I really do know everything about gardening. I’m so sharp that I have thought up bright solutions for peculiar problems. I purchased two scrawny specimens of Phygelius x rectus (Cape fuchsia). The two were so close in colour, I thought that planting them together would show up the differences. Not a bit of it; now I have an amorphous tangle of stringy, sticky bush and the very occasional peach/pink flower. If there is a distinction between them, I can’t see it. I returned from Bodnant clutching two Euphorbias to my chest. They each do the familiar spurgy thing but one’s bracts are bigger than the other. I put them in a sunny bed, to show up the variations and as you can see from the picture, I haven’t learned a blasted thing from my earlier excursion into smarty pants territory.
Anemanthele lessoniana (pheasant’s tail grass), self seeded to perfection
I endeavoured to grow soggy plants in sand, by sinking pond liner beneath their feet. Anything precious put there, promptly died without ceremony. The ground elder scrambled over the top and thrived. I tried growing Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’ (leopard plant) in a muddy tub which I kept topped up with water. The whole lot festered, stank and kicked the bucket in record time. I germinated moisture loving Inula magnifica from seed and boxing clever, installed it in a shady border. They departed this life after one season, to my immense regret. Now I see that they have self seeded in the baskets of marginals in the pond.
Euphorbia sikkimensis (red stems at back) & Euphorbia cornigera (bigger bracts)
There’s little point in trying to teach Nature any lessons, I have to conclude that She knows much more than I do. I have a lot of success with Iris germanica (bearded iris), which can take as much sun baked stringent drainage as I can provide. My only limitation is the amount of brightness afforded by an English summer. I have a stand of white “Lady Snowflake” which have bloomed magnificently for ages. Sadly, the flowers have dwindled until I ended up with a single stalk. The bad news is that the rhizomes need breaking up and dividing every few years. After tearing off each piece with a growth bud and throwing away the spent central lump, the good news is that there will be lots of new plants, for free.
Geranium pyrenaicum “Bill Wallis”, grows only where it pleases
The same goes for married life; you cannot force a man to do a job that he doesn’t want to. I had four slabs of concrete, removed from a path at considerable personal expense, in order to site a blackberry cane. I had asked Attila to break them up to go into rubble sacks and then spent six months reminding him. Then nagging, followed by bitching. Came the Saturday when his team lost at football, to a bunch of spindly, knock-kneed teenagers. My spouse stalked out of the back door and pausing only to pick up his sledgehammer, reduced the blocks to dust in less than a minute. The moral is, don’t just pick your battles but time them properly, as well.