The Big Picture

It may be that I love plants too much to be a gardener.


Paeonia cambessedessii


Paeonia cambessedessii

For me, there is nothing better than perusing the stalls at a plant fair and coming across a choice rarity or something that just stops me in my tracks. The Majorcan peony fits into both of these categories. As soon as I spotted it across the crowded room it had its place earmarked in the rear footwell of the car. Offered a plant with two unopened buds it was taken somewhat on trust. But I needn’t have worried. As each day passed and the glimpse of colour grew accordingly, first on one bud and then the other, I knew I had what I wanted.


Paeonia cambessedessii


Paeonia cambessedessii

The stems and the undersides of the leaves are beetroot red. It is worth growing it for these alone. After a few days the petals fade to a more delicate hue with the fine lines of darker pink ever more apparent. Their texture, by now, is something akin to tissue paper. It is stunning.

And therein lies the rub. First and foremost I am a plant collector. It’s a different mindset to being a garden designer. At £15 a pot there will only ever be one Paeonia cambessedessii. And why would I want more than one anyway, when I could spend the money on something else equally desirable? (And did.)


Omphalodes cappadocica 'Starry Eyes'


Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry Eyes’


But if I am ever going to make an impact in this garden the mindset has to change. The big sweeping spaces on the bank call for clumps and drifts of fewer different species, but more specimens of each one. Viewed from a distance this is the only way for their colour to show up, however vibrant the single plant may be in closer proximity. Individual plants tend to get lost and diluted into an amorphous mass of green. Or at best provide a spotty effect not so far removed from a bowl of M&Ms.


Heuchera 'Peach Flambe'


Heuchera ‘Peach Flambé, Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’

And I do love my colour to show up.


Lamprocapnos spectabilis 'Valentine'


Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Valentine’, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Colour contrasts which smack you straight in the eye.


So this year, Consolidation Year, the plant collector is learning to think more like a designer. If I have a gap in the border, what lies around it? What is the best plant (or plants) needed to fill the gap? Which colour would add most to the mix. How tall? Is it a sunny or a shady border, moist or dry? Do I need a textural contrast or more punctuation in the form of architectural leaves?


Iris 'Gerald Darby'


The purple tinted leaves of Iris ‘Gerald Darby’


There will still be impulse purchases, of course there will. But the new shopping list is somewhat different from the old. Where there are two Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’, find three more. And could I add another seasonal layer to the pulmonaria cascade by interplanting it with Geranium ‘Rozanne’?


Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Orange Field'


Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Orange Field’

Thankfully, for the sake of the rapidly diminishing budget, four or five years into seriously developing this garden I have a head start. Some of those single plant purchases from way back have proved themselves stars. Persicaria is bombproof. Nothing seems to eat it. And not only that, it spreads. Two weeks ago, one large clump on the terraces. Now, one portion snuggled back into the original hole and six new plants up on the bank. Already a drift. And yes, even in Devon I need irrigation. A south facing bank made of clay goes from a quagmire to cracked earth in less than two days. I’ve had to use the drip system already this year.

The grass in the background is Arrhenatherum bulbosum variegata. It’s done even better. From one plant a few years ago I now have at least a dozen.


Astrantia major


Astrantia major

Two weeks ago, one large clump on the terraces. One back in the original hole and three up on the bank. Already a sizeable clump. April’s rain has really brought them on. I’m hoping Phlomis russeliana will lift its stately spires elegantly above it. Iris sibirica, consolidated from patches spread all over the garden,  adds a contrasting leaf shape.

Between these two new areas of planting, the vibrant bronzy hues of heleniums ‘Waltraut’ and ‘Moerheim Beauty’, the burgundy penstemon ‘Plum Jerkin’, Verbena bonariensis and the red tipped switch grass Panicum virgatum ‘Squaw’. I hope they’ll all look brilliant together. This year will tell.


Convallaria majalis


Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley

Primroses have self seeded. Should I leave them? I think I will. Nature has created a harmonious combination I wouldn’t have even thought of.


Camassia leichtlinii


Camassia leichtlinii, Phormium ‘Pink Panther’



While I might have been rushing about with the camera it was a pretty typical Sunday afternoon on the opposite side of the valley. If they could read, the Sunday papers would be much in evidence.



Sciurus carolinensis syn. ‘Little Bugg*r’

Not much chance of a drift of asters here.


Saxifraga x urbium


Saxifraga x urbium, the first blooms of London Pride


Polygonatum x hybridum


And from the woodland floor, Polygonatum x hybridum, Soloman’s Seal


Centaurea montana


Centaurea montana


And finally..

It being Consolidation Year when I try, as far as is possible, to avoid the distraction of new projects, I thought it might be interesting to revisit one of the previous End of Month View escapades. Just to see what’s changed. Especially as I have a new toy to play with courtesy of last week’s upgrade to the blog theme. Drag the arrows across the screen to see the ‘before’ and ‘after’. (This may not work if you’re viewing on a reader or the subscribers’ email.. just click through to the rusty duck web page.)


April 29th 2014April 29th 2018


Much has changed in the four years since I started work on the terraces.

The area to the right is so much more open thanks to the removal of the 70′ spruce, a fence, and that odd bit of return wall attached to the house, plus the conifer directly in front of it. The bright red azalea which was so front of mind back in 2014 has moved down to the bottom terrace far right. It’s only just now coming into bloom, a contrast which shows vividly how late Spring has been in 2018. The pieris and the phormium have grown beyond recognition. The season may be behind, but this border is better balanced now. We’ll have another look at it later in the year.


So which are you? Collector or designer? Or both? Please tell me how you do it!


Linking to Helen’s End Of Month View at The Patient Gardener (here) and Sarah at Down By The Sea (here). Click through to see what other gardeners are up to in this most glorious of months.


2018-05-02T18:36:26+00:00April 30th, 2018|Tags: |


  1. derrickjknight April 30, 2018 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    More wonderful photography with excellent captions. Definitely leave the primroses. Great new toy

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 10:08 pm - Reply

      Thanks Derrick. Yep, the primroses are staying.

  2. Donna@GardensEyeView April 30, 2018 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    I used to be a collector but now I am designer more and dividing plants to move them around and create a more wholistic garden…..but it is hard to change. Love the terraces!

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      It is hard to change. What helps is that I’m now finding it difficult to place some purchases, space is not as readily available as it used to be! A little more planning is required.

  3. Chloris April 30, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    I agree, what wonderful photos. Oh I’m definitely a collector, I like to create beautiful pictures but I don’t do broad sweeps of colour. I never buy plants in multiples because if a plant does well it will spread or I can propagate it. If it dies I only have one dead plant instead of several. I bought Peony cambessedesii last year but sadly no flowers yet, wow, aren’t they gorgeous?

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      The peony flowers are gorgeous and well worth the wait. Your rationale re multiple purchases is one I’ve subscribed to up to now. Not everything adapts well to the wet climate or the challenges imposed by the wildlife. I do tend to wait and see how one plant does before getting more. Propagating is the best way. Or seeds. Then there is still money in the kitty for the occasional little lapse..

  4. Ali April 30, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    That peony is lovely. Also your camassias. I have never grown them, but they keep catching my eye! I love your before and after shot. It is well worth taking photos early in the process so that you can appreciate just how far you’ve come.

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 10:25 pm - Reply

      Camassias are so easy, do try them! I had one bunch that came back about three years running. Then I tried to move them and in doing so alerted the mice to their presence. Not a good idea. I’m starting again this year with a fresh set of bulbs. So far so good so this time they’re staying put!

  5. Susan Garrett April 30, 2018 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    It’s hard to be a designer in a small gardener as I want a variety of plants not lots of just one thing, It’s also why splitting plants is a problem as after splitting I have nowhere to put the resulting ‘new’ plants. Strange name for he blue camassia.

