Sunday 9 February 2014

But does it make the heart beat faster ?

When I have a new gardening project, I spend a lot of time planning prior to doing anything else. Once I have drawn up a draft plan, I research to find the most appropriate plant/ variety, then ensure that I locate it at a reasonable price before purchasing.

No, hang on, that's what I do in my fantasy life. In my REAL life, I see a plant, I fall instantly in love, a green mist descends, and the little voice in my head urges "Buy it now, quickly, before someone else does". Occasionally there is a (very quiet) little voice, saying, reasonably "Don't buy that plant because you:
a. Don't have room for it
b. Can't give it the conditions it needs
c. Already have a trolley full of plants you don't need"
(Delete as appropriate).

So which voice do I listen to ? The voice of reason, or the voice of the Plantaholic ? No contest !

So, today saw me being uncharacteristically sensible and planting some little workhorses, which don't make my heart go zing, make my mouth water, or my pulse race a little faster. Today, I was planting the right plants for the right places. It was a case of mind over heart. Not that the plants I've acquired aren't good, they are all proven to be reliable. They're just boring!

The bottom section of the garden, where we have our 'orchard' (half a dozen teeny fruit trees!) and wildlife pond, has boundaries which are mainly English natives, like hazel and elder. I don't recall them being planted, they just exist. Although there is very seldom another living soul anywhere near, I do value privacy, particularly when we are sitting down there with a bottle, erm, glass of wine, so, I decided to plant shrubs along the inside of the boundaries, to give privacy, structure and interest in the summer. Who cares about the winter ?

I had been musing on which shrubs to buy for a while, when, I got an email from a company offering bare root shrubs, 10 for £10.00. Come on, a pound each ! What can you buy for a pound ? Not even a loaf of bread. I thought about it with my head, not my heart. All these shrubs are tough, reliable, hardy, reliable, disease resistant, reliable and tolerant of conditions which may be less than perfect.

For the record, I have planted :
Ribes Aureum
Amelanchier Lamarecki
Potentilla Fructosa
Philadelphus Coronarius
Syringa Vulgaris
Rosa Rugosa
Berberis Thunbergii Atropurpurea
Cornus Alba
Forsythia Intermedia
Weigela Rosea

I know, I know ... sterling shrubs which will do the job admirably. It's maybe unfair of me to brand them as boring, as I know that when the Philadelphus is filling the air with perfume, or I glimpse the rose pink flowers of the Ribes against the bare branches, it will give me great pleasure. But they don't make my heart beat faster!

I planted them over about two hours, through an afternoon which went from sunny and Spring-like, to horizontal heavy rain from a leaden sky. Like a true gardener, I ignored the rain and carried on planting until I had finished. They all got a good start in what can be a dry, partially shady area. I dug a big hole for each, loosening surrounding soil, to make root growth easier. Bonemeal and lots of compost was added, as was a huge marker cane, so that they do not get cut down in their prime by the mower, later in the year.

Then, muddy, wet and cold, I went to the greenhouse to plant things that DO make the heart beat faster. Bulbs ... exciting bulbs.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have bought 2 Hemerocallis 'Sammy Russell' (red with a yellow centre); various Dahlia tubers including 'Arabian Night' and 'Purple Gem';  2 Crinum Powellii and 2 Ornithogalums Thyrsoides. I wanted to pot up the hardier bulbs, then keep them in the greenhouse to give them a good start before planting out, later in the year. The dahlia tubers are staying in a dry, frost free place for a good while yet.

I already have a pale pink Crinum which has been in the garden for many years, flowering profusely and reliably every time. It looks very exotic, yet has pulled through our hardest winters unscathed. I have looked for more, over the years, without success. Until now !

A new kid on the block is 'Ornithogalum' - a bulb which gives white flowers from June to October. Anything with a flowering period like that deserves a place in the garden, I think. It looks fantastic on the photo, so I hope it lives up to expectations.

The main problem I have with Ornithogalum is ... the name ! I am determined to memorise it, and have to use the cue of 'Ornithology' to kick start those grey cells !

But the heartbeat escalates every time I look at my Rosa 'garden Party' seedlings ( more about these on  So sow ?  ). Despite having worries about poor germination after reading a review online, I already have  a germination rate of over 75%, and this is only 'Month 1' of a 3 month germination period. Some of the seedlings are already developing their first true leaves. 

Exciting ? I need a lie down in a darkened room now !


  1. I have been buying bulbs from the heavily reduced section in Woodies lately and they are all shooting up. I do like a bargain and am very jealous of your ten shrubs for a tenner find!
    I am very interested in learning more about your Rosa Garden party but I couldn't find a link or that in the 'coming soon' category?
    Thanks Jane, an inspiring post as always!

  2. Hi Grace, do you mean the link on the T& M website, or on my blog ?

  3. Excited - never mind the dark room Jane, you need a damp down with a cold flannel to get over it all ;)
    Bargain with those shrubs by the way. This would be the kind of offer I would over look thinking that £1 - they'll all die. Wishing them well in your garden. I've never heard of Orniwhatsit before - will be looking forward to seeing how it does for you. That's a tricky name and as I saw it my mind turned to Ornithology - great minds!

  4. Hi Angie, there is time for them all to turn up their toes yet ! They looked healthy, but as they are dormant it is difficult to really tell,

  5. Oh I had to stop halfway through reading this and wipe the drool off of my gardeners chin. And that first paragraph is hilarious...I was so thinking that you were this amazingly restrained gardener, thank goodness you are like the rest of us.


