Saturday, 2 July 2016

weeds and climbers

Today I tackled the mess of weeds around the oil tank.  It shouldn't have been weedy, since I dug over the whole area back in February when I planted a couple of roses, at which point the ground was superficially as clean as a whistle.  It only looked clean, of course.  In reality there were plenty of weed seeds waiting to seize their chance, and I knew I wouldn't have got all the nettle roots out.  But I was running out of Strulch and so the bare ground by the tank hidden away behind a couple of shrubs missed out on mulching.

I found the roses intact under the weeds and looking quite cheerful about life.  One is a cutting of 'Albertine' growing on its own roots, a gift from a friend, and the other is 'Blushing Lucy' bought from Trevor White.  I gave each a circle of spent mushroom compost to encourage them, and promised them some Strulch as soon as I bought another pallet.

Apart from rescuing the roses I wanted to open up that corner so that I could plant a clematis from the little collection of pots sitting by the front door.  This was Clematis x triternata 'Rubromarginata', an unwieldy name for a graceful and informal plant.  It is a late blooming clematis, bearing small flowers consisting of four narrow petals flushed mauve at the tips and fading to white at the centre, and said to smell strongly of almonds.  I am hoping it will run up the hawthorn tree opposite the chicken run and cascade down,  With any luck its season will overlap with that of 'Blushing Lucy', who flowers late but often continues well into the autumn according to Trevor White.

I also had a Trachelospermum jasmonoides to go in.  I've tried this twining climber before and not found the right spot for it.  My first plant resented the confinement of a pot in the back of the conservatory and suffered repeated attacks of woolly aphid and scale insect.  In fact, I blame it for introducing woolly aphid into the conservatory in the first place.  I tried planting it out below the veranda, but the large root ball never transplanted well and the plant quietly dwindled until one winter finished it off.  Drought did for its smaller and somewhat cheaper replacement.  I was all finished with Trachelospermum until I saw a small and correspondingly cheap one on the counter at my local garden centre with only a price sticker and not even a label or any care instructions, and bought it on impulse.

Nowadays I almost never make impulse plant purchases, or rather I almost never buy anything unless I have a very clear idea of where I am going to put it.  The garden is pretty full and there just isn't the space for random plant purchases made on the sole basis that I liked them.  It has taken me many years to reach this stage of my gardening career.  I was really not sure where I was going to put the Trachelospermum.  Under the veranda has turned out to be too dry and by now is probably too dark as the shrubs have shot up, the soil in the sloping bed is heavy and dire, the top part of the garden definitely too light and sandy, and past experience shows they aren't happy long term in pots and are pest magnets under glass.  On the other hand, I still hankered after one.  The leaves are evergreen, the white flowers in early summer smell wonderful, and it is altogether a most desirable plant.  And the specimen on the counter was only six pounds something instead of fifteen, and while small was making plenty of new growth.  Surely I could find a home for it somewhere?

The pot sat by the front door for several weeks while I considered and rejected various positions, before my eye fell upon the bed in front of the oil tank.  A cut leaved elder is getting rather bare at the base, having not responded so well to renewal pruning the last couple of times that I tried, and an evergreen climber would clothe its nether regions and help hide the oil tank.  And the white flowers would come usefully after everything else in the bed was over (or before it had begun, depending on your point of view).  And it was right by the drive so we would get the full benefit of the scent, which was one reason why I originally hoped to grow it up the veranda.  The soil in that bed is light and not very good, but hellebores cope, and I thought I could even water the Trachelospermum from time to time if needs be when I had the hose out to do the pots.  My main concern is that it might be too dark there.  We'll see.

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