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      I take cuttings and usually end up with too many and then the problem of where to put them all. It’s like having excess veg plants when all the seeds germinate. And I can’t bear to throw anything away!

  6. the veg artist April 30, 2018 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    I did set out a colour scheme when we came here 16 years ago. At that stage absolutely everything was green, with lots of grass and huge evergreens. We’ve planted hundreds of spring bulbs, but I wanted reds and terracotta to counter the endless green for the rest of the year.. The evergreens have now gone, but the harmony of reds against the green mostly remains, with pale and dark pinks creeping in with roses and fuschia. We don’t really have beds or borders, more groups of shrubs with underplanting – once done, they pretty much have to fend for themselves apart from an annual trim! I probably spend more time on my greenhouse and veg plot!

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Shrubs do look after themselves and I’ve put in a good few of those over the last few months. As long as you don’t have deer. Much as I love to see them they have just found a brand new acer and clearly decided they’d help me out with the trimming!

  7. Mary April 30, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Fabulous photos.

    I am neither a designer nor collector–simply one who appreciates lovely gardens while acknowledging the hard work involved. What I most love about UK gardens is the sheer variety of plants available and the gorgeous spectrum of colours. In the US, particularly in areas like mine, hot and humid summer weather or quickly shifting temps (e.g. 4C this morning, 32C expected in a couple of days), not to mention either torrential downpours or utter drought–sometimes in the same season–can leach flowers of their colours or simply wilt them.

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 11:11 pm - Reply

      Your climate does sound more extreme than ours, although we seem to be catching up.. especially this year when we’ve swung between winter and spring and back again every few days. We are spoiled for choice plant wise, it’s true. My problem is I push at the boundaries. If I see a delectable plant I’ll take on the challenge of keeping it alive even if it is totally impractical. This last winter has reduced some of that burden for me at least!

  8. smallsunnygarden April 30, 2018 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    I must be a collector – I’m getting serious plant envy over that peony!! 😉
    And honestly, I’ve kept my main garden area so small that I can afford to keep it in collector’s mode, but now the other areas around the house really need more of a design approach. I’ve consoled my conscience by noting that several years’ worth of trial in the garden has told me which plants grow best here and can therefore be used en masse. But have I started planting that way? By no means! Sigh…
    I’m in love with your color combinations by the way. And nature did quite a lovely job putting primroses with lily of the valley!

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 11:18 pm - Reply

      It really does help if you’ve gained some experience of what works and what doesn’t. It is hugely satisfying propagating something and spreading it around the garden. I’m thinking that the way forward for me is to use the terraces as a test bed so to speak and a place for some of my more delicate purchases, before exposing them fully to the rigours of the slope!

  9. Kris P April 30, 2018 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    Your first photo of the Majorcan peony sent me outside to check mine for buds. There are none but it has bloomed the past 2 years, producing only a single bloom each time. The plant remains small but, in my climate and especially with this year’s paltry winter rains, I’m just happy to see it return. While in the garden, I gave it a good talking to and spoke to the Itoh peony (also bud-less) for good measure. There’s a chance of a wee bit of rain this week, an extraordinary even for May here if it happens – maybe that (and my lecture) will give the 2 plants the boost they need to flower. I can hope…

    As to your question, I operate in very much the same territory – a collector at heart with aspirations of creating something that will look more like a landscape some day. It was easy to stay a collector with the postage-stamp sized garden I formerly had but my current larger garden has inspired a shift, even if I still fight the collector’s instinct with every trip to a garden center or nursery and even perusal of pages of every tempting catalog that arrives in our mailbox, most of which come from growers in climates far different from my own. I am learning to respect and encourage the plants that like it here. My cutting garden and lath (shade) house have helped me confine my climate-inappropriate choices (somewhat).

