New Garden

This is my second project to rejuvenate my neighbour's garden after some recent building work (the first one was started 3 years ago). Now more building work was done this year which once again ruined the garden. Again I am using seeds I already had on hand (both purchased and collected), plants propagated from my own and seedlings from self-seeding plants in my garden. I wish I'd known this was going to happen I could have grown more hollyhock seedlings.

30 July 2013

The scaffolding is finally down. Sadly no time for any new hollyhocks to bloom or any old ones to revive. Hollyhocks were the star of this garden.

The first 3 photos show the basically bare garden with a few plants around the edge and the mini pond in a plastic bowl. There's still a lot of bits of rubbish in the garden.

That rubbish, top left above, spilling out of the bin shed I could not look at while trying to garden so I had to take time out to clean it up! Truly disgusting and hurtful as I recognised the soft drink cans I gave to the workmen who just threw them there. And I found other building related rubbish (I couldn't stop to take photos). The odd can/bottle was thrown there by passing pedestrians - the downside of living on a main road in Camden Town.  A hollyhock, in a very difficult place, has self-seeded in the crevice there. Unfortunately, impossible to move.

The ground was so hard my fork broke!

I managed to get a few plants in the ground: a few foxgloves, a few hollyhocks, half a dozen lupins. I have not grown lupins in the front gardens before (I put a few in mine as well) so not sure how they will do. The slugs have attacked them in the back so may need to use slug pellets.

I did have some larger plants to add but I don't think I'll be able to dig a big enough hole with the ground being so hard.  As before when I had the same problem I'll have to stick with smaller plants. After all this rain I thought it would be softer but I'm underestimating the amount it's been pounded down by the building work.

I was hoping to get these sunflowers in the garden next door but they just had to get in the ground before the work was finished so I just planted them in my garden and they are just starting to bloom.

These lupins were struggling during those very hot weeks (it's difficult to keep up with watering plants in pots) but the recent rain has revived them.

Some plants survived in the flowerbed on the right: the rose, the odd hollyhock, stachys, iris foetidissima, teasels, bergenia, poppies, maybe one ornamental artichoke, the others were broken by the builders - it was too painful to take a pic. And the verbascum suddenly appeared. A seed must have blown in although I don't know from where. I have not noticed any growing locally.

On the other side this clump survived: a rose, a teasel, a green alkanet or foxglove (can't tell from this pic, will have to examine the leaves, foxglove is smooth, the alkanet prickly) and maybe an ornamental artichoke and aquilegia.

29 April 2013 here we go again!

The garden next door is once again obliterated with building work. The odd plant has survived around the edge but could be crushed at any time. All those beautiful dramatic hollyhocks won't be blooming this year :(

31 March 2012

Into the second year now. So different from last year; it's actually green.

The bergenia are looking good - such amazing plants. I planted pieces of bergenia rhizome, some had leaves, some didn't. They are all growing and some are blooming.



17 July 2011

the hollyhocks are all blooming now; the blue flowers in front of the hollyhocks are borage; the purple flowers are the phacelia

the sunflowers are in full bloom as well


this stachys macrantha (I think that's what it is) just appeared in the garden

30 July

an update on the iris foetidissima:  some have established well and started growing (one on the left), others had a period where some of the leaves turned brown but now they have new green growth (one on the right and following 2 pics)

and some look dead (plant below), although to be fair it looks like I didn't plant this one very well, these plants are so tough - I think if I plant it deeper now it will probably spring back - watch this space

30 June

The first hollyhock is in bloom. They only bloom in the second year so these are ones I planted two years ago. I'm still amazed they survived the building site.

I was intrigued by this cat nip (nepeta). At first I thought it was an offshoot of the purple one in my back garden but now I realize this must have been from the seeds I planted. Only one plant from a packet of seeds - that's my usual success rate. The cats haven't noticed it yet. I'll have to crush a few leaves for them to release the oils.

