I had such good intentions of posting my six on Saturday post yesterday. I took the photos in the morning despite Storm Hannah gusting her way across the garden sending my neighbours fence off down his garden. But then it all went pear shaped and I caught my foot in a pile of bed linen sitting waiting for the washing machine – I went flying but got back up and limped on with the housework only to stub the same toe on the stair riser at which point I burst into tears and was told by my son to just stop.
It really knocked the stuffing out of me so even sitting writing a blog post seemed to much until this evening. My biggest worry is that I am off on my travels a week tomorrow with quite a bit of walking so I do hope the bruised toe will be better by then. Whilst my toe is a bluey purple the garden is very blue at the moment with the camassias in full bloom.
I love camassias; they do really well in my garden possibly because of the clay soil but it may also be that they are in a slope so good drainage. They have been multiplying for a number of years now and I really need to thin some out. I did add a few a couple of weeks back to the front garden but the lesson I learnt was that camassias don’t transfer well when they are about to flower. However, they should look great next year.
But its not all Camassias the Deutzia has just started flowering and as ever is looking stunning. I inherited it when I bought the house 13 years ago and every year it never fails to deliver a wealth of flowers.
Last week I showed you Tulip China Town in bud and now its flowering, I think it looks more stunning in bud but its still pretty gorgeous.
And finally, the flowers on the Melianthus major is still unfurling. The leaves are looking a little frazzled but the flowers are quite wonderful in their weird way.
Those of my highlights this week, next week I’m anticipating the Dutch Iris will be flowering.
A lovely sunny day in the garden, finally, with no particular plans just being. I am enjoying this meme as it makes me really look at what is looking best in the garden. I have a mooch around the garden taking photos of anything interesting. However, it took a few walks around the garden before I spotted the Anemone coronaria ‘Bordeaux’; which was a real thrill as I have tried to establish this before and failed.
Not far away I found Pulstilla vulgaris ‘Papageno’ which was new a couple of years ago and seems to be establishing itself.
I have been bemoaning the fact that the primroses haven’t been reappearing this year and they never seem to bulk up but I did find this double primrose.
There are quite a few tulips almost ready to flower in the garden. I really like the serrated edge of the petals of this one.
I thought I would include the Forsythia as I think it is really underrated and people can be quite snobbish about it but what’s not to like about those lovely yellow flowers.
Finally, I discovered that the Melianthus major is flowering. It doesn’t flower every year and I think the flowering is brought on by the warmer temperatures. There are two flower spikes so far. They are fascinating to watch as the spike slowly grows and unfurls over a number of weeks.
So those are my favourite things this week – for more Six on Saturday pop over the the Propagator’s Blog.
March seems to have roared in like a lion, which hopefully will mean it will end like a lamb but we will wait to see if that old adage is true. Today we had another day full of blustery winds and squally showers, intermingled with sunshine, which at first seemed a good day for gardening but that blustery wind was very cold, cutting right through me. The result was about an hour of gardening but at least the cobwebs were blown away.
The garden is positively glowing now with dainty little spring flowers popping up here and there. The Prunus kojo no mai is just coming into flower. I love this shrub, its about 6ft tall, has slightly crooked stems and the most delicate pale pink flowers which remind me of tissue paper. Another thrill was to find the Hepatica noblis flowering, especially as it is slowly but surely bulking up.
I think this is a form of Hyacinth but I need to have a rummage around to find the label, I don’t remember this plant flowering so well in the past so it is really a bit of a mystery. It may well have been one of the pots of bulbs I used to have when I dabbled in growing alpines and I ended up planting out last year as I was fed up with all the pots.
Tulipa turkestanica is another one of those bulbs that I used to grow in pots which seems to be doing better now that it is planted out in the border.
The Melianthus major is looking stunning this year. Last year it was hit by the ‘Beast from the East’ but this year the warmer weather and rain have led to a very abundant plant. I am wondering if it will flower this year, there is no sign of any flowers at the moment but I am optimistic. Even if it doesn’t flower the foliage is wonderful.
