How Does Your Garden Grow?

It was only ever going to be a matter of time before a little boy, whose environment changes fortnightly on the whims of his mother, would begin to follow suit and illicit change of his own. Hovering over the changing table, nimbly dodging the liquid arc for which Baby A, along with his furious frown, has become famous I watched aghast as O emerged from his bedroom, rug rolled up atop his shoulder.

“I might try this in your room, mummy.” he announced.

I reacted as I often do when a male of this house puts forward a suggestion.

“No no no! Put it back in your room baby. It goes there.” and like a miniature removal man, he humphed his way back and relaid the rug.

This rearrangement of his floor coverings may well be inspired by the recent reshuffle of the terrace to mimic the newly arranged kitchen. The seating area has been switched to the right as you look out to the garden, with the table now moved over to to the left. The result is rather pleasing… I like to think… sight lines from the kitchen sofa are no longer impinged by the height of the table. Instead the eye can skim over the lower seating area to enjoy the płants behind and has the added benefit of the table being nearer the BBQ and scented herb beds nearer the seating. True to Brit Bank Holiday form, those benefits remain untested however as the planned BBQ this weekend was called off due to bad weather with the sun re-emerging the minute S went back to work…


There are of course downsides to this new kitchen/terrace arrangement. With the sofa now placed in easy viewing of the garden and the regular requirement of me to sit still as I feed Baby A, I do little else but stare out thinking about what I might like to change next. Despite receiving numerous compliments of late regarding the garden planting….mostly thanks to my green fingered friend and her strict chaperoning of both me and my budget last Autumn at the garden centre….I’m still tinkering.

You might remember a post entitled It’s a Jungle Out There within which I verbalised a kind of mood board for the planting….jungly and lush with flashes of purple hued planting amidst the green. This I think I’m close to on one side of the garden where huecheras, ferns, penstemons, acres, grasses and peonies…one of the few płants  worth salvaging from the garden’s original owner….. are layered together in a coherent palette of greens, purples and pinks. A hole left when two of my favourite grasses were beaten by the frosts has been filled (optimistically perhaps) with plug płants of hot pokers, a Salvia Caradonna and an Erysimum ……though all three have yet to get going. That said I think that bed is pretty much there.

The back beds have also now been planted up. Last week, with babe strapped to my chest I loaded up a trolley with płants at B&Q in a bid to fill the right hand side with a skeleton of evergreens which I then planned to flesh out with the perennial plug płants I currently have maturing in my greenhouse (a special offer from Gardeners World which in all honesty I should have resisted). Armed with rhododendrons, a polygala, a pittosporum, and an escallonia I was ready to go. Baby A had, understandably, other ideas but as soon as his tummy was filled with milk and his heavy lids fell like shutters, I donned gardening gear and shot outside. The result is rather lovely….if not at all jungly and probably far too overcrowded …..even without the perennials.

On the opposite side the bed has been called into action in order to free up the third raised bed in the veg plot which used to (unsuccessfully due to its shady position)  house fruit and will this summer become a sandpit for O. Emptied now of płants and soil and awaiting a delivery of play sand, the strawberries and raspberries have been moved in front of the shed beneath the fledgling cherry and plum trees whilst the currants have been positioned nearer the house next to a climbing kiwi. Aware that, left as it was, the ‘shed bed’ being deciduous would look unpleasantly bare come winter I’ve also added, on the recommendation of my green fingered friend, three hebes (Pearl of Paradise and Burgundy Blush) which I hope will provide an evergreen backbone in addition to carrying the purple leafed theme found at the front of the garden through to the back. Again, I’ve no doubt I’ve overfilled the modestly proportioned beds but once everything gets going I can rethink if need be.

The fences are also well on their way to having their coat of foliage. The honeysuckle (Dropmore Scarlet) and jasmine (Fiona Sunrise ‘Frojas’). planted last year are romping happily away and these have been joined by newly purchased honeysuckles (Henryi, Halliana, Belgica, Repens and Graham Thomas) another jasmine (trachelospermum) a climbing hydrangea and some bargain bucket climbers: ivy, virginia creeper, clematis (Bees Jubilee, Nelly Moser) and a Passiflora (Caerulea) from the very unlikely Asda which were being almost given away at two for £5. More climbers may still yet be needed as inspired by footage of the Chelsea Garden Show and the rather fun and inspirational Great Chelsea Design Challenge Im now lusting after a chunky framed timber pergola to seperate lawn from veg patch and create the horticultural ‘intrigue’ the designers and judges were so often referring to. A plan which hasn’t yet been vocalised to S other than the dropping of a clanging great hint that change might quite literally be in the air.

“S…….about the garden…I’ve had an idea…”

The subject was swiftly changed…..

In addition to furnishing me with new ideas the programme has also helped me identify where in the garden I’m going wrong..particularly with a ‘problem’ bed on the right hand side of the terrace. Without the restrained colour palette of its counterpart on the left it has become rather a hotchpotch of colours …..with a vibrant yellow flowering Fremontodendron contrasting with the bright blue of autumn planted irises. Amidst those are two pink cordylines, a purple leafed loropetalum, a couple of grasses and a few shrubs including a white flowering pieris, a pink weigela (which I have often rudely mispronounced to much hilarity from my green fingered friend) and a pittosporum. Penstemon and peony plug płants have been dotted amongst these  in the hope that I might eventually soften the look with a bit more “fruffiness. A technical term” I explained to my friend as she guided me recently around Ruxley for our Spring outing. Her wise suggestions included geraniums and an erysimum.

The problem, I think, with the bed is both its immaturity….which is of course a temporary issue made more permanent by my inability to let it be and my inclination to keep moving things therefore disrupting the płants from getting established….and the undisciplined colour palette due for the most part to my impulsive supermarket-sweep shopping style. So I’ve banned myself from touching it further and will wait now to see what magic the summer might do to it.

And magic this garden business really is. Watching the garden grow and mature with only the simple ingredients of soil, sun and water is a pleasure I’d never really imagined. Even my cack-handed approach to gardening doesn’t appear to be doing, as yet, too much damage. The result is a space enjoyed by the whole family….S surrounded by friends on his birthday, O pyjama-ed and wellingtoned playing his newest game catchily entitled “Throw The Ball into the Fruit Trees Then Extract With a Stick” and even Baby A as he watches the leaves rustle in the wind or the light dapple across the lawn.

And talking of magic this week Baby A, who up until now has seemed quietly disdainful of this new place in which he finds himself, gave us his first wonky smile.

All is right with the world….


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