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Perennials Taking Over

D0rdogne_DamselD0rdogne_Damsel Saint Yrieix La Perche, Haute Vienne/Dordogne border. FrancePosts: 3,952

I have recently moved to France, gorgeous, well stocked garden, however, weeds grow like wild fire, am slowly working my way through the flowerbeds clearing away nettles 6 foot high, ferns and brambles etc. discovering amazing plants beneath.

However, one of the beds I have got under control (she says...) has an abundance of echinops, euphorbia & phlomis - all huge and extremely well spread. (only know the names of these plants because of these forums by the way, am definitely no expert) and I don't quite know what to do with them.

Books I have read recommend leaving echinops and phlomis for the birds and lovely winter foliage, but really there are way too many echinops, the phlomis is 5 foot high and overhanging/drooping onto the lawn (use that term loosely) and everytime I see it I want to chop it back.

What should I do, wait until spring or hack at it now? Don't want to kill anything but would like to feel as if I was the one under control - a little bit at least. 

Also, have a lot of climbing roses (some on the roof of the house) and feel as if they should be better controlled too. Although been lots of flowers not sure the quality of the blooms is up to much really, they are well established - do you think they could take a good pruning? 

Any advice gratefully received!

"To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." — Alfred Austin


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,177

    If you hack the phlomis back now it will sprout again before the summer is over and the new growth might get frosted in the winter.

    I'd leave the others full height until wintertime. Find a relatively mild day and get out there and dig as much as you like up. Come the spring the remaining bits will take off. You can prune the phlomis in the spring and it will grow away then.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,545

    Phlomis is tough as old boots and will stay evergreen in winter unless you get prolonged heavy frosts or snow.    You can safely pull it up or cut it back now.   I have a huge clump of this which is half the size of what it was at the start of the year because you can have too much of a good thing.  It spreads by wandering roots and seeds and is very happy here in central Belgium where winters can be severe.

    Similarly, my echinops are a bit too happy and self seed with gay abandon so just dig up or pull up what you don't want.   You may need to provide support for the remaining plants as it tends to flop after rain or a bit of wind.

    I loathe euphorbia - unattractive forms and colours and nasty sap IMHO - so can't help with those.

    Leave the seed heads on the plants you do keep as they provide food for the birds and the phlomis look particularly attractive when frosted in winter.


    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • dizzylizzydizzylizzy Posts: 91

    Will you get much frost in France?  Obviously plenty of rain going by the growth rate.  My echinops this and last year are 7 ft tall.

    We have just got back from France house hunting in the midi-pyrennes, the weather was poor. Will be going for a long weekend for another viewing.

    I assume the plants will be the same in France as everywhere seems very green, and the conditions similar.  In June did see a wisteria in full bloom with a hydrangea beneath it, a second flowering for the wisteria I was told.

    Are there many places to buy plants in France, only saw one on my travels, and are the prices similar.  I often buy some excellent perennials from Morrisons and bought a lovely salvia from Tescos- didnt see any plants in the intermarche supermarkets!

  • dizzylizzydizzylizzy Posts: 91

    Which reminds me Monty Don's French Gardens is on BBC2 8.39 this morning.

    Do you miss Fridays G W in France.  I couldn't get iplayer etc when we were in France - I was told it was barred from abroad- is that correct?


  • D0rdogne_DamselD0rdogne_Damsel Saint Yrieix La Perche, Haute Vienne/Dordogne border. FrancePosts: 3,952

    We are in the centre of France, about an hour south of Limoges so although the winter is very short it can be quite severe. Snow is commonplace but really only for a few short weeks. Spring comes very early, we came over to sign the paperwork mid February and it was definitely T shirt weather and the tulips were in full bloom. Similarly even November is very mild. It does rain about once a week here but it is so warm it doesn't stop you going outside really. Also, within a few minutes of it stopping everything is dry - I look forward to it so I don't have to go around the containers with the watering can for ages. 

    As far as buying plants is concerned there is a chain store called Gamme Vert which has good choice of all the basics and lots of vegetable plants. Also, a place called Jardiland which is huge but not as many about as Gamme Vert (near us anyway). I have found a local nursery which had a huge stock of bedding plants and vegetable and herbs - it was very busy so I presume there are not many others locally. The chain stores however, are quite expensive, there is a sort of B&Q ish shop called Mr Bricolage which I would definitely steer you away from, very, very expensive and poorly cared for plants.You can get plant food and gloves and things from Intermarche and they are quite reasonable. Aldi,Lidl & Netto are quite commonplace here and I have seen some good offers in there leaflets which are delivered weekly.Some nice lillies on offer last week and geraniums a while ago. Of course there are weekly markets in loads of towns and villages and you always see plant stalls there. 

