The Slope on Thursday – Hope for the future

The very cold weather predicted for last weekend didn’t materialise and turned out to be perfect weather for planting bulbs, warm, and very still.  No wind at all is quite unusual in my garden so I took full advantage and have now planted all of the tulips and the majority of the other bulbs.  There are still some Iris, Alliums and miscellaneous others waiting to go into the cuttings beds.  Yesterday it rained for most of the day but this morning there is a watery sun making photography difficult.  Cold nights are again predicted for this weekend.

The usual view

The usual view

I stood on the other side of the drive for this image looking straight on the middle of the slope

I stood on the other side of the drive for this image looking straight on the middle of the slope

Some of the Verbascum have already formed beautiful rosettes of silvery leaves.

Lovely silvery rosette of Verbascum foliage

Lovely silvery rosette of Verbascum foliage

Whenever I look closely at the slope there is something new to see; at first glance I thought not very much had changed but there are signs of hope for spring; Muscari are already forming thick clumps, not too thick I hope, I’ve already divided lots of Muscari around the garden and don’t think I have the patience to do more now, perhaps in spring when I’ll see new spaces to put them.

Muscari foliage growing through the Verbena ground-cover

Muscari foliage growing through the Verbena ground-cover

With the relatively mild weather there are tiny, new seedlings of Eschscholzia californica, Verbascum and Salvia turkescanica in evidence. There are some weeds too!

New seedlings of Eschscholzia pushing up through the stony tufo soil that is the slope

New seedlings of Eschscholzia pushing up through the stony tufo soil that is the slope

The only bright flower present on the slope is the crimson salvia I used in my vase on Monday

The only bright flower present on the slope is the crimson salvia I used in my vase on Monday

The long term plans for the slope are to plant more Cistus and other Mediterranean shrubs to make maintenance easier in future.  I love the spontaneity of the annuals but the slope is hard to work on so must require less work in future.  I am busy taking cuttings of Cistus but they are slow to grow and the cuttings don’t always take, I think that maybe hardwood cuttings taken now might be more successful than the soft wood ones I took in summer; in the meantime I have rosemary cuttings and marjoram I grew from seed that I will plant to begin the process of creating mounds of different sizes.

So many different textures of green

So many different textures of green

 

Do you sow or plant fillers or temporary plants that you will substitute when your intended planting matures?

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48 thoughts on “The Slope on Thursday – Hope for the future

  1. I can relate to that feeling of no patience to divide Muscari bulbs, its exciting to plan for Spring but my energy levels dip. I have tried too to cut my crimson Salvia for vases but find the leaves curl so quickly, I am doing something wrong but I love the sage smell they give off. I do sow annuals like Nigella to fill gaps, your plans to put more Cistus on your slope sounds a very good idea. My heated propagator has given up the ghost and I’ve struggled to take successful cuttings without it. All in all, I am not sounding very positive this morning, must be this gloomy weather we have again today!

    • The weather affects my mood a lot too, if its sunny I feel good, it its grey I’m down! Luckily here there are fewer grey days than in southern England. Often when its cloudy the clouds are high in the sky so it doesn’t feel so bad. Bottom heat does make a huge difference with cuttings which could be the reason I’m having more success now as in summer it seemed stupid to use the heated tray when the temperatures were much higher than I would set it at anyway. I hope the sun shines for you this weekend Julie.

    • The weather affects my mood a lot too, if its sunny I feel good, it its grey I’m down! Luckily here there are fewer grey days than in southern England. Often when its cloudy the clouds are high in the sky so it doesn’t feel so bad. Bottom heat does make a huge difference with cuttings which could be the reason I’m having more success now as in summer it seemed stupid to use the heated tray when the temperatures were much higher than I would set it at anyway. I hope the sun shines for you this weekend Julie.

  2. Hi Christina. Nice to see the Muscari leaves already. I’m glad I have got my last bulbs in as it is really cold and grey now – not gardening weather! I tend to put annuals in spots that need filling, and have just ordered far too many seeds again! I don’t have a greenhouse (yet) so it’s always a juggling act in spring with seedlings in my small cold frame and on the covered balcony. I’m going to grow more cosmos next year. 🙂

    • Even with my quite large greenhouse it is a juggling act in spring; however big a greenhouse is you will always fill it. Mine is quite empty in summer but at the moment it has trays of salad leaves to eat through the winter and cuttings, plus some cutting flower seedlings that it said could be started in autumn. In January I’ll start sowing the vegetables for summer plus soon the citrus will need to go inside and they take up quite a large amount of space! By March April it will be bursting at the seems.

  3. Your plan is a good one. Less maintenance is key, I believe, to staying in love with the garden. In the beginning, enthusiam for progress keeps us going, but as the garden becomes established, it’s prudent to regroup and be practical.

  4. Your tufo soil scares me! Is the soil of the local fields the same or is yours rockier for being on a hill and from construction?
    Even I will admit that some plants become more work than you care to take on. I used to have more time and energy than things to do, now that’s changing and I’m also re-examining some of the fillers. They are nice for their exuberance and freshness each year but sometimes they toe the line that separates my yard from chaos. Of course one day with a chainsaw, mower, and mulch and you’re back to the start, so it’s not like one risks a global catastrophe!

    • All the soil is tufo, but some has had various top soil added by previous owners, one area even has a bit of clay! The volcanic tufo is very fertile but needs the addition of lots of organic material to make it a good planting medium. The house was actually built with tufo cut on site so there isn’t really any builder’s rubble I can blame. Because the slope is steep the small pieces of tufo roll down and end up by the drive which is what you can see in the photograph. Tufo is very friable which can be a bit worrying when I think the blocks of the house could break up just like the large pieces in the soil!

