Saturday, 2 May 2015

Garden progress: the front area

Our garden, both front and back, has been a challenge. It would have been easy to create a conventional garden with neat borders filled with bedding plants, and such a garden has much to commend it. But I had the time to attempt something a little different, particularly at the front where, although the soil was a heavy clay, the aspect meant that it would receive lots of sun.

As shown in previous blogs, a 'rocky outcrop' was created. Spaces between the rocks were filled with suitable soil into which alpines and other rock-loving plants would be happy.

Polygala chamaebuxus in our front garden.
1 May, 2015

I have been particularly pleased with Polygala chamaebuxus. Although the flowers have a superficial similarity to a colourful pea it is a member of the Polygalaceae, the Milkwort Family. I had seen this species growing in the Alps and have coveted it ever since. At barely two inches high it sits snugly in its crevice.
The darker veins on the petals of Oxalis 'Ione Hecker'
add much to its beauty. Front garden, 1 May, 2015

The flowers of Oxalis 'Ione Hecker' are almost absurdly large for the size of the plant. It is a hybrid between Oxalis enneaphylla and O. laciniata and is the finest Oxalis of which I know. It too seems happy and will benefit from the summer baking it is likely to receive. I have given it the same conditions as the Polygala and it should steadily increase in size. But as a hybrid it will produce no seeds.

Morisia monanthos 1 May, 2015

Also tucked between pieces of sandstone sits Morisia monanthos, an odd little member of the Cabbage Family. It was a gift from Ann and John Pimm on their return from Wales, and very welcome it is too.

These tiny plants sit alongside some rather larger, but still neat, plants.

Phlox bifida 'Alba'

The flowers of Phlox bifida are normally seen seen in their lilac form but I grow the variety 'alba' and it has formed an attractive cushion. It is a native of the mid-western U.S.A. where it is known as Sand Phlox.

Another Phlox grows nearby. It is Phlox douglasii in one of its many colours. The label has gone astray but it is probably 'Red Admiral'. The 60-70 species of Phlox are confined to North America although I believe there is one species found in Siberia.

I have already, in an earlier blog, mentioned that odd member of the carrot family, Hacquetia epipactis. It can hardly be called eye-catching but to my mind it is delightful. It has made the move from Byfield to Daventry and seems to be thriving. Its name commemorates Belsazar Hacquet, an Austrian physician and botanist. What a way to be remembered!

Hacquetia epipactis. 1 May, 2015

A close-up makes it clear that what appears to be a green-petalled flower is in fact a cluster of yellow flowers surrounded by a frill of green bracts. I wouldn't be without it.

The next step is to extend the outcrop using more local sandstone and to plant appropriate alpines. Oh, and get some neat fritillaries, dwarf iris and crocuses in September.

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