Now come on, be honest: when did you last take a long critical look at your patch, with a view to sorting out (by which I generally mean GETTING RID OF) some of the eyesores?
When you’ve been looking at a gruesome mistake in your garden for a long time, you end up barely registering it any more; but it’s probably blindingly obvious to visitors seeing it for the first time. This week, we’ve decided to come clean about some of our own mistakes that we’re going to correct very, very soon now, and they may just ring a bell with lots of you too……
Wrong roses/wrong position. It was such a great plan – we’ll grow gorgeous white roses (R. ‘Claire Austin’) for our daughter’s wedding, then we’ll plant them in a group to grow up a circular arched metal pavilion-thing in our cottage garden. Lovely! But we bought climbers instead of shrubs, we planted them too close together, and worse of all, the site quickly became too shady from trees round about, for the roses to ever look anything but fairly disgusted with life. Yards and yards of lanky growth, with some droopy (albeit very pretty) blooms at the end of them. I’ve put up with them for too many years now – this winter they are DEFINITELY coming out.
Wooden raised beds. How attractive some wooden raised beds would look for our small veg garden! None of that ‘easy-maintenance, click-together, plastic raised beds’ idea for us. Let’s go with the ‘high-maintenance, hard-to-put-together, needs-replacing-every-3-years-or-so, wooden boards’ idea……do I need to say more?
Nettles in a very stupid place. One of the delights of this garden in late July/early August is feasting on the Japanese wineberries (Rubus phoenocolasius) which romp along our very rustic Rosa rugosa hedge. But every year, we ruefully remember there are nettles a-plenty sneaking up through the hedge: as your arms and hands pick their way through the thorns of rugosa roses and the ornamental bramble in search of fruit, they fall victim to a million stings from the nettles. Never were small raspberries so hard-won. No more. I’m going to scrabble around at the bottom of the prickly hedge and dig our every last one of those yellow roots. Today.
When I mentioned to my husband that we were going to be talking this week about getting rid of problems in the garden, he just breathed “molehills” in a darkly menacing tone. That story will run and run……..
Well naturally my garden won’t contain as many misjudgements as Elaine’s, or rookie errors that Caroline might be about to fess up to, but there are some things that definitely need attending to now.
Curbing the self-seeders. Charming as it might be for the first year or two to have some worthy annual or biennial garden plants settling into your garden to the extent that they start popping up all over the place, you can have too much of a good thing.
The main culprit for me is Eryngium ‘Miss Willmott’s Ghost’ so called because the rather eccentric Miss Willmott used to surreptitiously scatter its seed in any garden she visited, thus ensuring a ghostly reminder of her presence would haunt the garden owner forever.
Despite this rather creepy back story, I love them, but mine have got out of hand so the spent plants are being yanked out now before the seed is fully ripe, to try and break the cycle a bit.
Decide what brings you joy Apply a steely Marie Kondo approach to your cluttered flowerbeds. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to oust plants that once brought you joy, but now just bed-block new acquisitions. For me this will involve ripping out clumps of long flowering hardy geraniums (bored by their endless sameness – sorry) and replacing them with the new collection of Benton irises I was thrilled to discover when Louise and I visited the Plant Heritage sale last weekend. I know their moment of glory is brief but it is so exquisite that I’m happier with this than the space-filling mediocrity of the geraniums.
And whilst Nigel is quietly seething about molehills we are being vexed by another mammalian interloper which really needs to be ejected from the garden pronto …
I don’t think you can seethe about something as beautiful as a mole or rabbit as long as you’ve got concrete slabs, rotting cold frames and, I’m wincing here, plastic play equipment in your gardens. These all need go to the recycling centre or on Gumtree this weekend. One kitsch garden gnome in an otherwise stunning garden can be considered quirky , an omni-shambles of failed garden experiments and family debris is a different matter and I do know.
Plastic plant pots – these are my current ‘bete noir’. Do they actually have sex at night? They multiply at a vast speed in every corner of my garden despite me being too hard-up to buy new plants (what I tell my husband). Taking them to pot exchanges is all very well but, like a car boot sale, I seem to return with just as many – they’re curiously tempting.
Rampant colonisers – please do include plants in this ‘fengshui’ campaign. Perhaps don’t do something as plainly nuts as Laura substituting perfectly healthy hardy geraniums (like our feature pic this week) with the very fleeting charm of irises (and which, in the eyes of my friend, ‘just look like a burst balloon!’), but I would definitely support the removal of incorrigible spreaders which, for me, include Macleaya, Inula hookeri and even Crocosmia, in an effort to regain control.
I’d stop short, though, of friends and family. We need to keep these in our gardens. And here I want to say a heartfelt thank you to those who have sent their support on hearing of my breast cancer treatment. I start my radiotherapy next week – everything is going very well and every day I count my blessings for those around me and for the UK’s free healthcare. I’d wish it for everyone in the world. Thank you!
What needs throwing out in YOUR garden? Write and let us know and we’ll compile a handy checklist for everyone to work through whenever they walk out into their own patch and feel even a teeniest bit smug…………………..!
If you want some tips on how to get new roses for free, check out this Growhow column from Elaine.
NB Louise’s great plant this month might also be a self-seeder that some people will hoick out whilst others will be delighted by its arrival. Click on the box below to find out what it is.
More NB If you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.