End of Year View – 2017

As 2017 draws to a close I thought I would capture the garden as the year turns.  I could say “in all its glory” but that would be an exaggeration as the garden has suffered from my lack of interest this year and is looking a little worse for wear.

I’ve taken these photos with a wide-angle lens as I always find it hard to take photos of my garden which is rather wide with access from one side (see garden plan via link at top of page).

It is interesting that having spent little time in the garden this year, and indeed even less writing this blog or engaging with horticultural social media, I find that  I am seeing the garden with fresh eyes.  I find that I am more critical of the planting and less sentimental about the plants.   However, on the whole the structure and layout of the garden is all right it is really a case of bringing the planting together.  As Gertrude Jekyll argues “the possession of a quantity of plants, however good the plants may be themselves and however ample their number, does not make a garden; it only makes a collection”.  This is a fair assessment of much of my garden so my aim is to make a garden from what I have.

The one change to the structure of the garden is the removal of the very top path which runs along the back of the garden.  It is a path that goes no where and was put in when I originally cleared the slope to give access. However, the wood planking which has supported the terraces is beginning to rot due to age and it is rather challenging walking along the path.  But in truth I hardly go to the top of the garden and I have decided to remove the path which will given me more planting space for shrubs.

Over the Christmas break, when it isn’t snowing, I have started the big job of tidying up the garden.  As well as the normal piles of leaves to collect up there is a lot of cutting back and weeding to do and pruning.  In fact I spent yesterday trying to find the back fence under a sea of pyracanthus.  As I hadn’t pruned the bushes for a year or so they had become top heavy and the snow pushed them away from the fence they were meant to be clothing.  After some satisfying hard pruning order has returned and some Chaenomeles in flower has been discovered – missed in the Boxing Day Flower Count.

I’ve prioritised the borders which have a lot of spring bulbs – well the ones with lots of snowdrops.  This explains why the border along the patio looks so bare as it is full of snowdrops and eranthis.

The greenhouse was the first space to be tidied, back in November, and is as ever full with all my tender plants.

Finally a view of the front garden which has been a triumph this year – though it might not look it now.

I’m hoping that now I have decided to stay put  I can enjoy the benefit of my hard work over the last 13 years and continue to delight in the view of the hills which I have realised are so important to me.

 

Boxing Day Flower Count 2017

So this is the seventh year I have counted the number of plants in flower on Boxing Day.  It’s an interesting exercise and makes you really look at the garden to spot any flowers. This year the snowdrops seem to be ahead of themselves.  Galanthus Mrs McNamara (above) is already in flower, with Galanthus Ding Dong and Galanthus plicatus ‘Colossus’ coming up quickly behind.

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

There are two Viburnums in flower; the Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ and the Viburnum rhytidophyllum

Viburnum rhytidophyllum

Other shrubs in flower which I overlooked photographing are:

Grevillea victoriae
Mahonia ‘Media Charity’
Jasminum nudi-florum

and this Abutilon, whose name I have forgotten (as usual).

The first hellebore is in flower, last year they were only just in bud.

Conversely there is only one primrose in flower, where as last year there were numerous primroses and primulas in flower.

Another small delight is this little cyclamen, a new addition under a shrub. I choose the white flowers over pink ones as I wanted something to lighten the spot.

Finally, is the delightful pot of violets which lives on the patio table.  They have been flowering for weeks, only closing their petals when it snowed.

In total there is one more plant in flower this year, 13, to last year which remains low compared to 2015 when there were 35 plants in flower.  I suspect some of this might be because of my leanings more towards foliage plants other flowers.

For previous years counts follow the links below:

Boxing Day 2016
Boxing Day 2015
Boxing Day 2014

Boxing Day 2013
Boxing Day 2012
Boxing Day 2011

 

 

After the Snow

and we certainly had snow, about 20cm deep in less than 24 hours just over a week ago.  Whilst we have had heavy snow in the past, some four or five years ago, we haven’t had so much snow in such a short period of time.

