The Gravel Garden
Mission Gravel Garden accomplished, Sir.
And just in time, I’d say! Unfortunately I didn’t take a single picture in which you can see this part of the garden from a distant point of view but I’ve been lost amongst this drifts of flowers and I forgot about everything else…
The Gravel Garden is designed in streams. You can see the streams if you look from the kitchen door (and from the pergola/patio I’m going to build during this summer). There is a stream of sedums (they are still growing though), a stream of eragrostis spectabilis, a rather short very drought tolerant grass, a stream of mixed perennials and a last stream (so far but the garden is not finished yet) of taller grasses (panicum virgatum, sorghastrum nutans, pennisetum incomptum,…). Every stream is ‘disturbed’ by a taller or somehow different plant, just to give an overall relaxed and more natural feeling. The picture above shows the mixed perennial stream seen in its length (that’s why you don’t see the other streams). In the foreground there’s pink phlomis taurica, only 35cm tall but simply beautiful I think, then you can see some echinaceas that are about to bloom, a pale yellow achillea (I forgot the variety), eryngium planum ‘Blue Glitter’ and the aster-like flowers of kalimeris incisa.
All the perennials here have been planted in july 2011 (I know, not exactly the right time for planting!) because I was so inspired by a french meadow I’ve seen in Gardens Illustrated that I wanted to somehow reproduce that feeling of natural beauty in my garden too. Pictured above you can see a bit of the taller grasses stream (panicum virgatum ‘Warrior’) and artemisia albula ‘Silver Queen’. I found this pink phlomis while I was looking for a much taller one p. ‘Amazone’, which at the end I haven’t bought yet, it’s too expensive. Phlomis are a little bit like salvias, they like well drained rich soil and they always seem at the edge of hardiness in winter, even though this phlomis here has proved to be fully hardy after last windy and cold winter.
In another corner of the Gravel garden, just close to where I’m going to place the pergola, I put this small rectangular plaster container, originally a watering tank for pigs I guess, which I found here when we bought the house. It was partially sunk in the ground and used as a pot, together with a porcelain sink (also used as a pot). We decided to discard the sink even though I know it’s very fashionable to show off some recycled junk, I guess that was a little too much even for my taste! Ale repaired the plaster tank and hammered a fresh timber cork to close the outgo at the bottom, then we filled it with water and some little mosquito killer fish and obviously some plants (ruellia brittoniana, water mint and nuphar – a little buttercup like water lily). The tank is still leaking a little, which is good for the pink lythrum salicaria ‘Robert’ and the persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’. In the other picture there are kalimeris incisa again, with panicum ‘Warrior’ again, lavatera kashmiriana and the serviceberries in the background.
This year the purple fennel decided to settle and flower, I don’t know how come it’s been so difficult to have a so easy to grow plant settled, I hope it’s going to self seed around the garden because I love it and because it attracts butterflies whose caterpillars feed on fennel. I am also pleased with that terracotta pot in the middle of the gravel garden (there is an inspection pit below and I wanted to somehow remember where it was), Ale bought those two creeping sedums (I am sure the burgundy one is ‘Voodoo’, don’t remember the other) and they filled the pot very quickly. They are also very easy from cutting I may move some ‘Voodoo’ around in other wretched spots. The grass on the right is eragrostis ‘Totnes Burgundy’ with very burgundy blades mixed with the green ones, I love this grass.
I promise I’m going to take some pictures from the upstairs window next time and I have some pictures of the veggie garden (with proof of real vegetables on it!) set aside for a future post, today I just wanted to share with you my satisfaction for the Gravel garden, that has been the ‘shame’ garden for too long before!