The Teddington Gardener

Goodbye April – or What the Gardener did Next- and shoe-horning in a mention of Titus Andronicus…

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I saw these huge aquilegias at a garden centre yesterday – Virginia and Vermont – rather beautiful but prefer my Blue Barlows…

A busy day yesterday, working in two of my gardens in Strawberry Hill. The first, occupied by further planting out in the newly created front garden borders and new container displays. In traditional flower pots (see Bill and Ben), given a twist with a rich thick,  glossy black glaze, I’ve planted Hydrangea macrophylla Wudu, a new, smallish plant with lime green flowers maturing to white. In another, a trio of Blue Barlow Aquilegia. Smaller, equally glossy-black pots have white perlargoniums and the white-flowered, headily-scented Nemesia Wisley Vanilla.

An existing tall square pot (with rounded shoulders) and a moss-green speckled glaze, has had its previous occupant, a fan palm, removed and replaced with Clematis heracliefolia Wyevale, though this is now called Clematis tubulosa… together with Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle, or Strong Annabelle. The leaf shape and colour is similar and there ought to be enough room for both of them, with a few different ivies to soften the edge. I’m hoping this will prove a successful flowering partnership throughout summer and into the autumn – blue fragrant flowers from the clematis, large half-moon creamy white heads of flowers from the hydrangea.

In the borders, I re-homed two of the roses which came out before the new driveway was installed – dark red Darcey Bussell and deeper plum Munstead Wood. The predominant theme for the new planting is blue, deep purple and white – but there is sufficient ‘legacy’ planting of other hues for this not to be too exacting! And with new Lupin Masterpiece dotted about, the roses ought to fit in well.

I’ve added a few Verbena bonariensis – the sun moves behind the house by 2pm, which gives the roses – and the other sun-loving perennials – the minimum exposure and probably, just enough to perform well. The roses managed a great display in a similar position throughout last summer.

Up against the house, I added Nicotiana sylvestris, which will hide the half-barrel that will ultimately give a Wisteria a good start in the world – the soil is thin; there are cables within the soil – I plan to cut out the base of the wooden hooped barrel and sit this directly on the earth, and fill it with John Innes compost – enough room for the climber to get going and it can find its own way deeper as needs be.

I picked up a couple of Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’, reliable, late flowering blue asters which will give the scheme some ‘legs’ into the autumn (Anemone Honorine Jobert will be there too, with the Hydrangeas). I found, for the first time, Heuchera Regina, a dark chocolate-coloured confection, which has a reputation for behaving well even in dry shade – and it will have both if I plant it beneath the large Acer – or at the edges of the canopy at least. These will go in if I have time later today.

I spent the next few hours working on the once-almost-completely-moss lawn – scarifying the last of the dead moss and thatch. I took 100 kilos of bagged moss to the recycling centre – the previous trip amounted to 200 kilos and there was an earlier visit too. I reckon to have removed at lease 400 kilos of pretty dry moss and thatch from the area!

Having scored deeply into the earth – I could at last reseed with a grass seed mix suitable for shady conditions. Using my new calibrated lawn seed/feed spreader… Watered the seed in, too – and hurrah it is raining now, which really will settle it all in. I’ll be back to check on germination progress in a few days.

Meanwhile, in the depths of my little front garden, this Iris (a rescue plant I potted up last autumn) has flowered rather beautifully, despite the shade of all the surrounding plants.

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And finally – with no horticultural reference at all – a trip last Saturday to see Titus Andronicus at the Globe Theatre on the South Bank. Fantastic experience and I am wondering why this was my first visit – it won’t be my last.

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