August feels a long time ago now. Although looking out the window you could be forgiven for thinking it still was August, the weather is so beautiful. The leaves starting to turn, the way it is getting darker earlier and earlier, the wonderfully soft golden light of late afternoon, they are big reminders that we are actually careering towards mid September. I’ve half-written so many posts in the interim, but a combination of a leaking oil tank, a trip away, and a seemingly endless array of boring jobs have monopolized my time. So here I am, *cough* weeks after the fact, finally admitting to another plant culling.
I’ve surprised myself by how much I grew to love the mophead hydrangeas in the front garden. But note the use of the past tense! TNG dug them out for me. I want a wafty feel to the wall border, and mophead hydrangeas are stolid, resolutely unwafty plants. They barely move in a gale! In the end it was an easy decision, they were preventing me from achieving what I wanted. I no longer have them as an excuse. But the change in feel was instant, long before any further tidying or (re) planting.
Of course then I needed plants to replace them. Further up towards the house is a shortish run of Escallonia hedging. At least, it will be a hedge, eventually. Down past the hydrangeas is an as yet diminutive Teucrium, which will hopefully provide me with cuttings to create a silvery wave of hedge on down towards what I tend to call the pointy end. Which begged the question, how was I to bridge the gap between small dark green leaves and small silvery ones. Fortunately Kate and Karen took it upon themselves to introduce me to a rather excellent garden centre outside Caernarfon, which just happens to be about midway between us.
I had a brilliant time. There was lots of laughter, tea, cake, and a very enjoyable if somewhat disorganised foray into the plant area. There was much tooing and froing, lots of “I’ve lost my trolley”, even more laughter, and of course lots of plants. We mutually encouraged one another in a quite shameless fashion, and all came away with a goodly number of beautiful things. For me these included a pair of very different silvery leaved shrubs to fill that gap. I had intended to add a creamy green variegated pittosporum to segue from the dark green of the escallonia to silver, but in the end I moved the tamarisk I already had instead.
The new additions were Leptospermum Silver Sheen, which has beautiful pinkish-stems
And Olearia virgata, with rosemary-like needles for leaves.
Both will grow to a good height, adding privacy from passers by, and screening the house opposite. It will take time, and I will be sowing annuals to fill the gaps and dissuade weeds for some years, I think, but I am already delighted with the change in feel.
I was also delighted to discover that some of my Verbena bonariensis have self-seeded this year after all (they must have heard me moaning), so I have been able to continue the line down around the new shrubs. Once I have removed the bronze carex that just didn’t work I will be adding more perovskia and some more of the Agastache rupestris, which will help increase the coherence. But I’ll write about that – and the new grass that will replace the carex – another day.
I bought more than just those two shrubs. No, really!
For a start, two new hydrangeas, which balances out the culling nicely.
Hydrangea ‘Hot Chocolate’ is a fairly new introduction. It has beautiful, slightly furry leaves tinged purple with a pink underside. Planted in the back garden, it goes perfectly with my Geum rivale ‘Leonard’s Variety’:
The other has an even more ridiculous name – Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’. Stupid name, stunning plant, it makes me smile every time I see it, which is frequently as I can see it from the kitchen sink!
The reddish stems of PW pick up the colour of the underside of Hot Chocolate’s leaves, and the flower heads are gorgeous.
I promised a side order of flowers. TNG cut the best of the hydrangeas flowers for me before he uprooted the plants and put them in a bucket.
I picked through them, and filled two large and two small vases. Two weeks later most of them are still going strong.
And on Monday, for my sister-in-law’s birthday, I picked more flowers from the garden. Coincidentally, perfectly timed for Cathy’s Monday Vase meme. Except that life got in the way and I didn’t get round to posting about it. So here I am, shoehorning it in to this post. I’m getting desperate…
An unknown snapdragon that I grew at the allotment years ago and that miraculously still germinated was the starting point.
The back of Dahlia ‘Summertime’ has pink veining that picked up the colours in the snapdragon.
Dahlia ‘Bishop of Oxford’ has warm orange tones that work well, and a couple of darker orange – brown rudbekia (the invaluable Rustic Dwarf Mix) plus some yellow flowers from a neglected Pak Choice plant added more warmth.
I’d fully intended to use bright green foliage, but found myself drawn to myrtle instead, the dark green leaves and pinky-red stems tone perfectly.
I’m really pleased with the result, but sadly I live too far away from SIL to have popped round with them, so she had to put up with a photo instead. The thought was there. And now I have a little touch of colour in my fireplace.