Whilst I was away having a jolly time in Austin the garden was busy getting on with life and a new cast was waiting to surprise me.
The first Aquilegia flowers definitely signify the imminent arrival of summer. Sadly over the years the number of long spurred Aquilegias seem to have diminished, something I must redress as they are my favourite.
The Camassias peaked but are still just about holding their own. They will soon be joined by the Alliums and Dutch Iris.
I realised when I was wandering round the garden that a lot of the blooms this month were from shrubs; I hadn’t realised I had so many shrubs.
Rhododendron Yakushimanum ‘Happy’
Unknown tree peony
On a smaller scale I’m really enjoying the orange flowers of Lathyrus aureus and Maianthemum racemosum
Thank you to Carol, who I was delighted to meet for the first time last week, for hosting this monthly meme.
I had a delightful afternoon visiting Noel Kingsbury and Jo Eliot’s garden in deepest darkest Herefordshire within spitting distance of the Welsh borders. I nearly didn’t go as I wanted to get on with the front garden but having planted up half the space in the morning and with unexpected blue skies at lunchtime I set off for what is always an enjoyable drive west.
Noel’s garden is not what many would call the traditional style of garden. Indeed I ran into someone I know from a garden club who hadn’t visited before and was a little perplexed by the research beds and the intensive planting in some areas and the large meadow and ponds with wildflower planting. We agreed that it made a nice change from many of the gardens you visit, particularly under the National Garden Scheme, and my fellow garden club member said it had certainly given him real food for thought.
Personally I really enjoy this garden. I have visited before, last August, when I went for lunch and had a proper tour with Noel. The garden demonstrates Noel’s interests in plant communities and how perennials, in particular, grow together. The area above is a series of research beds with various perennials planted out in blocks to see how they fare in Noel’s heavy clay soil However, plants are allowed to self seed as is evident from the prolific number of aquilegia and trollis which are scattered around the garden and really pull everything together.
I really like the intensity of this area of planting with all the purples and cerise flowers; it was alive with insects. It is this intense style I am trying to achieve but its a style which looks more natural than the traditional style of perennial planting and I think that although it looks so natural it is quite hard to make work well. It is one of those things that everyone thinks looks easy until you try it yourself. As the year progresses the grasses and late perennials which are currently hidden amongst the early flowering plant will have bulked up and bring a new wave of interest and colour.
And finally a real surprise as Noel’s Aeoniums are already out on the patio, and have been out for two weeks. Mine are still lurking in the greenhouse and looking the worse for it so this week they will be moved out into the fresh air and hopefully it wont be long before they look as glossy and healthy as Noel’s.
I’m off to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if any of the show gardens, with all their immaculate planting, have the same sense of place as Noel and Jo’s garden; I suspect not.
Every gardener I know seems to be saying this last week ‘Goodness hasn’t the garden shot up this week’ and yes we have been blessed finally with warmer temperatures which coupled with the rain has given plants a real boost. Needless to say having moaned about the cool spring for weeks and weeks those same gardeners are now moaning that they can’t keep on top of things! Personally, with my more lackadaisical approach I don’t worry too much about weeds or that the last bit of lawn needs cutting – they will all be dealt with as and when I have time. At this time of year I am spending more time looking and spotting familiar friends reappearing or studying new acquisitions to see how they grow. So for this month’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post I am going to showcase my favourite flowers this weekend.
I am completely obsessed with the trilliums that have reappeared this year, there are two more but they aren’t flowering yet. To be honest I had forgotten about two of them so did a ridiculous little dance when suddenly I spotted them in the border. I can’t work out what the bottom one is, it might be that the flower will develop more and be easier to identify over the next week.
Another woodland delight that took me by surprise but not for long and I soon remembered what it was. Such a pretty dainty flower and I do like the way the petals twist.
On a larger scale in the shady side of the garden the rhododendrons are flowering, these two are my favourites. If I ever am lucky enough to have a larger garden with the right soil I will definitely indulge myself with lots more rhododendrons especially those wonderful ones with furry leaves.
Moving out of the shade into the sunshine the first of the umbellifers is flowering, lovely Sweet Cicely, such an pretty flower.
Allium cameleon is in its second year in the garden and already bulking up well. It is a short, front of the border allium, much daintier than alliums such as Allium Purple Sensation. I really like the way the flowers are blushed with pink.
One of those bigger blowsy alliums just starting to open; I can’t remember which but I suspect it is Purple Sensation. I do love alliums in all their varieties and have them flowering in the garden right through to high summer.
The sea of camassias which have dominated the Big Border creating a delicious blue haze for the last few weeks is coming to an end. It is only the very top of the stems which still have flowers and I can’t bring myself to remove them until they have lost every single flower.
