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December 2012

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Weedy plants, a heavy heart and supreme optimism!


I was at a lecture in October of this year. The lecturer pointed out a trap that a lot of us gardeners fall into, not looking objectively at our gardens. I am definitely one of those he was talking about. I hang on to plants that are well past their sell-by date, I keep weedy plants because a friend gave them to me and, once a tree or shrub is planted, I am really reluctant to move it, even though I know in my heart and soul it is in the wrong place. I tell myself it will be better next year, but, of course, it never is. If a plant is weedy, it will be weedy next year and the year after. If a plant is dying, all be it slowly, it is dying none the less, and a tree or shrub in the wrong place will always be wrong.


Now ever before the lecture I had taken myself in hand. I got a new camera and it is amazing how the camera shows up faults that the eye ignores. So I had made a start on reorganising. Anything that has not performed ever, or only sporadically, was taken out. Iris fulva was one such. This is a beautiful copper-coloured iris from Louisiana, USA. It flowered once in thirty years here, and I have the photo to prove it, but it was taking up a square metre of space and spreading and its leaves were very unruly. This was the first wrench and it was very, very difficult. I will admit that I secreted a few roots in an out-of-the-way bed. Now this is not the idea at all and I am doing better now, composting unwanted but I can't say unloved plants; but as the bard says one can ‘love not wisely but too well'!


I also had a good look at plants that need staking every year. Now as I live high up on a hill over a lake, we get quite a bit of wind. I have persisted in growing delphiniums and, three out of five years, they end up in a tangled heap. So I am finally calling a halt to all the work necessary in growing them. I have also given up on Aconitum ‘Bressingham Spire'. I strongly suspect my plant was not ‘Bressingham Spire' at all. It grew to about 10 feet tall, flowered very late and was impossible to keep upright. However, the tall highlight of 2012 was the cardiocrinums, with all that water they thought they were in the Himalayas.


I have also, with a very heavy heart, given up on one of my favourite scented roses: ‘Margaret Merrill. I have to reluctantly admit, that over the years, bushes of this rose variety have required a lot of spraying to keep them healthy. Now granted these roses are twenty-five years old but they were always high maintenance. Because soil gets rose weary, I can't plant roses in the same bed for about four years. I have planted some choice agapanthus in their place. I will, more than likely, be tempted to plant this rose again in the future.


Now all this may sound very negative but it is not. The above is only a small taste of the changes that are going on here. Shrubs and trees have been moved; spaces have been opened up and, with the new plants I am contemplating planting, this garden will be better then ever next year. Sitting by the fire reading about the wonderful plants I have yet to try is one of winter's great pleasures. I am the supreme optimist!



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