Six on Saturday: 7.3.20 The patio

I have completed my first week of work at the garden centre. 100s of petunias, pelargoniums and tomatoes have been potted up. 100 hanging baskets made. I’m working with a friendly bunch of people, the sun has been shining, the robins have been singing. A good first week. It hasn’t taken my love of gardening as I’ve still potted up my own lupins on an evening. I have done well resisting all the plants. My only purchase this week was grass seed which would have been purchased anyway. The lawn is a mess. I’m not sure I can even refer to it as a lawn anymore. The biggest temptation at the garden centre, a 2m Acer in the reduced section, has gone so that’s one less to seduce me.

This week I have been working on putting the patio back together. After a year of building work, the pots can go back on. We’ve had to continually shift things around. This is part of why the lawn is so bad as it had pots and garden furniture sat on it for much of last year. It’s a work in progress as looking out the pots aren’t quite in the right place. But, I’m happy to be able to at least make a start.

1. Shady corner

I’ve started the patio shift around by sorting the plants into the conditions they like. This end of the patio is shaded for more of the day. It still gets a fair amount of sun as it’s south-facing but between the two walls, it has less light than the other end of the patio. The pots here contain a mixture of ferns and heucheras, grasses, hydrangeas and more. Most of the pots with irises have also got hostas in. So the irises are starting to fade now but he hostas will come out as they fade. looking at the photos I’m going to shift the pots around to try and push them up to the line of the cracked concrete floor to cover that up. I’ve discussed on a previous blog how I’m collecting driftwood to add a bit of edging to the pots. It gives it a bit of a feel of a path even though we don’t often come out of this door. It’s not obvious from the photos but the pots are raised at different heights. Some are on platforms made from tile samples on top of bricks. Others are just on bricks and some are on the ground. It still needs a bit of rearranging but I’m happy with the plants. They’ve largely held up well through winter and I can see signs of growth on the deciduous ones.

2. Alice’s kitchen

Alice’s mud kitchen I’ve made a feature of within the patio and the planting. She likes using it here scooping out the water onto the plants. The kokedama sat on the top seem to be happy there. The moss is gradually greening up. The pots are foxglove seedlings that I may have dumped there for now.

Then the shelves are filled with a mixture of decorative objects and things for filling, emptying and pouring. She’s been quite into perfume making at the moment.

The fairy seems to have taken up residence here with the bird stake featured last week behind.

3. Display table

The table I painted a few weeks back has taken its place on the patio. These pots were Tesco specials. They have Crocus, Muscari and Tulips in. The Crocus are coming through now and then they should be followed by the Muscari, then the Tulips. Once these are done I will probably try and empty the bulbs. If I can separate them the crocus can be added to the lawn. The table and patio are filling up with charity shop finds. The urn was a 50p find. I thought the colours would complement many of the irises and fit in amongst many of the shade lovers but it has gone here for now.

Then the table is scattered with charity shop finds. Alice wanted me to have this one to go match her dragonfly lantern on her mud kitchen.

4. Plant stand and box cold frame

The plant stand has got the tins of sempervivums I featured a few weeks back. The rest is ab it of a mess. The compost is sitting here as between me, the builders and the weather the lawn is a mess. Once the weather has died down a bit and the crocus have gone over I’ll spread the rest of the soil improver mixed with some grass seed on the lawn. I’d like to add some stepping stones across the back lawn and drill some drainage holes to protect in future years but I’ve a few other projects in mind I’ve already got the materials to complete.

The really useful boxes at the back are in use as cold frames. These are a cheap option that is easy to move in and out of the house if necessary. I used this method for the dahlias last year and it worked well. Currently, the most exciting thing in there is the white bleeding hearts (Lamprocapnos Spectabilis Alba) from Wilco’s. These have put on good growth and should be able to go in the front garden soon.

5. Log store

The log store has been restocked last weekend. We were almost out of wood and thought we might need a bit more before it starts to warm up again. The stores also look neater oddly for being full. The pots here are largely just dumped there while I work out where they will end up. I like the Pinus mugo there but not sure about the others. The big black tub is Alice’s fairy garden which is about to get an overhaul for the new season. There are agapanthus in a couple of the pots. These will hopefully return and look good in summer but not very interesting at the moment. There are two cordylines dotted around the patio. These came from my last house and have quite good stems on them. They need to go in the ground and I don’t really have a space they’ll suit. But, I don’t have the heart to get rid of them.

