Although we have had some desperately needed rain this week there has been ample opportunity to get into the garden and the rain has made the heavy clay much easier to work.

At present I am working on the ‘east border’ next to a large row of hedgerow trees – ash and field maple. This area is in the shade for much of the day in summer and autumn and it is essentially dry shade. There are some very difficult weeds here, mainly tormentil, which certainly lives up to its name, but also a lot of ivy and invasive grass.

Some of the plants are doing well but are smothered in weeds, e.g. sedum, golden marjoram, lysimachia. Sweet cicely is also happy here. So I will probably dig everything out and put back anything that I can rescue from weed roots. I am edging part of the border against the path with a very pretty Bergenia ‘Overture’ – beautiful magenta flowers. I used not to like bergenia but in a large garden where effective groundcover is required it is a really useful plant. This year another bergenia has flowered well from August until now, although it usually flowers in April.

I have bought and planted a couple of geranium macrorrhizum and a heuchera. I have also bought a number of crocus Chrysanthus ‘Cream Beauty’ some Narcissus cyclamineus ‘Reggae’ and Erythronium ‘Pagoda’ that will go into the back of the border around a newly planted hazel cutting. Since this will not nearly cover the area I will be infilling with as many divided hardy geraniums as  I can muster and moving pulmonaria seedlings from anywhere I can but mostly from here.

Another bed was a mess of convolvulus and jack by the hedge but the bergenia and pulmonaria have provided fantastic ground cover very quickly.

Last weekend we cleared out the larger of our ponds. Usually one of us falls in but this year we seemed to manage ok. We were clearing out stratiotes and glyceria – I wish we had never introduced the latter. The water lily, which is really too large for this pond, can wait another year before we lift it out and, I hope, get one that is a more suitable size.

Plant of the month – October

The prize has to go to this rambling rose. Its performance is usually poor, being highly susceptible to mildew, and the flowers are often dried up looking but in October, following a severe cutting back, it has been very pretty. It is looking even better now.

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