I had some green manure seeds (phacelia tanacetifolia) which I scattered about when the ground was so hard a few weeks ago. Unfortunately they washed away from the hardest areas but they have grown well in others. What I thought of as a "functional" plant has such nice purple flowers I think it's worth growing for those (which bees are supposed to like).

The water plants in this bowl appeared to be dead a few weeks ago but green shoots have appeared at the bottom. As long as I don't let it dry out, I think it will be ok.

27 June

The hollyhocks (right, below) have fat buds almost ready to bloom. Pussycat is enjoying being cool in the garden since it's been so hot indoors (hottest day of the year so far).


17 June

This garden has been slow to get going or maybe I'm just impatient. I have 2 flowers finally: the first sunflower and the first rose.

This bowl with a couple of water plants isn't looking very good (I'm embarrassed to include it but I want to show what didn't work as well as what did). They seem to have died. I think they dried out too many times during the drought. I can take some more from my pond.

The stachys hasn't bloomed yet but seems to be getting established as does the buddleia. The campanula in the pot is in bloom even though it's just a small cutting from mine. Not sure where to plant it yet.

Here is the rose a few weeks later than the pic below with its first flower. The small plants to the right are the borage from the pots seen below.

26 May

This rose, which the builders removed, suprisingly has come back.


Iris Foetidissima

I had a lot of these iris self-seeding in my garden so I dug some up and planted them here. They seem to be pretty tough, as are the bergenias. I hope so as I left them bare-rooted for a few days before I planted them. I'll have to make sure I water them every day for a while. The pots have borage seeds.



In addition to pieces of rhizome with leaves attached which I planted, I cut some of the rhizomes and put them in pots to see if they would root. Not only did they root but leaves are now appearing from them as well. As the rhizomes were on top of the soil anyway in the original plants and the ground is still so hard, I planted these very shallowly and hopefully the roots will do the work.

Comparison of Hollyhock and Weed Seedlings

I've had a bit of a blow with the seedlings that have sprung up which I thought were hollyhocks. They aren't! They're annual mercury weeds (left below; hollyhocks on the right). The first two leaves (the seed leaves I think they're called) are very similar but the next leaves are not. Once they appeared I could see that they weren't hollyhocks so the garden will just be dependent on the hollyhocks I planted.


The stachys self-seeded in my garden, as did the buddleia. The nepetea I grew from seed but it's been extremely slow to get going.


There are certain "dead zones" in the garden where I can't even get the fork in the ground so I will just put the seedlings from the final two seed trays which are just in a shallow amount of soil on top without digging any holes out for them and leave the roots to do the hard work of penetrating this solid ground.

Seedlings just put on top of the soil.

As hollyhocks are such great self-seeders lots of seedlings are coming up naturally from previous seeds that were in the soil. It will be interesting to see if there's any difference between the ones I planted in pots and these that have germinated on their own.


I want to get the hollyhock seedlings in the ground but it's so solid and dry cracks have appeared but at least it gives me someplace to get the fork in the ground.

The following two pics show hollyhocks that have sprouted up on their own. I think these are the ones I planted two years ago.

Looks a bit messy but I've managed to get the hollyhock seedlings from the pots planted.


A few weeks ago I planted the hollyhock seeds I collected last year and sunflower seeds I'd bought for myself but had more seedlings than I needed.

The small plant (left above) is an offshoot from a yucca which I stuck in a pot a couple years ago and had forgotten about but discovered it recently (below) - perfect to add as well.

I cut some of my bergenias to propagate them

Magically some of the old hollyhocks started to re-emerge from the solid ground which hasn't had rain for weeks.


The workmen have gone and taken all their equipment but the ground is compacted rock-hard and covered with sediment from their works. The first plant I added was the spiky one by the front railings. It was an unwanted present I didn't really want it in my garden.


As of March 21st the garden is a building site. In the top picture the vestiges of the hollyhocks I planted 2 years ago are still visible but shortly they will be completely obliterated. The bottom pic shows my green garden in contrast.