And it was the best of snow; soft, fluffy, powdery.  So much of it weighing down branches, flattening the fragile grass stems, crystallising the Fatsia flower heads causing them to snap off.

It was so still, so quiet, nothing moved for hours not even a wind to waft the snow off the allium seed head.

Now on the shortest day of the year the snow has gone and I’m on leave and I finally have the opportunity to see the garden in the daylight and discover unexpected delights.  The first hellebore is flowering and a healthy clump of snowdrops are pushing their snouts upwards – possibly Mrs McNamara.

Removing broken stems and fallen leaves revealed so many fresh new bulb shoots – so much promise for the new year.

 

 

 

End of Month View – December 2016

I have to admit that my lackadaisical approach to the blog and to a lesser degree the garden meant that I had forgotten about this month’s End of Month View post until Steve over at Glebe House Garden reminded me. Looking at his beautiful garden and great post put me to shame so here I am trying to do better!

To be honest I have struggled with the meme for most of the year, missing August and July completely.  I think it is because I started off the year with the intention of focussing on the front garden and I wrote a post about how awful it was.  I had intended to tweak and amend the front garden during the year and use the meme to help me improve things.  However, the January blog post led to me deciding to just bite the bullet and dig up the front lawn.  My son asked me today why I didn’t use the development of the Front Garden during 2016 as the theme for the meme and I had to confess that it was because I have a bad habit of not finishing things at the moment and I didn’t want to set myself up.  Anyway, behind the scenes the front garden has been transformed and I love it so maybe 2017 I will share it with you.

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Having decided not to continue with Plan A for the meme I had to quickly find an alternative area to focus on.  I remember feeling that I had covered most of the garden, it’s not very large, over previous years and I should focus on a part I didn’t show much.  The result was selecting Hugh’s Border to showcase – Hugh is the name of the willow owl that presides over the border.  The trouble is that the reason I don’t show this border much is because it continues to not be right and I’m not sure why or even how to address it.  The end of the border in which Hugh resides has been consistently in the shade for years whilst the other end has some degree of sunshine.  The shady end is planted with ferns and shade lovers but there is something lacking; as for the other end well to be frank I have perfected the art of looking over it from the bench to the rest of the garden which shows you how difficult I find it.

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However, now that my neighbours have removed the trees and to be frank scrubby hedge my garden is flooded with light.  At first I found the loss of the boundary plants challenging as I felt quite exposed but after a week or so it became more normal and I could see the huge benefits of the garden being opened up to the sun!  I am hoping that in 2017 I can really embrace this, particularly in relation to Hugh’s Border and finally get my head round coming up with a, for wont of a better word, theme for the border.  Something that will pull it together, give all round interest with some seasonal highlights.  The bench end has a pinky/red colour theme waiting to be unleashed building on the Prunus kojo-no-mai, Sorbus vilmorinii and Rose ‘Hot Chocolate’ flowers and fruit and I am thinking of adding a couple more Amnethela lessionia along the grass path side to mirror the other side and give a sense of movement or journey as you look down the path. In the meantime I think Hugh needs to come in for a bit of a tidy up.

Any one is welcome to join in with the End of Month View meme and you can use it how you wish – there are no rules.  Some people focus on one area, others give a tour of their garden – whatever works for you.  All I ask in return is that you link to my EMOV post in your post (provided I have done one of course!) and leave a comment on my post so others can find you.

 

 

Boxing Day Flower Count 2016

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’
Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

Curiously the mild winter we are having hasn’t resulted in lots of flowers in the garden this Boxing Day.  Last year I had a bumper count at 35 and I put this down to last year’s mild winter but presumably it is more subtle than that. I do believe that some plants need a cold snap to help them start flower but that’s just wild guess work on my part.

