Nothing as good as clean bedding

spruced up: Globe artichokes, salvia Victoria and French tarragon. Below, Wallflower Cloth of Gold.

spruced up: Globe artichokes, salvia Victoria and French tarragon. Below, Wallflower Cloth of Gold.

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THE clearing of the garlic and onion bed prompted a dilemma.

I can’t bear bare soil and realised that while everything else had been going so well, I hadn’t thought ahead on the veg front.

As the Japanese onions were so late (I usually dig them up by the end of June), I haven’t prepared an overwintering crop.

I popped along to the garden centre for some ideas.

The only thing they had were leeks and I have alliums coming out of my ears.

However, lateral thinking and remembering the bigger picture saved the day. A few weeks back, I’d been admiring the globe artichokes. Their big, silvery leaves are very handsome and bees love them if you let them flower.

They grow 5-6ft tall and are perennial – just the thing for the end of my bed, contrasting nicely with the next-door lavenders.

Herbs were on offer, six for £10, and I finally found French tarragon, my favourite. I’ll probably have to cover or pot them up for winter, but I’m delighted to have some fresh at last. I also couldn’t resist three curry plants (Helichrysum italicum) – has a plant ever been better named?

Although not the most useful in cooking (its strong smell belies a mild flavour), it goes well with eggs and mild cheeses and if any of your prized plants are attacked by insects, curry plants will ward them off.

Last on my impulse buys were three salvia Victoria, upright tender perennials with intense blue flowers.

They’re purely ornamental and it will be interesting if they survive the winter in the free-draining, warmer raised bed.

I also sowed two varieties of wallflower, Fire King and Cloth of Gold, for spring flowers and fragrance. When these are up, I’ll move them to their final places around the garden.

And right at the front, for ease of picking, short rows of lettuce Ultimate Mixed, for salads until the frosts.

If it all works out, not bad for a 2m x 1m bed!