Safely stored away

A bit of a panic today when I saw that temperatures might go down to 3C tonight and tomorrow night. 

Whilst I had started to move some of my tender plants under cover a few weeks ago the job was far from complete.  I had been putting it off partly due to the hefting of heavy pots but also because the greenhouse with a few pots tastefully arranged was looking very smart. 

So with fingers quickly beginning to chill I scooted round the garden between showers collecting up the assorted pots.  The pelargoniums were cut back and in some cases transferred to small pots to over winter.  The succulents were gathered and in at least one case potted up into a larger pots.  This left the bergonias and the tender ferns which had got ridiculously big over the summer and obviously benefited from some months in the heat.

As you can see my greenhouse is tiny just 8ft x 8ft but it works very hard. I have rearranged the staging over the summer, trying a different layout to see if the space works better.  Previously the staging ran along both sides – we shall see how I get on over the winter; but I cant change it quickly due to the amount of gravel in the gravel trays.  The deeper gravel trays have drainage in the bottom of them so when I water the top layer the bottom layer also gets a soak.  I take this into account when I arrange the plants so for now I have placed the pelargoniums and bergonias underneath so they benefit from the residual water from the ferns and bulbs.  The other staging is shallower and with no drainage holes so I use the bottom shelf for either resting bulbs or succulents which do better kept almost dry over the winter.

I will rearrange as the months progress especially as the bulbs flower and pass on but I seem to have managed to get a better arrangement this year which allows me to stand in the greenhouse and see everything which is an improvement on last year.

There’s just the rest of the garden to sort out now, oh and a large box of bulbs to sort.

Foliage Follow-Up – April 2017

Blechnum chilense

Sorry I’m a day late in joining in Pam’s Foliage Follow Up although to be honest it is months since I last joined in but I’m sure she will forgive me.  I thought I would take ferns as a theme this month especially as it is the month of the emerging ferny frond, with croziers and fiddleheads all over the place.

Onoclea sensibilis

Whilst Blechnum chilense (above) is an evergreen fern, many of my ferns are deciduous, going dormant over winter.  Onoclea sensibilis, better know as the Sensitive Fern, is one of the first to push up its fronds which initially emerge with a red hue to the stems but soon the frond and stem go a delicious soft green.  It needs moisture to do well, mine are in my old bog garden, and have a habit of dying back in the summer if it gets too hot.

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis, the Royal Fern, is another one that benefits from some moisture.  These emerging fronds are my favourite ones each year.  I’m not sure if it is the elegance and fragility of their appearance of the grey/brown of the stems; whichever it might be I always know the season is progressing when they appear.

Athyrium niponicum

I have a number of Athyrium niponicum in the garden, this one may well be ‘Burgundy Lace’. I certainly have ‘Burgundy Lace’ somewhere and to be honest I struggle to tell the difference between the Athyrium niponicums at times. Anyway it is a very pretty small deciduous fern that bring a nice purple and grey highlight to the border.

My final fiddlehead and not only can I not remember the name of this fern, I can’t even remember where this plant is located.  I took the photographs on Friday ready for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day so who knows which it is .  However, as with all the ferns there is something prehistoric about the fronds unfurling which I enjoy.

Thanks to Pam for hosting this meme which I strive to join in with as I love foliage but generally I fail to remember!

RHS Malvern Spring Show 2016

The UCARE Garden
The UCARE Garden

I can’t remember the last time I went to RHS Malvern Spring Festival and it wasn’t freezing cold and/or raining.  This year we were treated with a beautiful sunny day which really bought the plants to life especially in the show gardens.  I took my mother this year as she is really getting into gardening and wanted to look at greenhouses.  She isn’t that keen on the showgardens so we didn’t spend much time looking at them but I did spot a few that I really liked.  Of the ones I saw The UCARE Garden was my favourite.  I really liked the planting with the orange of the Dryopteris erythrosora picking up on the orange flowers of the euphorbia and the rust of the water feature.  Blue, being a complimentary colour, works very well with the orange and whole is contained by the box edging with its frothy fresh spring leaves.  The garden won a silver-gilt and I believe lost points over some of the planting but given that the season has been so cold until now its a wonder that the designers had the material they did to work with.