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 11:37 pm - Reply

      You are more likely to have success with the Majorcan peony than me, our climate can hardly be described as Mediterranean. The grower actually seemed quite keen that I should keep it in a pot but I think I will chance it on the terraces when it has grown on a bit. The stone walls do tend to help if something is on the tender side. Peonies generally seem to do well here. One of my Itohs has two flower buds, the other more inaccessible so I have yet to check. If we have any plant in common Kris, it is usually yours that is doing better!
      I’m not sure we ever lose the collector’s instinct. If I go to a flower show it is always the plant sellers I visit first, the show gardens only if there is time. I doubt it will ever change.

  10. Pat Webster April 30, 2018 at 8:58 pm - Reply

    This is my first time reading your blog — so thanks go to Helen the Patient Gardener for hosting the month end view meme. What wonderful photos! I’m not a collector but some plants just need to be collected. If I even saw a Majorcan peony (not that it would survive in my cold Quebec climate) it would find itself collected in my car. Loved the before and after photos, and the colours of the Gerald Darby iris.

    • Jessica April 30, 2018 at 11:46 pm - Reply

      Hi Pat and welcome! The jury is out on whether the peony will survive here but I will give it a fighting chance. Although our climate is milder than yours it is wet, especially in winter. That is what kills off most things.
      I’ve had the Gerald Darby iris a couple of years and it does seem hardy so far, the colours in its leaves are amazing! Sadly it loses the colour as the leaves mature but then it produces lovely blue blooms on long stems.

  11. Mark and Gaz April 30, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos! I’d like to think both but with our significantly smaller garden than yours and dense style of planting that’s easier to achieve. You guys are doing a fabulous job!

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      I’d agree with the both. You also go for much bigger plants which means each one creates more presence on its own. The effect is exactly what you’ve aimed for, a tropical jungle!

  12. Heyjude April 30, 2018 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    Your photos make me want to buy every single plant you have featured! So not fair! I agree with Susan’s comment “It’s hard to be a designer in a small garden”. I want more plants, but I don’t want it to look ‘bitty’, and I need to stop taking cuttings because I end up with too many of the same plant and nowhere to put them! I already have penstemons all around the plot as I seem to be able to easily grow them (and the S&S leave them alone). My solution though is to have MORE plants by using containers, then I can buy one of each. Sorted. I think…
    PS Your garden is gorgeous and I love your walled terraces. The new ‘toy’ is great fun 🙂

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 9:50 pm - Reply

      Penstemons do well for us down here and, now you come to mention it, the dreaded molluscs do leave them alone. ‘Plum Jerkin’ grew so tall for me last year I am thinking that it will need a Chelsea Chop in years to come. This year I’ve cut it right down to the ground already. Ha! One week of rain and I can already see what it’s thinking: “I’ll show her..”

  13. Jennifer May 1, 2018 at 2:49 am - Reply

    In spring (plant fair season) I’m a collector and then in summer I’m a designer…. Although one thing I’ve been doing to satisfy both whims a little is grouping like plants together. So I may not have five identical “sum and substance” hostas, but rather a collection of five different hostas together. So from farther away the textures will read similarly, but up close you can appreciate the differences. Now I’ve only been doing this for a year or so, and have quite a lot of shade, so most of my garden is textural greens and still in “plant collector” mode. But I’m hoping this will help some with my garden design.

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Jennifer and welcome.
      That is a great tip. I just envy you being able to grow even one hosta. I have two in pots which is the only way I can get them to survive and then only just. I move them around between expanses of concrete and gravel but still the slugs find them in the end. It’s so dispiriting because at this time of year they look so fresh and gorgeous. I am coming to love shade because we have a lot of it too, woodlanders are among my favourite plants these days. And what could be more restful than a tapestry of textural greens?

  14. Pauline May 1, 2018 at 5:52 am - Reply

    I started out wanting one of everything, but now I’m into drifts. Drifts that I can produce by seed or cuttings, I think it gives a more natural effect. I also lost so many plants to start with in our very wet Devon clay, so now I grow what I know likes the conditions here.

