End of Month View – May 2015

2015_05290018

Looking back on last month’s End of Month View it is amazing how much the garden has filled out in just one month especially given how dry May has been.  The temperatures have also been unseasonably low and I think this has helped to make everything seem so very green. As you can see the irises have started with Bumble Bee Delight just showing in the bottom of the above photo to the left of the path.  Just behind it is a Dutch Iris which seem to do very well here and I plan to add to next year.

2015_05290010

Along the bottom path you can see the alliums have come into their own and the roses are about to bloom which I am really looking forward to.  I added roses to this border last year and this is the first year when they will be really flowering so it will be interesting to see if they live up to the image in my mind.  Throughout the garden there are aquilegias of all colours and types as I just love them.

2015_05290021

The steps run up the end of the Big Border and are the access to the garden from the patio which the bottom and middle path lead off.  The plants along the edge of the path are starting to soften the steps.  I am really pleased with how the shed looks now, painting it has made such a difference.  It has somehow lightened the wood and it all just sits so well.

2015_05290011

The view from the bottom path across to the shed and you can see how full the Big Border is.  I have done some editing but I think next Spring I might need to lift and divide some of the perennials to keep them in check.

2015_05290012

The main woodland border is very full, possibly too fall.  I really should have relocated the Hosta Sum and Substance or maybe divided it and perhaps the Solomons Seal.  I think the hosta leaves add some good contrast to the smaller leaves but there is a lot of pushing and shoving going around.

2015_05290014

Above is the newer planted area of the woodland border which was done last week. I really think I need to edit the Maianthemum as it is beginning to romp away.  I suspect since the Acer has gone and the willow has been drastically cut back there is more moisture getting to this part of the border which the Maianthemum is enjoying. With a small garden I spend ages hoping plants will establish and then when they do I have to set to to reduce the new growth!

So there is my garden at the end of May 2015 looking lush and full and quite floriferous.

All are welcome to join in with the End of Month View, the more the merrier.  You can use it how you wish maybe give us a tour of your garden or focus on one area through the year.  All I ask is that you link to this post in your post and leave a link to your post in the comment box below; that way we can all find each other.

 

 

 

My Garden This Weekend – 25/5/15

2015_05240012

I have spent the last two days in the garden and it has been lovely.   I did consider popping over the Malvern Hills to visit some gardens in Leominster this afternoon but by lunchtime I had really got stuck into planting up part of the woodland border so I stayed put and finished the job.  This year is the first year for ages that I remember being really content in the garden.  I don’t know whether it’s because I have been pottering in the evening so more of the jobs are being done or whether it’s because I have stopped charging around exhibiting at shows and reduced the number of groups I go to or whether it because I haven’t got a major project this year but I definitely feel more relaxed and I am enjoying gardening, instead of rushing around trying to achieve half a dozen things at a time.

2015_05240009

Yesterday was very overcast with the odd shower, not really conducive to weeding and pottering so instead I decided to face the horror that is the collection of seed trays and pots in the cold frames. I love sowing seeds and get very excited when they germinate but I’m not so good at looking after the seedlings and growing them on.  As I said to a friend recently if I succeeded with everything I germinated I would have a botanical garden by now so one of my objectives this year is to do better.  I have two 3 tier cold frames and one of them is home to an assortment of pots and trays in which seeds have been sown and then forgotten.  The majority of them date back to 2014 and some of them contain bulb seedlings which I wait until the second year to pot up.  So I spent probably 4 hours on Sunday pricking out and potting up.  There were still some pots with no sign of life so they have gone up the top of the garden to benefit from all weathers and then if they aren’t doing anything probably by the winter they will be chucked.  I was thrilled though to discover 3 pots of Arisaema seedlings, some Paeonia cambessedesii seedlings, as well as fritillaries and acer seedlings.

2015_05240008

Of course one pot of seedlings soon becomes one tray of seedlings etc so it was a real jigsaw getting everything back into the cold frames and greenhouse.  I did ditch a couple of pots that were obviously never going to germinate and some of the older seedlings are having to toughen up on the patio but in the end it all got put back together.

