Sunday, July 11, 2010

A new beginning

The weekend was freezing cold again – but this time I was happy enough with the cooler temperatures, as I had to dig out a new garden, or rather extend an older one. 
It was all a bit annoying actually.  A visit from the swimming pool inspection team resulted in the information the pool had failed because we had a vegetable garden in the same enclosed area. The kindly inspector patiently explained to me why it was a bad idea, and I have to say I grudgingly agreed with him, although I am still perplexed as to why the pool had passed previous inspections.
I accepted the inevitable, and tried to think of ways around the problem, in the end coming to the conclusion that I had to transfer my vegetable garden out of the enclosed area and into an adjacent area at the end of the driveway.  The cleared vegetable grounds would be converted for flowers and shrubs.
That entailed one slight problem.  The garden bed at the end of the drive was not big enough, and I knew would be in for a few hours of strenuous digging to convert old driveway into garden.  I had created the original bed in the January of the first year we were here, and I knew how hard the compacted base mix was going to be, but I also knew there was going to be some well drained soil underneath it, and I would be able to create a well-drained and fertile garden.
It was certainly easier digging in the cool of winter – the first time I dug this compacted tangle of sandy spoil and small boulders in the summer heat I was taking a break every fifteen minutes and diving into the pool!  This time I started in the frosty cold, and as the day warmed (slightly) and I heated, I discarded layer after layer of unwanted clothing until I ended up in a tee shirt and shorts.
As I worked I recalled the interesting plants we had grown in the border over the years.
The bed started out as a mixed border, with lots of perennials and annuals to keep it colourful.  The first year of planting featured some annual and perennial Lavateras.  The perennial ‘Barnsley’ was undoubtedly the star of the garden.  This is the delightful light pink tree mallow that seemed to be in everyone’s garden in the early 1990s, and is a sport from the deeper pink form called ‘Rosea’.  It is a quick growing, floriferous plant, flowering for months over spring and summer, but it tends to be short lived.  It is easily kept growing from cuttings and certainly makes a wonderful display if grown in the sun with good drainage.  Keep an eye out for reversions to the deeper form – it is not quite as attractive.