Gardening Dilemmas 3

Do I rest on my laurels?

cottage gardenWith a little help from an errant jet stream the cottage garden now looks like a cottage garden and not a bare batch of ground with some scrubby grass/weeds imitating a lawn. At last “nice, wall, terrific view shame about the garden” has been replaced by “what an interesting colour combination”.
cottage garden borderAt the start of the year the plan was to fill the borders with plants to produce a “good show” of blooms during the summer for our holiday cottage guests. Somewhat ambitious considering the climate, the soil and the location. This was not going to be another hope over experience adventure, I was playing to win. My devious strategy was to grow as many plants as I could from seed, plant as densely as possible and throw the colour charts out the window. Well it worked for Christopher Lloyd! My stroke of genius was to include all the plants which in a past life which I’d classified as barbarians (invasive thugs) and cross my fingers.
On the plus side I have filled the borders and the dense planting has helped the reduce the intensity of the wind damage. Life is too short for staking herbaceous plants; no room for wimps in this island garden you need to be able to stand on your own feet (or should that be roots) and sway in the gale. The decision to use native plants or cultivars derived from wild species was a good choice and appreciated by the bees, butterflies and hoverflies. However, on reflection it might have been wiser to choose the Achillea in separate colour strains rather than the mix of summer pastels! I was obviously a woman on a mission  and not a thinking gardener when I sowed the California poppies next to the maiden pinks!

The jury is out on the grey and orange of the sea poppies with the blue of the salvias or harebells, but alstromeras with the lime green of Alchemilla is definitely out! I’m not sure whether it is the harsh landscape of the coast, the grey of the stonewall or the quality of our light, but this garden needs strong colours. Zingy, vibrant colours would never be my first choice, so I’m not sure how I manged to produce borders where such strong colours predominate (clash). The nearest I’ve got to subtlety is the soft pink of the thrift against the stone and gravel paths!

maritime pea

Maritime pea

As for the thugs – the maritime pea (Lathyrus japonicus) was a mistake, it rampaged through the border and refused to climb up the wire netting. Pretty flowers do not compensate for thuggery and I fear that I will be pulling it up for years to come. Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum) is doing a good job in one or two difficult areas, but the reprieve is probably temporary. Alchemilla, borage and aqueligas – promiscuous profligate seeders but they are too pretty to sacrifice. I also grow Alchemilla erythropoda and A. alpina, which are both attractive and rather better behaved.

So do I rest on my laurels and enjoy the glory of my exuberant floral tapestry or do I rush in and remove the worst offenders? It may be more sensible to wait and see what survives the winter and be a little more discerning (boring) in my seed selection for next year. I admit that I have already removed most of the self-sown marigolds, although as Himself mourned their passing I’ve had to promise to establish a new colony in another part of the garden. I’ve also had complaints from the bees about the removal of the maritime peas, perhaps I’ll try sweet peas next year!

P.S. My yellow-horned poppies or sea poppies are Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum which is why they are orange and not yellow. Must have ticked the wrong box in the catalogue (oops)!

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