Its funny how things work out. There I was thinking I would write a blog post about the gardens I saw in Austin when something caught my eye in the garden. It was this beauty, a Iris Pacific Coast hybrid. Now my American friends may think, what’s all the fuss about, but here in the UK they are not widely grown. What is even more exciting is that I grew this one from seed a couple of years ago, probably from the seed exchange at my local Hardy Plant Society. Only this morning I was listening to a discussion at the same HPS about the lack of Pacific Coast hybrids in the UK and why someone didn’t get hold of some seeds from the US and start breeding them. I found myself remembering that I had grown some from seed but I couldn’t remember what had happened to them (I am the most forgetful gardener) and lo and behold there it was flowering away just by my kitchen window. I am thrilled.
I wonder if I could source some seeds from the US ….off to google.
I have treated myself to a new camera – a Canon EOS 100D. It was bought on a whim which is unlike me as I normally labour over such investments but I am in that sort of mood at the moment and I had the funds so why not. It is my very first DSLR and I am determined not to rely on the automatic settings but learn to use the functions properly. The biggest stumbling block is that as soon as someone starts talking about aperture, shutter speed and exposure my mind goes blank, just like when I was learning fractions at school. There is nothing there, just the sound of the wind whistling around the void!! It is this reaction which has stopped me buying a DSLR for some years but I have decided to overcome this and get a grip.
None of the photographs in this post have been taken on automatic, some are on manual and some are using macro and I am rather pleased so far. I have done some research on line and I have found some information written in a non-techy way which is slowly beginning to make sense. One of the bits of advice I read was that you can always improve a photo using photoshop or some other form of software. The camera comes with software which I have uploaded on my laptop but the editing in these images was done using the simple photo editing software that comes on my laptop and I am rather pleased.
My youngest, the design whiz, has been showing me how to tweak the colour intensity etc and applied some cropping to the photos. He did the allium and I did the other two.
Then we really messed around and turned the cat into a tiger. She thinks she is a tiger so we made her more orange. She is roaring as she doesn’t like the sound of my new camera especially as it has been pointed at her so much!!
My garden this weekend has been wet, windy, grey with a scattering of sunshine. It has been cool and not at all conducive or encouraging to gardening. Added to this my head is all over the place as I am jetting off on Tuesday morning to San Francisco to join in with the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling. Everything is organised: the case almost packed but already full, dollars acquired, ESTA/visa sorted, ticket and passport ready. The cupboards are full so my sons won’t go hungry and they have had watering instructions which they may or may not remember but it doesn’t really matter. I have a ridiculously short connection at Newark airport which is causing me anxiety but United Airlines have told me its doable but that there are lots of flights to San Francisco after the one I’m due on so they can put me on the next one if I miss mine!
I intended to get so much done in the garden before I leave but when it came to it my head wasn’t in the right place. A few things have been planted out and pricked out but I have really lost my gardening mojo this last week and can’t find it anywhere. I am hoping that when I get back from San Francisco and have no plans until the end of August that I will feel more relaxed and can re-engage with the garden. I have though done some rearranging in the greenhouse to make the water easier for my sons and have potted up the cucumbers and put them in their final growing position. In front of them are some Hymenocallis which aren’t far from flowering and I am hoping they will wait until I get back.
The succulent collection has grown and there are quite a few that are in need of potting up and a whole host of other plants to sort out but strangely I am already looking through having a clear head both work and home wise on my return and working slowly through everything in the garden. Plus the shed/workshop should be in situ by the time I get back and that will help as it has been rather chaotic recently which I suppose has stopped the garden feel like the refugee it usually is.
I was surprised to spot the iris below as I didn’t realise I had such a plant in the garden. I got some iris bulbs from a bulb supplier last autumn and I had assumed they were iris reticulata, they didn’t flower back in January/February and I think this was what they actually were. Any ideas on what type of iris they are?
Instead of showing you views of the garden this weekend I am going to show you some of my star plants this week. I was feeling a little sorry for myself on Friday and Saturday due to a sore back and my grumpiness meant that I forgot about Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and my monthly photo – ho hum! So I am showcasing the stars this week in this post.
I have a real fondness for Tragopodon crocifolius (top photo). One of its common names is Lavender Jack-Go-To-Bed-At-Noon but it is more commonly known to vegetable growers as Salsify. I don’t know if the plant I grow is the same as the one grown for eating but I grew it from seed in 2009 and I haven’t been without it since. It is slowly self-seeding around the front garden. The flowers open in sunshine and are followed by some wonderful fluffy seed-heads.
Also looking wonderful in the front garden is Echium vulgare, which is our native Vipers bugloss. I think these have grown from seeds from some plants I planted in 2010. I have a terribly short-term memory and often sow annuals then forget they are annuals and don’t rush to prick them out and pot them up thinking as they are perennials I have more time. The Echium in 2010 suffered from this and were held back in seed trays and when they flowered only produced little flowers not the spikes you can see above. So I am really pleased that nature has taken charge and sorted it out for me. They are certainly very popular with the bees and other pollinators. To give you an idea of their height, they are taller than the Allium Purple Sensation although nowhere near as tall as the Echiums we saw in Cornwall last week.
The irises are doing amazingly well this year which surprises me given the cool temperatures and rain we had last summer. I thought they needed their rhizomes to bake in the summer sun in order for them to flower well but this year they are better than ever. I am a particularly pleased with the top one, Iris Bumblebee Deelite – it was unceremoniously moved back in March/April due to the workshop project. We are told to move bearded irises after flowering in June/July but this plant has thrived in its new location and has more flowers than ever. I think the dark one is Langport Wren and I have masses of it. As for the pale one I don’t even remember buying it but it is very elegant.
I haven’t really done that much in the garden this weekend. A bit of tidying, cutting the aquilegia seedheads down of the ones I don’t want spreading, a bit of weeding, a bit of potting up, some feeding but that is it. Saying that I have also held a lot of wood while my eldest saws it. He is busy putting the final touches to the retaining wall which is holding the garden back from the workshop site. The workshop, or shed to you and me, arrives on Friday!
Whilst I haven’t done much work in the garden I have done a lot of looking, or procrastination, and I was thrilled to find two Arisaema speciosum in flower. I have five which I grew from seed some years back. I have never managed to get any to germinate since which is beginning to irritate me. However, I am really pleased that the five I have are back again this year. They are so strange and sinister looking and also a pain to photograph especially as the flowers are looking in a direction where it is hard for me to photograph from.
Who knows my next weekend the Papaver Patty’s Plum may have decided to flower – it has been in bud for at least three weeks now.
I have been pondering what Katarina’s intention was when she chose this theme. Firstly, I was going to photograph the tools I consider essential in the garden but then I realised that this wasn’t particularly apt for ‘Blooming Friday’. I then thought, well food is essential so maybe I should be featuring edibles but I don’t have any appropriate photos or anything to photograph. Then I decided that I would feature plants that for me are essential to my gardening happiness.
A few people who know me well will have spotted my quiet addiction to Primulas. I don’t think I would be happy now if I had a garden without them. I love them they are so pretty and dainty and easy to grow from seed. I have a mass of magenta candelabra primulas and have recently ordered Primula serratifolia and Primula sikkimensis from Kevock Garden Plants.
My other essential flower family in the garden are Irises. I love them all from the Bearded Irises through the Siberian Irises to the tiny Iris Reticulata
Those are my two essential flower families. Of course there are lots of other plants I like but I would really miss having Iris and Primulas