Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2020

It’s been a while since I posted a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) post but with my renewed blogging and a sunny morning I thought I would post away.

My approach is slightly different to my previous approach.  I have always taken close up photos of flowers especially for this meme but today I have pulled back a bit so you can see the context the plant is growing in, this is purely because my plants have matured and I am rather pleased with some of the combinations.

I’m starting in the front garden with the mad Euphorbia characias which is collapsing all over the place at the moment.  I adore the chartreuse green of the flower heads and it creates a perfect foil for both the aquilegias (above) and Iris Langport Wren (below).

Also in the front garden is one of my climbing roses.  I’m fairly new to climbing roses as the paving around the house was put by the builders right up to the walls so I have to grow the roses in large containers and only realised this was possible a few years ago, having read that roses didn’t do well in pots.  I do like the way that the orange red flowers of the rose work with the bricks.

Another pleasing combination is the wild yellow flag iris which grows in the small bog garden with the flowers emerging through some self-sown bracken (just as I was thinking the bracken really needed to go).

I’m also enjoying the allium flowers which are growing through the sage and contrasting with the sage flowers.  I can’t claim this is a deliberate planting its more a case of the alliums sowing themselves around and finding much better companions that I would give them.

Last up this month is Lathyrus aureus which I love at this time of year.  I really enjoy the orange flowers which like the Euphorbia provide a good compliment to the purples and blues of the aquilegias and irises.

For more GBBD posts check out the links on Carol’s May Dream blog

Six on Saturday – Irises

 

As ever I’m late to the party but yesterday was such a nice day I decided to delay sitting at the laptop until this morning and I’m pleased I did as the sky is grey and the garden is being buffeted by a sporadic wind.

I like to try to theme my Six on Saturday posts (when I remember to do them) and this week it had to be Irises.  I have a real weakness for Irises of all sorts and am a member of the Iris Society.  I suspect I should call myself a disgraced member of the Iris Society as I am incapable of remembering plant names and plant labels never stay in place very long. However, I would argue in my defence that an inability to remember a plant name or where you got the plant from in the first place doesn’t mean you can’t be passionate about a genus and love them very much.

So here are my six for this weekend, all flowering yesterday in the garden.  I’m starting with Siberian Irises.  The top photo is of a plant given to me by a work colleague who had herself had it for many years, the name long lost.  It is so delicate and smaller in flower than the variety below.  Also unnamed and again I have had this plant for probably 15 years or more.  It doesn’t seem to flower as prolifically as it used to and I’m wondering if it needs dividing, or more moisture.

Pacific Coast Iris

Now I do know that this is a Pacific Coast Iris and I grew it from seed from the Iris Society about 4 years ago.  Last year it flowered for the first time and I seem to remember it had just 2 flowers, this year it has doubled up to 4 flowers. I get the impression that Pacific Coast Irises don’t have named varieties, maybe they cross pollinate too much to be reliable.  What I find fascinating about Pacific Coast Irises is that they seem to thrive in the most inhospitable conditions.  I have seen them growing in garden alongside dense conifers and in my own garden this plant is thriving next to a large and hungry Rosemary bush.  I do wonder why they aren’t recommended more often for those difficult locations, possibly because it seems the only way to acquire them is via seed from the Iris Society or a plant from a friend.

Iris Langport Wren

I love this Bearded Iris.  I love the deepness of the almost black petals, they are so sumptuous.  I have bought many Bearded irises over the years but only seem to have three varieties growing in my garden now.  I’m assuming that these are the doers, the ones that stand up to anything thrown at them – persistent rain, dislocation by a poor gardener, all sorts.  ‘Langport Wren’ is spread all around the garden, a clump here and a clump there.  This plant is on the edge of the new vegetable bed, guarding the lettuces.

Also on the edge of the vegetable bed are some Dutch Iris, or Florists Irises (above and below).  I buy bulbs of these most years, apart from last Autumn, and about 50% appear in the Spring and if I am lucky some of them reappear in later years.  I just love them.  The petals are like silk and they appear on long stems (obviously why florists like them) above the surrounding plants looking impossibly glamorous.  They are usually named but the names never stick in my head and I don’t think they matter to be honest.

