End of Month View – May 2015

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 17/8/14 – A Warts & All Tour

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I have weeded, dead-headed, cut back and generally given the garden a good sort out this weekend and during the evenings last week.  It was long overdue and the chaos that has been irritating me for weeks, if not months, is as a result of holidays, other commitments and weather either heavy rain or a heatwave.  I garden to relax, to de-stress and the lack of time I have had outside has taken a toil on me, the garden and the blog.  Anyway, as its all tidy, in fact over tidy, I thought I would take you on a warts and all tour.  I did a tour around this time last year and looking back I can see I have done some of the things I said but not others – some areas have improved and others not.

2014_08170020 We will start the tour by entering the back garden via the side path and you will see the ridiculous amount of seed trays and pots of seedlings I have.  I have been saying to online friends recently that I need to stop buying seeds.  ‘No’ they say, there is always room for seeds but to be honest I seem to have lost the fascination with growing things from seed.  I am sure it will come back at some point but I feel a real need to regroup at the moment.

Going round the corner we are on the patio with is long and thin and runs along the back of the house.  There are borders either side of the greenhouse between the patio and wall.  These were the first places planted up and have had a few changes over the eleven years we have been there but I am pretty happy with them now.

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I am especially pleased with the fern border as I love the textures here and most of the ferns are evergreen so it even looks Ok in the winter.

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At the end of the patio we find the steps up to the back garden and just to the right is the staging which appears every month in the End of Month View.  The steps are quite narrow 2014_08170030and are the only access to the back garden so everything – plants, compost etc have to be dragged up here by hand; wheelbarrows are useless.

The gravel steps, at the top of the steep steps,  which were finished last year have been a boon. When we moved in this was all grass, in fact the garden was mainly grass, and there was a path of large paving slabs which sloped with the angle of the garden and were really slippery.

If you stand at the top of the steep steps before the gravel steps and turn left you have the newish path that runs between the ‘Cottage Border’ and the ‘Big Border.  This was put in as an access path but I use it more than any other path in the garden and its the cat’s favourite place to sunbath.

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The Cottage Border has been the focus of much irritation over the last few months.  You may recall that it has been home to a collection of delphiniums which looked wonderful.  However, they only flowered for a couple of weeks and the foliage and size of the plants were smothering everything around them and then when the stems were cut down large holes in the border appeared.  I made the decision to take them out as they were boring me!  Today they were lifted and the border tidied and sorted.  I have a collection of plants waiting to go in which should add texture and foliage interest and compliment the roses.

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Big gaps in the borders have appeared which made me smile as I have been saying for a while I don’t have any more room.  However, I want to think through my options carefully.  I have had a range of plants in this area and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t do messy or the billowing prairie/grass look – I am too much of a neat nick. The plants I love are ferns, roses, irises, epimediums, peonies and bulbs such as narcissus and crocus and I think I need to focus on these more.

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As the path curves up to the right you come to the original woodland border.  This is the first year I have been pleased with it – I am such a tough critic.  I have been mentally stuck with having small short woodland plants in this area which are great in the spring but dull the rest of the year.  This spring I moved things around and added some large plants

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including melianthus, some asters, persicaria and euphorbia.  They have given the border substance (although the persicaria really needs reducing before it engulfs its neighbours).  This is the sort of planting I enjoy and am trying to replicate elsewhere in the garden. The

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path brings you to an area of sadness.  Here was an Acer that my sons and late sister bought for me some years back.  It has looked stunning for years but for some reason that I cannot fathom it died this winter.  This weekend we pulled it out and it has left a large gap in the border.  You can see how dry the soil is and this is due to the neighbour’s trees whose roots fill this area.  Interestingly though the fatsia planted two years ago just the left of the photo is going great guns.  Turning our back to this area we have the grass path in front of us which runs along the other side of the Big Border to the first path.  On the left of the path is the front of the Not Very Bog Border and this is another area I struggle with.

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I am pleased with the Big Border – I need to add some shorter plants along the edges to hide the legs of the asters etc and I need to sort out the far end as there are too many strappy leaves here so its all a little samey.  I have some ideas I just need to implement them.

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This is the most, probably, troublesome area.  The ground gets quite dry here and I have been trying to find a character for it for years.  In fact I said the same a year ago when I did the tour of the garden.  There are some rusty foxgloves which do well here and also ferns but then, as you will see, I have lots of ferns elsewhere.  I am toying with removing the Spirea to the right of the variegated Cornus and replacing it with a Cotinus.  I think this might give the foxgloves a good backdrop and I have some Crocosmia and Geums that I was thinking of putting in here which would also look good with a purple background.

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At the end of the grass path if you turn left up the gravel steps you head to the new seating area which I love.  However, there is this corner which perplexes me.  It the other end of the border in the photo above – in fact the whole border challenges me.  There are phloxs in here which have looked wonderful albeit bitty and also Lobelia tupa.  I am thinking of moving the lobelia to the Big Border and also maybe the Phloxes and starting again but with what?

