May (it) work?

This year we’ve had the closest days to Spring during March, after that April has been very rainy and chilly and May continued with fresh air and some showers. I’m not here to complain, last year at this time I was already fed up of shorts and heat! However, too much rain makes it difficult to carry out some main jobs I wanted to be done in the garden. The gravel garden has been stuck for ages, weeds in the rose garden were taking over the small roses, paths needed to be done amongst the rose beds so you can walk and see the roses without getting dirty, then we wanted to make a proper vegetable garden this year… All this projects needed to be realised while weeds were rioting in the garden, bindweed strangled whatever came in its way, pests and diseases and bad bugs were trying to decimate my plants.

And what are you supposed to do? Just stand behind the window and watch the rain falling? Noway!

Apparently we took possession of the entire gravel garden. Yes my nightmare is over. On the picture above you can only see a little corner of it though, I didn’t get any decent picture of this part of the garden and plants are still growing. The gravel garden has a rectangular shape that connect the kitchen door with the vegetable garden. Between the gravel garden and the gravel paths of the rose garden a second rectangular shaped bed has been created, almost a twin of the gravel garden in size. Looking at the pictures I almost feel ashamed of showing such half-done jobs but in the other hand it feels like a great goal to me. Above right you can see the layout and part of the gravel paths in the rose garden. They are very useful, I don’t like lawn. Anyway many things still need to be done, as you can see there are tiny little roses flowering amongst the grass, we are going to ‘build’ the garden around them. (the big white rose is r. banksiae Purezza)

In the picture above you can see (ok you should use some imagination) the final part of the gravel garden with the path leading to the veggie garden (here we didn’t finish with the gravel and weeds yet). Now look harder (and with harder I mean you have to squint your eyes very narrow, like a grain of rice), can you see those green little dots in the vegetable garden beds? Well those are vegetables indeed, my dears. In our non-raised beds (as all the developed World seems to have raised beds but I never understood the point) we are now growing different kind of tomatoes, different kind of peppers, salads, artichokes (those I keep for the look, not really for a meal), aubergines, zucchini, obviously parsley and plenty of basil and some different kind of chili peppers. Nothing special actually but this is our first real veggie garden, let’s wait and see…

Fortunately the older part of the garden, the grass garden, is doing pretty well: weeds are under control and perennials and grasses enjoy this spring showers and mild sun. I am really pleased with the only digitalis that I dare to grow: digitalis ferruginea (and I’m not even sure it is ferruginea!), which is self-seeding discreetly around. I am also very happy of a grass I introduced this year: hordeum jubatum similar to its wild and more common relative  but somehow totally different, in fact this is shorter, flowers are smaller but with longer spikes that glow with a burgundy tone. Very elegant, I hope it’s going to self seed around the garden.

I know this doesn’t really matter with the rest of the post but I finally managed to come home with a real dark flowered geranium (g. Rosemoor), I love it and I needed to show it off a little bit! I’ve bought it at a garden fair I went to last Sunday with my mum: there were roses everywhere but it was so packed with people that after  one hour or less we escaped. I didn’t buy any roses but a lot of grasses (8x schizachyrium scoparium and 3x molinia caerulea Edith Dudszus), these grasses are now planted in the rectangular bed near the gravel garden. Just for you to know I call this particular bed ‘the square’ and it contains the San Pietro pear and the famous (famous? seriously?!) osmanthus cubes, which are now only osmanthus growing into cubes. I’ve been planning this bed for a long time during the last winter and I hope it’s going to be a nice bed. So far I am happy with it, even though the plants are still little.

Can you imagine rainy days without rainbows? Well I can’t. As I can’t imagine doing heavy duty in the garden without some appreciable results, that’s why I hope to see the plants growing and thriving and fulfilling the garden. I hope my efforts will be visible soon. I’ll take these twin rainbows as a good sign!


31 thoughts on “May (it) work?

  1. Alberto, you have been working hard and doesn’t it look good?! Love your Banksiae purezza rose climbing up the pillar, how old is it? Raised beds for vegetables, very necessary if you garden on heavy clay like we do, vegetables would never grow in it, it would always be far too wet, have to raise them up in nice freedraining soil! So glad to see Geranium Rosemoor in your garden. Rosemoor is one of the RHS gardens and is down here in Devon, visited it in January for their winter garden and sculpture exhibition, lovely garden at any time of year. What fantastic double rainbows shining down on your handiwork, I’m sure all your plants will grow beautifully.