 

I hope you enjoyed my Six on Saturday (well Sunday) and thank you to The Propagator for hosting this meme every Saturday, its not always easy to keep up with hosting a meme as I well know so well done.

In a vase on Monday – Late Spring

 

I was inspired by a couple of beautiful feeds on Instagram (@simplybyarrangement @kreettakreetta and @derletztewolf) to pick some late spring flowers from the garden and to attempt to arrange them artistically. I use the term ‘attempt’ as flower arranging is not my forte.  I’ve never been taught and to be honest I really like the bunch in a vase look.

The thing that really appealed to me about the 3 IG feeds is the Dutch Still Life feel many of their photos had.  I love Dutch Still Life.  I like the darkness of the backgrounds, the richness of the colours used and also the strangeness of some of the arrangements.  Obviously tulips lend themselves to this style given their history which is inextricably entwined with that period of Dutch art.

But my tulips are more or less over so my vases have a selection of what was looking lovely in the garden yesterday morning after the rain.  The large bunch is a mix of Deutzia, Aquilegias, Alliums, Geraniums, and some other bits and pieces.  Then there is a little charity shop vase with Lily of the Valley in it. I have loads of Lily of the Valley its becoming a bit of a weed in my garden.  ‘Chatting’ with @simplybyarrangement I have discovered that you are meant to pull Lily of the Valley rather than cut it i.e you pull the flower stem and it comes away from the supporting leaf which is sort of wrapped around it.  I will try that if I pick any more.  This vase is currently in my bedroom and the perfume is wonderful.  That leaves the Rhododendron ‘Happy’.  Every year I think I must pick some Rhodo flowers as they are up the garden and I never look at them much but life gets in the way.  Now as life is generally on hold I have sufficient head space to enact that thought and a beautiful flower is sitting on my coffee table for me to admire up close every evening.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting ‘ In a Vase on Monday’ meme – its hard work hosting a meme.

 

Six on Saturday – 1st June 2019

I can never decide if I like Papaver ‘Patty’s Plum’ or not.  The colour of the flower when it first opens is lovely and I can’t resist the tissue like petals but it does fade to a rather miserable brown as it dies.  Having said this my two plants of ‘Patty’s Plum’ are groaning with buds and I am anticipating the best ever show in the next week. There are two because being an oriental poppy when you attempt to move it you can more or less guarantee it will reshoot in the original position from some small element of root you have left behind. Interestingly, the red oriental poppy (name unknown) is always behind with its flowers and there are few obvious buds so far

Some of my alliums are behaving a little strangely this year by growing very tall with smaller flower heads than usual.  It seems to be mainly the alliums with flatter flower heads than the globe flower heads such as ‘Purple Sensation’ although they too seem to have smaller flower heads.  I can’t find the name of the variety above, its like Allium nigrum but has the pink inner petals so I am pretty sure it isn’t Allium nigrum.

I think this Thalictrum might be the  ‘Black Stockings’ admired elsewhere.  I am pretty sure these were grown from seeds some years back.  It is a nice Thalictrum as it isn’t too tall like some Thalictrums.

The Siberian Irises are also not flowering as much as in previous years and I suspect that they and the alliums have been affected by the drought last year.   I do love irises and this has been brought home to me over the last few weeks with all the irises I have included in my Six on Saturday posts.  With this in mind I’m off today to a Beardless Iris study day which hopefully will be interesting.

I thought I would show you some of my more extreme pruning.  The above is a Viburnum which had been neglected and grown tall and leggy with whippy stems – a victim of my lack of gardening over the last couple of years.  A couple of weeks ago I noticed the flowers had gone over so I got my secateurs out and drastically pruned the shrub.  It looked awful at the time but I was pleased to see that new leaves have started to appear so hopefully it will be reinvigorated soon.

I also meant to write a blog post last week about my tin bath pond but work got in the way so I am sharing a photo here.  I have had the tin bath for a number of years.  It was acquired with the intention of creating a pond; it sat on the patio for a year or two but for reasons I can’t remember now didn’t seem to work well so we (well my son) drilled some holes and I used it as a planter for a few more years. Then about 3 years ago I wanted to grow a miniature water-lily, as you do, so we (my son) filled the holes back in and we created another pond.  The lily has grown well over the last couple of years but a water lily on its own is not that interesting so last weekend I stopped at a garden centre which sells pond plants and bought a few bits and pieces to add interest.  I’m hoping it will be more colourful as the summer progresses.

