Saturday, 30 July 2016

a day in the gravel garden

I have been watering the gravel planting in the turning circle.  I don't often do that.  The plants are chosen to be happy on sand and reasonably drought tolerant.  But the garden is beginning to get quite severely dry, and as I looked at the browning cushions of thrift and rapidly dying foliage of the Asphodeline and Eryngium, I thought they were really beginning to suffer.  And the whole area looked very dreary to be the first thing to greet visitors as they approached the front door.

I'd been weeding and tidying the turning circle intermittently anyway, because it was a handy thing to do while keeping an eye on the kittens as they made their first forays out of doors and needed doing. The spent flower stems of the low growing Euphorbia myrsinites had passed from the attractive post flowering pink stage to an unappealing pale brown, while the fat, whiskery seed pods of Nigella damascena had turned from architectural green whiskery spheres to simply tatty, where they had not been grazed off by the rabbits to stumps.  Leathery dead leaves had blown in from the eleagnus hedge, and the whole area was a candidate for debrowning, quite apart from the weeds.

The routine with the hose is to set it down so that the spray head plays over a patch of gravel, weed and tidy nearby for a few minutes, then move the hose to the next patch of gravel, and so on.  The neighbours have got one of those back-and-forth spray things.  I had one once, but they end up giving patchy cover because tall plants mask the ones behind them, and it's difficult to cover right up to all the edges without wasting water on adjacent areas that may not need it.  My method works well as long as you keep moving the hose.  Each area gets a real soaking, but that's fine. One deep soak over the course of the summer is better than several light sprinklings.

I've been planting out more evening primrose grown from seed, a nice form with narrow leaves and flowers in a soft shade of apricot.  I think looking at my planting list that it is the variety 'Apricot Delight', but can't be bothered to go outside at this moment to check the label.  I used some a couple of years ago outside the blue summerhouse, and they appear to be perennial, unlike the yellow form I collected on Dunwich beach, which dies after flowering.  Those seed themselves very generously, and would like to spread around the garden.  Indeed, a few have put themselves in the end of the long border nearest the blue shed, but since that end of the border is supposed to be yellow and I like the play of the same plant across the front garden I shall leave them to it.

The creeping sorrel is incredibly persistent.  I used to be jealous and puzzled that Beth Chatto's gravel garden didn't seem to suffer from it, until spotting a tiny bit and realising that the difference was that I did not have a supply of keen Dutch and German horticultural students to weed it out for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment