Against The Odds

 

Agapanthus 'Zachary' 003 Wm[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=

 

Agapanthus ‘Zachary’

 

If you’ve been following the blog for any length of time (two seconds ought to do it) you’ll know that chez rusty duck presents something of a challenging environment for even the hardiest of plant. The wet Devon winters severely restrict the range I can successfully grow. And then there are the critters: those wot munch. This year it’s been particularly bad with a rabbit population explosion and frequent visits from the deer. The slimy ones, the molluscs, well they’ve had a heyday. The garlic drench worked reasonably well but it does need repeated applications. Especially after rain. And therein lies the rub. There are only so many hours in the day.

Even worse than the slugs, voles and mice remain public enemy number one. Within a couple of days of any new planting their calling cards appear. Ridges in the surface of the soil, the tell tale signs of underground tunnels, straight as a die and locked onto target: my latest precious acquisition a sitting duck at the end. The other night whilst tossing and turning a theory began to evolve. I wonder if my habitual practice of throwing a handful of chicken manure pellets into the planting hole is actually contributing to my downfall? Is it these that are attracting the mice? It’s easy enough to test out.

There are so many plant failures here that lessons have been learned. Trees and shrubs tend to be less susceptible to nibbling and it’s likely there will be more of these as the garden continues to develop. Lower maintenance too. At the other end of the work spectrum, annuals. Sadly there just isn’t the time at the moment. Sowing direct generally has a poor outcome on my heavy clay soil. Which brings us to the mainstay of the borders, the perennials. I’m a collector, I love plants. It’s always been hard to buy three of the same variety when instead I could acquire three very different and much sought after gems. Reluctantly I’ve come to appreciate that creating impact means planting in drifts. Yet still I had to force myself to do it. Now, however, it’s going back the other way. At least temporarily. One, maybe two, of each new-to-me variety until they’ve proved their tenacity. Then propagate from these or purchase more to fill in the gaps.

So what has made the grade? As summer draws to a close I thought it might be interesting to wander round the garden and note down the species that have proven, for me, against all the odds, the most reliable. Allow me to present rusty duck’s top ten survivors:

 
 

Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Orange Field' 001 Wm[1]

 

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Orange Field’

Every variety of Persicaria I’ve ever tried, and there have been many, have thrived. What a good job I love them!

 
 

Sanguisorba 'Tanna' 004 Wm

 

Sanguisorba ‘Tanna’

All sanguisorbas

 
 

Geranium macrorrhizum 'Album' Wm

 

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’

Nothing seems to eat geraniums

 
 

Geum Totally Tangerine

 

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

I’m dividing the shorter geums every year now and already have substantial drifts.

 
 

Verbena bonariensis 004 Wm

 

Verbena bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis survives as a perennial here. It also self seeds. Verbena rigida is, if anything, even more robust.

 
 

Panicum virgatum 'Squaw' 001 Wm[1] 1

 

Panicum virgatum ‘Squaw’

Grasses of all varieties do really well. Baby rabbits did nibble many of them down to the ground this Spring, it’s true. But then buzzards moved into the wood to nest, the bunnies became food themselves and the grasses all grew back.

 
 

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty' 005 Wm[1]

 

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

It just gets better and better.. Flushed with success, this year I even splashed out on an Itoh. Holding my breath..

 
 

Anemone x hybrida Honorine Jobert 002 Wm[1]

 

Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’

Japanese anemones demonstrate the classic ‘sleep, creep, leap’. Honorine has just started to leap. Wood anemones, being closer to the ground, do fall prey to nibbling. Pheasants and squirrels are the culprits here.

 
 

Phlomis russeliana 001 Wm

 

Phlomis russeliana

Purchased late last year it endured a particularly wet winter, bloomed, got shifted, wilted heavily, but picked back up and has survived to tell the tale. There will be more of these.

 
 

Euphorbia 'Black Pearl' 002 Wm

 

Euphorbia ‘Black Pearl’

And surely nothing would take on a euphorbia!

