In a vase on Monday – Late Spring

 

I was inspired by a couple of beautiful feeds on Instagram (@simplybyarrangement @kreettakreetta and @derletztewolf) to pick some late spring flowers from the garden and to attempt to arrange them artistically. I use the term ‘attempt’ as flower arranging is not my forte.  I’ve never been taught and to be honest I really like the bunch in a vase look.

The thing that really appealed to me about the 3 IG feeds is the Dutch Still Life feel many of their photos had.  I love Dutch Still Life.  I like the darkness of the backgrounds, the richness of the colours used and also the strangeness of some of the arrangements.  Obviously tulips lend themselves to this style given their history which is inextricably entwined with that period of Dutch art.

But my tulips are more or less over so my vases have a selection of what was looking lovely in the garden yesterday morning after the rain.  The large bunch is a mix of Deutzia, Aquilegias, Alliums, Geraniums, and some other bits and pieces.  Then there is a little charity shop vase with Lily of the Valley in it. I have loads of Lily of the Valley its becoming a bit of a weed in my garden.  ‘Chatting’ with @simplybyarrangement I have discovered that you are meant to pull Lily of the Valley rather than cut it i.e you pull the flower stem and it comes away from the supporting leaf which is sort of wrapped around it.  I will try that if I pick any more.  This vase is currently in my bedroom and the perfume is wonderful.  That leaves the Rhododendron ‘Happy’.  Every year I think I must pick some Rhodo flowers as they are up the garden and I never look at them much but life gets in the way.  Now as life is generally on hold I have sufficient head space to enact that thought and a beautiful flower is sitting on my coffee table for me to admire up close every evening.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting ‘ In a Vase on Monday’ meme – its hard work hosting a meme.

 

Six on Saturday – 1st June 2019

I can never decide if I like Papaver ‘Patty’s Plum’ or not.  The colour of the flower when it first opens is lovely and I can’t resist the tissue like petals but it does fade to a rather miserable brown as it dies.  Having said this my two plants of ‘Patty’s Plum’ are groaning with buds and I am anticipating the best ever show in the next week. There are two because being an oriental poppy when you attempt to move it you can more or less guarantee it will reshoot in the original position from some small element of root you have left behind. Interestingly, the red oriental poppy (name unknown) is always behind with its flowers and there are few obvious buds so far

Some of my alliums are behaving a little strangely this year by growing very tall with smaller flower heads than usual.  It seems to be mainly the alliums with flatter flower heads than the globe flower heads such as ‘Purple Sensation’ although they too seem to have smaller flower heads.  I can’t find the name of the variety above, its like Allium nigrum but has the pink inner petals so I am pretty sure it isn’t Allium nigrum.

I think this Thalictrum might be the  ‘Black Stockings’ admired elsewhere.  I am pretty sure these were grown from seeds some years back.  It is a nice Thalictrum as it isn’t too tall like some Thalictrums.

The Siberian Irises are also not flowering as much as in previous years and I suspect that they and the alliums have been affected by the drought last year.   I do love irises and this has been brought home to me over the last few weeks with all the irises I have included in my Six on Saturday posts.  With this in mind I’m off today to a Beardless Iris study day which hopefully will be interesting.

I thought I would show you some of my more extreme pruning.  The above is a Viburnum which had been neglected and grown tall and leggy with whippy stems – a victim of my lack of gardening over the last couple of years.  A couple of weeks ago I noticed the flowers had gone over so I got my secateurs out and drastically pruned the shrub.  It looked awful at the time but I was pleased to see that new leaves have started to appear so hopefully it will be reinvigorated soon.

I also meant to write a blog post last week about my tin bath pond but work got in the way so I am sharing a photo here.  I have had the tin bath for a number of years.  It was acquired with the intention of creating a pond; it sat on the patio for a year or two but for reasons I can’t remember now didn’t seem to work well so we (well my son) drilled some holes and I used it as a planter for a few more years. Then about 3 years ago I wanted to grow a miniature water-lily, as you do, so we (my son) filled the holes back in and we created another pond.  The lily has grown well over the last couple of years but a water lily on its own is not that interesting so last weekend I stopped at a garden centre which sells pond plants and bought a few bits and pieces to add interest.  I’m hoping it will be more colourful as the summer progresses.