Sadly though some of the flowers have fallen victim to the wind.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
My garden this weekend is soggy and blustery which is fine as I have the start of a cold and as I have next week off as annual leave I have decided to give in to the cold in the hope that it goes quickly.
So there has been no gardening – instead there has been photography as I have a new camera which I am surprisingly thrilled with. I broke my beloved original Fujifilm camera two years ago replacing it with another Fujifilm point and click which was good but has broken twice now and I never really thought the close ups were as good as the old camera. Anyway, when the camera refused to hold a charge last week despite trying numerous different batteries and chargers I decided to start again. As ever with anything technical as soon as I start researching the options my brain goes blank just as it used to when I was at school learning fractions. There is too much choice and I don’t understand all the technical camera jargon; well I understand it for about 5 minutes and
then it leaves my brain. I looked at SLRs – don’t want to be lugging one around, I looked at bridge cameras – again they are cumbersome and don’t fit in a bag easily. I tried to find my original camera no joy. Fed up! I then remembered that when I bought the last camera the guy in PC World had explained to me that all the zoom information was irrelevant if I wanted to do close ups – a step forward. After reading a few more reviews I decided to buy another Fujifilm but to go for a cheap option with a view to researching something better for the summer. I can’t cope without a camera available, more so than not having access to the internet so a quick purchase was needed. I bought a Fujifilm FinePix T500 which is the smallest camera I have ever had and it really is simple – there is a zoom and a macro feature and that is more or less it. However, this post shows the quality of the photos and I think it is pretty good. The next challenge will be to see how it does when I go to Rome in May.
Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the HPS Western Counties group, my favourite garden club. Needless to say there were a few plant purchases but I was surprised to only find one Epimedium for sale despite the number of plants people selling. Epimedium ‘Black Sea’ came home with me as well as Mertensia virginica, Iris dardanus, Geranium ‘Johnston’s Blue’, Muscari ‘Jenny Robinson’, an Anemone nemorsa, and a herbaceous Clematis.
The morning discussion is always the best part of the day and it was interesting to hear others views of soil test kits. The general consensus was that the ones you can buy in garden centres weren’t that reliable and it is more important to see what is growing well around your garden so I am less worried about finding I have alkaline soil having just bought two rhododendrons! In the afternoon we had a talk from Leila Jackson of T3 nurseries on ornamental legumes which was interesting and a few new to me were noted to investigate.
Today between the showers I took advantage of a sunny moment to try out the camera and see what had emerged over the last week. It was very satisfying to find Trillium grandiflorum appearing above ground. I purchased it over the winter, potting up the corm which had just started to show signs of life when I planted it out a few weeks back. I did spend some time improving the soil here adding lost of home made compost and wood chips so hopefully it will like its new home and flower next year as well as this year.
I got ridiculously excited when I found Soldanella alpina flowering in the cold frame. A week ago there was no sign of any flower buds and with one thing and another I haven’t opened the cold frame all week so this was a complete surprise. I suspect the cold frame has warmed up during the sunny spells which has brought on the flowers. The reason for my excitement is that I bought this plant, in flower, some 3 years ago and it has never flowered for me since. This autumn I re-potted it adding fertiliser and I applied slug pellets and gravel around the base to prevent the molluscs eating the flower buds before they had a chance to appear – it seems to have worked.
In the greenhouse and the propagator indoors the seeds sown a couple of weeks ago are germinating and hopefully this week I will be pricking some of them out. I will need to rejig the greenhouse yet again to make room for the seedlings and more pots of seeds that I want to sow this week. I am slowly but surely emptying out the cold frames of plant purchases yet unplanted, with the intention of finding them all homes, and last year’s perennial seedlings. My biggest thrill are four Meconopsis hensol violet seedlings from last year which have reappeared and I hope will flower this year once I have planted them out.
