End of Month View – September 2018

I do enjoy this time of year as much as I enjoy Spring. I enjoy tidying up in the garden, because of the sense of achievement you get, and then there is the bulb planting with promise of Spring.

I should have taken the photo first thing before the sun came round

I realised this afternoon in the garden that I have actually managed to do quite a bit over the past month, although to the outside observer this probably isn’t that obvious.  I’ve added three Stipa tenuissima to the corner of the Big Border where all the bulbs live.  This is an area I worked on earlier in the year and replanted.  There is a lot of gravel in this area to help the bulbs survive the winter but there was a lack of height and substance so I am hoping that the Stipa will bring this and provide a foil for my bulb collection.

You can just see the Tithonia’s in the corner of this picture which have been a triumph this year. I love the vibrancy of the orange which acts as a good contrast to the asters.

Even the bottom corner of Hugh’s border (Hugh is the owl) hasn’t been too bad this year and this one of those bits of the garden which really challenges me as the ground dries out to much here.  I am slowly changing the planting to take advantage of this.

The top of the slope is one of the areas of the garden I keep coming back to when I have a spare moment.  Earlier in the year we removed the very top path, which was never used and was just a home for weeds.  This has given me more space and I have been using it to spread the plants out.  Over the last few weeks a couple of large ferns have been relocated and the Bottlebrush shrub has been given more room.

So thats my garden at the end of September.  To finish off I thought I would show you the front garden which I rarely feature on the blog, I know not why, but its just coming into its own with late summer perennials

The meme is open to anyone to join in with and you can use it how you wish – we would all love to see your garden, warts and all.  All I ask is that you post a link to your post in the comments box and a link to this post in your post, that gives us a chance to find each other.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Sept 2018

Tithonia

The Tithonia are the stars of the Big Border at the moment.  I am really pleased with them having grown them from seed.  They were planting out just before the heat wave and then just sat there until the heatwave broke.  They have quickly put on growth and are now flowering their socks off.  I may just grow them again next year.

I’m also really pleased with the Knipofia ‘Popsicle’ which were added this year.  They are now on their second batch of flowers which is a real bonus and not a feature of my other Knipofia.

I am also incredibly thrilled with this Nerine.  I don’t know its name but the colour is so vibrant and fabulous.

The Japanese Anemones are as reliable as ever and provide a nice elegant backdrop to the rest of the plants.

But it’s not all fabulous, the Kirengeshoma palmata have suffered this year.  The leaves have crispy edges and the flowers have been very slow in opening and appear washed out compared to previous year.

I do like this aster but for the life of me I can’t remember its name or even buying it.  If anyone can identify it I would be grateful.

Coming back to the orange theme the Grevillea victoriae has just started to flower which is good news as it shows the shrub is doing well.  It has started to really shot now and the flowers are finally higher up the plant than previously when they seemed to be hugging the ground.

Thalictrum delavayi was a surprise to find at the back of the woodland border, it seems very late to me but I’m not complaining.

And to end I thought I would include a few more bulbs as I do love bulbs. So here are two Tulbaghia; the one above is Tulbaghia violacea ‘Alba’ and the one below is an unknown Tulbaghia bought from a plant sale a while ago.

I hope you enjoyed my floral highlights for September.  If you are Glen over at Drillgardens.com I hope you don’t decide to steal this post like you did last months – we shall see.

thanks as ever to Carol at May Dreams for hosting this lovely meme.

Malvern Autumn Show

There is something quintessentially English about a flower and veg show that I doubt you could find anywhere else in the world.

I love Malvern Autumn Show as it heralds the start of Autumn, a season I love with its colours ad abundance.

The show as so much to offer for everyone with all the key components of the traditional country show: giant vegetables, tractors, llamas (well this is Malvern), agility dogs – its all at the show to enjoy.

Over the years the horticultural element has increased with a few more nurseries each year but the show is really a country show and my favourite is the Autumn Show marquee.