 

OK, so there were more than ten. The best of the rest:

Agapanthus

Alchemilla mollis

Aquilegia

Astilbe

Bergenia

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Chelone obliqua

Clematis

Crocosmia

Dierama

Digitalis

Epimedium

Erigeron karvinskianus

Ferns, all native varieties

Heathers, all types (acid soil)

Helianthemum

Knautia

Libertia

Lysimachia

Nepeta

Ophiopogon

Penstemon

Pulmonaria

Sedum

 

There have been surprises too. The last few winters, though wet, have also been exceptionally mild. Some of the following may be tested in years to come:

Cistus

Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy)

Hedychium gardnerianum (ginger lily)

Phormium

 
 

Cistus argenteus 'Silver Pink' 002 Wm[1]

 

Cistus argenteus ‘Silver Pink’

 

So not a bad list to start me off. Next season, through trial and error, maybe I can add some more.

Any suggestions?

 
 

Linking to Beth at Plant Postings for September Lessons Learned.

 
 
 

against-the-odds

pin it?

 
 
 

2017-01-29T16:43:07+00:00 September 6th, 2016|Tags: |82 Comments

82 Comments

  1. CJ September 6, 2016 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    Great to see your successes. Sanguisorba is lovely and something I’m looking to grow here. Good to know it’s fairly indestructible! I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what survives the wildlife down at the allotment as well. SO much effort put into strawberries, and we barely had any. I need to concentrate on the things that we use that we have a chance of harvesting. CJ xx

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      It must be even more difficult at the allotment because you can’t always be there. At least here if I see something nibbling I can go out and chase it off. For all the good it does. They just watch and wait until I go back inside. 🙁

  2. AnnetteM September 6, 2016 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    That is a long list and as I have been following your blog for some time I know it is quite an achievement. I grow a lovely small shrub that is very aromatic so might put off creatures – it is the Alpine Mint bush and has lovely white flowers in the spring: Prostathera cuneata. I usually pick one up in a well known DIY store. Have you tried Coriopsis yet – I grow Moonbeam as it is wonderful, but I guess the tender new shoots might be a bit tempting. Hopefully you will get some better suggestions from gardeners with similar problems.

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      The Prostathera is lovely, I just looked it up. Coreopsis I have tried. I bought two Moonbeam this year and all the leaves have been nibbled off. It is trying to produce new growth so I am keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully one day it might look as good as yours!

  3. surreycottage September 6, 2016 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Oh boy, do I sympathise! I live in a village near Holsworthy; not only are we on heavy clay, but we frequently get high winds from the direction of Bude (Chilsworthy in the winter is well-named)! The garden here has needed a fair bit of cutting back as the cottage was a holiday home before we bought it in 2014 and although you can see that it was once well-loved, certain rambunctious plants have taken over! They are clearly not the sort of plants that Devonian slugs and snails like to eat either!
    A good number of your plants are on my wish-list, once we have the Triffids under control! I really enjoy reading your blog, by the way :-)!

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      Hello and welcome! Great to hear from a fellow Devonian.
      When we arrived here the place was overrun by the ubiquitous montbretia and I battle with it to this day. That and Spanish bluebells. And no, nothing eats either of them. Any bulb that I plant, yes. Those two, not even a nibble. Frustrating isn’t it?
      Many thanks for your kind words on the blog.

      • Menolly September 8, 2016 at 10:52 am - Reply

        Amazing how montbretia gets everywhere, isn’t it? There are clumps of it along the roadsides too! Spanish bluebells as well and as you say, all impervious to mollusc-attack, mouse attack or creatures from another dimension attack (see euphorbia*)!

        We’ve just excavated a mini-Stonehenge behind the pond – clearly once a rockery with two little conifers. The little conifers are now 6′ high and will Have To Go (seriously ugly!). Something extremely hardy has also munched one of my euphorbias* – I dread to think what did THAT; probably something that I wouldn’t want to meet on a dark night.

        • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 2:41 pm - Reply

          Anything that eats a euphorbia deserves a medal. Possibly posthumously.

  4. alistair September 6, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    When I lived in Aberdeen I always thought of Devon as being the most desirable place in the UK. You had me rethinking, but only for a short time.

