Wednesday, 27 August 2014

In the shade.

I always seem to be banging on about having to garden in the shade, although the garden is generally wet being at the bottom of a hill the trees certainly suck up the moisture near them which causes quite a few problems in a dry Summer like the one we have just experienced. Under the trees I try to maintain a "woodland" habitat, which includes bulbs and many plants for shade particularly things like epimediums and geraniums. To maintain this I do have to irrigate sometimes during the dry months although other parts of the garden can be still quite damp. On the plus side the surrounding trees do provide shade for my favourite Meconopsis and Primulas in the damper parts of the garden, which coupled with our damp climate and heavy acid soil provide almost ideal conditions. I used to be concerned about excess water during the Winter as many of the Meconopsis have very hairy leaves but, although there are a few casualties on the whole they have proved to be as tough as old boots for example Meconopsis integrifolia flowered after being under water for most of the winter a couple of years ago.
       
I thought I would show a series of pictures which tracks the sun round the sky from sunrise to sunset to give an idea of just how much shade there is. I live in a Conservation Area and of course trees are protected up to the hilt anyway so there is going to be no solution to the problem. I am currently doing some judicious lopping of the lower branches on a few to try and raise the canopy and have also some lower level shade to address including a couple of acers which are beginning to get too dense which will have to be thinned as much as possible, not something they particularly like. The alternative would be to take them out and I just haven't the heart for that particularly as I grew one from seed.

As the sun rises it is obscured first by a birch and then the wild cherry, the berberis and viburnum in the foot of the trees are both around 10' high.

 Next to the cherry is a mature silver birch, a weeping birch and a larch which is the bane of my life when it sheds its needles.

 
 Following the sun through the sky, the next tree is a massive horse-chestnut, I should wear a hard hat under this at certain times of the year after having received a couple of painful blows to the head but I am yet to learn. 

 Next to the horse-chestnut is what is left of a leylandii which is slowly being whittled down and behind it a holly which is actually covered in an old glory vine which I am quite happy about.

 Another view shows an acer, a buddleia growing out of the top of a garden wall just in front of the garage and in the far distance a Cotoneaster 'Chinese Hybrid' which is actually flanked by some rhododendrons.

Looking up the side of the house to where the sun sets, you can see Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca' which has just been trimmed, you will also notice that the area with the least interference from the trees which faces almost due South, is limited to a narrow border at the side of the house which is itself shaded by the garage.

 This is a good example of gardening with what you have, years ago I should have perhaps done something with the trees, at least those which I planted, but there is always a stage when they are easily contained and then in the blink of an eye they have leapt upwards and besides all that I do like them. So I suppose no more grumbling...............get on with it!

14 comments:

  1. Hello Rick,
    It would appear we have the exact opposites - your garden is shady and damp and acidic and mine is sunny and alkaline! I am also surprised that you had a rather dry Summer. Many of the blogs I read (especially in France, but also in southern England) seem to complain of the rain. Here it was a cool summer, which I did not mind, and August was quite wet. South of us (Toronto) both July and August were rainy.
    Talking of gardening with what you have. I find that instead of asking myself if I like a plant I ask whether it will be happy here, the reasoning being that if the plant does well it will look good.

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    1. You are right there Alain, from reading the description of your garden a while ago we are certainly very opposite. Although I am lucky in that my conditions suit "Himalayan" type plants which I have always been attracted to, I also grow quite a few native plants because I know they will do well. I do however miss things like the encrusted saxifrages and dianthus which I suspect do very well with you, plus most of the Summer bedding. We have had a very dry Summer here by our standards although the start of the year was very wet. The UK weather is influenced by so many factors there can be tremendous variation in a very short distance.

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  2. You're spot on about the trees Rick, one minute little saplings, then poof, rocketing towards the sky! My acer in the garden is planted in a pot in the ground so it doesn't overtake, I've definitely learnt from having to dig too many giants up over the years. I hope your lopping helps.

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    1. You would think I would have learned by now Paula but I always think that there is plenty of room plus acers are not usually very fast growing so it never occurs to me to do anything other than plant direct. I could of course change what I grow beneath them but that would mean major upheaval.

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  3. The first sentence of your last paragraph is something I am beginning to learn and the more I stick to that rule, the more I enjoy my plants Rick.
    This year has not been an easy one and I did pick the wrong one to plant up a whole new border. Normally here in Scotland, new borders tend to fend for themselves after just a few weeks but not this year!
    Could you imagine if all those trees went in the blink of an eye - the work you'd need to put in - best to enjoy what you have :)

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    1. A nursery woman I knew who is in the area but at a greater elevation used to give new plants a year to thrive or be discarded, ruthless but effective! Bad news about your new border it can be demoralising when a plan doesn't come together, we are so dependent on the weather.

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  4. You have some amazing trees surrounding you! Like me, you seem to have made a garden suited to your surroundings instead of trying to force plants to grow where they won’t be happy. Yes, gardening with what you have, so true :-)

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    1. Although they cause all sorts of problems I do like the trees Helene, which is half the battle.Yes it so true you have to garden with what you have especially when you are blessed with a sub-tropical paradise:)

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  5. Enjoy those lovely trees Rick ! It must be lovely to watch them through the seasons ... I know what you mean about 'the blink of an eye' ! The little self seeded saplings I mean to take out suddenly morph into great big trees which need a professional to take them down! I get so cross with myself !

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    1. I do enjoy them Jane, although sometimes they can be very trying. They do make good subjects for photos especially against a Winter's sky.

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  6. great post, Rick, I think I am finally accepting the advice to garden with what I have, instead of constantly changing the garden. And anyway, there are countless visions of paradise, all different.

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    1. Thank you sue catmint, gardening is such a subjective pastime that as long as you, the gardener, are happy with what you have achieved who cares about 'trends' and the rest.

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  7. Hi Rick, seems like you have been extremely successful in gardening with what you have. We have had an ongoing thing with trees in our garden which we were really fond of, yet eventually at one time put our whole back garden in Aberdeen in the gloom. Interesting what you say about plants surviving the severe wet conditions in Winter. We very much have heavy clay soil and it gets really boggy in Winter. I am putting off the planting of Lilies after having been informed they would just rot in the constant wet. Is that Regale Album in your last picture?

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    1. Thanks Alistair, the lily is actually 'Everest' which first flowered in 2011 but is still in a container. Although some of my lilies are planted direct into the soil the results do vary. I have tried planting the bulbs surrounded by grit but don't think that this helps much and have the suspicion that this could actually cause water to collect round them. The only thing that seems to work for me is if, for example, a group of five are flowered the first year in a container and then planted out as one plant in the following Spring. This gets them established and means that they miss the winter and get a chance to "re-establish" the following year.

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