Here there are a number of shows within a show with various societies having their shows alongside the Malvern open competition.  The quality and number of exhibits never fails to impress.

The embroidery design course I am doing has, I think, given me a new appreciation of textures and colours and I think this comes across in my photos this year.

I found myself attracted to strong colours and interesting foliage.  I loved the vibrancy of these hot dahlias against the dark foliage – stunning.

As for the wrinkly texture of this savoy cabbage – I can see this translated into a textile design.

 

 

 

 

 

End of Month View – September 2016

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Seriously how is it October? I’m sure it’s only midway through September! But at least I have kinda remembered this month to do the End of Month View, albeit a day late.  I forgot all together last month – sorry.

Anyway, Hugh’s Border isn’t doing too bad considering the general neglect of the garden for some months now.  Things are getting back on an even keel and changes are afoot.  I’m always happier in the garden when I can relocate plants – poor plants.  Because my new neighbours have cleared the boundary line there is now a wealth of sunlight streaming in from the south which means the lighting in the garden has changed giving me new opportunities.

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The shady areas have significantly decreased which is good as it means I have more areas where I can plant more sun-loving plants and most plants that do well in shade don’t mind a bit more sun.  It does mean that the Big Border which was always sunny is now much more sunny and some plants have struggled this year as it is has been too dry for them.  The Big Border has good drainage so I am going to use it for my hardy Mediterranean and Southern Hemisphere plants and bulbs which are one of my plant weaknesses.  I am slowly but surely relocating the more traditional border inhabitants such as the peonies and roses from the Big Border into the surrounding borders where they should benefit from the improved light but with more moisture retentive soil. If you peer closely at the photo above you will see the rusty metal obelisk which was in the Big Border and hosts a rose and clematis.  They have all been moved to Hugh’s Border and had a good dollop of horse manure to get them going.  I like the vertical accent that the obelisk gives this area.

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To be quite honest the improved lighting has, I think, made my gardening life easier.  I have really struggled over the years to get good seasonal interest in the shady parts of the garden.  I love foliage but it gets a little dull being the same, more or less, all year.  So for example in Hugh’s Border I will be adding some peonies, some more Japanese Anemones, and probably some Pacific Coast irises, as well as more bulbs for Spring.

I’ve a lot of relocations to do over the coming weeks so I am hoping for some dry weekends as my gardening time is really minimal these days.   And then there is the tidying up and the bulb planting to get on top of ….it is nice to feel enthused again.

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – September 2016

 

Grevillea victoriae
Grevillea victoriae

I’ve decided not to focus on the asters this month but to showcase four plants which have just started to flower and whose flowers I am always thrilled to see.  They all need to be sought out in the garden as they can be a little shy.

First up is Grevillea victoriae which has wonderful exotic orange flowers. Similar to Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ but flowering later.  Last year I thought it hadn’t flowered but discovered all the flowers at the bottom of the shrub.  This year the shrub is a year older and has been moved into a sunnier location and the flowers are beginning to appear higher on the shrub so I am hoping that next year it will look amazing.

Unknown Nerine
Unknown Nerine

I have started to extend the bulb season in my garden with the inclusion of Nerines.  This is the first to flower and is from a hugh pot full of bulbs that I bought for a couple of pounds last year at the local HPS group.  I was really thrilled to see it, and its fellow flowers, as it shows that I have found a good location for it and confirms my plan to plant more Southern Hemisphere bulbs in this particular area.

Massonia
Massonia

I am always pleased when the Massonia flowers in the greenhouse.  I had a Massonia pustulata but I think I lost that and as its name indicates the leaves were quite blistered looking so its not that variety, maybe I will find the label one day but either way I am pleased it has flowered again.

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I have various Colchicums of differing quality and these are always the first to flower and are slowly but surely beginning to spread.  They are one of those plants whose flowers appear under the foliage of other plants but as you pass something catches you eye and you find yourself on your hands and knees looking to see what the colour is from.

