Garden

No so much small and compact as tiny and overcrowded

As I look through garden magazines, I should know better than get excited when I see articles with headings such as “Plants for the small garden” and “Garden designs for a small space”.   Sadly, their idea of  what is small  is very far removed from my little patch.  You could probably fit my garden several times over into their vision of a ‘small garden’.   It’s not a few acres, but more like a few metres.

When I started to write this post  I looked up other words for ‘small’, and found ‘compact’:  taking up little space; condensed; packed and arranged neatly in a small space.   Well to be honest that is almost a perfect description apart from the last one.  Neatly arranged in a small space is something my garden is not.  I usually buy and plant where I think it will be happy and not go by any design.  I like the idea of a tightly packed Country Garden filled with colourful flowers and shrubs, but there is a difference between ‘tightly packed’ and ‘over crowded’.

This is a prime example of  what I feel is overcrowding in the garden.  The Astilbe has run rampant,  Alchemilla Mollis has taken grip and the Johnson Blue hardy Geranium has become a bit of a thug .  All are clogging up the Hydrangea.

I love wandering around gardens, garden centres and reading other garden blogs.  They are packed full of plants and planting ideas; a treasure trove of inspiration.  All sorts of ideas run through my head, “Oh, I’ll have one of those” and “That would look great just in that corner”.  In being carried away, I forget there is only so much you can shoe-horn into a small space without everything being choked.  You can see from this photo below, the Acanthus is vying for space with the poppy, the sedum, the rock rose and the geraniums.  Something (the Acanthus, I suspect) is going to have to go.

I have just read the latest post by  Janet/Plantaliscious  in which she mentions Knautia macedonica.  This is a plant that I would dearly like.  It grows in abundance in a friend’s garden, he just pulls up pieces and replants it and has given up providing me with it, as within months it gives up the ghost and disappears, never to be seen again.  Sadly Janet has lost hers, due to mildew caused, she believes, through being planted too close together.   Well,  that it made me go out and take stock of my garden.

Despite the fact that in the South East we have had little or no rain for what seems like months, I am  amazed that everything continues to grow and look so lush and green.    The damp corner is thriving.  The plants this year are looking a jumble and tumbling into each other.   The ferns are getting mixed up with the pink Japanese Anemone and you can see that there is another hardy geranmium having its piece of the show also.  This overcrowding seems to have occured this year and now is not really the right time to move things about.

As heartbreaking as it may be, I am going to have to take the bull by the horns and do some drastic thinning out.   The Alchemilla will be split and potted up to take to the next fete at Mother’s care home in the middle of June.  I have recently pulled up one very large Acanthus, but as anyone who has one of these brutish plants knows, the roots go everywhere and it is almost impossible to irradicate completely.  As for the geraniums, hopefully, they will forgive me for the cruel eviction from their home, and settle into some lovely pots.

Maybe, then, I will have found room to buy new perennials to make my bijou garden look colourful and floral rather than green and dense.

22 thoughts on “No so much small and compact as tiny and overcrowded”

  1. I share in your frustration that there is just never enough room for all the plants I want in my garden. When I buy a plant, I usually forget how big that plant may get and how I need to plan for it….because I keep buying more plants. I do enjoy looking at your photos and how you have placed your plants mindfull to textures…very nice.

    Like

  2. A jewel of a garden! I’ve gardened big and I’ve gardened small. The best plan is to bloom where you are planted. I will always remember Mrs. Young who loved in a tiny apartment with only a space by the front step for her garden. She used it to the very best advantage; another Bijou Garden.

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Trouble is we are our worst critics and fail to see what we have is loved by everyone else. I will view it with a different eye now.

      Like

  3. Hi
    It has taken a while but most of my borders are also stuffed full of plants so there is much less weeding needed. Most plants have been planted by me, but I do have quite a few that have just seeded themselves. Sometimes a plant emerges that I have never seen before & presumably a passing bird saw a blank spot & decided to deposit the seed! Which is fine by me.
    I have not planted very many new plants at the moment because of the lack of rain, but I do have some waiting in the greenhouse. So come on rain!

    Mary

    Like

    1. Hi Mary, thank you for visiting my blog, please come back again! Your comment about not planting new plants because of the rain is so right… I have several outside my kitchen door, so I can easily water them. My soil is rock hard at the moment.

