Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Vagaries of Names

With the Internet, common names of plants have taken on a new dimension. We all know that some plants have various common names, and that some common names (like Dusty Miller) are used to describe a multitude of different plants. However, we and our gardening acquaintances are usually familiar with the one or two common names out of several that can be used. With the Internet, you are in contact with gardeners who live very far from you, and you realize that some of them actually use these names you read about but have never heard anyone use.  

Are these common poppies, corn poppies, corn roses, field poppies, Flanders poppies, Shirley poppies or all of the above?

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Unless we garden in very small areas, we all have "wild" parts of the garden where we expect plants to be able to take care of themselves and compete with the local vegetation. Plants  that can be relied on to do so will be different for each of us, depending on local conditions. I have tried in this post to list some of the ones that can put up with our poor alkaline soil, which tends to be on the dry side in summer and is always wet (when not flooded) in winter.

One of the most interesting of these is the Grecian Foxglove, Digitalis lanata.

 Grecian Foxglove

Friday, January 9, 2015


I have mentioned that the garden is on an alvar. However, I have never properly explained what an alvar is.

Wikipedia describes it as: " a biological environment based on a limestone plain with thin or no soil and, as a result, sparse grassland vegetation. Often flooded in the spring, and affected by drought in midsummer."

Here is what part of the alvar looks like at Roche fleurie. As you can see on the right, a stone pavement, just about as smooth as a concrete floor, which is crisscrossed by crevasses such as the one on the left.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

One's Treasure is someone else's weed

Rereading Margery Fish, a garden writer most active in the 1960s, I was struck how plants can behave differently from one garden to the next. Plants she describes as invasive are not so here, and some I finds invasive she does not. As she puts it: "one can only speak from one's own experience in the gardens one knows". Lysimachia Clethroides, with its shepherd's crook white flowers, was a menace in our previous garden, but M. Fish finds it does not spread much.

Lysimachia Clethroides and Morning Glory