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!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Late September

I was concerned we might have a frost this morning - it was so clear last night.   But it's just chilly and very windy.    The wind has blown almost all the petals off my herbaceous clematis and it looks set to do a lot worse today - everything is thrashing around rather unsettlingly! 
Mid-week's sunshine must have helped warm some of the seeds I planted in the greenhouse into germination as there are tiny green specks showing and the rhodochiton and clematis seedlings seem to have put on a spurt of growth.
The first - maybe the only! - flower on my cup and saucer plant (cobea scandens) has now turned its beautiful purple colour.   As I tried quite hard with it this year I am concluding that its east wall positioning isn't allowing it enough sunlight.   What a pity!   It's such a  fun plant I must have a go with it somewhere sunnier.   More flowers are coming on the eccremocarpus - so hope they manage a little flourish before the frosts come.   Another lesson there - to plant them earlier next year.
Collected another small cache of cob nuts yesterday.   Something has evidently eaten some (will try and identify what from shell remains) and there are doubtless going to be a few more seedlings in due course.   I am keeping one or 2 in case I have to replace this tree as it's growing at such a pace.  
The autumn raspberries are making many more buds and I picked a small handful of fruit to add to my cereal today.   They are big, round juicy fruit, quite different from earlier season ones.
Just had a visit from a collection of great tits, blue tits and greenfinches - even saw a great tit on the bird feeder with a greenfinch.   Unusual as greenfinches are usually such bullies.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Changing light

Another surprisingly sunny Saturday morning - a completely clear blue sky when I went out around 8.00.   But the light has definitely changed to the sharper, lower, more contrasty quality of autumn.   The amelanchier and potted hydrangea leaves are definitely beginning to turn.   Some very heavy rain showers have battered the taller annuals and I'm very glad I picked that bunch of dahlias mid-week.   Still no frosts though.

Lily beetles again

I have been surprised just how many lily beetles I found on my L. regale this year.   I have obviously missed a lot as this is what one stem looked like the other day.   The closer shot shows the orangy-coloured larval stage which disgustingly covers itsself in its own excrement!   Apparently this stage lives for a couple of weeks on the plant leaves and then crawls to the ground where it pupates and finally emerges as a beetle a couple of weeks later.   The beetles can over-winter!   Wish I had paid a bit more attention earlier in the year.   For more info and a survey see: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Science/Plant-pests/Lily-beetle

Sunday, 19 September 2010


Decided today that I must be more disciplined about my planting - mainly with regard to colour schemes.   There really isn't space to do all I want here so I shall try and learn from this year's wild enthusiasm for dahlias and limit myself a bit.   Still, it has been a greatly enjoyable experiment.   I think I will try and keep the rose and herb area to a colour palate similar to that in this shot of sweet pea Matucana which has suddenly come on really well in the past week.   I wonder if it was responding to the tomerite I gave it last weekend?   Will have to experiment.   Anyway, this palate with a slightly deeeper orange than Noordwijk's Glory (which is such a pretty shape).   Maybe see what Sarah Raven recommends....

Had to water the garden today as it is so dry.   Also planted up some grow bags in the greenhouse with a small quantity of lambs lettuce, corn salad, land cress and cilantro (leaf coriander).   Hopefully they will get going before the days shorten too much and give me a bit of winter greenery.   Also having another go at growing Lilium Formosanum and Tropaeolum Speciosum from seed - also planted today.

Picked up quite a few more nuts and shelled and toasted them.   This was a very bad idea as I have eaten a LOT!

Little nut tree

Something may have "got" the squirrels!   Having been plagued by them stealing nuts and even wrecking a bird-feeder on occasions, this year, for the first time, I have a small harvest of decent-sized cob nuts from the little tree which grew from a seedling in my brother's garden some 20 years ago.   Seeing some lying about on the ground I nearly ignored their edible potential - as they didn't rattle I took them to be empty but in fact just the opposite is true.   I may even make a nutty merignue!

