I need to grow Kniphofia but to be able to do that I need to extend the garden - in that order, though in fairness I've been meaning to extend le jardin for a couple of years but just haven't got around to doing it for one reason or another (time really).
Red hot pokers provide the motivation. I always remember seeing a small private garden in Cork, Ireland some years ago that was full of pokers 'bobbing' amongst grasses and thinking that the whole effect was just superb.
So I've lined the path which leads past Le Tournesol with stone that Karen and I hunted out in the fields around, I needed to do that in order to raise the 'border', and next week will order about 4.5 cubic metres of topsoil. It's work I would of preferred to avoid, but it's necessary as the weedy grass that grows there currently does so on about 6 cms. of soil with an unfeasibly thick layer of old castine (gravel) underneath as I guess the entire area was gravel many moons ago and would have been re-gravelled many times over.
Back to the kniphofia, and I've had zero luck locating K. caulescens here in France. This poker has possibly the best foliage of them all and as such is a must. I eventually found them online for mail order through Toby Buckland nurseries - as in Toby Buckland, the ex Gardeners' World presenter - at a fiver (sterling) apiece. The only snag was the Royal Mail postage to France which was price prohibitive, but luckily there is a small logistics company I have used in the past who brought them down at a sensible cost.
Along with the pokers I ordered five bare roots of Asphodeline lutea, a tall, yellow flowered meditterranean plant, together with a rose, Rosa Alissar, Princess of Phoenicia and have to say that, by a country mile, these were the biggest, healthiest bare root plants I've ever received. I was like a kid in a sweet shop opening the box. Enormous great roots wrapped in damp newspaper which I've potted straight on until I'm ready to put them in the garden.
Even Henri, my 9 month old kitten was taken aback with the quality of the roots.
The plant list needs to be finalised, but other pokers and various Panicum, Stipa and Pennisetum will be in there.
To be continued....