a vengeance, which is a nice bonus.

New buds on verbena bonariensis

I also seized the opportunity to swap the quite disgusting coir compost I had used to mulch the dahlias for the far more attractive mushroom compost left from mulching the trees. I ask you, does this look attractive?!

bad-mulch

It my be cheaper to deliver because it is so light, but I found it a faff to reconstitute, turning a quick job (potting up tulips) into a chore, and boy does it look horrid…

good-mulch

Much better.

I was knackered by the end of it, but buoyed up to have planted such elegant trees, and by the sight of snowdrops beginning to open, ‘E. C. Buxton’ still flowering away, and the wonderful witch hazel.

Are there any plants you really couldn’t live without?

British native snowdrops

Anthemis-tinctoria E. C. Buxton

witch hazel flowers
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50 Comments


  1. Oops, didn’t know V. bonariensis was a perennial, think I may have killed mine off once last flowers had gone over! You’re so right about old friends, I have a sprinkling of long time friendships and we just pick up conversations so easily, sometimes after months. Now that this post has linked your friends with your birch ‘grove’, you’ll think of them whenever you glance out at your trees, how lovely.
    Intriguing containers that your trees came in – I’d be interested in knowing which company you used, especially if they were reasonably priced! Lovely to see you posting again, Janet – belated Happy New Year! Caro x
    Caro recently posted The alternative wedding cake and some marmalade


    1. Hi Caro, belated Happy 2014 to you too, it is great to be back blogging, I don’t enjoy the enforced breaks. As for the verbena b., it has never behaved as a perennial for me before, not sure whether that was due to heavy wet soil or the cold, but I begin to suspect the former, it seems to be more problematic for over wintering the slightly tender plants. I hadn’t dared hope mine would come back again, and I am still not sure whether it is because of the ridiculously mild “winter” or thanks the the sharp drainage!

      Yes, I do love the idea that my birches will remind me of good friends, as well as just being beautiful, I bought mine from mailorder trees, they seem to have a really good range, all British grown, I’d certainly use them again. Very prompt delivery too, arrived within 3 days of ordering!


  2. Old and true friends, distance and time may intervene but the moments you get the chance to reunite or talk with them everything falls into place so naturally like time and distance was never an issue to begin with.

    Whilst it’s always nice to have or do something new there’s something comforting about looking back into the past every so often. With the past there’s also a sense of familiarity which can soothing at times. Not surprised that there are plants in your old garden that you still miss. You may not be able to replicate them but at least some of them you can reintroduce to your new one which also links the old, past with the new.

    Plants we can’t live without? Hmmm…now that’s a very difficult question to answer….
    Mark and Gaz recently posted Madeira Series: Palheiro Gardens


    1. Hi guys! Exactly so, it is a kind of magic, isn’t it, the way it is so easy to pick up again. As to the plants and gardens thing, that sense of familiarity is calming, true, and also seductive. I have no problem repeating successful past combinations or plants in my new garden, but with the back garden in particular, the temptation to “do the same” is considerable – it has the same aspect and even has the same acer planted in the same – relative – position. I am trying to take my time with it, be conciously adventurous with my choices, whilst allowing myself to use old friends, some of which I brought with me. Its an interesting balancing act. But then, don’t you guys face something a bit similar when deciding how to replant the area devastated by that fire?

      As for “couldn’t live without”, somehow I didn’t think you would be able to pick one or three…


  3. Good to see you back Janet. The birch trees will look lovely, I have a spot in mind too. And you will have me climbing the bank tomorrow to check out my V. bon. Take care now, you need to be fit for Spring!
    rusty duck recently posted Watching Me Watching You


    1. Thank you Jessica, it is good to be back! Don’t slip on that bank when investigating your v.b., it must be scarily slippy and muddy by now… And yes, fit for Spring, definitely my aim, not least because I have plans for lots of colour in the back garden, which in turn means lots of seed sowing, potting on etc… At least the seeds are ordered now!


