Category Archives: stumpery

flower combinations in the stumpery

End of April 2024

Finally we have had a few nice days – still cold but not quite so wet.  The news was saying that we have the wettest 18 months till March this year since records began (maybe they just meant England but we have been very wet up here too).  I am still eagerly waiting for some signs of new growth from a few newly planted plants (last year) but so far it looks like they have died.   I had also taken quite a few Nepeta Junior Walker cuttings to sell at the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club sale but sadly they didn’t make it.  Some nepata in the stumpery also didn’t make it.  I found vine weevil grubs in one of the large pots on the patio that contained  some heuchera,  but at least I managed to take cuttings of the heuchera and saved them, I then fed the grubs to the birds.  I found one adult vine weevil in the conservatory but so far I haven’t found grubs in any of the plants in there, that may be because I put a top layer of gravel on the succulents so it couldn’t lay it’s eggs in the soil.  So, I have ordered vine weevil nematodes to treat the patio, conservatory and back garden.  I hate the blighters – apparently every adult is female and they can lay hundreds of eggs from April to September.  Just as well they can’t fly.   Trouble is, that to use the nematodes you need a soil temperature of above 5ºC and wet soil.  In Scotland we have to wait a while longer than England before the soil temperature is high enough for the nematodes to survive.  The temperature is ok now so I had better get on with it.

vine weevil grubs in a brown saucer
Vine weevil grubs

Most of the narcissi have gone over now except for the narcissi Pipit  Most of the tulips are over, as is the cherry tree, mahonia, spirea Bridal wreath, rosemary and  the epimediums.  Now taking over are the saxifrage mossy white and saxifrage andresii carpet purple along with the purple honesty, white wood anemones, bluey purple pulmonaria and yellow erythroniums in the stumpery.    The bright orange berberis is looking good just now and the ferns are all just beginning to unfurl their fronds.

flower combinations in the stumpery
Colour in the stumpery
saxifrage mossy white
Saxifrage mossy white
red coloured saxifrage plant
Saxifage andresii Carpet purple

There are loads of little splashes of purple all around the back garden from the Viola labradorica.  Not only does it have delightful little purple flowers but the leaves take on a purple tinge too.  They will self seed everywhere but I love them.  People do say that to make your garden feel more cohesive it is good to do repeat planting, either the same plant in various places around the garden or a similar colour repeated throughout.  I have done this with a few plants such as the viola, bugle, perrywinkle, hellebores, geraniums and aquilegias.  I was hoping to do the same thing with nepeta and erigeron but a few of the erigeron just died leaving empty spaces in some areas.  One of my spirea japonica white gold died too but the one right beside it is fine – I have no idea what happened there.

violet flowers of viola labradorica with purple tinged leaves
Viola labradorica

I am glad to hear that the weather will be getting a little warmer soon so I will be able to get in the garden a bit more, although the colder weather has maybe kept the number of slugs down as I haven’t seen that many – yet.

Colour in the garden in early June

Now that we have had a bout of rain, we are now getting some lush new growth – not just the plants but also the weeds. June has started with loads of welcome sunshine and in the stumpery area the golden coloured plants are absolutely glowing. I have lots of different ferns all around the garden but the Dryopteris crispa congesta in the stumpery are sporting the their bright green, upright fronds. The ivy along the stumpery side wall, Hedera helix Goldheart has mainly reverted back to dark green as it is pretty shady over there, but when the sun does fall on the Acer Shirawanum Aureum, it picks out the gold hearts in the ivy leaves in the background. Just in front of the Corylus avellana contorta is the very bright Oregano vulgare Auereum. The oregano makes pretty good ground cover which can brighten up the somewhat shady stumpery.

bright green new fronds on Dryopteris crispa congesta
Dryopteris crispa congesta
bright golden leaves on Acer Shirawanum Aureum
Acer Shirawanum Aureum
golden foliage of origano aureum
Oregano vulgare Auereum

Newly planted in the stumpery is the very pretty Primula Japonica Apple Blossom.  I usually like to plant in groups of 3 or 5 but I had also bought the primulas for pond side so just bought this one and hope I can divide it soon to get a nice clump.  I like it beside the old log (there are pink aquilegia to the left and blue ajuga to the right top).

