Monday, May 4, 2009

How does my garden grow?

It is true that our garden in Oswestry was too big for us to care for properly, but I have always liked gardening and I am keen to learn about the flowers and other plants that grow here, and have a go at growing some for myself. At this house we have no garden as such, because all the outside area, except one small corner at the front, is paved. But we have inherited lots of plants in pots, and watching them develop is like very slowly unwrapping a mystery present. You are never quite sure what will pop out when the next bud unfurls. Our hibiscus plant had seven lovely red flowers on it today. They will be gone tomorrow but there are plenty more buds to come. Two potted 'trees' round the front have buds on, but we have no idea what their flowers will be like. We have a very small cacti bed and several succulents in tubs. Some of these have very exotic flowers. One of the cacti has suddenly sprouted little babies all over. I'll try and find room for a picture of it. It overhangs the front path and tends to 'grab' your ankles if you don't look where you are going.
Unfortunately some of our plants are a bit spindley, or their leaves are going yellow. We think this may be because they are pot-bound, but it will be a very big task to repot all of them, and in some cases it may be wiser to wait a couple more years and then start again from scratch. The one thing we didn't have any of (apart from the roses in the small front garden), was the familiar annuals and perennials that are common in gardens at home. I went to a charity coffee morning last week and bought two wooden troughs, and today we went to the garden centre to buy something to go in them. So this afternoon we had a gardening session. We bought three geraniums which do so well out here, and should over winter as we don't get frost, a verbena, a huge gazania and a white marguerite. I planted the geraniums in the first trough, but when I came to the second trough, the plants were so big I could only get two of them in it. So the marguerite ended up in a tub on its own. They make a nice show of colour under the wall. They won't be as close to one another as they are in the photo. I just wanted to get them in one shot. It is usual to cover any soil surface with large stones which help to keep the soil moist, and enable you to water them without washing all the soil out.
When the troughs were done I planted up a succulent cutting and a pot of sage that I also bought at the coffee morning, and some fancy gourd seeds that Tom and Jessie's friends in Orgiva gave me. I do hope I am not too late with them. The fruits are ornamental and they are quite extraordinary. Our last task was to repot the stephanotis that is trained along our back fence. It is very sad, and all the new leaves have turned yellow and dropped off. I am looking on-line to see whether this is caused by not enough water, too much water or an intolerance to the high calcium content of our water. But again we think it may just be pot-bound. We decided to be brutal, and if it dies we'll replace it next year. It was dying anyway so we will only have speeded it up! We cut around the edge of the pot and eventually managed to get it out. This was a tricky manoeuvre as all it's branches are tied to the fence and we didn't want to untie them. Then we cut off about a third of its roots. Now it is repotted in a larger pot and fresh compost. I've talked to it nicely and I hope it will now survive, though it may take one step backwards before it moves forward again. Chris hosed away all the mess we made while I watered all the new plants in, so now we have an even nicer patio to sit and look at on these warm, sunny days. A good afternoon's work!

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