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      When we were house hunting it was either the West Country or Scotland (logistically, not to be recommended). The house here came up first. I’ve often wondered if it would have been better the other way around.

  5. mmwm September 6, 2016 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    That tangerine Geum! Love it! Weirdly, while I have a lot of chipmunks, voles, mice, and moles here, plus skunks and raccoons (no bunnies, but some foxes), they rarely actually harm a plant (knock wood), at least in the six years the garden’s been here. I see their holes everywhere, and I do think they had a hand, or a paw, in wilting the squash plants, and of course they eat all the blueberries and strawberries before I can, but they haven’t so far damaged a perennial plant. And it looks from your list and photos like you actually have a lot of survivors there!

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      And long may it continue! For a number of years I watched a rabbit or two pootle around the garden and thought how lovely they were. They didn’t seem to be doing any damage. Then this year they got it together and all of a sudden there was an invasion. Scores of them. For a few weeks nothing was safe and the garden was encased in chicken wire!

  6. Torrington Tina September 6, 2016 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    You have worked wonders and have some real gems. Clay soil here suits Aquilegia alpina, self sows, very useful and pretty in spring. Aster ‘Little Carlow’ just starting to flower, Calamintha nepeta surprisingly, and the bees love it. Carex comans ‘Bronze’, Crocosmia ‘Carmin Brilliant’, Euphorbia characias subs. wulfenii gets huge, lots of the Geraniums, ‘Orion’ and ‘Irish Blue’ especially, Iris sibirica in various hues, Penstemmon glaber. I could go on, it has been interesting seeing what survives the ravages of the soil, climate and wildlife but I have a feeling your wildlife might be a bit more of a battle than here.

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      Loads of ideas, thank you! I haven’t had aquilegia self seed yet but it does grow well. The deer had the first flowers off a patch on the bank (I caught one in the act) but perhaps didn’t like them much because they didn’t return and the plants produced new blooms.

  7. New Moons For Old September 6, 2016 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    There are some cracking plants on the list. I love Phlomis (it’s sculptural in winter, too), Bergenia (leathery enough to withstand anything, I should think), Knautia (if it’s the macedonica it can be sprawly, but goldfinches adore the seedheads) and Nepeta (great for the bees), to name just a few of what you have here. Also, you can never have too much Alchemilla mollis, in my book, and of course the Digitalis are fantastic – I like the common purpurea type rather than the newer cultivars, as I find some of the apricot-type shades a bit hard to take, but that’s just a matter of taste! All in all, I think you have a garden of which you can be proud.

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks! I don’t know why it took me so long to discover Phlomis. It’s fabulous and I’m looking forward to seeing it sparkling with frost. I fight a battle with Mike on Alchemilla, he finds it too messy. The compromise is to chop off the flowers as soon as they show a hint of brown. This is one thing that does self seed, with abandon.

  8. wherefivevalleysmeet September 6, 2016 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    I have lost count of the plants that I have invested in and lost one way or another over the years, so now tend to stick to the ones that I know will thrive and fllourish in our garden – the list of plants that do well with you are lovely.

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      It does seem to be a process of trial and error and finding the best plants for your conditions. The soil must be quite alkaline where you are, as it has been for me in most previous gardens. Sticking to the ones that thrive is the best solution.

  9. Kris P September 6, 2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    I’d say you’ve done very well thus far despite all the challenges. As I’ve a very different climate than you have, I’ll make no suggestions. Euphorbia ‘Black Pearl’ is the only top performer on your list that’s also on mine. (If anything, it may be a bit too vigorous here with the self-seeding.) I hope the Itoh peony performs well for you. My own Itoh is alive but has failed to bloom since its first year here; however, the water district has reduced our restrictions (at least for now) so perhaps I’ll get a bloom or 2 in 2017.

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      This afternoon I found that the mice have discovered the Itoh. Their tunnels are all around it but it’s at least three months since I planted it so I don’t know why they left it so long. Hopefully it will survive. Do raccoons eat mice?

  10. Dorothy Borders September 6, 2016 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    My philosophy of gardening is that there is no such thing as failure; there are only lessons learned. I’ve learned SO many lessons over the years!

    • Jessica September 7, 2016 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      You and me both. Next year everything will come good.. ????

