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State of the garden in May : Aaargh Day

I seem to have mostly escaped Aaargh Day for the last couple of years - that day when I have to admit that the Jungle That Is My Garden has got away from me and there is no hope of reining the damn thing in and my only hope is that winter will come before it manages to eat the house.

Alas, hot weather and rain and brilliant sunshine have come together this year and aided and abetted by illness and the random need to read a pile of stuff about Hadrian's wars in Judaea have resulted in a truly horrifying case of Aaargh Day. The lawns, at least, are mown, but the rest of it... it's shaggy. Very shaggy.

This, for example.  Colourful, I'll grant you.  Red campion, buttercups, Jack by the Hedge, a cloud of purple perennial geraniums - and very soon there will be foxgloves: 

Unfortunately, this is supposed to be a STRAWBERRY bed!  I think I'll have to dig it out and completely start over.   And don't look too closely at that hedge behind it.  The Ash and hazel are running rampant! 

The pond is absolutely swarming with yellow flag iris.  Well, that could be worse.  The frogs don't seem to mind.  But if I ever want to get any herbs out of the herb bed behind the pond, I really, really need to have Stern Words with that campion. 

And this is a hanging basket - I can't even remember what was supposed to be in it, but it's now 100% volunteer ivyleaved toadflax, which was Not The Plan.  I suppose at least it's still full of something that flowers and does not sting... 

Finally, and to cheer myself up, here is what may be my favorite of all flowering plants. 


It is Centaurea montana, the perennial cornflower. It's generally a garden plant rather than a wildflower (probably an introduced species), though it grows in a robust, straggly wildflowerish kind of way. You do sometimes find it growing naturalised here and there. I love it because when I was, oh, maybe 9-ish, living in Swansea, I found a plant of it growing in a glade in the woods. It was oak woodland, so thick and dark, and somewhere in the middle, one sunbeam, and growing in the sunbeam, this remarkable HUGE delicate blue flower.  Really magical. 

I have no idea how it got there - it may have been garden waste, or it could be that there was a house there that was abandoned or perhaps bomb damaged during the war and never reclaimed: I remember my 70's childhood as being full of sunny places strewn with weedy rubble, full of half-collapsed walls, all overgrown with ragwort covered in stripy cinnamon moth caterpillars...  I still have a soft spot for ragwort. 

You will note that I have one photo with a bee, and one without. This is because just as I had manoevered round to get what would undoubtably have been an awesome closeup shot of the bee with the pollen pin-sharp on its black furry legs - Suma Bungle came marching up and shoved his inquisitive nose right up Ms Bee's bottom. Understandably enough, she took offence at this, and buzzed off. Thank you Suma Bungle...


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
29th May, 2012 17:24 (UTC)
That cornflower is stunning. I wonder if they would grow here on our horrible acid heathland soil?

And I'm so glad that it's not just the dogs that indulge in photographic sabotage...
30th May, 2012 08:36 (UTC)
Cats are expert photosaboteurs :-/

Perennial cornflowers do well here, and my soil is acidic enough to grow rhododendrons and blueberries without any amendment - I think the default state of my garden is woodland rather than heath as the soil is quite rich half way down the side of the hill - but there is proper heathland on the top of our hill, so perhaps not that different?
29th May, 2012 20:08 (UTC)
Oh, it's nice to know it's not just me! We are frantically trying to keep on top of our garden but the default vegetation (brambles, willow, thistles, ragwort, buddleia) is just growing too fast after all that rain and now all this sunshine... However, the campion is very pretty, the tussocky grasses are good food for the larvae of lots of interesting moths, and I know the goldfinches are going to love the monster crop of teasels that is currently growing where one of the flowerbeds used to be!
30th May, 2012 08:58 (UTC)
Oh goodness, teasels! They are such fabulous architectural plants, but NOT ideal for the intermittent gardener, I think. I had a lot of them in my previous (smaller) garden and they really needed a stern eye on them lest they should form themselves into impenetrable spiky ranks and block all access. I have resolved to avoid them this time round.

Burdock is almost as bad and I do have some of that. Sticky seedheads *everywhere*!

Still, as you say, it makes for a much more interesting environment!
9th Jun, 2012 14:26 (UTC)
Centaurea can be a bit invasive, but it's ideal as ground cover.

I will have to post photos of the garden we visited in Ardchatten - there was a lot of wildflower meadow, and it looked truly stunning. I think it's possible to make extensive use of wildflowers, so long as you keep the lawn fairly short and neat to provide a visual and structural contrast...

Hey, I found a copy of the Big Book of How To Carry Out A Hedge Survey yesterday, and I thought of you...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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