Bring On The Greens!

Silene dioica

Red campion (Silene dioica) has seeded itself in the terraces.

Performing an exquisite double act with Iris sibirica, how does it find the exact perfect backdrop to set itself down? I will enjoy it there until the blooms start to wither and then it will be whipped out quicker than you can say “Oh my, you have a terrace FULL of red campion and nothing else can grow.” It is pretty but in the wilder areas of the garden it’s also rampant.



Still on the terraces I’m loving this mix at the moment as well: Geum ‘Apricot Delight’, Carex comans ‘Milk Chocolate’, Cerastium tomentosum (Snow in Summer) and, soaring up from the level below, Phormium ‘Pink Panther’. And a stinging nettle. Doh. Only just noticed that..



The garden does its own thing whether I like it or not. This Spring has happened in so much of a rush things have bloomed together that normally never would. Two inherited azaleas. Wham. Very Christopher Lloyd. If you weren’t fully awake by this point on the morning tour of inspection you certainly would be now.



One at a time is vibrant enough.


So what of the Greens? Greens of the vegetable variety.



Changes are afoot.


One of the first projects we took on after moving here was to construct two very large raised beds, approx 7m long and 1.2m wide, set into the hillside. For the first few years I used them to grow vegetables but increasingly the ornamentals moved in as the beds became a safe haven for cuttings, seedlings and, hard as it may be to imagine, all those plant fair impulse purchases that didn’t have an immediate home.

The plan has always been to revert them back to veggie beds. I’d intended to relocate the ornamentals gradually over the course of this year, distributing them out across the garden but mainly into the newly built greenhouse terraced borders. Then along came the virus, a Dig for Victory spirit swept across the country and a few packets of seed later it had me firmly in its grip. Along with home baking. Except that I still can’t get any yeast. Or flour. You?

My veggie growing space is limited by how quickly I can shift the remaining ornamentals but I’m getting there, about a sixth of it cleared so far. It’ll be a gentle reintroduction this year. I’ve started off with salad leaves and herbs but as we progress through the season peas and beans will follow on, with broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale and squash bringing up the rear. Tomatoes, cucumber and melons are already taking over in the greenhouse. In our continuing self isolation it will be even more of a pleasure than usual to have stuff to eat that is minutes or less from being picked.



Planting has become a job of mammoth proportions and it isn’t limited to clearing the raised beds. Virtually everything here in the pot ghetto has been raised from seed or split from existing stock. The sooner they get in the ground the sooner I can get my evenings back from the never ending trundle with the watering can. And on top of that, as the nights have turned unseasonably chilly this week, the back breaking shuffle in and out of cover with trays of the more tender plants.



But I can’t complain. In my favourite month of May the borders are just coming into their own.

Astrantia ‘Roma’ and Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’.


Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'


Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’



Itoh Peony ‘Pastel Splendor’, back for another year and absolutely smothered in flowers.



Itoh Peony ‘Pastel Splendor’



Grass of the moment: Deschampsia flexuosa ‘Tatra Gold’

A diminutive species, just 40cm or so high with brilliant lime green foliage. Perfect for edging.



And finally for now, pampered in the cold frame for most of the winter Tulbaghia montana has rewarded me with multiple flower stems this year. The flowers open in clusters, each bloom barely a centimetre long but fully deserving of close inspection. It hails from the Drakensberg in South Africa and therefore needs a well drained sunny position. Much like its owner as it happens..


Stay safe x