Monthly Archives: August 2014

I went to Ashwood and …..

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….added to my scented shrub collection!

I was seeking out a scented shrub in flower now, as I was aware of a flowering gap in my scented shrub border. I was thinking of possibly a Caryopteris, which blooms at this time, but it prefers a sunny position, and our border is predominantly shady. I was open to options.

The nursery had a wide selection of Caryopteris available, and I succumbed, choosing Caryopteris x Clandonensis “Dark Knight”. This variety has the usual silvery-blue foliage, that is strongly aromatic, and the flowers are a lovely deep blue. The bees just love them! It was even obvious in the nursery – they were all over them!

I know! I said the Scented Shrub border was in shade! I’ve decided, that to increase my repertoire and accommodate more sun lovers, it’s time to extend, and the only other sunny area available is the front garden. So that is going to become “Phase 2”.

There’s still the gap in the display in the border in the back garden to solve. On the way out, there was a display of miniature Daphnes, several of which were either flowering or about to. I saw one – Daphne x Napolitana “Meon”. That would fit the bill! A small, scented shrub, reaching only 10″ x 18″, that had only 3 tiny rose pink flowers on it, but was still pumping out a very tempting scent even on this small scale. An impulse buy, well justified!

And a small pressy for my mum! She has been on the lookout for a prostrate Rosemary, so when I saw one I had to treat her.

And then back to the garden to enjoy the remnants of summer sun. As I sip my wine, I’m watching the bees flocking to the “Dark Knight”. Bliss! 🙂

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Let Me Introduce You!

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I thought it was about time I showed you round our garden, so I’ve created a new page to my blog. It’s got a plan and everything! After all, I’m supposed to be able to design gardens, so I should be able to come up with a plan of my own!

If you fancy a look round, take a peek! You’ll find it at And now the plan! 🙂

I Can Sing A Rainbow

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I think now, at this time of year, is a good time to show you some of my grass collection, and some of the ways I use them in the garden. These photos are not current – they were taken earlier in the year, when I was tending to my pots, and this idea came to me then.

Scent is not my only love in the garden. I love the graceful movement that grasses give to a garden, with their wonderful light and airy texture, and their tactile qualities. So I have lots, and use them in many different ways.

I came up with the idea for my Rainbow pots, while admiring all the colour variations, you can get with grasses. Knowing there were many brightly coloured glazed pots available on the market, I thought, “Why not have a collection of cojloured grasses with complementary pots? They should look good lining the path against the wall, in the hot coloured Grass garden.” So here they are all in a row!

They don’t all actually sit in a row on our bench! They’re arranged in two groups either side.

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This group are the hotter coloured pots….

GREEN – Miscanthus sinensis “Gold Bar”
YELLOW – Carex oshimensis “Evergold”
TERRACOTTA – Anemanthele lessoniana
RED – Imperata cylindrica rubra
BROWN – Uncinia rubra

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….and the cooler pots.

PALE BLUE – Carex comans “Frosted Curls”
MID BLUE – Panicum virgatum “Heavy Metal”
DARK BLUE – Festuca glauca
BLACK – Ophiopogon planiscapus “Nigrescens” – which isn’t, in actual fact a grass, although it is frequently referred to as the black grass. It is a member of the lily family, also known as Lilyturf. But it has the same effect.

And so a collection of colourful grasses!

Having shown you Anemanthele in one of my pots, see what a difference some shade makes!

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The Anemanthele on the left is so much more lush and green, growing in a pot in another, shadier part of the garden.

Another experiment I tried, which I think has worked extremely well for me, is using Hakonechloa macra to line a gravel path.

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Here, it lines the gravel path adjacent to the garden wall, interspersed with boulders. Although it is a shade lover, it’s doing really well in this sunny position. I love the effect it creates here, en masse!

And to round up on a fun note –
– what better way to plant up an old, chimney pot?….

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….or to skirt the base of an old, rusty water pump?….

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….than our old faithful, Carex buchananii!

The Summer Garden’s Second Phase

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The Cottage border has now done its thing, and is looking a bit flat and tired out. Even the brave attempts by the Leucanthemum daisies, are now looking a bit half hearted. But all is not over yet.