  11. frayedattheedge September 6, 2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    I like lavatera, which I know is very unfashionable now, and it grows like a weed!

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 9:55 am - Reply

      I had a shrubby lavatera in a previous garden, that grew well too.

  12. Edinburgh Garden Diary September 6, 2016 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    A wonderful list, thank you for sharing it. The kind of list most of us will find very useful! I have great trouble with molluscs and also pesky squirrels. I’m pleased therefore to see a couple of familiar names that you’ve tried and tested, including ‘Honorine Jobert’ and Verbena rigida, which will both hopefully do well for me. That Sanguisorba is to die for and going straight onto my wishlist. To add to your list, nothing ate my Cotinus, and my Cerinthe major appeared to be indestructable (and though an annual, it self-seeded everywhere). Nothing seems to eat good old roses, except aphids. Nothing has ever touched the lavender. Day lillies don’t seem to be on anyone’s menu either. Maybe everything was too busy eating my Nicotiana! Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed following your progress over the past year or two – keep up the good work, it’s looking better and better all the time. Jo x

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 10:00 am - Reply

      Thanks Jo. Slugs do go for day lilies here and I excluded roses because it’s almost impossible to avoid blackspot in the rainy south west. That said, the more resistant varieties do manage to hang on for most of the summer. Cotinus is on my wish list.

  13. Julieanne September 6, 2016 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Despite the difficulties of creatures munching on your precious plants, that’s still quite a good list. That Cistus is new to me – very nice. How would Helenium’s and Rudbeckia’s go (I don’t recall if you have tried them)?

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Heleniums and Rudbeckia are amongst my favourites although they do get attacked by slugs. I have to be diligent with the garlic spray and have even had to resort to the dreaded slug pellets at times. I can’t imagine a prairie style garden without them so I persist. But they’re not bung in a hole and leave.

  14. Christina September 6, 2016 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, now that is quite a nice long list, considering the odds that your plants are facing in your garden! I can’t make any suggestions, since we garden in way too different climate, but I am in awe of all the beauties that are growing well for you.
    By the way, wonderful photos! I think you are getting better and better with the camera and inspiring me to work on my photo skills, too. Nice photos make any blog, but I think especially any garden blog, simply much more enjoyable to read.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 10:42 am - Reply

      Thanks Christina. I’m about to get a different camera so it will be interesting to see what changes come through that. We’ll still have the DSLR, but I want to get a bridge camera as well to get the extra zoom.

  15. Linda September 6, 2016 at 11:49 pm - Reply

    Nothing like list making to find the winners and losers. This has been a dreadful rabbit year for me. They have munched Geraniums, Epimediums, sanguisorbas. My garden looks like a construction site with all the cages I’ve got over plants. Aaargh!

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 10:48 am - Reply

      Now you have me worried. So far those species have escaped nibbling for me. But there is plenty of chicken wire still around here too and pretty it isn’t.

  16. Laura September 7, 2016 at 12:42 am - Reply

    I love you for that list! The slugs have had a great time in my garden this year.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 10:51 am - Reply

      I’ve never seen so many as this year. They’re even out in the middle of the day. We don’t have your harsh winters to see them off, that would sort them out. Your slugs must be a super hardy breed!

  17. germac4 September 7, 2016 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Great post….a very useful list, even from far off Australia….and of course we have our share of annoying munchers. In Canberra the possums would rival your rabbits. I agree about the geraniums they can survive anything, and I love the Japanese anemone, it has survived in our garden for many years.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

      I will need to get more geraniums for sure. Such a useful plant. I love the way they send their stems into their neighbours and create really interesting combinations.

  18. Beth @ PlantPostings September 7, 2016 at 4:38 am - Reply

    Sounds like you’re making the most of challenging growing conditions. Love the switchgrass and verbena. This would be a great post for the “Lessons Learned” meme. 🙂

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm - Reply

      Linked! Thanks Beth.

  19. Charlie@Seattle Trekker September 7, 2016 at 5:06 am - Reply

    Gardening is a journey that teaches us so much about our world…I have never seen so many batches of baby rabbits as I have this year; I struggled against them until I realized my wife was naming them.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      I haven’t yet got to naming the rabbits. They are sweet though. Mixed feelings when some predator gets them.