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The new seating area is in front of the Hardy Exotic Border and I though I would pull the seat out so you can see how it is coming along and so I can weed.  Again I am pleased with the textures here and its all foliage based.  I could move the Lobelia tupa here but I’m not sure there is room.   Turning around we have the Not Very Bog Border which is alright but looking back to last year’s post there was more interest with the bronze foliage of the Ligularia.  However, I am going to leave it to establish and fill out and see how things go.

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If I moved the Cotinus to this border it will also provide a backdrop to this area which might be good.

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There is a secret path which runs between the Not Very Bog Border and the Slope.  I have been planting my growing collection of epimediums and ferns around this area but there is room for more. We go to the end of the path and there are some slabs steps which go up and to the right and lead to a path along the top of the slope.  You can see a small border at the base of the tree and I need to sort this out as it has suffered neglect.  There is space in here for a shrub at the back and I have a number of ideas which I will investigate.

2014_08170051The long narrow border along the fence has been a struggle over the years.  I planted some bamboo in here four years ago to act as a screen to the neighbour’s house behind and they are now finally establishing and filling out.  I want to add some more big foliage in here but again need to decide what.

As you can see the path needs sorting.  It was covered in wood chip which the birds and badger loved and in the winter it was like a mine field to walk along because of the holes dug in it.  I want to replace the bark with gravel and hopefully I will find the time and energy to do this soon.

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All my tidying up has added to the compost heap which was out of control before I started.  You can just see the bamboo to the left of the heaps which I thinned today.  This is just to the right of where the Acer has been taken out and acts as a screen to the bins when it isn’t collapsing everywhere.  I am thinking of taking the bamboo out and possibly moving it somewhere in front of the back fence and replacing it with an ever green shrub.  The biggest problem I have now which only came to light yesterday is that the top branch of the willow has snapped and it has partially fallen.

2014_08170053I need to get a tree surgeon to sort it out and also to look at the whole tree which is far to big for its location.  I’m not sure how the surgery will affect the light in this area so I will probably have to wait and see before I make any significant changes to the planting.

I am currently reading Margery Fish as I like her attitude and she liked the plants I do.  I think I might try and fit in a trip to East Lambrook in the coming weeks to see what it looks like at this time of year as this is when I struggle most as my favourite plants have all finished.  I have a couple of weeks leave coming up so I hope to do some planting and planning then.

Anyway, that’s my garden warts and all

The June Border

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It’s nearly the longest day of the year and I finally have my camera back after a month at the repairers so I have spent some time this evening photographing the Cottage and Big Borders.

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For the first year since we have lived here I am thrilled with how these parts of the garden are looking.  The images in my head are finally beginning to appear in reality.

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Many of the plants are supporting each other but there are one or two that I need to stake next year to improve their appearance.  I must write-up some notes in the garden diary to remind myself next spring.

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End of Month View – May 2014

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Due to the amount of rain and cool temperatures we have had in recent weeks the plants in the Cottage and Big Border have grown quite big and lush but the flowers are being slow to show their faces.  The Aquilegia are almost over but the Delphinium and Roses are getting ready to take over in the Cottage Border.  On both sides of the path the Geraniums are forming buds and hopefully it will just take a few days of sunshine and warmer temperatures for them to open.

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The path from the other end.  I have under planted the Cotinus with white Corncockle which may or may not work, we shall see.

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The staging is now home to some of the Pelargoniums, Sempervivums, some sun loving alpines and a few late flowering bulbs such as  Dichelostemma Ida-Maia.  The remaining gone over bulbs will shortly go into the greenhouse under the staging to dry out and I will move the tender succulents out to replace them.

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I am pleased with how the ‘Hardy Exotic Border’ is going.  There is some filling in to do with smaller plants.  I also have a trug full of tulip bulbs from the big pots and I think I am going to plant them out in this border.  If they flower, and I know many tulips don’t do well in their second year, then they will bring a colourful splash before the hardy plants get going again.

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The Damp Border is filling out with ferns and astible.  It isn’t the most photogenic border but one of those that you can appreciate more close up.

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The Trough in the front garden also isn’t that photogenic but it was only planted out a month ago and I need to add some pots of tender succulents around the Trough.

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For those long-suffering readers that endured last year’s End of Month Views on the front garden here it is now and finally I am enjoying it.  I think it just needed another year to bulk up.  There are gaps to be filled and some balancing to do but finally it makes me smile when I pull up on the driveway.

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Finally the middle path along the top of the Big Border.  I should be including a shot of the Patio Border but I am camera-less as the camera I have been borrowing from my son has gone with him to London for the weekend and mine is at the menders.  I am very pleased with how well the Big Border has filled out.  You wouldn’t believe that this time last year it was only a month old.

All are welcome to join in with this monthly meme and use it how they wish.  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 so we can all come for a nose around your garden.

My Garden This Weekend – 11th May

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Due to my commitments at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival this weekend and the horrid gusty weather the garden has been left to its own devices and it has thrived if the ignore the twigs blown from the trees all over the place.  With the mix of sunshine and rain the plants and weeds have really shot up and all is looking lush.

