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Archive for the ‘Ambitious Border’ Category


A few weeks ago, as we were getting ready to leave the summer house and return to the City, I decided to cut some of the deep blue aquilegias that grow  between the paving stones in the courtyard. I know they’d bloom while I wasn’t there, so I figured the budding flowers would look nice in a vase in the apartment, and so they did.

The buds dutifully turned into flowers, and I was happy. It’s my favourite colour of aquilegia, but sadly we only have it in the courtyard where it is a weed, really, so I was so thrilled last week when I noticed seed heads starting to form; there must either have been some kind little fly that chose to pollinate these flowers, or else they were just shaken sufficiently when I have been airing out the apartment, because today they look like this:

The colour of the dried petals is a truer blue than the actual flower, which has a slightly purple tone

Of course there’s always a risk that the seeds won’t be true to type, but considering that I have no other colours of aquilegia in the apartment, I’m feeling confident that the seeds will produce the same lovely colour if I sow them out in the Ambitious Border.

So, this means that I have now used cut flowers and branches to propagate forsythia, dogwood and sedum so far, and with aquilegias in the making. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Free plants are the best!

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So I spent the weekend digging – again… Seems like it’s becoming one of my regular activities in the garden, carving away at the lawn inch by inch to make room for more plants.

This weekend I was hoping to complete The Puddles – the new name for the miniature pond – and surroundings, but a sore back and too much sun – I got slightly red on Friday, so on Saturday and Sunday I tried to stay out of the sun as much as possible, digging in short intervals with long breaks in the shade, and of course covered in SPF 30.

Anyway, I didn’t finish it this weekend, but I did manage to clear a 3 x 4 meter stretch of lawn and dig out most of the puddle holes. It will just be a couple of 90-litre plastic tubs, so not the biggest holes in the world, but with heavy soil on top and pure clay further down it’s plenty big for one person to dig on his own and maintain momentum. I’ve sited them at the end of the Ambitious Border (or what will BE the end of it; right now there’s still a stretch of grass between the part that’s been completed and planted and the site of The Puddles, but over the summer it will be joined together, I promise.) so they will be visible from the covered terrace and from the hammock.

So I could show you pictures of bare soil with holes in it, but instead I thought I’d show you what I’ll stick around The Puddles:

Astrantia major

There’s an white astrantia major from the Flâneur Husband’s grandparents’ allotment sitting in the lawn in front of the large rhododendrons, and you sort of have to know it’s an inherited and treasured plant in order to notice it at all, so it will be relocated to the pond area to become more prominent. It’s one of those perennials that will stand up for almost anything, so apart from the nostalgic origins of the plant it’s also a favourite because it is so low-maintenance.

Hosta

And of course it doesn’t get much more low-maintenance than hostas. These are from my mother’s garden and have overwintered in a bucket in the courtyard (now that’s hardy!). This clump will be divided into three or four smaller sections so they can cover a larger area, and of course they’ll spread out and just do their thing. I think the lushness of the hosta leaves will fit in nicely with a spot of water, and they will also provide a nice cover for small wildlife – hopefully not just slugs!

Asters

The site of the sand box that was removed from the garden when we bought it has functioned as a “holding pen” ever since, and I must say it’s rather over-crowded – and also somewhat unmotivated, sitting in the middle of the lawn and looking a bit out-of place. It holds a clump of very pretty purple asters from my mother’s garden that can go at the back of the Puddles up against the hedge to the neighbour.

Iris

The “holding pen” also contains two types of iris. A large purple bearded iris (or rather lots of separate rhizomes) that was salvaged from the re-vamping of the area around my old block of apartments, and some slightly smaller iris that I haven’t seen in bloom yet as they were transplanted from the Flâneur Husband’s grandparents’ allotment last summer.

I also have some tiny iris sibirica that I have grown from seeds in small pots, and they really need to move out into the garden and get some more space very soon, having lived in 4″ pots since they were sown last spring.

I’ll dot the irises around The Puddles in clusters, and I think it’s possibly a safe bet to say that iris and water will look great together.

Unknown lawn weed

This is a plant that grows in a very clearly defined area of the lawn, leading me to suspect it might be the remnants of a flower bed that had been left to become infested with grass over many years. (Like so many other beds in the garden.) I love the foliage – which grows 1½ foot high – and later in summer it will have umbels of small white flowers up to 2-3 foot high.

Obviously I won’t mow the area where these are clustered, but I’ve also lifted some and stored in a bucket in the courtyard to be planted around The Puddles; I have no idea what this plant is, but it’s hardy and pretty, and that warrants a space in my garden any day!

Perennial Sweet Pea

The picture above are the perennial sweet peas at the back of The Sunny Border, but we also have them growing in various places at the edges of the lawn, so I will move at least one plant to the back of The Puddles. Just in front of the hedge is a small beech tree that is bare up to the top of the hedge (but has healthy foliage above that, perhaps because it gets more sun up there), and it will provide a good enough natural climbing post for the sweet peas to add some height and flowers to the area.

 

So there… I think I will be able to fill out the area nicely from the beginning, and if I do end up with a blank spot or two I have several other contenders that can be brought in, though I think the above is really about as many different types of plants as I need to make the area diverse and interesting, but not messy and confused-looking.

I’m going up to the garden again next weekend for a quick visit (before travelling on to Jutland to visit my parents) and I hope that will allow me to get The Puddles in place, and maybe at least some of the planting.

