Sunday, 18 July 2010

Dry Garden



Above is the view looking to the right from the terrace in front of La Grande Maison. The grass is looking remarkably green considering it's been by and large dry and with temperatures sometimes nudging 36 degrees. Of course it's not that remarkable as perhaps twice a week I'll wheel out the hose and put the sprinkler on it. It's a losing battle. There's barely four inches of topsoil under the turf, below that, hardcore and castine - gravel - which means that it never remains damp for long and any moisture has a tendancy to run off as it slopes slightly.



For some time now I've often envisaged it as a piece of dry garden, planted with grasses, sub shrubs and drought tolerant perennials, infinitely more interesting than struggling turf.



I intend to line the edges of the border with local stone that I've collected over time and stockpiled at the back of the house. It'll also give more height to accommodate the few cubic metres of topsoil that I'll need to add to have a half decent planting depth.



Returning from dropping family at the airport, I took a detour to Pépinière du Lac des Joncs and picked up a few plants. This nursery is one of my favourite places on earth - period. Apart from a superb range of perennials and grasses, including over forty varieties of Miscanthus, it's a gem of a spot nestling in beautifull countryside just near Rouffignac.

Above is Pennisetum 'Karley Rose' with it's it's pink tinged inflorescences.

Below is Agastache 'Painted Lady'. Borderline hardy, I still had to have it and will much over it heavily in late Autumn to give it winter protection. For good, sound agastache information, you should search through Cameron's blog.




Achillea. Quite happy in the dry, the red is 'Sammetriese', the pale yellow, 'Hella Glashof'.



A beautiful white Lavender, 'Edelweiss'.



Below, Stipa Calamagrostis growing along the pergola. I'll take divisions from this as it's a must for the new area.



Other planned additions are, Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', russian sage Perovskia, Catmint including 'Six Hills Giant' and Transcaucasia, Verbena bonariensis, the odd Verbascum Bombyciferum 'Polar Summer', Sedums, Thymes and Autumn flowering bulbs. There'll be others added to the list but I've got to resist the urge to over mix, otherwise, rather than the planned tapestry 'a la' Beth Chatto it'll be something of a mish mash.



The sun lounger in the background is my official 'loafing' chair. A great place to sit and make Autumn plans.

29 comments:

  1. What a perfectly perfect day...
    Alone with my plants, at last:-)

    That Agastache is not as delicate if the ground is totally dry in winter. I've managed to keep it for a few winters here i the region of Stockholm.

    Have a great planting time! Hillevi

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  2. hi rob,

    one of my fav places in the world is a nursery too. any nursery will do. your place looks spectacular. all your new plants are going to look lovely planted. i'm afraid my garden is already a hopeless mismash.

    ~janet

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  3. All great choices that want the same conditions.

    I want to know how you like that Karley Rose grass. I'm getting tired of buying the annual purple fountain grass every year, but want dark red tinted foliage and blooms. The grass plumes are great with the agastache.

    Those are healthy plants! Nice agastache (and thanks for the link back).

    We've been watching Le Tour de France daily--as much for the scenery as the bike race since Lance isn't doing that well. Schleck and Cavendish are having a good race.

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  4. I can't wait to see the final result as you have chosen so many nice plants. We are still busy working on the garden house having added windows and French doors. Sheetrock will be going in soon, and I'm still thinking of the color to paint it. My garden around is scraggly right now, but I am hoping that next year will look better. New topsoil as it sits on a hillside so a few tiers with rocks too. My hubby is always collecting rocks too which is why we now have the rock wall at my garden house. I told him I wanted it to look sort of like yours so I could put pots on my too! Have fun planting! I know it's hard work.
    Ulrike

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  5. You give me so much inspiration and new garden ideas that I just had to stop in and say thanks. And, I too spend hours in my local nursery.

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  6. I've read about Beth Chatto's gravel garden. Haven't seen it.