  4. So glad to read that you enjoyed the seasonal festivities Janet and how much pleasure it must have given you to catch up with an old and dear friend. Your trio of silver birches will no doubt give you much joy in the years to come and a petticoat of snowdrops and pulmonarias sounds just the ticket. Sometimes familiar garden friends can be just just as comforting as their human counterparts. Hope that this dreadful weather comes to an end soon and that we can all enjoy spending more time outside.
    Hope that the new year treats you and your garden kindly xxx
    Anna recently posted Embroidered With Love


    1. Hi Anna, it was wonderful to catch up with J, he still makes me laugh, and like good bottle of port the friendship just seems to get better with age. I love your description of the underplanting as a petticoat! I shall so enjoy watching trees mature again, it is amazing how you seemingly wake up one day and decide that they are indeed trees rather than saplings. That white bark should sing out on a gloomy day.

      Hope 2014 is a good year for both of us Anna, in the garden and in our wider lives! xxx


  5. Enduring one of the coldest winters we’ve had in decades, I find it such a treat to see you planting and even enjoying some snowdrops at this time of year, Janet. How nice that you were able to plant some birches after all! I’ve never seen trees planted in this type of container before, but I’ve only bought one tree in recent years, so perhaps some U.S. companies are using this, too. Will be interesting to see if the trees get a better start as promised.

    I agree old friends are the best. I still get together regularly with a group of teachers I worked with for years. We know all the old stories, but still laugh at them every time:) So nice you were able to see your old friend from Canada again!
    Rose recently posted The #1 Japanese Garden in the U.S.?


    1. Hello Rose, the long cold winter must really be starting to drag – here it is as if we are skipping winter altogether, which will no doubt confuse a lot of plants. Gardening is never boring, is it, we always have to contend with weather, making it impossible to turn it in to some rigid, follow-the-rules pastime. I think that is one of the things I love about it.

      When I was googling air-pruning containers for trees I found several US-based references, so I would be surprised if it wasn’t becoming normal over there too. After all, if they can grow trees in containers that can be planted year round (which most people prefer) but which establish really well, it has to be a win-win for everybody.I like the sound of you getting together with old teaching friends and having a shared laugh over old stories. It is a precious thing, to be able to share laughter with old friends.


  6. Interesting root-training pots! I guess it makes sense, and that circular root-bound pattern can be a drag and a mess to correct. So glad you’ve had a lovely visit with old friends, and that you’re back to gardening (and blogging) after a brief break. I’ll look forward to reading/seeing how that garden area adapts to the new trees.


    1. Aren’t those pots fascinating? I wonder if they will start using them for shrubs and perennials too? If it has a similar effect it would make sense. It is good to be back blogging and gardening – when the rain allows – though I suppose if I am to have enforced downtime winter is as good a period as any for it!


  7. Nice to hear from you Janet, and to see you have snowdrops already. I love birches too and hope yours grow really quickly for you. I would also love a Ceanothus, but it wouldn’t be hardy here. I tried Caryopteris as a substitute, but after two attempts I gave up! My Verbena is still standing too – only the second time it has withstood a winter here (I have to keep replacing it)! Hope your weather improves – we could all do with some warming sunshine I think.
    Cathy recently posted Red Pesto


    1. Hi Cathy, the snowdrops are a delight, I only planted them last Spring, but the already add such presence, and I am itching to buy and plant more elsewhere, they seem to do really well around here, my neighbour has huge clumps, I am hoping I may be able to persuade her to divide some and share the bounty!

      Shame about the caryopteris, I tried one in my back garden but it died, I think it will fare better in the front as is still a definite maybe. Warm sunshine, well, we can dream!!


