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Archive for the ‘Sunny Border’ Category


20130704-184301.jpgLook carefully at the picture above. Notice something odd?

Well, of course you do. You instantly noticed how the dahlia in the picture seemed intact and uneaten by slugs, right? After all, a dahlia in a slug-infested garden should look more like this:

20130704-184308.jpgHowever, both pictures are from my garden, though I must admit that the first dahlia was only planted this evening, so the slugs probably don’t yet know it’s there. Clearly the second picture shows a dahlia that the slugs know far too well.

But… Some time ago, the Flâneur Husband read somewhere that dead moss could work as a physical slugs barrier. It won’t harm the slugs, but  supposedly they don’t like crawling over the dead moss. It makes sense, really, as they don’t like coarse sand, sawdust and other coarse surfaces, so it might work.

To give it a go I had to get up on a stepladder and use a lawn rake to try to get enough dead moss off the roof of the annex, and as you see in the first picture I’ve spread it thickly around the newly planted dahlia in a barrier 6″ wide. I’m curious to see if it will work, but my fingers remain crossed for now (making it rather difficult to blog…).

Anyway, this entry won’t be all about the slugs.

20130704-184325.jpgLook; the first daylilies are blooming! Yesterday there were no flowers, but today there are two – with many more to come. This is an unknown variety from the Flâneur Husband’s grandmother’s garden (perhaps hemerocallis fulva?), and it happens to look just like the daylilies my own mother and grandmother had in their gardens; it’s been around in Danish gardens since around 1900 and it’s as reliable as it gets. It spreads a little – enough to ensure that people could give their neighbours surplus plants, probably accounting for it’s wide use – but it’s manageable and perfectly adaptable to any weather the Danish climate can throw at it. 35 Celsius summer day? Fine. -20 Celsius winter nights? Fine. Rain? Fine. Drought? Fine. It’s a tough plant, and I love it for it.

I’ve also purchased some other daylilies for the garden last year; ‘Frans Hals’ and ‘Double Firecracker’. They are doing well enough, I guess, but they are still disappointing compared to the “heirloom” daylily. They are more prone to slug attacks – which is a major concern in our garden – and they don’t seem to bloom quite as effusively. Still, maybe they just need to mature, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt…

20130704-184416.jpgA plant that doesn’t need “the benefit of the doubt” is the deadnettle in the Evening Border. This year I haven’t really gotten around to weeding it – does it show? – and that means that there are some rather attractive long grasses growing there and a vast number of deadnettles. I quite like it, though it wasn’t the look I originally aimed for with this narrow border up against the Uncovered Terrace.

20130704-184406.jpgStill, sometimes wild flowers should be allowed to do their thing if they actually look as good as anything you could create yourself, and in between them are numerous rudbeckias and 3 hostas (as well as four clematis to climb the posts of the terrace), so it has become a mix of wildflowers and cultivated plants. I’m not quite decided about it yet, but I quite like the wildness of it, and the cultivated plants in the border are fortunately tough cookies that won’t mind the competition. It takes a lot to knock out a rudbeckia or a hosta, right? And the clematis prefers some undergrowth anyway, so it seems a good idea to wait and see what happens, rather than attack the border with a belated weeding frenzy.

20130704-184343.jpgAnother “wilderness” in the garden is between The Puddles and The Hedgerow towards the road; there’s a spirea japonica growing amidst a tall weed with flowers that somehow echo the flowers of the spirea. I quite like the combination, and it makes me happier about the spirea that I didn’t really like at first. I’m not sure what the weed is – or whether it might actually NOT be a weed but something a previous owner planted on purpose – but it grows to 6-6′ and dies completely away in winter. It might be a perennial, it might be an annual, but either way it spreads like crazy, so even though I like the foliage and the flowers I regularly have to pull out volunteers in areas where they don’t belong – and where they will inevitably flop over before blooming.

They are spreading around The Puddles, which is all right since there they are supported by the iris, the lady’s mantle, the hostas, the astrantias and the daylilies, but in other parts of the garden there’s just not anything sturdy enough for them to stay upright, and that quickly gets to look messy.

