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!

Monday, 29 August 2011

August Bank Holiday

It has hardly been sun-bathing weather but the long weekend has turned out much finer than anticipated.   I even had lunch in the garden today (Bank Hol Monday!).   Compared with previous years the most predominant feature of the garden is how green it is.   I have hardly had to water - except taking the landlord of a pub with wonderful flowers" advice and watering regularly with Miracle Grow (regularly for me being I managed 2 fortnights in a row).   

After a slow start the dahlias have started fulfilling their promise and my efforts in pinching out the growing shoots and flowers seem to have resulted in shorter much bushier plants with plenty of buds.   Not all of them are out yet so I have yet to assess the success of the pinks, reds and whites colour scheme.   Next year I must find a really deep purple - I know they exist.   I am growing Arabian Night again - a gorgeous deep red - but it suffers from weak stems which mean the flowers flop over.   Must find an alternative next year.
Extraordinary - lunch in the garden!
Dahlia White Star

Dahlia Edinburgh
   My replacement Prince Charles clematis and the deep pinky-red tulip-flowered Princess Diana (yes, it WAS an accident) I have    planted in deep pots and placed in the (erstwhile) herb/rose garden, the pots shaded with old roof tiles.   I am hoping this way I can feed them well and stop the ants getting too badly into the roots (I put ant powder in the base of the pots!).   So far, so good.

As everything has been growing so fast there's been a lot of cutting back to do and on Saturday I went round to my neighbours and did a massive cut-back of things which were growing over from my side.   It looks a whole lot better and will help prevent the fence from being forced apart by too much ivy, hops and R. Kiftsgate.   I have now really learned my lesson about fast-growing plants to screen things.  Treat these situations with patience and caution.   Time passes very quickly in gardens.

This also applies to the tress and shrubs I have planted.   I have been having a serious review and decided that the hazelnut tree will have to go, the Judas tree needs a major cut-back and one of my hibiscus also needs removing.   It's flowers are really pretty - a deep mauve-pink late in the summer - but it has grown so tall that I never see the flowers, only when they have died and drop off onto the grass where they quickly decay into a soggy, sticky mess.   I will keep one and cut it back but give the garden a bit more light from the other.

I'm hoping this reduction in tree-dominance will give me more light and encourage the roses to grow a bit better too.   Eight foot echinops are dramatic and make lovely heads for cutting but I'd rather be able to have a better crop of roses at eye level.

One climber which is very well-behaved is the eccromocarpus scaber I grew from seed last year - which miraculously over-wintered.   I would put it down as a must-have in any garden!

Eccromocarpus scaber

The aquiledgia seeds from Martine in France have started germinating and I planted some seeds of astrantias today.  Am also experimenting with French beans in Grow bags in the greenhouse.

Wildlife note:   Have seen the mice scampering about around the garden again and had to break hard to avoid a big hedgehog crossing the road nearby on Saturday night.  A big splendid fellow.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The unexpected

I went down the garden to look at the first dahlias but got seduced by the maturing allium seedheads...   How often is it the joy of the unexpected which gives us the most pleasure in a garden?

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sun and showers

It must be the school holidays again!   So much for an afternoon in the garden - every time I stick my nose outside it starts raining again.  Not that I'm complaining.  It's much better than watering.   It can also be quite beautiful.   Everything shines and the garden has a green glow and a smell of things growing which is quiet energising.   I can almost hear the snails shouting out in celebration at their good fortune!
I picked my first green beans this week - and they really do taste better than shop-bought.   So I planted a few more in the hope they will keep going until the frosts (horrible thought).   I also picked my last sweet peas.   I pulled them up in despair.   Mildew, yellowing leaves and very few straggly flowers were not what I had in mind but I think the problem was down to lack of regular watering.   Another "must try harder" if I can really be bothered....
Spent several hours pouring Miracle Grow on the dahlias, pruning and tidying - not least the hop which really has its own plans - not least wrapping itself around some incredibly tall globe thistle flowers.   I was at the top of a step ladder when I took these 2 shots.
This group of fading globe thistles reminded me of a bunch of unruly teenagers.
A few nuts have fallen off the hazlenut tree - very early and rotten inside when I cracked them.   There are a lot more to come, promising a good crop if they hang on.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Very tasty

Did I say that Rabbity from the other neighbour's garden never tried to get out?   Well, as Saturday proved, I was wrong.  I was doing some tidying up when I looked up to see this friendly fellow bounding towards me - before he turned round and had a good nibble at some plants I had just bought for the studio tubs.   No real harm done but initially I foresaw a potential repeat of the previous rabbit incident - except this time the neighbours were out and I had shortly to go out shopping.

I needn't have worried.   This rabbit is very friendly and once he had sat and let me stroke him for some time he had a bit of an explore before being apparently shocked to see how bold the horrible hairy cat from "down the end" is when there isn't a dog about and soon shot back under the fence from whence he came.   I then filled in the gap!

Another pleasant surprise this weekend was the discovery that at last - after well over a year - the seeds I have been trying to propagate by carefully following the instructions of periods in the cold followed by periods in the warm - and then again - have finally begun to show signs of life.   I had to think hard to remember that they are Tropeolum speciosum - a lovely perennial climbing nasturtium with small deep red flowers and Lilium formosanum - a white autumn-flowering lily which I could not find for sale as either plant or bulb.   Now I have the huge responsibility of nurturing them to maturity.   Still, it's a less responsible task than rabbit care - even though yesterday I was sorely tempted to adopt a small black and white dutch rabbit from the local pet shop who "needs a loving home"....

Lots of tidying up over the past couple of weeks and cutting the gorgeous heads of alliums and poppies to dry.   Anyone like some?   The French beans are making valiant efforts to produce a handful of beans enough for a small feed and the autumn fruiting raspberries have started to ripen.   Also an exciting package of seeds of purple and white aquilegia arrived from Domain Sicard in France.   I am hoping they stay true rather than cross-polinating with my varied collection but will hold some seeds back just in case.

Last but not least the dahlias are beginning to show colour.   I am so looking forward to them this year.