  8. I love birches too, but they aren’t suitable at all here, I see some at a slightly higher altitude. I want to plant some more trees but I think it will be fruit trees. Glad to have you back. Take care, you garden will need you in spring.
    Christina recently posted The Slope on 23rd January 2014


    1. Hi Christina, the birches are a special treat because I set myself to concentrate on “productive” trees in the back garden, and have plum trees on order, and a pear already planted. It is hard, isn’t it, picking which to plant, by definition you never get to plant very many trees – unless you are lucky enough to have a vast garden.

      It is good to be back, and I am highly motivated to take good enough care of myself to be able to garden lots come Spring, I have so many things I want to do this year – as ever! The seeds are ordered, so that’s a start. Best get some compost in…


  9. WE have planted some of our fruit trees in air pots. They came flat packed and you ‘build’ them yourself.

    I hope you specimens thrive.
    Sue@GLAllotments recently posted Big Garden Bird Watch


    1. Hi Sue, I remember your post about the air pots, and being intrigued at the time. I am itching to try more fruit in our garden, but it is on hold until we work out what we are doing with the wretched patio. I keep reminding myself that patience is a virtue…


  10. Hooray, someone else loves silver birches as much as I do! I would never want to be without them, with their friends, the red stemmed cornus. Cyclamen coum look nice with the snowdrops underneath the trees. Then I would have to have lots of snowdrops and meconopsis and candelabra primulas etc. etc! It sounds as though you had a wonderful time with your friend, it is so good meeting up with friends from long ago as you always have so much to talk about.
    Pauline recently posted It’s Wild Snowdrop Time!


    1. Hi Pauline, why am I not surprised that you are a major birch fan?! I have some seed for mecanopsis which I am going to try out, though it would be for the richer soil in the back garden, where the dappled shade is already established. This is also where I hope to build up a collection of candelabra prims too, I like the way you think! I like the idea of the cyclamen, though I was thinking about C. hederifolium for some autumn interest.So many plants, such limited space, such dilemmas…


  11. Glad to see you back Janet. I was about to email to see if you were OK. ;) How lovely to get a chance to catch up with such a close friend. It’s a pity he lives so far away. We have moved around so much we have friends and family dotted all over the place, it makes it hard to see everyone and keep in touch. I long for the days when I was at uni and I could pop around to a friend’s house for a cup of tea and a natter. Now popping in tends to involve 400 mile round trips, epic amounts of diary checking and booking months in advance.

    Birch are one of my favourites. I still miss the birch in this garden which we had to remove because it had got too big. It would have been OK but the previous owners had planted it quite close to a crab apple and they were both too much for a small garden. I’m envious of your gardening. The plot and garden are like a quagmire. The rain never seems to stop for very long. Desperate to get out but waiting and hoping for a dry spell soon. The plot is more like a paddy field. ;)
    wellywoman recently posted Kale and hearty


    1. Hi WW, it is good to be back! I am amazingly lucky in that, despite the seemingly endless rain, the front garden has very free draining soil. It means I can actually weed and plant, not something I would willingly do in the back garden, which is now getting rather weed choked :-( though still not quite paddy field like. Miserable conditions. And I keep thinking about all those happy slugs, and all those larvae (eggs?!) not being killed off by the still non existent frosts.

      Re friends, it gets harder and harder to arrange meeting up, everyone is so busy, and of course we now live right off the beaten track – though the attraction of a beach means we didn’t fare too badly last year, and I am hosting a mini reunion in June. So many things were so much simpler as a student, not least being able to move house using just the back of a small car!!Speaking of which, any news on the moving front for you?


      1. Speaking of slugs. I had planted lots of crocus in little pots in the greenhouse to bring indoors when they came into bud. I went in the other day to check on them and several pots had been chomped by slugs. So much so they have removed any emerging growth from crocus. *weeps* I have even seen snowdrop flowers in the garden eaten. I could quite happily retire to bed and not just have a duvet day but a duvet month. :0

        Yes keeping in touch is hard, everyone leads such busy lives. We’ve found it difficult to make new friends too for the same reason. People seem to have just enough available time for a small number of friends they already have. As for moving. No word yet. There’s a meeting coming up soon so we might have some idea then. OH has started looking to see what other jobs are out there. We’re both finding it a bit stressful. So many possible decisions. Still it’ll sort itself out, I’m sure.
        wellywoman recently posted Kale and hearty


