Monday, 12 June 2017

A LADY GARDENER



A LADY GARDENER

A mature garden that has been well designed with a lot of interest all year round gives a great deal of pleasure and has plenty of plant stories to write about. Although these gardening articles go under my name, the reality is that I am only one half of the team that creates and maintains the garden and allotment. Anna Anderson, the other team member has a huge garden and together we create an ever changing horticultural world that we like to share.
Anna relaxing on the patio
It was through art that we met many years ago when Anna visited my art exhibition in Roseangle Gallery looking for a painting of her home town Alyth. As I had no paintings of her home town I was commissioned to paint the Old Packbridge over the Alyth Burn. I was very impressed by this small town so another twenty paintings covering all seasons were completed for my next exhibition. We soon found that we both had an interest not only in art but also gardening. At that time I needed a
Anna in the summer garden
studio and Anna needed a hand with her large garden so a team was formed. The garden is built on a steep facing south slope. In the early days the garden had been planted with a lot of evergreen ground cover surrounded with tall conifers to help smother weeds. There was a lot of plants we would love to grow if only we had room, so it was sleeves rolled up as we started to dig out all the ground cover plants, but we had to call in professional foresters to remove a dozen huge conifer trees complete with roots. Most of the wood went through their shredder so it ended up on our allotment paths as well as the compost heap.
Garden construction continued with new fences, paths, two patios and terracing, and then areas identified for shady borders, dry borders, sun traps, herbaceous borders and a rose garden. We also
Anna harvesting the pumpkins
allocated space for fruit trees and some vegetables.
Then the interesting phase began as we both sorted out our favourite plants. We both had thoughts on those must have plants, so numerous trips took place to garden centres, nurseries, flower shows at Camperdown and Ingliston as well as further afield to RHS Wisley and Hampton Court Palace. We always took home some new plants or seeds. I started my rose collection of bushes, climbers and shrubs and Anna took a shine to Heucheras. Every time we visited the Dundee Flower Show at Camperdown Park she came away with ever more Heucheras. I was sure she was aiming for status as a national collection.
Luck was on our side when we won the lottery. We got £90 between us, so were able to indulge in a few special plants. I got Rhododendron Horizon Monarch and Anna got the coral barked maple Acer Sango Kaku, but it needed a partner so we also got the white stemmed birch and a golden Robinia frisia. Soon the autumn catalogues came in and Anna went for a flag iris collection and I started our affair with spring bulbs from aconites and snowdrops through daffodils and tulips and now into the summer with oriental lilies. We both fell in love with azaleas after a trip around Glendoick Gardens, so now they are our latest passion.
Anna with rose Gertrude Jekyll
It was our holidays abroad that introduced us to the exotics of figs, grapes, cherries and saskatoons. The latter discovery was a day trip to a pick your own Saskatoon farm in Canada while visiting Anna’s sister. When I realised they were a species of Amelanchier I knew they had every chance of success in Scotland. I later discovered that James Hutton had them growing in a field for forty years. As the garden and allotment provide us with ample produce we have just about become self sufficient in fruit and vegetables and now excellent wine from home grown grapes and other fruit.

Wee jobs to do this week
Spraying the roses
The moist warm weather has been perfect for pests and diseases on numerous plants. Roses have been troubled by mildew, blackspot, rust and greenfly and evergreen rhododendrons and camellias are plagued by scale insects. Up on the allotment the cabbage white butterflies are seeking out the cabbages and cauliflowers and the gooseberry sawfly has been chomping its way through the gooseberry bushes. Slugs and snails attack anything green at ground level so keep vigilant and take preventive action as soon as possible with practical as well as sprays with insecticide and pesticides.

END

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