This Morning Over The Garden Wall…


…we have a forest of Granny’s Bonnets. How did so many of them blow in and settle here?

We do of course confess to a spot of guerrilla gardening on our boundary with the field, and this does involve a tacit understanding with any passing flower life that if we clear back the couch grass and other less interesting invaders outside our hedge, wall and fence, then they are welcome to drop in for the spring and summer season. Two years ago we had the profusion of opium poppies. Then there was a borage jungle. This year the aquilegias are claiming the stage.

Further along the boundary behind our old privies, creamy flowered comfrey has also arrived, and feverfew is a frequent visitor there too. Beyond the privies is the fence, upon which he-who-builds-sheds-and-binds-books likes to lean while ruminating on the next project. Here I have encouraged purple-spired toadflax, wild stock, pink campion, moon daisies and foxgloves to multiply and, in the past, scattered corn cockle seeds that now self-propagate and put on annual show. I also move any ‘spare’ herbaceous perennials out there too – especially plants of the late summer, clump-forming variety that will stand in when the wildflowers have gone their way: Rudbeckia, perennial sunflowers, Golden Rod, Michaelmas daisies, phlox and helenium.

It’s a sort of give-and-take gardening with borrowed landscape (and in every sense). It gives great pleasure, not only to us, but to anyone passing on the field path. You never quite know what will be happening out there. At present, too, the rapeseed blooms are providing a golden backdrop. Though not for too much longer because, even as I am writing this, the crop is busy setting seed. Then it will be on to the next scene  at the guerrilla garden theatre. Us the ever-willing audience.

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell


40 thoughts on “This Morning Over The Garden Wall…

  1. Wow so cheerful it’s so nice to see these Spring blooms…here in NZ everything is turning in for the long night. I can imagine how delightful it must be to see their little heads popping out….the fruit of your labours Tish

  2. Aquilegia seem to be prolific this year. I have to get a packet or two of seeds and see if I can entice any to grow in my ‘wild’ area. It’s lovely to hear what pops in to your borrowed landscape. Why do I seem to only get common hogweed, nettles and creeping buttercups?

    1. We have some thugs too. Ground elder for one is suddenly heading our way. Also nettles and brambles. And we have remnant snow-berry from when we tried to remove a hedge of the stuff. I just give them all a rough chop back with the shears and hope for the best.

  3. How lovely is your borrowed landscape! Whenever Aquilegia appears in my garden it becomes instant aphid food. Do these ones have the same problem? And the old privies stay because ???? they can be used?

    1. Not much of an aphid problem on aquilegias here – so far. And the two privies are sort of useful as sheds. The previous owner concreted the floors, which makes them a bit short of height, and G bangs his head a lot. Also you stand in your own light when trying to extract useful items. And we’re in a conservation area and the privies are on a rather obvious boundary. G is wondering how he might make them rather more useful without substantial alteration. One of the fence-pondering projects.

  4. Can’t get enough of Granny’s bonnets – the red-purples look better still against the yellow rape – besides it’s a brilliant capture. Your wild boundary gardening is like a lucky dip – something for everyone

    1. The surprising thing is they are growing in absolutely solid ground. We tipped some clay over the wall when we were remodelling a raised flower bed and found it had three feet of green gunk in the bottom of it. Clearly loved by aquilegias though, if not by us.

  5. What gloriously beautiful “volunteers”, Tish! In my very small perennial garden, where I’m chuffed to say that it looks as though everything is coming back as it should this year, the most likely volunteers are thistles, which I’m constantly having to pull out. That empty fertile soil between plants is like a magnet, isn’t it, one that even mulch can’t completely negate. But something the surprises are good ones, such as several golden irises I discovered recently.


    1. 🙂 Have extended the concept to my next door neighbour’s back boundary – me spreading the seedlings and spare plants over there too. I also call it our flood defence system, in case anyone objects – since we’re a bit prone to flash flooding in Wenlock. Maybe need to start adding a few trees – apart from my crab apple tree and sapling greengage from the allotment that is! Accidental seedlings of course.

    1. Yes, they are the same. We call them Columbine too. Ours are mostly pink, with odd ivory, claret and deep violet. I found some seedlings of specialist pale yellow one on an abandoned plot at the allotment, and they’ve just come out today in my roadside garden at the front of the house. I’m hoping we’ll have even more interesting colours next year if they get busy with the indigenous stock.

    1. Yes, the invaders are great fun – apart from the ground elder that is, though I gather the young leaves make a good pesto sauce. Was introduced by the Romans who obviously also felt the need to make pesto sauce when far from home.

  6. Love the colour combination and guerrila gardening would be a never ending surprise. I envy you that pleasure. Invaders don’t happen here as there are no fields or even neighbours growing gardens any where near. The privies intrigue me and 2 of them, a his and hers!!! We call them dunnies over here, or long-drops plus many other names.

    1. I think one of the privies was originally for our neighbour’s cottage that adjoins ours. This was before the boundaries were rationalised. There used to be all sorts of odd living arrangements in the pre-’60s, with some chap living in a lean-to at the back between the two cottages. Perhaps he was someone’s old father whom it wasn’t quite appropriate to house in premises with only an open-plan upstairs space.

      1. That sounds an interesting arrangement for an old bloke. No doubt better than a nursing home. Are the mainly heritage listed around your area?

      2. Our road is in the conservation area that includes the town centre, and the boundary goes down our back garden boundary. The privies aren’t listed, but we might have to get permission if we wanted to remove them or drastically change them.

  7. We’ve got heaps of aquilegia too! I think we may have cultivated them once but they’re a dab hand at cultivating themselves. Your great outdoors is a small paradise, Tish. 🙂 🙂

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