Anger has its uses.

Through it, I cleared a patch of rock garden which had been taken over by the monstrous Petasites x hybridus. You know the thing? Huge cabbage like flowers followed by even more enormous kidney shaped leaves, which wilt in the first heat.

Clearing it was a huge cultural and personally cathartic success, involving the use of neither chemicals nor Bob Flowerdew’s favourite ruse of old carpet.

All it took was a hoe and a vast amount of anger.

I had two people to be very angry with for quite some time. The kind of anger which really does you no good at all.

The Petasites stood in for them and I exterminated it and felt the better for it. Every time the thing tried to shoot,every shred of live material was hoed off and I even hacked into the ground at the crowns when I was at my crossest. Two growing seasons and it was gone. Anger and plant!

What to do in its place? I didn’t want to invest time, money and labour in fiddly alpines. I could have done a tumble of hummocky shrubs and put in some ‘spikies’ and ‘columnars’ for contrast of form. But I was doing that somewhere else and one can have too much of a good thing.

So I thought of what I knew stood the tough conditions at home by the sea in North Devon and used those plants. Because a rock garden by being raised increases wind exposure and drainage.

So actually I am growing herbaceous plants on a rocky outcrop. A rockery nouvelle!

It is in its early stages, but things are looking brighter!

I smile when I walk past.

And I’m told the way the plants peep over into the street enlivens a rather gloomy stretch of road for passers by.

I’m calling it a win win!

R

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