Six on Saturday 6/4/2019 – Front Garden Highlights

Grevillea victoriae

I need to learn to love my front garden just a bit more. Its a lot better than it was three or four years ago before I dug up the lawn but the truth is I just walk past it every day and every so often I find myself thinking I need to spend some time tidying up and sorting it out . So today I thought I would include it in the Six on Saturday meme so I would be forced to look at it more.

Grevillea Canberra Gem

There are two Grevilleas in the front garden.  The Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has been in the front garden for probably 11 years.  I love it, it reminds me of my late sister as I bought it with her. At the moment its about 5 ft high by 5 ft wide and thats after we heavily pruned it last Autumn by about 2ft all over.  It has just started flowering and is beloved by the pollinators.  The other grevillea is Grevillea victoriae (see top picture).  Interestingly, it has broad leaves not the pine like leaves of Canberra Gem and it is only the flower that really, in my opinion, indicates they are the same family. This shrub was added to the garden probably about five years ago and was moved a few times so is now only really begining to establish itself.  The shrub is less floriferious than the Canberra Gem, you really have to seek the flowers out, although I am wondering if that will improve with time.

Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’

As well as two Grevilleas, there are two Sorbus in the front garden; more of a flux than by design – I just like Sorbus.  I planted a Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) when we moved in 15 years ago and a couple of years back added Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ to add balance in the garden.  They form a sort of triangle of trees with a Birch being the third point.  I was pleased to see the leaves had reappeared today, as it struggled last year in the drought and was one of the few plants that I consistently ensured had a good watering once a week.

Persicaria nepalensis

I have a preference for foliage these days over flowers as I think the garden looks better all year round with a good tapestry of interesting foliage and then flowers add interest as they come and go.  I’m not the biggest fan of Persicaria as it can be a bit of a thug and attempt to take over a border (been there, done that) but I did succumb to Persicaria nepalenis because of its beautiful leaves.  I think the flowers are a pale pink, but as I can’t remember it shows you that the main attraction of this plant is its leaves.

Lunaria ‘Chedglow’

Last week I showed you the swath of Lunaria (Honesty) at the back of the main garden, which self seeds around.  From the colouring of the leaves they seem to be a cross between a couple of Lunaria I have grown over the years.  In the front garden I am more certain that the Lunaria are self-sown Lunaria ‘Chedglow’ due to the distinctive dark stems and leaves with variegation.  This one has placed itself in the gravel path and is thriving.

Fritillary melegaris (Snakeshead Fritillary)

Finally, I spotted a line of Snakeshead Fritillary growing along the beech hedge.  I planted them years back when there was a lawn and I laboured over whether or not the dryness under the hedge would work for them for not.  It seems to have worked well, although now it means that the fritillaries are growing at the back of a big border and not really seen so I may have a think about trying to relocate them – or maybe not.

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting this weekly meme which gets me into the garden even when I dont have time to garden but I can find 5 minutes to take some photo and see what is happening, and ponder plans.


GBBD January 2018

Grevillea Canberra Gem

The first Garden Bloggers Bloom Day of the year sees a interesting selection of plants in flower, albeit a small choice selection. There are numerous buds a plenty – Hellebores, Eranthis, Snowdrops, Iris reticulata and Magnolia – but as with many a garden visit they will probably look lovely next week.

Grevillea victoriae

So what are we left to enjoy in the second full week of the year? Strangely, two Australian shrubs – Grevillea victoria and Grevillea Canberra Gem.  The former has been in flower since before Christmas and the latter has just started to open its flowers despite being covered for days in a thick crust of snow before Christmas. I’m not sure when Grevillea Canberra Gem is supposed to flower in the UK but mine is rarely without a few  flowers and beloved by the pollinators.

Euphorbia characias

Also in flower in the front garden are the Euphorbia characias.  I do love Euphorbias – wonderful structure, colour and such unusual flowers.

Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’

Since my last post I have been reassured that the above is indeed Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’ which is good to know.  Also joining Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ and Galanthus ‘Mrs Macnamara’ is Galanthus ‘Colussus’ and Galanthus galantea.

Galanthus colussus
Galanthus galatea

Whilst the woodland border is speckled with hellebore buds there is one already in flower, a reliable early flowerer, and one of the first ones I bought from Ashwoods.

Primula taygetos

Finally I thought I would share this Primula which has been flowering since November and is now just waiting for a home in the garden rather than languishing on the patio.

Thank you to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting this meme which is a wonderful way of recording what is in flower each month.