For more Six on Saturday posts check out The Propagator’s blog

Six on Saturday – Returning from Sicily

I’ve been away for just over a week touring Sicily.  The weather was very much as we have had in the last few days – low 20s but for Sicily this is much cooler than normal.  However, for me, considering we were sightseeing and walking lots the temperature was just about right and I avoided the days of rain back home that my son reported.  Needless to say all that rain and then sun has encourged the garden to put a spurt on and I don’t think it has ever been so full and lush; so I thought I would show you around my gardening space – well the back garden.

The first thing you need to understand is that I live on the lower slopes of the Malvern Hills and so my garden slopes.  As you come out of the house there is a narrowish patio and my dinky greenhouse and then a flight of stairs to the actual garden.  At the top of the stairs which are in the furthest right hand corner, if you turn left, you will find a bark path which runs between two borders (you can also check out the garden plan on the blog, although it is a little out of date but it should help). So if you look at the plan you will see that the bark path runs between the ‘Cottage/Rose border’ and the ‘Big Border’.

To give you an idea of the angle of my garden the above photo was taken standing on a bench outside my kitchen door. The prostrate rosemary grows over the retaining wall and the bark path (above) runs behind the rosemary.

At the end of the bark path you curve round to the ‘Woodland Border’.  When this border was created the boundary with my neighbours was completely overgrown and full of large trees so my garden was in deep shade at this end.  The new neighbours cleared the boundary about two years ago and light has flooded in.  I found it challenging to start with as I felt I had lost my privacy but the garden has really benefitted and the trees and shrubs I had planted on my side of the boundary in anticpation of such an approach by whoever moved in are now growing well so my privacy is returning. The reduction in shade in this area means I can add more summer flowers to this part of the garden.

The bark path connects up to the grass path and the steps to the top of the garden.  These used to lead, until last summer, to a further path along the very top of the garden.  The top of the slope was always a challenge and so last year I removed the top path and I have planted the whole of the slope more densely with lots of foliage interest throughout the year.

Zooming in a bit to the area behind the bird table.  Until last year my compost bins lived here but I decided that I’m not cut out to make good compost and it was just to much effort so I go rid of the bins and I now use the council green waste collection scheme which works much beter for me.  Plus I now have another area to plant up with shrubs and ferns all of which are benefitting from the remains of the compost that had accumulated here.  This area has, in the last week, taken on a very special significance for me as my beloved cat sadly passed away last week when I was away.  She had suffered something akin to a stroke back at the start of March and initially lost the use of her back legs.  Over the next 6 weeks she got this back but still didn’t seem to have feeling in one paw and then she went downhill.  The vet thinks she may have had another blood clot in her system somewhere and in the end this resulted in her only having 25% use of her lungs. I am so proud of my sons with how they dealt with the situation and that we had had the difficult conversations before I went away and they knew exactly where I wanted her buried.  It is hard at the moment, I keep thinking I hear her or I come across one of her toys, but we rescued her some 8 years ago and she had a wonderful life, ruling the roost, hunting mice and chasing any neighbouring cats off her property.  She will be dearly missed.

Pulling myself back together if you turn 90% from the steps above you have what used to the pond, and then the bog garden and is now a largish shady border.  This is the border which I built a low retaining wall along earlier this year.  On the other side of the border is another bark path which slowly disappears as the year progresses and the plants get bigger.

And from there you can go along the grass path back to the shed and steps.  So thats a sort of tour around the main back garden.

