Going Soft







You heard it here first. I miss the azaleas.

This is such a useful exercise, comparing a part of the garden, month on month. It’s made me focus hard on what is working and what is not.

The astilbes which now dominate the scene have been in the terraces all along. Back in April I just split a couple of large clumps into four smaller ones and spread them through the bottom bed. Whether it was that, the Spring rain, or a combination of both, these moisture loving plants have rocketed up. To the detriment of the whole I think. I’m discovering that I really like the pops of strong colour that I had in Spring, provided they are appropriately placed and properly balanced. There is still a little of that boldness there now, but it hasn’t shown up well from the usual picture angle.



A closer shot of the far end


I’m also learning much about the way a camera works. When I look at a section of the border my eye homes in on key points of interest. The camera looks at it as a whole. Everything it ‘sees’ has equal weight. The result is far more homogenous than the image processed by my brain.

But fear not. I have a plan. It’s not the best time of year to be moving stuff around, but if I do it now I will immediately see the effect of the changes I make.



Squirrels again..


The bird table is repaired and the birds are back. The squirrels, as ever, have had the last word. I witnessed one of the little blighters stripping the flowers off the pinks. Not to eat them, oh no. Just to leave them in a pile on top of the wall. How mean is that?

Could it be because we tested the twirler and at least one of the squirrels got a free fairground ride?



Erigeron karvinskianus

At least yesterday I did find this. It will need a few more to create a real impact, but it is a start. The vertical face of the terrace wall is increasingly forming part of the planting scheme too.


Linking up with Helen’s End Of Month View at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog. Click through to find out what other gardeners are up to this month.


2018-04-09T19:24:04+00:00June 30th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Alison June 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    Well, I have to say I really like the Astilbes! And of course I am once again marveling over how fabulous your rock walls are.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      I like Astilbes too, but perhaps the colour needs to be a bit more vibrant. I can put these in what will be a bog garden down by the river. The walls are a real feature and a lovely backdrop to the planting. All the more reason to get it right and do them justice! Thanks Alison.

  2. Linda from Each Little World June 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    You might prefer Astilbe ‘Fanal’. It emerges with bronze foliage and intense deep red flowers It’s the only one I grow. Try taking some garden pix in B/W. Without color you see the structure of plants which is always helpful. I tend to move plants when I have time and energy and just water them in well. I’ve moved things in some pretty hot and dry weather and still had good results.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      I just looked that astilbe up.. it’s suitably vibrant! It’s also encouraging that you’ve moved plants successfully when it’s hot. I was tempted to do it and now definitely will. Once I’ve decided to do something it needs to be now, I’m hopeless at waiting.

  3. Jennifer June 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    I don’t know much about any of the things you have growing here, but I really like Linda’s suggestion above. I want to try that too. Your garden is looking very lush and beautiful as the summer progresses.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      It needs more colour. The summer sun, even here, tends to bleach out the flowers. It’s all looking a bit insipid to me and needs a few more colour pops.

  4. Jane and Lance Hattatt June 30, 2014 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Hello Jessica:

    We rather like the repetition of the Astilbes running the length of your terrace border. For our own part we believe that they, or indeed any plant used similarly, help to provide an assurance and focus to the eye by suggesting continuity and familiarity.

    In moving perennials in the height of summer we would always cut them absolutely to the ground, leaving nothing on them at all, then lift, divide if required, replant with copious amounts of water and within a very short time they would put on new, fresh growth and flower at a later time.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm - Reply

      The repetition to provide continuity was exactly what I was trying to achieve. My mistake, I think, was to use something I already had rather than think about what the terraces really need. The astilbes are coming out, now if I can find something suitable to go in their place, but certainly by next year. Thank you for the advice on moving them, I will definitely do that. They will go in a location where they have plenty of moisture and a bit more shade, so hopefully should re-establish well.

  5. Em June 30, 2014 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    I hate azaeleas but have to agree that splash of colour was really effective. I’ve often taken pictures of the border and had the same reaction as you! My mum says you can have as much fleabane as you like!

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:41 pm - Reply

      Thanks Em, I may well take you up on Mum’s offer (swopped for the Saxifraga stolonifera). I’ll just see how these couple settle in first, how it will survive in full sun with so little water remains to be seen..

  6. paxton3 June 30, 2014 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    I love Fleabane. I have it dotted here and there, but prefer it poking out of walls as I walk into town and back.
    Leanne xx

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      I am seeing it all over the west country of late, especially in walls. It’s a lovely plant. I hope I can get it to settle in here.