20130704-184252.jpgA weed that doesn’t look messy is this yellow-flowered groundcover. I don’t know it’s name, but I love it. I pulled up loads of it when weeding The Courtyard last year, and the weeded plants were all repositioned in front of the first puddle. It seems to be battling it out with the wild strawberries for supremacy, but hardly any other plants get a foot to the ground so I am planning to use it as groundcover in other beds in the garden. (Let’s face it; it grows freely in the lawn, so it’s not afraid of anything!)

And that will be all for this jumble of an entry tonight. If any of you have a name for the yellow-flowered weed – or the tall white-flowered weed – let me know. Eternal gratitude (or at least as long as I remember it, which might not be very long) will be your reward!

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They survived the whims of a hap-hazard gardener, they survived a two-hour ride on public transport, they even survived a sustained slug attack for months (okay, the entire summer), but will our heroes be able to survive THIS?

Frosty dahlias

I had hoped our area would stay just clear of the predicted frost so I could see the very promising purple dahlia buds turn into flowers, but I guess that’s unlikely to happen, considering that it will be even colder tonight. Still, they put on a great show, all together, and I think that growing these from seed is probably the most satisfying garden activity of the year.

For now, though, there is nothing to do. I’m off to the city for the weekend, so I can’t cut them down and lift the tubers until next week. The frost is only on the surface, though, so it will just kill the flowers and leave the tubers unscathed – and the freezing has been so light that there is actually a small – very small – chance that the flowers will have survived well enough to be left standing for another week, considering that temperatures aren’t likely to dip below freezing again during the week from Sunday onwards, but you just never know.

Also, a few words of wisdom… When you wake up in the morning and see frost on the lawn it is NOT recommended to rush out to take pictures of your dahlias in your bathrobe; put on some trousers, or it will not just be the dahlias that feel a touch of frost…

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There isn’t much bloom left in the garden these days. The sweet peas are clinging on to their last flowers, and the rudbeckias are doing their best in front of the covered terrace – but they will look much more impressive next year when they’ve settled in more!

And then there are the dahlias in The Sunny Border.  They just won’t quit!

Dahlias

The colour combinations are completely random, as these were grown from mixed-seed packets, but I might label some of them so I know where they will look their best next year. For instance, the coral on in front definitely looks out of place with all the whites and the pastels, so it should perhaps be given a spot in a different bed next year….

The prettiest part of the garden right now, though, is probably the lawn. A few areas are still green because there are no large trees or shrubs nearby, but large swathes are coloured brown with oak leaves, yellow with mirabelle leaves or purple with cherry plum leaves.

LeavesAnd in some places, like the photo above, a few cherry plum leaves dot the yellow surface of mirabelle leaves and create quite a beautiful spectacle in their own subtle way. I think it is quite the loveliest thing in my garden, even surpassing my much-beloved dahlias right now. -Though probably not so much when I start raking them up… That will be quite a job! And of course the dahlias need to be dug up, probably next week once the first frost has killed off the plants above ground level. And the lawn really needs a final (high) mowing. And spring bulbs need planting. And I’m sure there is much else to do, but right now I am sitting by a warm fire, enjoying the sound of the wind shaking the trees and the sight of my yellow lawn with purple dots.

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Recently the Flâneur Husband commented on how he was a bit sad that all flowers were concentrated mainly on the South-Western side of the garden. The Ambitious Border, The Puddles, The Sunny Border; everything seemed to happen to one side, and of course he’s completely right.

Mainly this is because I’ve been afraid to attack the main lawn. First of all, to make any sort of impact, a flower bed in the lawn would have to be of a certain size, and clearing lawn is always a big project. (And at times back-breaking.) Secondly, when we bought the summer house he was rather adamant that we should have a large lawn, so I’ve been chipping away at it at the sides where it wouldn’t make too much difference to the overall lawn space.

Mowed lawn

However, the last time we were in the garden together we were walking around and he mentioned that he’d like some more flowers to the North-East and North, and he would quite like a large flower bed in the lawn in front of the rhododendrons (by the garden bench to the right in the picture above). Hallelujah! I WANT THAT TOO!!!

Once the rhododendrons and the cherry plum has finished blooming there’s really nothing interesting happening on the right side of the house until the patch of goldenrods make their show in August/September, so we need something that will be glorious during the summer months.

Wait a minute… Is the Ambitious Border done yet? No, of course it isn’t; there is still a 3-meter gap between the border-proper and The Puddles, so obviously I need to clear that ground before I start digging in the lawn, but the other day my husband asked me if flaneurgardening.com was dying, and I think that’s just because I’m sort of loosing steam here. And what better way to find something new to write about than, well, PLANNING something new!

