Planting up


With a last brush down and shake of the grubby work boots I retire from the dirt.

Yes. It’s done.

Well, done for now.

I have removed as many weeds and unwanted plants from the guesthouse garden as I dare. (The ivy was just trimmed rather than ripped out owing to the hideous wall.)


I rebuilt the wall in a fey fashion. It needs more work. But after moving dozens of heavy rocks to create two small borders along this huge area I can’t even countenance one more attempt.

It was a matter of shifting a buried and fallen rock wall about three feet.  Part of me, the aching back part of me, thought, why bother? But then you only do these things once. So I applied a bit more vim and heft and got it done.

Yesterday it was a full on attack of the rest of the long narrow bed.


Those pesky lilacs? Out.


There were four suckers from the original plant. And the size of them meant I couldn’t even work out which was the original shrub.  But I have left one sucker – it was too close to the badly built wall to even attempt a removal. So for now I will have one small lilac on monster roots.

Or if I am lucky enough to get the wall re-done I will swoop in with my pick axe and fork and be done with this suckering beastie.  I love lilacs. In other peoples’ gardens.


Artur was no help whatsoever.  But he loves freshly raked soil to run across. I guess it is the equivalent of a toddler being confronted with a sandy beach.  I couldn’t deny the elderly critter the scamper. But I drew the line at lap work as I had the asters to save.

So much soil had ended up at the base of this huge wall that I have managed to half bury some ailing plants.  So with yet more bucket and spade work, I created a double terrace for the plants.


I can see there are only three plants left from the original scheme. That’s a shame as they were quite marvellous once.

But they just didn’t cope with the combination of mild neglect and drought.

Here’s a reminder of their glory years just to give you all a smile. 2014. The aster glory years.

sedum lilac bed

sedum aster summer

The top row will be for about thirty more verbena bonariensis plants. I transplanted seven of them (they were gasping).

And I will add seven more lavender Hidcotes down the front.


Those are the black pots you can see buried in the front.

I have to do that so I don’t get over excited and cram the bed with plants and forget I need a row of lavenders in front.


I don’t actually need them. But I have half a dozen down the far end of the bed.  And I feel a spot of symmetry wouldn’t go amiss.

If you don’t know Hidcote, they are dwarf lavenders with brilliant blue flowers.  Let me rummage and see if you can get a glimpse of even one picture that isn’t washed out and faded.

DSC02709 - Copy



And the rest of the bed will be filled with my bomb proof drought tolerant mighty sedums.  And phlomis (which are Not Happy in the terrace bank in a drought).

And alliums. Back to the alliums. Not a sighting in this bed since 2013 when Carla came to photograph the garden.



At least they will be easy to plant with all this soft soil.

And I put in two stipa gigantea plants which I have grown on.


There is one I transplanted at the end of this bed which is thriving. And it gave me an idea to add more.

I weeded the tiny thin grasses out of the gravel in the courtyard a few months back. And thought; good, stipa babies, this will save me a fortune in not buying the plants.   I hope they are stipa gigantea.  It will look embarrassing if I have lavished all the care and attention on a weed. (And boy are they slow growing.)


I am hiding them behind some sedum for now. I was so excited to be planting up that I forgot to take an action shot of the little plants.  they should balance the two stipas at the further end of the bed. Symmetry again.

And there you have it.  All I need to do is a thick mulch – I have grass cuttings hiding most of the soil for now. But it is going to look a whole lot more colourful with better mulch. Who would have thought that the prospect of brown mulch would excite. But enough of beige I say.

Have a dahlia.