        1. Oh no, that would seriously tempt me to the dark side of noxious chemicals, so sad! Work and moving situation sounds pretty stressful, hope something shifts soon, no fun at all. But hey, maybe you could hide under the duvet, torch in hand, and admire your new book…


  12. So glad you caught up with an old friend. Most of mine are scattered miles away from me, too but it is wonderful meeting up again and, as you say, picking up where you left off.
    Good to hear that you’re replacing the trees that you miss so much. Your new grove sounds as though it will be beautiful with different flowers around the base of the trees. We’ve been planting little trees that have self-seeded elsewhere into a new grove, here (including acquiring a few that were unwanted by neighbours). Some of the trees didn’t survive the hot summer, but some have and look as though they’ll thrive, now.
    Wendy recently posted The Prittlewell Prince, a Few Thoughts on Museums…and More Winter Birds


    1. Hi Wendy, love the sound of your scavenged woodlet, I have a hazel, rescued as a seedling in my last garden, planted in the hope of a harvest of poles in years to come.


  13. Janet, thank you for the education on these air-pruned pots–I can’t believe I’ve not seen them before. Not quite like this anyway. I was excited to see your snowdrops, they are all around my beds now, the harbinger of spring. We have many ceanothus, (Paget’s Blue too) so I would have thought they would do well for you, but you are probably right–they don’t care for the salty winds. So glad you are back and all is well.
    susan@life-change-compost recently posted Calling all Gardeners! Pacific Northwest gardener needs advice…


    1. Hi Susan, it is definitely mild enough for them to be really happy here, in fact there was a very over grown and over shaded specimen struggling to survive in the back garden when we moved here, which is why I am pretty sure it is the dry salty wind that did for mine. As for the pots, I wonder if we will start to see them used for shrubs too, assuming they have the same effect. They remind me of the root trainers I grow peas and beans in.


  14. Hurrah to have you blogging again, and hurrah for your birches! You were obviously ‘meant’ to have them after all and as Pauline says you can now plan for some lovely woodland plants at their feet. Isn’t it lovely to meet up with friends like you have done – something we have to make an effort to do if we want to keep the friendship alive. It will have given you a real boost.
    Cathy recently posted Less of the Celandine


    1. Hi Cathy, it feels good to be back in the blogging saddle! I am really relishing being able to watch the birches mature from twiggy youngsters into proper trees, and to planting woodland lovers under them, it gave me a real boost – as did meeting up with J again!


  15. I’ll have to think about plants I can’t live without…maybe lavender, my veggies and some roses…oh and hydrangeas. But how nice to garden in winter and see plants growing already…we are being hit my the arctic air again…much too much for me…I miss my dearest friend who lives on the other end of the continent from me…haven’t seen her in 4 yrs…hope to make a trip soon!!
    Donna@GardensEyeView recently posted Simply the Best Natives-Pearly Everlasting


    1. Hello Donna, you are enduring a quite dreadful winter, it has been ridiculously mild here, I fear we are in for a plague of slugs come Spring. I am toying with planting at least one hydrangea, perhaps the oak leaf hydrangea, in my back garden, they are wonderful plants. I couldn’t grow lavender in my old garden, but it is certainly one I plan to have here. Hope you get to meet up with your friend this year!


  16. I’ve planted a trio of jacquemontii too Janet and I’ve been so pleased with them. Ravaged by sawfly, scraped by deer and gnawed by rabbits they’ve come through it all. But they have succumbed to the most indomitable foe – the Priory owner! He’s said he doesn’t like them and that they remind him of Poland. That’s a bad thing. Oh well. I shall dig them up and replant them in a quiet corner where I at least can enjoy them.

