Here in southern Scotland we’ve had a very pleasant summer, allowing me to spend a lot of time out in the garden. Our back garden is difficult – heavily overshadowed by mature trees on an embankment just beyond our neighbour’s house which cuts off our sun at tea time.
We had a tree surgeon remove a large goat willow that might have been up to 40 years old and grind out the stump, and this allowed me to renovate a large corner of the garden. I found wonderful mail order sapling packs from The Woodland Trust and my corner now has a hawthorn, a blackthorn, a hazel, a crabapple and a wild cherry. Other shrubs that I bought (also online) include Cornus canadensis (creeping dogwood), Sambucus ‘black lace’ (elder), Cytisus ‘goldfinch’ (a variety of broom), Azalea ‘geisha white’, Pieris ‘prelude’ and Lavatera ‘barnsley baby’. So far they are all still alive.
One casualty of the tree removal was a glossy mature Mahonia; sadly it’s roots were completely caught up in the willow’s and it didn’t survive the operation. On the other hand, though, we rediscovered a previously overshadowed Potentilla, which – now that it has flowered – is probably the pink one pictured here.
This shrub is laden with meaning for me because we brought it here from my Mum’s garden when she sold the family home. My Mum loved perennial planting and had all sorts of shrubs with different colours and textures throughout that large garden. When she moved into her small cottage with a courtyard garden she had dozens and dozens of shrubs in pots and tubs, which turned into a dangerous obstacle course for her as she got frailer. I managed to save a few of those and rehome others when new people moved into the cottage.
My brother bought me some bedding plants to fill in gaps with colour; I haven’t told him that the marigolds and petunias were eaten by slugs the very first day. I managed to save the begonias, though, and today I have taken stem cuttings to root for next year. I have also learned that slugs adore Campanula spp., so my ‘pink octopus’ and Scottish bluebell (known in England as harebell) are under constant supervision.