Wednesday, 18 April 2018

tidying the gravel garden

Rather a lot of coarse leaved, clump forming grass has seeded itself into the gravel of the turning circle.  I am not sure where it came from, since I didn't let anything like it seed itself last year.  I suppose seeds hang around in the soil for ages, and maybe the odd clump got away from me.  I spent a chunk of today pulling it up, along with a finer leaved but also clumping grass, plus a small weed with blue flowers whose name I don't know, and tufts of sheep's sorrel.

The Teucrium fruticans is horribly burnt after the cold spell, but alive.  I began the task of trying to clip it into a neat dome, which should make it more resistant to cold spells in future, if a book I read recently on Mediterranean gardening is to be believed, and will stop it from rampaging over its neighbours at that end of the turning circle.

Gladiolus tristis is looking very triste indeed, entirely brown above ground.  I suppose it will be interesting to see if new growth ever emerges from the base, but frankly it's an experiment I'd as soon not have made.  The fancy hybrid Watsonia bought from a nursery are both burnt brown, while the seed raised W. pillansii are looking horrible but in many cases have signs of green life low down.  Isn't that the way?  Things that self-seeded for free surviving better than their relatives that you paid good money for, and drove all the way to Saffron Walden to buy.

The Dierama have seeded themselves so generously I am reduced to pulling out unwanted young plants like weeds.  Once they are unwanted I guess they are weeds.  Libertia peregrinans has been peregrinating more than I want as well.  It felt awfully wasteful putting the pieces I pulled up in the bucket of stuff bound for compost, instead of potting them up for the garden society or some other future hypothetical plant sale, but I am running out of space in the cold frames and sometimes life is too short.  I noticed a plug tray of tiny plants yesterday in the propagation tunnel at the Chatto gardens, which is where I bought my original plants.  With the benefit of hindsight I needn't have bought more than one.  It is a nice-looking plant, Libertia peregrinans, with fans of stiff, olive and burnt orange leaves, but it does like to move about, sending out runners just below the soil surface that periodically root and send up new fans.

There are no signs of growth as yet on the lemon scented shrub Aloysia triphylla.  Maybe it will shoot again and maybe it won't.  It is always late into leaf.  I trimmed the twiggy ends of last year's stems off to make it look slightly tidier, having noticed at one of last summer's garden visits to Norfolk that they cut theirs back.

The warmth of the last few days, coming after the rain, has been enough to wake up the back garden.  The lawn is growing rampantly, and practically dry enough to cut, the cherry blossom opening, and there is a genuine spring-like vibe in the air, although a tree lupin and some Cistus in the island bed are quite dead.  The poor singed Mediterraneans and South Africans in the gravel are taking longer to recover.

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