Updating your wish list on a cold and unforgiving afternoon.
The crows sit hawing in bare branches, the melancholy buzzards search for blue in the sky, the mice squeeze under the gap in the back door and are swiftly ushered out with brooms before they meet the cat.
It’s not that you want to wish away the chilly season by imagining yourself elsewhere, in another time and climate, but a nice hot drink and a seed catalogue can bring a little relief from the sheer hard work of mud.
Instead of footprints, we leave wells behind us, from which the geese drink happily in the evenings, their keels dropping lower and lower; their interest in long grasses getting keener than their interest in food. We’re all in preparation mode. Endless pots of tea leaves go out onto the roses – not that they seem to need it.
All the roses flowered rambunctiously the whole of last year, so much so that I had a thought when I sat down to contemplate what new things to grow – to see about making the most of what the garden was already happy to give me in absolute abundance.
A note of gratitude to my loyal garden friends before sharing my greedy little wishlist!
Forget-Me-Not spreads like wild fire, every year a new patch, always popping up in inexplicable places. There’s nothing sweeter than that soft blue cloud, (that dear colour, that celestial center) and because I love them, their rampantness feels like an absolute blessing. I couldn’t be happier.
So I’m imagining entire beds of Forget-Me-Not from Spring right through Summer, too cool tired eyes with soothing pools… and it’s true they might threaten to strangle out the rest of the season’s plants (Forget-Me-Not’s leaves are more or less evergreen as far as I’ve experienced), but I do a bit of thinning, or I pot them up and keep them out of harm’s way, and when the season’s over for the rest of the plants, I pop them back in and let them multiply. Madness, I suspect, but I’ve no quarrel with them at all.
The roses too love our clay, and so I invested hard during the off-season sales (you can still get your hands on some wonderful off-season bargains now), and I am all-in with roses. Standards, climbers, floribundas, shrub, miniature…
Last year, our 3 yr old stock bloomed from the end of spring until the end of the year – without exaggeration, we had white roses and pink superfairies for the Christmas day table!
I’m going to make roses a part of this year’s design, because it would be very rude not to.
Here’s the view I’m concentrating on first. The all-important view from the kitchen window. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the view out has got to inspire love – it’s got to keep you ticking. I don’t know exactly why this is so important to me, probably representational of some deeper meaning, but it’s become an obsession.
So here are some of the plants I’ve been investigating:
Carpets of Colour
The moss garden directly under the window (still a little on the bald side as yet) needs to segue naturally into the planting, and given its typically native feel (native holly, damson trees, Ivy, dafodils etc), I want this transition to be both colourful, but also gentle. But I also live with a couple of people who are NOT fans of the cottage garden look. Luckily one of them is obsessed with woodlands, so I have a direction I’m allowed to explore.
My wishlist consists of purpose-plants rather than ones I’ve fallen for in a personal, dreamy way.
Before I show you my current scrapbook, I am well aware these are ‘weedy’: liable to self-seed and (many of them) creep wildly. As I’ve mentioned before, things where we are don’t take much persuading to go feral, so I’m taking a risk introducing these plants. But I have a cunning plan…
For now, I’ll just indulge.
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Michaelmas daisy, Erigeron Profusion, Centuarea Montana, Clematis Integrifolia, Malva Moschata ‘Snow White’, Cornflower ‘Trailing Blue Carpet’ and Dwarf Blue Midget, Dianthus Deltoides ‘Microchips’, Stachys Byzantina ‘Lamb’s Ears’
Here’s another kind of wish list to cheer a grisly afternoon:
I love it when other bloggers recommend books, my wallet not so much…
- A Thoughtful Gardener, Jinny Blom
- Landscape of Dreams: The gardens of Isobel and Julian Bannerman
- Natural Selection: A Year in the Garden by Dan Pearson
- The Japanese Garden by Sophie Walker
- Head Gardeners – Ambra Edwards
- A Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey
For all the cold, it’s still an atmospheric time of year.
The flowers about to bud, green shoots rearing their brave heads above the parapet, a sense that no-one quite wants to be the first, but they just can’t contain themselves anymore.
Although I’ve learnt to go into making yearly seed and book purchases with a VERY strict shopping list, I know I’ll end up with a few adult plants as well. All the preparation in the world can’t help you when you fall head over heels for something.
Discipline, determination, a very strict shopping list… and some paving slabs made of good intentions should do the trick.