My favourite Aquilegia, its a seedling of the mckenna varieties with the long spurs at the back of the flower which I much prefer to the more chubby looking aquilegias which I think are varieties of the native columbine, whereas the mckenna varieties come from the USA. I have lots of aquilegias, I went through a slightly obsessive period of growing them from seed and interestingly certain colours predominate. I think I will weed out the ones that don’t appeal so much and maybe try to increase the mckenna varieties. There are some who argue that over time all aquilegias revert to the muddy pink variety. This just isn’t true what actually happens is they loose their original aquilegias and the muddy pink ones are seedlings which tend to revert back.
So those are the stars of my garden this week for other gardeners blooms pop over to Carol at May Dreams and check out the links.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today I went to the inaugural meeting of the HPS Shade and Woodland Group which conveniently for me was held near Tewkesbury where I go for my monthly HPS meetings and in addition to this the talk was by one of our committee members, Keith Ferguson with a visit in the afternoon to his and his wife, Lorna’s, garden. The meeting was attended by some 80 people at a rough guess which isn’t bad for the inaugural meeting of a national group.
Keith’s talk on Trilliums and other US woodlanders was fascinating and I learnt lots, how much I will remember remains to be seen. I did learn that it was a myth that trilliums need acidic soil, there are one or two which do, but generally this isn’t the case. I still think trilliums are a bit tricky, I have a couple and only one flowers and in 5 years it has only bulked up to two flowers! I think I need to start mulching more with leaf mould etc. I overheard Keith telling someone that they mulch extensively in November so that seems to be the answer – worth a go anyway.
After lunch we drove 20 minutes to the Ferguson’s home which is set down a narrow country road within sight of May Hill – a very pretty part of the world. They have lived here nearly 20 years and worked hard to develop the garden. Both Keith and Lorna are botanists and are real plants people. Whenever there is a tricksy shrub that needs identifying at our group meetings it is them we look to and inevitably they know or can make a knowledgeable guess.
I frequently visit gardens generally on my own, sometimes with a friend or two but this, and a visit with some of the same group last week, are the most enjoyable garden visits I have had for some time. I think the secret lies in visiting with such knowledgeable plants people who are generous with their knowledge and not in a stuffy or superior way. We had a laugh and it is wonderful to hear a real hum of people talking about plants and indulging in their passion. One half of the garden, in front of the house is more formal and is very bright being home to lots of wonderful colourful perennials and also the vegetable garden. The other half of the garden (which altogether is around 2.5 acres) is the newer garden which is devoted to shade loving plants. Here were clumps of trilliums which make my tiny specimen look even more pathetic. I enjoyed the planting style here as everything intermingles giving a wild appearance albeit managed. I suspect William Robinson would have approved. So many new plants to discover and learn about and at the same time familiar plants to see afresh and covert. I was particularly taken with the Papaver orientale ‘May Queen’ which I have been promised a bit of, although it comes with a warning of being a thug!
There were also plants that I doubt I will ever grow such as this Berberis jamesiana which Sally Gregson and I were completely bewitched by. It is hard to propagate and given its size I suspect this is something I wouldn’t be able to grow unless I moved but still it is something to aspire to.
Whilst the reason for the visit was due to the HPS Shade and Woodland Group meeting what I really took away from the Ferguson’s garden was a wonderful demonstration of ‘right plant right place’. Being botanists they understand what conditions each plant needs and the plants repay this care and attention by growing incredibly well. It was a lovely afternoon.
For this week’s vase I decided to feature aquilegias which as I said in my last post are a real favourite. The aquilegias in the vase are the real Granny’s Bonnets, as in one of the common names for Aquilegia, as opposed to the long spurred aquilegias I showed in the GBBD post which I believe hail from the US.
But what foliage to use to show the flowers off? I decided to go for some woodland plant foliage as after all aquilegias are woodland plants. So in the vase with the Aquilegia is Bessia, Astible and Maianthemum. Finally to add a little height I added some sprigs of Tellima grandiflora; not a particularly interesting plant but the tiny pink tinged flowers work well with the pastels of the aquilegias.
And the vase is the simple cheap glass one I have used before but I want to show case the delicate flowers.
Unusually for me I’m a day late with the GBBD post but I had a wonderful surprise on my return from Rome as the Alliums have just started to open their puff-ball flowers and there are a whole array of them dancing above the prostrate rosemary.
Allium cameleon (above) is a new addition this year and I rather like the pink tones of the buds and newly open florets which then go whiter. Its a very pretty flower.
Alliums aside May is the month of the Aquilegia in my garden. I have loved Aquilegias for years and have a growing range of plants. I prefer the ones with larger flowers to the more, shall we say dumpy, flowers which I think are related to our native Columbine. I am rather taken with the second and last of the four above, both in their first year of flower so it was a nice surprise to see what the flowers looked like. However, I have a special soft spot for Aquilegia canadensis (above). I adore the vibrancy of the flower but it is also one of the first species Aquilegias I grew from seed and was the start of a quiet fascination.
Orange seems to be making more of an appearance in my garden than at this time in previous years. Both Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and Lathyrus aureus were bought last year. I like the contrast with the purples which seem to be the prevailing colour in the garden at the moment and I think small dots of orange, especially from the geum flowers which have a habit of nodding above other plants on long stems really add some zing to the border.
