So here we are, we’ve reached Christmas again, and despite our very best efforts, our gardens are STILL not perfect…(for perfect, look at Louise’s Great Plant this Month at the end of the blog) so I think we should all turn joyfully to studying our gardens with a clear eye as to what ‘worked’ last year, and what didn’t.
First and foremost, I MUST be more ruthless about plants that are not thriving. It’s appallingly easy for a soft-hearted gardener to end up with a patch full of Anates cataces, aka Lame Ducks. They defiantly don’t actually die, but limp on with a mocking smirk.
I must dig out a ‘Graham Thomas’ rose in my Eastbourne garden for instance – it has been reminiscing about past glories for far too long. Ditto, a scraggy old Teucrium fruticans in France – though anything that you have grown from a tiny cutting is that much harder to bin, isn’t it. Infanticide has a tricky moral dimension.
And then there are the things I need more of (apart, obviously, from Whole Nut chocolate and a crisp dry white). I must divide Geranium ‘Rozanne’, for one, and spread it around. I know it’s a cliché, but what a plant! In glowing flower for months and months, never a nuisance, beloved by insects. Its only vice is that it looks EXACTLY like a buttercup root in the spring, so please be very careful not to yank it up in error.
Now what has worked for you this last year, dear sisters, and what in your gardens, is going to get a steely-eyed New Year scything?
My plan for next year is to grow more and more plants that no one has ever heard of. I would like my garden to be more ‘botanical collection’ and less ‘Butlins-on-sea’.
So no more bedding out, no repeated planting themes, no matching colour schemes. It’s going to be all obscure and understated oddities from now on (E and C would probably point out at this stage that a garden’s character reflects that of its owner. So whilst Elaine’s garden is all vivaciousness and colour, and Caroline’s is a triumph of grit against adversity, mine will just be – weird….)
I sent poor Caroline on a mission to Glendoick near Dundee a while back, to collect the last remaining rooted cuttings of this wonderful nursery’s vireya rhodendron collection. This was before they ceased production of this line of dwarf subtropical rarities, and tending these little gems in my glasshouse is giving me inestimable pleasure.
So all effort in the coming year will be devoted to my growing collection of South African proteas, Maderian echiums and tender rhododendrons.
Unfortunately this means that anything commonplace, even out in the garden, is going to get short shrift. They will have to go to make room for these other worldly incomers in my dystopian garden vision. If I was an innocent sweet hard-working Geranium ‘Rozanne’ I would be applying for a transfer to Elaine’s garden quicker than an England penalty miss.
What with Elaine eliminating her struggling perennials like a pre-menstrual Cruella de Vil, and Laura resolving to grow things purely on the basis that no one has ever heard of them, you do wonder how I ever turned out so pleasantly normal coming from the same gene pool.
Like, I suspect, most people reading this blog I just cherished everything that had the guts to give it a go in my garden this year – not everything did. Casualties from my windy, salty, Scottish corner (2017) included: Actea ‘Brunette’ which did not turn out like the one in our feature photo at the top, but went blonde and died; Echinops ‘Arctic Glow’ whose prompt demise in East Lothian I thought a bit rich given its promising name; and the Mediterranean Cynara cardunculus which set about its demise from the day I planted it.
Conversely others showed balls of steel – Kniphofia ‘Tawny King’; Diascia personata, plus two Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Galgenveld’ and ‘White Ness’. Their low centre of gravity coupled with British Grit were very encouraging after so many failures…..thank you Cranesbill Nurseries.
For obvious reasons, the greenhouse is the best place to be in my garden, and I’d like to give a special mention to Zaluzianskya ovata which contributed lovely scent, foliage and flowers in that little haven. I must also mention (and wait for E & L to flinch) some streptocarpus which I bought as plugs from Chelsea. This drew a reaction from Laura that she reserves for four-year-olds and me. I’m sorry girls, but they were jolly cheery and I’ll be growing these again!
Lastly, may The3Growbags wish all of our lovely readers a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year – may your gardens make you smile and all your slugs be little ones.
Here is Louise’s perfect Great Plant this Month
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