Mahonia 'Media Charity'
Mahonia ‘Media Charity’

My Mahonia has finally forgiven me for being lopped probably 3 years ago.  I wanted to avoid a shrub with just one stem so I chopped it down to the ground and then spent a year, almost, anxiously watching to see if anything would appear.  Finally new shoots reluctantly put in an appearance and the shrub now has 3 stems and is producing good size flowers.

Grevillea victoriae
Grevillea victoriae

Grevillea victoriae is my favourite shrub at the moment. It is one of two Grevilleas I have – the second being Grevillea Canberra Gem – and I adore them both.  To be fair the Grevillea victoriae flowers haven’t really opened yet but any excuse to include a photo of it.

Jasminum nudi-florum
Jasminum nudi-florum

A bit of colour on the retaining wall courtesy of Jasminum nudi-florum.  Last year I removed the clematis that also grew in this space and the Jasminum seems to have improved.  I suspect the increased flowering is because I can prune it better without the clematis – I must investigate when I should be pruning the plant as I have a habit of pruning when I think of it.

Euphorbia rigida
Euphorbia rigida

In recent years I have developed a bit of a weakness for Euphorbias and Euphorbia rigida is the first to start flowering although I don’t think the other will be far behind.

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Even the number of primulas in flower this year are less than last year but I can always rely on this lilac, or is it pink, primula to be flowering at Christmas.

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The first snowdrop is about to pop open its flowers.  I can’t for the life of me remember which variety this is and the label seems to have gone missing.  I will have to do some research on the blog to see if it has featured at this time of the year in the past.

Cyclamen cyprium
Cyclamen cyprium

In the greenhouse this little Cyclamen is flowering, I may have to keep a magnifying glass in the greenhouse just so I can see the flowers.

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Although the number of plants flowering this Boxing Day is significantly down on last year, at a mere 12 compared to 35 last year and 17 the year before there are buds a plenty.  The hellebore above will be flowering soon and other are hot on its heels; last year some were already in flower which was rather early.

You can access previous Boxing Day flower count posts here

Boxing Day 2015
Boxing Day 2014

Boxing Day 2013
Boxing Day 2012
Boxing Day 2011

Boxing Day Flower Count 2015

Abelia
Abelia

My Boxing Day Flower Count is becoming a real tradition now as this is the fifth year I have done it.  It is simply a case of going round the garden and counting how many plants are in flower.  Of course when you start thinking about it in detail, as no doubt some people will, you start to wonder if you should count every single Primula vulgaris or each of the red flowered Cowslips or whether you just count one as a representative of the group.  I didn’t remember having these thoughts before and when I looked back on last year’s post I suspect this is because last year, and the years before, the numbers were small – 17 in 2014 compared to 35 today!

Hellebore Anna's Red
Hellebore Anna’s Red

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One of the most notable differences is the number of hellebores that are already in flower probably due to the ridiculously mild winter we have had so far.  Last year there was one double in flower which I had bought in flower back in October.  In contrast this year all the flowering hellebores are well established and I anticipate there will be more flowering within the next two weeks given the number of buds appearing.  Also flowering at the moment is the Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Rose’ and Helleborus foetidus.

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Then there are a ridiculous number of primulas in flower.  Last year there was a small number with one or two flowers just about showing but this year the flowers are more advanced and in some cases going over.  Here are some of my favourites.

The usual shrubs are flowering: Abelia, Jasminum nudiflorum, Rosemary and this year they are joined by Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price'
Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

Other new additions this year are some early Galanthus, although Galanthus Ding Dong has been a resident for a couple of years now.

