3 Jul

I suppose the good thing about gardening on a tight budget, like doing anything else on the cheap, is that it makes you focus. Who knows what kind of unnecessary nonsenses i’d have built if I had thousands to spend? A palm house with a stream running through it and pools big enough to swim in? A great big lump of stone with the word COMPLACENCY carved in it? A black garden? A blue garden? A life-size crucifix with passion vines growing up it? Actually that all sounds like louche fun.

The point is, my most expensive plant purchase is a ten-foot tall albizia julibrissin (Persian Silk Tree) which in its first season with me is more sticks than leaves. Small problems can be hidden, ten-foot tall problems (let’s call it a work in progress) are a bit harder to disguise. I had it sent mail order from Amulree Exotics in their half-price sale. The delivery men told me they’d taken bets on how many pieces it would be in by the time it reached me. Which was nice.

Moving away from expensive and rarified, and on to the other side of the coin, here are some cheap thrills I don’t mind admitting to –
The nasturtiums and wallflowers are weedy in character in that they pop up wherever they like, with no encouragement from me. The cerinthe and marigolds aren’t quite there yet but I am at least able to save seed from them every year and that of course costs me nothing.


One of the lilium henryi looks promising. It has sent up two stems fused together, a strange quirk. As the buds have formed, these conjoined twins have flattened out and twisted around. There must be at least forty buds! Promises to be beautiful in flower –

Echeveria glauca are in full flower now around the agaves. By the way these two spiky gentlemen you see here were bought for less than half price from, of all places, a florist’s shop in Manchester city centre. They couldn’t get rid of them until I came along –

Also flowering is one of my tender fuschias. Normally reliable and tolerant of neglect, the other four aren’t in flower yet. They defoliate at the slightest hint of frost but grow back very readily in the greenhouse.
The fuschias make a fine group with the red banana and two-tone catalpa x erubescens behind. The catalpa is a tree that was definitely worth sending away for, from Burncoose Nurseries this time, no dodgy delivery men included.


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