Travel through the archway, and you’ll find our Grass garden, a border of grasses and hot coloured prairie style planting, that happens to flower later in the summer, providing a well received injection of colour. You’ve had glimpses of it in the past, but now is the time to show you in detail.

Hot Grass border

Hot Grass border

This was the border, as we saw it from the archway, way back in June, when it was just filling out. It’s looking nice and “tidy” (a word I hate when applied to the garden!) at this time, and you can make out the basic layout.

It’s a border about 30ft long by 6ft wide, bounded by two paths – the long central grass path, and a concrete/slab path, that originally ran the length of the garden by the garden wall. The slabs had been removed from the top half of the garden, right at the start, to create our cottage border, but the solid concrete path remained, and has now been incorporated into the gardens designs, as an alternative route round the garden. A gravel path links the concrete path to the Cottage Garden beyond the trellis fence, and has been continued to cut through the Grass border. As the border is so long, with paths either side, I thought it would be nice to link the two paths, creating a path through the planting, to “get up close and personal” with the plants, in particular the oh so tactile grasses. In actual fact, at this time of the summer, it is probably a bit too “close and personal”! More like cutting through the undergrowth – not an easy route!

You can also make out our homemade bench. Two metal gabions, filled with empty wine bottles, and a scaffolding plank across the top. We had fun making that! It’s a lovely, hot sunny spot to sit in, in good weather (with a glass of wine, of course!) Several rusty artefacts have also found their way there, their colouring blending in well with the colour scheme here.

The border is, in actual fact, a combination of three colour-themed borders, merged together.

Firstly, the Chocolate-orange border is the one furthest away in the photo.

Chocolate-orange Border

Chocolate-orange Border

The border is backed by the shrub, Cotinus “Grace”, with its gorgeous, chocolatey leaves. It needs to be hard pruned every spring to maintain its size, as it can grow quite large, but this way it produces improved leaves. Akebia quinata, the chocolate vine, clambers over the archway. The orange flowers here are Helenium “Moorheim Beauty”, and the remnants of flowers and seed heads of Crocosmia “Lucifer”. The spires you see, are the dead flower spikes of Digitalis parvifola. Geums and Kniphofia continue providing more orange elements. The grasses here are Stipa gigantea, the bronze Carex buchananii and Miscanthus “Ferner Osten”, with its wonderful chocolate/wine plumes.

Miscanthus "Ferner Osten" with Cotinus "Grace"

Miscanthus “Ferner Osten” with Cotinus “Grace”

The central section is the Wine border.

Wine Border

Wine Border

Here, the colour scheme is of deep winey reds, with Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail”, Sedum, Knautia macedonia, Sanguisorba menziesii and the annual self-seeder, Atriplex hortensis rubra all set off with the silver Artemisia ludoviciana, and pink Echinacea purpurea. The grasses here are the upright Calamagrostis “Overdam”, the ethereal Molinia “Transparent” and the silvery fountain that is Miscanthus “Morning Light”.

The Grass Border finishes (or starts, depending on how you look at it!) with the Gold border, in shades of golden yellow contrasting with blues and purples.

Gold Border

Gold Border

The gold is provided mainly by the flowers of Fennel and of an unknown perennial Helianthus. At the back of the border, the steely blue orbs of globe thistle, Echinops ritro, tower over 6 ft tall. Thalictrum delavayi, with its lilac froth of flowers blends well with the fennel, creating a very hazy scene, punctuated by spots of purple provided by Phlox “Nicky”. Aster x frikartii “Monch”, is yet to add its lilac flowers to the froth. Elsewhere, there are the blue spires of Perovskia, Veronica, and, earlier, Salvia, with added gold shades from an orange Hemerocallis. Another Calamagrostis, the green “Karl Foerster”, repeats the punctuation provided by the previous silver edged “Overdam” and, sadly, a Melica Atropurpurea, with its beautiful purple plumes, struggles to break through.

You may also have noticed popping up, the purple flower heads of Verbena bonariensis, allowed to self seed throughout the whole border, its repetition linking the three borders together.

And when this border has finished its flowering, it’s still not over. Flowers have been chosen, that have interesting seed heads and shapes, to remain with the dead grasses, giving texture and interest into autumn, and hopefully winter, when frost creates yet another beautiful picture.

There you have it! A riot of colour! Hope you like it!