Gail and I look at the North Garden all summer with very critical eyes and every year by this time we’re like discontented apartment dwellers – desperate to clear the clutter and rearrange the furniture. The North Garden is a kind of living room (pun intended, of course) at Blithewold – or a chapel on most weekends – and we try very hard to keep it looking like it’s in peak bloom all season. And instead, like any garden, it goes through phases of spectacular and fades of quiet like the “May gap” and “July lull”, for instance. And every year we try new annuals, and every year we search for a perfect new perennial, and every year we have “had it!” with some of the old ones. (You have to hear Gail say it with emPHAsis and a roll of the eyes.)
We have both “had it!” with the Phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘David’) which was mildewier than ever this year – at least until we threatened it with expulsion in July and it rebloomed gangbusters and clean in September. I have “had it!” with the monster daylilies whose suffocating foliage eclipses the few weeks of bloom in my mind. (Plus, truth be told, I’m not wild about having to come in to deadhead them on weekends.) And Gail has “had it!” with some of the iris which I have never managed to capture in a picture because they’re in bloom for all of about a week and a half and I miss them.
Fall is a perfect time to do some spring cleaning – perennials that have been cut back are much easier to divide and will focus energy on root growth as they settle in. For the past couple of days Gail and I have braved high winds and cold fingers to divide phlox, iris and daylilies and do a little moving and removing. We haven’t taken out all of anything but we we’ve made some space for new ideas. — And tulips! A few volunteers will come in tomorrow for one last push to plant 640 tulips in the North Garden – a bigger show than ever. In August, Gail and Lilah made the final selection of Apricot Beauty, Amazone, Formosa, Cistula, Dreaming Maid and Black Hero. Should be a beautiful beginning to a brand new season in the North Garden.
Do you go through your garden in the fall to clear the clutter and rearrange the furniture? Do you have a garden or beds that you try to keep in a peaking succession of bloom? – And what is your success?