      Like

  4. Christina has some good point in her comment above. I like the “full look” but can understand the frustration of wanting some room for diffferent plants! Some of your plants, however lovely are quite thuglike by nature for a smaller garden. I have reached the point with my Japanese Anemones where they are destined for the brown bin!
    K

    Like

    1. You are quite right about thug like plants. The Japanese anemone is such a pretty delicate pink and looks lovely where it is, but I may have to give it a bit of a ‘trim’.

      Like

  5. My garden is about four years old and now some plants are too big for where I originally put them. Some I have divided and spread around other parts, but some thugs have just had to go. In my new borders the biggest problem I have is where the planting hasn’t thickened out yet and swamped out the weeds. But its getting there, slowly!

    Like

    1. It’s so difficult deciding what has to go and what can stay. My biggest mistake was the Acanthus, I was warned but didn’t listen. When we have had some rain and the ground is not so hard, I will do a bit of lifting and dividing.

      Like

  6. That first picture made me smile with delight! I’m with the others, I love the lush green look, and always think bare earth is a wasted opportunity – and a home for weeds… Thank you for the link, though sorry to hear you don’t have any joy with the Knautia. I am going to put one of my seedlings in a pot so that I can admire it and attract the insect life without risking re-infection. Whatever you end up deciding to do, I doubt you will ever stop getting inspired and irritated by those “ideal for a small garden” type articles, because you are so right, they never are, actually, about small gardens…

    Like

    1. Janet, thank you for your lovely comments. I am glad you like the lush green look but I am determined to find a place for the Knautia, it is a lovely plant. Maybe the garden mags will eventually write articles about ideal plants for a ‘tiny’ garden 🙂

      Like

  7. as others have said it is the lush foliage that is providing the living mulch and stops your garden drying out, they have probably sent down long roots searching for water too,
    I have Alchemilla Mollis and Johnson’s blue geranium and would not recomend either for a small garden both grow well here and both survive the tough grass I have,
    I imagine the temptation with lots of garden centres near you must be hard to resist, like chocolate!
    I have 2 beds in my front garden that are over grown and I am starting to sort them out but it takes time, your plants all appear to be happy and doing well I wouldn’t worry but just enjoy, I think it looks wonderful, Frances

    Like

    1. Yes, you are quite right Frances, Garden Centres are like a sweet shop. However, reading other garden blogs and seeing plants in situ is probably more of a tempation. My plants are clearly happy keeping each other company, but a little strategic thinning out will be done with care.

      Like

  8. I like your shoehorned jungle personally. Like you am always taken with the small garden articles but size is so relative. Rule of thumb for small gardens is less is best – lots of the few. Makes it seem bigger apparently
    Laura

    Like

    1. Laura, thank you for liking my jungle …. maybe I should go out again when not tired after a full on weekend in London and review it with a different eye. There are so many lovely plants I will have to be firm with myself and be happy with what I have.

      Like

  9. I too like your crowded look for the reasons Christina mentioned. I also have a very tiny lot with no room to add. I just resist the temptation and am constantly dividing and giving away. Keeps the garden under control and the hard work is every couple of years as the plants fill back in. I try to limit those with a mind of their own too.

    Like

    1. Thank you, clearly the opinion of others is what I have is alright. I will do a lot of dividing and giving away and hopefully find a small space for something new.

      Like

  10. I like the green full look. No space for weeds to grow, the ground is shaded so it isn’t drying out, the foliage keep the ground cool too helping the plants deal with the drought. So much better full rather than plants looking lost in the space. By all means remove those that you feel are over-powering the rest but keep the full mature look you are achieved. Christina

    Like

    1. Trouble is, Christina, that I don’t have any more room to put in all the lovely new plants I keep finding. I need to made some space but at a cost.

      Like

  11. Hi,
    Tbh, this is what I’m striving for… funny how we’re never happy isn’t it? Grass is always greener and all that! haha, I’m sure that once my garden has filled out and is as nice and mature I’ll find myself feeling exactly the same and will have to thin plants out; in fact it’s happening already in the ‘new’ border I made last year. All the compost etc that I put there has caused the plants to reach maturity in only the one season and it’s already now, as you say, overcrowded. I had intended to move some of the plants, but Uni work got in the way and it’s now getting too late to move them but I think I will do so regardless.

    Like

    1. Thank you for visiting my Blog Liz. It is amazing how some plants just take over. Sadly one or two are going to have to go so I can proceed with new ideas.

      Like

Comments are closed.