Monday, 28 March 2016

Plant suggestions for a partly shaded rockery

Suggested plants for semi-shade

We have had some nice weather so far over the bank holiday weekend ... interspersed with some nasty, we mustn't grumble ... it's far better than it being all nasty!

I put myself to work by making a small rockery out of this previously miserable area near the entrance to my greenhouse. 

We had quite a bit of rockery stone lying in a heap in the front driveway when we moved in. Some of it was frost shattered and was used in hardcore for the steps going down to the raised veg beds. I selected the best bits and arranged them as attractively as I could and also enriched the soil with what I had left over of a bulk bag of compost (that went into the raised vegetable beds to enrich them a while ago).

It's a small area so I need plants that won't swamp it. They need to be slow growing or easy to keep in check with trimming or pulling it up. It only gets half a day's sun tucked away in that corner so I'm thinking about what to plant in the little nooks and crannies.

Here's my preliminary list of non-invasive plants that I've used previously in part-shade:
  • Saxifraga x urbium (common name London Pride), I'll see if I can get some of the variegated variety as a preference
  • Ajuga reptans (smaller green leaved variety)
  • Red stonecrop (already got some of that I can transplant)
  • Pulmonaria (common name Lungwort), I really love the blue and white varieties, particularly those with spotty leaves!
  • Lamium Beacon Silver - there's some down the road next to the river dog walk which has escaped from someone's garden. I can take some free cuttings when the weather warms up a bit.
Any other suggestions from my fellow gardeners would be most welcome!

EDIT on 4 April 2016
There was an article in Saturday's paper featuring plants that will thrive in shade so I clipped it out. I was pleased to note that some of those in my list above made it into an expert's top picks! In addition, I've added the following to my list of possibilities:
  • Epimedium x versicolor "Sulphureum "(barrenwort) has lovely light yellow flowers and bronze foliage in autumn
  • Omphalodes cappadocica (navelwort) lots of bright blue forget-menot flowers. I'm sure this is in a garden of one of my friend's in the village so will be nagging him to give me a little of his! 
  • Dicentra "Stuart Boothman" (bleeding heart) finely cut greygreen leaves and pink flowers; apparently "Bacchanal" is another variety with deep red flowers
  • Siberian bugloss Brunnera "Jack Frost" has made it into my list, it might be a bit big for this area but I love it so much, I used to grow it many years ago. I'll give it a try and maybe transplant it if it outgrows its welcome here.

Friday, 25 March 2016

New CAL Stylecraft Frida's Flowers

Crochet rainbow ropey basket for Fridas Flowers CAL

I've decided to take part in another Crochet-a-long. This time it's Jane Crawfoot's Frida's Flowers using Stylecraft's Classique Cotton yarn. I've never made a cotton blanket before so I'm really looking forward to it.

It doesn't start for a few days yet but I've already purchased my yarn pack from the Wool Zone in Oakham. There's a nice project bag that's been designed for people to get on with making in the meantime but I've been wanting to have a go at a ropey rainbow basket designed by Little Bee on her brilliant blog. I used two strands  of double knitting cotton from my stash to make the bottom which is a plain colour but for the sides, I bought extra balls of all the most rainbowy colours from the Frida's Flowers yarn pack. 

When I was photographing the finished basket containing the yarn for the blanket along with these daffodils, I felt so much in the Easter spirit, I opened a pack of mini-eggs to celebrate (no you can't have any!)

This is the 6mm sisal rope I used as the basket's base. Amazing how a little bit of simple crochet transforms it! Sisal is a bit scratchy to work with, if I had to do it again, I'd find something a bit softer like nylon or maybe hemp? Perhaps someone who's worked with hemp before can let me know if it's less scratchy. 

The design uses far more yarn than I would've thought, I've gone through 40-odd grams of all these colours. It's so nice to work with, I can't wait to get on with the CAL, in the meantime, there's always another bag of mini eggs!

. Happy Easter everyone!