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.

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 27-7-19 – Mid-Summer Bulbs

Agapanthus Alan Street (?)

Such a relief this morning to wake up to persistent rain after the heat of the past week.  The garden has stood up reasonably well to the heat but I am sure a day of light rain will freshen everything up.  I’ve done a Six on Saturday post on bulbs before so I thought I would do another one on mid-summer bulbs as bulbs is somewhat of a weakness of mine.

First up is one of my Agapanthus and I am pretty certain, well 90% certain, this is Agapanthus Alan Street as I know I bought this a few years back and it flowered and is a dark blue.   I have quite a few Agapanthus most of them planted in the borders, as this one is, as I tend to go for the hardier varieties.

Agapanthus africanus ‘Twister’

Another bedraggled Agapanthus, this time Agapanthus africanus ‘Twister’.  I honestly don’t remember acquiring this one so was thrilled when the flower started to open especially as I kept looking at this variety when I was away last week – luckily I didn’t buy another one.

Galtonia candicans

Galthonia candicans is for me a wonderfully glamour plants which I would like to see grown more.  The flowers have a sort of waxy look to them which I love.  I have planted it several times in the past, and even grown it from seed one, but it doesn’t come back reliably year on year which is maybe why more people don’t grow it.

Habranthus brachyandrus pink

Another surprise is the Habranthus brachyandrus which I found flowering in the greenhouse.  I expect it was flowering when I bought it a few years back but it hasn’t flowered since.  I suspect the heat over the past period has helped. The flowers are completely disproportionate to the thin grassy stems, so much so it makes you wonder how the flowers are held up.

Another allium, again no labels to be found.  I like this one as its a small allium and has gentle soft look to it.

Tulbaghia violacea alba

And finally Tulbaghia violacea alba which is a lovely reliable bulb and works well against the silver foliage of the Artemisia

For more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagator’s Blog.

Six on Saturday 6th July 2019 – Summer Bulbs

Lillium Elodie

I have a passion for bulbs, as well as ferns and some other groups of plants, but bulbs I really love.  I love that there is so much energy and possibility packed into a small bulb, or corm.  I love that bulbs send up their flower, like a rocket, and then die down allowing space for something else to shine.

Watsonia

I’m especially proud of the clumps of Watsonia as I grew them from seed some years ago.  The clumps have got so big that they have been divided and moved around the garden. Watsonia isn’t a plant I see much in English gardens, but a few years back when I visited gardens in Ireland it was everywhere.

Asphodeline lutea

I’ve included Asphodeline lutea as I was super excited to spot it’s flower spikes yesterday.  Like the Watsonia I grew it from seed a few years ago but it has never flowered, there’s just been some wiry leaves but this year there are two flowers spikes.  Hopefully in the next few days the flowers will open.

Brodiaea

Brodiaea has been growing in my garden for a few year’s now, the original bulbs were bought from a supermarket and it seems to just seed around the garden, popping up here and there as in the gravel outside the seed where I would never have managed to plant it.

A tiny little allium, label missing, which grows in my front garden.  I do like alliums and have all sorts that appear throughout the year but I’m appalling at labelling and when I do remember to include the label the birds remove it.  But does it really matter, its a cut clump of alliums which I suspect I bought from an AGS plant sale when I was dabbling in alpines.

Crocosmia Lucifer

And my sixth bulb is Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ which also grows in the front garden is at the other end of the size spectrum to the allium.  There are two forms of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ one flowering before the other and I have the early flowering variety.  It’s a rather glamour bulb – tall and dramatic.

Those are my Six on Saturday at the end of a warm week which has benefited the bulbs greatly, especially those from South Africa.

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

Six on Saturday 29th June 2019 – Roses

Rose ‘Jude the Obscure’

Its far too hot to spend time in the garden today, the patio thermometer is showing 36C although it is fair to say that is probably a little exaggerated as the thermometer is on the house wall and sitting in the sun – but its hot!

However, I did spend a very pleasant hour or so last night weeding made all the better by the new fence my neighbours have put up but more of that another day. Hopefully, I might be able to do some pottering this evening or tomorrow.  In the meantime, I thought I would showcase my favourite roses.

Rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

I grow fonder and fonder of roses. Its something about the tissue like quality of the flowers, the scent, the old fashioned nature they bring to my garden.  The first two on the post are David Austin roses which are now doing very well.  When I first got them they had habit of not supporting their flower heads which can be a little OTT at times but I think that as the plants have matures and established the stems are stronger.