Primula Japonica Apple Blossom beside old log
Primula Japonica Apple Blossom

The other acer in the garden (in the raised bed) is looking fabulous right now, flowing over the side walls down to the ground.  I will need to pull out a few of the London’s pride as it is getting pretty over grown now, and give the acer a wee trim later in the year.

Acer palmatum Dissectum Garnet in the raised bed
Acer palmatum Dissectum Garnet
 Acer palmatum Dissectum Garnet in the raised bed, end on.
Raised bed

The pond area is taking a while to get going this year.  The marsh marigolds have gone over but the cotton grass ( Eriophorum angustifolium) looking nice.  I am still waiting for the newly planted primulas to flower.

Just now we are getting lots of sunshine and very little rain so my main jobs just now are keeping things watered, pond topped up and staking some of the tall flowers.

Eriphorum angustifolium in the pond
Eriphorum angustifolium

May – out with some old, and in with some new plants.

What is going on in the garden early May 2021?  Well I have to begin with the weird weather over the last month – According to the met office April 2021 had the lowest average minimun temperature for April in the UK since 1922, and the UK has seen it’s highest levels of air frost in 60 years.  BUT we had the sunniest April on record!  It was certainly a very dry month here in Edinburgh so I was constantly out with the hose.  I had bought biological controls called Nematodes to control levels of vine weevils and slugs in certain areas of the garden and these must be used within a certain time.  Ideally you wait until the soil temperature is consistentky up to 5 C and apply during rainfall.  Well that wasn’t possible but I had to use them up.  It is hard work using large watering cans and holding them out at arm’s length to apply the solutions so I ended up with a very sore back and shoulders for the next few days.  Being paraplegic means that I have very little in the way of core muscles so all the strain is taken by the shoulders and I can’t use both hands at once otherwise I will fall over.  Shame you can’t just sprinkle them on and hose them in.  I will ask for help the next time and I won’t be ordering them until May next year!

In the front garden the daffs have all gone over, as have the epimediums, mahonia, and the white periwinkle.  Disappointingly, only 3 of the tulips have flowered and 3 small irises.  My mum gave me a selection of irises from her garden and I have no idea what kind they are so I just lobed some of them in the diamond shaped bed out the front where they should get plenty of sunshine.

Out in the back garden, Harry dug out the Golden Japanese rush that was taking over the run-off area at the corner of the pond.  We planted some Primula beesiana and bulleyana in it’s place. In the pond we added some Typha minima (dwarf bulrush) and one yellow variegated iris.  He also planted 3 dogwoods in the clay area that the pigeons trample to death so hopefully these are sturdy enough to cope.  They look tiny just now though.  I will take a pic when they are looking bigger and better.

Golden varigated grass
Golden Japanese rush

I took out all of the Tierella from the stumpery as it wasn’t looking great.  It had gone all knobbly and hardly had any roots.  Perhaps vine weevil damage.  I replaced it with a Geranium pratense
‘Midnight Reiter’ as it has lovely dark purple foliage and should stay quite low as ground cover (but it is tiny just now).

The primula denticulata are going over now, as are the tulips and most of the narcissi.  Things doing well are the cowslips, forget-me-nots, brunnera, dicentra, pulmonaria, epimedium Rose queen, vinca, marsh marigolds, spirea, and the mossy saxifrage.  I do need to take out some of the moss by the curling stone to give the mossy saxifrage more room though.

border with narcissi
Narcissi going over
carpet of dicentra around rhododendron
Dicentra around the rhododendron
carpet of dicentra
Dicentra formosa bacchanal red
purple vinca in the stumpery
Vinca minor
stumpery in early May
Narcissi and cowslips in the stumpery
brunnera in the stumpery
Brunnera and mossy logs in the stumpery
mossy saxifrage next to curling stone
Mossy saxifrage and moss next to the curling stone

Mum was getting rid of her 2 troughs due to work getting done to her house so they have a new home here at the corner of the patio.  I am looking forward to seeing them in full bloom.  I do need to get some new pots for the patio too though.

alpine troughs from mum
Two alpine troughs from my mum’s garden.
trough with alpines
Left trough with alpines
trough with alpines
Right trough with alpines.