The Sunken Retreat
The Sunken Retreat

I was also attracted to The Sunken Retreat again because of the oranges but I also liked the clean lines of the hard landscaping and the sunken seating area (sorry no photo) which means the plants are at eye line.  My mother really didn’t like this garden instead she preferred this one

The Water Spout
The Water Spout

Her reason was that she could see herself in this garden, there would be things to do and lots of different plants to look at.  She felt the others were very set pieces with plants that were all flowering now but what would they be like in a months time and they were too precise and designed for her.  I have to admit that I probably would be bored with the two gardens I liked but as I said to Mum they show you have to combine plants to get good effects – she still wasn’t convinced!

Fernatix
Fernatix

Before the showgardens our first stop was the floral marquee which is always my favourite part of the show.  I think there might have been less nurseries this year as it felt very spacious even when we returned later in the day and the showground was full. Next year I think I will go to the show on my own as in recent years I have always been with someone and I never look properly as I am too busy talking or pointing things out.  Anyway, I did see some of my favourite nurseries.  I always love Fernatix’s stand but then I would be quite happy with a garden that was all ferns; they are just so elegant and create a wonderful atmosphere.

Hardys Plants
Hardys Plants

Hardys Plants stand looked wonderful as ever but a particular achievement this year as Rosie Hardy is in the middle of creating her very first RHS Chelsea Show Garden which I am really looking forward to seeing.

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I was also taken with this eye-catching display; it was nice to see a display which made you look up.  But then again I always love bulbs and I was particularly taken with Tulipa Rosy Bouquet which I can see bringing together the white lunaria and cerise rhododendron in my garden.

Tulip Rosy Bouquet
Tulip Rosy Bouquet

So those are my highlights from RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2016.  I think the show continues to improve year on year and having visited a number of similar events around the UK I still think it is the best.  Its hard to explain why,  but trying to put aside it closeness to home, there is just such a nice atmosphere and it always seems friendly with nurserymen happy to are information and advice.

End of Month View – April 2016 – Hugh’s Border

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Hugh’s Border has really filled out in the last month especially with the hostas planted under the Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ emerging. I am determined to crack this border this year.  It looks Ok but in previous years there has been something lacking and it has felt bitty and not really me.  Over the last month I have added some lupins with red/orange flowers and also Rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’.  These will add to the red and orange theme that seems to be the emerging in this area.

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Here’s the other end of Hugh’s Border (Hugh is the owl).  This part of the border is more woodland/shade planting.  The Pulmonaria are beginning to go over which I am sure will disappoint the bees.  Just behind them are some trillium and lots of Onoclea sensibilis as it seems to have decided to spread after sitting quietly for years – I presume due to the mild wet winter.

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Here is the other end of the woodland bit of the border (nearest the bench).  The big round leaves are Cardiocrinum giganteum which has reappeared this year and hopefully will flower. The lime green strappy leaves are Iris sibirica, I think it is a pale blue variety but it hasn’t flowered for a few years due to being moved so maybe this year will be the year when I discover which variety they are.

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This is the front of the border and the area of the border which has been really perplexing me.  I have moved a couple of hellebores here from near the bench as it was difficult to see their flowers in their old location.  It seems hellebores like to face the sun so from the bench you just saw the back of the flowers in their new location you can see the flowers from the grass path.  I am trying to bulk up the planting and foliage textures in this area so plan to add to it as the year progresses.

So that is the border at mid Spring, lots of new shoots appearing and promise of things to come.

If you would like to join in with the monthly meme you are very welcome.  All I ask is that you add a link to this post in your post and leave a link to your post in the comments box below.  You can use the meme however you want – to focus on one area in particular, to look around the whole garden, whatever suits you.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 7/2/16

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What a glorious morning we have had today especially given that yesterday we had at least 14 hours of non-stop rain.  Having spent yesterday feeling sorry for myself with a bit of  head cold and a blocked ear which has affected my balance a little, I only went outside this morning to see how the garden had stood up to the wind and rain.  Two hours seemed to pass in the blink of an eye and I only came in when my fingers were becoming painfully cold.

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There is something quite special about the sun in the early spring especially after gloomy days and it has a wonderful ability to really illuminate the early spring bulbs and the hellebores.  I have said many times before that Spring is my favourite season especially in the garden.  I enjoy the real thrill of spotting something starting to flower which seems to be so much more intense at the start of the year when we are desperate for reassurance that the winter is retreating.  Not that we have had much of a winter this year.

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The mild weather over the last few months has led to a strange mix of plants flowering.  I was very surprised to have my attention caught by a flash of red and on investigation discovered that Anemone pavonina was flowering probably at least two months early.