Thanks to The Propogator for hosting this great meme

End of Month View: May 2018

A somewhat bedraggled garden for this month’s End of Month View post.  I stupidly thought at the weekend, when it was sunny, I’ll take the photos nearer the end of the month as the poppies may have opened.  Foolish me! So these photos were taken this morning in drizzle with mist hanging over the hills and this evening we have thunderstorms so no better opportunities have been offered for sunny photos.

The garden continues to surprise me with how well it is doing with little intervention from me.  My neglect last year has allowed the plants to establish themselves – a lesson has definitely been learnt – and they have bulked up and are looking wonderful.  However, despite the verdant borders there are lots of weeds creeping in and tidying up to do especially on the pot front.

Having seen so many wonderful pot displays in Austin I was ashamed of my paltry attempts on my return especially as many were weed laden or even dead!  I have started sorting them out and have made some progress which is very satisfying but not enough to share here.

Oh and if you look closely you can see evidence of my other challenge at the moment – the dandelions which are everywhere. At least the rain last weekend made it easier to dig them up in the front garden. I now need to tackle the back garden.  I also need to make a note of those plants that are crowding others and come up with a list of divisions etc I need to do in the Autumn – a limited list as I don’t want to loose the full nature of the borders.

So this is my soggy garden at the end of May – a month whose high temperatures early on, following on from a wet spring, and now more rain has created a very pleasing effect.

If you would like to join in with the End of Month View you are very welcome, you don’t even have to do it every month, just whenever.  All I ask is you link to this blog post and leave a link in the comments box below linking to your post and that way we can find each other.

 

 

Notes from the Garden – 8th May 2016

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It has finally dawned on me that the best way to photograph the garden is to stand on a garden chair.  That way the viewpoint is above the top of the retaining wall (4ft ish) which holds the garden up above the patio – simple when you think about it!

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A sort of panorama of left hand side of the garden if you use the orange tulips as the reference point with the first photou.  I am really thrilled with the garden this year.  Finally after years for labouring, pondering, moving of plants, weeding and wondering it has come together and really gladdens my heart every time I look at it.  It will be interesting to see if I continue to feel this way as the garden progresses through the year but so far its scored 100% since the start of the year.

Moraea huttonii (probably)
Moraea huttonii (probably)

Aside from starting to tackle the front garden planting I have spent quite a bit of time pottering around the garden tidying and weeding.  Yesterday was a cooler day with rain constantly threatened so I spent most of my gardening time sowing and potting up in the greenhouse.  I have finally cleared all the overwintered plants from both of the cold frames and repotted as necessary.  Most plants have come through the winter and it was nice to rediscover seedlings that I had forgotten all about such as a tray of 12 eucomis seedlings.

Today, with the heat I retreated to the shady end of the garden and spent time cutting back snowdrop leaves from the slope so that my fern collection can emerge.  I am sure there are those that will say I should leave the snowdrop leaves to dry out and wither and I know they are right but the snowdrops and ferns live cheek by jowl and the ferns are more important to me that the snowdrops so its a case of tough love.  While I was tidying up I discovered the flower buds above growing amongst very long strappy leaves.  After much pondering I think they are the buds of Moraea huttonii.  I sowed the seeds years ago and the seedlings have languished in pots in the protection of the greenhouse or cold frame as I assumed being South African they needed some protection.  Last year I got fed up with them and planted them out.  The result seems to be healthy looking plants with big fat buds – fingers crossed.

Buddleja salvifolia
Buddleja salvifolia

The Buddleja salvifolia is beginning to flower, a beautiful blue which has come out almost true in the photograph.  However, what really surprises me is the lack of insect activity on the flower heads.  I rarely see butterflies in my garden but it is groaning with other pollinators so I would have thought they would like this buddleja – very strange, maybe its too exotic for the local wildlife.

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Finally I am really enjoying this garish combination.  There are other white honesty in this area so the white is even more dominant that this picture implies.  This is where I was thinking the Tulip Rosy Bouquet that I saw at Malvern would help to bring the planting together.  Alternatively, given the honesty is biennial maybe next year I could go for something else in this area, even Lunaria Chedglow would probably be an improvement!  What you can’t see is that on the other side of the rhododendron there is a small pale pink rhododendron which looks wonderful with the white honesty so its all about the choices and viewpoints I suppose.

