The Corner of Complete Neglect

We all have one, don’t we?

This is mine.


It is at the corner of the rose garden, next to the wall of the house.  It is tricky because it is bone-dry and has poor, stony soil that bakes hard to concrete in the summer.

We inherited this rather lovely shrub rose, ‘Marjorie Fair’.  The bees love it.

Rosa ‘Marjorie Fair’.

And a fig tree.  We thought the fig had left this life.  The tips of the branches went shrivelled and black, and when we scraped at the bark there was no green underneath.  But, two weeks ago, we spotted growth!

Fig leaf. This one wouldn’t cover very much.

We might have to have a year without figs, but we are very happy it has survived.  These trees produce the most succulent, juicy, ripe figs.  The children hate them, so Stevie and I guzzle them greedily.

I let Stevie dig up an inherited scentless climbing rose next to the bay window, and we now have an apricot instead.  It has lovely fragile foliage.


I scattered poppy seeds here (Papaver rhoeas) and I let them self-seed each year. They are perfect for these bone-dry conditions.   Here one is, hugging the fig.

Common field poppy (Papaver rhoeas).

I love the hairy buds of poppies.

Common field poppy (Papaver rhoeas).

This seems to be a lovely vermillion-orange strain, which I adore with the bright pink of Penstemon ‘Garnet’, magenta-purple Geranium psiolstemon and zingy green of Alchemilla mollis.  Like in so many of my planting schemes, I think it is the Alchemilla which makes it fizz.  It is the bicarb of the plant world.  It is another self-seeder, contributing to this corner’s low-maintenance.

Geranium psiolstemon and Alchemilla mollis

This is one of my favourite penstemons, ‘Garnet’.  It is fairly short, at about 30cm tall.  I think it is the dark stems that make it such a treasure.  Penstemon buds are hermetically sealed at this stage.  Any moment they will magically unseal, and the bees will go mad for the riches inside.

Penstemon ‘Garnet’

I planted Lupin ‘The Pages’ here, which I grew from seed.  I ran out of room elsewhere in the garden.  I’m glad I did.  I love the cherry-red with the other brights.  Pea flowers are one of my favourite flower-forms.  Remember the kayaks? (See Lupin-otropolis).

Lupin ‘The Pages’

I thought I would try an unusual view of a lupin.  I think that fluffy bit is the mantle-like carpel that they throw off once the flower opens.  Isn’t it satisfying how the next storey down of flowers down nestle into the gaps between the ones above?  Nature has the best designs.

Lupin ‘The Pages’

I am always looking for more places to grow hardy geraniums.  ‘Tiny Monster’ seems to like it here.  I love the orange-fuchsia anthers at the centre of this geranium, contrasted with the black-plum tips.

Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’

Here’s another pic.  I think the flower on the left is newly opened.  Once the anthers (the pollen-producing male part) have produced their pollen, they drop off.  The stigma (the female part, landing place for pollen, with a tubule to the ovary) becomes curly, like the right-hand flower.

Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’

Oh, and there’s a lot of self-seeded Verbena bonariensis, also a favourite for dry and difficult places.  I like that the mauve flowers just lightly echo Geranium ‘Tiny Monster’.  The throat of the flowers are a more vivid violet.  I also like it against the terracotta bricks.  This flower is also loved by insects.  I have seen hawkmoths feeding from them, which is quite exciting!

Verbena bonariensis

Here’s another little geranium, this time the appropriately-named ‘Sweet Heidy’.  This is a modest little flower, not produced in great profusion, but every one treasured.  It is especially delicate-looking I think, because there are gaps between the petals, allowing the green carpel to be seen behind the petals.  And I do love the dark purple veining and anthers.

Geranium ‘Sweet Heidy’

All of this area is really just a happy accident.  A couple of inherited plants, some tried-and-trusted bomb-proof plants, a sprinkling of seed, a seed-raised plant which wouldn’t fit anywhere else, and some little gems to liven it up.

For those who are interested in the capers of Ziggy, he is currently sleeping at my feet, feeling a little sore.  Something about those poppy buds reminded me of him.

You might enjoy a conversation Stevie and I had this morning, whilst brushing teeth.  To give you some context, Ziggy wasn’t allowed breakfast because of his pre-op.

Me: Ziggy’s a bit confused.

Stevie: Why? Because he had no food?

Me: mmm (through bubbling mouth).

Stevie: Well imagine how confused he’s going to be later, when he has no testicles.

Me: [spluttering sounds]

When I went to pick him up from the Vet’s he whimpered at me.  He is curled up in his basket.  He lifts his head up every now and then to give me a reproachful look.

The haunted look of a dog who has lost his trust in the world.

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.

If would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder.

31 Comments Add yours

  1. Nat says:

    Poor poor Ziggy. He looks exactly as you described.

    Even your corner of neglect is lovely.

  2. Aw, poor Ziggy – hope he feels better soon.

    1. Ali says:

      He appears to have forgotten the trauma!

  3. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Funny, I thought that about the poppy buds too, though not necessarily with Ziggy in mind. Poor chap, he’s quite puzzled, isn’t he. Your corner of neglect is quite delightful.

  4. Awww Ziggy!! Bless! I have to say that Verbena bonariensis is one of my absolute favourites … I love it to bits. Wonderful pictures as always … yup, still green with envy! Katie x

  5. Annette says:

    If you call this complete neglect you’d better not look at mine :D! Lovely pics and I hope Ziggy will be back to his old self soon. My 4-legged head gardener is stretched out beside my desk and has taken the day off. 😉

    1. Ali says:

      Four-legged gardeners are the best.

  6. Not neglected, rather lovely.

  7. shazza says:

    Well your complete neglect looks amazing compared to my back yard and its overgrown jungle flower beds. Aw Ziggy. ♡♡xx

    1. Ali says:

      He’s back to bouncy, Shazza. You can’t keep a good dog down.

  8. Penny Post says:

    I’d be very happy to have your corner of neglect anywhere in my garden, which is currently almost a garden of neglect.

    1. Ali says:

      Natural beauty often beats manicured beauty!

  9. Heyjude says:

    I think the general consensus is that your idea of neglect is most of our idea of a perfect patch! Poor Ziggy. Will he ever forgive you?

    1. Ali says:

      He is the most forgiving dog in the world. It didn’t take long.

      1. Heyjude says:

        Bless him 🙂

  10. Beautiful photos, your garden must smell gorgeous. Give Zigi my codolences.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. He is much perkier today!

  11. pommepal says:

    I could live with your corner of neglect it looks pretty good to me.cuddles and strokes to Ziggy

    1. Ali says:

      He is back to his normal self now, Pauline!

  12. bcparkison says:

    I really hate that we think we need to do this to our pets. Just seem very bad.
    The corner looks pretty good to me. My figs have done the same .Wonder how many branches i’ve cut that I should not have?

  13. Eliza Waters says:

    Aw, poor Ziggy. He’ll get over it and no doubt be back to boing-ing in no time. 🙂
    It’s amazing…even your neglected areas look great!

    1. Ali says:

      He is back to boingy, Eliza!

  14. InspiresN says:

    It looks amazing, such pretty and colorful flowers!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. X

  15. So beautiful and colorful! Looks gorgeous, my neglect looks much much worse.

    1. Ali says:

      Throw a few poppy seeds at it, Lisa! They cover a multitude of sins!

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