6 Jun 2010

My garden is now ready to face summer

Alternative title: another gratuitous opportunity to post some photos I took over the weekend. Please click on any of the photographs to see a larger view.

I have a small garden. A very small garden. Not the kind of small garden they talk about in the commentary to the Chelsea Flower Show TV coverage – mine is merely postage stamp sized – far too small for a garden designer to trouble themselves over. A friend came to visit me one gorgeous day a few years ago and I suggested we take lunch into the garden to which he commented “I knew you had a small garden, but I didn’t think it was this small!”

As we like to eat out as often as weather permits and I like to take my work outside too, I concentrated on flowers with fragrance this time and got two of these candy striped phlox plants which are a dome of those pretty little flowers.

I’ve blogged in earlier summers about my garden – it’s basically the enclosed back yard of a Lancashire cottage, intended to house the outside facilities and for storage of logs and coal and for drying washing, the house being built pre-indoor plumbing, central heating and tumble driers.

I keep several dichondra each summer, each in a separate pot on their own adjacent to seating, purely for stroking purposes you understand. They’re deliciously velvety and soft to run your hands over, just like stroking a weimaraner puppy.

My house is a long thin tall stone cottage of about 140 years old, so my yard is too. The house sits in what is basically a square plot, divided into three long strips. The house sits in the middle third, with a long thin garden on either side.

I’ve only just finished the summer planting, which will need to fill out – and hopefully flower – a considerable amount yet – so it looks a tad scrawny still, but another month will see a huge difference.

The garden in question is enclosed within 6 foot high stone walls and the base is entirely concreted. The concrete is of very poor quality and badly uneven, so we covered it with small sized gravel when we first made it into a garden some years ago. When we first decided to make it into a garden, largely as an area for sitting out to eat in summer, it was pretty bare, unnaturally new-looking and has taken a number of years to fill out and develop a personality. It’s finally reached the stage where it looks like a proper, established garden. I suspect these things can only be hurried along if you have deep pockets.

Height is achieved in this area as the display is based on lots of cut logs from a dead tree my father felled in his garden – logs of different heights simply stand on end and form stepped risers for smaller pots. In fact, some of the plants have simply seeded themselves into crevices in the timbers.

Everything grows in pots, so we do periodically lose things that just run out of steam when confined to a pot, so every year it is slightly different and I supplement the perennial, largely green, planting with summer bedding to add colour. That has been my priority for the last couple of weekends and I finally put my trowel down last night as darkness drew in and declared it finished. As far as a garden ever can be finished. But I’ve planted all the new things I’m going to this summer.

I think the deep frost and extensive periods of cold this winter seemed to benefit this pyracantha – which doesn’t like to flower that often, but is going to put on a good show this time. The flowers at the top, that get more sun, have already opened. It has wicked, long sharp thorns though (hence one of its names of Firethorn), so I tend to leave it to its own devices.

I went out to admire my handiwork in the light this morning, just as it started to rain. But it was nice, gentle downward falling summer rain, without wind and the air was just nicely shirt-sleeve warm. The beauty of that sort of still gentle rain is that it lands and remains largely undisturbed, forming jewel like droplets on leaves and flowers. A perfectly beautiful phenomena in its own right.

So I grabbed a camera and just spent a pleasant Sunday summer morning under my umbrella in the company of my camera.

Shame that I can’t include the fragrance with this Pink, it’s fabulous within the enclosed walls of the garden.

The waxy leaves of roses are ideal for the raindrops to form droplets.



This Japanese maple was the first big feature plant I bought and is just turning green from its spring red, returning to this flame like appearance in autumn.


‘Peaches and cream’ Verbenas – just look at the perfect spherical beads of rain in the centre, what could be prettier?

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