    Interested to see that you have planted yours as close together as mine. D
    David Marsden recently posted Flood And The Pigeon


    1. Oh no, poor trees – and poor Poland! There is an interesting story there. I hope you find a place for them where they feel appreciated. As for planting distance, I wondered if anybody would comment on that! Its what I did last time, and I liked them being so close, but it always makes me laugh when you read in a magazine about planting a trio, and they just “put three trees in the same planting hole”. It was trickier to determine placement last time because they were bare rooted, and therefore tended to waft around a little, impossible to step back and get a reliably good view of all three. Consequently I was always faintly dissatisfied by the way that, from one angle (kitchen window) one tree was directly in front of the other.

      BTW, have you come across these root training pots used with trees more in recent years?I suspect you get to plant more than most of us, given your profession – and the gardens.


      1. I know! I for one am happy to be reminded of Poland. I’m very fond of the place. Actually I wanted to plant another 3, 5 or 7 single jacquemontii’s to create a glade. Or is it a grove? I thought it would have looked stunning but mentally that idea has been screwed up and tossed artfully into the waste-paper basket. And no, I haven’t seen root training pots before. I’ve bought a lot of trees from Ashridge Trees and they don’t use them (at least not in the past). I’m also a total sucker for ailing trees in garden centre bargain basements pleading for a new home. I can’t resist them and those have never had their roots trained! D
        David Marsden recently posted Win Charles Dowding’s Veg Journal


  17. Hiya again, glad you’re back! And I also think you have made the very best decision about those birches – not only are they lovely, but they should do well. And had the ceanothus taken, it would just have keeled over a couple of years down the line – too shallow-rooted for the wind, I think (guess how I know).

    Sometimes I miss the whole of my old garden – the plants, not the setting in south London, that is. A friend sent me a link to a property site recently; it was the flat next door to mine. And in one shot you could see my old garden looking like a wilderness – you could see it because the fence had come down and not been replaced. Thank heavens I moved what I could…
    Kate recently posted Questions for this gardener…


    1. Hi Kate, I knew you would approve – and now my admiration for your own lovely birches will be untainted by the green imp that used to whisper in my ear ;-) I suspect you are right about the ceanothus too, and I should have realised since I have not seen any planted in any of the more exposed gardens around here. Ah well, I get to try again in the relative shelter and warmth of the back garden!

      As for you old garden, goodness how depressing. I do find myself wishing I had taken more – or rather different – with me, but at least I know the garden is cared for and enjoyed, since TNG’s parents still live there. When not gallivanting around the world, anyway!!


  18. Hi janet. Jacquemontii is a fantastic choice, and I’m sure you will love it. I have one quite close to the house and it gives so much pleasure. very impressed that you have been out in the cold doing ‘proper gardening’. I am trying to muster the motivation to get out there and plant 9 Patio roses – a new venture for me , never grown them before.
    I couldn’t live without my favourite roses , David Austin’s ‘Woolerton Old Hall’, ‘Jude the Obscure’ and ‘Winchester cathedral’. (Btw that last sentence took a ridiculous age to write, because I had to muse for ages!!)
    Jane Scorer recently posted Wishing my days away


    1. Hi Jane, they are beautiful trees, aren’t they, I love the way the bark shines out. Or at least, in my case will shine out once they are mature enough!! As to my braving the weather, actually it was really mild, I barely needed a coat – very different to last year, when I was muffled in so many layers I could barely move when doing the fence.

      I love the names of your roses, and that you took the time to ponder. I’ve never really grown roses, but I have inherited three here which I hope to avoid killing off. Another new experience, but of course I have no idea what they are. Hopefully if and when they flower this year I will be able to consult all you online rose experts and get some idea of what they might be!


  19. A most enjoyable post, and lots of interesting pictures.
    Silver birches are lovely trees, which I’d certainly have if I had a garden. Flighty xx
    Flighty recently posted The plot in January


    1. Hi Flighty, I feel so very fortunate to be able to plant trees, it is such an optimistic and exciting thing to do. I hope you get some enjoyment from watching them grow over the months and years, albeit from a distance.