The Duddingston Kirk Garden Club held their first event since lockdown – The May plant sale!  It all went well and we followed the rules of being outdoors, one-way system, had contact-less payment (cash too) and it was just as popular as usual.  The weather was not pleasant as it was very cold. windy and wet but we were prepared with some gazebos over the tables.   I had a rubber mat for beneath my wheelchair so I didn’t churn up the soft ground which was a good idea..

Right now though, the weather has changed again – this time a little warmer with showers.  That should cheer the garden up and promote some lush growth (and weeds).


Not quite spring yet.

This was the first time in months that I have been able to do any gardening outside as it is fairly mild and not raining.  Hooray!  It was mainly cutting back old, dead bits, or rotting, damp foliage from perennials.  Some of the evergreen ferns are looking a bit bedraggled so some of them were cut back too.  The huge fern in the raised bed I just left for the time being as it still looks fine.  Later on I will take the old fronds off ready for the fresh new ones to appear.

Everywhere looks rather brown and flat at the moment but there are bulbs already through like the snowdrops, and a few hellebores up and flowering (although they are still not quite at their best.  Other bulbs are pushing through, such as narcissi and tulips.  The verbena is still flowering sporadically, the witch hazel is in full flower, and there are signs of little catkins on the tortured hazel.  It is not quite spring yet.

snowdrops in flower and a tulip pushing through

We are still waiting for new neighbours on the stumpery side ,therefore still waiting for the adjoining wall to be fixed before we do any new planting in that bare, shady patch.

stumpery corner
stumpery left side

I do love all the twisty branches of the tortured hazel or corkscrew hazel (Corylus
avellana contorta)
.  Now and again, I have to take out the odd branch that has reverted to just plain straight branches and leaves in order to keep the twisted look of the shrub.

corkscrew hazel, tortured hazel, Corylus avellana contorta
tortured hazel, corkscrew hazel, Corylus avellana contorta

The raised bed will soon be overflowing with periwinkle, tulips, ferns, bluebells and geraniums. The snowdrops are flowering away happily under the main shrubs, and I planted a hellebore there last year but it is still rather small and getting used to it’s home.

raised bed Feb 2021

We haven’t seen the fox family for a few days but there was a pile of feathers in the stumpery.  Could have been either the foxes or the sparrow-hawk.  Harry is still in the middle of dismantling the old trellis and it may be some time before the whole lot is done.  He haste DIY.  I hate the way it looks just now:  it should either be all up, or all down, in my opinion.  It is so frustrating not being able to do these jobs oneself.

Woodland/stumpery/cottage garden?

In the stumpery – woodland area I have mixed some wild plants along with plants you might associate with a cottage garden like foxgloves and geraniums as they like a semi – shaded aspect and are often found in woodlands.  I mostly let the foxgloves seed about where they like but if there are too many, otr they are just too close to the path, they get hoiked out and replanted in another area.  The foxgloves are looking great just now and are mostly untouched by beasties.  There is some damage on a couple of flowers – possibly snail damage.  A couple have toppled over but most of them are standing up by themselves.  The main colour scheme are shades of pinks, red, mauves, purples with splashes of white and gentle yellows.  I don’t particular like orange plants in this garden but I do like coppery foliage of some plants especially ferns.

plants, flowers, stumpery,
Foxgloves standing tall.
plants, flowers, stumpery,
Foxgloves and geranium.
plants, flowers,
Foxglove damage.

We have had a very sunny and hot May but so far a rather foggy, cold, and drizzly June.  The knapweed in my previous post is looking very bedraggled, and covered in mildew and brown leaves. I want to chop the whole thing back to the ground where it will shoot again, but there are loads of buds on these horrid looking stalks.  What I may do is; once I have chopped it back, I will take off most of the foliage and put the stems in a vase, so that when the buds open – the bees can still visit them and I can enjoy both the flowers and the bees.
The deutzia is covered in flowers.  It is usually covered in bees too, but not today as it is so cold there are only a few brave bees about. It may be Deutzia ‘Mont Rose’ but I don’t know for sure as I bought this from a sale with no label on it and no body knew what the plant was. It is under planted with a red astilbe which is now getting a bit smothered, but I will be cutting the deutzia back after it has flowers so the red flowers of the astible will become more visible.

plants, flowers, stumpery,
Deutzia ‘Mont Rose’
plants, flowers, stumpery,
Geutzia ‘Mont Rose’ closer.

