You can tell the kids are back in school. It’s an unwritten rule that the weather is guaranteed to be glorious at least twice a year; when the exams are on and when the school year begins again. And true to form we have been having an Indian summer. The nights are indeed a bit chilly but the days have been glorious. Too warm in fact to go in to the tunnel so the Little Paddler and I have been working outside. Probably for the best as I have neglected the tunnel this summer and you can sorta tell. Don’t worry it’s on the to-do list.
I am taking it in small baby sections. Mr. Fairweather has been strimming weeds along the (non-existent) paths for me so I can get to my beds again. And as I go to pick some spinach or broccoli, I pull a few weeds in the beds. I reckon if I pull a few weeds, each time I go out, I should have it looking respectable in no time. Maybe I am fooling myself but I do the same for the flower beds. Whenever we go to visit one neighbour in particular, we always pick a few flowers. Other days we pick some to put on the windowsill beside the statue of Our Lady in the kitchen or for the spare bedroom and kitchen table if we are having guests.
I like having flower beds. And I feel that even if everywhere else is a mess, at least with a well looked after flower bed, it still looks like I care. But a tidy, attractive flower bed proved more involved than I realised. I am slowly learning through trial and error, what makes good cut flowers and what flowers should be left on the plant to be admired. For instance:
- dahlias make great cut flowers
- aquilegias should always be left on the plant
- lupins should never be cut
- gladioli last forever in a vase
- snapdragons put a fabulous scent into the room come evening time
- irises look better in the beds than they do in the vase
But also I am learning where plants should go in the bed. I find myself at the end of each year, digging up some of the perennials to shift them around or give more room to another. I am learning how to keep them so they make a good display. Peonies needs room. Lupins look great in spring but not so good as they go over the top. They collapse and smother all around them. But cut them back hard and they come up again. Perennial sweetpea is vigorous. My bamboo teepees don’t stand a chance and topple over. Next year I am going to try a rectangular frame or possibly a more permanent trellis type effort. Poppies look great and actually fill up lots of space, but really need a patch of ground to themselves en-masse.
And the timing of my flowers. More dahlias would be a good plan to brighten up the beds around now. There is so much variety with them and it’s a bit lean in my flower garden at the minute. And more ranunculus and anemones – I found them great for plugging gaps, both in the beds and in the calendar. So more early spring and more late summer flowers needed.
So back to the drawing board to research my flower bed experiments. There are lots of resources online. Some for those more organised and better prepared that I. Lots of lists such as this one or this. And a few more unusual suggestions here.