Belmont House
A magical venue for holidays and events

Summer's end

September 2nd 2019

I like weeding – it lets you get intimate with your plants.

There have been a lot of self-seeds in the flower borders this season; not all are welcome, some need to be removed forthwith. Yesterday I contemplated a fairly new iris sibirica, wondering why it looked so unhappy; I realised suddenly that an invasive grass was taking it over. I dug the whole plant out and separated the sibirica from the cuckoo in the nest. Replanted, the iris grew about six inches in a few hours, rejoicing in its freedom.

Some arrivals however are welcome, and I usually shift them into the nursery beds to bulk up before finding them a permanent home. The nursery beds are fairly chaotic but that disguises the taking out and the putting in which is an integral part of their function. In the meantime the plants are prospering. In one part the late summer annuals – corn marigolds and cornflower – are exuberant against the dark red of potentilla Monarch’s Velvet (where do they think up these names ?!) and the apricot foxgloves doing their thing. Some of these have already seeded and I aim to have apricot foxgloves nearer the house next year. I know perfectly well too that that big potentilla is going to be moved, I just can’t bear to do it while it is so enchantingly partnered.

Someone commented online on the lack of colour in her garden after the main plants did their thing, and admittedly this was earlier than usual in the season – I reckon the garden is running about a fortnight ahead of normal this year. But a green garden is a lovely thing, when leaf form and design claim their due notice. You have to figure out what you really want in a garden; it’s far more than just lots of flowers. I go for peace and tranquillity, every time – one of the most prized compliments I had this summer was to be told my garden is a place for mindfulness. Rather that than strident colour any day.
Though having said that, one of my favourite online pics of the summer was a narrow raised bed against a house wall filled with annuals, just one or two plants of each type, a line of intense colour against a quiet backdrop. It worked brilliantly. If the bed had been wider, it wouldn’t have worked, it would have been too much. Balance was achieved. The garden being essentially an outdoor room, it needs enough management to keep the fine line between relaxation and disorder. The one is peaceful, the other troubling. However unconsciously, a person responds to the psychic messages, just as you always know when a garden is unloved. Maintenance is part of the creative process. Sorting things out, and more often than you think this should be done with a very light touch, is when you realise what needs doing, or changing. If it is regarded solely as a chore then the garden will respond accordingly. Plants are living things.