Right plant, right place

There is perhaps nothing quite as cheering as seeing plants thriving in a particular spot in your garden, especially when they have not been planned or needed any attention.

If, like me, you get snatched moments to garden and your focus is all prioritised on the veg beds, then you might be forced to leave your flower borders to their own devices.

If either by planning or luck you chose “right plant, right place” then you are likely to get a surprise bonus. One morning you go outside, spot that (hitherto ignored) plant in all its blooming glory and go “WOW! thank you!”

Cistus, pictured above, is one of those plants in my garden. I stuffed them in this unprepared, dry, sunny spot last year, along with a scattering of Aquilegia seeds, and left them to their own devices. They couldn’t have been more abundant.

Ditto the Roses. I’d taken some cuttings from my previous garden, which I eventually turfed out of their tiny pots and hurriedly planted at the front of the house without much hope. They could do with some care now, to be honest, tieing up to wires or supports, and given a good mulch with compost. But I can see from the first blooms that they’ll be happy here. Each bloom is a beautiful reminder: “Don’t forget us!”

In an effort to minimise work mowing the tricky areas around the garden, and to aid access around the beds, I’ve removed grass from those spots and replaced it with gravel. I missed, however, the mass of clover that was dug up with it, and felt bad I’d taken it away from the bees. So late-summer last year I allowed some to creep back in as well as planting lavender, thyme and chives straight into the unforgiving gravel. This isn’t fine horticultural gravel, it’s the lumpy chipping stuff that makes up driveways, and they were tiny plants. But I’ve found they’ve taken hold, as have self-seeded pansies, and all are starting to join together to make a lovely tapestry of their own design. It’s a joy to watch that evolve.

Over the winter I removed a mass of ivy out from this hawthorn hedge. It was a horrible, dusty, scratchy, job, taking several weekends. I got there in the end but wondered despondently what to do about the gaping holes left (someone told me hawthorn is very slow-growing). Well, the hawthorn has already started sending off shots, and then while weeding I found several little hawthorn seedlings (all growing in the gravel). I’ve replanted those in the gaps, and am hoping they’ll like it there.

Self-seeders don’t necessarily always choose the right spot themselves … I fear for this canny nasturtium now that the drought of April and May has passed and June storms seem to have settled in with a series of low pressure weather systems and ceaseless rain. It is, however, the only nasturtium (from many seeds scattered by myself) to have germinated at all… so who am I to judge?!

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