For the rest of today I am sitting on the sofa looking at the garden which I am rather pleased with and doing embroidery – well there is more to my interests than plans, honest!
Despite being December and the start of winter there is still a lot of foliage interest in the garden and hopefully most of it will remain now all winter.
I love Cyclamen and more so for the vast differences in the patterns on the leaves than the flowers which seem very similar to me. The patterns and variation on the leaves can differ dramatically within each species. The one above, Cyclamen hederifolium, is a new acquisition and has blush pink flowers although there are not many of them in evidence at the moment.
Melianthus major continues to shine in the Big Border. I love its serrated leaves especially when it has rain and the raindrops are caught like jewels along the leaf rib.
I do like the way the leaves on the Saxifraga ‘Silver Velvet’ are turning. The deep burgundy is slowly bleaching from the outside to a bright pink. This is the first winter this plant has been in the border so I have my fingers crossed that it will survive.
Another dark leaved perennial that looks good all winter is Ajuga reptans. It is especially good with the bright fresh shoots of bulbs pushing up alongside it. I have only ever seen this form of Ajuga but I have recently been reading Marjery Fish and she mentioned some other varieties which I shall have to investigate.
Finally there are the Epimediums which I seem to be acquiring quite a few of. There are the evergreen ones such as above – I can’t remember the name of this one and it is now too dark to go and look at the label. Then there are the deciduous ones like below, Epimedium ogisui, whose leaves turn as they fade and I really like the added interest they bring to the border. I think we are so busy looking at the Autumn foliage of shrubs and trees that we forget to look down at the perennials.
I hope you enjoyed my wintery foliage but if you would like some warmer offerings pop over to Pam’s blog Digging where you will find links to many other posts with some from warmer climes.
Finally I can blog again. With the shorter days I am struggling to take photographs for the blog and being away last week meant that I couldn’t get any photographs for the GBBD post. But never mind its the weekend and the sun is almost shining so I have taken some foliage photos. There is still lots of colour in the garden and predominantly from the turning foliage than from flowers – I wonder should I look to have more floral interest at this time of year or just enjoy the autumn colours.
The top photograph is a Cotinus which looks wonderful when the sun decides to shine on it. Above is Sorbus vilmorinii whose leaves have been slowly turning over a number of weeks, I like the way they go through a number of shades colour from green through burgundy to a yellow.
The large unknown Prunus at the top of the garden has finally decided to give in to the change of seasons and the leaves are starting to turn a soft buttery yellow. It occurs to me that with all the trees and shrubs I have added in recent years I have increased the amount of fallen leaves I need to pick up. I do tend to take the approach of pushing them under shrubs and hedges as a sort of mulch although I plan to bag some up again this year as rotted leaves are meant to be very good for alpine and bulb compost mixes. I will have to find somewhere to store the bags where the evil badger wont find them and rip them to pieces.
I think many perennials add to the autumn display and at the moment Kirengeshoma palmata is lighting up the patio border with its pale yellow flowers. Definitely a plant that should be grown more by people.
But not all the leaves are turning and dying. There is a whole range of woodland plants that give good foliage during the winter including epimediums, pulmonaria (above), ferns and hellebores. Then there is the wonderful range of cyclamen leaves which varying greatly within species
Cyclamen hederifolium is a great plant, it flowers for months and slowly once it has started flowering you have these wonderful leaves. I have noticed more and more cyclamen coming home with me from various horticultural club meetings chosen for their foliage!
Melianthus major continues to look fresh and bright and I am wondering how long it will be before it succumbs to frost and cold. I need to provide it with some protection but I have yet to decide what. Last year I covered the crown with straw which seemed to work well but then it wasn’t that cold a winter.
For more foliage follow up posts visit Pam’s blog Digging – there will no doubt be lots of sunny photographs with agaves and other interesting succulents.!