2015_05240016

Today, Bank Holiday Monday, I started with planting out some Petunia exserta seedlings grown from seed from Special Plants.  This led to me weeding the Big Border which led to me relocating an epimedium which then led to me considering the woodland border and the space where the Acer previously was.  The old rhododendron only had one flower this year and has become very leggy and one sided due to the shade produced by the vast willow.  Now the willow has been cut back and there is so much more sky I am trying to get the rhododendron to bush out better.  I pruned it back and this of course revealed some more planting area.  One thing led to another and by mid-afternoon I had added two small rhododendrons that I got for my birthday and a Vestia foetida which I bought at the garden visit on Saturday.  I also added a couple of epimediums – well it would be rude not to take advantage of more shady space wouldn’t it.

2015_05240019

It doesn’t look much in this photograph but I am really pleased.  I had planned to trim the box pyramid but I love the bright green new shoots too much so they have been left for another week.

2015_05240001

I even did some weeding in the front garden which I hate working in and for once I am really pleased with the driveway border.  The geums that went in last year are coming into their own although I would have preferred it if the orange geums could have been as strong as the red ones which seem to dominate the border at the moment.  I have a new fondness for orange geums as I think they add wonderful spots of highlight which really lift a border.

2015_05240007

As you can see the Achemilla mollis is about to flower so there will be a limey green haze along the side of the border which links to the marjoram on the other side of the border.  I just need to try to continue this style of planting along the end of the lawn where the soil gets much drier. As readers will know I have been considering digging up the front lawn but for now I have decided to be kind to myself and not give myself too much additional work so the lawn stays a little longer.

2015_05240013

As you can see its all looking very lush and full but it will be interesting to see how good it looks when the late spring Aquilegia and Alliums are over.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 10th May 2015

2015_05090059

On queue the Deutzia is flowering in time for the Malvern Spring Festival.  I don’t know which variety it is as it was here when I moved in 13 years ago.  I cut it back heard each year after flowering or we wouldn’t be able to get up the steps to the garden! This year is seems to be groaning with flowers more than ever before.

2015_05090055

The garden is looking very lush and fresh.  Lunaria Chedglow has been wonderful for some weeks now and I plan to try and collect some seeds so I can keep these honesty going.  I do like the fresh foliage on box, it will almost a pity to clip the two cones back at the end of the month.

2015_05090056

The Woodland Border is getting into its pace with the Solomons Seal and False Solomon Seal flowering and I am pleased that the epimediums have really clumped up in the last few years to provide good ground cover.  In the background you can just spot the young leaves of the Mahonia.  I do like the fact that the new leaves are coming through in reddish hues which are bouncing off the Acer in front of it.  I am also pleased to see the Mahonia leaves as two years ago I ruthlessly chopped the plant down to the ground in the hope that it would produce a number of stems instead of its one very tall stem.  The plant sulked for a while but it is getting back into its stride now and looking good.

2015_05090053

The top grass path is still in need of a cut.  I have been rather distracted with other things this weekend so the only gardening that occured was cutting the front grass and potting up the pelargoniums.  It might look shabby but the pollinators are loving it and the cat loves the long grass.

2015_05090049

The Big Border is finally filling out this year and I am glad that I took the decision not to leave spaces for dahlias and other annuals this year.  Its main focus is late summer which lots of aster and rudbeckias but at this time of year the camassias and aquilegia provide a bit of colour.

2015_05090046

Finally one of those unexpected delights – Paris quadrifolia – which I have forgotten I planted last year.  I have to say that the flowers are a little smaller than I had anticipated but it is still a delight.

 

Small Triumphs

2015_05010017

I think one of the things I love about gardening are the small moments of delight and joy when something has germinated, a planting combination works well, or a gamble pays off.  They are all small triumphs which often only the gardener really appreciates but they come with such a good feel factor that they make a real difference to day to day life.

2015_05010013 2015_05010015

Back last November I took a plunge and had the willow that dominated the end of the garden lopped back, I would say pruned but it just wouldn’t give credit to the drastic work that was undertaken.  For a while I wondered if I had done the right thing but gaining so much sky and extended views to the Malverns compensated for the starkness of the tree.  As Spring has progressed we have been peering at the willow to see if there was any sign of life.  I know that it is hard to keep a good willow down but the tree surgery had been so severe I was sceptical that it would re-shoot.  I had even got to the point of deciding that if the tree didn’t re-shoot then it would be fine as I could cut it back further and grow a climber over it and enjoy the view of the neighbour’s trees which had been revealed due to the tree surgery.  Of course as soon as the tree heard me talking to my son about maybe giving up on it it started to produce shoots and over the last couple of weeks there has been a distinct fringe of foliage appearing.

