June view 2009

June view 2009
View of rose and herb garden, June 2009

Small Garden Story

Over some 15 + years, I have been photographing the evolution of my small (85 x 15 foot) garden and it seems a waste not to put these records into some sort of context. Beginning here in April 2010 this Blog is intended to both act as a diary and to share past and present successes (and some failures), pleasures and disappointments with fellow garden-lovers. In due course, I intend to fill in some of the background and early days but that will have to wait until the winter months!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Hop picking

Hop picking summons up images of long hours of hard labouring gathering the hop harvest for beer-making.   Hops do smell wonderful - if you like beer that is!    I managed to time my own hop picking alright this year, while they were still fresh and green and in between the showers so I did not have to bring them in wet!   Just enough to drape about in the kitchen - gives the place a nice country feel.

The picture shows a few stems which clambered their way up into the amelanchier.   I brought a few of these down with the aid of a step ladder and a walking stick but most will have to stay until the tree sheds its leaves and I can see what I am doing!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Unreliable i.d.

How many of us have not carefully tended a sickly-looking seedling only to find out that what we have been tenderly nurturing some wayward imposter that has been lurking in the compost!   I can accept that.   What is more frustrating is carefully planting, labelling and growing on tubers which are labelled as one thing and come up as most definitely something else.   Take, for example, what I have been confidently calling Cactus dahlia Natal which turns out more likely to be Orfeo and what is this cheeky soft magenta with the red stripes?   Colours are inevitably subjective but shapes?   Can a waterlily shape turn into a cactus, a pompon into a cactus?   Still it's all good fun and I was delighted when this stripey fellow opened up right next to my small clump of old-fashioned sweet pea Matucana.   According to the records it is Requiem but it looks a bit more exciting than that.   Will have to be doubly careful with labelling next year - just in case! 

After a particularly heavy downpour the sun came out on this sunny example of what I am confident is Karma Bon Bini.   Not what anyone I know would expect me to have in my garden but she's so cheerful who could object?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Shy pink

Peeking out from a fairly dry patch beneath a Choisya and a rather rampant clump of variegated ground elder I just spotted a delightful clump of pink cyclamen - truly heralds of the "a" word.

Monday, 23 August 2010

First hops

As the rain clouds seem to have blown over, decided to trade gym for garden and was well rewarded.   The fish blood and bone I spread yesterday has been well watered in and my efforts in staking up dahlias etc seem to have been worthwhile.
More new things to see included the first flowers on clematis pistachio - another must - peeking out from the dense leaves of winter-flowering jasmine.   Picked the first blackberry and a few stems of hops in anticipation of more ripening before the rain turns them brown as happens so often.   I desperately need to replace the dry brown things collecting spiders in the kitchen.  
A poetic close to this brief sojourn was an almost perfect silvery moon against a pale lavender sky.   What price half an hour in a garden?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Breakfast view

This morning I got up early to watch the day begin - because I wanted to and not because I had to!   But it was so dull I went back to bed to moulder and listen to the radio.   Delight! - there was Lionel Kelloway on the Living World talking about beavers in Scotland, reminding me of a wonderful evening in the Ardeche sitting outside a restaurant in the middle of nowhere overlooking a river and suddenly spotting a small sapling frantically waving about from its base.   It proved to be a busy beaver who we watching about his business for a half hour or so.   A magical evening.

When I did get up the sun had started to break through catching the rain droplets on the garden furniture I seldom get to use....

Saturday, 21 August 2010

August blues

No, not a complaint about the very muggy weather but this is to flag up three wonderful, trouble-free blue-flowering late summer plants that I would never want to be without.   All of them seem to be very easy to grow in my soil and seem to thrive on neglect.   I have a bit of a problem with remembering the names so will be back with more details later...

Herbaceous Clematis Wyevale

Cl. Wyevale with Rose Warm Welcome

Ceratostigma Wilmottianum

Clematis Arabella

Thursday, 19 August 2010

August and the "a" word

A dear friend of mine had an unfortunate liking for the word "autumnal".   Unfortunate in that she used to trot it out with regard to the weather when I was desperately trying to pretend it was still summer.   I thought of her today as I wrapped my (horrible) fleece around me and set off, secateurs in hand, to see what has been going on during the past few days.   The grass is certainly greener - and will need a cut for the first time in ages - but there is a distinct hint of the "a" word in the colours of the leaves and in the air...   But there is still a lot of colour as this view from the rose/herb garden shows.

 New dahlias are continuing to treat me (didn't realise I had so many white ones!) and I looked after them with a bit of dead-heading.   Diana's "Feuille" ceramic piece acts as a wonderful foil to their showy heads....

Saw three lily beetles on the regal lily foliage but only managed to catch one.   Oh dear....

Saturday, 14 August 2010

August rain

It has to rain in August, doesn't it.   Some May/June sunshine followed by a drought and then as soon as the school holidays start - hey presto!   Still, today I love it.   The heavy showers are interspersed with brief flashes of sunshine and it's mild enough for me to keep popping in and out of the garden to see all the good this delicious rain is doing.   Not even many slugs and snails about yet....

The dahlias are coming on just fine, so here is pink and white cactus dahlia Hayley Jane to say hello.   (The flower in the background has its back to us.)   I have managed to get a great deal of pink in the garden this summer which is a bit shocking as I'm not really a pink person.   But it's fabulous in dull weather.   Even a hydrangea which arrived white has gone pink in spite of my best efforts to turn it blue by adding iron filings to the soil.   Maybe I need to bury some rusty nails right into the soil?

Diana's bird bath by the house looks particularly striking in the rain - as well as being a good indicator of precipitation when I'm not here to see it for myself.

Friday, 6 August 2010

I blame Sarah Raven

A shot I took the other evening as the dahlias are beginning to "do their stuff".   It's very exciting as, although I labelled them all very carefully when I planted the tubers, I have almost completely forgotten which I planted where and the labels are pretty much buried now.

It's all a bit garish - I blame Sarah Raven's "The Bold and Brilliant Garden" for that.   It inspired me to get into dahlias several years back.   But they are just so good for keeping colour going through the difficult late summer period.   The crocosmia - just the bog-standard sort - in the foreground provides a great foil and just does its own thing.