  20. Jo September 7, 2016 at 7:23 am - Reply

    For all the failures you have, your garden is an absolute credit to you. x

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. Now I’m starting to learn which plants thrive I can begin to fill it out. Looking forward to getting a bit more soil covered by something other than weeds!

  21. Christina September 7, 2016 at 7:34 am - Reply

    With a list of such lovely plants I don’t think you can complain. I was surprised Clematis made it onto the best of the rest list as I would have thought their were snail caviar!

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      Not so far.. ! Although it has occurred to me that if I remove all the most favoured snacks the pesky molluscs will just move on to something else.

  22. Wendy September 7, 2016 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Some really useful information here on pest-resistant plants, thank you. I shall benefit from your experiences! There are some lovely flowers here, too, so the list has given me hope for some future purchases. Rabbits are still the main pest here (more than slugs) and there seems to have been a mini-explosion of them this year, but after losing so much many of my flowers are now in rabbit-proof beds i.e. there is now some wire between the rabbits and their dinner.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      I’m still flushing rabbits in ones and twos out of the borders as I walk around. Fencing is the only permanent way. But there don’t seem to be as many as there were in Spring. I can handle a bit of nibbling but I’m quite sure full on chicken wire world will be needed again for a while next year, when the young new growth is irresistible.

  23. Marianne September 7, 2016 at 8:24 am - Reply

    Impressive list of successes for such an ‘obstacled’ garden. Having gardened in three different countries and too many places in the uk, one in n.devon btw, I’ve had my share of problem gardens and sympathize hugely. Lots of good suggestions have been made, I’ll ad my penn’orth. Opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, just get yourself some ripe seedheads or couple of seed packets, so many gorgeous varieties now, and sprinkle them around, spring or autumn or both. Once you got one going, you’ll never be without and they create the most glorious variations. Terrific bee plants, nothing has ever even tried to eat mine (yet) and those drifts! They’ll go tatty once over but just collect seedheads from the best colours if you cannt stand tattiness. Very easy to just pull out. Pods contain about 1000 seeds each. Cerinthe major is another such goodie.
    I love your blogs, it’s one of the very few I keep bothering to follow. Your photographs are a joy. Even if you don’t manage to grow anything else you are creating a lovely garden with all those plants that do grow for you.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Fortunately for me many of the plants that have proven themselves are prairie stalwarts. One of the things I noticed from Piet Oudolf’s plantings is that there are relatively few different species but he has huge numbers of each. Grasses, persicarias and sanguisorbas will find a welcome home on the bank. I think I’ll give the Cerinthe a try next year too. Thanks Marianne.

  24. Jackie September 7, 2016 at 8:34 am - Reply

    What a brilliant list! so useful too. I find that Phlox do well here(near the coast in west Hampshire) and provide such colour for a long time. they also tolerate quite deep shade. Thank you for this and all your posts.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      Yep, I’ve got Phlox. Interesting about the shade though, I didn’t know that. After the next section of the bank I move into woodland and I’ll be actively looking for shade lovers. Something else I can divide and use in there. Thanks Jackie.

  25. jannaschreier September 7, 2016 at 8:36 am - Reply

    I’ll be interested to see the results of your chicken manure test! Your post prompts me to question whether I should be doing a detailed soil analysis/pest evaluation in each of the potential houses we (continue to) visit. I rather think it might be better not to know and then just work with it though. Otherwise we will never find somewhere! Knowing what you now know, would it influence where you bought?

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      We’d been house hunting for three years by the time we found this place and I think by then I’d have gardened on anything! As it turns out the slight acid side of neutral is just about perfect. Not overly fond of rhodies and azaleas but I’m enjoying having camellias in the ground and some of the choicer things like Enkianthus. I should have known I suppose that being surrounded by woodland would bring with it associated wildlife but for the beauty of it all I still think it’s worth it. Go with the environment you want and adapt. Put acid lovers in pots if necessary and fairy lights on the chicken wire!