Galanthus Ding Dong
Galanthus Ding Dong

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Galanthus elwesii (probably)
Galanthus elwesii (probably)
Galanthus elwesii Mrs Mcnamara
Galanthus elwesii Mrs Mcnamara

The actual flower count list is as follows:

Abelia
Viburnum tinus ‘
Eve Price’
Jasminum nudiflorum
Rosemary
Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Mcnamara’
Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’
Galanthus plicatus ‘Colossus’
Galanthus elwesii
Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Rose’
Helleborus foetidus
Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’
3 x other unknown Hellebores
Bergenia

Euporbia rigida
Salvia involucrata boutin
Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’
Cyclamen hedrifolium
Cyclamen persicum (I think, bought in 2014 as a bedding plant)
Papaver cambricum
Pulmonaria
Digitalis ambigua
Bedding Pansy
11 x assorted primulas

Euphorbia rigida
Euphorbia rigida

In contrast with previous years the Iris unguicularis has been flowering for a couple of months and seems to have finished now. You can compare this year with previous year’s via the following links

Boxing Day 2014
Boxing Day 2013
Boxing Day 2012
Boxing Day 2011

 

My Garden This Weekend – 6/12/15

Hellebore Anna's Red
Hellebore Anna’s Red

I hate to say I have had a good gardening weekend when so many people are coping with floods or howling gales,  but I have.  At this time of year I think we are grateful for any time we can steal to get outside and work in the garden so I was thrilled to steal about 3 hours over the two days this weekend.

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I have spent most of the time picking up leaves, weeding, and cutting back perennial flowers.  I’m not a great one for leaving lots of winter debris as I believe this provides homes for slugs and snails and I think when you garden a space extensively you need to try to maintain good garden practice.  I tend to start the Autumn/Winter tidy up with those areas that are heavily planted with spring bulbs so that I don’t damage emerging shoots.  I’m a little behind due to the recent wet weekends so was really pleased to tidy areas such as the Asiatic Fern border, which I look at when I wash up.    There aren’t many bulbs here as it is constantly moist throughout the year but as the ferns are wintergreen and this is their real season of interest I want them to look their best.  I spent quite a bit of time removing the ever invasive Soleirolia soleirolii (Mind Your Own Business) which normally carpets this border and wondering what possessed me to plant it in the first place.

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There are more ferns on the slope.  Different ferns which like a bit of better drainage.  This border is also full of spring bulbs so it was delightful to clear away the debris of the fallen leaves and spot shoots pushing through the soil.  As you can see, if you look carefully, there are some random self-sown plants appearing.  I think the grey leaves at the top of the border is some form of thistle and I am inclined to leave it to see what it does.  I have also found a Geranium palmatum seedling which is good as I love that geranium but I am wondering what the border will look like in the summer with its mad big pink flowers everywhere – I can always move it if need be though.

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Tidying up revealed that the Crocus speciosus had been flowering but for some reason not well.  Some of the plants have long lax stems, some of the flowers haven’t formed properly barely covering the stamens and some flowers have been eaten.  I can understand the cause of the latter but I don’t understand the first two problems.  The crocus are meant to flower in late September/October, roughly when I planted the corms.  I wonder if the mild wet weather have confused the crocus causing the lengthening and weakening of the stems.  Whilst some were covered in leaves which might add to the problem, there are just as many growing in this way where the leaves were removed a while ago.  Hopefully next Autumn they will flower better and create the lilac haze I was hoping for alongside the top steps.

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Clearing the leaves also allows you to discover all sorts of delights.  As I posted last time I discovered the first snowdrop of the year yesterday, I suspect it might be Mrs McNamara.  Today I spotted another one with the first signs of a flower forming, this time I know it is Galanthus plicatus ‘Colossus’ as the label is still there.  It appears that this snowdrop often flowers around Christmas so I think it is on track to do that.

Also found where the fat buds of Hellaborus niger; an extra flower stem this year so I think it is safe to say that this plant is well and truly established now although it has taken many years to achieve this.  I also spotted that some of the other hellebores were already budding up to the point that I removed the leaves from Hellebore Anna’s Red and one other.  I am waiting for the buds on the other hellebores to be a little bigger before I remove the leaves.  And then there are the Epimediums to think about – I need to work out which I should remove the leaves on and which not, oh dear….