For more Six on Saturday posts check out The Propagator’s blog

Six on Saturday – 25th May 2019

Tragopodon crocifolius (Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon)

Every so often there are unexpected delights in the garden and this week seems to have delivered more than its fair share.  I have grown Tragopodon crocifolius for years, well I have I have grown it, what I actually mean is that I grew it from seed probably around 8 years ago and it has seeded it self around the garden.  It is a hardy annual and I suspect I got the original seeds from Special Plants.  It sends up a tall stem with these wonderful lilac flowers which then turn to big Dandelion type puff ball seedheads – hence the self seeding around the garden.  Its common name is Jack-go-bed-at-noon because the flowers open in the morning and then close at noon.  To be honest I had forgotten about this plant until I noticed a number of them flowering in the front garden – a nice surprise.

Tulip sprengeri

But much as I love Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon the real thrill this weekend are the Tulip sprengeri flowers.  I have been trying to establish this plant in the garden for a few years.  I have tried sowing seeds in pots, in borders but no luck. Last year I bought a pot of seedlings, which I promptly forgot about as is my habit, but when I built the raised wall around the top border I rounded up a number of small pots of plants from the patio and planted them out and lo and behold one of them was the tulip sprengeri and this time they have flowered. I am really hoping that they will start to seed them and I will end up with a clump like I have seen elsewhere.

Dutch Iris ‘Miss Saigon’ was a new addition this spring.  I planted about 20 bulbs in the garden and they are simply gorgeous, such a special irridescent colour.

Another of my Dutch Iris, this was an early acquisition so there are only one or two in the garden but the white is so pure.

Peonies – have been a challenge for me for years.  I have planted many over the years but I obviously plant them too deeply as until this year I have never had many flowers.  But things have changed – this year the plant above has some 5 blooms on it and I have another one just the same.  Then this evening, while watering I spotted that some of the other peonies, of a different type going by the leaves, have buds too so things are looking up.

Iris Bumblebee Delight

I posted the other week a photo of Iris Langport Wren which has multipled itself over the years and this year felt as though it was the only bearded iris left in the garden.  I love bearded irises and like the peonies have bought many over the years but they seem to have disappeared.  I decided the other day that I needed to rectify the situation and try to add some more varieties.  I thought I would get some at the HPS meeting today but not an iris to be seen, nor at the garden centre on the way home; seems they aren’t in fashion.  But, when I got home I spotted that diminutive Iris Bumblebee Delight starting to flower – so thats two bearded irises but I do need more.

Those are my delights for this week for more Six on Saturday posts check out My Propogator’s blog.

 

Six on Saturday – Returning from Sicily

I’ve been away for just over a week touring Sicily.  The weather was very much as we have had in the last few days – low 20s but for Sicily this is much cooler than normal.  However, for me, considering we were sightseeing and walking lots the temperature was just about right and I avoided the days of rain back home that my son reported.  Needless to say all that rain and then sun has encourged the garden to put a spurt on and I don’t think it has ever been so full and lush; so I thought I would show you around my gardening space – well the back garden.

The first thing you need to understand is that I live on the lower slopes of the Malvern Hills and so my garden slopes.  As you come out of the house there is a narrowish patio and my dinky greenhouse and then a flight of stairs to the actual garden.  At the top of the stairs which are in the furthest right hand corner, if you turn left, you will find a bark path which runs between two borders (you can also check out the garden plan on the blog, although it is a little out of date but it should help). So if you look at the plan you will see that the bark path runs between the ‘Cottage/Rose border’ and the ‘Big Border’.

To give you an idea of the angle of my garden the above photo was taken standing on a bench outside my kitchen door. The prostrate rosemary grows over the retaining wall and the bark path (above) runs behind the rosemary.

At the end of the bark path you curve round to the ‘Woodland Border’.  When this border was created the boundary with my neighbours was completely overgrown and full of large trees so my garden was in deep shade at this end.  The new neighbours cleared the boundary about two years ago and light has flooded in.  I found it challenging to start with as I felt I had lost my privacy but the garden has really benefitted and the trees and shrubs I had planted on my side of the boundary in anticpation of such an approach by whoever moved in are now growing well so my privacy is returning. The reduction in shade in this area means I can add more summer flowers to this part of the garden.