    • I remember very well your post on Rosemoor! I also like the sound of the word ‘Rosemoor’ it somehow reassures me, donno why though! 🙂

      That Purezza has been started from cutting 3 yrs ago. After almost one year in pot it was planted in full ground, I remember my preoccupations because there were workers coming and going just close by but banksiaes are such tough roses and very vigorous too! They can cover a house reaching the roof quite easily, even though Purezza is a little less rampant than the other. It is the only reblooming banksiae, I remember flowers in december too, in my previous garden. It’s been bred in Italy by an italian.

      As for raised beds, I work on heavy soil too but I won’t get half the rain you are going to have in UK, so maybe I did the right thing keeping the plants more moistured in summer.

  2. I love your grave paths! I am putting in a new pathway, and am going back and forth in deciding between gravel and hardwood mulch. Gravel does have that satisfying crunch beneath the feet. New beds are always so much fun to put in, and a lot of hard work, too. Your purezza rose is just gorgeous! And the older part of the garden looks beautiful. Good luck with your vegetable garden. I’m not a good vegetable gardener. To me, vegetables are so different than ornamentals, more time consuming and more demanding. But maybe I’m just doing it wrong!

    • Unfortunately you are doing right indeed! Vegetables are much fussier than other gardening plants. Most of them are indeed real exotic plants that we grow as annuals. Anyway a vegetable garden could bring much satisfaciton, other than the crops obviously!

      I’d go for gravel if I was you. I love gravel, and ‘satisfying crunch’ is really the phrase to explain it! And then gravel needs less work once done.

  3. Hi Alberto,

    Lovely photos and I’m thrilled you’ve managed to get your gravelling done! 😀 (well, almost finished)

    Rosemoor Geranium is gorgeous too, and I also love your Foxglove… Hrmmmmm I may have to consider it here 😉

    Sorry to hear the weather continues to be rubbish – we’ve been having 20C+ this week with it reaching 26 yesterday so I’ve been melting most of the time… Never happy are we? But it won’t last much longer and we’ll be back to more reasonable temperatures soon; just hopefully not the ridiculous cold weather we’ve been having prior.

    • Today we have more than 30°C! Even 26 could sound reasonable to me! Crazy crazy weather… yeas we always complain!
      As Christina suggested mine is not digitalis ferruginea but I think it is d. lanata, the one they use to extract digoxin, a substance that can cure heart disease or provoke an heart attack…. I must remember it when my mother-in-law will come and visit us again…

      (I bothered if buying a dark geranium phaeum, like yours or that Rosemoor. At the end I went for Rosemoor but with the promise I’ll get a phaeum soon, maybe a white one though.)

      • Hi,

        I’m no fan of heat, and as long as it isn’t raining constantly or freezing cold then I’m generally happy. When the temps begin to reach 25+ then it’s just not fun anymore and all I want to do is hide in the house but hate the thought of missing the lovely sun – I really need a tree in the garden to cast some shade!

        Anyway; Geraniums are great is lots of places, if you’ve any difficult spots then Geraniums are a great choice – mainly phaeum as some others are more fussy. I’ve discovered today that I have a white geranium but no idea which type as someone gave me the plant and this is the first year it’s bloomed!

  4. It’s all looking very good indeed, Alberto. I’m not sure that is digitalis ferruginea either; it doesn’t look ‘tight’ enough. I just bought some seeds of it at Chelsea so if they grow we can compare notes. That geranium is rather splendid; Rosemore is a lovely RHS garden, it is near where a friend of mine lives in Devon so I visit it quite reguarly when I visit her. Your hard work is really paying dividends. Christina

  5. Alberto I understand your frustration with the weather…ours is now too hot and no rain…I love the gravel path and gardens…lovely…and that dark blue flower is magnificent…I love rainbows and those are beautiful.

    • Thanks Donna! Everyone is frustrated about the weather, apparently, and this is what frustrates me more! let’s wait and see what happen to our World.

  6. The paths are looking great, Alberto and I really did scrunch my eyes up to the size of rice grains but still couldn’t really see your vegetables. But I take your word for it. Dave

    • You take my word? So apparently I gained some honour around here, I’m glad. Well I’m going to put some more pictures of the veggie garden, maybe some closer pictures, so I can prove my credibility!
      …And get a pair of glasses for Christ’s sake!

  7. A garden is always a work in progress…you are making great progress. There are parts of my garden I would’nt dare show. I have raised beds in my garden because we have heavy wet soil with bad drainage.

    • I guess you are the veggie expert but I don’t get the rain that you have up there and then here summer is far too hot and drought. In fact the problem with raised beds is too much drainage in my case. I might have done the right thing somehow.

