The life of a lavender

AilefroideI’m sitting in a tent in the Alps trying to peer at the screen with all the sun glare. Welcome to Friday.  A curious blog where I try and ignore my gorgeous mountain surroundings (Ecrins National Park, Ailefroide campsite) and focus on something you rarely ever see in a garden.

Well, I’m exaggerating. But I thought you might like to have a warts and all story today.  And in case you don’t, enjoy my basket of goodies harvested with the help of my little house guest Roisin this week.




So. Warts and all here we go. Lavenders die.lavenderhoriz

And they are not pretty when they do.  I planted up these garden beds six years ago.

And after the first year of nurturing (watering deeply once a fortnight) things have been left alone.  Nearly all my shrubs here have thrived.

Some have thrived so much they have tipped over into the dark realms of invasive. I’m looking at you cistus plant. Way too happy in its surroundings.

lavenderdyingIf I had time and the ability to delve, I could tell you the names of these two lavenders which have suddenly decided to die this year. I know they are good ‘uns. I can even recall a planting plan lovingly drawn up and laminated, hanging on the wall in my potting shed.

What a shame I can’t call Artur and ask him to read out the chart for me.  He’s too busy sleeping in a new box on the potting bench in between the ballota cuttings.  I do know that the lavenders had all the same treatment as the others. lavendercutout

But after a few weeks of walking past these plants six times a day (at least – destination potting shed) I decided it was time to accept they aren’t coming back from the dead.

I’ve cut off all the shrubby wood, but need a session with a good fork to lever out the deep roots. At first I thought the mole rat had burrowed underneath and munched the roots. But no, Just plain old garden expiry.

lavendercalabertfileOnce I get the roots out I will have a look and see if there is anything nasty lurking underneath.

And then I get to decide what to do this autumn in terms of replacement.

I have a yearning to sort this bed out in a more radical fashion. What I’ve learned (and in six years you could call me a slow learner) is that this garden is in deep shade for most of the morning. And as a consequence the lavenders have started to lean in that way that makes you feel guilty for planting the sun lovers in part shade.

So I might check on my santolina primrose gem cuttings and maybe shove them in here instead.  I can control santolinas much better once I cut the flowers off.  With lavenders I am loathe to deflower them as, let’s be honest, it’s a mighty ugly little plant when shorn of blooms.

wisteriadyingAnd speaking of ugly and death and dying.  One of our guests this week wondered why our huge white wisteria is looking so dead.

Really? I have never even noticed. Fancy missing something as glaring at that at the front of the house. I know the reason why. Every time I drive up to the farm I always look at the little bed directly underneath the wisteria. It is full of box balls in need of a trim and some dying bulb foliage which need tidying up.  So that’s all I see. Talk about missing the big picture.

And on that note, time to avert my gaze from the computer and step out and ogle.

ailefroide from Madame C