I’m learning to throw out my ‘to-do’ lists and be more philosophical in the garden. At the grand old age of (nearly) 65, there’s got to be more to gardening life than hedge-trimming and grass-cutting! Mission: find more joy and to hell with tidiness and professional standards!
When the BV goes into the garden, it seems he just does what his mood dictates. Consequently, he’s much better than I at simply wandering and enjoying, frequently returning whistling to the house with small bowls of raspberries and strawberries. I, in sharp contrast, often return bad-tempered and sweating, having worked hard and slogged my way up our 90 plus steps.
And there’s a lot to enjoy at the moment. Yesterday I was tidying up an area in the lower Hornbeam Gardens: spring-flowering shrubs and a ‘wilderness’ planting that still looks good, if messy, in October. That’s my garden, yes!
Verbena bonariensis and Stipa gigantea are the key notes
In line with my new philosophy I took a wander down into our slowly emerging woodland garden.
There, it’s the red oak (Quercus rubra) that’s stealing the show. It’s been in the ground since February 2016 and is a fast grower. I was delighted to read this morning that not only has it a range in eastern and central United States, into south-eastern Canada, but it’s also the provincial tree of Prince Edward Island. Since my Canadian granny came from Nova Scotia (a stone’s throw from PEI) and I still have all her Anne of Green Gables books on my shelves, when I look at it now, I’m going to see a little bit of ‘home’.
It was introduced to Europe in the 1700s as a fast-growing source of timber and is said to be somewhat invasive now. Apparently, unlike the equally beautiful pin oak (Quercus palustris), it is not as widely planted as an ornamental because it produces a long taproot, which quickly makes it difficult to transplant successfully. Fortunately it tolerates brief flooding – this area of the garden is frequently flooded by the little river, Apance, once a year, although the waters always go down within hours.
Another treasure today: confirmation that the plant which mysteriously started to grow in my new grass/perennial border in the orchard is, indeed, Eupatorium cannabinum. Now I’ve no recollection of planting (or purchasing) this, but when it began to flower it sang ‘eupatorium’ at me. I love the genus, but felt that our normally very summer-dry garden was not going to allow me to plant. Perhaps I’m wrong and should try some of the others that have been old friends in other gardens, such as Eupatorium purpureum.
Hemp agrimony grows up to 1.5m tall – I think it’s found a good spot, but only time will tell. Rather startling to read that it’s a traditional herbal medicine in Europe, used as an anti-inflammatory for respiratory tract infections. A timely new arrival as winter approaches? I think I’ll be sticking to it as a butterfly plant.
Two further timely arrivals are my two little ‘Burmese Anglais’ gardening friends. They trekked all the way from the Pyrenees to keep me company and now, at 5 months old, are beginning to go out a little (to the chagrin of my silver tabby friend).
Introducing Sorrel (chocolate male)
And Sage (brown male).
I’m sure they’ll manage to creep into many more gardening photographs.