So what am I thinking about? Well, the lawn that will remain afterwards needs to have certain proportions. There needs to be room for a long table for an al-fresco lunch for 20 people, and alongside that room enough for a game of croquet, pétanque or Kubb, so basically this means an area around 8 x 12 meters should be kept as lawn. (And no, we’re not using competition standards when setting up lawn games…)

This will give space for a narrow path in front of the rhododendrons and a long flowerbed in front of that, perhaps a few meters wide and 7-8 meters long. To eliminate the need to mow a narrow path, this could probably be made of a weed-blocking material covered with wood chips made from our rather large stock-pile of twigs and small branches that are currently piled up behind the house.

So… Once the ground is cleared of grass, the path is made and everything is ready, what on earth should go into such a large flowerbed? Well, obviously I want everything in the garden to be fully hardy perennials, with few exceptions for special plants like the dahlias and some biannuals, but to begin with it would be easiest – and cheapest – to populate a large space like this with hardy annuals.

After all, I do have a seed stash…

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We had our annual Summer Party in the garden yesterday. An al fresco lunch for as many friends as want to come, followed by an afternoon and evening of frolicking, croquet, kubb (an old Viking game that has become popular again as a garden game over the past 5-10 years after a thousand years of obscurity) and far too much alcohol.

It’s always lovely, but there IS a certain joy to saying goodbye to the last guests on Sunday around noon once the dishes have been done and the garden restored to some sort of normalcy (i.e. the bottles and cans have been picked up, the games have been packed away and the furniture is no longer clumped in the middle of the lawn around the fire pit.

Now it’s just me and the birds in the garden again; I even sent the Flâneur Husband back to the city to nurse his hangover with pizza, sofa and telly while I nurse mine with left-overs from yesterday and a few perennials that need planting and moving.

Tomorrow is the end of my summer holiday (one week in early July and then last week), and I think I need to see if I can take another week off some time in late August. The garden is mainly in decent shape, though some corners – like the vegetable garden – have been completely neglected all year. We haven’t even moved the lawn around the vegetable beds, which kind of shows how little that area has been used…

Anyway, who wants to read words, right? Everybody loves a photo, so:

Puddles in the rain

Yeah… It rained pretty heavily this afternoon. And those white streaks ARE ropes of rain… (And yes, this photo was taken almost blindly, since I had to cover my phone with the brim of my cap… focusing on a screen one inch from your eyes is just not feasible!)

Note how only one Puddle is actually visible this year… (The other two to the right of the stormy one are mainly hidden by the planting, however tumble-down the plants might be.) To the left of the “visible” left Puddle I have planted some iris germanica that I grew from seed two years ago and left in tiny pots for years; they should be happy enough here, and they should soon shield the last puddle from view. After all, The Puddles are only intended to be seen in glimpses, so that’s why I’ve surrounded them with fairly tall perennials with somewhat over-hanging habits – from right to left it’s iris siberica, hosta (unknovn variety from my childhood garden but with plain green foliage and mauve flowers), sedum (another unknown variety from my childhood garden) and finally the iris germanica.

To allow for glimpses of the water, though, I’ve planted low ground covers at the front; from right to left it’s alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), wild strawberries and some unknown groundcovering plant that I weeded from the Courtyard; it has pretty enough foliage and when established it will have yellow flowers throughout summer. To hold the – preliminary – corner of the area by The Puddles I’ve transplanted a white-flowering plant that grows like a weed here – though it’s certainly a garden plant of sorts.

-Okay, so that plant just went out during a break in my writing; instead this corner is now the site of the newly purchased day lily hemerocallis Frans Hals. It does mean I’ll have an awful lot of spiky leaves around The Puddles (three different types of iris AND the day lilies), but the rest of the planting should soften that impression, and either way day lilies will add some blooms at a season when the rest of the flowers are either budding (the sedums and asters) or spent (the irises, astrantia and lady’s mantle).

The Sunny Border - in the rain

I’ve also made a change to The Sunny Border since this photo was taken. The Japanese anemones seem to dislike the conditions here – though I’ve seen them do well in full sun in the gardens of the Royal Library in Copenhagen – so I moved some of them from the far end of this border to make room for some other newly purchased day lilies hemerocallis Double Firecracker.

