Hoe hoe hoe

Last year I wrote a post about getting my garden ready to cope without me while I’m travelling, https://gertiethehymer.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/readying-the-garden-for-travel/. We’re just off on another jaunt, this time to the Camargue region in France (there’s a post about this trip coming soon), so I thought it would be a good time to let those who are interested in such things know how the garden is faring.

Most of the groundcover plants are doing well, although the Pachysandra terminalis, usually a survivor in any situation, isn’t thriving…or to be more precise of the six plants that went in only one survives, and that’s not looking too peachy either. I really have no idea why this is, which is one of the reasons why, perversely, I love gardens and plants.  You can’t make them do anything they don’t want to.

On the bright side, the other ground cover plants, Laminum maculatum, Erigeron karvinskianus, Bergenia ‘Overture’, Campanula portenschlagiana ‘Catharina’ (how could I resist?) and various varieties of Geranium are all doing the job brilliantly.

Having opened the beds out quite a lot, it’s given me the the opportunity to really get in there with the hoe, one of my favourite garden tools.  I know the fashion is for dense planting with as little soil showing as possible, but really there’s nothing quite so effective as hoeing to keep the weeds in check.  Done carefully it doesn’t break up the soil like a fork or rake will do, bringing more weed seeds to the surface. A hoe will disturb the nascent weed seedlings enough to prevent them growing and keep them in check for a few weeks so I’ll have less to deal with when I get home. Result!

Talking of weeds, this shy little beauty is known locally as Hairy Bittercress, or to give it it’s proper name Cardamine hirstuta.  It’s invaded our village over the last few years and is very difficult to eradicate.  If you try to pull it out the seeds will explode over a wide area.  The most effective way to control it is by hoeing.

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Readying the garden for travel

My gardenNo, not a garden on wheels. It’s not going anywhere, but we are, eventually, and when we go off on our travels in Gertie the garden is going to be left to its own devices for months on end.  So I’ve got started now, fine tuning it so that we don’t come back to a tangled mess.  Of course I could wait until next winter but doing it now makes our longed-for escape seem nearer somehow.

During my working life as a garden designer I was often asked by clients to give them a garden needing no maintenance. There’s no such thing.  I blame Charlie Dimmock.  What there are though are plants that are born survivors.  Plants that can see off the most determined weeds. Plants that can do all the hard work for us while we’re gallivanting off to the Peloponnese or the Anti Atlas or the Alentejo region of Portugal (you may have guessed by now that I’m feeling a bit restless.)  Throw in a few easy going shrubs and it will be just as beautiful when we come home as when we left it.  Well, that’s the theory anyway…

I thought fellow travellers who are also garden owners might be interested in some of the plants I’m using  to try to control what happens while we’re away, so here they are. Hover the cursor over the picture to get the name. Contact me if you want any more information on them.  Right, I’m off to the garden…