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May and June 2005

Oh dear - the back garden became a riot of colour - or to my mind it was definitely a riot! Restful and calming it was not.
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The Azalea proved to be zingy orange-red ... and the pale pink Camellia continued to flower...Clematis 'Vyvyan Pennell' flowered exuberantly - unfortunately the Camellia continued, so did the Azalea - all three together for a few days, before Vyv progressed from its single to double phase.
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Meanwhile, the geranium in the next door bed - 2 feet away - was a good strong blue ... and a good strong plant. It planned to take over the entire bed, and possibly the world. In my old garden, with plenty of space, I would have been happy to keep it, but with such restricted space ...

Corydalis ochroleuca is flowering bravely in the foreground, little knowing what could lie in store, but poor Anemone magellanica and Paeonia mlokosewitschii are quite buried already

The Clematis in bed 3 proved to be pinkish, and also exuberant.
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One of the Clematis growing up the apple tree was white with a pink stripe, the second was purple. I would have left both in the old garden, but preferably well separated, since there was room to view from a distance, with plenty of green to calm things down. The third apple tree Clematis proved to be mauve and double!

Meanwhile, in bed 2, Allium moly appeared - NOT my favourite - just to add to the colour scheme.

However, things were not all bad ...
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The Aquilegias under the apple tree turned out to be white and pale yellow.The Clematis in bed 5 did turn out to be a good white Montana type and will stay - although it will need pruning.
back gardenA bulb in bed 2 turned out to be a Camassia - pleasant, especially when there is more in the bed round it to distract from the untidy leaves.

The bare bush proved to be a Hibiscus when its leaves emerged - whether or not it will stay depends on the colour - one can get terribly picky with only a small garden to work with

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Ranunculus amplexicaulis flowered happily in the sink ... ... while Dodecatheon meadia alba flowered equally happily in the wall bed
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The Saxifrage in the wall bed flowered quite nicely but is not entirely happy there - a move might be a good idea, but might finish it off instead which would be a pity.Campanula 'E H Frost' survived its unceremonious move from the old garden (grab a handful from between the stones and shove vaguely in pot) and started flowering. As it will probably wish to strangle the Saxifrage I think I will have to move the poor thing.
back garden Little Aristolochia sempervirens surprised me by flowering. I had not seen it do so before, but perhaps I hadn't looked at the right time - the flowers are quite small, but fun.
Perhaps a bigger surprise was the orchid. Six years ago I bought Primula florindae from Spinners. Regrettably I lost it, but another primula (? P bulleyana when I asked them on a subsequent visit) appeared in the pot, so the pot just stayed in its dish. Last year there were no primulas in it, but a strange bud appeared. This year it decided to develop into an orchid. Now, it isn't as if I need any excuse to visit Spinners, but this makes it a definite plan for a Summer outing - I would like to know what this is.

In the background Saxifraga x canis dalmatica is flowering as happily as usual, but the Ensata irises in the other pots are less happy - hardly surprising as I caught Mrs blackbird busy trying to pull each out in turn. The dish is now covered with a bird cage to try to prevent such activities.

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The back garden is no longer a riot of colour - the rioters have been evicted - rehomed in most cases, but there were some I simply discarded as nobody else wanted them either.

It appears that the previous owners believed deeply in severe pruning and tidying, resulting in a very boring garden in Winter. No positions were labelled, indeed only a few plants were, so I keep getting little surprises - have I really got potatoes growing in one of the beds? and why do I keep finding buried peanuts complete in their shells? There are also little Passiflora seedlings everywhere - not really likely to be self-sown.

The other 'joy' was discovering which weeds I would get. I expected the bittercress, spurge and all the usual little annoyances - inevitable. I also got bindweed - no hand-weeding there - out came the gun and so far things are improving. However, in addition to the little yellow Oxalis, which I put up with in the old garden as well, I have the larger pink one too - everywhere. Still, at least I can weed this garden in hours - a culture shock after the non-stop battle against the brambles and everything else in the old one - and will do so when the weather permits. It has been very hot and sunny, which makes me feel ill at the best of times and I have been told to avoid the sun in any case.

As can be seen from the plant list, further plants have been added. I was given a new 'black bamboo' by a friend whose own one had produced offshoot clumps, bought a few from a stall at a cat show, then paid a very enjoyable visit to Wisley plant shop - and the gardens themselves of course. Those plants had to sit in the shade, watered regularly, until the weather was suitable for planting - I managed to get them all in, in drizzle, before the thunderstorm broke!

I was also posed a problem by a kind friend from Scotland who couldn't resist, so bought for me, Chondropetalum tectorum, complete with the website address to look up all about it - just as well, I had never heard of it. Plant in a large pot in infertile, well-draining soil, it said. Drainage was no problem - I had bags of grit; I also had bags of compost - but where was I going to get the infertile soil? In the old garden I would simply have dug up a spadeful from somewhere convenient, but not here. A friend was coming over to collect some evictees so I asked her; when she eventually understood what I wanted she said how about molehills? The moles had been enjoying themselves under her (unfertilised and untreated) lawn. Three large bags of molehill duly arrived so I am well prepared for any other plants with similar requirements.


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