 

 

My Garden This Weekend – 25/5/15

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I have spent the last two days in the garden and it has been lovely.   I did consider popping over the Malvern Hills to visit some gardens in Leominster this afternoon but by lunchtime I had really got stuck into planting up part of the woodland border so I stayed put and finished the job.  This year is the first year for ages that I remember being really content in the garden.  I don’t know whether it’s because I have been pottering in the evening so more of the jobs are being done or whether it’s because I have stopped charging around exhibiting at shows and reduced the number of groups I go to or whether it because I haven’t got a major project this year but I definitely feel more relaxed and I am enjoying gardening, instead of rushing around trying to achieve half a dozen things at a time.

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Yesterday was very overcast with the odd shower, not really conducive to weeding and pottering so instead I decided to face the horror that is the collection of seed trays and pots in the cold frames. I love sowing seeds and get very excited when they germinate but I’m not so good at looking after the seedlings and growing them on.  As I said to a friend recently if I succeeded with everything I germinated I would have a botanical garden by now so one of my objectives this year is to do better.  I have two 3 tier cold frames and one of them is home to an assortment of pots and trays in which seeds have been sown and then forgotten.  The majority of them date back to 2014 and some of them contain bulb seedlings which I wait until the second year to pot up.  So I spent probably 4 hours on Sunday pricking out and potting up.  There were still some pots with no sign of life so they have gone up the top of the garden to benefit from all weathers and then if they aren’t doing anything probably by the winter they will be chucked.  I was thrilled though to discover 3 pots of Arisaema seedlings, some Paeonia cambessedesii seedlings, as well as fritillaries and acer seedlings.

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Of course one pot of seedlings soon becomes one tray of seedlings etc so it was a real jigsaw getting everything back into the cold frames and greenhouse.  I did ditch a couple of pots that were obviously never going to germinate and some of the older seedlings are having to toughen up on the patio but in the end it all got put back together.

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Today, Bank Holiday Monday, I started with planting out some Petunia exserta seedlings grown from seed from Special Plants.  This led to me weeding the Big Border which led to me relocating an epimedium which then led to me considering the woodland border and the space where the Acer previously was.  The old rhododendron only had one flower this year and has become very leggy and one sided due to the shade produced by the vast willow.  Now the willow has been cut back and there is so much more sky I am trying to get the rhododendron to bush out better.  I pruned it back and this of course revealed some more planting area.  One thing led to another and by mid-afternoon I had added two small rhododendrons that I got for my birthday and a Vestia foetida which I bought at the garden visit on Saturday.  I also added a couple of epimediums – well it would be rude not to take advantage of more shady space wouldn’t it.

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It doesn’t look much in this photograph but I am really pleased.  I had planned to trim the box pyramid but I love the bright green new shoots too much so they have been left for another week.

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I even did some weeding in the front garden which I hate working in and for once I am really pleased with the driveway border.  The geums that went in last year are coming into their own although I would have preferred it if the orange geums could have been as strong as the red ones which seem to dominate the border at the moment.  I have a new fondness for orange geums as I think they add wonderful spots of highlight which really lift a border.

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As you can see the Achemilla mollis is about to flower so there will be a limey green haze along the side of the border which links to the marjoram on the other side of the border.  I just need to try to continue this style of planting along the end of the lawn where the soil gets much drier. As readers will know I have been considering digging up the front lawn but for now I have decided to be kind to myself and not give myself too much additional work so the lawn stays a little longer.

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As you can see its all looking very lush and full but it will be interesting to see how good it looks when the late spring Aquilegia and Alliums are over.

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2015

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Unusually for me I’m a day late with the GBBD post but I had a wonderful surprise on my return from Rome as the Alliums have just started to open their puff-ball flowers and there are a whole array of them dancing above the prostrate rosemary.

