And it’s not chocolates and it’s certainly not soap or hand cream. Everybody gives me soap and hand cream; are they trying to tell me something? I have a whole new bed to plant up and my Christmas present is a good start. I would have bought more plants but that would have meant nobody else would get a present.
In the storms a few weeks ago part of my fence blew down so we had to have new panels. It was a good chance to get rid of the overgrown holly and Pyracantha in front of it. What a horrible job, I hate Pyracantha, it is the most vicious shrub in the garden, the thorns go right through your gloves and sit festering in your fingers .Obviously it’s not a job for the Pianist. I cut it down with great difficulty and terrible curses and then I found a kind man with a mattock to get the roots out . Now I have a whole new bed. Part of it is in shade, but that’s all right I like shade plants.
So when I was at Beth Chatto’s recently this is what I bought. The plant with orange leaves at the back between the two ferns is Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’. It is a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella. My friend, M. hates it, as she does all orange flowers. She thinks this colour is particularly bilious and totally lacking in taste. I love it and I love the red-orange grass: Uncinia uncinata ‘Rubra’ in front of it. To complete my orange theme I have planted the lovely tulip ‘Princess Irene’. It is orange with a purple flame, here is a photo of some I had last year.
I have some cowslips in sunset shades which I grew last year so they will go in there too. Elsewhere in the garden I have a planting of these cowslips round the peeling cinnamon bark of Acer griseum which I think is gorgeous. At the back of this bed I will plant some of the Digitalis ferruginea which has obligingly seeded around. I think this is Digitalis ferruginea, the trouble is I have grown quite a few kinds of foxgloves over the years and I get them muddled up. Sometimes they get themselves muddled up and I get unusual children popping up which is nice.
That is Pip’s rear end on the right. He is camera-shy.
To calm all this tasteless orange down I bought two ferns. The one on the right is the dainty, maidenhair fern; Adiantum pedatum ‘Imbricatum’. The other is Dryopteris wallichiana which has black, bristly stems and lovely bright green fronds. I love the pretty, green leaves of the little Saxifraga dentata which is in front of the Uncinia.
Bergenia cordifolia is great at this time of the year and this one ‘Eroica’ has lovely, glossy, burgundy coloured leaves. It has deep pink flowers too. Oh dear, with all that orange? I know it is a shame but I’m going to have to cut the flowers off or plant it somewhere else. I wasn’t thinking about the flowers when I bought it.
I love ferns and grasses and this little black grass,Ophiopgon nigrescens is stunning. I will plant some snowdrops in front of it and next to it the Christmas Rose, Helleborus Niger. I have some more Hellebores grown from seed waiting to go in here too. Behind the black grass I will plant the windflower; Anemone multifida with its pale lemon flowers, like up-market buttercups.
The red leaves at the back belong to a Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker’s Red’ which I love for its beetroot red leaves. It has white flowers. On the far right by the Penstemon is the foam flower; Tiarella cordifolia ‘Jeepers Creepers’. it has a lovely chocolate- coloured marking on the leaves. Finally, I bought the widow iris; Hermodactylis tuberosus which has sinister-looking black and jade green flowers.
It would have been nice to have bought several of each of these plants to make groups, but I’m afraid too expensive. In the interests of economy I always have to go for a tapestry effect rather than broad sweeps. But if things do well then it is usually possible to propagate them. Except for the ferns; I’ve never tried messing about with spores. I’m not sure how to go about it.
Obviously the bed is not finished but I will add to it as the seasons go by. I’m not sure what to plant on the fence. It would be lovely to get some suggestions. Anyway, I am pleased with my present, it was just what I wanted. And how often, with all sincerity, can you say that about a Christmas present?