Six for Saturday 9th February 2019

Not a lot of gardening has happened today; the wind and cold were not really conducive to pottering. Despite the skies being heavy with wintering clouds, there were moments when the clouds cleared and the sun shone through making the Anemanthele lessoniana glisten.

The Phormium, growing in the same border as the grass, is one of those plants that I am in two minds about.  At this time of year I love it especially when it is back-lit by sunshine but come the summer it doesn’t work very well with the perennials I have in the border but then again I am thinking about reducing the amount of asters in the border so we shall see.  

Another plant that comes into its own at this time of year is the Arum italicum which provides  a lovely backdrop to the early spring bulbs; this particular plant grows as a pretty skirt under the camellia below which looks like it might flower any day now.

Finishing on the foliage theme I thought I would share a photo of one of my Aeoniums which are thriving in the greenhouse.  The mild winter has led to unusually high temperatures in the greenhouse which has meant the plants have continued to grow rather than going dormant as they normally do at this time of year. 

For more Six for Saturday posts check out The Propagator’s blog whose great idea this meme was.

Ferny Make-over

Athyrium niponicum
Athyrium niponicum

It’s interesting how your approach to the garden changes when you have time on your side.  I don’t mean a few hours but when you have a couple of weeks with few plans and so you can ponder and potter without clock watching and worrying about everything you want to achieve in an unrealistic time. Yvonne, a regular commentator on this blog, is often nagging me about the need to sit on the bench and rest.  What she doesn’t realise is that I do a lot of sitting on the bench but this leads to pondering and considering and then ideas form which then turn into tasks or projects.

This week I have taken the approach of doing chores first thing, crossing things off a long list, and then going out into the garden and seeing how the mood takes me.  One of the first areas I have tackled is the patio border.  The border is in two parts either side of the greenhouse.  This is the first area I planted when we moved in some 11 years ago and it has benefited over the years from continual adding of compost.  The foundation of the beds is some form of builders sand or grit, I’m not sure what, but either way it drains pretty well.  However, due to the shade of the wall the borders are shady and retain moisture for longer than the rest of the garden giving me that elusive moist but well drained soil that is often mentioned in gardening books.

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As this border is the view from my living room  I have tried to make it have year round interest.  In early spring there are snowdrops and some narcissus but I have been increasing the amount of foliage interest rather than relying on flowers.  There is a loose colour theme of yellow and white which is fulfilled by a yellow Chinatown rose that has just gone over, the Kirengshoma palmata, the white flowers of a siberian iris and the various variegated foliage.

The changes I made this week are minor but have made a huge difference to the impact of the border.  When I was in Ireland the group commented on how the Irish gardeners seemed to always be moving their plants. I kept quiet at this point as I am a terrible mover of plants and to demonstrate this I have to confess to moving the Blechnum chilense above all of a foot to the left. As you can see the Edgeworthia is making a bid to be a tree rather than a shrub and it needed under-planting.  The idea is that the Blechnum will provide interest beneath the canopy of the Edgeworthia. I don’t know why the Edgeworthia is growing like this.  I bought it mail-order and it arrived with a bare stem and 3 buds at the top and has carried on from there.  I don’t think I would have chosen one growing like this if I had been looking in a nursery but it will be interesting to see how it fares.

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I love the Blechnum chilense. I am trying to learn more about my ferns and blechnums are one group that seem fairly easy to pick out as their fronds are quite distinctive.  Once it is established I understand its fronds can grow up to 5ft which will be quite something and no doubt will lead me to having to move some of the smaller surrounding plants.  It is also meant to be evergreen so I should have something lovely to look at all winter.

Kirengshoma palmata
Kirengshoma palmata

The Kirengshoma palmata is becoming very large now and I think that I might have to pluck up the courage and divide it next year before it completely outgrows its space.  It is a wonderful plant which really should be grown more.  They suffer a little from slug damage when young but once they are established the slugs don’t seem to bother so much with them.  As I have said before the flower buds always remind me of butter curls. The plant dies back in the winter and I am left with the rose and an acanthus which are somewhere underneath it and the winter jasmine on the back wall.  As I sit here pondering, looking out of the window, I think some yellow and white crocus might do well in here for early spring interest – now where is that bulb catalogue!

 

 

An update on the Hardy Exotic Border

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As I have been weeding the Hardy Exotic Border this evening I thought I would give you an update.

May 2014
May 2014

 

The border was first planted a year ago this month.  The premise is that it is an opportunity for me to indulge my love of foliage and to create a lush border to cover the slope.  Previously I had grown various flowering perennials on the slope but with the introduction of the shed I lost the sunny part of the slope and the area that remains was very shady.  The shade has reduced since I had the willow loped but there is still sufficient leaf coverage from the Prunus to provide the shade the plants need.

 

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The border looks a little scruffy due to the dying narcissus foliage.  I added some mixed narcissus bulbs this spring but I’m not sure that it really worked as when the bench is back in place you can’t see the narcissus.

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The observant of you will notice the increase in ferns over the last year.  I just can’t resist them and I am trying to learn how to identify them but it is a very steep learning curve.  The dark leaved plant in the front of the border above is Impatiens stenantha and is twice the size it was last year so much so that I have had to relocate an Epimedium that it has engulfed.

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The scent on the Buddleja salvifolia is already wonderful and the flowers haven’t quite opened fully.  There are only 3 flower heads this year but I am thrilled that there are lots of new shoots appearing and hopefully next year they will each have a flowerhead. Euphorbia stygiana has also started to throw up new shoots and I suspect will become a real thug in the not too distant future. I would like to try and propagate both of these plants so will have to do some research.