  26. Pauline September 7, 2016 at 8:49 am - Reply

    That is an impressive list. Hardy fuchsias do very well here, and various euonymous never seem to get attacked by anything. Rudbeckia are spreading nicely and various crocosmia are very happy. Ligularia peregrinans is happily spreading itself with underground runners but my cistus is in a pot, I didn’t think it would appreciate my clay soil!

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 1:02 pm - Reply

      I’d forgotten about the hardy fuchsias and yes, I’d agree. Euonymous too. I was genuinely surprised by the cistus. I started off with one in the terraces where the soil is fairly well cultivated but even on the bank another is doing quite well. It is well drained there but I’m still on dangerous ground if we have a cold winter I suspect.

  27. Linda P. September 7, 2016 at 8:55 am - Reply

    I like your top ten survivors. Seeing your geum prompted me to go out into the garden and check on my one and only. Thankfully it’s still there! You’re fortunate to have the space to create drifts, but I can understand the logic of experimenting to see what survives the munchers, weather and soil condition before buying new plants. I decided I wouldn’t buy new plants to replace losses and just rely on what my husband propagates or just sticks in the soil to see what happens, but then a visit to a garden nursery is oh so tempting!

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      I love geums. They are so dependable and are still throwing up the odd flowering stem even this late in the season. I shall have to get seriously into propagating next year. It’s the best way when you’ve got something you like which does well in the garden.

  28. kate@barnhouse September 7, 2016 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Fascinating theory re chicken manure ….I use it on the bamboos once a month, this is the area we have most trouble with badgers/foxes. Your plant list is excellent, I’m sure anyone starting out will find it really useful but I appreciated seeng some lesser used critter resistant suggestions. How do standard forms of rudbeckia fare?

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 1:51 pm - Reply

      The slugs attack them unfortunately. I shall keep persisting because they look so good with the grasses and really stand out on the bank. I’m seriously considering growing garlic again as I will be getting through so much of it!

  29. Anne Wheaton September 7, 2016 at 9:35 am - Reply

    How sensible to go around the garden to make a list of survivors. Sometimes our dreams have to be harnessed!
    I’m always in awe of the variety of plants you have in your garden. Mine has evolved into self seeders and perennials that can look after themselves.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      That’s my goal exactly Anne. To have the borders I’ve cleared look after themselves so I can progress to the next bit. Or even just sit back and enjoy it?

  30. Backlane Notebook September 7, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

    That’s an impressive list of survivers. Incidentally I once planted a parterre for a client liberally sprinkling in blood fish and bone before placing the box plants. Next morning the parterre was scattered all over the garden. Foxes in the night.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      Hmmm. Maybe the chicken manure is having an effect. I’ve already been pondering the need to increase the fertility of the soil as a whole. Time for some good old fashioned well rotted horse dung perhaps.

  31. derrickjknight September 7, 2016 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Jackie had read this post out to me before I got to it. I loved the additions of the superb photographs, and am pleased she suggested phlox

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Yes, I’d forgotten about phlox. There’s just an inherited pink one here but it does do well. Some white phlox would be lovely too. Especially in the shade.

  32. annie_h September 7, 2016 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    That is a long list of toughies though, I too love the Sanguisorbas and the Persicarias. All your experimenting helps develop such lists. Really useful for others too.

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      There will be plenty more experimenting. It’s so frustrating though when something you’ve bought gets eaten, but even more so when you’ve raised it and cherished it from seed!

  33. Amy at love made my home September 7, 2016 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    You don’t need any suggestions from me! Your garden is growing wonderfully under your great care! xx

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 2:14 pm - Reply

      Any suggestions are welcome Amy. We all grow different things and can all learn from each other.

  34. Summer Daisy September 7, 2016 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    I think you are doing well with your garden. Love your plants ♥

    summerdaisycottage.blogspot.com

    • Jessica September 8, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Hello and welcome! Thanks, I do my best. Lucky I love a challenge!

