Sunday, 5 August 2012

Knautia Macedonia and rambling on about the Olympics

Dry weather has meant there is a sudden lack of slugs in the garden.  The end of nightly hunts with the salt cellar has left me wondering what else there is to do.  What is the meaning of gardening without a couple of slugs to spear?  I've deadheaded a few flowers which lead me to wonder if I'm using the garden in order to express inner violent tendencies and would be locked up if it wasn't for repeat flowering perennials.  The Olympics have also distracted me from the garden. We live in spitting distance of the stadium (not that we could get tickets for anything *bitter!*).  Sour grapes have faded to smugness as team GB are now firmly ahead of Le Photographe's country in the medals table.

Anyway, I've digressed as this is a blog about gardening and not a commentary on the state of British athletics.  Although gardening is relevant to the Olympics as apparently Sarah Price's planting in the Olympic Park is well worth a visit.  I'll definitely go and have a look at the gardens but you need tickets for the Park to see them (did I mention I didn't get tickets?) so it will have to wait until after the games.  I just hope that Ms Price knows what she is doing when it comes to late season planting.

I digressed again!  Sorry.  I'm going to be good now and write about gardening.  Plant of the moment is Knautia Macedonia.  I love this plant and always wait eagerly for it's first flowering.  I planted three of them two years ago, recklessly placing them in the eastern bed when the label said full sun.  As punishment for not listening, I lost two of them in the first winter but one of them has soldiered on.  Having a north facing garden has meant that I never know if it will re sprout until June when I give thanks to the miracle of nature and start smothering it with liquid feed and cutting back anything else that might impede it's progress.  Once up and running it ticks a few style boxes for a small garden: repeat flowering, reasonably slug resistant and adds a bit of height to the border.  I first discovered it in the pages of Garden's Illustrated which also must elevate my garden a bit in the prestige stakes.

There have however been two disappointments about this plant: a tendency to powdery mildew and poor results when it comes to seeds.  Powdery mildew is easily dealt with by a dash of non organic, non biodegradable, eco unfriendly toxic chemical spray that I squirt shamelessly about the place.  Seeds however are a bit of a mystery.  Instead of drying off to a nice tufted seed head the flowers sort of just mould away to nothing in autumn.  To be honest, I am not brilliant with seeds.  Come spring, I'll think, 'Great, let's plant some seeds!'  I'll congratulate myself when they sprout but seedlings are like toddlers: take your eye off them for a second and they misbehave by growing white mould, outgrowing their pots or cavorting with weeds.  Seeds need constant attention and are not for a slap-dash gardener like me, in fact I don't think they are suitable for anyone with a day job.

Good writing should flow and be succint but if you've got this far you'll know that I'm guilty on two counts of jumping from topic to topic and going on about a lot of random stuff so thanks for coping if you're reading this.  My last word for today is that if anyone has an Olympic ticket they don't want then I am your most willing recipient.  I especially like athletics.


  1. Claire I love your writing as I laughed all the way through. I agree that seeds need a diligent parent and I am not good about it especially with my day job. I plant seeds and completely forget where they are and with the drought most have not sprouted. The shame of it. I love Knautia too and have it sprouting up all over and reseeding too. But I did not start it from seed. Hoping you find some tickets.

  2. I also plant seeds and then diligently weed out the seedlings. Nice that your Knautia self seeds, mine hasn't. Another penance for planting it in the wrong place :-/

  3. Hi Claire, nice to meet you.. I'm here by way of Jean @ jeansgarden, and so glad I stopped by!

    1. Hi Jess, thanks for passing by and welcome.

  4. Claire, Last weekend I was at a family gathering. As the family "garden expert," I was asked to identify several plants growing in nearby gardens. I didn't have a clue about several of them; it looked as though I was about to be exposed as a fraud! But then I saw this picture and realized you have identified one of the mystery plants for me. Thank you for helping to salvage my reputation among my relatives as someone who knows something about plants. -Jean

  5. The only seeds I plant are in little pots located next to my coffee pot so I can coddle them along or they'd die a miserable death of neglect and drought. I have knautia in my garden and LOVE them. They like dryish, well drained soil. So the next time it rains every day for months on end, just make sure it doesn't rain on them. :o)

  6. I spotted some of these in a garden recently and was wondering what they were, so ta for that. Lovely plants.

    I'm still under fierce slug assault so I can send some your way if you'd like?

    Thanks for the blog listing!


  7. Hi Claire,
    Came across your blog from blotanical.
    I don't suppose you'd be interested in joining the 'Save Our Slugs' campaign then. Didn't think so.
    Or there is the equally appealing ' Save Our Snails' campaign.
    Just a thought.

  8. Glad this blog has shared a little gardening knowledge with someone. I am a guilty over-waterer, hosepipe bans permitting, so haven't been giving the Knautia Macedonia the right treatment. Thanks to Casa Mariposa I'll been leaving it alone from now on.

    Thanks for the offers of the slugs and the campaign suggestion, I won't be participating!

  9. Hi Claire, I'd like to go see the Olympic Park gardens too. They seem to have stolen a couple of planting ideas that I'm currently doing. When it comes to slugs and snails, I buy in the blue pellets guilt-free by the skip and mulch the borders with them. I usually only need to do it twice a year (sping and autumn) but it's been so wet that I've seen nibble marks on the Hostas!

  10. Hi Sunil, I admire your bold approach with that amount of pellets. Someone told me that loads of the Olympic wildflower planting got flattened as everyone sat on it when they ran out of space to view the big screens! Apparently the park won't be fully open to the public until next year, hopefully a suitable recovery time.