Tuesday, 9 January 2018

the winter tidy continues

I have been spreading home made compost along the edge of one bed I never managed to get to last year.  The nice, dark brown, level layer looks so neat, almost edible, that it comes as a jolt to remember that left like that it would be a fabulous seedbed to every weed going.  It won't look nearly so glamorous once I've spread Strulch on it, since the Strulch looks like nothing so much as grass clippings after they've gone brown, while the home made compost looks like dark chocolate.  The Strulch does stop the weeds, though, or at least most of them.  Fergus Garrett talked about scraping holes in their mulch to give desired self-seeders a chance, but in our garden what with the blackbirds and the cats there always seem to be some gaps left for more Verbena bonariensis to pop up.

I think one of the tree lupins has died.  I haven't examined it closely, since I am working my way down the slope and haven't got to that bit of the bed yet, but viewed from the edge there don't seem to be any live branches left.  It will probably have left me some potential replacements, since tree lupins self seed prolifically given half a chance, so I should be able to choose one that's put itself in a sensible place.  What colour it will be is another matter.  My original plant had yellow flowers, but in recent years they've come up with yellow and pink two-tone spikes.  It have not been so dramatic I have rushed to tell Thompson and Morgan in case they wanted to introduce it as a new lupin colour break, but it has been quite pretty.

A Cistus seems to be on its last legs as well.  I blame old age rather than the cold, since another Cistus right next to it is fine.  Perhaps it will have left me a replacement too.  They do self seed occasionally, sometimes at a considerable distance from any parent plant, and I have a feeling that they grow better sown in situ than transplanted out of pots.  Most Cistus don't seem naturally long lived, though I have one monster of incredible age and size in the meadow, and if you have the space and can tolerate the lack of control I think one of the best ways to grow them and tree lupins is as part of a shifting, self-seeding community of slightly ephemeral plants.  If you like tidiness in your borders, with a place for everything and everything in its place, then you will be annoyed each time one of them dies.

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