Neglected glories

I’m still waiting to get the light right to show you this part of the garden in the best position. I tried this one and was very pleased with myself until I realized you can see Elodie’s car in the shot. Hiding behind the fig.

So here’s how it is. The dry garden – one year old this month – is establishling nicely.  Drought tolerant shrubs all doing their best.

I was worried that these new plants would not be pleased I had to go away for a month during a drought.  But the huge thick mulch around the area has helped enormously. There are cadavers elsewhere (I’m averting my gaze from the iris bed at the moment) but here it’s lovely.

I have a crush on the three ballota hirsuta plants that is bordering on the boring. I’m sure if I dig hard enough I will find a ballota appreciation society on the internet.

But there is a yen for a bit more. You haven’t lost anything to drought and marauding badgers.  You need to be patient. Let it thrive.

But, but, but.  A touch more colour. A touch more fun. The blue of the perovskia were a hit. Are a hit (I haven’t killed them yet).  And I know I need to get more of them as the bright vibrant zing of colour in October makes the rest look a touch sensible.

Well, that’s not true. I just dived into my folder and can see that in spring it’s fab. Lavender, alliums galore, the brilliant achillea.

But like a lot of gardens, there isn’t much colour after summer.

As I have spent my budget on the shrubs, the only way I could see to fun it up was to grow things from seed.  And I was leaning towards the yellows and russet browns of the rudbeckias (going great guns in the potager and giving me flowers for the bouquets well into October.)

Look away from those dahlias. Goodness I do love a dark brooding red flower. Dahlias would expire within weeks in this inhospitable dry garden. They only thrive with automatic drip feed watering in the potager.

So rudbeckias, yes. And I was also leaning towards dianthus.

Drought tolerant. Perhaps I could find some varieties among the dianthus family that could give me colour later in the year.  (They do well on the terrace bank until early summer.)

So here’s how it goes. You peruse the online plant catalogues and Get A Bit Carried Away.

Packets arrive. You line them up (goodness, who ordered that many different dianthus?). Sow in a flurry in spring. Watch them grow, prick them out, plant them up, move them on. And then comes the scary moment when you plant them out out (your babies!) in the vast expanse of the Dry Garden.

Watering deeply fortnightly. See if they thrive.  There is a cycle in any garden called attention, care, nurturing, planting and then oddly, neglect. One is just so busy in a garden to give time to every teensy green thing you have sown from seed. A sort of tough love.

And of all the dianthus and rudbeckias you have sown and grown. This one variety is the winner.

You’ve seen it before. You keep seeing it. The tiny little clump just keeps on flowering.

Without thinking I collected the seeds on the few spent flowers and decided that this is the dianthus for me.

I was dreaming of a sea of this wonder plant, giving me joy almost all year and planning on ordering more online so I could sow a huge number next year.  I’ll just check the variety I thought as I put the paper bag of well labelled seed into the drawer. Dianthus Dash Violet.

And looking more carefully I could see it was an F1.


It won’t come true from seed. And no wonder if is flowering so long. F1s are the ridiculous result of brilliant breeding. They flower longer, perform better, and of course are useless for seed collecting.

And curses, the Plants of Distinction catalogue no longer sell them. Grrrr. Just when you find the perfect plant….

Nah, I’m being overly sentimental. A lot can happen here in the autumn and winter. These little plants don’t stand a chance. In order of calamity that can ocurr I offer you Badger, Wild Boar, Episode Cevenol floods, heavy snowfall, hard frost, frozen ground. The lot.

Better to gaze on my sensible Mediterranean shrubs and be grateful.

And I have spent a good busy afternoon shoving in alliums for next spring’s display. I have no idea if the alliums will return from this season. So I have only planted on the north side of the garden. I’m curious to see what returns.