Taming the beast

16 thoughts on “Taming the beast”

  1. Your progress in the garden is great. Congratulations. I cannot mow the grass here! We used expanded shale to break up really heavy clay soils when I worked further north…now I am gardening on the complete opposite.

  2. Very beautiful photos. My personal beast is my chipper. Daunting in it’s size and very powerful. But so satisfying when the brush pile is reduced to ramial chip mulch and I can return the beast to it’s lair.

  3. What treasures and loveliness! Your garden has a magical look — like one might find a poet in seated repose around the next corner, pencil in mouth and notebook in hand, pondering a day in the life of a dragonfly. … Congrats on your new mower and tackling that job! I (female) do most of the mowing at our property too. I tell people that my husband and I have non-traditional roles, which is actually the truth. I’m with you on the No Mow May–I love the idea although we already have a great deal to support the pollinators and much other wildlife here. I have to keep up with some of the mowing now or it will be five feet tall by summer and we have wildfire danger to consider. … That plum colored poppy is a beauty!

  4. Your poppies are beautiful. I almost ordered a few this winter but just don’t know if there’s anywhere they would like in this garden. Good job on the mowing! -good luck with the strimmer

  5. The failure/struggle with the perennial plants is a rather unusual one; certainly not one within our experience here. Slightly alarming to have your choice of plants restricted to such a degree. The bearded iris seem to like the conditions. Lots of shrubs? Loads of compost/manure?

    1. Yes – it’s sad Paddy. As a prof. hortic who has always preferred herbaceous (especially woodland plants), I am sort of non-plussed because little that I have adored over 30 years works here. I worked in Alpine & Herbaceous at Kew, so this matters to me.
      Summing it up: exceptionally poorly draining clay soil; extreme summer heat; winter wet. There’s a book here – I am already compiling lists of what works!
      At the moment, I’m even down to examining my potting compost, because things I propagate are not growing. For instance, my last compost has been bought (delivered next week) online, instead of locally. Lots of research involved!
      Could show you pictures of pelargonium plugs I received in March! Horrible – the originals, from a grand French company (Baumaux) were lovely, but they didn’t like me! And are about the same size at the end of May as they were in March. And looking very, very stunted.
      How can a Dip Hort Kew not work out what’s going on? Nothing puts roots on – it is the rooting that’s the issue.
      In the ‘good news’: ‘Brazen Hussy’ is alive and shouting. The little viola is, I think, in heaven!!! RIP

  6. Thanks Cathy, you certainly have a lot of work on your hands. Love the pictures particularly the poppies and irises.

  7. I think your garden is a delight. Love ‘Patty’s Plum’ and the irises. My daughter has clay soil in her Esher garden, I never realised how difficult it is to dig until I was helping her plant some new additions over Easter. Roses seem to like clay soil so perhaps you can try adding a few? Also Hydrangeas. I have issues with S&S so I feel your pain when things get chomped to the ground. Heleniums just do not survive here (Cornwall).

    1. I have ‘a few’ roses – about 50 cultivars- they were my first big love, particularly the old cultivars. Graham Stuart Thomas being my great hero.
      Yes, they don’t seem to mind the clay or the heat – but then we get terrible rain, often, just as they are about to flower (and Souvenir de la Malmaison is ruined 2 years out of 3 – but I keep going, because she’s incredible).
      The blackspot here is awful, when it rains, particularly on the David Austins.
      I have a lot of David Austins – they are petering out after about 9 years. I think they are more disease-prone and weaker in my conditions. Have observed all their little differences! The old varieties (apart from SDLM) seem to do the best, with less disease.
      I need to do a proper post when the roses are flowering, which is at the moment – I can’t believe they are all flowering at once, end of May!
      I used to do it in the past, when fewer people read my blog. But it is useful to pass on my observations.
      Heleniums – I thought I was doing better, but this year with a silly wet summer (2021) (not normal for us) and winter and the mollusc problem … you understand!
      Was never mad about hydrangeas in the past, but love the lacecaps and we have started adding.
      You make me realise that I should be passing on experience more – it’s what we all thrive on, n’est-ce pas?

  8. It’s all so lovely Cathy, and you are doing a great job of keeping things in check on your own. Love that dark iris – very dramatic. The poppies are gorgeous too. I have been looking for Patty for years but she hasn’t appeared in any nurseries near me yet! I tried from seed many years ago but I think the slugs got to them if they did germinate. Good to hear the masks are falling… still a few in my local supermarket, but the cashiers were finally allowed (by their strict boss) to stop wearing them! This all went on for far too long. 😜

    1. Thanks so much Cathy. I don’t post enough – or read others enough. I think you should try buying from Peter Nyssen (bulb supplier, shipping from Holland so European).
      I got my ‘Pattys’ online from them (and they are normally who I buy bulbs from). They do quite a nice list of pot-grown, bareroot herbaceous (which are hard to buy here in France, locally). I’ve found them very good, decent price, strong growing (although my garden kills them off nicely, thank you!!!)
      And oh yes – such a relief. Although we haven’t all started kissing each other here in France again.
      That’s a mixed blessing. I feel the alienation, but when it’s an orchestra or music thing, one’s entrance (when there are 15 to 30 others there) is not so prolonged or boring!!!

      1. Thanks for the tip about Peter Nyssen. When Brexit happened they weren’t delivering to the EU, but things have changed and I see there is a German website. I actually ordered bulbs from Farmer Gracy in the UK last year and was really pleased with them. They must have their stock in Holland too. Now I wish Chiltern Seeds were shipping here. Maybe one day they will get their act together! 😉

      2. Oh so true – I miss Chiltern as well! Used to buy a lot of grass seeds from them. They were among the last to stop shipping over here – was horrified this spring when I tried to order!

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