Be under no illusion. Geoff Hamilton I’m not (and that’s probably dated me and the programmes I watched as a child …). But I enjoy gardening. Like cooking, this was something that was fostered somewhat by my mother. She always was a … well, the cliche is ‘keen gardener’ but I think that slightly underplays her devotion to all things horticultural. Obsessed might be closer to it. When she’d visit other gardens (both private and public) she’d always make sure that she had a jacket with deep pockets, and possibly her garden knife with her in order to … appropriate cuttings to take home. These, if they were lucky, were dunked in hormone root powder, or a pot of the rooting gel, left in the windowsill for a while and then stuck in the garden. If they were unlucky then they’d just be stuck in the dirt. Invariably they’d take root and sprout with gusto regardless. That’s just the kind of green fingers I had hoped to inherit …
Possibly one of the nicest stories (because its to do with me – sorry, time for my self-awareness medication …) is that of the Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa). The hardy Mediterranean shrub was growing quite happily in the grounds of the hospital where I underwent heart surgery as a child so, as expected, my mother took a cutting or two and took them home with her and ‘just stuck them in’. And they flourished in her large and sunny garden in rural south-west England. She parceled them out to friends, family and neighbours, and whenever we moved house, a cutting or two (or more) always came with us. Since I moved out of home my mum has always wanted me to have a garden in order, at the very least, for me to have a cutting of ‘my’ plant.
As luck would have it, in late May 2012 I moved into a (rented) house that has a large garden. When I say large, its approximately 300 feet (or 90 metres or 100 yards in very old money) by about 8 feet (2.5 metres), but runs more or less due north (or at least whatever Google Maps says is north). The house was chosen by us primarily for the amount of garden as we have a dog of … mature years who isn’t always up for a walk but likes a good snuffle about. That said, as soon as I saw it I knew it was ripe for me getting my fingers grubby.
I’ll get around to doing a more detailed post about the garden as we moved in and what I’ve done to it over the last year (some hits, some misses) … but in July I took delivery of a batch of plants from my mum (more on that later, too) which included a cutting of the Jerusalem sage. Hurrah! I had to rather stick it in somewhere as it didn’t fit with my immediate plans … so its in some rather gritty and very free-draining soil almost in the eastern fenceline, tucked underneath an old willow tree. I’m sure it’ll be okay for a couple of years at least, whilst it gets established, but at some point it’ll have to be moved somewhere sunnier that’s been improved somewhat.
But so far … two months in to its sojourn … its definitely looking healthy. Hopefully it’ll last the winter and next Spring can get down to making a whole heap of growth. And maybe even a flower or two …
In other news … I’ve just purchased 3 new plants through eBay. Yes. eBay.
Libertia ixioides ‘Goldfinger’
Heuchera ‘Sugar Berry’
Bergenia cordfolia ‘Purpurea’
I’d not heard of Libertia before today, but after a quick search I found that they might be exactly what I’m after to fill in a particular space (more on that at a later date). The heuchera and bergenia are both shade tolerant so they’ll make excellent additions to what I call the shady border (which is new this year and has been a mixed success). Definitely will be doing a post specifically about that border at some point!