2015_05010007

By cutting the willow back the surroundings border have found themselves open to the sky.  I have worried that the woodland shade lovers would suffer but so far they seem to be thriving.  Take for example the Osmunda reglais above.  I have never known it to grow so upright and so tall, I am sure that the warm weather we have had has contributed but I also believe that the plant is benefiting from a more open aspect. It will be interesting to see how they do over the summer.

2015_05010012

My focus in the last year has been on gardening better, learning more and caring for my plants better.  The rhododendron at the top of the post is a case in point.  This was bought some years back as a dwarf rhododendron, it has lived in the woodland border for many years, rarely producing any flowers and generally looking sad and unloved. With the departure of the Acer and the clearing of the area around it I moved the rhododendron up to the slope by the base of the Prunus.  It managed to survive the big feet of the tree surgeons and thanks to a good dollop of ericaceous compost it has put on good growth and this year for the first time is covered in flowers. I am really pleased.

2015_05010021

Whilst I get pleased when plants work well together or seeds germinate what thrills me most is when a plant reappears that has struggled or in the case of the Arisaema above has suffered from being relocated too many times.  I grew this from seed some years back and this is its third location – I have promised it and its 4 friends they will stay put.  They have suffered from the attention of the badger, or maybe a fox, and I have found the bulbs on the soil in the winter, carefully replanting them.  This year they are looking very strong and healthy and again I think they are benefiting from the removal of the heavy tree canopy. The only downside is that the flower spathe is at the back of the leaf stem so not very obvious but I have been told that you can rotate Arisaema bulbs to bring the flower to the front so I will try to remember to do that once it has finished flowering.

2015_05010006

Finally the Eranthis are seeding and hopefully there will be seedlings next year and they will start to spread and I will have another small moment of triumph.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 12/4/15

2015_04110113

I’m sure you won’t mind me saying that I am rather pleased with my garden at the moment.  It makes me smile so much especially when the sun shines, as it has been all week, and the small spring flowers glow.

I have been taking advantage of the longer days and have managed to work outside for an hour at least three evenings during the week and I am hoping to make this a habit for the rest of the year while the days are long enough.  It is a wonderful way to unwind after a trying day at work.  Although having spent some hours this last week digging up sycamore seedlings I could feel irritation creeping back from time to time so I had to restrict myself to sycamore weeding for just 30 minutes at a time.  I have never known a year like it, they are everywhere.

2015_04110108

The grass path has had its first cut of the year and I have decided to retain it if for no other reason than the cat objects to the gravel paths!  I am pleased with the border above – still in need of a name, maybe the Cherry border?  It has perplexed me for years ever since it was first created. Earlier this spring I really cleared it out and planted some hellebores, a peony and some other perennials.  Various daffodils which were already in the border have been flowering and a host of aquilegia are now putting in an appearance.

2015_04110104

The back of the border leads round to the former Bog Garden, again in need of a new name – I’m thinking Camellia border.  This has also been a little perplexing for a few years.  There are a number of ferns in this border including some Onoclea sensiblis which I hadn’t realised when I bought them a few years back need moist conditions, so I have really mulched the border to try to retain the moisture.  One evening this week I added a Cardiocrinum giganteum, Mertensia virginica, Dentaria pinataand a whole host of snowdrops lifted and divided from the other side of the path.  I know some people argue against planting snowdrops in the green but for me I needed to do it now as they are swamping some of the epimediums and other spring plants. The larger log to the left of the photo is the cat’s scratching post. The other

2015_04110103

The other end of the border. I am hoping that next spring, and even more so the following spring, the border will be a sea of white in early spring. It will be interesting to see how it all fills out over the coming year and to think about ways of improving it more.

2015_04110097

I spent several hours in the border above where the worst case of sycamore seedlings has been, the neighbours have a large sycamore just the other side of the fence so I blame them.  I first created this border probably 3 or 4 years ago and this spring is the first one when the plants have started to fill out and bulk up. What you can’t see if that there are fat noses of Solomons Seal coming up all over the border but still no sign of the large hosta I am waiting to relocate. My only disappointment is that hardly any of the small narcissus I planted 3 years ago have flowered this year.  There is meant to see a sea of yellow here and there is nothing.  I don’t know why.  The clumps aren’t congested at all so I don’t understand why the narcissus are blind.

I feel that the garden is beginning to have a more cohesive appearance.  I just need to continue this through the rest of the year.