So those are my 4 secret gems for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – for more GBBD posts visit Carol at May Dream Gardens

Malvern Hill Destress

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I love the Malvern Hills, particularly the walk from British Camp south towards Midsummer Hill.  The huge skies, far-reaching views and complete serenity, particularly early on a Sunday morning are the things that make my heart sing and recharge me.

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Over a year ago my eldest set me the challenge to walk to the top of all the individual peaks.  I have done the majority and I think the only real summit left outstanding is Midsummer Hill.  I have stopped deliberately checking the hills off as the challenge has had the wonderful effect of making the hills familiar to me and giving me a new way to de-stress. I nearly got lost today as I was day dreaming so much that I came to the edge of a hill and realised that there was no path to take me forward.  I had strayed to the side much to the entertainment of a chap feeding his dog blackberries (!) who pointed out the path to me – we agreed that the reason we were on the top of the hills was to forget everything.

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I have found this last year or so that gardening is no longer the thing that I turn to to relax.  I suspect that it has become a victim of over blogging.  When you are conscious that you writing about something on a regular basis you start to feel a pressure to have something interesting to write about and then you lose your enjoyment, as my son said today the garden and blogging had become a job not relaxation. So of course writing about my walks could be a dangerous thing as I don’t want the same thing to happen.  However, I did write about gardening on the blog for some 9 years at least 3 times a week so I think I have a way to go before there is a problem.

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This morning the grass was thick with dew which in the early morning light looked like jewels.  In fact the grass in the photo above looked like some unusual flower from a distance and it wasn’t until I got close that I realised the ‘flowers’ were in fact dew drops. Walking first thing or in the evening means that I often feel like I have the hills to myself and the wildlife is around before it goes quite in the heat of the day.  Today, I enjoyed watching stonechats and at the furthest point of my walk I sat on the top of the hill while house martins swooped around me feeding before they migrate south.

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You can see how strong the sun was even first thing; wonderful after the grey and wet day yesterday.  I think, from the lack of buildings, that this view is looking out towards Herefordshire. I love the feeling of being on top of the world you get when you can see so far into the distant.

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The view back from where I started – my car is just over the hill in the distance and part way down the other side.  One of the things that are great about the Malverns is that you have areas which are open and grazed and other parts that are very wooded, so lots of variety of habitat.   To get from British Camp, that you can see in the distance, to this point, you dip down and walk through a wooded valley before climbing up again on a very rocky path

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And this is the view from lower down British Camp towards the point of the photo above (they should really be the other way round). If you look very carefully at the wooded hill in the distance (Midsummer Hill) you can see a brown mark and that is the summit that I walked to today – it doesn’t have a name.  Midsummer Hill is the last one I really want to climb and my eldest is going to do that one with me as he says it is quite steep and the paths aren’t that clear.

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However, I’m not in a hurry as I have found my favourite walks depending on my mood and how far I want to walk. I can’t believe how lucky I am to live within minutes of these beautiful hills.

End of Month View September 2015

September 2015
September 2015

Whilst the garden might not be as floriferous (there’s that word again) as some at the end of September I am pleased with the range of texture and colour from foliage at the start of Autumn.  The borders along the grass path are looking fuller and more established than a year ago

September 2014
September 2014

I have finally cracked the left hand corner at the beginning of the path which because of its sunny location is home to lots of different bulbs but which needed some form of substance to it.  Adding the Anemanthele lessoniana on either side of the path and again further down has pulled the planting together and I hope will allow me to indulge my planting whimsies whilst maintaining a sort of cohesive look.

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The workshop seems to really sit in the garden now as if it has always been there.  I can’t believe it took me nearly 3 years to work out what wood treatment to use and I am really pleased I didn’t rush in and follow my first instinct of black and orange.