  6. Jen, I so wish I was that restrained gardener. The head is willing but the heart is weak ...

  7. I looked up Ornithogalum', it says the darling thing likes a wet winter and spring. I can soo do that. Having pretty much a blank slate to fill I actually have researched and made lists. Funny thing is I can't take the next step of finding nurseries which supply the plants on the list. Is it my psyche rebelling?

  8. Hi Susan, had you heard of them before ? They were totally new to me ! Wet winter and spring ... snap, no probs !! Very impressed by the researching and list making!

  9. Have never heard of the bulb with the unpronouncable name, that will now be forever associated with birds. That is actually a rally impressive collection of shrubs, and at that price, totally irresistable, though I agree about the lack of choirs singing in the ear at the very thought of them individually. We all need good doers in the garden though, how else would we get a decent backdrop from which to contemplate the drama queens, preferably glass in hand and bottle nearby... I hope they all thrive, surviving mower and the long hot summer which we undoubtedly deserve after all the wet stuff.

  10. Hi Janet - glad I'm not the only one who hadn't come across ornith ...whateveritis ! You're right of course, we need reliable, sensible plants who will always be on duty looking presentable, while the drama queens fizz like Catherine Wheels for a brief moment in time ! I will be waiting for that brief moment complete with glass, bottle and camera !

  11. I had to smile at this wonderful post, Jane. You did get a bargain with the shrubs, and now you have a fantastic collection of reliable shrubs to blend in beautifully with your 'exciting' plants (and these are surely shrubs that will have their own moments of beauty, too). I think if I researched every plant thoroughly before I bought it I would soon talk myself out of buying it - and miss that thrill of first seeing it - imagining it flowering in my garden - and then bringing it home to plant!

    1. Ah, Wendy, the eternal optimism of the gardener ! I'm sure I would buy very little but the VERY sensible stuff if I did my research thoroughly! And what a lot of pleasure I would have missed !

  12. What a fun post. I understand completely! When you first started, talking about planning a section, etc., I was thinking how bad I was with my "stick a plant here, stick a plant there" method. Then you admitted to being a plantaholic, like me! Oh, how misery loves company! ;) And isn't that what it's all about? Our hearts beating just a little bit faster. Yes, it's love!

  13. We plantaholics need to stick together, HolleyGarden !

  14. Hi, Jane! Thank you for stopping by my blog!
    I enjoyed reading your post. The most of shrubs with open roots (they are very good!) that you planted I grow in my garden too. As Potentilla, Syringa, Rosa Rugosa, Berberis Thunbergii, Cornus Alba, Forsythia. I agree all these shrubs are very hardy for our climate as well, only Weigela died after first frost and I didn't buy another. Have a nice day!

  15. Hi Nadezda, I always thought that Weigela was as hardy as the others ! Mind you, I think your winters are a lot colder than ours ? maybe that explains it !

  16. Where would be be without boring plants? They are boring because they actually live, so they're everywhere. Having said that, I, like everyone else who commented, I am loving that Ornithogalum. Not exactly a dainty little bulb, though, is it? Kind of criunum-sized. But if it is wet tolerant, it's on my list.

  17. Hi Sarah, the boring ones are the most common, I guess, and they are common because they are good at thriving in variable conditions. I suppose they are survivors ! So why do we get more excited by the rare and difficult ? Yes, the Ornithy-whatsit bulb is humungous and very Crinum - like. Watch this space to see if can tolerate wet ! We have plenty of 'wet' at the moment!

  18. Hi Jane, now that is a well written post, I enjoyed reading it very much! I have a small garden and for that reason I don't plant anything that I don't love. Just not enough space for anything like that. I panted some common plants, but not because they are old stand-bys, but because I really like them. And then of course, there are the plants that make my heart beat faster, predominately roses in my case. 'Chandos Beauty', actually, a soft apricot rose coming from England bred by Harkness, made my heart beat faster today. I just love it!
    I really find your bulb selection fascinating, maybe 'Ornithogalum' being my favorite one. And then I saw your rose seedlings. Wow, you have an amazing germination rate! Congratulations!
    Wishing you a nice weekend!

  19. Hi Christina. Thankyou for your kind comments. The rose seeds are STILL germinating and I have nearly 100% through now, so I am very pleased. Sure it is all thanks to the propagator which keeps them at a steady 20 degrees. I will check out 'Chandos Beauty' as it sounds gorgeous, and there is ALWAYS room for another lovely rose !

  20. It is just amazing to me that you're growing roses from seed!! I would have bought those shrubs, too. Smart move! I learned a long time ago to follow logic over lust but I still swoon over plants every year that I have to talk myself out of buying. It helps that I don't have nearly as much room as you do. Does orinthogalum attract birds?

  21. The roses are so easy from seed Tammy, as the seed is pre-prepared. You clearly have self discipline where plants are concerned and don't let your heart rule your head. Very wise ! I will let you know about the birds and the Ornithogolum - it would be very apt if they were attracted to it !

  22. It is very interesting and useful article! I also would like to give you only one advice - your blog should have many information about garden tools, for example metal bucket. I knew a lot about it when bought one here: and it helped me to choose the best. Maybe it will be useful for your blog, it is only my decision. Think about it!


Thanks for visiting and reading.
I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...