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!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Irresistible alliums

Alliums are so cheerful and so undemanding I just have to keep photographing them. This year there are even more - from what seemed like threads of grass a couple of years back, new flowering plants are actually competing with previously-rampant crocosmia. I have lost track of which varieties the earlier forms are but these three stems particularly caught my eye as the sun crept along the garden path this morning.

I failed to remember to thin out the allium christophii again since last season so their blooms are getting smaller as they fight for space but at least, since the removal of the trees, they are growing more upright and promise to be a picture beneath the many buds forming on rosa Prince Charles.
My one remaining hosta is standing up well against mollusc attack but these little stripey snails are worth hunting out!

Monday, 25 May 2015

".... Get me out of here."

So seldom do "strangers" come into the garden that I am always surprised by their responses. Today a neighbour's son was trying to help prop up a leaning fence post and popped round for my sledge hammer. Just beyond the greenhouse he announced he wasn't going any further (and I can't blame him with Rosa Canary Bird still doing its thing right across the path so you have to contort yourself around it) before then asking if they film "I'm a celebrity...." here as it is just like a jungle! I don't seem to be able to convey this in my pictures but then if I did, no-one would see anything much!
Today was a brilliant gardening day - a whole bank holiday of it - and I managed to get most things reasonably under control. Main objectives were a general tidy-up, trim and tie-back of perennials, dig out some of the mass of Lily of the Valley and dig up the tulip bulbs (I know, terrible but I just don't have space to let them die back) and seek out the dahlias which have overwintered and give them some light and slug-deterrent support. While removing the tulip foliage I found plenty of slugs and snails although the worst damage they do is to a large clump of white bearded irises growing behind the greenhouse. Just as whole stems of buds are about to open they are gobbled right through. Happily this has not happened to the ones nearer the house which stand out so serenely against the deep blue ceanothus.
Another plant which sits well with it is Clematis "Royal Velour" whose first lush bloom appeared this week.
The fruit area seems to be flourishing. In spite of the influx of Lily of the Valley and a mass of self-set foxgloves my blackcurrant bush has about four times more flowers than ever before, there are plenty of strawberries and the gooseberry bush is laden. I love to have an area where I can let the foxgloves do their own thing. They are one of the easiest and most successful biennials to transplant and so valuably fill a boring gap in dull shade.
I have despatched well over a dozed lily beetles this year and decided to pull up any non-flowering bulbs as they seem a great attraction, although I also found an orange-menace on an allium today. So far the later-flowering Lilium Formosanum cultivars seem to be fairly immune to lily beetles.
With regard to larger wildlife, a squirrel very nearly ran straight into me the yesterday morning - not expecting me to be there! But the bird population seems quite different this year. I have frequently seen a magpie passing through the garden and flocks of jackdaws flying about with their loud laughing and chuckling cries. There are the parakeets, red kites and I even saw a heron fly over today but other than robins and blackbirds and a few more sparrows than in recent years the smaller finches and tits seem to have all but vanished - my nesting box remains empty!
Enough rambling. Here are three first roses: Iceberg, extraordinarily formed almost like an old-fashioned noisette rose, Pat Austen and Warm Welcome, both well-complimented by the wisteria.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Superb little dry shade plant - ajuga reptans

This year the Lily of the valley have become so rampant I am going to have to have to dig a huge amount out - hopefully they will find homes. I have picked so many bunches this year and managed to do a few studio shots. But another plant which thrives in deep,very dry shade has flourished too, popping up in an unexpected spot where it looks quite magical.

The variegated Ajuga reptans is a little treasure - I had so neglected it I didn't know it was still there. What a way to treat something so delightful!

A curtain of wisteria

There is so much to do in the garden at present, it's hard to find time for blogging! So I will keep it brief. This year the new trellis has been a great support for the wisteria whose massive racemes of pale lilac flowers are like a curtain and smell divine. Here are a couple of shots. As, I've said before, NOT the best placing and NOT the ideal plant for a small garden but I love it all the same and wisdom in the garden can be very dull....

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

First flowering climbers and returning swallows

My grass had its first treatment by Greensleeves this week along with instructions to do a bit of pruning around the shady areas. I already had! But everything is growing so fast at present I can hardly keep up with it. The lily of the valley is most rampant - marching up the garden and invading everything I don't actively dig it out from. There will be more than I can hope to re-home but I will be trying.
It's hard to decide what has excited me the most, but the return of the cheery swooping and peeping of the swallows ranks very high. The unexpected partnership of early flowers on Rosa Madame Alfred Carriere - budding up profusely since I remembered to train its long stems horizontally - with the cheery pale pink Clematis montana is also very satisfying as they scramble through the bay hedge supporting them.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Vibrant tulips on a sunny Bank Holiday!!!!

Determined to make the most of the day, I got up at 6.00 on Monday and was duly rewarded. After a dull start the sun soon came out, providing ideal gardening conditions - much different from the terrific winds we have today.
The tulips are just about at their peak. I'm still not entirely sure what they all are (object-lesson - keep better records) but the fringed "Curly Sue" is fun and I'm glad of the paler pink to give a bit of relief to the more vibrant colours. The yellow-orange-red Jimmy has enormous flowers, rather dominating its magenta partner Renaldo which I think works better with Ballerina - as in the picture right - one which hung on from last year. Try as I might to get overall shots which (I feel) do the collection justice I decided (eventually) to just enjoy them and their transcience, although I am happy with a few of the closer shots.
The grass is less of a success story with some patches looking quite bare. I don't know if I didn't water sufficiently in the first weeks or if the problem is to do with heavy shade and maybe even a bit too much water in the shadier spots. Time will tell. From a distance it still looks great anyway and I am hopeful it will settle down and green up evenly.
I got seduced by some sweet pea plants at Dorney Court garden centre the other day. I'm such a sucker and I really don't need having to find time to dig a big hole to fill with manure in order to give them a fair chance - but I did. Having saved the off-shoots from the hazel tree when it was cut down I managed to make a couple of very sparse, make-shift wigwam-type supports - one for a pot and another for the new space made by the hazel's removal. The sweet peas are a deep red-magenta "Windsor" and a blue-white mix. Hopefully they will combine with the clematis and golden hop to give me a bit of scented height while I decide whether or not to plant a small pear tree to replace the hazel - a nice slow-growing dwarf one!