The August Garden

Yeah! If you made it here then it means you discovered my new web address, I am now officially bloomsnspades.blogspot.co.uk. It's nearly the end of August and I can't believe how quickly this month has flown by! I have spent more time working in the garden this month than any other this year, mainly thanks to my major overhaul. As Mr Blooms 'n' Spades says, once I get an idea in my head there's no stopping me until it's finished. My poor aching back and neck would agree!

So onto the August overviews of the garden. One part I haven't featured very much is the raised fish pond. It's a 100 gallon wooden pond that sits on my patio and we've had it for a number of years now. I'd highly recommend one to anybody who doesn't have the room for a pond in their actual garden. The maintenance is minimal and you just can't beat the sound of running water while you're sitting enjoying the sunshine with a nice cool drink.

And better than just listening to the water is watching the fish swimming around, it becomes quite mesmerising and I often find half an hour has slipped by and I've just been gawking at them in a trance. There are about 26 in here, including some little babies.

Last year, I messed up the pond a bit by painting it with a wood protector that I was told was fish friendly. Turns out it might be fish friendly, although I have my doubts now, but it's definitely no good for wood that's been pre-treated. All it did was sit on top of the wood and each time it rained I'd lose more and more of it until the surface looked awful and streaky. I kept staring at it thinking, I really must do something about that, and on Tuesday, when it was pouring with rain and fairly chilly, I decided to don my marigolds and scrub it all off. It took me about 2 hours, but it is now back to it's natural wood state and looks much better. Remind me not to paint everything in sight next time please!

A task I tend to do yearly is lifting the stepping stone path. When they've been walked on for months they sink a bit, so lifting and re-setting them helps redefine the path and make it easier to walk on. I also give them a good scrub to get rid of surface soil. A task I again completed in the rain...I must be crazy!

People often ask why I don't just lay a fixed path to make life easy for myself. The reply, I'm just too fickle and know I would change my mind about it and then be stuck, plus, I love the little stepping stones :-) .

There are only spits and spots of colour in the garden at the moment, it's mostly just green thanks to all the gaps from plants I've hoiked out. I got rid of the two giant sedums along the border that I said I was going to keep until I got replacement plants. In for a penny in for a pound as they say, no point in waiting. 

I've made a plan of how I want each area to look and have a list of plants to buy as long as two of my arms and a leg (my arms are short) and am growing lots on to try and save money. The coldframe is just as heaving as the growhouse, and my patio table is housing the overflow. 

The table is being replaced as soon as the sales start and the new set I want is reduced, as this one has succumbed to rot. I do love wood in the garden, but it's such a nuisance to maintain. Actually, this whole area is getting a makeover next year. See my neighbours lovely bit of brown creosote dripping down my 'not long painted' green fence! Grrrr! Still, better than last year when they sprayed the fences and managed to get it all over my house, patio and garden! I'm thinking of bamboo screening around the patio area fences next year.

For anyone interested in finding out the size of my garden, I finally got around to measuring it and have added the details HERE. It's teeny, but it's all mine :-) .

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The Keepers and the Weepers

The work in overhauling the garden has been continuing, and I'm incredibly happy with how everything looks now. I've been very ruthless and many spots are now plantless, but I think it will be worth it come next year.

Plenty of plants have been given the heave ho, including an extraordinary amount of Sedums and Hardy Geraniums. I think these were plants that I realised I could propagate very easily, and over the years I got just a little carried away with them. No tiny garden needs 15 of the same Sedums, especially ones that were flopping all over the place! As for the Hardy Geraniums, well, as much as I love them, I had one variety that was in about 5 different places, gets huge leaves during the summer and swamps everything else in its path, the flowers are beautiful though so I've kept one, but, after an awful lot of back breaking digging, got rid of the others.  I swear if a clump any larger than my fist came up I let out an almighty cheer, the roots were tough and I have a feeling I didn't get to them all so I'll have to keep a watch on the areas to ensure they don't come back. I do have plenty of smaller growing Hardy Geraniums dotted around which are a bit more manageable.

I've kept a few of the Sedums at the back where they look their best, and for now, I'm leaving one in front of the shed and this one along the border.

