Tuesday, 31 May 2011

End Of Month View ~ May 2011

My May end of month view is from a different part of the garden than I normally feature . I am starting off a border almost from scratch again. The ground cover - a rubus that I allowed himself to plant turned into a monster which swallowed all in its path, so its back to bare earth again apart from a clematis jouiana praecox which resides at one end. Whilst I ponder over a permanent plan for this bed, which is in the only really sunny spot of the garden, I have stuck in some odds and ends. These have been lurking in the cold frame and include some day lilies, a couple of hardy purple leaved geraniums grown from seed, another couple of hardy geraniums, dahlias 'Bishops Children' again grown from seed as well as some penstemons that I took cuttings of last year. There are some verbena bonariensis seedlings waiting on the sidelines until they are big enough to plant. I am also going to plant some allium sphaerocephalon which I planted in pots last autumn. I had intended to transfer the latter from pot to ground yesterday but rain stopped play. This planting will be temporary but will at least give a bit of colour this summer and will be a change from my usual colour palette. Meanwhile there are embroynic plans for more permanent planting - hardy geraniums, osteospernums, alliums, thymes, oereganum and grasses are swirling round in my head. Any other suggestions for sun lovers would be more than welcome. I am rather a shady lady.

The 'End Of Month View' is the idea of The Patient Gardener and is an excellent method of garden recording.

P.S. It is with some disbelief that I report that the fatsia japonica that was lurking in my end of month border has finally been removed. We have replanted it - to say that it is looking sickly is an understatement!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Déjà vu



Earlier this month I set off for the Malvern Spring Gardening Show with a relatively modest shopping list of five plants. Now why did I come back with only one plant on the list but more than I intended? I realised by mid morning that the contents of my horticultural shopping basket looked rather familiar. I was buying plants that have been in the garden before. Firstly there was the delicate foliage and white buttoned flowers of ranunculus aconitfolius 'Flore Peno'. I much prefer its common name of 'Fair Maids of France'. I had this beauty some time ago but then it fizzled out. The fact that the foliage disappears reasonably quickly after planting did probably not help. I am sure that it has already had a second coming so hopefully this reincarnation might be a case of third time lucky. How many times do you persevere with a must have plant? Maybe it could be a category in 'The Guiness Book of Records'. Then there was Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus with its striking magenta spikes. Again I have grown it before only for it to disappear to that giant plant catalogue in the sky. I have also attempted to grow it from bulbs only to be cruelly thwarted by squirrels who stumbled on a gourmet lunch. This time round I received what might be some potentially crucial advice from Avon Bulbs, that they would only sell it to me if I promised to plant it it deeper than it was in the pot. They must have taken one look at me and sensed my track record.

On the herb front a 'Morrocan mint' - yes I know that mints are hard to see the back of and a small angelica archangelica. I have not actually been responsible for the demise of the later (yet). It is growing in statuesque splendour at the allotment just now. It's huge flower heads are covered by bees who seem to settle and doze upon it. However from what I understand that the plant will disappear after it flowers and sets seeds. It may self seed but I thought that I would have a stand by at hand. It can be difficult to transplant as it has a tap root so I ignored the larger specimens for sale in favour of a diddy one. 

Finally on the have been there before scenario another attempt with Brunnera macrophylla 'Looking Glass' as my previous attempt turned out to be an impostor. My fault for not being more observant and for always believing what I read on a plant label. 

Ticked off my shopping list though was tiarella 'Appalachian Trails' which you can see in the above photo. I am still trying to find a nook or cranny for it to fit into. Not only do I like the foliage but it really does have a trailing habit so would look great in a container. In a talk to our garden club  in 2009 Vicky Fox from Plantagogo, indicated that there was some exciting breeding work taking place with tiarellas. I wonder if this is one of the results.


I did buy a couple more new to me plants which I am really pleased about but more of them another day.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

'Here Comes The Sun'


Simply singing out on a sunny sultry day ~ we screeched to a stop to take a snap of these sunflowers one afternoon last summer.


Saunter over to ABC Wednesday now for some savvy posts on the sassy letter S.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Whodunit?



Whilst I am looking forward to another episode of 'Vera' (a television detective series based on the novels of Ann Cleeves and set in Northumberland) tonight there have been rum goings on nearer to home earlier today.

The Scene - in the recesses of my greenhouse.

When? -  between 10.30 am and 2.00pm.

The Crime - some creature unknown has pulled out some of my climbing French beans which had just germinated and left them like amok as you can see in the above photo. 

Who Could Be Doing Time?
  • A bird perhaps deciding to have a bit of a nibble - so why did it turn its beak up at such fine fare?
  • Mr or Mrs Duck who occasionally venture into the garden. No - they are much too sweet to do anything so dastardly.
  • Big Ginge - the cat who treats our garden and its contents as his own. I have seen Ginge in the greenhouse before but I think that he just sees it as somewhere warm and cosy for a nap. Surely he would turn his nose up at my French beans. Besides which both himself and I have a soft spot for this regular visitor and I like to think kindly of him.
  • Could it be the rat which I spotted recently which may be taking revenge on me for contacting the pest control officer?
  • Top of my short list though is one of the squirrels which are constant pests in the garden. I am also blaming them for chewing off the top of one of my tree lily bulbs. This also happened quite recently. I have never seen a squirrel in the greenhouse but I suppose there's always a first time. I am just hoping that this is a one off incident rather than the start of serial crime.
The Verdict 
There will be murder should I catch the culprit! 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Stewed Apple And Custard

R IS FOR?

RED!
~ as are these ruby hips of rosa rubignosa. This rose was formerly known as rosa eglanteria and is the eglantine in Shakespeare's famous lines from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream"

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk - roses and with eglantine."

I have two of these rose plants ~ one of in the garden and one at the allotment. It will be a while before the hips appear ~ the rose has still to flower. However it has been a source of great pleasure in recent days. After weeks of dry and warm weather we finally have had some rain and in mild, damp conditions the leaves of this rose smell like ripe apples, their scent carrying through the air ~ all that's missing is the custard!

N.B. I had a rare senior moment last week regarding the sequence of the alphabet and published this in error in case some of you think that you may have read it before :)  I was just about to post to ABC Wednesday when I realised. I must have a mental block about the letter Q - that's my excuse. Race over to ABC Wednesday now where you can really relish the letter R!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Malvern Spring Gardening Show 2011


Once again the magic of The Malvern Spring Gardening show worked its spell on me ~ my feet may still be aching, my purse is somewhat diminished but my soul is greatly refreshed.  As usual on arrival I made a beeline for the grand floral marquee which was jam packed with colour and fragrance. The psychedelic giant allium you can see above was the stunning centrepiece of the Avon Bulbs stand. Apparently the standard of exhibits in the marquee was so high that a record number of gold medals was awarded by The Royal Horticultural Society.  I spent most of the morning mooching in the marquee, pausing only to make an attempt to find the plant creche, when my hands became full with purchases but decided not to join the queue as I was leaving the showground briefly at lunchtime. Time then catch up with some fellow garden bloggers albeit too briefly, before meeting up with himself in the camper van for a most welcome picnic lunch and a breather.

Back for the afternoon session we initially went in separate directions. I stopped off to see the various  societies which were providing information and advice on a variety of plants and gardening matters. Then it was off to see the show gardens. Like other bloggers I was most taken with the exhibits of the two gold medal winning entries Hannah Genders's 'My Very Local Veg Garden' and  the Graduate Gardeners Ltd 'A Garden For Life'.  I spent more time lingering over the former ~



The garden was created as its title suggests from locally sourced materials and plants and to my mind despite its modern appearance was most reminiscent of cottage gardening, when before the age of mass travel people grew their gardens from what they could lay their hands on near to home. Hence this garden featured a wigwam of French beans, the wigwam made from locally coppiced wood and the beans grown from seed that had been harvested and saved from year to year, over a period of a quarter of a century.

'A Garden For Life' was most striking and original. I would have liked to have spent longer looking at it but the skies were beginning to threaten so my my progress had to gather space accordingly to fit all the other show gardens in ~



The garden featured an A framed building designed for family use. There was an entertainment area for adults and a secret den for children in the upper area. The garden incoporated several 'green' concepts including a solar powered water feature. There was a beehive and a wormery, a fruit and vegetable garden and a mini greenhouse. Ornamental planting included alliums, aquilegias, irises, alchemilla mollis and thalictrum. You can find some excellent photos and detailed descriptions of the garden here, here and here as well as a most comprehensive set of the Graduate Gardeners's own photos posted on flickr

I managed to get back under cover in time before the first rainfall of the day which was fortunately short and sweet in duration. Time to rendezvous with himself for a final wonder round the marquee and then into the food hall to find some goodies for our evening meal. What did I take away with me with apart from plant purchases, seeds and beanpoles? Well I am determined to track down one of these ladybird bird feeders  ~


I have been inspired to try out this colour combination which positively zinged out under rapidly darkening skies ~


Not quite so sure though about the inclusion of the stainless steel bread bins.

A peek into the education and schools activities area left me with a smile on my face and a feeling that the future of gardening is in good hands ~


and finally I have concluded that a day at the show is simply not long enough!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Misbehaving Badly


Aquilegias which are well known for their promiscuous and perfidious behaviour are certainly living up to their reputation in my garden this spring. I can only recall planting one aquilegia in this border - the delightful two toned  'Nora Barlow' which is said to come true from seed. Yet this spring I have a pink tinged double white, a blue tinged double white, a dusky single pink, purple ~ both single and double as well as a most dubious two toned purple and white. I know that the all purple has probably drifted in from around the corner but as to the others I am left guessing their parentage. I think that 'Nora Barlow' is probably sulking as she is behind the others and has still to open fully. It may interest you to know that the Nora Barlow who this plant was named after was Charles Darwin's granddaughter. She was a keen gardener and lived to the age of 104. She studied genetics at Cambridge and attempted to hybridise various flowers including aquilegias. However the 'Nora Barlow' aquilegia was almost certainly not the result of one of her own experiments, since a similar form was known going back to the sixteenth century. 'Nora Barlow' grew in her own garden though and a friend was to pass on seed to the nurseryman Alan Bloom of Bressingham with the suggestion that he might like to stock the plant. A condition was that the plant was named 'Nora Barlow'.


If you are a fan of aquilegias and can travel to the Swansea area you might like to visit 'Touchwood', the garden of Carrie Thomas, who holds a national collection of aquilegia vulgaris and aquilegia hybrids. The garden is due to open this month ~ see here for details. Carrie also welcomes visitors by appointment at other times. She also sells a range of aquilegia seeds as well as seed of other cottage garden plants.

Friday, 6 May 2011

End Of Month View ~ April 2011


Rather late in the day but my efforts to take photos on the 30th April were thwarted by a rather gusty wind. At long last it calmed down enough yesterday for me to get out with my camera but I decided on a change of scenery for this month. I am sure that like me you are also getting fed up of looking at that overgrown castor oil plant that has been awaiting transplant for an age. So instead I am taking you back to the hellebore bank which I blogged about earlier this year here.  Now I am using artistic lisence and extending the garden boundaries slightly for this post. As I wrote in my earlier post "Our garden is bordered on one side by a surface water stream - on the other side of the stream there is a sloping bank which rises up to meet the main road. This area is about 500 square metres and contains some twelve mature trees which were there before us". I am slowly trying to plant this unadopted area up ~ earlier in the year there are snowdrops and I am also introducing some hellebores. However every year completely unaided and unabetted by me there is a scene which takes my breath away, when for a couple of weeks the area is covered with a foamy sea of anthriscus sylvestris, commonly known as cow parsley. The odd bluebell is thrown into the works. I can almost imagine that I am living in the country instead of just off a busy main town road.




The end of month view is hosted by The Patient Gardeners's Weblog each month and is a excellent way of keeping track of the seasonal changes in your garden.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Peek - A - Boo!

P IS FOR?

Polygonatum odaratum ~  or to give the plant it's common names of 'Solomon's Seal', which I am sure that you will agree is much easier to pronounce.

This is one of my all time favourite plants and is flowering in my garden now. The pendulous white flowers tipped with green dangle gracefully down from arched stems. Pure perfection in the plant world as far as I am concerned.

Please pop over to ABC Wednesday where there's a promise that you will find more on the letter P.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day ~ May 2011



'May Night'
'The spring is fresh and fearless 
And every leaf is new, 
The world is brimmed with moonlight, 
The lilac brimmed with dew.

Here in the moving shadows 
I catch my breath and sing-- 
My heart is fresh and fearless 
And over-brimmed with spring.' 
~ Sarah Teasedale, 1884 - 1933


Mull over more May muses over at 'Sweet Home and Garden Chicago'