  7. angiesgardendiaries June 30, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    After admiring Erigeron karvinskianus for year in blogs and other gardening sites – I found it yesterday in a GC but they weren’t particularly good looking plants so I didn’t bother. Yours looks lovely.
    I’m still shuffling plants around – I think provided you can keep on top of the watering, you should be ok. Well, that’s what I’ve been doing and it seems to work.
    The border is looking good and I can see why you miss the Azalea – I’m sure I admired it last month. I’m a wee bit betwixt and between re astilbes at the moment. What I really want to know Jessica, is how you get your Hakeonechloa looking so good? I’m hoping you are going to tell me the are lovely mature clumps and time is all that is needed – other than that, I’m doing something wrong!

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      They are lovely mature clumps and time is all that is needed… keep the faith x

  8. Sue@GLAllotments June 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    To look at garden structure a food tip somewhere is to take a photo and view it in black and white. You are right the camera isn;y as selective as we are in what it sees.

    Didn’t the squirrel even chew the pinks a bit?

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      I shall certainly try the black and white tip.. intriguing!
      No, not even a bit. And it had a wicked look in its eye. This is war.

  9. Amy at love made my home June 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Lovely to see it softer in colour as well as form. That squirrel, well!!! I am lost for words. You would think that they would at least have the decency to eat them or carry them off somewhere, but just to leave a pile of beheaded pinks!!!! xx

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t believe those flowers when I saw them. I can think of no other reason for doing it other than spite.

  10. Pauline June 30, 2014 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I liked your Azaleas too! I think maybe a stronger colour is needed for your astilbe, there are some lovely red ones which would be as strong a colour as your Hakonechloa.
    I despair at the damage squirrels do, your poor pinks!

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      You’re right about the stronger colour. The pale pink would look much better in the woodland, apparently they do well in shade and down near the river the moisture would suit them well.

  11. frayed at the edge June 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    I love astilbes, I have had them in all my gardens! We have both pink and red ones in this garden.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      In the right place I’d agree. They add a nice softness and waft gently in the breeze. There is a place up in North Devon that has a national collection, they look particularly effective en masse.

  12. wherefivevalleysmeet June 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    How wonderful to have finally established some Erigeron karvinskianus – now it has a foothold there will be no stopping it. We have tried many times to get it going but it doesn’t seem to want to reside with us.
    It is lovely to have contrasts each month – last month was vibrant and this month is subtle and soft.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      The Erigeron may yet go the same way for me Rosemary. I bought a couple of plants and stuffed them into niches in the wall, stuffed being the operative word. Even though Mike expanded the holes with a hammer and chisel, I still had a job pushing the root ball in. I shall keep an eye on them and give them a spritz with a spray bottle if it looks like they are getting too dry. Establishing them would be a real result.

  13. Chloris June 30, 2014 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    The Astilbes are lovely, so feathery and delicate. I am intrigued about your cunning plan. I wonder what you are going to move. As we have hardly had any rain here I am just trying to keep on top of watering plants in their original homes and can’ t contemplate any rehousing.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      I think the astilbes will look better in the woodland, down by the river. I’ll replace them with something of a stronger hue, repeated at intervals along the lower terrace, as I tried to do with the astilbe. The pinks may travel as well.. maybe just a bit further back in the border so they feel better integrated into the planting.. give the squirrels a harder job finding them too 🙂

  14. Crafty Gardener June 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm - Reply

    My white astillbe is flourishing but the pink is just giving off enough to let me know it is still around.
    The terraces look wonderful as always.

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda. I do like the white I must say.

  15. Joanne June 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    What evil squirrels you have there! Do you know I had never thought of the camera seeing the whole picture, you are right of course!

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      Those squirrels will get their comeuppance, I am not finished with them yet. I get constantly frustrated looking at images that don’t pick up what I see. I wonder which is closer to reality? The camera I suppose for it does not impose value judgements, it just records what’s there.

  16. Mark and Gaz June 30, 2014 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    I do quite like that orange blooming Azaleas but I also like the softness of the pink Astilbe. Great shots and good to hear that some of the plants on the wall are showing signs of happiness 🙂

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 11:25 pm - Reply

      I have high hopes for the wall. Except that the snails have, unbelievably, scaled the heights and found the sempervivum I planted last month..

  17. John going gently June 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Our tiny garden always looks lovely in may
    By July it’s almost all over
    Yours is lovely

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 11:35 pm - Reply

      Your garden looked fantastic in May! That’s the trouble, after June things start to lose their freshness and the early rush of bloom is over. It gets more difficult from now on.

