Saturday, 11 October 2014

Rip it up and start again

….in the words of eighties band, Orange Juice.

Following my own advice, today saw me tearing out snapdragons which were covered in brown pustules of rust, making their leaves about as appetising as that description suggests.  They were still flowering, so I was sorry to deal them an untimely end.  Into the bag and off to the great compost heap in the sky… but not onto my own.

I've got to wait for the frosts to come and get the dahlias, and then I can clear the whole patch - could it be my tulip bed next spring I wonder?  Have recently ordered yet another load of bulbs - this time for a brightly coloured wedding in late May, so am looking forward to some zingy pings in the border.

I'm not using the raised bed for tulips again this year, not because it was unsuccessful, but because it has hosted them for the last two years.  It is therefore time to introduce incoming stock to pastures new (and to hoick out the old stock as flowering decreases after a couple of years).

I will probably use the raised bed to plant out the ranunculus which I've started off in the greenhouse - it could be the good spot for them as long as I can keep them watered as they like damp conditions. The bed may be a bit free-draining, left to its own devices.  The reason I've earmarked it is that in the absence of a large undercover growing space, the raised bed is probably the easiest patch in the garden to construct a mini-tunnel for - and the flowers will need protection from the rain if I'm to get a good crop to use at market.  I'm obviously turning into my dad as I squirrelled away the heavy-duty plastic which my new sofa came wrapped in, specifically for this purpose.  I may or may not show you my gimcrack construction, depending how hideous it is!!

After today's clearing and chopping session, my central border looks considerably bigger - not only is it enjoying temporary respite from ground elder, but it's also enjoying a bit more light as I've cut back the spirea shrub whose arching branches were gradually shading out an ever larger area.  I've reduced it by about two thirds by cutting out old branches from the base - this has left the remaining ones still with a graceful shape, but the shrub now has much reduced bulk.  Also took out some of the low hanging branches of the acer negundo which looms above it, so it feels almost airy and open - at least when compared with the leafy cavelike structure it resembled earlier in the day.

Planted the remaining narcissus and daffodil bulbs from my 25kg delivery in this rather shady patch - they should be up and out before the tree comes into full leaf next year, so should enjoy the benefits of being early season plants.  I'll probably dig half of them up by accident later, but as they're not too precious to me, it's a risk I'm prepared to take.

My September sown cornflowers are thriving in the greenhouse and the first of the temperamental larkspur seedlings were spotted on a watering inspection this afternoon.  I will, I will, I will grow larkspur more effectively in 2015. Repeat 100 times.  Just have to clear a few more areas in order to have somewhere to put them all.

Will leave you with a nice bunch of autumnal dahlias, picked this morning. All the more precious because they aren't going to be around for a whole lot longer as the nights get colder and frost creeps ever closer.  The 'f' word has been mentioned on quite a few recent weather forecasts, but has not yet put its tentacles into my urban garden.  Hooray for city living!

Cafe au lait dahlias in a relaxed bunch of British flowers

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