This new project is, unusually for me, not the product of impatience. I am creating a sweeping extension to the gravel area which will swoop round in to an existing path and then back out again to make a matching peninsular, around the olive tree, to link up with the original peninsular that I dug out four years ago. Sounds complicated? Never mind. It’s the planting that’s the thing, and, truthfully, I have never drawn a single plan for my own garden, using instead the trusty hosepipe method and my eyes- and a lot of walking around, scratching the chin.
I had planned to do this maybe last year, but our huge summer fete kicked that into touch as I realised I needed all the grass space for tables and dancing. But last year, I did start off a lot of seed. So, outside, braving the wind and rain are some things that replace dwindling stocks, and others that are new to me, such as Patrinia scabiosifolia, Agastache ‘Tango’, Monarda fistula and Eriogonum grande var. Rubescens. And, as a group of friends clubbed together to give me a plant fund, I lashed out at our local, and very good, nursery, Bernard Lacrouts at Sanous, and bought some good looking plants last autumn.
And now you can see where idealism meets practicality. Clearly to be seen on the other side from the first photo, is our winter washing drier. It is there because that spot gets the most sunshine in the winter, almost 6 hours if you are lucky, and so, actually, it will stay. Shock, horror, how can this be? Well, drying clothes is a vital winter activity, and also when we are out in the garden least. So, it does make sense to leave the drier there, and then when the summer washing lines are back in action in another part of the garden, I can close up the winter drier and maybe even lift it out of it’s socket altogether.
The new area gives me some new extensions of planting conditions too. It will have a bone dry, stony, very free draining, full sun patch near where the olive tree is. There will also be a heavier soil area, with more water retention and some dappled shade from the cherry tree, and quite a bit that will offer more gentle conditions that bridge the very dry and the heavier soil. So this gives lots of room for variable planting.
So, for the bone dry, stony area, I am planning a sweep of Perovskia atriplicifola ‘Lacey Blue’ which I bought as small plants last autumn. This is new to me, a compact form of Russian lavender, with a long flowering season and good grey-green foliage. Together with this, I am going to try some Anchusa italica ‘Dropmore’, which I bought as seed from the totally excellent Seedaholic site. Anchusa likes Mediterranean conditions so this should work well, and I have six good looking small plantlets grown from seed last summer waiting in the open barn. The deeper blue of the Anchusa should really spice up the lavender blue of the Perovskia.
And then, because I love yellow and blue together, I might mix in some Coreopsis ‘Crème Brûlée’, also bought as a small plant last autumn, now much bigger, so I can split it and have two for the price of one. The Coreopsis will want to be in a slightly moister place than the Perovskia and the Anchusa, so can come further over towards the cherry tree but still in full sun.
And last autumn, I was beguiled by the dusky charms of Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’. This tough, bushy Salvia will love being planted at the hot edge of the gravel area, and, with it’s dark purple/blue flowers and bright green, glossy foliage, it will enjoy the dry, hot conditions.
And to weave in and out, while my small plants are bulking up, I am going to plant some drifts of Liatris spicata. I have this liatris elsewhere in the garden, and I love the feathery foliage and loobrush shaped flowers. It is a very tolerant plant, growing from walnut-sized bulbs in a matter of weeks. I wouldn’t ever bother buying it as a potted plant. The bulbs are really cheap, and they come through to flowering in a season, and will last for several years, but probably not for ever. I got 120 bulbs from Lidl for less than 3 euros, so even if some are duffers, there will still be plenty to plant. Here it is, in the gravel area in 2013.
It is also pretty gorgeous in white, too. Now, I just have to wait for the very cold rain and wind to stop, so that I can get planting. Now, this is where impatience does come into it.