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So  I have nothing really to report aside from showing you some photos taken in a stolen few minutes with my son’s camera as mine is broken.  Above is the driveway border in the front garden which I am quite chuffed with for the first time ever.  The Ballerina Tulips have few petals left due to the gust of wind that have torn through the garden the last two days.  They are being replaced by the bearded Iris, I think its Langport Wren, and there are Alliums which will also be flowering soon.  You can see the Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ which has opened its flowers in the last week.  I have also included some geums in the border which I hope will flower soon as I was trying to continue the orange and purple theme which I like.

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The Cottage Border is starting to flower.  Aquilegias are opening and the Delphiniums will probably join them in a couple of weeks. The blue to the right is from Camassias which despite being weary of them yesterday I do actually like very much.  They do well on my heavy moist clay soil.

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A view of the Woodland Border from the patio, again all very lush and full which I am pleased about.  The border is in its third year and I am pleased with the texture and the variety of heights that the young shrubs are starting to provide.

Hopefully I might get a few hours in the garden this week after work.  I have lots to plants out and pot up from the show this weekend and there is also lots of tidying to do in the borders as well as seedlings to prick out and pot up.

Oh and the tulip is the top photo should be Burgundy Lace but this one has an interesting cream splash down it which reminds me of rhubarb and custard.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 13th April 2014

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Anyone who follows me on twitter regularly will know I have been whining about being ill since Wednesday evening with a cold.  In fact we are pretty certain it was flu as I was completely knocked for six and hardly left my bed or the sofa until this morning.  It has left me feeling quite tired but the sunshine today was just what I needed to start recharging the batteries and get myself back to normal.  There is  nothing more restorative than a slow shuffle, that’s how bad I was, around the garden to see what is growing.  In fact I think I noticed far more than normal.  I  was thrilled to discover my trillium has returned this year with at least three flowers.  This is at least the third year it has flowered so I think I might invest in another one or two this year at Malvern Spring show.  There are so many flowers about to open that the changes seem to happening now on a daily basis.  I was particularly taken with the Maianthemum racemosum (above) which I have always preferred to Solomons Seal.  I thought I had removed all the Solomons Seal from the garden after the disgusting and extensive sawfly attack last year but I noticed today that the spikes of growth were reappearing.  I shall leave them to see how they do but the first sign of the sawfly and they are out.

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My son helped out and cut the front grass and finished off the new seating area.  I have the following week off work and I had planned to put the gravel down in this area but I suspect my energy won’t be enough.  However, I can now plant up the slope behind the seating area and my new planting area in front which will free up some space on the patio.  Whilst  he beavered away I plodded along weeding and tidying the Cottage Border, which runs along the top of the wall.

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I have been meaning to stake the Delphiniums here for a week or so and it was this task that got be out into the sunshine.  I have learnt from bitter experience that you really need to stake delphiniums early or you end up with a right mess.  I follow Christopher Lloyd’s advice and use bamboo canes.  For the smaller clumps I tie each steam to a cane but for the larger clumps I make a web of string running between the canes; it seems to work.  I grew all the Delphinium from seed and I think they are dwarf variety.  This is good as there can be a wind which whips across the garden despite the neighbours trees along the boundary and the shorter height stops them getting snapped off too much.  Many people tell me they can’t grow Delphinium as the slugs cause too much damage.  I get slugs in my garden generally not an excessive amount but enough.  My approach is to scatter some slug pellets around the plants just as the very first shoots break  the soil.  I believe this kills the slugs that leave in the soil and I think these cause more damage.  If the plant starts life strongly then it is more robust to deal with other attacks.  I also get little slug damage on hostas.

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The planting in the border is quite restricted to late spring/early summer but I want some colour later in the year so on a whim I have sown some hardy annuals straight into the soil.  I haven’t done this before.  Normally I sow in trays, prick  out, harden off etc but the plants are often scrawny as I never have enough time to do things in a timely manner so they get leggy.  I am hoping that by sowing straight into the soil the plants will be more compact and robust and will flower later in the season.  I also added some Cerinthe seedlings sown last Autumn which, yes your right, are getting leggy and need planting out.  We shall see how they do.

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I thought you might be amused by the state of my compost heaps which are growing an interesting selection of plants at the moment.  So far I have found healthy growing specimens of Sweet Cicely, Lily of the Valley, a Scabious (I think), Rhubarb, and a large Angelica.  I suppose it’s the mild winter we have had that has built  up the heap in the heap and promoted the growth but it is interesting as I don’t remember composting half of them and it shows just how rubbish I am at cutting up plants to go on the heap.  I am eyeing up the Angelica as I think I have a location for it.  To be honest I thought it was a biennial so I am surprised it has reappeared.

The idea of having the whole week  ahead and good weather forecast is amazing. I have no plans for the week apart from taking the car to the garage tomorrow so I am going to see how it pans out.  I might do a little  garden visiting, I might do a little planting, maybe some sowing, maybe some pricking  out – who knows I may even just sit in the sun and enjoy the view.