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From the very shady end of the slope and you can just spot the sprinkling of Arisaema consanguineum all of whose flowers seem to be facing up the slope.

I am pleased with the progress in just one year and although there is still quite a bit of bare soil I am going to stop adding now as I know the plants will soon fill out and cover the soil.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 12/4/15

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

Foliage Follow-Up – January 2015

Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus'
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’

Despite the wintery showers this last week there is still plenty of foliage in the garden.  I do like evergreen foliage. I know that there are many winter shrubs which have flowers before the leaves but I like to see some green outside on a grey day.  One of the stalwarts of my garden is the prostrate rosemary which grows over the patio wall.  It has been there some 6 or 7 years maybe even longer and has come through at least two very cold winters.  I tend to take it for granted but at this time of yet it is a star not just for me but for the bees that feed on its nectar.

Choisya ternata Sundance
Choisya ternata Sundance

Choisya is another plant which really earns it keep in the winter.  I know there are some that don’t like the yellowish foliage but I find it welcome.

Melianthus major
Melianthus major

And it wouldn’t be a foliage follow up post without featuring my favourite Melianthus major which just glows in the winter sun.

Watsonia pallida
Watsonia pallida

Close to the Melianthus is a collection of Watsonia pallida which is looking particularly good in the sun at the moment.  I do like the strappy leaves they provide a nice contrast throughout the year to other foliage such as Geranium palmatum below

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The Acanthus mollis foliage is still looking good although you will see that some of the leaves are spattered and this is mud which has been splattered up in the heavy rain we have recently had.  I do like the glossy leaves which is lucky as it is an impossible plant to remove from the garden!

Dryopteris erythrosora
Dryopteris erythrosora

Many of the ferns are looking good with their wintergreen foliage.  I particularly like the Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern) as the leaves are yellowish and come the summer they will take on a more orangeish hue.  Like some of the other foliage on this post this plant seems to catch the winter sun very well.

Euphorbia pasteurii ‘Phrampton  Patty’
Euphorbia pasteurii ‘Phrampton Patty’

Finally a sun kissed Euphorbia pasteurii ‘Phrampton  Patty’ which is thriving having been planted a year ago.

So those our my foliage highlights this month.  For more foliage posts visit Pam over at Digging

Foliage Follow-Up – December 2014

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I have found it much easier to come up with shots for the Foliage Follow Up post this month than the Garden Blogger Bloom Day post.  I love foliage and I think it really comes into its own at this time of year. A favourite since childhood is Stachys byzantina, or as we called it when I was little, Lambs Ear.

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Sticking to the grey tones there is Pulmonaria which has been self seeding around the garden for some years.  I’m not that keen on the flowers but the leaves are a lovely foil to spring bulbs and you often get different variation.  I am sure I heard someone say that if you cut the leaves back, as you would a geranium, after flowering you got a better plant so I might give this a go.

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The everyday Digitalis purpurea has also started to self-seed around the garden and I think it has quite a structural presence in the garden.

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I like Bergenias which I know isn’t a view shared by all gardeners.  I think their glossy foliage is excellent at this time of year especially those varieties which colour up for Autumn.  They are one of those plants that just get on with it and then when everything else has given up for the year you notice them.

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One more self-sower is the Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’.  They do produce flowers but it is the foliage and the seedheads in the Autumn.

For more foliage posts from around the world visit Pam over at Digging

Foliage Follow Up – November 2014

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With my interest in plants becoming more and more foliage based there are few flowers in the garden at the moment.  However, the garden is still full of colour and texture from the various evergreens.  I adore the Melianthus major; it hasn’t stopped performing all year.  Grown from seed probably three years ago this plant is around 4ft high now.  I have two other plants all grown from seed at the same time but they are much smaller and in shadier situations so it shows how much the plant benefits from some direct sunshine.

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And you can’t go wrong with Fatsia japonica for evergreen interest.  This plant is probably around 7ft tall and is smothered in flowers at the moment.  I see so many Fatsias planted out in full sun looking ill and more yellow than green; despite their exotic looks they need shade to do well.

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A plant that is increasingly growing on me is Buddleja salviafolia.  A new acquisition this year which seems to like its location on the back bank.  The leaves are gloriously soft and velvety a little like Stachys byzantina.  It will be interesting to see how it fairs through the winter.

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It wouldn’t be a Foliage Follow Up post without the inclusion of some ferns. The two I have chosen are deciduous so will probably disappear in the next couple of weeks.  Above is Athryium niponicum, the most elegant of ferns. This variety is probably ‘Burgundy Lace’.  Below is an unknown fern although I suspect it is another Athryium as the foliage shape seems very similar to the Athryium niponicum. I like the warm buttery tones it takes on in the Autumn which until recently were picking on up on the autumn colouring of the Prunus kojo-no-mai which it is planted by.

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Another plant that delivers in more season than one is the Kirengshoma palmata whose leaves also take on a buttery tone as they fade.

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Getting to the other end of the size range to the Fatsia we have cyclamens which are really winning me over.  I find myself buying them for their foliage rather than the flowers which are to be honest either white or a shade of pink. But who could not fall for the marbling on the leaves above.  I am pretty sure this is Cyclamen hederifolium but this assumption is based purely on the fact that it is an autumn flowering cyclamen.  Below is another one and you can see how much the leaves can differ.

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I have recently discovered Cyclamen graecum which generally have darker green leaves and the one below was bought because of the darkness of the leaves.  It is still a young plant but hopefully in a year or two it will be stunning.

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For more foliage follow up posts visit Pam at Digging – a favourite haunt of mine on a grey damp Autumn day.