September 2015
September 2015

September 2014
September 2014

The older woodland border is filling out and is looking much lusher than the same time last year.  I think the cooler summer has helped a lot. I’m not 100% happy with how this border looks, it needs some tweaking to bring it together better but it is definitely progressing.

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The newer end of the border has filled out really quickly since the additions earlier this year and I think this is due to the serious reduction of the willow canopy overhead.  It is surprising how much moisture as well as light the willow blocked out.  I was worried that the increase of light would affect the plants which had been chosen for their preference of shady conditions but they have thrived and done better than ever.  I suppose it makes sense as most ‘woodland’ or ‘shade loving’ plants tend to live on the edges of woodlands rather than completely under the tree canopy.

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I am pleased I moved the Paulownia to the former bog garden.  Its height has lifted this area which was looking a bit flat.  I have a lot of ferns here and I just needed some contrast of leaf shape and as I say some height.  I don’t think I am going to pollard the Paulownia as some do.  I know this would give me huge leaves which I do love but I fancy a more tree like shape.  I do think I will cut the branches back each year to see if I can increase the size of the leaves a bit.

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Finally the gravel steps up the garden – one of the favourite views of my garden and place to sit.  The border to the left of the steps is the continuation of the area I plant lots of bulbs in because it is sunny and fairly well drained.  This is where lots of my treasures live and it is nice to sit on the step with a cuppa and look at the garden through the plants.

The End of Month View meme has been running for a few years now and any one is welcome to join in and use it as they wish.  There are no real rules but all I ask is that you link back to this post in yours and leave a link to your post in the comment box below so we can find your post.

My Garden This Weekend – 27/9/15

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What a glorious autumnal weekend it has been.  I do love this time of year and I always find myself feeling like it’s the start of the year not winding down to the end.  This is the time of year when gardeners are planning for spring; planting bulbs, thinking about seeds to show so we are already planning for next year – it’s all rather positive in my opinion.

Anemone hupehensis 'Lady Emily'
Anemone hupehensis ‘Lady Emily’

Talking of planting bulbs in my bid to learn to love my front garden I decided to buy one of those large bags of big daffodil bulbs you can buy from DIY stores and plant them out in the front border.  Whilst I prefer the smaller narcissus I generally see the front garden from the house and so I think that the large daffodils will make more of an impression.  Half way through planting out the bag my trowel snapped in half!  I don’t know how long I have had it, probably at least 8 years and it has worked very hard but it is no more.  The only alternative I would find was one of those thick plastic trowels that was given away with a magazine.  It did the job eventually but it was hard work, a bit like trying to cut paper with the child safe scissors.  Anyway, a new trowel has been ordered.

Nerine bowdenii about to open
Nerine bowdenii about to open

The rest of yesterday was spent pottering around the garden.  Planting things out for next year such as some Sweet Rocket, potting up bulbs, moving succulents under cover and weeding.  It was nice to be so leisurely especially as I was home alone so no one was expecting meals at certain times.

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Today I spent a happy day at the Alpine Garden Society Bulb Day.  I hope this becomes an annual event as it was so nice to hear experts talk about specific species such as crocus, colchicums and nerines and also to get the chance to buy bulbs from suppliers including Pottertons and Jacques Armand.  I came home with a lot of brown bags full of treasures from a huge Hippeastrum bulb to tiny allium bulbs – talk about David and Goliath.

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Oh and I also bought Christine Skelmersdale book on Bulbs which will be interesting reading over the winter.

My Garden This Weekend – 20/9/15

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We have had a lovely early Autumn weekend which has allowed for some gardening as well as a wander round the local flea fair.  Parts of the garden are looking really good right now and I am particularly pleased with the combination of Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ and the Melianthus major.  I hadn’t heard of the Salvia before this time last year when I bought my first one from the local HPS group but having included it in my September GBBD post I then spotted it in Helen Dillon’s article in The Garden.  It really is a beautiful salvia and I would highly recommend it; though it needs winter protection.