They'll be going as soon as I have something to replace them with though. Next year, I'll be giving the remaining Sedums the Chelsea Chop again, but I'll reduce them by half this time, as cutting down by a third didn't work. Another good reason to clear out many of these plants was the enormous amount of snails and slugs they were hiding. Nearly every leaf had one or the other on it, and plenty down at the base of the plant too. I have definitely seen an overall reduction of them in the garden now there aren't as many places for them to hide!

The woodland area and front of shed border have had a tidy up, but most of the work has taken place at the far end of the garden which had started to resemble a mini jungle. Plants were crowding each other out, there were straggly Crocosmias all over and things weren't looking that great. These are the befores.

And the afters. Much better I think. 

I've moved a lot of plants from other parts of the garden, and added in some new ones, including the gorgeous Shasta Daisies, Echinacea Pow Wow, Cherry Brandy Rudbeckias and Chrysanthemums, these are the definite keepers, they have added so much colour to the borders and I can't wait to see how they look next year when they've had a chance to grow. There are lots of other Spring flowering plants dotted in, and some spaces ready for bulbs and plants I'm growing on.

And, you may or may not have noticed that the blog has had a bit of a name change. I'm now Blooms 'n' Spades rather than Spoons 'n' Spades! It's something I've been meaning to do for a while to reflect the fact I no longer grow food for eating. I like it, hope you do too :-) .


In Bloom for August

There has been so much upheaval in the garden over the last few weeks, I'm surprised there is anything blooming in there at all. But despite the fact I have moved plants in the middle of summer, on some of the hottest days, nothing seems to have suffered, and the plants seem quite happy in their new spots. Just goes to show you can throw that gardening rulebook out of the window sometimes...and I frequently do, lol!!

Giant Dahlia Orange has been blooming in my front garden for a couple of months now and still has plenty of new buds appearing. I'm not sure why it's called 'orange' when the flowers are yellow, but oh well, it's still a stunner. Not much snail/slug damage on this one either.

'Lucky' is my newest Rose in the garden. It's such a pretty pink colour and smells amazing! I'm looking forward to the plant maturing so I can enjoy more blooms, there have just been a few this month.

Rose Arthur Bell has just started blooming for the third time this year, and considering I moved it just a few weeks ago, is quite surprising me with it's beautiful yellow flowers and soft perfume again.

Rose Deep Secret is in one of the raised beds in my front garden, and I make sure I sniff a bloom every time I'm going in or coming out. I've taken a few cuttings of this one as it's a complete beauty and more of a deeper red than pink that my photo shows.

The Primulas are still going strong in the woodland area, delighting the butterflies.

And they're very fond of the Buddleia too. This is Magenta Buzz, a compact variety that I have in a large pot near the shed and is looking its best at the moment.

Hydrangea Love is still looking great with lots of blooms, although many have started to turn brown in the last day or two due to the deluge of rain we've had. Thanks Bertha :-/ .

The Begonias have just started reaching full bloom. This gorgeous rogue red/orange one is looking a little odd, as all my others are pastel coloured, but the bloom is so much bigger. Maybe it was a sign and I should plump for this colour next year.

And speaking of rogues, my Clematis Freda suddenly produced two new blooms, just two, right at the top where I just about spotted them on the shed roof.

Petunias, Nicotiana, Trailing Geraniums and Nemesia are giving a lovely display in my raised beds.


And Shasta Daisies and Rudbeckia are settling into their new home after I revamped this area.

The Anemones are looking really pretty, although the foliage has suffered a bit with the hot weather we've had.

A mention has to go to the Solanum, which blooms practically non stop in the garden, and is still going, although not as prolifically as earlier in the year. I love its delicate little flowers and it's such a fantastically fast growing climber. It has smothered a good part of the ugly concrete wall in just a couple of years and is now mingling with the apple tree.

And speaking of apples, just 7 on my tree this year, a measly 7. There were 8, but something got to that one. Oh well, enough for one with my lunch for a week I suppose. Hopefully a better yield next year.

And remember I said at the start of the post there were no casualties from my big garden move around. Well, that's because even the Salix Willow that rather looked like it had given up the ghost in THIS POST has started growing again. I gave the old branches a good crop and staked the tree to help support the roots and voila! it started sprouting new branches. I may have lost the old ones, but it's a fast growing tree anyway so the new ones should replace them in a year or two. I can wait!

That's some of what's blooming and growing in the garden just now. I've still a lot more work to do out there, including putting out some lovely new plants and I'll hopefully be sorted enough to share my progress on that next time.