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Ahead of the final instalment on tree felling, our customary pause for a breather and the End of Month view.

A different aspect of the Precipitous Bank to start with this month, brought to you courtesy of all the extra light it now enjoys ex-conifer. The epimedium in the foreground may need a new home, the Saxifraga stolonifera too. It’s fortuitous that this new angle also cunningly conceals a bit of wanton destruction, of which more in a moment.


Hints are beginning to emerge of the prairie style planting that I have been aiming for on the hill.


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Helenium ‘Waltraut’, Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ and Fuchsia (variety unknown)

The heleniums are at their peak


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Thugs both of them, Astilbe and Crocosmia, evicted from the terraces last year. The jury is still out on whether they will get to remain in their new location but for now their sheer numbers give me the look that I want. Anemanthele lessoniana is just visible behind the astilbes.


This month it’s been about hard graft. And not without a little bit of risk..


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Work in progress


I’ve finally taken on the near-vertical front face of the bank. Yes, I’ve been chipping away at the edges for a while now, but if I’m ever going to be rid of the ivy and deep seated weeds the chicken wire had to come off. In total. No messin’. Unfortunately it’s not just the wire and the weeds, a fair amount of soil has come down too. My strategy up to now, to lessen the chance of soil erosion, had not been to clear large areas of the slope but to weed and then plant up small patches at a time. With 6 feet wide sections of chicken wire to contend with, however, this just wasn’t going to work.

After several years in situ the wire is now closely entwined with the vegetation. In some cases the plants have physically grown into the mesh and incorporated it within their structure.


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A fern, now pinned in its place

I am having to clip the wire away strand by strand. Once a whole panel of wire is freed the underlying weeds can come out, when a lot of the soil starts to fall.


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Going back in, ground cover plants. Things that will quickly spread their roots and their top hamper too, to hopefully suppress new weeds. Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’ (I may yet regret this), Ceratostigma plumbaginoides and, just seen bottom right, Erigeron karvinskianus.


We’ve had some torrential showers this week and so far the results are encouraging. Although soil comes down when my feet or fork disturb it, it seems to stay put in the rain. The longer it stays there, the longer the roots have time to take hold.

There are other advantages to removing the chicken wire too..


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Not, for once, a mouse hole. Now I can dig into the face of the bank and create firm footholds.


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July. In a somewhat harsher light than we’ve previously seen.


As well as more bare earth there’s less colour this month. The cornus is over. The day lilies have finished and their foliage has collapsed in a heap. They have tried my patience just a little too far and they’re coming out. The Anemanthele lessoniana is too, it jars. It will be replaced by one of its many offspring but only until that, in its turn, outgrows the space. If I am to fully appreciate the colour from the flowering perennials the grasses could do with being lighter, less lumpish. Although perhaps I do need to give the perennials more time to bulk up. A magenta rose has emerged, like a phoenix at middle right. I’m sure it wasn’t there last year. But it creates an impact, alongside the crocosmia behind it, so it gets to stay.

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Onwards and (ever literally) upwards. Didn’t I say it once before.. Rome wasn’t built in a day.


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Eschscholzia californica


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