Stephen Harley-Sloman springs into action
9:50am Thursday 25th March 2010 in Community News
IT FELT so good on Sunday afternoon to have the warm sun on my back as I finally got to grips with the last of my borders to be tidied after winter.
I was cutting down and removing dead stems of galega officianalis, dierama pulcherrimum, kniphofia and libertia peregrinans and this time remembering to wear gloves to protect my hands from splinters.
Galega is one of my favourite herbaceous plants. Pretty and delicate with its blue and white lupin-like flowers, it is effectively a shrub as it will form a bush about a metre or so across and the same in height.
New growth is already crowding around the base of last year’s cut-back stems but I really must make an effort this year to stake it early as its soft growth will always flop and in my case fall across the lawn at the back of the house.
I generally dislike plants that need staking and I always try and support them by planting amongst other stronger plants but it isn't always possible and the galega is worth the effort. Even the poorest of soil will not slow its vigorous growth and in my rocky little border at the back of the house it does a good job in softening the stone walls. It will provide luxuriant growth in an area where other plants will often collapse or die.
I have a ceonothus which is still teetering despite being beautifully staked last year and over the years I have lost at least two wonderful roses, Graham Thomas and Albertine, because of the thinness of the soil.
Whilst I was at my tidying on Sunday I transplanted self-sown seedlings of lovely red lychnis coronaria and dark red knautia macedonica and gave myself a good pat on the back at the same time for being so well organised.
Lychnis coronaria is a common plant which will seed itself all over the place but I love its soft silver-grey foliage and blood red flowers. Useful in a border with poor soil it looks very good amongst the galega and deirama at the back of my house.
I also moved a couple of seedlings to my front garden which has much better soil and less sun where I am hoping they will still perform well amongst penstemons, delphiniums, lupins and roses.
The garden is beginning to look like a proper garden again, helped along by the blackened, rain-soaked soil which provides a much enhanced backdrop for all the newly emerging bulbs.
In my recently extended bed around my Bramley apple tree I have now transplanted an epimedium and a heuchera Harry Hay as well as three Knautia seedlings which have gone into the more sunny end.
I am trying to be uncharacteristically restrained and tasteful in this new area but I must admit I was shocked to realise on Sunday that I now almost certainly have now planted as much as I will need for the gaps to be filled by the middle of summer.
This will be a big test for me then to see if I can resist the temptation to buy more plants and over fill it in my usual way.
Epimediums are lovely plants to intermingle in a woodland type of area and should combine very well with the large heuchura, Harry Hay and the amber foliaged heuchera Caramel, along with bronze and golden grasses like carex buchanii and my favourite hakonechloa macra Aureola.
I was cutting down all the old foliage of my epimedium last week because the pretty pale yellow flowers which are just about to emerge will often otherwise flower beneath the old foliage and also because the new spring green foliage will look fresh and good enough to eat in a few weeks time.
This one has been in my garden for more than fifteen years now and I am afraid I cannot be quite positive about its exact name. Never mind. When the flowers and new foliage emerge I shall make sure I can properly identify it. Meanwhile, Pan Global Plants down at Frampton on Severn usually has an excellent selection and knowledgeable Nik Macer will be able to give you good advice.
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