Thursday, 18 March 2010

Why do the least wanted multiply the most?

Three years ago I sowed some rudbeckia fulgida goldsturm among many others, something tough and bright when I was just beginning to establish perennials on the field... this year I had to lift and divide them. It took me much of the day yesterday just to lift and separate and rehome them, and the irony is that they're not even much good as cut flowers, but my logic in moving them is that they will happily fill an area of this year's new patch, they'll look good, some will be useful, and they'll keep other weeds out. Sedum are fulfilling rather the same role over there, and I was delighted to be able to divide the mixed pastels achillea to fill a strip at least 15 metres long, I hope some of them will be the lovely apricot and palest pink but each year the more dominant dark pink seem to multiply while the more delicate colours fade away. Meg and I have also hurled in a load of common yellow lysimachia punctata, not the most attractive thing on its own but a useful filler in some arrangements, and useful as groundcover while I wait for something more interesting to take its place. I've rejected some Miscanthus, I've forgotten its name but it never fulfilled its promise of pretty seedheads, it has multiplied radically but is less than ornamental for my purposes, though doubtless it would look striking somewhere else. A heap of very pretty Oriental poppies have joined the other transfers, they were once Chequers but have interbred to become something unnamed but rather pretty slightly frilly edged pink petals and a dark eye, the Chequers in a different place were still all true last year but it remains to be seen what their offspring will be like. Oriental poppies are no good for mail order flowers for so many reasons, but I can't resist including them in May and early June bouquets and arrangements where possible, they're so generously blowsily beautiful.

Another major reason for filling the new space is that I think it is going to be a dry year this year and I want to fill the furthest area with toughies that need no attention, they'll get no watering and they will have to compete with quite a few field weeds. Or more than quite a few.

The tunnel is filling with trays of seedlings and I know that all too soon they'll be clamouring to get out and I'll have nowhere warm enough to put them, so next week's work is going to include construction of a load of temporary tunnelettes, possibly less than utterly attractive but hopefully useful, I had all but forgotten about the wind until today when it started roaring again, so any temporary cover has to be extremely sturdy here.

I realise that there are rather a lot of plants here now, there are some areas of the garden I don't even visit for days because another area is demanding attention, and worryingly I am increasingly forgetting what on earth is planted where..... This morning I looked too briefly at an area of the bank I hadn't been to recently (and noticed that weeds are coming through so spring must be here!) and simply couldn't identify several plants. It's going to be an interesting year if new introductions are constantly going to be needed - it has always been a standing joke that Meg is fabulously forgetful about plant names but I used to be the one to fill in the gaps. No longer it appears!

There have been some fatalities this winter. I'm very fond of Teucrium fruticans, such a lovely silverwhite stem for large arrangements, and mine came from cuttings from some lovely specimens in my mother's garden. They've not come through, the gaura are all definitely deceased but that's no surprise, Baptisia was finally getting going but has now gone and libertia is looking decidedly unhappy and I'm a bit worried about veronicas and veronicastrums as there's no sign of resurgence around them, even when scurrying right round their stems. Verbenas will probably also have croaked but it's too early to tell. But fingers crossed much will have survived - apart from the blessed rudbeckia!

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