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Having felt inspired about the big border in the front garden after Kate’s recent visit and having pondered a visit to a nursery to buy some beefier plants, I decided in the early hours the other morning that I probably had everything I needed already around the garden.  So I have been busy relocating plants, all of which were too crowded in the back garden,  to the front garden. The objective is to try to stop the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ from dominating the border.  It is a beautiful plant especially when it is covered in its spidery red flowers but given its size it really draws the eye.

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I have struggled with this border for a few years now and because I don’t spend much time in the front garden I have never really engaged with it so my mind doesn’t ponder it late at night and no ideas form.  But my front garden is a good size, it is the size if not bigger, of many a suburban garden and so it is outrageous that I, a keen gardener, neglect it.  The planting here has been too polite and the plants too dinky to compete with the Grevillea.  Kate and her husband’s comments triggered something in my mind and I had one of those light bulb moments.  I decided to embrace the space and to find large evergreen foliage plants to provide some balance to the Grevillea.  So I have moved in an Euphorbia stygiana, a Melianthus major that was in too shady a site, a Phormium Yellow Wave, a young rosemary and a young sage.  These will hopefully add substance to the existing planting which include Libertia, some bearded irises, and other Euphorbia whose name escapes me.

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I relocated the Libertia peregrinans to the driveway border as the amber leaves were just jarring.  In the driveway border they pick up on the orange tones of the crocosmia and of the flowers of Grevillea victoriae.  The driveway border is coming together especially as I have made an effort over the last few weeks to tidy it up!  The new Stipa tennuissima add some movement and I have also added Oenothera ‘Sunset Boulevard’ whose flowers are of a similar colour to the Libertia foliage.

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I also added some Wallflower ‘Fire King’ which should take over the red baton from the Geums. Now that I feel I have got a handle on two sides of the ‘lawn’ I need to turn my attention to the third side – alongside the beech hedge.

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Not very inspiring is it!  My son suggested widening the border along the hedge but that will mean the proportions of the lawn will be affected and I think its size works well in the space.  I have Alchemilla mollis planted along here to mirror the same on the other side of the lawn.  I want to break both sides up and I am thinking that maybe some ferns might work here – I will need to research some tough native ferns I think. But then again maybe I should consider widening it by a foot?!

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The end of this border nearest the house has a little more variety and I have a rodgersia and another euphorbia to add which I think will work.  The soil here never really dries out and the clay in it means that most things grow well.  But I am constantly improving the soil in my garden.  I have confessed before to being a bad compost maker, I am more a compost ingredient piler upper.  My excuse of a bees nest in one of the heaps has now gone so I have also removed the top of one of the heaps and I will now start to add the compost to the borders as I plant and weed.

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You can see how out of control my compost making is from the photo above.  The gap through which you can see the wheelbarrow is where the middle bin is – somewhere under there! The compost just a few inches from the top is ready to use, I just need to excavate the actual compost bin.  Then it will be a case of emptying the tops of its two neighbours into it and over the winter and spring emptying them as well.  It really isn’t the right way to make compost but it works for me.  I want to get on with this as we are planning on putting a screen here in front of the heaps to disguise them.

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The hardy exotic border on the slope is filling out having been planted about 18 months ago.  I have had to do some thinning as I was over optimistic about the space and this is where the Euphorbia stygiana in the front garden came from.  I have added some ferns to the slope behind the bench which should fill out well and add a nice backdrop to the bench.

I am now going to order Will Giles book on the new exotic garden, so sad I didn’t get to visit his garden and meet him before he died recently. I am slowly beginning to focus my efforts and plant buying on the plants I really love and move away from my normal magpie tendencies to plant buying and I intend to be less polite in my planting from now on.

Apologies for the misty photos. I thought when I took them first thing this morning they would be atmospheric but actually they just look foggy!