  5. You have so many different textures and different greens that your garden still looks lovely.
    As for planting temporary plants, I did just that when we took a big tree out and extended the long border. I basically split and moved things that I had already regardless of colour, just to have some plants. Last year I put up with a large pink penstemmon mixed with all the reds, oranges and yellows. I finally took it out last week and it went to a good home. Next summer should be better now.

    • Thank you Annette, I love the different textures as much as I love the flowers; and I do love the slope because it changes so much which it won’t when its final planting is mature, but needs must – it is hard working on the slope, very easy to slip when tugging at a deep rooted weed.

  6. There are so many things pushing through that it makes it look more like spring. I have some unidentified rogue poppies pushing through and a wild Verbascum about the same size as your photograph which has amazingly chosen a good place to grow. I am using Hollyhocks, Delphineum and Canna as screens until more permanent shrubs get to a decent size for hedging. Amelia

    • I like the idea of the plants you’re using as temporary screens, it is good to choose the hedging you really want and not choose one just because it is fast growing, which later becomes a problem.

  7. the slope is looking much greener than previous posts Christina, I know what you mean about dividing bulbs/corms etc. I still hope for the weather to get those corms I dug up last week planted, well you know from my foliage post what happened with my temporary fillers, they are still there, most of the new plants failed, I love the silver rosettes of the verbascum, I have similar green ones for foxgloves, I am interested in your conversation with Julie about a heated tray for cuttings, do you find it makes much difference? I usually do hardwood cuttings in early spring and leave in the garden, I do not know how good this is it was what I heard to do I think on GQT, Frances

    • Hard wood cuttings of roses are best done in the ground unless the ground is waterlogged which could cause them to rot. I find the heated tray works really well for other cuttings and for germinating seeds. Lots of seeds germinate in a couple of days so you can do a lot of seeds in a short time. I would definitely say it is worth the money.

  8. The appearance of seedlings always makes me happy – perhaps because there are so many things that can thwart germination in my garden. I scattered California poppy seeds awhile ago but have yet to see any seedlings but it has also been dry as a bone here (although rain is in the forecast for the beginning of next week!). I also planted the seeds of a bronze-toned Calendula as filler in one of the backyard beds but those are probably a loss as the blasted raccoons have rummaged through the area twice since then. Oh well, I’ll enjoy the seedling vicariously through pictures of your wonderful garden.

    • Your Californian poppies may still germinate, these have been in the ground since the main flowering in summer. The rain will make them grow. I suppose it is difficult to find fillers for succulents as you wouldn’t want to cover them or create too much shade around them, but that is always true of fillers they can end up smothering the plant you want to grow!

  9. In theory I was using bulbs – some of the miniature narcissus and species iris and such – as filler while shrubbier plants mature, but who am I kidding 😉 I love bulbs so they always play a larger role in the overall scheme… The herbs will be lovely on that slope, and I’m tempted to envy you those Verbascum seedlings. They have such a striking presence.

    • I agree, although bulbs make a good seasonal filler they are too valuable not to have them always in the garden. It’s odd how suddenly the Verbascum are making their presence felt.

  10. It’s a good idea to be thinking about easier maintenance on the slope. I should take your lead. Working on it is such hard work, as much of a problem staying upright as anything and totally energy consuming. I also need stronger root growth to keep the soil in place.

    • Stopping soil erosion is essential here too, when it rains it really pours. I was one reason that I wanted to cover the whole slope with plants quickly including creeping ground-covers. As you can see in the image of the Eschscholzia seedlings some stones do roll down to the drive but there has never been a landslide onto the drive for which I am very grateful.

  11. It’s cold and gloomy here, the ground is frozen, too late for planting bulbs. I sympathize with you about shrubs, I like the idea of mixing more shrubs into the borders, they are less work. Judy is anti-shrub, though.

  12. It’s always encouraging to see signs of spring appear even before we have reached winter. As you say Christina hope for the future : ) You are doing well with the bulb planting. Is there a rush to get things in earlier than you would have done in England?

    • No, not at all, the tulips especially shouldn’t be planted if warm weather might start them too quickly into growth. But bulb planting in December might not be so pleasant so I like to get most done in November.

  13. Intriguing to see your seedlings emerging – I suppose they know what they are doing! And that last photo shows how beneficial different textures are.Here I am trying to move things to a more sensible location (or turf them out), having done as Annette did and split things to fill up spaces or put things in pots till I found the right place. As I am growing so many more annuals increasingly I will be using them as fillers but I suspect there will always be that desire for more permanent planting. I have to confess that I have been plonking things In the bold border extension without any planning just to get new things established, with the intention of rearranging them once I can see the bigger picture.

  14. I love the straight-on view of the slope. There is so much to see, so many textures and silvery greens. I especially like the verbascum. Yes, I often plant annuals, or I may just set out pots of annuals or other plants, while my planting matures.

  15. Hi Christina,
    What is the verbena ground cover? I have used annuals to fill in gaps. I even did a whole border of just annuals when we first moved in. You can get very good annual seed mixes designed for different conditions which I’d possibly consider if I needed to cover an expanse of soil in the future.

    • I’m not sure of the exact name of the Verbena Louise; I bought 1 9cm pot at a plant fair ages ago and now have masses of it in various parts of the garden. It definitely isn’t canadensis or rigida, the flowers are just like bonariensis and attract butterflies in the same way. It doesn’t suppress weeds very well until it has formed a thick mat. My research leads me to think it is V.venosa but I’m not 100% sure.

  16. I love that you have color still…I do plant fillers and will this year quite a bit as I redesign some areas. How nice to see all that gray green foliage. I do have loads of new growth under the snow and even muscari bulb growth.

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