Posted in gardener's jottings

Somethings old, somethings new

At what instant does the summer change? What subtle chemistry of air and sunlight” ~ Jane Tyson Clement

Yesterday was the official start of Autumn but the Seiryu Acer has been showing somewhat premature signs of it for the last 2-3 weeks. By contrast, the tuberous begonias which were planted out well in time for summer have only recently come into something that resembles full blooming.

Green dragon acer ‘Seiryu’ already breathing fire

These signs are perhaps indicative of the mixed-bag summer we have had this year. Disappointing to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who long for long sunny days though I hesitate to complain when parts of Europe and the USA have had horrifically high temperatures, resulting in fires.

Continuing the heat theme, I’ve been pondering what style of planting to make for the front dais garden. At the moment it houses all the plants but after the Japanese ones move to the back, there will be gaps that need filling. Being North facing with afternoon sun, those solar lovers are not going to bloom to their best.

‘Neon’ setting the tone for the Derbyshire dais

Neverthless my salvias have done well and on that note my daughter gifted me another one which rather sets the tone, being a vivacious magenta ‘Neon‘. Its not only hot pink but evergreen and theoretically hardy!

Thus I’ve decided to choose blooms that stand out in the colour palette, across the three seasons. Not forgetting of course the importance of background foliage and evergreens!

Since I needed to infill with late season colour I purchased some gaudy yellow gazanias and a very tall orange Salvia with the appropriately hot name: “Embers Wish“. Despite this nomenclature, it will probably need winter protection here, although the dais is sheltered having the benefit of backing on to my living space. For this reason I like to take cuttings and overwinter in a sheltered spot, like my newly renovated greenhouse (when it finally gets all its glass panes).

Talking of winter protection, I have four scented leaf pelargoniums which only just survived being kept under a poly greenhouse last winter and then savagely cut back in Spring!

maroon velvet flowers of Pelargonium. sidoides

This year I intend to be a better carer not least because I would hate to lose any of them, especially the South African geranium P. sidoides.

Normally at this time of year I start to wind down but there are outstanding manual jobs in my garden design plans before the inclement weather stops play! I’m also trying some Autumn seed sowing and have opted for Chilterns bargain-basement lottery mixes of hardy perennials, plus a shrubs & trees mix. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so they say!

I’ve a few bulbs to pop into pots too though I used never to plant tulips until November, as it was once thought this helped prevent ‘tulip fire’. Apparently this is no longer valid advice.

Take a scrolling stroll through the Derbyshire Dais garden in September

Posted in garden design

Breaking Glass

One of the few remaining, just about worth saving items in the garden, was the small greenhouse (6×4 ft)

“It always seems impossible until it is done”

Fortunately, I had the expertise and muscle of a friend to help every step of the way as I had underestimated what would be involved with this renovation, until closer inspection revealed several major problems:-
– the ground on which the greenhouse leaned(!) was undulating layers of soil impregnated with old weed suppressant and topped with 20cm faded white stones
– the far end corner where the new platform was to be located, had a soil erosion level of about 2 feet
– ivy and an old tree had penetrated the roof and broken and cracked all the glass there
– thick and thin stems of ivy had woven through back panels and frame so that these had to be cut/chiselled out, stem by stem.

ivy stems fused into the back frame

“Oh, a dainty plant is the ivy green,
That creepeth o’er ruins old! ”

~ Charles Dickens

All glass panes were removed so that the frame could be easily lifted off and put to one side. (the salvageable glass was jet washed and later hand washed prior to being put back). Then it was literally a case of doing the groundwork.

The eroded far end had to be banked up by cemented concrete blocks and the whole area, after clearing, required much filling in. Fortunately the garden’s overgrown ‘rockery’ slope turned out to be a veritable brick and rubble mine and with mattock in hand, I salvaged all we needed. After endless measurements, and topped with ballast, the slabs were mortared in. (I combined mortar ingredients 5:1 by hand and would have given the earth for a cement mixer!)

With the paved platform finally completed and the greenhouse in situ, screwed down and most of the glass back in, it’s just a case of needing more roof panels. Luckily, a friend of a friend is dismantling their old greenhouse (same model), so I shall have plenty. Much better than purchasing new since there would be too much contrast between these and the original panes.

This glasshouse (I use the term interchangeably) will be more akin to a potting shed for seed sowing, cuttings, and growing seedlings on. Overwintering tender plants too given that it can get cold here in Derbyshire

Given its locale in the Japanesque garden, a glasshouse does not seem very thematic. I’ve not been able to determine what equivalent they use(d) in Japan – perhaps making space within the house. One modern Japanese design I’ve seen is to build a house within a glasshouse! I’ve only room in mine for table and chair and some shelving. Still, it feels like home!

A scrolling view of the greenhouse renovation so far: