End of Month View April 2021

One of the positive outcomes of being working from home and my son being furloughed is that various jobs we have spoken about for a while are getting done.  A case in point is the widening of the patio.  If you look back to my tour of the garden at the end of March you will see that there used to be a border along the base of the wall which I had emptied of the ferns which had outgrown the space.  The other weekend we finally got around to paving the space to widen the patio; due to the lockdown rules we have had to use what we had so the slabs aren’t laid properly in sand and we have had to fill in with small paving slabs and bricks.  Maybe one day we will do this better.

My little greenhouse is at capacity at the moment and it hasn’t worked this hard for years.  I’m just getting to the point where some of the tenders that are housed in here (out of shot) will be able to go out and the tomatoes will be planted up.

The view as you go up the steps from the patio and you get a clue as to why the greenhouse is working so hard – the Little Veg Bed.

I’m really pleased with the border along the top of the wall but it is really hard to photograph, as is most of the garden. I have focused the border on a very English border style.  The backbone of the border is three step over apples which I have trained for some years now and the prostrate rosemary. Then the border has the majority of my roses which I appear to have been collecting without really realising it.  I have interplanted around the roses with herbs – sage, curry plant, sweet cicely.  These are accompanied by alliums, a stray camassia, geraniums, and some other perennials.  It is all looking very lush and full and I am very pleased with the texture of all the leaves.

The creation of the Little Veg Bed was completed this past weekend.  I haven’t removed all the flowers leaving a border of flowers at each end and also two clumps which comprise of agapanthus and alliums which I don’t want to use. Having cleared the border as much as I was going to I have planted out the sweet peas and mangetout and sowed a few salad crops.  Again like the patio we have had to make due with what we could find for the plant supports; the price you pay when you get rid of everything in a big clear out and then decide to grow veg just before a lock down but I think it works.

The border at the far end of the garden has suffered from my loppers. There is a huge Euphorbia xpasteurii ‘Phampton Patty’ in this border which was completely swamping things.  As a result of a conversation in the summer with Bob of Cotswold Garden Flowers I have chopped it down to the ground and will wait to see if it re-shoots.  It has meant that I have cleared lots of space for the herbaceous plants that I needed to relocate to make the veg bed.  If the Euphorbia re-shoots I will try to keep it under control more.

The top of the previous border going up to the top of the garden which is looking quite nice.  The Rhododendron ‘Happy’ is just beginnging to flower and appears to have for forgiven me for another experiment with the loppers. There is a bit of thinning needed in this border especially as there is a large persicaria in there trying to take over but it can wait for now.

Looking back from the top of the garden to the Little Veg Bed and you can see that it is in a really central location which goes against the norm but I love it.

And the shady back of the garden which is a little out of control at the moment but in a good way.  The slope is home to most of my fern collection and there are fern fronds appearing everywhere. I’ve recently moved the bird table here originally as it I was in the way when I was doing some weeding but it has stayed put (for now) and means that my son’s workshop has become a sort of hide so he gets to watch the birds while he is doing his cabinet making.

My final shot this month is the top of the slope at the back of the garden which has been taken over by Honesty and is quite mad.  I have been thinking I need to sort it out but my youngest son who dropped round the other day (keeping the appropriate distance) was amazed at the colour and thought it was great so it gets a reprieve for now.  However, I will need to get the stems out as they go over as I dont want any more self sown honesty – honestly!

The Front Garden – Bringing Joy

I love my Front Garden at the moment.  I love the vibrancy of the acid yellow Euphorbia and the purple honesty.  I love the way the breeze, or wind today, moves the Anemanthele lessoniana that I relocated here a few weeks ago bringing movement to this otherwise quite staid border. The Anemanthele has been shoe-horned in amongst the emerging asters in a way that any serious or mildly well informed gardener would blanch at.  My excuse, although I don’t really think I need one, is that the asters are making a bid for world domination and they are a complete nightmare to dig out of clay soil.  Plus the act of clearing the whole border of the asters would probably leave me in traction.  So the answer is to dig out the asters as and where I want to add other plants and to see if the addition of 3 large Anemanthele lessioniana and a rather large Watsonia will be sufficient to break up the monotony of the asters.

Asters monotonous you say?  Outrageous!  Well they are if only one or possibly two varieties are dominating the rest and when there is little to make the border interesting for the rest of the year.  Just clumps of dark green foliage sitting there for months on end.  They need friends to bring them joy and enliven them and although I have some Rudbeckias in this border I want more year round interest than just Late Summer.  That was the original plan, an ill conceived one in such a small garden.  If I had acres to play with having borders that peak at certain times of the year would be lovely but in a small garden every square metre has to work very hard and has to bring me joy.

Yes, I have been watching too much Marie Kondo , and that was before the lockdown so no excuse really, but whilst it can become appear a little OCD and perfectionist there are valuable lessons in her message which I have found quite liberating.  It has helped me reorganise and clear out my wardrobes finding clothes I had forgotten about and leaving me loving what is left and also deeply conscious that I really don’t need more clothes (don’t start me on how unsustainable the fashion industry is).  When you relate this to the garden, especially when some of your borders are 10 or more years old, you realise that your tastes have changed, plants have outgrown their spot or conversely struggled on their best.  So now I don’t compromise so much and if there is a plant which really isn’t working its out and if it is lucky it finds a new home elsewhere in the garden.

The result is borders that are full of reasonably sized plants, planted well in good combination informed by years of mistakes, and which most importantly bring me joy.

Six on Saturday – After the Rain

Darmera peltata

I’ve been moving a lot of plants around over the last couple of weeks partly to clear the Big Border for edibles but also to address some of the plants that have outgrown their space or just aren’t looking great any more.  It has made be really aware of how dry the soil was becoming and I have found myself having to get the hose out several times a week to try to help the plants survive the trauma of being unceremoniously hauled out of the ground.

Yesterday late afternoon the rain finally appeared, fine rain, nothing much to write home about and to be honest a little disappointing. But this morning I was thrilled to wake to heavy and persistent rain which only really eased early afternoon.

Going out to take some photos for Six on Saturday post it was lovely to smell that wonderful fresh smell that you only get from a good downfall of rain.  Not only does it smell fresh but there is that wonderful light that comes with the sun starting to push through the mist and clouds making everything feel soft and lush.

So to my Six on Saturday.  First up is Darmera peltata, also known as the ‘Umbrella Plant’.  I grow this plant mainly for its leaves which are umbrella like, hence the name, and do very well in the damp shade border.  However, the flowers make a welcome and interesting addition to the shady border.  Next up are Bluebells.  I have no idea is these are English or Spanish but they have been in my garden for years and come from the hedgerow near my parents old house in the country so I would like to think they were English.

Trillium grandiflorum (probably)

My third is this Trillium which I am super pleased with.  I think it is Trillium grandiflorum but happy to be corrected.  I have had it for some years now and it has appeared every year with one flower.  This year it has decided to produce three flowers which is just wonderful and makes me incredibly happy.

Primula denticulata

Number 4 is Primula denticulata. This individual is just one of a group of ten or more which have developed from one plant grown from seed probably ten years or more ago.  Back in the Autumn I was sorting out the Woodland border and decided to divide up the Primula denticulata quite aggressively and I have been rewarded with more and stronger flowers, proving that plants sometimes do respond well to a little rough treatment.

Camassia

Number 5 are Camassias.  These are starting to be a bit of a weed in my garden.  Having bought a couple of bulbs years back they have been either seeding around or the bulbs bulking up either way I have been redistributing them around the garden and to be honest composting quite a few.

Deutzia

Number Six: Deutzia.  This shrub was in the garden when we moved in 17 years ago and never fails to deliver an abundance of flowers every year.  I’m sure its early this year as I think it normally flowers around the time of the Malvern Spring Show which is the second weekend of May.

I’m anticipating that with the warm weather forecast for next week and the amount of rain that we have had today the garden will really be bursting with new growth and flowers by next weekend.

The Little Veg Bed

Finally, got around to writing this blog post about my gardening exploits this past weekend.  The weather was delightful, dry and sunny and it was the perfect opportunity to set to and put my plans for a vegetable/fruit bed into action.  I reported in previous posts how I had decided to convert the ‘Big Border’ in the middle of the garden to grow produce and I have moved a few plants but it really needed a concerted effort and focus to progress it properly.

I did managed to buy three bags of farmyard manure before the lockdown and I have been saving them for the vegetable border.  I spent Saturday working through the first section of the border, just over a third of the border.  Many snowdrops were lifted, luckily its the ideal time to move them in the green; perennials were moved mainly to the border on the other side of the grass path; some camassias were relocated to the slope and I have to admit that a significant number of camassias have gone to the great compost heap in the sky.  Now some might be shocked by this but the camassias were taking over the border and their large leaves and bulbs make it challenging to grow much else so the time was rip for a cull.

This is the border at the end of Saturday.  I add two of my precious bags of manure, dug it all over and raked it.  I’m going to try to not walk on the border having worked so hard on the soil.