Surprises and Expectations

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What a surprise! 5th December and the first snowdrop is flowering in my garden.  Even more surprising is that it isn’t Galanthus Ding Dong which I know I have and thought was my earliest snowdrop.  I can’t find a label with it and I have been very careful in labelling snowdrops with substantial black labels which will stand out but there is nothing here at all.  I am completely mystified as to what it is.  I will have to wait until the flower opens properly and then maybe someone can id it for me.  I will also do some rummaging through my label box to see if there are any clues there.

Primula palinuri
Primula palinuri

I am not completely inept when it comes to labels and plant names.  I know that this is Primula palinuri grown from AGS seed probably 3 years ago.  It flowered for the first time last year in time for the Boxing Day Flower Count but then it was living in the greenhouse cosseted and pampered.  It has spent the summer out on the patio amongst the various pots and for some reason was overlooked when I moved all the tenders back under cover but it seems to be doing very well despite the buffeting it has received in recent days.

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This out of focus photo represents expectations.  It shows one of three emerging flower heads on my Edgeworthia.  I am very hopeful that this year, year 2, there will be good flowers.  It is planted within sight of my living room window so hopefully it will be something to cheer me through the winter.

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And adding to my expectations of a floriferous spring is this unknown Camellia.  It is positively groaning with flower buds given its size and I have noticed that the rhododendrons and, very exciting, the witch hazel are full of flower buds which I think is as a result of the mild and damp summer we have had.

Whatever the reason it gives you something to look forward to in the New Year, which is always good.

Boxing Day Flower Count – 2014

Iris unguicularis 'Walter Butt'
Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

This is the fourth year I have done a flower count on Boxing Day.  I had noticed when weeding on Christmas Eve that there seemed to be quite a few flowers around presumably due to the recent mild weather, so it will be interesting to see how things compare.

I am particularly thrilled that Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’ is in flower.  Last year it flowered at the start of December and although the plant is strong and healthy so far this month there had been no sign of flowers but Christmas Eve morning saw this wonderful elegant dainty flower fluttering in the breeze.

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This double hellebore has been flowering for weeks, in fact months, since I bought it from a plant sale in October.  It is also covered in buds which means it should continue flowering for some time.  There are lots of other hellebore buds appearing including the Christmas Rose (Hellebore niger) but as yet they are still in tight bud so I can’t really count them.

Viburnum rhytidophyllum
Viburnum rhytidophyllum

The Viburnum rhytiophyllum continues to flower, really lighting up the back corner.  The Abelias which were in flower this time last year have gone over so can’t be included but the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ as per the last two years has its first few flowers coming out. Still no flowers on the Mahonia which I butchered two years ago, it is really putting on good growth so hopefully next year I will be able to include this in the count.

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The prostrate Rosemary is also starting to flower and is already becoming popular with bees.

Then we have a whole range of primulas which are flowering away.  They are looking a little battered and I noticed when I was weeding two days ago that many seemed to be being eaten by something – I am assuming slugs.  The weather has been so mild and wet it wouldn’t surprise me that the slugs are still active.

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The Viola orduta has also been munched as you can see from the top petals. I have come across some small caterpillars when tidying up so they might be causing the damage.  I shall have to keep an eye on them.

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The Jasminum nudiflorum has responded well to pruning earlier in the year and I think I am getting the hang of this unruly plant.  However, it is proving harder to photograph as the flowers seem too shy to be photographed.

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Finally the first outside snowdrop – Galanthus Ding Dong’ – has started to flower.  I had hoped it would be fully open for today but I suspect the distinct drop in temperature today has made it hesitate in opening.

There are also two different types of bedding cyclamen flowering and a rose whose bloom opened a c0uple of days ago. In the greenhouse the only flowering plant is Primula palinuri.  This is the first time the plant has flowered having been grown from seed probably two years ago.

The total plants flowering on Boxing Day 2014 is 17 which is up on the last three years when I recorded 12 each year.  Also, with the exception of the Primula palinuri all the other plants are outside which is a huge improvement on last year when a significant number were in the greenhouse.

You can access the previous counts here.

Boxing Day 2013

Boxing Day 2012

Boxing Day 2011

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