A fine example of hedgehoggery


It is a family joke that my parents, especially my father, loved to dome shrubs when he was pruning.  I often despaired as to me the beauty of many shrubs is their ranging wide-spread form.

Over the last few days I have been seeking solace in Christopher Lloyd’s The Adventurous Gardener and reading bits of mum which amuse me.  The passage entitled ‘Some Reactions to Cutting Back’ made her chuckle too.  In it Lloyd discusses the differences between pruning and cutting back:

“Pruning is supposed to be for the welfare of the tree or shrub; cutting back is for the satisfaction of the satisfaction of the cutter. Some gardeners have a cutting back mentality..”

Lloyd argues that regular cutting back of shrubs which should have “branches laden with swags of blossom” turns them into a “kind of hedgehog on stilts”.  Mum and I laughed as this reminded us of Dad and his doming.

Shortly afterwards I went out to tackle the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ which has been outgrowing its space in the front garden (see top photograph – taken in May). If we have heavy snow the branches can snap so I wanted to give it a good cutting back which I also hoped would promote more flowers next year since over the last few years the amount of flowers have declined.  The Grevillea has a very coniferous appearance with branches splaying out.  The shrub was completely dominating the border in the front garden which was fine but it had got to the stage were the branches at the back were beginning to obstruct the footpath and crowd the birch.


And the result? A dome much to my mother’s amusement.  A fine example of ‘hedgehoggery’.  However I don’t see how else I could have pruned it! I suspect I should have cut it further back as you should prune a shrub to smaller than the actual size you want but I was worried that if I went further it would look really awful. No doubt I will regret this decision and if so I will prune it again next year and be more aggressive.   I shall give the shrub a feed and hope that it will reshoot in a less dome like fashion.  Now to work out what to plant in the border in front of it which is a disaster.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2012

I was thinking only yesterday that the garden is in a bit of a lull before the early summer flowers start but it was surprising today to see how many flowers there are at their best at the moment.  Now I don’t know what the plant above is.  I grew it from seed a few years back which I got through a seed distribution scheme and I know they were labelled wrong so I have never been 100% sure of the name.  It is a low ground hugging plant, so if you have any ideas let me know.

In a bid to learn to love my front garden I am including some of the flowers you can find there at the moment.  Above is Euphorbia griffithi ‘dixter’ (I think) it spreads all over the place and I am currently toying with moving it to in front of the beech hedge as I think the colour of the flower will look stunning against the new beech leaves. Below is Grevillea Canberra Gem one of my favourite plants in the garden for sentimental reasons but also because it flowers for ages and is covered in insects seeking pollen

The colours in the back garden are currently more muted, more pastel and the Aquilegas are just  starting their show.  My favourites are the Aquilegia McKanas with their long spurs.  I seem to have misplaced some of mine so I will be making a note to get some more seed.   I have some of the more European Aquilegia’s, as below, but I don’t find their dumpy flowers as appealing.

I am really pleased with the plant above, Centaurea montana I think, it hasn’t been that happy with the stems being very lax and the flower collapsing onto the soil but this autumn as part of the big move around I moved it to another part of the garden where the soil isn’t quite as good and it is drier and the plant has thrived with strong stems and bright upright flowers.

Mathiasella bupleuroides  ‘Green Dream’ just goes from strength to strength.  The leaves took a battering over the winter but having removed them all lots of new growth has appeared along with the wonderful flower which will stay now for months.

The colours in the woodland border are generally very pale and white but then that’s good as the flowers show up in the shade.  Above is Anemone nemorsa possibly vestal but I don’t think so as the photos I have found don’t have so much yellow showing.

The Maianthemum racemosum is the real star of the show in the woodland border this week and I leave you with the Deutzia which is swamping the top of the steps at the moment.  It is a stunning shrub inherited when he moved here and is wonderful every year.

For more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit Carol at May Dream Gardens

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2011

Grevillea Canberra Gem
Grevillea Canberra Gem

Here we are at the 15th of the month again and time for Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts.  I was actually surprised when I went out to take photos that there wasn’t quite as much in flower as I thought there would be.  A lot of the late spring flowers are going over and the early summer flowers haven’t come out yet. Though saying that I am sure the Grevillea above is usually in flower earlier than this as it is one of the first plants the bees go mad for whereas this year they have lots to choose from due to everything being ahead of the game.

