Friday, October 07, 2011

Not-quite-the-end of the month view: September

Well, heck, I'm only a week late for the End of Month View (hosted, some time ago now, by Helen, aka The Patient Gardener). And who can blame me for clinging onto September: it has been a remarkably warm and balmy one. And it's looking pretty dicey for October, so if it's all the same to you I'll linger for a while longer in the twilight zone between summer and autumn.


It's not, however, been an altogether sunny picture in my garden: particularly my front garden. You see we've had an amusing time this summer almost completely rebuilding our house.


A relatively straightforward project, to replace the blown cement render with lovely stone-house-friendly lime render, turned into something altogether more fundamental when we discovered that the cement render was actually holding the outer wall in place.

The whole process has involved large holes appearing here and there (and I mean large: we could stand up in the one in the end wall), the rebuilding of the entire end wall plus a chimney stack and the reinstatement of the top of the wall at the front, which turned out not to be there any more.

And most upsettingly for the garden, it also meant we've had scaffolding right round the house since around July. The builders were commendably sensitive and didn't plonk scaffolding poles onto prize plants: but there is lime on everything, and because I haven't been able to access the area the bit of progress I had been making has gone backwards.



So this winter's project (one of them: the fruit cage is also going in this winter, but that's another story) is to get this little lot back in order again.


First job is to remove the more rampant plants here. There's a self-sown cotoneaster bent on taking my stone wall down with it, and a large stump that needs to come out.


Also getting seriously out of control are some more welcome plants: a fine clump of small-flowered asters, a species I think though I haven't yet been able to identify them with any sort of confidence. There are masses of white Anemone japonica 'Honorine Jobert'; the snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) has galloped gaily over everything; and there's tons of self-seeded valerian in every nook and cranny, too.

Some of these I shall just move; the valerian will go (there's plenty elsewhere in the garden; I do love it, but not to the exclusion of everything else). And I'm afraid the Cerastium is just a bit too bedding for me; it's going.

There is a dilemma, in the shape of a large and stately hardy fuchsia in the middle of the whole thing. It's massive; it's in the wrong place; but it's a fine plant. I can't see I'll be able to move it without wrecking it wholesale; my preferred option at the moment is to take some cuttings and start again, with the statutory mourning period required for the sad but necessary passing of such beauties.

And replacing it all? Well: part of it is already assigned. I have my corner of scented geraniums, underplanted with blankets of Strawberry 'Baron von Solemacher'. I have an olive tree to replace the horrible cotoneaster in the corner, to arch gracefully and elegantly over the semi-oval of chamomile lawn which will replace the scraggy grass and even scraggier roses which inexplicably occupy the only flat bit. And the thyme collection dotted around another side is coming on nicely.


And once the other planting areas are cleared and as I want them, I have herbs dancing through my dreams: medicinal echinacea and stately angelica, prostrate rosemary dripping over the old stone wall and hummocks of sage ringed with dancing spheres of silvery-pink chive flowers.

I have a yen to grow mandragora root, liquorice and blood-red veined sorrel, fenugreek and cumin, capers and orach, mint (sunk in pots) of every shape, size and flavour, vervain for tea and sweet cicely for sweetening my rhubarb.

In fact I'm sure I'll run out of space long before I've run out of herbs I want to grow. At the moment, I'm just thinking how different what I see out my window looks in comparison to the vision I have in my head: but then gardens are the stuff that dreams are made on. And besides, the scaffolding came down this week. Time to get out the spade and turn those dreams into reality...

4 comments:

Esther Montgomery said...

Sounds like a hair-raising summer.

Cotoneaster is an iffy plant. It works well if restrained in the right place. More often - it's a dull world dominator.

I have red-veined sorrel. It looks good but tastes bitter. (At least, mine does.)

What would you do with mandrake apart from dig it up in the night and scare the neighbours?

Elephant's Eye said...

Red sorrel. Realised too late that in our climate I should plant it where it at least gets afternoon shade. Note to self, move red sorrel in March!

Mrs Bok - The Bok Flock said...

I love the idea of blankets of strawberries!

The Constant Gardener said...

Hello Esther - hair-raising just about sums it up. Am hoping that mandrake screams when you pull it up just like in Harry Potter, but suspect it will just look lumpy and vaguely humanoid. It's actually very poisonous so I'm going to have to put a little sign up or something... It has in the past been used as an anaesthetic - has powerfully narcotic effects.

Anyway. Quixotic and interesting status only rather than useful, I think.

EE: my spot for the red sorrel is in the shady bit in front of the wall - sounds like it's going to work well :D

Mrs Bok: growing strawberries in blankets is the only way to do it in my opinion - can never have too many....!

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