So much rain has fallen over the past months, that for quite some time a lot of the garden was sodden and some even under water, however all this rain is doing a lot of good to certain areas of the garden. The ditch which is between the back border and the woodland strip has never looked so pretty before, I’m tempted to get more astilbes, but then, next year will probably bring a drought! This is the old drainage ditch for the field that was here before the house was built.
One group of plants that have certainly benefitted from the extra rain is the hydrangea family. Being on heavy clay we don’t usually water the garden in the summer, if there is a drought – can’t remember what one of those is- then buckets of water are flung on the hydrangeas as soon as we see their leaves drooping. This also warns us that the rhododendrons and camellias will need extra water, because in a drought, the first thing they do is to abort their flower buds for the following year. The water that we use is from our water butts as we are on a water meter, we pay for every drop that comes out of the tap. As you can imagine, at the moment we have water butts full to the brim and no need to use them.
In the border by the field, in the dappled shade of the pergola to the right of it, are a few hydrangea plants. This lacecap came with my Mum when she moved in with us, she had it in a pot and it was always pink, over about 5 yrs it gradually changed colour until it decided to be this gorgeous blue colour.
Next to it I planted Hydrangea paniculata which needs to be cut hard back every spring. It then sends out long shoots with these beautiful white flower panicles at the end. This one is getting better and better each year as more stems are formed.
Next to that is another that was in one of Mum’s pots, this one is now HUGE, about 10ft in diameter, it must have breathed a sigh of relief when I planted it and released it from its corset! This lacecap can’t decide what colour it wants to be, parts are quite pink, parts blue, but most of it is grey!
We planted this mop-head hydrangea soon after moving in. The previous people had a vicious rose planted here and cleaning the kitchen window was a real battle ending with very scratched arms, it had to go! We were cleaning it in a safe way since we new it was there, but one time our nephew got us services from https://www.maidcomplete.com/house-cleaning-seattle.php and the maid was not ready for this and she got scratched pretty badly. This is Hydrangea arborescens Annabelle and has grown so much this year, it has needed to be cut back a few times.
By the front door is another Hydrangea arborescens which we put in almost straight away when we got here to remind me of the seaside home we had just left on the NW coast. Maybe pink wasn’t the best colour against the red brick, but never mind!
Another Hydrangea paniculata, this time White Lace, this is only a young plant, just 2 yrs old so not very big so far, but with all our rain, it won’t be long before it is as big as the others.
Another pink mophead, this time in the back garden where the gravel garden is. It has flopped over in all the rain and it keeping company with Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens. This bush was originally just a branch broken accidentally from another further down the border, I just stuck it in the ground and hoped for the best – success, and the parent plant has since died !
My last hydrangea for now is Hydrangea macrophylla Ayesha which has the petals curved inwards at the edge like lilac. I’m amazed at the difference to this plant this year, it has never had so many flowers before and I was honestly thinking it would have to go. It has now had a reprieve, maybe I will have to give it a little more tlc. in the future.
The Garrya elliptica bush in the corner of the back garden is absolutely covered in buds. These will open in February next year and be about 8 to 10 inches long. I’m sure the rain is responsible for all these buds, so we will get the benefit next winter.
The flower buds on the Rhododendron bushes are big and fat and juicy, usually a lot of these fall off when water is in short supply, hopefully these will stay and we will get the benefit next spring.
Camellia flower buds are starting to fatten up, these are the buds on Camellia ‘ Jury’s Yellow’ , this is another plant that drops its buds if it is stressed and of course this affects the flowering next year. From all the buds that I can see, we are going to have such a flowery spring, thanks to all our rain.
I’ll finish with the area that has benefitted the most from all our rain – the bog garden. For a lot of the time some of it was repeatedly under water which was a bit worrying but everything has responded by growing and growing and flowering ever so well. All my new primulas were fantastic, I have just sown the last of the seed from Primula florindae, I dread to think how many tiny baby primulas I will have to plant out in the autumn and spring. The astilbe grew as never before and now it is the turn of the lobelia which I bought last autumn. Hostas here have flowered ever so well, far more flower stems and the stems are much taller than usual. As well as the contrasting foliage in this area, there has been plenty of colour from all the new bog plants which has kept the interest going.
All this rain has been of great benefit to this garden here, most of the plants that have been planted can cope with heavy clay which has been improved, so I suppose the extra rain hasn’t been a problem and has done a lot of good. Where there has been a problem is where they have been standing in water day after day and the plants have quite literally drowned, thank goodness this has only happened to two plants so far, but we will wait and see if they recover, fingers crossed!