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 10:09 pm - Reply

      Oh gosh, I’ve lost so many plants too. It really is a case of trial and error and finding the ones which can cope with the conditions. I was at a recording of Gardeners’ Question Time tonight and Anne Swithenbank was saying how much she has struggled with bearded irises on her clay. Well, that will explain why it doesn’t work for me either. That and the slugs.

  15. Catherine Pritchard May 1, 2018 at 7:57 am - Reply

    I’m much too much of a collector at heart and will choose a plant and then try to find a spot for it. In our new smaller garden I have tried to plant in groups of at least three to avoid being too spotty though. One plant I have failed with time after time is the Himalayan blue poppy. I know the soil is not acidic enough or even moist enough but I still cannot help buying one occasionally. I am now on the lookout for a specimen tree to replace one we lost this last Winter. I’ll know it when I see it. Tempted by Cornus Eddies Wonder White ( I think that is what it is called). So, go with the drifts ( if you can resist the impulse buys) !

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Another Himalayan poppy fail here too. Soil on the acidic side and abundant moisture but I still can’t make it work. I was once told that if you buy it about to bloom you need to cut the flower off! Arrrggh! But then it will survive apparently. I haven’t yet had the heart to try it. Your tastes are similar to mine, Cornus is a wonderful small tree. Exquisite blooms, fruits in autumn and then sensational leaf colour.

  16. emilymbrown13 May 1, 2018 at 9:20 am - Reply

    I’m both. As a garden designer I have to be sensible and reasoned and planned on other peoples behalf – which means my own garden is a riot of impulse buys stuffed into inappropriate positions next to unsuitable partners. But sometimes these things just work and you’ve created something amazing! (more often they don’t and you haven’t). I don’t think you can have one without the other though, so I shall carry on trying.
    Ps love your new slider thing – really effective.

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      As a designer you’re obliged to try out new things and that’s what your own garden is for! The things that work you can pass on to others. The wonderful thing is that plants can be moved. Mine have learned to get used to it. It’s built into their contract.

  17. aberdeen gardening May 1, 2018 at 11:00 am - Reply

    I have to say Primrose with Lily of the valley works a treat. Seems like for quite a while I have been saying (I have been a gardener for 40 years) well the truth is it is now 50 years since we moved to a house with a garden. Along with my wife we seem to create pleasant looking gardens. I dont have the confidence to say I am a designer. The truth is our gardens are often dotted with plants in an unprofessional manner. However like yourself I split plants and have them in groups of three or at least have repeat planting throughout the borders. In our new garden with narrow borders it can be rather bitty looking. So I would say I am both, a collector and an aspiring designer.

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 11:15 pm - Reply

      At the end of the day it comes down to what you like and gives you pleasure to live with. Especially at this time of year I wander round each morning and see what has changed, what has bloomed and which new leaves have emerged. I’m looking at the individual plants. But as the garden fills out increasingly it is also about the combinations, the way the light falls and highlights particular groupings and textures. That is the excitement of creating a new garden.

  18. Freda May 1, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    My collecting days are pretty much over (it’s a kind of relief if I’m honest!). I have loved it but now have all my favourites and for the first time in my life am having to manage a mature garden. A whole different ball game. I have just given away a trailer full of good plants to a local community garden as I am thinning out and simplifying – designer to the fore and I am enjoying that. Love seeing the development of your gorgeous place Jessica.

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      In my own way I am simplifying too, although a long way from being able to say it is mature.. what a lovely thought that would be! Find time to relax in it and enjoy it, sometimes we lose track of what we’re creating a garden for. Well, I do.

  19. Linda from Each Little World May 1, 2018 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    I have a collection of unusual species Peonies so I know how easy it is to fall for them. I have shrubs and ground covers in wide sweeps with more unusual plants at the edges. Also one specific srea that is the onesies with few sweeps of anything. So that is my way of doing both things.