I’d put up hanging brackets a few weeks back to add the solar lights. I had this lantern spare so thought that it would go nicely in the middle.

6. The backdoor

The backdoor is currently the weakest of the pot displays. The water butt proved very useful through last year and I managed much of my watering through the summer using it. The pots closest to the sliding doors have got sempervivums and agapanthus in. The barrel has a Fuschia in which hasn’t really died back for winter and is already putting on new flower buds.

The pots here are more of a randomly assembled collection than the planned effect of the shaded corners. The metal tray with the conifer is Alice’s dinosaur garden. The Christmas tree was bought as a cheap one for inside and hasn’t found itself a proper pot yet. The tall pot with Katherin Hodgson irises is lovely but doesn’t really combine with the other pots. It has a hosta in which will start rising up soon. The other metal pots have Allium karataviense in. This is a short allium with a large ivory globe. It was one of the first alliums I ever bought but currently, they just look like empty pots.

By the back door are sempervivum and sedum pots. These I like and they are in a good position for getting the sun and warmth they need. The rest of this patio area needs a bit more thought.

I’ve just got the one day off this week before returning to work. Then I will have Friday and Saturday off normally. I’m glad to still have one family day as it was looking like I would work each day. I’m not aiming to do many garden jobs today. I’ve got a few pots to tidy and some strawberry planters I want to fill with sempervivums but I’m not sure if I’ll manage to get time. Enjoy your weekends.

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Six on Saturday: 29.9.18 patio plants

Over the next few months we are supposed to be getting the outside of the house rendering redone and the patio redone. It is currently just concrete with large parts cracking and falling apart. The plan is for the wall to be sorted and pavers down.

On the patio the plants have ended up being a fairly random selection. The alpine and succulent planters have thrived, but the other plants have ended up being plants that didn’t suit the border. As such, there is really any cohesion to them the main garden is largely wildlife friendly, cottage garden flowers and plants. I’m looking to have more foliage and a few more exotic looking plants on the patio. Rather than lots of cluttered small pots a few bigger one. The patio plants seem to suffer with the sea wind, so I’ll need a few tough specimens on the corner to protect other plants.

So here are six plants probably staying on the patio.

1. Tree fern-Dicksonia antarcita

I planted this tree fern in the border, but I don’t think it got enough water, so I’ve taken it out of the fern corner and put it into a pot. I can wrap it for the winter and then give it a bit more attention on the patio to try and try to get it looking less sorry for itself.

2. Fatsia Japonica

The leave of fatsia has superb foliage. It’s an excellent background plant. I’m imagining this moved into one of the bigger pots once I’ve evicted the current inhabitant. Then in front a variety of ferns, maybe the odd lily or something for colour. Only small at the moment, but will grow quickly enough next year.

3. Yuccas/cordyline?

These two plants were on the decking in my last house when I bought it. They were shadowed heavily by a number of plants, including tomatoes, that have now been moved. They had yellowed quite a bit, but have recovered fine now. They seem to be survivors having tolerated quite a bit of abuse from weather and neglect.

4. Asplenium scolopendrium Harts tongue fern

I’ve got one of these growing in the fern corner. I like the long tongue leaves. It stays attractive for much of the year. The fronds brown over winter and are replaced by fresh fronds in spring. Quite small at the moment, but at £2.50 I can wait for growth.

5. Aspidistra “China moon”

A few weeks back on Gardeners World, Monty had his houseplants out and it was talked about, on twitter, how some varieties of aspidistra could be kept outside all year. Aspidistras became the symbol of middle class living for the Victorians. I rather like the idea of a patio aspidistra, so I’m testing this variety of winter. It came in a big clump. I’ve divided some off to keep inside as insurance. Not the ideal time to divide, but I think it’s got enough root on. “China Moon” is a darker spotted variety. Hopefully do well in the shade of the wall.

6. Cordyline-Red star

I thought the thin red leaves would make a nice contrast to the other green foliage plants. Recommended for coastal gardens it should survive hopefully survive the winter weather and winds, so long as I keep it in a more sheltered position.

Looking back through my six I’ve mainly got thin leaved plants, so could do with some broader leaved foliage. Maybe time to get some hostas. It’s all a bit of a mess at the moment, but no point sorting until the paving is done. Happy gardening people!

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