There is also a Jacobs ladder on the corner near the deutzia but I am not sure that I want to keep it.  When in flower it does look pretty but the slugs go for it and the stems are quite easily broken and it always looks a bit scruffy.
The tierella are looking a bit ‘lumpy’ this year and have taken ages to get going.  I need to  lift and divide them, then  re-plant a little deeper. As they can take about a year to establish their roots  it is often better to do it in spring rather than in autumn, so that can wait until next spring.   After a few years they have a tendency, like the heucheras, to kind of extend themselves up wards out of the soil and can look very straggly, lumpy and generally scruffy.  There are more tierellas in the sunnier bed by the patio, but they have been so trodden on by the massive wood pigeons that I am thinking of replacing them that can withstand that kind of treatment.

In corner,  where the gutter down spout empties, the weigela, rodgersia, Soloman’s seal, and the ferns are looking good.  The weigela is covered in flowers which the bees love.  There is a pink astilbe there and it has grown quite tall,  slightly taller than I had expected.  I planted a variegated form of Jacob’s ladder at the front along with he twhite version of ragged robin to brighten up that slightly more shady area of the corner. The weigela often needs trimmed back to keep it under control so that can be done when it has finished flowering.

plants, flowers,
Weigela corner.

The new nepeta arrived this week so they have just been planted in
the right hand border ,where it gets a bit more sun than the stumpery,
and this time some organic slug pellets were sprinkled around them just
in case.  I lost the first lot of plants so I don’t want to lose this
lot.  I do slug/snail patrols every morning and Harry does a patrol at
night to try and keep on top of the slug/snail number.  Nepeta are
another one of these plants often found in a cottage garden and they
have a very gentle habbit and pretty flowers – again bees love this.
Behind the nepeta are the circisium which are always covered in bees and
beside that are the poppies (Patty’s plum) which have huge flowers on
them.  They do need staking though and I was a bit behind with this so
they had already fallen over by the time I asked Harry to stake them so
they are looking a bit trussed up now.
In the next few days  the
weather should brighten up a bit and will hopefully be a bit warmer
too.  It is much nicer to do the weeding when it is warm than when it is
cold and drizzly.

The stumpery and raised bed in May.

The view of these areas from my (wheelchair user’s) eye height must be quite different from my Husband’s who is over 6ft tall.  He would be able to see over some of the plants and see what lies beyond, whereas I, being closer to the ground, see more of the weeds, slugs and snails.  This April and May have been extremely hot and sunny, with very little rain so most of my time has been spent keeping things watered well  (young, new plants especially).  In 2014 we put a lot of paving in the stumpery area for me to be able to access most of it, but in doing so it looks quite bare and brown during the winter months. Come spring however it becomes lush and awash with colour.
Along the back of the garage there are 2 small apple trees with a few crocus and iris reticulata bulbs, and cyclamen.  I have tried a variety of plants to brighten that area without adding too much competition n to the apple trees. This year I was looking forward to a tulip and wallflower combination from Sarah Raven.  Hmmmm it didn’t quite match Sarah’s website image.  Beautiful  tulips and wallflowers, but, the Tulips Menton flowered way after the Tulips Sarah Raven, and were very tall – 32 inches (81.5cm)!
The old curling stone had blue ajuga all around it, but it started to look very straggly in places so I added a little white saxafrage (unknown).
The purple knapweed is doing well but the plant  has a habit of keeling out to the side leaving the middle bare, and also getting mildew so doesn’t look too attractive at times. But it is flowering and the bees love it.  Also the forgot-me-nots and the brunneras, and some of the honesty are covered in flowers.  The stumpery is left to go a bit wild and I have left a lot of nettles all along the side wall.  Other so called weeds are more or less tolerated here, and just get dead-headed before they seed everywhere.