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Well, on a smaller – MUCH smaller – scale…

The Flâneur Husband asked me for a wish list for the garden when he was here last weekend, and of course the wish list included a new spade (the old one is coming apart at the rivets), a new hoe (I don’t know the English name for this type of hoe, but we only have on kind of hoe at present and that’s clearly not enough), a compost grinder (taking branches up to 40mm), some other tid-bits and this:

Why, yes! It’s a black plastic tub! It’s about a foot deep, 1½ft wide and 2½ft long! In other words it’s a miniature pond in the making… One end will need to be filled up with stones and tiles so animals that fall into it will have a place to crawl out out the water, of course, and I’m hoping that if I dig the hole deep enough I can have the soil sloping down to the tub’s edge, making it more easily disguise-able by plants.

I’m as thrilled as, well… As a gardener with a black plastic tub! Time will tell whether I manage to turn this into a miniature pond or whether it will turn into a slimy green bog of algae, but I feel confident that if I start with a visit to the local aquarium shop and get some oxygenating plants going from the start, the problems can be kept at a minimum.

It will go somewhere in the corner down by the hedgerow where it can be seen from the house but also gets some shade and provides easy escape routes for animals. After all, animals are the main reason I want a small miniature pond/puddle; I especially hope that over time it will increase the number of frogs and toads in our garden, but of course the birds will be welcome as well.

I’m terribly excited about this. project, but of course – inevitably – it involves more digging…  So I need to site the mini pond far enough from the trees that at least I won’t have to get tangled up in tree roots, and also it needs to somehow fit into the overall scheme for the Ambitious Border, since it will be at the very end of the stretch of the border that has not yet been created.

I also have 5 Blue Rhapsody roses that are in a “holding pen” in the courtyard and need to be moved out into the garden, so it’s a good thing I have a long weekend coming; Ascension Day (Thursday) is a day off here in Denmark, and financial institutions (such as the place I go to when I take time off gardening, i.e. my job) are also closed on Friday. Good thing the forecast looks promising! (Degrees in Celsius)

Weather forecast 16-21 May

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While I was weeding The Ambitious Border Friday and Saturday (Sunday I was simply too knackered in my back and shoulders after two days of forking and kneeling – and I’m only 33! I definitely need to shape up if I want to keep up with the garden…) I couldn’t help thinking some of the weeds were simply just too cute to throw away, like this little baby:

Okay, so that picture is a recycled one from my post on the lawn, but to be honest there were areas in The Ambitious Border that looked much the same. Before I started the weeding, my Mother-In-Law mentioned that she wouldn’t know what was weeds and what wasn’t, and to be quite honest the mess in the border didn’t give any indication of what was supposed to be there and what wasn’t, but by Saturday afternoon she could definitely see what was supposed to be there, because there was nothing else!

Anyway, back to the little blue beauty! It has a creeping, spreading habit, and then it sends up its little flower spikes “soaring” 5 inches above the ground, so I figured that a) the lawn would inevitably encroach on the clear area around the 5 New Dawn roses I planted by the two hammock trees (a blood plum and an oak) so I might as well try to control which weeds will grow there, and b) these plants have such small, shallow root systems that I can’t imagine they will compete too much with the roses for food, especially considering that they are right next to 20-foot trees.

Today I realised, much to my joy, that the little blue beauty has a name; Ajuga Reptans (“creeping lip-less” in Danish; not the most flattering name!), and it’s actually not just a weed but also a perfectly accepted ground-covering perennial that can be bought from nurseries and garden centres!

I do hope they will spread out nicely on the bare soil around the roses now that they have no competition from grass and other weeds.

So there, an upgrade from weed (although pretty) to a desirable perennial! Thank you, Google!

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I might not get a LOT done this weekend, but what I do get done makes a visible difference!

Another stretch of the Ambitious Border has been weeded (shouldn’t it actually be “de-weeded”?), and now I only have one meter left before I reach the end of the bed. -Then, of course, I might extend it, because the ambition is to let it follow the entire length of the hedge, but I do have to pace myself.

Between the spots where I had annuals last year and the spots where the acanthus and the globe thistles have gone AWOL, I now have enough space for most of the perennials that are currently in temporary storage beds, so I can actually start thinking about where to put each group of plants.

Next weekend I’ll be up here with the Flâneur Husband, so we can plant the border together and get the vegetable beds sown up. And maybe extend the border a little to make room for sowing some annuals?

Friday’s weeding

Saturday’s weeding

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Yesterday I started on the weeding of the Ambitious Border… Oh dear; more like “the area where perennials grow in the lawn”, actually, but at least I have now cleared a section of it – and managed not to damage the plants in the process!

I only did about a third of it, though, because  a) it’s backbreaking work and b) I’m up here with my mother-in-law this weekend, and it seems unsociable to have one’s head in a flower bed while having company, doesn’t it?

Mind you; I’ll do another section today, and then perhaps the final furlong on Sunday, so when the Flâneur Husband comes up here next weekend it might actually be possible to see what’s lawn and what’s flower bed!

The peonies, bleeding hearts, astilbes and a single hosta have been liberated so far, and next up are the day lilies and goldenrods. There should be an acanthus in there somewhere, but I can’t spot it at the moment, and I’m sure my mother also planted some globe thistles when my parents visited last spring… We’ll see if I find them in the mess!

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  • Pack up loads of plants from the windows of the apartment and bring them up to the garden.
  • Dig a hole for that poor blackcurrant that has been lingering on top of the ground – yet surviving – for nearly a year now…
  • Mow the lawn/jungle if and when the weather is suitably dry.
  • Plant up pots in the courtyard.
  • Weed the Ambitious Border and the Evening Border.
  • Sow the vegetable garden.
  • Build ad hoc cloches for the tomatoes and dahlias.
  • Divide and plant the hostas from my mother’s garden that have overwintered in a pot in the courtyard.
  • Wash all the bedlinen to get that musty winter smell out of them.
  • Take at least one outing on the fjord in my kayak.

It’s a tall order, but if I get just half of it (okay, two thirds!) done I’ll be happy enough.

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