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Allium cameleon (above) is a new addition this year and I rather like the pink tones of the buds and newly open florets which then go whiter.  Its a very pretty flower.

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Alliums aside May is the month of the Aquilegia in my garden.  I have loved Aquilegias for years and have a growing range of plants.  I prefer the ones with larger flowers to the more, shall we say dumpy, flowers which I think are related to our native Columbine.  I am rather taken with the second and last of the four above, both in their first year of flower so it was a nice surprise to see what the flowers looked like. 2015_05150041However, I have a special soft spot for Aquilegia canadensis (above).  I adore the vibrancy of the flower but it is also one of the first species Aquilegias I grew from seed and was the start of a quiet fascination.

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Orange seems to be making more of an appearance in my garden than at this time in previous years.  Both Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and Lathyrus aureus were bought last year.  I like the contrast with the purples which seem to be the prevailing colour in the garden at the moment and I think small dots of orange, especially from the geum flowers which have a habit of nodding above other plants on long stems really add some zing to the border.

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Talking of purple one of the first plants I sought out on my return yesterday was the Buddleja salvifolia.  I have been waiting for it to flower for weeks.  Another new purchase last year it is just heavenly, the leaves are wonderfully soft a bit like Stachys byzantina and the scent is wonderful.

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Umbellifers seem to be creeping into my garden more and more.  I have started to appreciate the added texture their frothy flowers bring.  At the moment this is from Sweet Cicely (bottom) and Chaeropjyllum hirsutum roseum (top).

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In startling contrast we have Arisaema consangineum (I think) which I grew from seed many years ago and seems to really like its new location on the slope.  As ever in my garden the flowers are pointing in the opposite direction to I had planned but I learnt the other day that you can rotate the bulb to put the flower in the right place and the plant will stay like that, the flower doesn’t grow towards the sun like other plants so I might give that a go.

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And finally we have the wonderful Lamprocapbos spectablis ‘Valentine’ which is a real show stopper.  There are other flowers in the garden, the geraniums are just starting to open as are the irises but these are the plants that are flowering their  best today.

For more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit Carol at May Dreams

 

My Garden This Weekend – 10th May 2015

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On queue the Deutzia is flowering in time for the Malvern Spring Festival.  I don’t know which variety it is as it was here when I moved in 13 years ago.  I cut it back heard each year after flowering or we wouldn’t be able to get up the steps to the garden! This year is seems to be groaning with flowers more than ever before.

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The garden is looking very lush and fresh.  Lunaria Chedglow has been wonderful for some weeks now and I plan to try and collect some seeds so I can keep these honesty going.  I do like the fresh foliage on box, it will almost a pity to clip the two cones back at the end of the month.

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The Woodland Border is getting into its pace with the Solomons Seal and False Solomon Seal flowering and I am pleased that the epimediums have really clumped up in the last few years to provide good ground cover.  In the background you can just spot the young leaves of the Mahonia.  I do like the fact that the new leaves are coming through in reddish hues which are bouncing off the Acer in front of it.  I am also pleased to see the Mahonia leaves as two years ago I ruthlessly chopped the plant down to the ground in the hope that it would produce a number of stems instead of its one very tall stem.  The plant sulked for a while but it is getting back into its stride now and looking good.

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The top grass path is still in need of a cut.  I have been rather distracted with other things this weekend so the only gardening that occured was cutting the front grass and potting up the pelargoniums.  It might look shabby but the pollinators are loving it and the cat loves the long grass.

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The Big Border is finally filling out this year and I am glad that I took the decision not to leave spaces for dahlias and other annuals this year.  Its main focus is late summer which lots of aster and rudbeckias but at this time of year the camassias and aquilegia provide a bit of colour.

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Finally one of those unexpected delights – Paris quadrifolia – which I have forgotten I planted last year.  I have to say that the flowers are a little smaller than I had anticipated but it is still a delight.