Surprisingly fine day yesterday but there was tidying up to do after some strong winds during the week.   Have decided that shorter dahlias might be a better idea next year - less work and some of the big ones are a bit dominant.   On the other hand shorter ones seem more vulnerable to ear-wigs - shook another one out of a flower pot trap yesterday (very effective method!).   They also need a lot of water.   Although I'm sure it's rained here since last weekend I realised that some dahlias were wilting by the afternoon - and recovered after a few cans of water.   They have responded well to a feed of Tomerite last weekend.   Just hope the frosts hold off a bit longer.   While I am on the dahlia topic, I was surprised to find one really healthy-looking plant of d. Seduction is producing blind buds - must look into the cause.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Hot spots

One of the most satisfying aspects of gardening, for me, is the joy of the unexpected.   Things just happen.   It is a constantly evolving canvas and sometimes you wonder where on earth the paints came from.   I certainly never expected a patch of such fiery hues as this dahlia grouping to find a home in my small patch.   The first shot was taken in the early morning, blooms still heavy with rain, featuring Karma Bon Bini, the second (following tomorrow) mid afternoon as I was trying to sit down long enough to enjoy a small bottle of beer - an impossible feat for a gardener (the sitting, not the beer).

Joining KBB is Cactus Nuit d'Ete and orange Pompon New Baby.   In planting are also Cactus Tutu, Natal, decorative Arabian Night and decorative Seduction.   But I can't get a decent shot of the whole lot together!

Early September jungle

Oops, nearly called this autumn jungle, but let's keep it as late summer.   The early summer sun, followed by wet July and then more sun when the children went back to school (!) really seems to have suited the garden and it's flourishing just now....   So here are a couple of views.... with dominant blues!   Dominant reds to follow.

Rosa Pat Austen through Clematis Wyevale

Monday, 13 September 2010

in brief

Such a wonderful day yesterday - all of it spent in the garden and so glad I did as it looks like that might be the end of summer - ouch....   Needless to say, lots more pictures to share but I ran out of time and computer memory.

But, in brief; the first flowers have appeared on one of my eccremocarpus seedlings, a tiny heartsease pansy has self-seeded and opened its first bloom, I emptied out some earwigs from my earwig trap (luckily only the one shop-bought dahlia has succumbed), evidence of my laxness over lily beetles has resulted in some disgusting grubs and shredded leaves (photo to follow - I said I'd share the bad as well as the good), rhodochiton seedlings have at last started to make progress since I put them in the greenhouse, treated to a generous late spray of rosa Pat Austen, enjoyed the company of a crazy starling over breakfast, found another blue hero - caryopteris and LOVING my clematis Wyevale and dahlias.   I so hope we don't have the threatened frosts to bring about an untimely end to them.

Oh, and spent all this evening agonising over my tulip order from J Parkers, who seem very good.

Pics to follow....

Monday, 6 September 2010

And back at home

Dahlias still haven't all come into flower but have definitely not been a disappointment.   Will be extending the range next year - trying not to miss ordering in good time! (although tulip ordering now has priority). 
The recent rain and following sun have worked wonders with clematis Wyevale and it is just one mass of flowers. 
Picked first blackberries and autumn raspberries.

White cactus dahlia Tutu with (probably) waterlily Requiem and various including Cl heracleifolia Wyevale in background.

Garden visit - Barrington Court

Went to a very special house and garden at the weekend - National Trust's Barrington Court in Somerset.  The 16th century house, once owned by the Lyle family (sugar people), is empty - except for Lyle's extraordinary collection of wooden paneling!   I loved the atmosphere and the fact you could soak it up without having reams to read about precious furnishings. 

The gardens are worth a visit in their own right - part-designed by Gertrude Jekyll (advice "by post"!).  Even in September there was masses of variety - a delightful, airy white garden, some lusciously-planted herbaceous stretches and a waterlily garden overlooked by the restaurant which was positively bursting with fiery hues including dense beds of dahlia Grenadier.   I shall be looking out for that.   There is also an extremely productive walled vegetable garden and some whacky features like the umbrellas.   Here are a few shots.