Talking of purple one of the first plants I sought out on my return yesterday was the Buddleja salvifolia. I have been waiting for it to flower for weeks. Another new purchase last year it is just heavenly, the leaves are wonderfully soft a bit like Stachys byzantina and the scent is wonderful.
Umbellifers seem to be creeping into my garden more and more. I have started to appreciate the added texture their frothy flowers bring. At the moment this is from Sweet Cicely (bottom) and Chaeropjyllum hirsutum roseum (top).
In startling contrast we have Arisaema consangineum (I think) which I grew from seed many years ago and seems to really like its new location on the slope. As ever in my garden the flowers are pointing in the opposite direction to I had planned but I learnt the other day that you can rotate the bulb to put the flower in the right place and the plant will stay like that, the flower doesn’t grow towards the sun like other plants so I might give that a go.
And finally we have the wonderful Lamprocapbos spectablis ‘Valentine’ which is a real show stopper. There are other flowers in the garden, the geraniums are just starting to open as are the irises but these are the plants that are flowering their best today.
For more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit Carol at May Dreams
It has rained heavily for 48 hours on and off which is good as the garden has had a good soaking and the water butts are full or even overflowing. However, it does mean there has been no gardening for me today. In fact all I managed outside was to water the greenhouse, which seems somewhat mad, when the rain is bashing on the glass, and to take a few photos as I like the softness rain brings to plants.
I am really pleased with the driveway border at the moment. Any one who has read this blog for some time will know my struggle to engage with the front garden and how I really tried to put some effort into it last year. My efforts are now paying off which is very satisfying and encouraging. The bright orange Tulip Ballerina have gone over and have been cut back. They are now followed by Alliums and Nectaroscordum which are actually holding their heads up this year, presumably due to the wet winter we have had. I am also enjoying the white potentilla which has come into its own after about 3 years of sulking.
I really like this Iris. It is a smaller flower than many of the other bearded irises, less blowsy and I think this helps it stand up to the weather. I think the veining on the falls is quite special possibly more butterfly like than bee like.
Talking of butterflies the new buddleja has started to flower and the scent is quite intoxicating despite there only being two flowers at the moment. I am sure when it has had a chance to establish it will be stunning. I have planted it behind the new bench with the idea that you will be able to enjoy the scent whilst sitting in the garden. No sign of any butterflies yet but hopefully they will be attracted to it soon.
An unknown Aquilegia which must be self-sown as I never buy Aquilegias given they are so easy to grow from seed. I am sure this is a new appearance this year. It is quite tall and I like the way the flower head drops. It is also a simple flower very different from the normal complex Aquilegia flowers. I might collect the seeds on the off chance that they come true although with the number I have in the garden it is unlikely.
The Arisaema speciosum are flowering better than ever before and I was feeling rather pleased that I had relocated them to the old bog garden thinking the moisture was helping. However I heard recently that although they like humus rich soil they also like good drainage and not having their feet in the wet – opps. I may have to rethink.
Finally a Libertia, variety unknown, which is flowering its socks off in the front garden in the shelter of the laurel hedge.
Hopefully the weather will be drier tomorrow so I can get on and play.
May is the month for Aquilegia in my garden. They are amongst my favorite perennials and every year a few more varieties appear. I know some say that they revert back to muddy pink ones but I don’t find this so. In fact I don’t think this makes sense since it is unlikely that a plant’s flowers will revert and I think they are actually getting lots of seedlings from plants cross breeding or reverting back to the more native variety.
At the moment it is mainly the more granny bonnet style aquilegias that are flowering. I have some others which have the longer spurs which are my absolute favorites and these will open in a week or so. I don’t know what varieties any of these aquilegias are as they have been grown from various mix packs of seeds over the years.
My absolute favourite one is Aquilegia canadensis – the colour is so vibrant and is really standing out against all the white, pinks and purples at the moment. I have to admit I do like orange and purple in the garden – I seem to have a similar combination in the front garden.
I’m not sure what geranium this is. I grew it from seed from a seed exchange last year but when images on the internet don’t match the plant so I think the seed was mislabeled. The leaves are very large and the flowers are significantly larger than my other geraniums. I wonder if it is Geranium palmatum.
I am also very fond of this Dicentra Valentine which was a purchase from last year’s Malvern Spring Show. I like the strong flower colour alongside the dark stems.
In the Woodland Border the colours are more subtle with the fluffy Maianthemum racemosum which is just beginning to go over but has been spectacular over the last few weeks.
The Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum commutatum) is such an elegant plant but last year I lost it all to the evil Solomon Seal sawfly so we shall see what happens this year. Luckily last year’s attack doesn’t seem to have weakened the plants which are actually looking larger and lusher than last year.
Finally the white variegated honesty. The variegation on the foliage this year is so strong this year that the flowers are almost lost but I do love this plant and I am reminded I need to sow some more for next year.