Stumpery looking to back wall.
Stumpery looking towards bench.
Stumpery from the  brunnera side.
stumpery, plants,
Curling stone with blue ajuga  reptans and white saxafrage.
stumpery, plants,
Purple centaurea (knapweed)
stumpery, plants,
Tulip Sarah Raven
stumpery, plants,
Tulip Sarah Raven, and Menton with the Ruby wallflowers.
stumpery, plants,
Very tall Tulip Menton.
stumpery, plants,
Tulip Sarah Raven, and Menton with the Ruby wallflowers.
 What it should have looked like.  (Image from Sarah Raven’s website)
The raised bed is looking pretty full and overgrown, but I love it like that.  It isn’t your typical raised bed for disabled people.  I have filled it with woodland plants so I can get that feeling of being right inside the woodland.  I can see, feel and smell the plants up close.  The syringa is in full flower and smelling gorgeous.  Shame the flowers are all at the top now.  It will have to have a good prune so that it can produce flowers slightly lower down so that I can experience them more.
The combination of the bright green of the saxifrage against the deep purple of the acer is fabulous and these delicate flowers just flutter and quiver in the breeze.
My favourite fern had been chopped back as usual and is looking scrumptious right now and it will continue to billow out over the next month or so.  There is a lovely purple aquilegia growing  far too close to it and kind of spoils the look of the fern, so the aquilegia is going to be howked out once it has finished flowering.
And it isn’t just the big plants that I adore – have a look at the mosses on the wall.  The furry moss is so tactile and I stroke it every time a go past.  The tiny sporophytes of some  moss species are just as beautiful and fascinating.
Now that the rain has come – so too have the slugs and snails.  Back to the early morning and evening slug patrol to keep these blighters at bay.
raised bed, plants,
Raised bed from the back corner.
raised bed, plants,
Raised bed looking from back towards door.
raised bed, plants,
Raised bed from right side.
raised bed, plants,
Raised bed, Saxifraga umbrosa and Acer palmatum ‘dissectum garnet’
raised bed, plants,
Furry moss on the raised bed wall.
raised bed, plants,
Tiny moss sporophytes on the raised bed wall.

New plants…

for the widened border.  I have been shopping at MacPlants again to fill in some gaps in the border. For a nice soft purple and yellow combination there is Nepets junior Walker and Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’.  Along side some Cosmos Xanthos (which I had in pots on the patio).  A couple of Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’ for a couple of corner areas.  I had planted some Ammi visnagi but the massive slugs got them (one seedling survives).  These massive slugs are such a pain and even all the wool pellets I put down are no deterrent what so ever.  These slugs have destroyed half a dozen honesty, all my blue poppies, primula vialii, the ammi, knapweed and loads more besides.  I do a slug patrol every morning and pick loads.  They curl up into a ball to prevent being eaten, and I have found some almost the same size as a golf ball!
The milk churn was moved to a corner in the bed to make a focal point and I didn’t have a pot the correct size but ended up putting a bronze grass on a plastic saucer inside the churn, which is held up by a wooded support underneath.  It looks great just now.
We moved the bench that was sitting under the tree canopy (overhanging from the golf course), which was collecting loads of bird droppings so was rather dangerous for anyone sitting there.  It is still in the stumpery area but under clear skies so much nicer for resting on.
There is still more planting to be done, and moving plants about – which probably shouldn’t really be done just now but some are now in the wrong place.  They used to edge the border but now that the  borders are wider they need to be moved to the new edge.

plants, flowers,
Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’,  Nepeta Junior Walker
plants, flowers,
Cosmos bipinnatus Xanthos
slugs, wildlife,
huge slug curled into a ball
slugs, wildlife,
huge slugs
slugs, wildlife,
slug on the wool pellets
Carex commons bronze in milk churn
Carex commons bronze (diff view)
bench in the stumpery

Sunshine and ninja showers…

are more usual for April not May.  However, it does make everything grow pretty fast.  Keeping on top of the slug population by doing a morning and evening slug patrol has helped enormously, especially with the problem of the huge, so called Spanish slugs.  They did get my Primula vialii so I have covered what is left of the  plants with a 1/2 plastic bottle as a cloche so we shall see if they can still come through.  The Aquilegias are fab at the moment, flowering away, but some of them keeled over in the ninja showers.  I found bright orange aphids on the Mahonia out in the front garden, so hubby gave it a prune and that got rid of some of them.  Aphids are everywhere just now and most of the time I jet them off with a water hose, or squish them as I check the plants (if I can reach them).  The cactus in the conservatory have nice magenta flowers out now.  I love the mahogany of the sempervivum , also in the conservatory.  There are a few nice plant combinations that I have quickly taken a few snaps of (bit windy out there).  Some I like for the flower colours together, and others have the same colours but different foliage forms.    I have taken a few snaps of the raised bed from different angles as it is a kind of triangular shape.  The Erica tree heath is covered in flowers, but just now it is a strange shape due to the pruning it had last year, so this year I won’t prune the spent flower heads off at all so that all of the branches will flower next year.