Sunday was planting day which was very exciting.  Raspberry canes went in along the top of the border by the grass path.  I had bought a couple of pots of canes before the lock down but then realised on Sunday that I now had 10 canes and if I placed them the appropriate 1ft apart I wouldn’t be able to fit them in.  So I have thrown caution to the wind and have planted them in a double row with the canes planted at 45 degrees to the ones in the adjacent row, so its a kind of zig-zag, if you see what I mean.  The fruit section was expanded with a rhubarb, some relocated Sweet Cicely, a Gooseberry Invicta and half a dozen Strawberries.

The Veg are represented by four Potato Sharpe’s Express, three Broccoli, Shallots started in pots, some Lettuce Little Gem seedlings.  In addition I have sown Rocket, Beetroot and a salad leaf mix.

Here is the Little Veg Bed at the end of Sunday all planted up and no space to spare.  I’m now planning on extending across the border as I will hopefully have Courgette, more potatoes, and Sweet Peas to plant as well as other salad seeds.

And to just finish off my happiness we have good steady rain on Sunday night so the border has had a good soak.

I can’t believe how much I have enjoyed pulling this border together.  I’m really excited about the prospect of finally making veg growing work so watch this space to see how I do.

 

Six on Saturday – 27 April 2019

I had such good intentions of posting my six on Saturday post yesterday. I took the photos in the morning despite Storm Hannah gusting her way across the garden sending my neighbours fence off down his garden. But then it all went pear shaped and I caught my foot in a pile of bed linen sitting waiting for the washing machine – I went flying but got back up and limped on with the housework only to stub the same toe on the stair riser at which point I burst into tears and was told by my son to just stop.

It really knocked the stuffing out of me so even sitting writing a blog post seemed to much until this evening. My biggest worry is that I am off on my travels a week tomorrow with quite a bit of walking so I do hope the bruised toe will be better by then. Whilst my toe is a bluey purple the garden is very blue at the moment with the camassias in full bloom.

I love camassias; they do really well in my garden possibly because of the clay soil but it may also be that they are in a slope  so good drainage. They have been multiplying for a number of years now and I really need to thin some out. I did add a few a couple of weeks back to the front garden but the lesson I learnt was that camassias don’t transfer well when they are about to flower. However, they should look great next year.

But its not all Camassias the Deutzia has just started flowering and as ever is looking stunning.  I inherited it when I bought the house 13 years ago and every year it never fails to deliver a wealth of flowers.

Tulip China Town
Tulip China Town

Last week I showed you Tulip China Town in bud and now its flowering, I think it looks more stunning in bud but its still pretty gorgeous.

And finally, the flowers on the Melianthus major is still unfurling.  The leaves are looking a little frazzled but the flowers are quite wonderful in their weird way.

Those of my highlights this week, next week I’m anticipating the Dutch Iris will be flowering.

For more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagtor’s blog – who kindly hosts this great meme

Six on Saturday 20th April – Tulips

Tulip Ballerina

As the tulips are coming into their own this week I thought I would have a tulip special for Six on Saturday.

Tulip Ballerina grows in the front garden and is very slowly naturalising.   I planted the bulbs some years back now and each year they appear although I’m not convinced they are multiplying that quickly more a case of coming back year on year and they do seem to have longer stems now.  Today with the sun shining they look quite magical.

Tulip Blue Diamond

Another front garden tulip this year is Tulip Blue Diamond which was in a collection pack from Peter Nyssen. This year is the first year for a few years where I have made a conscious effort to add tulips to the borders.  I used to grow quite a few but the year we had the really hard winter I discovered that the “cute” badger who had decided to visit our garden looking for food had a weakness for tulips and all my bulbs were eaten. As we haven’t seen the badgers for a few years now I decided to have another go and the effort is certainly rewarding me.

Tulip Spring Green

Tulip White Parrot seems to be a later tulip.  Here it is growing amongst some Camassias which will be flowering in the next week or so.  You will see in due course that I have quite a swathe of Camassias in the middle of my garden which have increased year on year to the point where I seriously need to think about dividing them but I will save that until next week.

Another rogue tulip – I think it is meant to be Tulip Elegant Lady which is a pale pink.  This flower reminds me of someone not mixing the paint properly.  I think it has a rather distinctive charm about it.

Tulip Princess Irene

Tulip Princess Irene is another tulip which comes back year on year.  I think it is one of the nicest oranges and works well with so many other flowers especially reds and burgundys

Tulip China Town

Tulip Chinatown has been delighting me for weeks even though it hasn’t flowered yet.  I love its glaucous variegated foliage. The tulip will be pink so it should be quite wonderful.