2015_04110088

Today I have wrecked destruction on the patio border.  It looks awful at the moment but hopefully the image in my mind will come together as the year progresses.  I removed a small euonymous from here as well as some Japanese Anemones which have been moved up to the back of the woodland border.  I have also dug up quite a number of bluebells which I have to say have gone on the compost heap.  Outrageous I know but planting bluebells in a border is madness, they are such thugs once they get going and the leaves soon swamp out other plants.  In this border there is a whole host of lily of the valley and last year I struggled to spot any.  I relocated some of the bluebells last year to the top of the garden where they will cause less problems so I don’t have a problem ditching the rest.  I also lifted and divided the clumps of snowdrops here spreading them along the border rather than all clustered at one end.  Others were relocated in the woodland border along the top of the wall to try to increase the spread for next year.  The reason behind the destruction is because I had a number of plants that needed the wonderful conditions in this border – the elusive moist but well-drained soil; it is also quite shady.  So I have planted Blechnum chilense, Peltoboykinia waranabei (a home-grown seedling), Anemonopsis macrophylla seedlings and most scarily four Meconopsis ‘Hensol Violet’ seedlings which I grew last year and have nursed over winter – I so hope they flower, I will be delirious if they do.

 

2015_04110053

I leave you with a shot of the wonderful blue sky we had on Saturday with the flower on the large Prunus against it.  Given the winds we have had today I am surprised that so much of the blossom is still in place and the air is positively humming with pollinators on the blossom and other spring delights.

 

End of Month View – March 2015

2015_03300003

Well March has been a blustery month from start to finish and last night was the worst for some time.  Whilst the temperatures haven’t been particularly low for the time of year I think we have been lacking in sunshine and many of the plants are behind last year.  As I am on annual leave this week I was thrilled yesterday that the forecast was wrong and we had a lovely sunny day, the calm before the storm.  I spent most of the time weeding and sorting the border on the right of the picture.  I really need to come up with a name for it.  It generally gets called the border formerly known as the Bog Garden but that makes it sound like an egomaniac pop star.  It might get changed to the cherry border or the sorbus border as these are the two main plants in it.

2015_03300012

The cherry is Prunus kojo-no-mai which is a real gem and constantly earns its place in the garden with wonderful wonky branches in the winter, spring blossom and good autumn foliage.  I have added some Iris sibirica to the border which I grew from seed so I am hoping that these will establish.  I had planned to paint/stain the shed this week but I am still dithering about the colour.  My sons won’t engage in the conversation any more as they are bored with it.  When it was first put in two years ago I had just come back from San Francisco where I saw lots of bright and strong colours on the wood facias of houses.  I had thought for the last two years while the green wood dried out that I would stain it virtually black with orange accents.  Then recently it changed to sage green accents to tie in with the back door.  But the more I look at it from the house the more worried I become that as it is of a significant size in the garden that if I paint it very dark it will leap out more and push forward into the view rather than recede which is what I want.  I like the way the door has mellowed to an almost silver colour.  I have toyed with leaving it but it does need some treatment to protect the wood.  The current thinking is a pale sage green for the body of the shed with cream or very pale green accents. Or maybe I should try to find a very pale wood stain. Even I am sick of the subject.

2015_03300010

I spent a ridiculous amount of time yesterday pulling up sycamore seedlings.  I have never known a spring like it.  We always have a few from sycamore in next door’s garden but this year it is like a plague, they are everywhere.  Anyway, the one good thing is that while you are focussing on pulling up the pesky seedlings you spot all sorts of plants beginning to emerge – Dicentra, hostas, epimedium flowers, fern fronds and other woodland treats.

2015_03300007

I think in the next month the Woodland Border will really fill out with plants and colour.  I am waiting to see what appears where as I have lost my bearings along with the dead Acer.  I have decided that I will add lots of early spring bulbs and hellebores to this area as it just so bare.  I need to divide a load of snowdrops so those can go in here and I will have to mark out spots for hellebores before everything disappears underground at the end of the year so I know where to plant them next February/March.  I know I could plant some now but I have already invested in a number of new hellebores this year so it will wait a year.

2015_03300005

The other end of the woodland border looking a little fuller but it needs a quick weed as the dreaded sycamore seedlings are popping up left, right and centre.  I am on hosta watch as I have a large hosta in here somewhere which I want to move but I need it to put its head above the ground first.