The Flâneur Husband has complained about his birthday present, the three roses my parents gave him. I picked out the variety and ordered them, knowing he loves red roses, but the L.D.Braithwaite roses very quickly turns decidedly hot pink rather than red once they are blooming. I guess that’s what red roses do when they get full sun; my other red rose – torn from the ground with my bare hands as I rescued plants from the destruction – is turning that same colour even though it used to bloom truly dark red in its old location is half-shade.

Have I mentioned I love my garden?

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The Flâneur Husband and I are spending our summer holiday in that most exotic of places, the garden. We took a week a few weeks back, and now we have another week off in the run-up to our annual summer party – this year we will be 16 people for lunch and frolicking in the garden.

Danish Summer

The weather last week was perfect summer weather – hot and sunny every single day – so it was great for our two mothers who arrived at the summer house on Wednesday. We, though, arrived Friday for the last sunny day, and since then it has been a very mixed sort of weather – blue skies alternating with dark clouds. A quintessentially Northern European summer, so much better than the summer so far!

My Mother-in-law left on Sunday, and my Mum left on Monday, so it’s not like we’re spending our entire holiday under adult supervision, but it was really nice to have them here – and they got loads done while they were here alone; they painted part of the fence around the courtyard and one of the facades, not to mention that my Mum weeded the Evening Border and most of The Ambitious Border. (The Sunny Border is still too new to need much weeding, whereas the other flowerbeds definitely benefited from it. I wouldn’t trust my Mother-in-law to know the difference between weeds and perennials, but my Mum knows, especially since we hardly have any perennials that she didn’t used to grow in my childhood garden.

Also, my Mum HATES slugs. I mean HATES! She’s the sort of person who brings a pair of scissors when she’s weeding, just in case she’ll unearth some slug burrowing in the flower bed – and then she’ll cut them in halves! On Friday evening I noticed that just 55 hours after my Mum arrived in the garden there were significantly fewer slugs than I’d normally see when I arrive for a weekend in the garden. And after a whole weekend with my Mum AND me in the garden, well… This morning I just killed 5 slugs, and not because I didn’t feel like killing more but because I didn’t SEE more. I’ll be lucky if I end up killing 20 slugs today, where I normally kill a hundred in a day.

The Long View

Anyway, I promised I’d stop just posting close-ups, so here’s a view of the side of the garden I’ve done the most to so far since we bought the summer house. To the right is The Sunny Border, which is at the same time a success and a failure this year – its first. It’s not as lush and full-bodied as I had planned/dreamt it, and I definitely don’t like how much bare soil is visible, but on the other hand… The dahlias have survived in spite of slugs – MANY slugs – and a severe flooding – it was under 4″ of water Friday before last, and that seems to have killed off a lot of growth and a couple of plants entirely – and the ones that flower are spectacular. Also, The iris germanica from my Mum’s old garden bloomed well in May/June, and the Austin roses L.D. Braithwaite that my parents gave The Flâneur Husband for his birthday are doing well. The Anemone hupehensis seem all but dead, though; I’ve seen them grow in full sun in other gardens, but clearly they don’t like it here in mine, so most of them have died. Never mind; I’ll relocate the remainder to a less sunny spot!

To the left in the photo above you can see The Ambitious Border. There are several issues with this border; for one it’s too narrow! It needs to be widened, and of course if you look at the picture you can see that it has a gap between the border at present and The Puddles further down along the same hedge. Eventually I want The Puddles to join up with The Ambitious Border, but this year I prioritised creating The Sunny Border. After all, the South-Western facing part in front of the house is probably one of the best planting areas in the garden!

Perry's Baby Red

The Puddles are doing well in their end of The Ambitious Border; the sedums I planted look somewhat tumble-down, but that’s to be expected since I moved them from a spot in tall grass and ferns to a spot where they have to hold themselves up. Likewise the slug damage to the hostas was to be expected, though it’s still appalling. And the Perry’s Baby Red water lily is getting ready to bloom, hopefully in time for the summer party!

Accidental shopping

Oh, and I didn’t mean to, but… Yeah, the internet is a dangerous place, full of temptations, so yesterday the mailman brought me a box full of these… Three double day lilies Firecracker, three day lilies Frans Hals, three hostas – one of each of Northern Exposure, Tardiana Halcyon and Regal Splendour – three alchemilla mollis/lady’s mantle, one astilbe Purple Rain, one purple astrantia major – Lars and one Echinacea Purpurea.