Rose Handel

I can’t remember where I got this rose from; I have had it for years.  Its flowers start off with strong colouration around the petal edges which slowly fade.  It has added value as it is one of those roses which has multiple flowers per stem, unlike the two David Austin roses.

Rose ‘Lucky’

If you want lots of flowers then Lucky really delivers.  It flowers for weeks on end especially if I remember to do a bit of dead-heading.  Again a rose I have had for some time; it may have come from Peter Beales as thats where I bought a number of roses a couple of years ago.

Rose ‘Blush Noisette’

Blush Noisette is a small climber which grows in a pot on my patio climbing up trellis.  Another generous rose but looking a little pale this year compared to previous years, not a lot of Blush.

Finally my Marmite rose which was in the garden when we arrived.  It has persisted for years crowded in under various shrubs especially from my neighbours garden.  But due to the neighbours undertaking some heavy pruning the rose suddenly has loads of light and is flowering like mad.  It is one of those flowers that I think you either love or hate – I love it as its just so different.

So six roses for a hot summers day.  For more Six on Saturday posts pop over to The Propagators Blog and check out the links in the comments box.

Take one Aeonium….

Take one group of overgrown leggy aeoniums add…

a pile of old terracotta pots and

a few trugs of sandy gritty compost and you get

a whole load of aeoniums which I am now wondering what I will do with if they take.

When I got my first aeonium it took me some time before I had the courage to chop the top of the plant and pot it up.  But when I did I also, having read up on the subject, took stem cutting which took surprisingly well.  Whenever you cut the top of an aeonium off, if you are lucky, the plant shots from the cut and produces branches so you end up with a more interesting plant.

As you can see I have quite a few stems which I am hoping will reshoot to create interesting branched plants.  As for all the pots of aeoniums, if they take, quite a few of them will be donated to the work charity plant sale next year, where this year, the last batch of aeonium cuttings I took proved to be surprisingly popular.  That is most of my succulents sorted aside from the Echiverias which need to be divided but thats for another day.

 

 

A new kind of madness

I was reading the introduction of an embroidery book yesterday morning which really spoke to my inner gardener, as much as my embroidery self.  The book,  Needlework Antique Flowers by Elizabeth Bradley is from the early 1990s and belonged to a former member of my Embroiderers Guild who sadly died earlier this year. I love ‘old’ embroidery books as they often have real instructions on all sorts of lost stitches and techniques.  This book is about woolwork which is essentially like tapestry by done with cross stitch instead of tent stitch.  Anyway, I digress, the thing that struck a chord with me was the following comment from the author:

“Modern gardeners and gardening writers seem to fall loosely into two schools.  The first are plantsmen whom I greatly admire.  They really know their charges, can remember their Latin names however often they change, and thoroughly understand what each plant needs to thrive.  Their gardens, although often beautifully designed and laid out, differ from others by their plants also growing perfectly, each well staked and with enough space around it so that it can grow properly and be seen to best advantage…..I as a gardener, fall into a second category that can only be described as the school of enthusiastic amateurs.  I love my plants and know most of their names but just will not make the time to really find out what is necessary to get best out each.”

The reason this struck a chord with me is I often like to think of myself as a plantsmen, although I recognise I am being a little presumptive. Some gardening friends seem to think I am very knowledgeable ad plants (if they read this blog they would know I can’t remember one name from one week to another) and I do research what conditions my plants need but I fail completely when it comes to showing my plants perfectly so they can be seen to the best advantage.

Maybe this passage was in my mind when I spent some time on Sunday morning tackling the big border.  What started out as a little dead-heading quickly become more involved and the large red opium poppy was dug up.  Its huge leaves have been smothering so many other plants and I have decided that it is just to substantial for the border, which I am trying to focus more on grasses, bulbs and grassland plants.  The poppy has been cut back hard and potted up ready to be planted out in the front garden, as part of the editing work that needs to take place.  The camassia foliage has added to the problem as the leaves are dense, sword like and long and when it rains are flattened down on new foliage from other plants which are trying to grow; so they too are being edited. The alliums suffered the most from the suffocating foliage and were growing almost horizontally with weird kinks in their stems. So……

…each allium ended up with its own stake – how mad is that!  I think this must surely be the way to madness.  The lesson I take away from this is to plant alliums amongst less dominating plants.

Whilst, I aspire to show each of my plants to their best advantage, because of my preference for well filled borders I don’t think I will ever grow my plants “with enough space around it so that it can grow properly” .