  35. biggardenblog September 8, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    [J] Stunning photos – you’re really quite good at close-ups! Both D and I would be very happy with any or all of your top-of-the-pots chart-busters! Unfortunately we have a very different set of problems so … we’re still working on our top ten. At present we’re consulting on the short-list (or is that long-list?) with other stakeholders – namely the wind, the rain, the slugs, the snails, the chafer grubs, the million and one sparrows starlings and other aerial visitors that treat our garden as a fast-food restaurant, and of course our cats, Tilly the dog. Oh, and let’s not forget Angus ‘Crowbar’ Campbell’s Collie dog who calls in from time to time to cock his leg against anything and everything. I suspect all of them will or want to have the final word.

    • Jessica September 9, 2016 at 9:19 am - Reply

      I do sometimes wonder if I am fighting a losing battle. Silly me to think I have any ownership over my plants once they are in the ground. But out there on the islands conditions are more extreme, especially from the weather. The views and the natural landscape must more than make up for it!

  36. smallsunnygarden September 8, 2016 at 11:03 pm - Reply

    It’s great to see a list like this – I know it definitely represents some mouse/rabbit/deer proof plants! My pet peeve this year has been the plants that were torn to shreds but NOT eaten: Anigozanthos and my beloved little Aquilegia desertorum are at the top of the list. (Shakes fist at rabbits…) I intend to try another A. desertorum in a new spot next year as I’ve never known rabbits to bother any Aquilegias before. The Anigozanthos… well, this is the second time, so any further acquisitions will probably be given special quarters in a pot on the patio. What is it that makes critters tear up something they don’t even eat X(
    Having ranted…! Glad to find someone who shares that drive to buy three different plants instead of three of the same 😉 I do think you’re right that in a difficult gardening situation it’s best to test just one or two anyway!

    • smallsunnygarden September 8, 2016 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      Just noticed Derrick’s reference to phlox above. White-blooming P. paniculata ‘David’ was never touched by anything and was mildew-free (in my earlier garden). And my soil there was clay loam, a bit heavy. Can’t recommend it highly enough if phlox likes your weather!

      • Jessica September 9, 2016 at 9:32 am - Reply

        Thanks Amy. I’ll definitely be trying that phlox.

    • Jessica September 9, 2016 at 9:31 am - Reply

      It’s the pheasants here that do the peck off a bloom and then not eat it trick. Perhaps they are trying it out and deciding it’s not to their taste. Which would be a good thing except their memories are not always that great. And sometimes they try more than one bloom just to make sure. It is the most infuriating thing, I agree!

  37. Caro September 9, 2016 at 7:10 pm - Reply

    No deer or otherwise here, Jessica – and no mice either unless they’re exceptionally brave as the fox cubs will see them off. But, yes, foxes … and cats, so I’m not unfamiliar with chicken wire myself. Except then someone stole the chicken wire in the night. Perseverance is everything. I planted some Panicum grasses here earlier this year and ringed them with barbed Eleaegnus clippings – seemed to work okay and the grasses have flourished. Agapanthus get devoured here (slug fodder) but the echinaceas are left alone – and they’re great in prairie planting and maintenance free!

    • Jessica September 10, 2016 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Isn’t it weird how things differ between gardens. My agapanthus don’t get touched but echinacea barely survive their first night outside. It’s such a shame because they would look stunning on my prairie planted bank.

  38. snowbird September 9, 2016 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Despite your trials and tribulations you still have an impressive survivors list there. Maybe I should give up on my peonies….they obviously prefer your clay soil to my sandy one.xxx

    • Jessica September 10, 2016 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Thanks. Don’t give up on your peonies. They’re worth a bit of tlc!

  39. Sarah September 12, 2016 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    It is so strange how plants thrive in one garden but not another, We have managed to grow plants here, that we had completely given up on, in our previous garden. We always find geraniums are are hard to beat and have such a range of colours. We love phlox too but have found ‘ David’ is not as good as the variegated varieties. It takes longer to grow and is more likely to get attacked in the spring. Sarah x

    • Jessica September 13, 2016 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      That’s an interesting comment on phlox. It is odd how plants behave differently from one place to another and I suppose brings us back to gardening being a process of educated trial and error. Some days it’s a wonder anything manages to thrive here. Today I came back from a morning out and surprised a deer and her two baby fawns in the garden!

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