  18. CherryPie June 30, 2014 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    It is nice to see your garden at different times of year. Good luck with your replanting ideas 🙂

    A few days ago i notice we had a hedgehog vising our garden. Very noisy, very cute and thankfully not destructive 🙂

    • Jessica June 30, 2014 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      How wonderful to have a hedgehog! I’ve never seen one here and would love to. Provided, as you say, it was not too destructive. They like slugs though, don’t they? I have plenty of those tasty morsels on offer..

      • CherryPie July 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

        They actually like beetles and bugs. Slugs aren’t so good for them but they will eat them as a last resort. They are an endangered species now.

        Just a few minutes ago I pulled out the watering can to water a few pots. I jumped out of my skin, there was a little frog sitting on the top blinking at me. It was very pretty one I had recovered from the surprise 🙂

        • Jessica July 2, 2014 at 12:00 am - Reply

          I wish frogs wouldn’t just leap out of the foliage without warning.. they do give you a shock!

  19. Suzanne July 1, 2014 at 2:27 am - Reply

    I like the astilbes. Could be a great foil to deep purple, maybe vertical spires like salvias, or drum stick alliums? It’s looking great!

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 10:28 am - Reply

      I’ve tried alliums, they were my first choice. I planted a shed load and they all disappeared. Mice or excessive wet? If I could find hardier salvias that would work well wouldn’t it. I’m on my way to a nursery today..

  20. woolythymes July 1, 2014 at 4:30 am - Reply

    those pesky squirrels….i had 4 doing a balancing act on my new bird feeder this morning…..as their buddy ‘the bunny’ was hopping towards the garden for breakfast. grrrrrrrrr.

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Four squirrels and a bunny.. Exactly the same as here. So far just the one bunny..

  21. Sigrun July 1, 2014 at 6:33 am - Reply

    Erigeron is not growing in my garden, to cold in Winter. I like the astibes too!


    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 10:34 am - Reply

      It grows happily in the wild in Devon, so I’m hoping I can establish it. It won’t be for want of trying. At least in the wall it will be free draining.

  22. elaine July 1, 2014 at 8:15 am - Reply

    What a difference to the border that pop of colour makes – to keep a border looking good all year round is not an easy feat.

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 10:38 am - Reply

      It’s a real balancing act, getting enough plants of each variety to create a presence, but enough varieties to have something of interest all year round, in a relatively small space. I am trying to create pockets of colour in different places as the season progresses. A work in progress.

  23. Vintage Jane July 1, 2014 at 8:46 am - Reply

    I am not a great gardener so all this plant talk and Latin names are beyond me … but the pesky squirrel antics did make me grin. How naughty is he!!

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 10:58 am - Reply

      They are impossible! The annoying thing is I’m sure they do it deliberately to taunt. They seem to revel in our constant battles and always seem to have a new trick up their sleeves..

  24. SmallP July 1, 2014 at 10:47 am - Reply

    Oh I think your garden looks beautiful in both photos. It looks so lush and colourful. I love the geranium in the close up photo too. Such a vibrant purple/blue.

    That squirrel is a right little blighter. Can’t believe that he pick the petals off just for the hell of it. Hope you see him off before he does more damage!

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 11:09 am - Reply

      Blighter is one of the kinder names! There seem to be more around than ever this year. One was sitting bold as brass on my potting table when I went to open the greenhouse this morning.

  25. Jo July 1, 2014 at 11:59 am - Reply

    There’s such a difference between May and June, it’s such a good exercise taking a photo each month. I remember one of the wreaths at my sister’s funeral was in the shape of a teddy bear which was covered in carnations. We returned to the crematorium the day after the funeral and the squirrels had stripped it, all that was left were two glass eyes stuck in teddy bear shaped oasis.

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

      Oh Jo, that’s awful. And there was me complaining about a few pinks.

      • Jo July 2, 2014 at 1:08 pm - Reply

        We had a good laugh about it actually. My sister would have laughed too. Just two glass eyes stuck there and not a flower to be seen.

        • Jessica July 3, 2014 at 9:26 am - Reply

          When funny things happen at funerals it goes a long way to relieving the tension. It must have looked a sight!

  26. Anny July 1, 2014 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Well it’s certainly looking good to me. I’ve discovered rather too late, that the place I planted our fuchsias this year is exactly where the dog likes to hunt for frogs, I shall put them somewhere else next time…

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm - Reply

      I had a ginger lily, thought I’d find a nice sheltered spot for it where it might survive the winter outside. So I put it alongside the south facing wall of the house. I’d forgotten that the roof, having no guttering, has a drip zone directly underneath. The soil was pretty much the boggiest in the whole garden.