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But then again some plants have stuck to their normal timings. Hamamelia x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ is a good example of a plant doing what it is meant to do at the right time regardless.  I have been watching this shrub for some weeks.  Last year it had only three flowers on the whole shrub.  After a bit of research I concluded that the plant was too dry probably due to the neighbour’s sycamore roots; so after a long period of rain I gave it a heavy mulch to try and lock some moisture in and I made sure I watered it during dry spells in the summer.  The plant has rewarded me with a full covering of flowers which are all just opening – how lovely!

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Having taken some photos I pottered around cutting back the deciduous grasses and the ferns which had gone  over as well as collecting other debris from around the garden. Then with the sun still shining and not feeling too bad I decided to sow some seeds from the local HPS seed exchange.  To be honest I have no idea what half of them are, I think they might be shrubs as I seem to remember requesting these as I have a fancy to grow some shrubs maybe for a future garden, not that I have plans to move, but its good to have a challenge.

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Finally, having been thrilled with the Hamamelia flowering I was just as thrilled to discover three flower stems on the Melianthus major; two more than last year.

It always amazes me how uplifting  a couple of hours in the fresh air pottering around can be.

Ferny Fascination

Asplenium scolopendrium crispum
Asplenium scolopendrium crispum

It is very reassuring in life to discover that your proclivities are shared by others, you get an unexpected sense of connection and understanding.  Before you wonder what on earth I am  whittering about or whether this is another of those strange writing assignments I have been doing recently  I must reassure you that I am talking about my plant addictions.

Woodwardia (I think)
Woodwardia (I think)

I was once told by my then doctor that I had an addictive personality.  I don’t think she meant that people would become addicted to me but rather that my nature is such that I have become addicted to things.  It manifests itself in a number of ways, one of them is a compulsion to collect plants.  Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time will know I have a number of obsessions including bulbs, particularly irises, and ferns.  I love ferns but have never really engaged with understanding them or learning about them as I have always been intimidated by their long names and the slight nerdiness that goes with fern appreciation.  Galanthomania is much the same.

Polypodium cambricum 'Richard Kayse'
Polypodium cambricum ‘Richard Kayse’

Anyway, about a year ago I plucked up courage and joined the British Pteridological Society (Fern Society to you and me).   I have still to read through all the literature they have sent me, some of it is very academic and well beyond my understanding, but their website is very good especially if you are thinking of trying to grow ferns from spores. Yesterday I attended my first meeting with the local group and it involved visiting two gardens of plant addicts.

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The first garden was that of Veronica Cross, a well known plant collector, who has real obsessions such as tree peonies.  Apparently she has 150 of these although I suspect this is an exaggeration by her friend, Martin Rickard.  We toured her garden ostensibly looking at her ferns with Martin as our guide but of course many of us are easily distracted by any nice plants, the hydrangea were looking particularly nice. I did start off feeling a little out of my depth especially when the attendees (13 of us) were using a form of verbal shorthand to refer to certain ferns.  However, me being me, I plucked up courage to start asking questions and quickly I find myself getting little tips and bits of advice that were at my level without me feeling daft. I think if you show you are interested and want to learn then gardeners are very generous with knowledge and enjoy sharing their passion.

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After lunch we visited a second garden hidden away in the depths of the Herefordshire countryside.  The owner of the second garden is a real plant addict.  Wonderfully enthusiastic, more knowledgeable than he admits and with a really beautiful garden which just showed that gardens of plant addicts don’t have to be bitty in appearance.  Not only did we see an extensive collection of ferns but we also spotted many salvias and agapanthus flowering away and as for greenhouse , it was home to a lovely collection of species pelargoniums as well as a beautifully maintained and stocked alpine house.

Familiar scene - wondering what this is
Familiar scene – wondering what this is

More peering at  ferns and I even began to recognise some, though I suspect today if I went back I would have forgotten them all. Interestingly both gardens employed the use of labels extensively but it wasn’t distracting as the labels were tucked away under the plants.  I think when it comes to ferns you need to label your plants if you are going to collect them as in some cases the difference is so small that even the real experts in the group struggled.

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So after a fascinating day with entertaining company I came home with 3 new ferns, all spares from attendees and a need to find out more. I also need to try to work out which ferns I have, most are labelled but there are a few that need identifying.

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.

 

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.