With the prospect of a little rain and plants waiting to be planted I was spurred on to concentrate on the south-facing bed by the lower pond. Part of this area was planned to be an autumn border so it seemed the perfect place to grow Michaelmas daisies (North American asters, now symphyotrichum). Despite the name change these are still fabulous plants and as popular with pollinators as buddlejas.
Over autumn and winter I accumulated a good number, in many kinds, of different species. About a third are Novi-belgii types which tend to be the most varied and spectacular but they are prone to powdery mildew. I am not going to get bogged down by potential problems at this stage – I only planted them a day ago and I am dreaming of lots of colour.
This area is raised because of some soil from the pond excavation but also from a lot of barrowing. There is therefore a good depth of what I could call soil. I dug in lots of leafmould as I built up the bed and when it was rough dug I added more compost. Then, in an activity that would be prohibited if forced on prisoners, I had to break up the lumps of soil, over several weeks, and level and shape the bed.
It still looks pretty awful but the plants will grow and the paths in the area behind will be started tomorrow. I will add annuals for the first season, probably cosmos and statice. Of course, this bed is not complete, nor will it ever be because these asters need division at least once every two years to keep them vigorous and (relatively) free from mildew. The drainage here should be perfect and I will see if I need to water endlessly to keep them alive in summer.
Two new raised beds have been made to grow bulbs that will not tolerate the wet soil here in winter. I have learnt in two years that tulips just will not survive in most parts of the garden. So, for summer, I am sowing some hardy annuals in one, marking out the beds with sand first.
Mia always takes an interest in what we are doing and is happy to inspect new plantings like this dwarf pine by the pond.