More gardening books...

 100 Dream Gardens of England.
Book and Cat

I must read gardening books more often. They are energising. And I cannot be a proper gardener without increasing my knowledge of plants. I don't need to know everything, but at least I can try to know more of the important things. Right? Right!

Wednesday 2nd April

Today I'm taking a measured autumn look at my messiest garden border, the Glass-House Garden. There's the Anthemis, such a pretty lemon perennial, lost in the depths of the mess, and the white-eyed pink summer Phlox, equally invisible. Out they come! A Cream Delight Phormium, right in the middle, fated to grow fat and smother everything rosy - shift it! Move it over to the back by the water's edge, where it will look natural and form a beautiful foliage backdrop.

Now I'm taking a step back (not falling into the water) and thinking. Where is the sun? What actually is this garden supposed to be? A mixed border? With three oversized Hebes and some striped Phormiums? A rose garden? Sure, it's full of spindly rescued roses. But why are some of them still here, the ones that have shown no gratitude and are not performing? One skinny stalk and one floppy flower is not good enough. Pop them into pots, please!

 Silly cat!
Upside Down Tiger Cat

Blimey! All this from a quiet lunchtime read of 'One Hundred Dream Gardens of England', with Tiger the Tortoiseshell lolling nearby exposing her tummy to the sun. I don't think the writer meant to inspire the garden vigilante in me!

Much Later...

Ha! The three Hebes have been chopped down to their ankles. Maybe they won't resprout, then maybe they will, and puff out into smaller, nicer shrubs. But now there is sun and room for the Phlox patch, so I've left it. I've weeded, pulled out an ailing standard rose, and trimmed the waterside Phormiums.

Red Cordyline :
I grow red Cordylines throughout the garden. They look wonderful with other traditional shrubs.

A basic red Cordyline, whose trunk I chopped down some years ago, has created the most beautiful fountain of wine red leaves from its base. It's in the middle of the border, and one centre feature is enough, so the Cream Delight Phormium definitely gets shifted tomorrow.

I spent ages burning all the rubbish, mixing it with gum leaves from the fence-line. Then I sat with Lilli-Puss in her lounge and read another gardening book. This one has helped me name a couple of plants I grow. One is that invasive Euphorbia amygdaloides, var. robbiae, which is romping around my brick koru courtyard. Another is a wine coloured Physocarpus (Shady Lady) which grows in the very garden I've been working in. Ha! Knowledge is power? But knowing the plant names is only one small part of it...

 Bred by David Austin.
Ellen Roses

Try this rose - what's her name? Ha! It's the David Austin rose Ellen, which was planted by the pergola in 2010, and has been gradually smothered by self-seeded Ligularias. Now it's autumn and I've trimmed them down. Hello Ellen! So sorry about that...

Thursday 4th April

Good morning, Tiger, my fat house cat, who has been busy answering her primeval feline urge. Thank you for bringing me another mouse. Autumn is the catching season, right? Aargh!

Something Silly...

I'm doing something silly with my Dream Gardens book. I pick one thing - a plant, an idea, a feature - from each garden, either through the text or the photographs. So far I've got rather an exciting list which includes swirls of tulips (yes please), a line of 'rapier Irish yews' (maybe no), and the rose Tuscany Superb (absolutely yes, and I've found one in a near-local nursery). And I must take a photograph of the moon reflected in my pond. This is like a party game - such fun!

 A great contrast.
Cordylines and Pittosporums

Not So Much Later...

No, it's not. Depending on the reader's mood, and the resurgence of her cold and cough, it can be downright dispiriting. So I went to bed in a semi-sulk and tried to read a planting design book by Piet Oudoulf. Hmm... Not the best 'autumn read'. Tomorrow I will start again. There will be less dream-book-reading and more real gardening action.

But some final thoughts about the Dream Gardens book. Let's look at this both ways. All the gardens look absolutely stunning. So what has my garden got that makes it different, and possibly equally stunning? Answer : lots of beautiful evergreen New Zealand natives, the most striking of which are the large spiky Phormiums (flaxes) and the Cordylines (Cabbage trees).

England's gardens seem to get a better flowering show from their Penstemons than mine does. But rows of pointy, conical-trimmed box and yew would look terribly silly here, and they'd bring to mind road-cones, road-works, and traffic. And I've got my huge Eucalyptus trees, which have a lovely lightness of colour and form, as well as beautiful bark. Ha! Such sculptural stuff, pity about the leaf fall.

 Only the bottom half!
One of My Eucalyptus Trees