I’ve been cleaning out the upper part of what Linniew is pleased to call my ‘creek’. The winter silt chokes all the pools and needs to be dug out. This involves a great deal of mud, but to spare my readers’ sensibilities, I have not photographed it on this occasion.There’s no fancy stonework here. I created the pools and falls from some ancient railway sleepers dug at an angle into the ground. The soil is very heavy clay, which never dries. It seems to suit my primula ‘Inverewe’, and the big water-loving irises, so that is what I mostly grow here.The problem with these big irises is that they go on the rampage if you give them a sniff of water and mud. The central clump here is Iris Laevigata which has pretty, floppy dark blue flowers in late June. It used to be a single plant, but has built itself an island. If I failed to hack it out, there would be no pool left. The same goes for the common yellow flag (Iris Pseudacorus) and, above all, Iris Versicolor, a tough American iris with beautiful purple/blue shading on its young leaves. All of them have to be savagely attacked with a spade, and chucked in the trailer in gooey clumps. Any wild, damp, underpopulated bit of the garden gets a dollop of mud and an iris or two stamped in. Then I leave them to their own devices.
Elsewhere, it’s time to stake the herbaceous plants. Stake is probably the wrong word, as what I do is weave a rough dome of beech branches over the delphiniums, aconitum and the oriental poppies (papaver orientale). The Edinburgh Botanics use birch, and weave it properly: my version is rough and ready by comparison.There’s a turbulent back-draft off the wall, and if heavy wind and rain combine, flower stems get bashed. The beech provides excellent support, especially to the top-heavy poppies. I support even the smaller plants, such as the Johnson’s Blue geranium, which can look very ugly if it is blown flat. The only difficulty is having to guess the height the plants will grow to, so that the supporting framework is concealed.
After all this work with green leaves and black mud, it’s nice to have something in flower. The spring clematis, c.macropetala, forms a blue tangle at this time of yearDon’t tell Alistair, but I actually prefer these early species clematis – this and the various c.alpina cultivars to the large-flowered summer varieties. There’s delicate, and there’s blatant…..