I will definitely be planting more tulips next year and looking forward to seeing which ones come back up from this year.

For more Six on Saturday check out The Propagator’s Blog

 

 

 

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Lathyrus vernus

I’m starting this month’s GBBD post (possibly the first one this year) with a favourite plant at the moment which I think is very overlooked, Lathyrus vernus; I also think the photo is rather nice.  This is the pink version but the most common is a blue/purple version.

Lathyrus vernus

If you don’t know it then I would recommend it to you.  Part of the pea family, a low growing perennial which appears at this time of year, flowers and then disappears so good to plant around late summer perennials to keep the interest going.

Just by the Lathyrus vernus is this herbaceous clematis (I have no idea of its name) which picks up the colour well, albeit it unplanned.

Narcissus Beautiful Eyes
Narcissus ‘Freedom Stars’ – probably

The garden has had a lovely display of Narcissus over the last month which is still going strong.  I added quite a few new varieties to the main border, having identified that it looked a little flat this time last year.  They have made a real difference and I want to do the same in some other parts of the garden for next year.

The tulips are just starting to flower.  There are a few variegated ones which will be opening in the next week but I thought I would share this rogue one. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to any of the other tulips I have added so I am assuming it is a rogue bulb that got into the wrong bag at the bulb merchants – however, it is rather gorgeous.

Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’

Last of the bulbs that I thought I would share this month – Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’.  I’m not the biggest fan of the general Muscari as they spread everywhere and produce a disproportionate amount of foliage but ‘Valerie Finnis’ is very different.  I love the pale blue flowers and it seems to be fairly well behaved in terms of foliage.

Hertia cheirifolia

Just by the Muscari ‘Valeria Finnis’ is Hertia cheirifolia which I added last summer.  I bought it on a trip for its grey succulent foliage so the flowers are a bonus.

A couple of my epimediums, they do have labels but they are buried well beneath the plants.  I do like epimediums, their foliage is a great foil for other plants during the year and then at this time of year there is the added bonus of these dainty flowers although sometimes you could be forgiven of overlooking them.

Magnolia stellata

A finally, my little Magnolia stellata.  I have had this for years and it just sat there doing nothing, so I moved it a few years ago to a different location with more shade, better drainage, and less competition and it has rewarded me with a growth spurt and now I can see a flutter of white flowers from my living room window.

I hope you enjoyed my highlights for this month and thank you to Carol for hosting this wonderful meme.

 

Six on Saturday – 13/4/19

A gorgeous day in the garden here in Malvern.  Whilst there has been a cool wind, when the sun shone it was almost t-shirt warm.  Especially when you are rapidly going up and down a sloping garden moving pots around. As I hope to do Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post on Monday I thought I would try and avoid flowering photos.  So my first photo is a Cornus backlit by the sun.  I’ve no idea what it is, I’ve had it for ever and it never seem to put much growth on.  I have removed the odd stem in the past to see if I can get those nice red winter stems but I have concluded today that this really isn’t that type of Cornus so I will let it shrub up.

Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Some of the ferns are starting to send up their new fronds.  My favourite at this time of year is the Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis). I love the colour of the fronds, a sort of grey burgandy and they are just opaque enough to glow when the sun shines.

 

Arisaema speciosum

Another plant that fascinates me at this time of year is the Arisaema speciosum.  Their mottled stems appear and then their three leaves slowly unfold before the weird spathe type flower appears – quite fascinated.  I grew these from seed probably about 10 years ago now and they flower every year without fail

The winds last month blew most of the flowers off the Camellia (variety unknown) so I was really surprised today to notice there seems to be a second flush of flower buds.  I’m sure they are new buds as opposed to original buds which were slow to open.

I mentioned, at the top of the post, that I have been going up and down the garden all day moving pots.  I decided my focus today was to sort the patio out and plant out everything I can.  I haven’t sown any seeds this year nor do I plan to. I have decided this year to abstain.  My reason for this is that I have been growing plants from seed for at least a decade and I have loved it.  I have all sorts of strange plants in the garden as a result of seed exchanges but at the moment my spare time is limited whilst I love the excitement when something germinates, I hate it when the seedling gets too leggy as I haven’t moved them on quickly enough. It will also give me the chance to get on top of things rather than spending all my spare time pricking out.  The little box above was a seedling I picked up from a walk way at a garden somewhere. It was little more than a matchstick and it has languished in various pots, growing slowly for around 10 years.  It has grown despite me!.  I thought I would treat it today and pot it up into a new pot with fresh compost and give it more of a starring role.  This is the very right hand side of my patio and if we have heavy rain this corner floods and can stay wet for days.  It has always been hard to manage but in recent years I have gone with the conditions and it is planted with a number of iris that like a bit of damp such as Ensata Iris, some Sensitive Ferns (Onoclea sensibilis) and a variegated grass/sedge which likes the damp.  There is also a tall grass which people grow in bog garden which has taken over this corner so I spent a difficult hour digging as much of it as I can out.  This should give the irises more of a chance to establish.

