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, 28 April 2014

Hostas and....

I adore the elegant spikes of hosta leaves as they emerge. It is such a shame that my enthusiasm seems to be equalled by SLUGS! Except for this lovely variegated Francis Williams, which grows in a large pot where I can keep some control over the slug population, I have given up on hostas for the time being. Snails are also causing me grief in the greenhouse - attacking the emerging dahlia shoots which must be much tastier than the tubers, which I actually tried eating the other day and would most definitely NOT recommend. Planted a row of sugar snap peas at the weekend and I confess to safeguarding them with a good sprinkle of slug pellets....

Monday, 21 April 2014

More than an April shower and tulip appraisal

Yesterday's forecast showers turned into a prolonged and at times torrential downpour (Easter Sunday - a familiar story?) but by the evening it had subsided and left a lovely misty evening heralding this morning's beautiful fresh start. It felt quite hot in the sun as I took my constitutional with a cup of tea and the bird song was prolific. It's now back to normal (note the raindrops on the window...)!!
So much is bursting into life with enchanting surprises around every corner including some self-set English bluebells and yellow poppies (unfortunately the true deep blue is lost in this jpeg).
My tropaeolum speciosum has survived in its pot, its bright green shoots rushing out to grab whatever it can, there are buds forming on many of the roses - in spite of my very late, heavy pruning, the first geraniums - phaeum and macrorrhizum have begun to flower and buds are forming on some dwarf bearded irises (although I think my choice of colours was a bit dodgy...). Several clematis are budding up well whereas others are very slow to get started. These include Cl Etoile Violette, usually quite rampant, but hopefully this means she will flower late, extending the season. There are even a few spaces - I think I can even justify a new summer-flowering clematis.
I am a bit disappointed with my tulips this year. Ballerina has come out a rather even and much less orange-red and Rai, which was so spectacular last time I grew it, is a rather even and much paler pink than I had anticipated. I think I should stick to Estella Rijnfeld on the parrot tulip front. A few bulbs are keeping going and their raspberries and cream colouring is stunning even if the flowers are now much smaller (as I probably haven't looked after the bulbs properly!). I have made an interesting discovery with my planting of Princess Irene in the front border. Where some of the bulbs have been heavily shaded by some self-set aquilegias they have come out far more yellow than those growing in full sun. They are gorgeous this year. Following on from these observation I am wondering if tulips have the same "chimeric" nature as dahlias (see my post from November last year). Anyway, such variations simply make things more exciting! I am pleased with the contrast of the lily-flowered T Burgundy and T Ballerina with the lovely stripey T Zurel, seen here in the early morning and later in full sun. Having seriously pondered selling my greenhouse the fact that the dahlia corms I planted only 2 weeks ago are already beginning to show signs of life is making me pleased I decided to take no action. I have also decided to defer having my over-grown Judas and hazel trees cut back until after the leaves have fallen. Trying to do anything now the garden is fully "switched on" would be a nightmare - for me and for anyone trying to do serious tree-pruning. Happily, we now have a date for the broken fence panels to be replaced so I need to get busy safeguarding any vulnerable plants in the vicinity. I am not at all concerned about a rampant variegated ivy I brought home as a small pot plant from a photo shoot some years back but a particularly pleasing scented pink Clematis montana (a seedling from my Mum's) which is just getting the hang of climbing over the new arch may need a bit more help. It will be interesting to see what happens! Happily, these days I tend to look on plant mortalities more as an opportunity to grow something new than too much of a disaster. I do not feel the same about my collection of Diana Roles garden ceramics though!!!!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Unusual partners

I thought I'd change the layout - hope you like it. (I seem to have lost the ability to make paragraphs which is confusing but the new layout doesn't seem to help!)
The mild winter has brought some strange partners into flower together - not least this fucshia seen through the potted laburnam outside the kitchen windows which is flowering beautifully this year. From the bathroom window this little splash of colour caught my eye this morning. The blue Clematis Macropetala on the left balances nicely with the randomly self-seeded forget me not on the right. Tulips Ballerina are not as interesting this year - much more red than I had hoped but still very cheery.
Here is a detail of Cl Macropetala's delicate blue flowers that the birds have spared this year
A couple of tulips (Ballerina and Burgundy) snapped off by the wind or snails are giving me great pleasure in the kitchen.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The exquisite little blooms of epimedium are some of the first and most delicate treasures of the spring - almost like tiny daffodils and they are wonderful for brightening up a dark corner. Although I cut back the leaves before they flower the new foliage soon puts on a spurt and has almost covered the flowers again now! I have been remiss - not many posts of late! Part of the reason is that there have been a few unsightly structural disasters - next door's fence still remains on the "to do" list, largely due to the shortage of good fence panels and available labour, also the demise of my rustic trellis has rendered the view down the garden unsightly now the greenhouse is again in full view. But basically things are going well and everything is bursting into life - not least the birds who have been in full voice while I have been gardening this weekend. In particular the blackbirds have been doing their magical humming and twittering to themselves from hidden positions in dense shrubs. I even managed to record one - along with various other visitors. Frequent visitors include the blackbirds, robins, blue tits, green finches, great tits, chaffinches and there is usually a red kite or two hovering overhead, plus rooks, wood pigeons and magpies in abundance. I am hoping something will nest in my new bird box!
I received my dahlia tubers yesterday and potted them up immediately. Unfortunately some of them had broken up quite badly but rather than throw them away I just remembered that they are supposed to be edible so I am going to have a go at cooking them. Watch this space! The tulips - what I consider to be the spring equivalent of dahlias - have put on a great spurt in the past week and are coming into flower. Not quite what I'd imagined but we shall see what they're like when they all open fully. I'm hoping the reds will open to be more orange. It's so hard to tell from catalogues plus the fact that the same named variety bulbs seem to have great variation in flowers from year to year.
In the "winter garden" I have had a nice surprise. For the first time ever the little acer seedling from Westonbirt arboretum has put on a show of flowers. It's a rotten day for photography but this gives you some idea...
We have had a few welcome showers today. Of course this usually happens when I have decided to water my pots and fill up the bird baths but it's been particularly welcome as I put down a plentiful supply of chicken manure pellets I found while I was clearing out the greenhouse yesterday which - I confess - Stinks and need to be encouraged to disperse as soon as possible. At least no-one will be thinking about sun-bathing!