Meadow Farm – The Return

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It was high time for a return visit to Rob & Diane Coles wonderful Meadow Farm Garden & Nursery at Feckenham in Worcestershire to see the Echinacea trial beds and get some inspiration from the planting schemes.

This time I decided to make it a visit with friends so 14 of our Cottage Garden Society group turned up for a tour with tea & cakes!IMG_20170801_152901

Just at the crucial “let’s have a group photo” moment, several members went missing in the shrubbery so we have a reduced headcount in this shot!IMG_20170801_151755

As usual, the beds and borders were looking magnificent, stuffed to the gunnels with delicious perennials of all colours and descriptions. Each time I go I either see something new or something I didn’t see last time. This time I made a note to acquire two new to me plants which would fit well into my garden.IMG_20170801_151410

Firstly, Allium angularis,  a short drumstick allium which, Diane assures me, flowers for months and doesn’t seed about like many others, preferring instead to gradually clump up and behave like a good allium should. The thing that made me take notice was the delightful bluey mauve colour which appear to start off almost white and gradually darken. It was also absolutely covered in honey bees and Diane reckoned it was one of the best bee plants in her garden. IMG_20170801_144806

The other  was Gladiolus papilio ‘Ruby’ which was another clumper as Di assured me she originally planted just one bulb. Not cheap but good value if it multiplies like this one has. Needs fertile but well drained soil and gentle support to hold it’s weighty spear of velvety red flowers.IMG_20170801_153953

And, finally, tea and cakes. The Raspberry Bakewell was delicious!

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Ground Elder Eradication Trial!

TTagetes minuta

This rather unprepossing plant is Tagetes minuta, a half hardy annual and presumably a weed in its native Mexico, which is reputed to kill the roots of my nemesis, Aegopodium podagraria or ground elder.  I heard about it by chance in comments on a Facebook page and decided to check it out on the interweb. Sure enough, even the sage Sarah Raven sings its praises and claims to have cleared a bed of ground elder with it. I have ordered a large packet of seeds for a few pence which will be incredible value if it really works.

According to those who should know, the plant has herbicidal root secretions which destroy the roots of perennial weeds such as ground elder, lesser celandine and couch grass. It is apparently 2.5m tall with finely cut foliage and small creamy yellow flowerheads which are unlikely to turn heads but who cares! If it gets rid of the ground elder and celandines in my prize herbaceous border I don’t care how ugly it is just as long as it doesn’t kill all my other plants as well.

I will make this one of my summer projects with regular updates. I would be very interested in your comments about this subject, particularly from people who may have tried it.

Props

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A good friend kindly brought me some coppiced hazel peasticks today to support my tall perennials before disaster strikes in May. Normally I am way too late putting any supports in. I wait until it’s too late and then prop things up. What a mess! I am gradually learning that a stitch in time saves nine and putting the supports in early._DSC0020 (1)

I was pleased with how the birch circle responded to having six inches of garden compost heaped on it in November. I cleared almost everything above ground apart from the three immature Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ which I hope will eventually provide winter contrast to the Jacquemontii silver birches. I then emptied three barrow loads of compost over the whole area because it had become impossible to weed amongst the surface roots of the birches. The anemone blanda and narcissus have come through without any trouble as well as the inevitable lesser celandines. It looks great at the moment and I just hope the hairy bittercress and chickweed are reduced this year. _DSC0025

I have given up the battle with lesser celandines in the photinia hedge border; it is a battle I was losing anyway because the root tubers are soil coloured and therefore impossible to identify. The recommended treatment is Glyphosate but that would kill everything else including the anemone blanda which, actually, looks good with the yellow celandine flowers! And anyway, by June all the foliage is gone and I forget them for another year._DSC0014 (2)

These wild primroses are everywhere at the moment and multiply like mad in my sticky clay soil. Once the flowers are over I split the clumps and transplant them under the hedges to spread them round a bit. It’s one of the joys of Spring.

Black Widow

I am told this is Iris tuberosa. It just popped up behind my back today. I didn’t plant it and I’m not sure I like it. The common name of Widow Iris suggests something nasty is about to happen to me! My wife is giving me funny looks! Is it a sign?