flowers, plants,
Selection of Aquilegias
Orange aphids on Mahonia leaf
plants, flowers,
Phlox and chives
plants, flowers,
Erigeron (and peony in background)
plants, flowers,
Cactus in flower
Sempervivum Reginald Malby
plants, flowers, raised bed,
Raised bed end on
plants, flowers, raised bed,
Raised bed curved side
plants, flowers, raised bed,
Raised bed back end on
flowers, plants,
white Aquilegia and Primula snowflake
plants, flowers, stumpery,
Stumpery (part of)
plants, flowers, stumpery,
Stumpery (part of)
plants, flowers,
Veronica and Tierella
plants, ferns,
Osmunda regalis purpurascens
Rodgesrsia leaf
plants, flowers,
Rodgersia, fern and Polygonatom
plants, flowers,
Hebe and Heuchera
plants, flowers,
Erica tree heath (part of)

Feeling blue…

what a week!  Suffice to say we have had the builders here for a few days and the less said the better!!  Scaffolders grrrrrrrr!!
I don’t have that much in the way of blue in the garden but I may add a few more blues over the next few years.  The brunneras are still going strong, as are the veronicas, but the forget-me-nots are looking a bit straggly so I have been pulling some of them out.  They will have self seeded  and will pop up all over the place next year.  My mecanopsis Willie Duncan and Susan’s Reward are doing fine now.  The slugs really went for them when they were first planted last year (or was that 2 years ago?) but they are now looking good.  I moved the blue iris (Jane Phillips) from the middle bed to a sunnier spot last year, having only had them a year, and although they appear much happier the slugs got them too!  The centauria blue is flowering away but it looks like something has sat in the middle of it, it is just not able to hold it’s own weight. (the white one got eaten by the pigeons!!). The pale blue aquilegia is still flowering away.  My proper blue bells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)  that I have in little pots didn’t flower again this year so that has been 2 years now with no flowers. There are a few blooms on the blue geranium but maybe I should thin it out a little as it is spreading just a bit too much and is coming up through other plants now.  I had to cut back the Jacob’s ladder as it was being used as a slug nursery and was being completely decimated.  That was  right next to the fennel (which was also decimated by slugs) so, now that I have dealt with the slugs they might get a chance to grow. This time last year the fennel was over a meter high!  There has hardly been any rain over the last 6 or 7 weeks and  I have had to keep on top of the watering which takes ages. And the poor pond too needs topping up, and with no rain water about, I have to spray tap water into it.  The tadpoles don’t seam to mind.  Anyway the garden on the whole is looking ok and the wee sparrows and tits have started to fledge so there is a lot of cheerful chirping about.

Aquilegia pale blue
Centauria blue
Iris ‘Jane Phillips’
Mecanopsis ‘Susan’s Reward’
Mecanopsis ‘Willie Duncan’
raised bed,
Raised bed
garden from patio
stumpery right side
stumpery left side

Warm at last…

finally a warm day to loiter in the garden.  Lots of things are coming up now but only in little clumps and they haven’t quite spread out as much as I would have liked, but then I am quite impatient in the garden.  I have a few Fritillaria meleagris (snakes head) in various places but they look a bit sparse so I may have to splash out more money and buy a few more to put on a bit more of a show.  I do have some white ones but they are not quite in full bloom yet.  The Caltha palustris (marsh marigold) is looking nice and bright and it is always the first thing in my pond to flower.   I just love my mossy-grassy logs in the stumpery and I do have a favourite one right now.  It is a shame that it will just rot away so I will just have to take lots of photos of it to stick in my scrapbook.

Fritillaria meleagris
plants, pond,
Calthea palustris
Mossy-grassy log
plants, stumpery, moss,
Mossy-grassy log
plants, stumpery, moss,
Mossy-grassy log