The bark path connects up to the grass path and the steps to the top of the garden.  These used to lead, until last summer, to a further path along the very top of the garden.  The top of the slope was always a challenge and so last year I removed the top path and I have planted the whole of the slope more densely with lots of foliage interest throughout the year.

Zooming in a bit to the area behind the bird table.  Until last year my compost bins lived here but I decided that I’m not cut out to make good compost and it was just to much effort so I go rid of the bins and I now use the council green waste collection scheme which works much beter for me.  Plus I now have another area to plant up with shrubs and ferns all of which are benefitting from the remains of the compost that had accumulated here.  This area has, in the last week, taken on a very special significance for me as my beloved cat sadly passed away last week when I was away.  She had suffered something akin to a stroke back at the start of March and initially lost the use of her back legs.  Over the next 6 weeks she got this back but still didn’t seem to have feeling in one paw and then she went downhill.  The vet thinks she may have had another blood clot in her system somewhere and in the end this resulted in her only having 25% use of her lungs. I am so proud of my sons with how they dealt with the situation and that we had had the difficult conversations before I went away and they knew exactly where I wanted her buried.  It is hard at the moment, I keep thinking I hear her or I come across one of her toys, but we rescued her some 8 years ago and she had a wonderful life, ruling the roost, hunting mice and chasing any neighbouring cats off her property.  She will be dearly missed.

Pulling myself back together if you turn 90% from the steps above you have what used to the pond, and then the bog garden and is now a largish shady border.  This is the border which I built a low retaining wall along earlier this year.  On the other side of the border is another bark path which slowly disappears as the year progresses and the plants get bigger.

And from there you can go along the grass path back to the shed and steps.  So thats a sort of tour around the main back garden.

Thanks to The Propogator for hosting this great meme

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2019

Iris Langport Wren

This month the stars of the garden are the various irises and aquilegias.  I have always loved Irises of all sorts.  My love affair started with bearded irises such as Langport Wren above.  Over the years various varieties have come and gone from the garden, mainly due to too much shade, but Langport Wren has ben a stalwart.  Now my garden is more sunny and I have more open border space with good drainage I think I might think about adding some more varieties for next year.

 

Iris Pacific Coast Hybrid

By contrast the Pacific Coast Hybrids are fairly new to me.  The one above I grew from seed and I thrilled it has two flowers this year.  I think they should be know more in the UK as they do very well in dry and shading conditions such as under decidious trees or around conifers.

Dutch Iris – variety unknown

The Dutch Florist irises are also coming into their own.  I add a pack of two each year and have learnt that you need to plant them amongst the late summer perennials so the new foliage of the perennials hides the long gangly stems.  They are like rockets of colour emerging from the undergrowth.

Dutch Iris Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon is this years new addition and I am really pleased as it appears most of the 20 odd corms I planted will flower.

There is a lot of blue in the garden at this moment and this Aquilegia is the most amaze azure blue, it really is a vibrant as the photo indicates. All of my aquilegias come from various seed packets from various seed exchanges so aren’t named varieties and you get some amazing ones but also some not to good.  Another couple of favourites below.

I’ve previously shared my sea of blue camassias which have just gone over but now the cream ones are flowering.  They aren’t as prolific at multiplying and are more elegant than the blues; I like the contrast of the cream spires against the foliage.

Sweet Cicely

Sweet Cicely is another plant that looks fabulous at this time of year.  A wonderful confection of frothy white flowers above the sweet aniseed smelling foliage.

This Centaurea plant sits quietly on the corner of a border but at this time of year is awash with vibrant lilac flowers – so pretty.

In the front garden, which I am trying to remember to include more, the Libertia is drawing attention to itself with its papery white flowers.  The only trouble with Libertia, as far as I am concerned, is that the flowers translate into seeds which translate into a mass of seedlings which get everywhere and are a pain to extract but there are worse problems in the world.

And finally, my first Alliums to flower this year.  I have quite a few types of Allium flowering all through the summer.  I can’t remember the variety of these but they are good doers and come up year after year and the leaves aren’t too large to cause a problem in the border.

Those are my May highlights – for more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit Carol at May Dream Gardens.

