An area of my small garden is purely ornamental, partly because it’s not suitable for growing anything edible. It’s north-facing, overshadowed on three sides and only in summer, does it get a few hours of full sun. Most of the time, it remains a bit boggy. There is a small pond as well so the frogs are happy and It surprises me how many plants are really happy in cold, damp, shadows, since I feel I also spend most of the year in cold, damp, shadows as well and I’m not over-enthusiastic about it.
That part of the garden does need a little bit of attention in the spring, but leave it too late, and there is no chance of getting around the plants which have already established their rights to a particular patch. I am now growing some shrubs in tubs to give me a bit of flexibility in being able to move them around according to their growth requirements. Until recently, shrubs and trees planted, were ultimately dug up and replaced with smaller shrubs. It isn’t easy trying to persuade a well-established shrub to relinquish it’s grip on the land. Some of them have been absolutely stunning when in flower but sadly, when they get to a certain size, they become too big and block out what little light there is to the under-plantings. My magnolia tree was thought to have been killed off by the Philadelphus (mock orange) but once that went, the magnolia grew quickly. I think I will need to consider cutting back the Photinia Red Robin though, it’s getting a little bit too tall but since it adds a bit of colour to a dark corner, it might just get a short back and sides instead.
The attractive Polystichum variety of fern, looks quite impressive but it is also quite intrusive. In full flow, it covers the Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal) and leaves the Crocosmia (Lucifer) stretching in all directions, looking for some sunlight.
I have conceded to getting more boggy plants and have just received delivery of Spigelia Marilandica and Cardiocrinum Giganteum. The former should be happy around the pond and bring some bright colour with a flower reminiscent of a jester’s hat. Poisonous, but used by native Americans, in the correct dosage to expel internal worms. I sincerely hope it doesn’t expel the little wrigglers in the garden as well. The latter, also known as Himalayan Lily, if it reaches it’s full height of around two metres, won’t have any problems seeing the sun, at least on the days the sun decides to make and appearance. It too, is poisonous and medicinal, although only for external applications, as a poultice to alleviate pains and wounds or to treat dislocated bones. Neither remedies are for the untrained practitioner but you can’t be too careful in a garden so best to be well-prepared.
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