My last photo is the left of my patio.  I need to say here that I dislike my patio and plan to replace it at some point but its down the end of a long list of expense. This photo was taken when I had moved about half the pots of seedlings.  I have a significant number of peony and lily seedlings grown from HPS seed exchanges which I have been dutifully potting on.  Why I thought I needed to try to grow so many I have no idea – I think it was a case of having a go and not expecting much germination.  They are now all relocated up the garden by the top bench where it will be shady and they are out of the way.  In the muddle by the greenhouse are also the various snowdrops I bought back in February and these have all now been planted out with labels. I’m pleased to say that all the little pots to the right of the photo have gone and most of the plants have been planted out.  So next weekend, I will weed the patio ready for some summer patio pots.   I should confess that whilst all those pots have now gone, I have as many to the right of the patio which I am hoping to sort tomorrow.

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting this weekly meme which is really getting me back and engaged with my garden.  I love reading everyone else’s, which you can find in the comments, on the Propagators blog – I have to confess to hardly reading blogs for some years and it a real delight to find so many new and interesting gardeners and gardens.

Six on Saturday 6/4/2019 – Front Garden Highlights

Grevillea victoriae

I need to learn to love my front garden just a bit more. Its a lot better than it was three or four years ago before I dug up the lawn but the truth is I just walk past it every day and every so often I find myself thinking I need to spend some time tidying up and sorting it out . So today I thought I would include it in the Six on Saturday meme so I would be forced to look at it more.

Grevillea Canberra Gem

There are two Grevilleas in the front garden.  The Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has been in the front garden for probably 11 years.  I love it, it reminds me of my late sister as I bought it with her. At the moment its about 5 ft high by 5 ft wide and thats after we heavily pruned it last Autumn by about 2ft all over.  It has just started flowering and is beloved by the pollinators.  The other grevillea is Grevillea victoriae (see top picture).  Interestingly, it has broad leaves not the pine like leaves of Canberra Gem and it is only the flower that really, in my opinion, indicates they are the same family. This shrub was added to the garden probably about five years ago and was moved a few times so is now only really begining to establish itself.  The shrub is less floriferious than the Canberra Gem, you really have to seek the flowers out, although I am wondering if that will improve with time.

Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’

As well as two Grevilleas, there are two Sorbus in the front garden; more of a flux than by design – I just like Sorbus.  I planted a Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) when we moved in 15 years ago and a couple of years back added Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ to add balance in the garden.  They form a sort of triangle of trees with a Birch being the third point.  I was pleased to see the leaves had reappeared today, as it struggled last year in the drought and was one of the few plants that I consistently ensured had a good watering once a week.

Persicaria nepalensis

I have a preference for foliage these days over flowers as I think the garden looks better all year round with a good tapestry of interesting foliage and then flowers add interest as they come and go.  I’m not the biggest fan of Persicaria as it can be a bit of a thug and attempt to take over a border (been there, done that) but I did succumb to Persicaria nepalenis because of its beautiful leaves.  I think the flowers are a pale pink, but as I can’t remember it shows you that the main attraction of this plant is its leaves.

Lunaria ‘Chedglow’

Last week I showed you the swath of Lunaria (Honesty) at the back of the main garden, which self seeds around.  From the colouring of the leaves they seem to be a cross between a couple of Lunaria I have grown over the years.  In the front garden I am more certain that the Lunaria are self-sown Lunaria ‘Chedglow’ due to the distinctive dark stems and leaves with variegation.  This one has placed itself in the gravel path and is thriving.

Fritillary melegaris (Snakeshead Fritillary)

Finally, I spotted a line of Snakeshead Fritillary growing along the beech hedge.  I planted them years back when there was a lawn and I laboured over whether or not the dryness under the hedge would work for them for not.  It seems to have worked well, although now it means that the fritillaries are growing at the back of a big border and not really seen so I may have a think about trying to relocate them – or maybe not.

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting this weekly meme which gets me into the garden even when I dont have time to garden but I can find 5 minutes to take some photo and see what is happening, and ponder plans.