    • Jessica May 1, 2018 at 11:31 pm - Reply

      That is a really good idea, especially to have your prize plants at the edges where you can appreciate them more easily. So much of my garden needs mountain expedition kit to reach.. that is where I should put the swathes that are best viewed from a distance. The terraces will be my area for the onesies, the scale and the more protected environment makes them perfect for that.

  20. snowbird May 2, 2018 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Just love your new additions, I can never resist a gorgeous plant either, the garden often becomes their graveyard, our light sandy soil is not popular with many exotics, herbs love it though and they spread like wildfire. I do like drifts in large gardens, yours suits them I like the way you’re thinking…..interesting seeing what your new tool can do!xxx

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      At the opposite end of the spectrum heavy clay isn’t to a lot of plants’ taste either! I have been trying to do more mulching this year, hoping that will help. We shall see. I hate losing plants, especially expensive ones!

  21. Christina May 2, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Definitely a designer which is good here in Italy as ‘special’ plants are more or less impossible to find. I’ve always felt that a huge patch of something (almost anything) that is happy and flourishing is better than one sickly plant that is ‘special’. Hence my garden is full of tulips, irises and native evergreens. Right plant in the right place is my watchword and always plant in large drifts if possible. This is sometimes achieved over time by taking cuttings and letting plants self seed.

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      You’ve been an inspiration Christina with your drifts on your front slope. I remember the Californian poppies, which I tried to grow but sadly they didn’t want to know. The Welsh poppies do better and there are plenty of other things. Covering the soil is the key thing for me now. In my case a huge patch of (almost) anything is better than seeing empty ground fall prey to weeds.

  22. CherryPie May 2, 2018 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Your bursts of colour are delightful. I am a bit of a plant collector too, but my got a lot smaller than yours.

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      It’s an enjoyable hobby. I can’t see that I will ever be able to resist the occasional impulse purchase but from now on there needs to be a planned list as well.

  23. Jenni May 2, 2018 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    How is it that I find myself in the same gardening mindset as you?! I have been a collector. I love being a collector. I would fawn over each unique characteristic of a plant. Alas, I find myself looking at the garden with a new lens. I see a jumbled mess with clashing color tones and lacking continuity. I have declared 2018 to be the year I quite purchasing plants in ‘onzies’ and start buying in (at minimum) ‘three-zies’. I’m taking a hard look at what is actually thriving in my micro-environment. I’m asking myself ‘what plants really bring me joy – AND – are successfully growing’ (rather than limping along). I am thinking about drifts of color and texture. It’s a revolution that may occur at a snails pace, but I’m bound for change.

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Thinking about what is growing well is a good thing to do. Every year I end up replacing things, always the same things, like echinaceas and heleniums which I love but really hate my plot. They are turning into expensive annuals and hard work to keep going even for a single season when most fall prey either to the wet or the wildlife, neither of which I can realistically control. I may end up with a garden full of persicaria and nothing else, but at least it will be full!

  24. Sarah May 2, 2018 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    I’m definitely a plant collector looking at plants is just like being in a sweet shop there is just too much to tempt me! We have however realised the error of our ways and are trying to buy more than one plant or using cuttings from the garden group the together for a bigger impact. I love that Paeonia cambessedessii it is a show stopper! Sarah x

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      It is absolutely a sweet shop. But at last the weather is improving so I shall keep clear of temptation and concentrate on planting the ones that are still waiting to go in the ground!

  25. germac4 May 3, 2018 at 12:34 am - Reply

    What an explosion of colour in your garden, and I think collecting plants is what it is all about really, nothing nicer than trying out a new plant in the garden….I have a few new plants waiting patiently in the wings. Enjoy spring!

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Spring has been so late coming and now it all seems to be happening in a rush. Unfortunately that means the weeds are growing at a similar rate!

  26. hb May 3, 2018 at 4:52 am - Reply

    Started out as collector, but moving ineptly towards a cohesive design that is enjoyable in all seasons. There will still be choice plants. That Paeonia makes my heart beat faster. Majorca, it can’t need winter chill, can it?

