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New Planting

April 14, 2016

Inspired by the grasses in Barn House Garden and the excellent tips on how to manage their hair cuts I have bought and planted 4 Stipa gigantea.  I’ve had them before but they were planted in a shady area rather than open to the sky with potential full sun.  The dead leaves had been removed by the nursery and after a soak in a bucket of water they were planted towards the outer corners of the main bed.

Image result for stipa gigantea uk

To make room I lifted some small lavender plants,that I seem to plant every year.  They never do terribly well probably because it’s a bed that tends to get watered regularly. These are now on the allotment near the shed in full sun and in an area that relies on rain only.  I surrounded the Stipa gigantia with eighteen Verbena bonariensis.

Image result for verbena bonariensis

The Purple peas germinated fast and built up a good root system in the root trainers…


They’re now planted at the base of an A frame draped in jute netting…


The ongoing project to green-up the lane that runs the length of the back of our terrace is progressing with the purchase of more plastic potato sacks for a pound (from you know where). To further keep the costs down I am experimenting by half filling them with kitchen waste covered with two layers of cardboard then topped up with commercial compost before planting. The Muscari grape hyacinths planted in November are looking good…


As is Tulip Monte Carlo with its lovely fat heads about to open and planted with Narcissus Tete a Tete…


These bulbs have done well whilst waiting for the compost to break down and in relatively shallow soil. When they’ve finished flowering they’ll be lifted and the soil topped up ready for annuals and perennials and medium size shrubs.  Nasturtium seeds saved from last year will add colour sown round the edge of all six planters …


Before a week away in Venice I shall be sowing Purple climbing and dwarf French beans, runner beans, courgettes, pumpkin, sweetcorn, beetroot and fennel.  All are reliable grown from seed and will be left in trays in the warmth of the allotment greenhouse. They’ll be hardened off outside towards the end of April before going in the ground in mid-May.


Here’s a great tip from Alys Fowler in the Guardian two weeks ago on seedling care. I’ve been seriously guilty of pushing new compost around the stems of seedlings when potting them on but not any more. Alys says it damages the delicate stem and prevents the immature plant from taking up water to survive.

The Fritillaria meleagris bulbs planted near the garden tap have produced one lone flower…



11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2016 12:18 pm

    Busy, busy, busy! Love the jute netting; I won some which I’ll be collecting later in the month, I’m looking forward to using it.

  2. April 15, 2016 6:43 am

    Thank you for mentioning the garden here in such glowing terms – I hope the stipa settle in well for you. It’s a lovely idea to combine them with verbena bonariensis, I might try that myself. I’m wondering what the rootball was like on the plants you purchased? My second year seedlings are still not filling a 2 litre pot.

    • April 15, 2016 9:07 am

      You inspired my Stipa planting so thanks to you!They had rather substantial roots that I teased out before planting and I guess they were two to three years old.

      • April 15, 2016 9:16 am

        That’s interesting, thanks for letting me know. I think you’re right about how old they’d be, it looks like stipa takes a few years to develop the more fibrous root system.

  3. Lucy moore permalink
    April 15, 2016 7:32 am

    I have 2 little fritillary meleagris only out of the entire pack planted last autumn…… Where r the rest?? I do adore them, shame they seem difficult to please

  4. Lucy moore permalink
    April 15, 2016 7:34 am

    Ps love the jute netting, never seen it over here

    • April 15, 2016 9:11 am

      It’s from Agriframes and is excellent for growing quantities of sweet peas or as I am garden peas.

  5. April 16, 2016 8:46 am

    I’m awaiting a named cultivar of Stipa gigantea (memory like a sieve, so can’t remember the name!) recommended by Kate to come into stock at Wisley to plant at the edge of a gravel garden which is home to masses of self-seeded Erigeron, verbena bonariensis and blue anemone blanda. Looking at established but not old plantings of Stipa G at Wisley a few weeks ago it appears they develop a good fibrous root system within a couple of years once in the ground. Fennel is one of my new to me vegetable seeds to sow direct from mid-May. May 17 is my start date for all the tender stuff like beans, courgettes, squashes etc and I always catch up with the early birds. When I started allotmenteering 16 years ago I grew more flowers than vegetables. Then as the permanent plantings of asparagus, soft and tree fruit grew bigger the flowers were squeezed out. Now I’m just growing food for two people I am having fun with flowers on the plot again, especially mixing up herbs, flowers and veg in cottage garden style.

  6. April 16, 2016 12:09 pm

    Gravel is made for Stipa gigantea and self-seeded Verbena bonariensis it will be a gorgeous combination. And yes I could have chosen pots of young stipa but went for the ones with masses of top growth and a corresponding root system was discovered when I emptied them out. You are so wise to wait to sow until mid-May I just can’t resist getting on with it. At this time of year it results in a huge juggling act between cold frame, potting shed, greenhouse, cloches and allotment ground. I love mixing flowers with veg and intend to do more of that this year.

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