Aplanting we will go

Oh what a glorious day. Blazing sun (so warm I even shed a layer of fleece at lunchtime) and the whiff of spring in the air. One can’t frolic with complete abandon; there is still a frost at night and the water in the coutyard ponds was frozen when I woke up. But nothing was going to deter my relentless good cheer.

Today was planting day. First here is a wee photo gallery of the plants I bought en route to my trip up to the plateau. I visited the nursery of M. Bertrand at St Vincent de la Commanderie in the Drome. Chris Banks had recommended it to me and I drove straight from the train station with a mighty list.

Yes, they do have grasses – but not Pennisetum ‘Hameln’. But I came away with swags of stuff. Anemanthele lessonia, Miscanthus sinensis (plain ones alas, but at least I can get a good crop of seeds for next year). pennisetum alopecuroides, some sedum Autumn Joy, Echinacaea purpurea Magnus, Persicaria bistorta, Salvia caradona, and best of all some Perovska blue spires. They are teensy, but hopefully will romp away.

I also brought over the last of the London plants that have been lurking on our top floor terrace: geraniums, lavender Hidcote and the last Eupatorium purpureums that I bought from Knoll Gardens.

First went in all the plants for the lilac bed. I tried my best to stick to the planting plan. But I added extra Persicaria and more Perovskias.

There are still plenty of Asters to go (hopefully from Plantagenet plants in the monster Easter order) and I will add Stipas in the gaps. Plus I have to sow and grow plenty of Rogersias. Must remember to get out my seed box this week and get going.

The anemantheles are my favourite grasses so far: I can’t wait to see how they do under this no-go area under the lilac and mock orange tree. They look lovely right now; but I keep an image of Beth Chatto’s garden in my mind. She has some mighty specimens in her gravel garden and doesn’t give them much water. I suspect hers is better placed, but I can but try.

Next I moved up to the three little terraces on the back behind the potting shed. Most of this bank will be in full sun so I have launched into a mass planting (well at least six of each – this is my first year before taking plenty of cuttings) of echinacaea purpurea Magnus, eupatorium purpureum, salvias and sedums.   And I couldn’t resist adding a few more grasses for some height. If the verbena bonariensis cuttings show signs of life they will go in there too. The poor plants had a rough winter in the potting shed. I just have to hope that they will emerge. The kangaroo paw looks moribund. But I shall be patient and wait a few more weeks before declaring things dead.

The steps above the terraces are an experiment; and look a bit odd right now. I have planted lots of sedums up near the treads. Along with some stipas that survived the winter snow. They are looking a bit crisp, but at least they are alive.  The conundrum I will face is when all the weeds start to appear. How do I keep it neat? And do I sow grass seeds on the treads? Or cover them with weed proof fabric and cover them with bark chips? I have only a few weeks to decide as hopefully this spring weather will last.

I finished the day by gently gassing myself on the peach leaf curl spray mix. A light breeze lifted the water and funcide droplets into the air around the peach trees and almond tree that I was dosing and landed in the lungs. Lovely. Thank god for whisky to drown the taste.