    One other forum member mentioned an online store, Graines Baumaux which is very good, I have some bulbs on order with them and I have been getting seeds from Thompson and Morgan International for a relatively good price and small delivery charge. I have joined a walking club (unfortunately they break up for the summer) but we walked around local villages and admired gardens and swapped cuttings if you were so inclined. It helped with identification too.

    I would say gardening here is the same as England but the seasons are early, the plants seem to be twice the size (my raspberries are as big if not bigger than strawberries) but of course that mean the weeds grow at the same pace. Luckily we have lovely crumbly soil and they do pull out easy. We missed early spring here, the house was empty from February to mid April and the garden really did get lively so has been an effort to get on top of. Hopefully next year won't be such a burden.

    As for TV, you are right about access to iplayer directly being unavailable. What we have done to fix this is (I am afraid technology not my strong point) have satellite TV and internet installed and apparently our provider is based in the UK so iplayer just thinks we are too so we can access it.Whenever I order from Thompson & Morgan International they keep sending pop up messages saying to go to UK site as my IP address is in the UK. I am therefore able to access TV in the UK here and regularly do my ironing on a Sunday morning watching all the gardening programmes on BBC2. Of course the time is out by an hour. 

    We absolutely love it here, the pace of life is wonderful, the weather means we enjoy the outdoors so much more and we have found the people very friendly and welcoming. My schoolgirl French is coming on slowly, I listen to the radio in French to try and get to grips with the accent and at this time of year there are loads of Fetes and evening markets where everyone sits on long trellis tables and has supper together, bought fresh from the stalls and enjoys music and chat - and wine of course - until the small hours, all very relaxed, all age groups, lovely. There is a large

    "To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." — Alfred Austin
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,545

    Jap3 - you are not that far from Busy-Lizzie.  You should think about putting yourself on the map.

    Just need to find the thread now.................

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,367

    Hello, I met Jap 3 on her other thread about an overgrown garden in France. I'm about 1hr 20 south of Limoges, but I think Jap 3 must be east of me. We are probably less than an hour apart.

    You are lucky having Gamme Vert and iplayer, I have Jardiland and no iplayer.

    February is not usually warm, often cold. Mild wet winter this year. We have snow sometimes and it's usually colder in the winter than in the UK. Weather can be very variable and different from year to year. This summer is cooler than usual. I hate it too hot when there is a drought. But once it warms up things grow very quickly, especially the weeds! Weeds, slugs and insects are bigger here.

    I have the herbaceous phlomis, I pull out the spreading roots, but it sounds as though yours is the shrubby one. I have echinops, I remove the excess seedlings, same with euphorbia, but there are lots of different types of euphorbia. I have a small one with spreading roots too which I pull out. If there's too much of something and you don't want it you just have to be ruthless. I would leave the roses until a mild day in winter then you can give them a good prune.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • D0rdogne_DamselD0rdogne_Damsel Saint Yrieix La Perche, Haute Vienne/Dordogne border. FrancePosts: 3,952

    Thank you so much for the advice, I am slowly learning that being ruthless is actually better in the long run. My husband declared I had killed a shrub I cut a good few weeks ago, which had gone completely mad, - has now emerged looking absolutely lovely and so much better for the haircut. It does go against the grain though to be hacking at things, especially as I am not sure what half the stuff is. Think I have spent quite a lot of time protecting and nurturing a large amount of weeds! It seems a magnolia tree I thought had rust is actually meant to have a rusty coloured leaves underneath too.

    I get a little impatient because I know the garden has great potential, the previous owner was a professional gardener and you can tell by the quantity and quality of the plants - just need to rescue them all, takes so long just to get round it.I am working my way through but have been told not to stress about because in autumn it will all die back anyway. Have had some successes, veg patch is great and a little patch I sowed myself is looking lovely, beautiful dahlias and some gladioli just starting to produce flower stems amidst some cheap & cheerful annuals. I am really hoping by next year I will have a better grip on it - but I think that must be the mantra of gardeners everywhere! Just absolutely love spending time out there though, definitely hooked on gardening for life. 

    "To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." — Alfred Austin
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,367

    Jacqui, I've sent you a private message via Gardener's World. I don't know if you get email notifications.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
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