Austin – Tchotchke

Lucinda Huston Garden

I learnt a new word in Austin – tchotchke.  I think it is a Jewish word and it means a small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional, a trinket.  Just as when I visited gardens in San Francisco, I was intrigued by the amount of objects some of the gardens contained.  I don’t think this is particularly a trend in the UK.  We have statues, garden ornaments and water features, and maybe the odd decorative metal watering can but I don’t think we display objects in the same way.

Colleen Jamison Garden

I wonder if it is something to do with the climate. The warmer temperatures in both cities lead the inhabitants to use their outside space far more than we do in the UK.  We talk grandly about garden rooms but, really we are just not in the same league, which you realise when you see gardens which have outside kitchens, pizza ovens and grills. Anyway, I suppose if you spend a lot of time outside and you don’t have rain as much as we do  then you start to think about your outside space much as you would a room and why wouldn’t you want to add various trinkets.

Colleen Jamison Garden

Just as I when came back from San Francisco wanting to paint my shed orange (rest assured I didn’t it wouldn’t have looked right) I came back from Austin wanting to tchotchke up my garden. Whilst, I don’t think I will ever be in Lucinda Huston’s league, I have included a few ideas that I have taken home from Colleen Jamison, Pam Penick and Jenny Stocker’s gardens.  All of which would work back here in the UK (see above and gallery below).

Before I come to Lucinda Huston’s garden and knick knacks (that’s what we call trinkets in the UK) I wanted to share with you two of my favourite things from a garden whose name I can’t find as I have lost my itinerary, but they were just so different and too big really to fit in the tchotchke category but they did make me smile

You see lots of bottle trees in the US.  Apparently they are meant to ward off bad spirits or catch hexies – I’m not sure – but they generally seem to be made up of blue bottles but in this garden we saw a lovely subtle green bottle one and then this confection which is just so outrageous you have to smile.

But the Queen of tchotchke has to be Lucinda Huston and her tequila garden.  Whilst the house and garden are small they punch well above their weight in impact.  These photos are just some of my favourite bits, there was much much more, all in bright colours.  I found it quite overwhelming but as you start to take it all in you notice that everything is carefully thought about and arranged.  This isn’t some random collection of stuff; there are themes and everything is displayed to its best advantage.  I have to admit that I was stunned at how tidy it all was.  If you just take the cabinet at the top of this post – if I had such a display cabinet in my garden I can guarantee that it wouldn’t be that neat, it would have old leaves and bit of grit on the shelves and in her house, which has as much if not more on display, it is immaculate, not a bit of dust to be seen.  It made me feel exhausted just thinking about all the work Lucinda must put in to keep it looking so pristine.

So no sooner had I got back to the UK than I was digging out the couple of garden ornaments I have and putting them out in the garden – understated but a start.

End of Month View: May 2018

A somewhat bedraggled garden for this month’s End of Month View post.  I stupidly thought at the weekend, when it was sunny, I’ll take the photos nearer the end of the month as the poppies may have opened.  Foolish me! So these photos were taken this morning in drizzle with mist hanging over the hills and this evening we have thunderstorms so no better opportunities have been offered for sunny photos.

The garden continues to surprise me with how well it is doing with little intervention from me.  My neglect last year has allowed the plants to establish themselves – a lesson has definitely been learnt – and they have bulked up and are looking wonderful.  However, despite the verdant borders there are lots of weeds creeping in and tidying up to do especially on the pot front.

Having seen so many wonderful pot displays in Austin I was ashamed of my paltry attempts on my return especially as many were weed laden or even dead!  I have started sorting them out and have made some progress which is very satisfying but not enough to share here.

Oh and if you look closely you can see evidence of my other challenge at the moment – the dandelions which are everywhere. At least the rain last weekend made it easier to dig them up in the front garden. I now need to tackle the back garden.  I also need to make a note of those plants that are crowding others and come up with a list of divisions etc I need to do in the Autumn – a limited list as I don’t want to loose the full nature of the borders.

So this is my soggy garden at the end of May – a month whose high temperatures early on, following on from a wet spring, and now more rain has created a very pleasing effect.

If you would like to join in with the End of Month View you are very welcome, you don’t even have to do it every month, just whenever.  All I ask is you link to this blog post and leave a link in the comments box below linking to your post and that way we can find each other.