  20. There are too many plants to list that I couldn’t garden without or would miss terribly. I’m so glad you planted more birches. Will they grow well planted that close together? My garden is a frozen dormant blob. Even the snowdrops are still asleep.
    Casa Mariposa recently posted The Perennial Class of 2014


    1. Brrrr, I feel cold just thinking about your garden! The birches should do well, at least, the last ones did, also planted very close. Time will tell!


  21. Janet, first, sorry your insurance didn’t cover the boat, it isn’t much help but better the boat than your home,
    glad you have had a wonderful time with friends and family, the weather hasn’t been exactly gardening weather any way,
    I’m interested in the tree root pots, I’ve noticed it’s getting harder to find bare root which I prefer, especially as my conditions are far from those the tree would have been started in, I’m also surprised how close you have planted the trees, I read much when I first moved here and planted my first trees, before my computer and internet days, and read about planting distances but have so often noticed trees planted much closer,
    re the ceanothus, there is a beautiful large one in a garden in Stornoway and several around the island, my first died too but I have now started trying plants I know grow on the island a second time, re-positioning them, my second is coming to it’s second year, also due to the winds I have learnt to clip the tip so they bush out rather than grow straight and tall, some of my downy birches are multi-stemmed due to the wind,
    I love your sunshine daisy flowering at this time of year, Frances
    Island Threads recently posted wordless Wednesday ~ lost socks


    1. Hi Frances, absolutely, definitely better it was the boat than the house, and having seen up close the damage the storm surge did to the houses right by the beach, I am oh, so very happy to be living a little way up the hill!!

      I was rather disconcerted at how hard it was to find bare rooted ornamental trees, though I have three bare root plum trees and a rowan on order, also good prices, so I am confused. I suspect most people prefer to plant in warmer weather, and hence not much demand for bare rooted, after all, most shrubs and perennials used to be sold that way too! We are addicted to convenience.

      Planting distances – there aren’t many trees I would plant that close together, but birches, which are shallow rooting first colonisers with fairly light and narrow canopies handle it well, and look really pretty too. Further apart also looks good, but wasn’t the effect I was after.

      I am fascinated by the ceanothus question – after all, if they grow on Stornaway, surely they would survive here? Though perhaps the garden was fairly sheltered from the north easterlies? I am confident one will thrive in my back garden, I just need it to dry out enough to be able to get in to the – very deep – border to plant it. No real rush though, it can stay in its pot for now, but at least I saved on the postage, always a consideration.


  22. I love the density of your posts Janet- quality over quantity (we are obviously opposites!) Dislike coir -reminds me of old door mats – and it does not look like much of a moisture retainer either compared to mushroom compost. Trends are always shifting and interested to read that things have reversed on the bare versus container tree front. Bet the betulas bed down beautifully!
    p.s. how refreshing to see Snowdrops return
    Laura Bloomsbury recently posted Thursday Trees: devil may care


    1. Hi Laura, sorry, for some reason have only just picked this up! I am glad you like density, because i don’t appear to be able to do otherwise. In blogging as in gardening – I am also congenitally incapable of planting at an appropriate distance, thus generating lots of plant moving for myself in subsequent years.


  23. part of the joy of gardening over the years, is the memories of the people you associate with them. We have an autumnal day and I can think again about harvesting cuttings to move to the False Bay garden, one day. I dug up the Clerodendron which was sulking in the ‘shade’ of the ash trees. In a pot on the verandah, the brown sticks have sent out whippy green growth!
    Diana Studer recently posted Nguni cattle each one different


    1. Hello Diana, how lovely to hear from you, thank you for dropping by! Enjoy your cutting-taking, something I need to learn how to do better. I can manage fuchsias and rosemary with no problem at all, but seem to fail on most other things. Will your newly sprouting Clerodendron find a home in your False Bay garden too?

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