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      The peony comes from the mountainous regions, which perhaps gives me fractionally more hope, providing I can give it sufficient drainage. It should be used to a little chill, even in Majorca. You would fare better though, I’m sure of it. And it is beautiful.

  27. janesmudgeegarden May 3, 2018 at 5:53 am - Reply

    This year is going to be the year I consolidate what I’ve planted into more cohesive groupings, so I guess that makes me a would-be designer. I only buy single plants because I think I’ll propagate more, and often I’m successful at that. Sourcing unusual plants can be costly here so I rarely do that. I like to try and make sure I plant things that can survive in a harsh climate with little fuss.

    • Jessica May 3, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Jane and welcome.
      Planting for the conditions makes sense. It can be hard enough maintaining a garden without having to fuss around things which are only ever going to struggle. I’ve learned my lesson this year as after a tougher winter than we’ve been used to some of my dalliances on the boundaries of hardiness have fallen flat. Literally!

  28. Anna May 4, 2018 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Oh I’m definitely a collector and impulse buyer Jessica but still after many years trying to move in the direction of less is more and having an overall plan 🙂 Your new peony is absolutely exquisite. I can understand why you just had to have it.

    • Jessica May 4, 2018 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      I have a feeling it will take me many years too. After which I will still be trying. I suppose one of the good things about gardening being such a challenge here is that many gaps appear in the borders where things have succumbed to the unequal struggle. Giving me endless opportunities to try something new.

  29. Diana Studer May 4, 2018 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    I’m trying to admit defeat and listen to the garden. If that dies and this is happy, get another this.
    But today I came home with half and half, new and repeats.

    • Jessica May 4, 2018 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      That’s the way it should be. How will you learn about all the things that could work if you don’t try something new from time to time? 🙂

  30. woolythymes May 5, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    this has always been my happy space…..and life has kept me in a swirl lately and i’ve missed visiting! wow!!! love all the changes….and the cool things you can do with your blog (that slider/comparison frame is awesome!!!) as always, jessica—-your photography has me overwhelmed, but inspired. your gardening prowess just simply blows my mind!!!! as i look out my window this morning into my ‘garden’….i’m finding at the moment, i seem to be cultivating a nice little swath of …….weeds. sigh. photographing in the garden, planting my newest ‘collected’ plants…..who has time to weed? Taraxacum….allium biceptrum…..makes them sound like they belong in the garden, right?!?

    • Jessica May 6, 2018 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Oh, don’t talk about weeds! April’s rain didn’t just bring on the plants. Every morning I go out and they are taller. I am fighting a losing battle. Planting is the key. Every bit of ground you cover reduces the space for weeds. That is my theory and I’m sticking to it.

  31. Freda May 7, 2018 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Took your good advice – hung the hammock and had a gin and tonic! It’s easy to forget what it is for!

    • Jessica May 7, 2018 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      It’s been such lovely weather this weekend. I’m glad you made the most of it!

  32. restlessjo May 11, 2018 at 7:31 am - Reply

    My husband is the designer and I am the ‘oo-er’ and ‘ah-er’. 🙂 🙂 But it doesn’t work because he likes to let things just ramble away at will, and I like them to look more designed and purposeful. But so long as they’re beautiful, I can forgive most things. Nature’s incredible bounty, hey Jessica? 🙂 I was thinking to set a small area aside for your stars of show and develop the rest with whatever works, but it looks like you’ve got a grip on it to me. Happy Summer!

    • Jessica May 11, 2018 at 11:39 am - Reply

      I sort of have the same conflict. I love the wild look but the ‘specials’ need to stand alone to be fully appreciated. Setting aside a separate area, close to the house, will work. Given the naturalistic setting the ramblers and spreaders look more at home on the periphery, as a transitional ‘zone’ between the formal garden and the wilder woodland. I just have to hold back my impulsive tendencies a bit.. the formal area is very small and getting full!

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