A few months before I began blogging - I was in a sad place. Whilst Summer 2013 will be forever remembered as the perfect summer (here in Scotland at least), the previous summer will be forever remembered as one of the wettest on record. Gardeners in Scotland are a real hardy bunch, taking on the chin, whatever the weather throws at us. Summer 2012 was, fingers crossed, an exception. I've a small area in the garden that does get overly wet during the April rains and a few plants do take it in their stride. With no long term break in the weather the ground was so saturated it had nowhere else to go and the complete top end of my garden and shed was under water for a heck of a long time.
It may not surprise you that I've no pictures of the demise of my sunny border - I've gone through all my photos and the only one I can come up with is of Mrs Blackbird enjoying a welcome bath.
I watched on an almost daily basis as plants began drowning - frantic efforts were made to rescue what I could. A few of the shrubs were too large for any containers I had to hand. Besides, there would be little point in going out to purchase more pots - money would have been better spent replacing the plants. Which I did do and am more than pleased with how the border looks this year, despite the fact that they are all moisture lovers, they have coped well with this dry summer.
A few of the plants I managed to save have flowered well this year and thrive in their new homes but there was one or two that I had almost given up on and had it not been for my sheer neglect might otherwise have ended up in the compost bin.
One such example is Cotinus coggygria Golden Spirit - it was not a mature plant and easily removed from the ground. The spade went in - accompanied by a squelching sound - out popped a sodden mass of roots. The tops of the stems were droopy and very soft. The leaves were all but gone! I took a chance - I removed all the compacted wet soil from around the roots and cut the stems right back, leaving only a few inches of old wood. Nothing ventured, nothing gained right? Potted up and popped into a sheltered spot - I would see what transpires. It was left and come spring - there was still no sign of life. I did the scrape test on the stems and they were indeed green. A sure sign of life. It took well into June until it produced new leaves. It has made steady progress all summer and whilst it may not be the most splendid looking plant it once was - it's alive!
|Cotinus coggygria Golden Spirit|
Stokes' Aster (Stokesia laevis) is a hardy evergreen perennial which can and will flower from mid summer until the first severe frosts here in Scotland. Preferring acidic conditions it thrives or should that read thrived! in my garden. However, it does not like waterlogged conditions and will succumb to root rot if conditions are not adequately drained. It disappeared completely and was given no more thought, as you do. That was until mid summer and few tiny green shoots appeared. Dare I hope that against all odds it had survived. As it became apparent that it had survived and not wanting to risk loosing it again, I lifted the tiny remains. It didn't come away very well and indeed the small root ball crumbled in my hands. There really was little to work with and I planted what was left in an area I knew it would be left well alone. I watched as it died back yet again - gone! Hey ho!, that's gardening, right? As I was clearing up some fallen leaves and other debris yesterday - look what I found, the distinct flower stem a dead giveaway.
|Saxifraga fortunei Black Ruby and Ajuga Burgundy Glow|
The last trier on my list today is a pretty little Skimmia, S. japonica Snow White - to be precise. It really never thrived in the garden. Soil ph wasn't the issue, I suspected that it too had suffered in soil that was a bit too waterlogged. It began dropping it's leaves at an alarming rate and the stems too were soft and very droopy. When I dug it out the ground, my suspicions were confirmed, it was drowning. It spent the remainder of 2012 and 2013 in a pot of ericaceous compost and has slowly turned itself around. The leaves are not the darkest of green they once were, I've recently read that a magnesium deficiency might be the problem. I gave it a dose of Epsom salts a few weeks back and I'm not entirely convinced it's making much of a difference. Perhaps I was a bit late in coming to the party with that remedy, of course, if you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
|Skimmia japonica Snow White|
Of course, to many of you, I'm probably stating the obvious. The term, teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs comes to mind. It does go to show that plants are much more resilient and determined than we (I in particular) give them credit for.