    Can't wait for your lawn to go, go, go.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  7. Despite the weather your garden is still looking good to me. Our grass is looking terrible. The only watering I am doing is to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.
    I have never seen white lavender, must have a look for that. Diane

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  8. We finally got a reprieve from hot and dry yesterday, with 2" of rain. Hope you get some relief soon too! Watering never seems more than an emergency measure.

    I love 'Edelweiss' and the pink-flowered Pennisetum. Real beauties.

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  9. What a lovely agastache! One of my favourite plants.

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  10. A flowering dry garden will be much more bee friendly than turf grass, too. It will be very pretty!

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  11. What great plants Rob - I love that Miscanthus. I made a gravel garden using ideas from Beth Chatto and it is a lovely place to sit in the sunshine.

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  12. There are times when a normal lawn is more beautiful than the uniform one type grass lawn. The picture shows a lawn with a natural beauty. ~bangchik

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  13. Hi Rob! I'd say your garden is well prepared for this hot weather. You have some reliable plants. Of course, I can guarantee only Russian sage performance, ha-ha! As for your comment - I think we will have enough fish to feed all Blotanical. And we are doing so-so. You should see one guy here with 28 years-experience. He gets into the water and has a fish in 5 minutes! Have a great week!

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  14. Hi Rob, what fabulous sized plants you have purchased! No wonder you love that place! The Chatto mix versus a whole lotta plants sounds perfect, something we need to shoot for here. I love the grasses and agastache, thanks for the tip about the mulch, they never return here but we buy them anyway. It is going to be way better than the turf, can't wait for the big reveal. :-)
    Frances

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  15. Hello Rob,

    I am excited about your drought tolerant planting. We love the ornamental grasses; too bad I can't give you divisions of all those we have as many a family have starts from our garden. And that is the beauty of it, divide, divide, divide... along with the fact that maintenance is minimal. We cut them back at the end of February and then enjoy them for a year. P.S. we have no lawn ;)

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  16. What a marvellous nursery! Me too, I love visiting nurseries. As much, actually, that I think I prefer visiting nurseries before parks and gardens:)
    Have a nice evening and good luck with all that planting,
    Charlotta

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  17. What a marvellous nursery! Me too, I love visiting nurseries. As much, actually, that I think I prefer visiting nurseries before parks and gardens:)
    Have a nice evening and good luck with all that planting,
    Charlotta

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  18. Hola Rob, hope you manage to solve the slope watering problem and... god.. you have lots of work to do planting your new plants!!! all of them great!! Such a wonderful place your house surroundings!!!!!
    hugs,
    maria cecilia

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  19. Hi Rob - I can just picture your lawn transformed into a dry garden - with your eye for form, texture and colour it'll look fantastic! Go for it! :D

    I've been working away in our garden at weekends - it's not looking as good as yours yet, but it'll get there!
    My odd days off in the week recently have been spent juggling workmen (builders and decorators) instead of getting mucky! I break up for the 6 week holidays on Thursday ....guess what I'll be doing?! :D

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  20. I love the fountain grass and the agastache. Speaking of Beth Chatto, I've always had difficulty finding photos of her garden. Why is that?

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  21. Okay, I take that back. I just looked again on the net and found lots of photos this time. I swear they were not here a few months ago.

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  22. Nice plant picks! I can never get my yarrow to stand up, though.

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  23. Lovely post, Rob. With your busy/creative schedule, glad you include time to loaf!

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  24. What lovely start to your dry garden.

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  25. Such beautiful place... love the "old country" feeling it portraits!

    cielo

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  26. Dry garden is the thing here in my garden, I have tried other kinds of plants, they don't survive! I will follow the growing of your dry garden with interest and godd luck with planting all plants!

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  27. Good luck with the new project Rob - it should not only look great but save you sweat and tears too. We are just back from France where we ventured to the Loire Valley. We was warm- noted one day that the temperature was 31 degrees at 8.45pm. Back home to torrential rain and a hosepipe ban :)

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  28. It looks really good even if we didn't know about the high temps. Agastache will love your gravel bed underneath the top soil. Beautiful photos, beautiful garden. Have more wine.~~Dee

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