Aquilegia McKana hybridAquilegia McKana hybridHowever on closer inspection there are a few nice gems around.  The long spurred Aquilegias McKana, which I grew from seed a few years back, where really popular when I was recently visited by a gaggle of bloggers (is that what you call a group of bloggers): ArtistsGarden, Victorias Backyard, Welsh Hills Again, VegPlotting.  They were also very much on display at the Malvern Spring Show which is unusual since they normally flower just after the show.

One of my real favourite flowers in the garden is the Mathiasella Bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ (below).  I love this plant, the flowers are just beautiful and the glaucous foliage is a wonderful foil to many other plants.  Sadly it doesn’t appear to come from seed but I  have been successful with propagating the plant from root cuttings so soon there will be even more in the garden,

It appears that my preference  for strong colours is spreading through the year and is no longer restricted to late summer.  The Sanguisorba below is really brightening up the gravel border and is very popular with the bees.

The Lazula  nivea (below) grown from seed last year has really made an impact on the slope and I am trying to decide whether to extend it. The flowers en masse are quite striking and tulips earlier in the year looked great amongst the foliage but I wonder if I extend it across the border whether it will be too much.

In contrast to the Lazula are the Peonies which are looking very opulent and luxurious at the moment.  I know some people would say that Peonies and grasses don’t work together but I don’t agree – I like the combination.

I do have a dilemma I really like the flowers on my Doronium (below) especially as, again, I grew them from seed but they are the only yellow flowers in the garden at the moment and don’t work well with the jewel colours that are emerging as a theme in this garden.  I am thinking of moving them up to near the Iris siberica as the yellow and blue may work better than the Doronium and Peony which is the current combination!

I love Foxgloves but this year I seem to have dwarf Foxgloves.  I think it is because of the very dry March and April we had which meant that the plants did not have enough moisture to put on some height.

Finally, here is a small delight which I discovered by accident last year – Asarina Procumbens.   I grew it from seed, no surprises there, without really knowing what the plant would look like.  It is quite cute as it crawls across the ground with the snapdragon flowers appearing along the stems.  If you need some ground cover I would recommend it.

So those are the highlights of what is flowering in my garden in May 2011 very different to last May’s GBBD post.

Thanks to  Carol for hosting this monthly meme over at her blog May Dreams Garden

A Gem from Down-under

I have a love hate relationship with my front garden as has been documented many times on this blog but I think the relationship is heading towards more love than hate.  There are two large plants in my garden which I adore: one is a birch tree the boys bought a few years back for my birthday and the second is my Grevillea Canberra Gem.

I bought the Grevillea about 3 years ago from a small nursery near Malmesbury.  My sister, a novice gardener, was desperate to show me a new nursery she had discovered as she suspected it was full of good plants.  She was right, the Walled Garden nursery was very small but packed full of fab plants, in most cases only one of each.  In amongst the plants I spotted the Grevillea Canberra Gem.

Strangely I had been reading Christopher Lloyd’s ‘Colour for Adventurous Gardeners’ in which Lloyd includes the Grevillea in his red section.  I have a strong disliking of conifers, primarily because many of them bring me out in a rash, but I was rather taken by the red flowers. All I knew was that the plant originated from Australia but the guy at the nursery assured me it should be fairly hardy outside.

A bit of research showed that the Grevillea is a member of the Proteaceae family, therefore not a conifer, and as suspected originated in Australiasia.  My A-Z of plants had it down as tender to down to -5 so I decided to plant it out in the front garden where it would get the most sun and the soil was fairly well drained.  The plant has established quickly and is really putting on growth so I am glad I left plenty of space round it – it can grow up to 12ft high and as wide.

I am amazed at how floriflorious the plant is and how early it starts flowering.  The last two years the shrub has been in flower as early as late March/early April and is a real magnet for bees.  In fact it often has more bees around it than the nearby lavender.  Not only does it flower early and plentifully but the flowers carry on for months.

Naturally this winter, my Grevillea was one of the plants I was worried about. The weight of the snow was bending the branches down and I was out after each snow fall shaking the snow off to try and avoid the branches breaking.  I was convinced that the prolonged coldness would be too much for the plant, after all they do originate from down under and it wasn’t listed as fully hardy; but I needn’t have worried. Whilst it was late to flower this year, it is flowering as much as in previous years and already seems to have put on growth. The only down side is that the stems don’t seem to have as many linear leaves on as I remember them having last year; they are described in the A-Z as ‘crowded’ with leaves and this doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. Hopefully with a bit of sun and some warmer temperatures it will fill out. The bees are certainly appreciating it at the moment.