  27. Anna July 1, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Oh it’s all filling out so well Jessica. Did not know that squirrels are partial to pinks – hope that the blighters do not track mine down! Here the erigeron self seeds with abandon – himself thinks it a weed whilst I beg to differ.

    • Jessica July 1, 2014 at 11:57 pm - Reply

      I know the problem re Erigeron.. they look too much like the daisies in the lawn which prompt a mowing as soon as one dares to poke up a head. I have managed to convince him that the pink hue of the petals puts it into a different league. Mind you, we were in a garden today where it had completely taken over at one point.. things were looking dodgy again for a moment.

  28. Linda July 2, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

    The first thing I noticed about the June photo was the white rose still blooming and the plants growing in the crevices of the bottom wall of the terrace I suppose that’s because I’m interested in those features in a garden. I hope some more of those ferns and trailing daisies get established. An interesting point about what a camera captures as a whole and what we ourselves focus on in any scene. I’d never thought about that before.

    • Jessica July 2, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

      The white rose, Susan Williams Ellis, has done really well and just seems to keep on going. The flowers are smaller than I expected, but numerous. We’ve been regularly deadheading it to try and extend the show. I get increasingly frustrated at our lack of ability to reproduce in photo form what my eye sees. It’s the only explanation I can think of for it.

  29. I think it’s all looking good, including the Astilbes. That is a mean squirrel. It could at least eat them, the little bugger.

    • Jessica July 3, 2014 at 9:21 am - Reply

      I have reached an accommodation with the astilbes, they can stay (for now) but I’ve chopped out the tallest stems and thinned them. Made them more ‘see through’. And moved the pinks further back in the border to create a more balanced look. It’s better now!

  30. Marian St.Clair July 2, 2014 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    So lovely! I like the kick of pure yellow at the far top and think you could use a bit more.

    • Jessica July 3, 2014 at 9:30 am - Reply

      Some kicks of colour are definitely needed. I’ve just moved some of the pinks to a new position beside a bright yellow Libertia… zingy!

  31. Cathy July 2, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Now why did the squirrel do that? It’s a very artistic little pile of petals, isn’t it?

    • Jessica July 3, 2014 at 9:31 am - Reply

      Because they are revengeful and obnoxious little blighters, artistic or not.

  32. hoehoegrow July 2, 2014 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Naughty squirrels ! They need to sit on the naughty step for a very long time and contemplate what they have done !
    I like the astilbes and their frothy, cloudy flowers ! they are clearly enjoying this summer of alternate wet and warm weather.

    • Jessica July 3, 2014 at 9:35 am - Reply

      The naughty step here spins round at great speed. They will get their comeuppance.

  33. islandthreads July 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    I maybe the only one who actually prefers the softer look, I’m not mad on astilbes or pink but I like that my eye now wanders the terraces instead of whizzing straight to the end without seeing anything else, I like to see changes and not the same look all the time, but we all have our own preferences,
    horrid squirrels, I have starlings that just peck the flowers off, it’s such a waste, not just so we can’t enjoy but also the bees and butterflies, nature doesn’t always get it right,

    • Jessica July 3, 2014 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      Perhaps what I need is stronger colours at intervals rather than just one end as with the azalea, I do take your point about the eye wandering. I’ve taken the secateurs to the astilbes now.. they are thinned and more ‘see through’. I think that helps. I’ve also moved the pinks. I thought they were too in the face on the edge of the terrace so I’ve moved them back. The colour balance is better. And when Mr Squirrel returns he may get a little confused..

  34. casa mariposa July 4, 2014 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Last summer the squirrels would take a bite from each tomato and then throw them on the ground. Furry little jerks! I’d love to see a video of the squirrels on their new ride. 🙂 I always think your garden beds look great. Have you thought about using stronger colors in the terraces? That might look fabulous against the white walls.

    • Jessica July 4, 2014 at 9:03 am - Reply

      The squirrels are impossible, they did the same with tomatoes here too. I’m working on the video, and the colours.. hope to have both here soon.

  35. Antoinette July 4, 2014 at 6:47 am - Reply

    I’d love to trade you a bit of our “flat” for a bit of your wall. 🙂 I can see why you’re missing your azaleas but then it is fun looking for new plants to give those bursts of colour.

    • Jessica July 4, 2014 at 9:05 am - Reply

      It is fun, except I think I find something with a strong enough colour but when I plant it it looks totally insignificant. Next year when things have matured it should look a lot better. I hope.

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