So that is my garden at the end of March 2015 showing lots of promise and if I am honest I am rather pleased with it as I think it is looking the best it has ever looked in March.

Everyone is welcome to join in with the End of Month View and you can use it how you wish.  You can show the same area month on month or give a tour or show us the areas that you are most pleased with.  All I ask is that you include a link to this post in your post and leave a link to your post in the comment box below.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 8th March 2015

2015_03080009

 

What a wonderful weekend it has been.  Saturday was bright and sunny and warm enough for gardening in a T-shirt and for sitting and contemplating with a cuppa.  Luckily I bothered to check the weather forecast for a change and focussed all my energies on outside gardening jobs leaving Sunday for seed sowing and potting up which can be done under cover.

2015_03080007

I have dug out the cane domes and placed them over the new peonies that were planted over the last few weeks.  This will help me remember where they are until they put in an appearance and I also think the domes are rather charming.  I have added an Euphorbia x martinii ‘Ascot Rainbow’ to the border, you can just see it in the top left corner.  I had been looking for one having seen it in ‘The Layered Garden’ but having secured one at the local HPS group I started to wonder why I had been attracted to the plant.  It is rather a strange combination with yellow streaks on the foliage and pinky new growth – it was christened the ‘ugly plant’.  However, when I planted it out I was won over again as it works very well with the pink hellebores so maybe my first instinct was right – I knew where I wanted to plant it before I bought it.

2015_03080008

I am pleased with this bit of border now especially when the sun lights up the hellebores.  This border is ‘done’ for the time being while I wait to see how the plants fill out and then the plan is to try to add a little late summer colour.

2015_03080016

I’m thrilled that the Hepatica noblis are flowering although I have to admit that they were only bought last month – the test will be to see if they reappearing next year.  I have bought a couple more and I am planting them over the other side of the garden so hopefully at least one group will establish.  However, I also have some hepatica seeds germinating in the cold frame which were sown as fresh seeds last April.

2015_03080015I got myself in a bit of a pickle the other week when I finally got round to doing a soil test and discovered my soil was alkaline, which wasn’t great given I had just bought two small rhododendrons.  I have been dithering around about them and decided to plant them up in pots and display them by the shed.  Once they have flowered and it gets warmer in this part of the garden I will move them into the shadier part of the garden and make sure they are watered well so they produce buds for next year.

I haven’t been very good at using pots in the garden for some years now.  I used to be really good at baskets and summer bedding in pots but I seem to have lost the knack and I do actually prefer the more mono planted pots but with several grouped together.  So the plan is to do more of this to create seasonal displays.

Finally I found enough energy to remove an unnamed and unloved shrub growing near the compost bins which has never really done much and had got battered when the tree surgeons were throwing the large willow logs around.  It came out fairly easily which was perhaps part of its problem.

I had come up with a scheme for this small area the other week when I was having a tea break – its to the right of the bench.  After adding lots of green waste compost I planted white Digitalis, Epimedium perralchicum ‘Wisley’, some lily of the valley, and a Polypodium cambricum ‘Oakleyae’.  I also replanted some self-sown Pulmonaria.  There is a gap left in the middle of the planting for a Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ which is growing elsewhere but has needed a new home; I just need to wait for it to put in an appearance so I know where it is.

 

2015_03080018

It’s only a small area but it is a start to the style of planting I am trying to adopt with lots of texture and contrast and hopefully not much soil showing once the plants get going.  I plan to add some white honesty next year so I will need to remember to show honesty and white digitalis on an annual basis although I may get lucky and they might start to self sow.

2015_03080021

Sunday was grey and damp so I used the time to sort out the greenhouse.  The pots of bulbs which have finished flowering were moved out to the cold frames – I am regretting, a little, getting the plunge staging (not in the photo) as I haven’t enjoyed the pots of bulbs this winter and I want to plant them out in the garden.  I am toying with getting some sort of warming cable system for them to create a propagation unit but I am waiting to see how I get on this season before I invest more funds in something I might change my mind about.  There is a sorry tale associated with the empty space but I will share that later in the week when I join in the monthly greenhouse meme.

However, I am happy to say that my seed sowing mojo has returned with gusto and I have sowed quite a few packets today.  I found myself really enjoying the process.  I had forgotten how much I love that sense of anticipation. I also potted up a dozen aquilegia and dianthus and 3 primrose digitalis; some of them might even be good enough in a few weeks to sell at the local HPS group – wouldn’t that be good.