A trip to Spain, for the first time in more than twenty years. In this time, I have spent 2 months in Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia and been to Mexico 3 times, so I am not used to hearing Spanish with a Castillian accent. Jo used to teach a course on the films of Pedro Almodovar, and so so I have seen most of his ouvre; the result is that in Spain, the sound of Castillian made me constantly feel as if I was in an Almodovar film, and therefore expecting to see all sorts of post-modern urban happenings – transvestite nuns making dramatic entrances etc.
|A Fernando Martos garden near Guadalajara|
If you like this blog, why not check out my e-books, which are round-ups of some writing I did for Hortus magazine back in the early 2000s, along with an interview with the amazing Beth Chatto. You can read them on Kindle, or Kindle packages for smartphones or the computer. You can find them on my Amazon page here. You will also find my soap opera for gardeners – currently running at eight episodes.
|Stachys macrantha at the centre. A solid clump-forming perennial it is in the company of a blue Geranium pratense behind a white Chaerophyllum temulum, a wildflower which has introduced itself.|
|Campanula lactiflora flopping badly, as this weak-stemmed two metre perennial usually does, but the upper half has grown into a hedge which is supporting it – a clue for good placing if you do not want to stake.|
|Two examples of trimming perennials along the edges of paths to keep them clear and the mini-strimmer.|
|Astrantia again but in a more natural situation being partly supported by stronger aconitums and interwoven with geraniums which have finished flowering.|
|Here is Geranium endressii beginning to climb into a bamboo.|
Such fluid growth makes these very adaptable plants. Perennials with upright stems are less likely to do this and in many cases can be seen as literally the pillars of the border.
|Geranium endressii at it again, clambering up Helianthus (left) and Solidago (right) stems.|
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|Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ with Veronicastrum sibiricum and Lychnis chalcedonica make up a perennial screen or hedge.|
|Primula florindae, in our damp soil thrives and seeds and makes a great edging between border and path.|
|Phuopsis stylosa, a pink-flowered sprawler with Geranium pratense and rose ‘Grace’|
Short plants are useful for creating space and for edging. This is quite a traditional use and can look a bit contrived and controlling if overdone or done too neatly.
Integrating smaller or ground-hugging plants into these lush perennial combinations is difficult, rather obviously as they are liable to get swamped by everything else. Ground covers are useful though where there are plants you need to give space too, perhaps like roses or other shrubs and don’t want tall things. Particularly useful are those species which have the flexible growth habits of geraniums but on a smaller scale. Phuopsis stylosa is one, usually grown as a ground cover, which it does well enough and is very jolly with its bright pink flowers, but it is rather untidy, neither Jo, nor our gardener Diana, like it. It is in fact an exotic version of our native bedstraws and is not naturally a ground cover plant, but climbs and scrambles through other plants.
I’ll end with a shot of a new planting which is an experiment in co-existence and matrix planting using 50% Carex muskingumensis; it’s stiff and upright and helps form a solid mass that holds up weaker plants like the dark-leaved Lysimachia ‘Firecracker’ here. The light green shows off other plants well too.
|Hemerocallis ‘Golden Chimes’ with Carex muskingumensis and Lysimachia clethroides.|
To read more go to the Gardens Illustrated website… and its in the magazine this month too.
Various pictures taken since my first visit in 1994 ….
‘Intermingling’ has become the buzzword of the moment in planting design. Here is a piece I wrote for the Ecological Landscaping Alliance e-newsletter……
I remember, back in 1996 showing the late James van Sweden around a public garden project I was working on at the time, over here in England. I was trying out an approach that intermingled the perennials I was using, rather than using the block planting which was customary at the time. He was sympathetic but very definite that “the American public aren’t ready for this”. Things must changing, as the idea of creating mixes or blends seems be gaining ground – the concept is key to the kind of naturalistic design promoted by Tto homas Rainer and Claudia West’s Planting in a Post-Wild World.
to read more turn to the ELA newsletter here.
Born and raised in a small rural farming community in northern Florida, I was fortunate to have a childhood filled with unique experiences. My family was not wealthy by any means, so we had to make the most of the little we had. We raised chickens, cows and pigs, and my grandmother grew fruits and vegetables to help feed our very large family. Because of my upbringing, I am frugal in all areas of my life, including my favorite pastime: gardening.
I currently live in USDA Zone 6b—a region of central and western New York that includes Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and parts of the scenic Finger Lakes region. The goal of this blog is to share money-saving tidbits with fellow gardeners in my area and across the country; all while charting my personal journey from gardening on a small city lot to tending to a large yard in small-town suburban or country setting.
Gardening doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, nor does it have to be labor intensive. You can enjoy the beauty of flowers or reap the bounty of a continuous produce or herb harvest. It can be relaxing and allow you to create new experiences with your family and friends…and even to help members of your community.
Please stay tuned so we can work together to create a garden that is functional, beautiful and, most important of all, frugal.