I’ve wanted some Lady’s mantle for a while since that’s a perennial my Mum used to grow in my childhood garden, and the hostas are just because hostas are lovely and the Evening Border needs filling-out. I’m finding it hard to argue for the astilbe and the echinacea, except that they are pretty flowers, and of course the day lilies are vital, considering that I’ve discovered that we have far too few perennials that bloom in July. (If you look carefully at the picture above you can see that one of the Frans Hals day lilies was even delivered with a flowering stem that survived the postage!) The purple astrantia is also a must-have, and since the Flâneur Husband likes our “normal” pinkish-white astrantias I’m sure he will LOVE the purple one.

White dahlia

The star of the garden right now has to be the white dahlias; for some reason they seem to do better than the darker ones, both in terms of slug resistance and flood survival. They are blooming in profusion and quite saving the Sunny Border from being a mediocre place, simply by virtue of the size of their flowers and the generally stunning appearance.

Finally I’ll give you another cloudscape; I do not garden in a vacuum, and the fjord is very much part of the identity of this garden – and part of what gives this neck of the woods our very special micro-climate. We might have had a rather too wet summer, but generally speaking this is one of the sunnies places in the country since clouds have to first pass the sea, then land, then sea again before they hit us, almost regardless of where they come from.

Fjord view

-And if you look closely you can even find a fragment of a rainbow in the picture above…

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The Flâneur Husband and I went up to the garden Friday afternoon after work, and this is what met us:

Flooded Garden

Our summerhouse had more or less turned into a moated castle, only without the crenelated towers and the drawbridge. The latter would have been useful, since we were both in our city shoes… Mine were leather, so I traversed the lawn with difficulty and returned – wearing my wellies – with a pair of clogs for the Flâneur Husband so he wouldn’t have to wreck his suede (NOT blue) shoes.

The neighbours told us that on Thursday the area had 80mm of rain, which is a lot more rain than falls in the average month of July, and since this has been a wet summer the ground was saturated and there was no other way this could have turned out.

Merged Puddles

Needless to say The Puddles were hard to spot, since they had merged with the lawn in that corner of the garden to form a Great Lake – or at least a garden version thereof.

I was somewhat annoyed with this, as this was not what we had expected to see on that sunny afternoon, but the Flâneur Husband seemed absolutely put out by it and very worried about whether it would damage any plants and how long it would take to subside. I, on the other hand, have seen flooding like this in the garden several times the first year we had the garden – before we had the drain installed – so I was pretty sure the plants would stand up to it with no problems, but still…

The - wet - Sunny Border

My poor dahlias were standing in 3 inches of water, and I’m pretty sure dahlias aren’t naturally aquatic plants…

Still, after some food and a glass of wine – and the turning-on of the drain pump to pump water out into the stream behind the house – the mood lifted and we had a lovely evening after all, taking advantage of the photo-op to take some pictures of how flâneurs deal with a flood:

Flâneur Husband

Flâneur Husband

Flâneur Gardener

Flâneur Gardener

-A glass of Chardonnay and a leisurely stroll through the garden, even if it had to be in 3 inches of water! And yes, I like to don some tweed in the garden from time to time as the picture shows.

The next morning, though, the lake had all but vanished from our plot. The Puddles were still merged into a single pond-sized puddle, but the lawn was visible and the ground was generally just boggy and wet, rather than flooded.

Boggy Garden

It was a sight for sore eyes to wake up to a garden where wellies wasn’t de rigeur, and even the dahlias were now on dry (i.e. boggy) ground:

Dahlias on dry ground

The upside to this flooding is that hoards of slugs seem to have drowned in the water; sadly, though, loads of earth worms also perished.

Today, Sunday, the garden looks wonderful – and dry! The Flâneur Husband mowed most of the lawn today before heading back to town, and Idid the rest this afternoon. There’s laundry drying in the sun, a mild wind is keeping the temperature in the sun bearable and I’ve put away the tweeds in favour of a pair of swimming trunks and a chair in the sunny courtyard.

Mowed lawn

(I might not air my dirty laundry in public, but I don’t mind putting my clean laundry on the Internet!)

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