  8. Your formal garden is coming together, growing like a plant itself. I like your peachy colored foxglove, and very nice rainbows. Do you get the rainbows from the same place as the gravel? That is one big lot of gravel and its distribution must represent a great deal of healthy exercise. The dark blue geranium is amazing. Please do post some closer pictures of the vegetables because I have tri-focals and squinted and yes I see the little green dots but still…

    • Fair enough! I’m going to post more pictures on the veggie garden asawad (as soon as weeds are done). They’re growing nicely and I’m happy with it.
      No, I don’t get rainbows in the same place as the gravel: they need special big lenses and mirrors where they sell rainbows, while they need big trucks where they sell gravel. They cannot sell both, otherwise they’d need too much space to store lenses, mirrors and trucks if it rains.
      Laying the gravel has been a deal of exercise indeed but not very healthy… ask my right knee for details.

  9. Great post, I love rainy days with rainbows, there are too few of them here! Your gravel garden looks like a really ambitious project, I can’t imagine gardening on such a grant scale, my yard is so tiny… I love your geranium too, thank you for showing.

    • Hallo Masha! It’s so sad, how come you don’t have enough rainbows in there?
      My previous garden was 250 square meters, it was packed with plants! This one here is something more than 3000 square meters. You need to be ambitious to complete this task, and to be honest I’ve already put an eye on the field next to my garden… I’d like to expand my little reign in a while.
      Upkeep a garden like this could be a very difficult task sometimes and it is certainly time consuming.

  10. It all looks good Alberto. I bet you change your mind about raised beds after a season or two though. It’s not just drainage, it’s ease of digging & sowing & picking and weed-surpressing too. We shall see. Saw my first Piet Oudolf garden last week….I was stunned. Pix soon.

    • My climate in summer is very (very!) different from the British one, anyway I don’t think I’m going to have problems with a few tomatoes and zucchini.
      What? Where did you go? I want to see pictures of your trip ASAP! 🙂

  11. Hi Alberto

    Tku for leaving a comment on my blog. Lovely to see you visit:)

    Ashamed to show your garden unfinished, surely not 🙂 It is absolutely lovely, and for anyone who gardens they will see your vision. I look forward to following your blog and seeing the changes.
    You do not like grass….HA! you will not like my garden then, i have lots of it, but perhaps that is a very english thing 🙂

    It is a shame you do not live nearby….I have a wisteria seedling that needs a home 🙂

    • I’d move to Britain instantly if I could! (and not only for the wisteria seedling, even though it could be a good reason…). I often express myself rather badly, I’m sorry. I love grass, I have a big part of the garden with mostly tall grasses. I don’t get the point of lawns, especially here in Italy, where people waste so much water and time to mown their lawn in summer and then they have a carpet of mud in winter… There are better solutions than lawn in my climate and I think gravel is one of them. Of course in your climate everything’s different and lawns find their reasons to exist.

      • Of course, Alberto,
        I was not offended……each garden is different according to where it is placed.
        I have lawn but really it is grass….I love wildflowers, and sometimes let the grass just grow.
        I do not water……it is a precious commodity and apart from that life is too short 🙂

        BTW you express yourself very very well my friend.

  12. Alberto – I do admire your hardwork ethic.

    Your foxglove has perfect proportion of height to stem thickness and the grass with the burgundy tinge is stunning.

    My garden came with regular and raised beds. The latter bring the plants closer to you, which can only be a good thing.

    • You are right, that’s one point for raised beds! I only worry I should stay there holding the hose 24h/7d with raised beds, drought could become an issue here in summer…
      I’m glad you like my foxglove, you came into my mind when I pictured them, digitalis lanata (apparently this is it) could be very drought tolerant and loves my full sun. Another good point for being perennial and self seeding a little.

  13. First, that dark geranium is beautiful. Second, the work and care that you have given your garden is incredible. I know it’s a work in progress, but it looks like paradise.

    • I firstly bought that geranium for my mum, then seeing its colour and its mallow-like flowers I fell in love and got another one for me. I planted it close to a sedum clump, partially shaded, hope it’s going to do well.
      I really appreciate your comment about my garden, it’s far from looking like heaven, believe me, but it feels like heaven, at least for me! 😉

  14. I enjoy seeing photos of a garden as it develops. Yours looks like a lot of work! (That’s what people say about my own garden, but I don’t feel like it is that way. I feel like it is a lot of fun!) You are making great progress, and you know you are doing things right when you are rewarded with double rainbows!

  15. P.S. Thanks for your comment on my own blog! I really appreciate your kind words. You asked about my Japanese maples. I planted them as tiny seedlings in 1990, after a tornado wiped out the center of our property. Everything in the front garden has been planted and grown up since then.

    • Oh my God! That must have been horrible! They grew very well though, I’m sure plant grown from seed always do the best! My garden does need a lot of work too, but we spend Sundays and Sundays weeding and working and yeah it’s fun!

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