After what seems like months of rain and cold weather, today was at last a sunny day with no wind. Everything needs doing at once, but having finished pruning the roses and hydrangeas, I decided to spend some time tidying up the beds and pots around the terrace behind the house. There is a herb bed at the side, I cut back some dead pieces of sage, took out a dead tarragon plant and cut back the lemon verbena – it always grows back strongly and makes a lovely airy plant giving height to the bed. Also it’s good for tea and flavouring desserts.
Next I removed dead annual plants and weeds from the terracotta pots.
There is a long bed running along the outside edge of the terrace, the terrace is elevated giving great views of the Dordogne valley. At the other side of the terrace from the herb bed is a short bed with one hydrangea and some lavender plants. This hydrangea has really suffered in the recent hot summers and I think there may be pipes below it, meaning there is not much room for roots. The lavenders are also past their best and I may renew this bed completely. However, it is lovely to see the bees, butterflies and elephant hawkmoths in the lavender when you’re sitting at the table.
Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’
The long bed below the terrace has 6 pink hydrangeas, and originally when I moved in 4 years ago, 2 salvias, one being Hot Lips, the other a red one, and some white and pink Gaura lindheimeri. The Gaura is a great plant which tolerates hot dry weather and winter wet.
Penstemon ‘Sour Grapes’
Anyone who thinks plants can’t travel should see this bed. The Gaura plants have travelled down to the side of the swimming pool, the red Salvia has died, and ‘Hot Lips’ is struggling, I think due to the droughts in the last 2 summers, despite watering. However, mysteriously, a red hot poker (Kniphofia) and a very healthy Penstemon, possibly ‘Sour Grapes’, have appeared. Clearly quite a lot of plants have been planted here and some of them have been dormant until the Gaura and Salvias gave them more space.
I cut back the Salvia and will fertilise it, hooping it will make new growth, and then cut back the dead herbaceous growth on the Gauras down to ground level.
I have had a similar surprise at the side of the house, where the big mixed country hedge to the adjacent vinefield was cut back last year, as was a low spreading conifer at the side of the front garden, to reveal a clump of Irises, which must have been hidden there for years. Unfortunately I didn’t see them flower, so don’t know what colour they are. The ground went from being much too hard and dry to move them, to much too wet and boggy, so I am going to have to split them up and move them to other locations jin the garden now, before it gets too hard again! The correct time to do this would have been after flowering in the summer. However I think somebody said that the right time to do something in the garden is when you have time to do it!