Waterford, south-east Ireland. Saturday, 22nd May 2021
It was a week of ins and outs, of starts and stops of dark rainclouds and rain bursts, of wintery winds and occasional sunny spells – that last phrase sounded like the consolatory comment regularly added by the people delivering the weather forecast.
By Thursday morning we were under water. Of course, you will realise that I wasn’t in diving gear or anything of the likes but we do like to exaggerate our unwelcome weather conditions, to grumble a little and bemoan the inconvenience of rain but, of course, it is good for the garden but we can always ask:
There are two plants that I especially like in the garden, Rodgersia aesculifolia and Veratrum album. They did very well in the garden for many years but recent years has seen them struggling from early June onwards as the weather has been too dry for them and they really appreciate moist conditions. When they were planted, the trees near them were only saplings and made no unreasonable demands on soil moisture but over the years they have grown in size and in their needs and what once were relatively moist beds in summer are now sucked dry and conditions have changed from moist dappled shade to being very dry and much more light-deprived. The plants have survived but it is now a rare summer when they really thrive and look their best and this, thanks to all this recent rain, seems very likely to be one of those good years.
Primulas – P. pulverulenta, P. japonica and cultivars P. ‘Miller’s Crimson’ and P. ‘Appleblossom’ simply adore these wet conditions and are bursting out of the ground and into flower. The level of our garden is about a metre higher than the road running outside which means that and water which drains from the garden runs to the level of the roadside and creates wet to damp conditions right through the year. As the road verge faces north it is doubly suited for primroses and the bank to one side of our gate is home to a good planting of primroses which flower earlier in the year while the other perfectly suits the Japanese primulas and they thrive there, self-seed generously and get on with the business of growing with only the least intervention from the gardener.
The lower end of our garden is relatively damp though the trees we planted over the years lead to drier conditions in summer than previously. Nonetheless, there is sufficient moisture there for primulas to do well – along with hostas, orchids and Iris ensata cultivars which enjoy similar conditions and give interest and colour after the primulas.
In the middle of all this talk of rain and wet and dampness it is good to have a plant which brings sunnier climates to mind and the bright colours of kniphofia certainly do that. Our perception may be a little skewed as this red hot poker is a native to the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa and Lesothso where it grows at elevations above 1,000m most often in wet and boggy conditions – so the colours may be bright and sunny but this plant is perfectly at home in our present wet conditions. The plant was named for Johann Hieronymus Kniphof (1704 – 1763), a German physician and botanist.
This red-flowered chestnut tree is one of our favourites in the garden. It was grown from seed, some “buckeyes” sent by a friend in Maryland, USA, about twenty five years ago, under the name Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, and we have loved and enjoyed it ever since. Over the last number of years we have removed the lower limbs to raise the canopy which allows light to plants underneath and makes access easier.
There was a dash on Wednesday to get the lawns cut and in order for the forecast indicated that the next probable day which would be suitable for this work would be Monday. We have two small lawns in front of the house – these are called “lawns” because I treat them as such, applying a suitable lawn treatment in spring and again during the season as necessary and because I like them to be generally neater and tidier than the “grass” of the rest of the garden. Stripes and good edges are de rigueur here and leaving them without mowing for a few days upsets that maintenance. As luck would have it, I managed to not only do the lawns but the grass all round the garden so there was a feeling of having things tidied up and organised before the heavy rain arrived.
I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!