Foliage Follow Up December 2014 – Variegation

Fatsia japonica 'Spiders Web'

Fatsia japonica ‘Spiders Web’

If you were to ask me if I liked variegated foliage I wouldn’t immediately say yes but then again I wouldn’t immediately say no either.  It’s not something I have a firm opinion on and I don’t really understand why some people say such things as ‘I don’t like yellow flowers in my garden’ as there are so many shades of yellow, different shaped flowers and it depends on different light etc.  But I like foliage – a lot. So it isn’t that big a leap when you are fascinated with texture, colour and form of leaves and how they work together to start to develop an interest in variegation.

Arum

Arum

Walking around the garden to take foliage for this monthly meme hosted by Pam over at Digging I realised just how many variegated plants I have and of course at this time of year the variegated plants really come into their own.

Bergenia cordifolia 'Tubby Andrews'

Bergenia cordifolia ‘Tubby Andrews’

However, it is clear from these photographs that I prefer the white, grey, green variegations more than the yellow/green variegations.  I do like the Bergenia above but the yellow is a pale yellow rather than the bright yellow of plants such as Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’ which I really don’t like at all.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

I find the variation of the variegated foliage in Cyclamen hederifolium particularly fascinating.  You do get some amazing patterns and now that my cyclamen are seeding around the garden it will be interesting to see what new leaf patterns form. I really like the top almost silver form and if you look at the Arum picture above you can see some other silver leaves which are of a Pulmonaria seedling, which I am really pleased with and am hoping I will be able to divide.

Euphorbia characias 'Silver Swan'

Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’

And I will finish with my most obvious variegated plant in the garden – Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’ which is always magical when it has rained or there has been a frost or dew.

For more foliage follow up posts visit Pam at Digging in Austin.

GBBD December 2015

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The mild Autumn is certainly causing some surprising combinations in the garden this December.  There are a number of flowers which seem to have been in flower for months and it is almost as though they have been frozen in time like Sleeping Beauty. Here we have Gladiolus callianthus which are putting on an excellent display at the top of the garden. They are a welcome surprise this year as I tipped a number of pots of bulbs out on to the top border as there was no sign of life and they had hardly flowered last year.  Then lo and behold lying on the top of the soil they started to grow and they have been wonderful for months.  They are meant to be moderately hardy but I think I will risk them outside over the winter and see how they get on.  I suspect as they come from the mountainous regions of Africa that they might be a bit hardier than we think especially if they have good drainage and don’t get too sodden.

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Salvia involucrata boutin has also been flowering for months and like the Gladiolus seems frozen in time.  The plant which is some 4 years old is huge now so I won’t be lifting it this year but am relying on cuttings and a thick mulch around roots.  I’m glad I decided not to lift it as it means I have enjoyed the flowers for a lot longer than normal.

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Alongside the hangers-on are the usual seasonal delights.  The number of shrubs, especially those that flower outside of Summer are increasing in my garden.  They often have small delicate flowers which come into their own when there isn’t much showy competition.  Here we have an Abelia, variety unknown, which is very popular with the pollinators when we have a sunny day.  I enjoy the combination of the pale flowers with the burgundy stems and calyx.

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The  Jasminum nudiflorum seemed to come into flower early last month and the flowers are just started to go over, no hanging around for them like the Gladiolus and Salvia.   I think this rain soaked bloom looks almost transparent in some lights.

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Euphorbia rigida, albeit a small and young plant, is already illuminating the front garden.  I really like the combination of the glaucous leaves and the acid green flowers.  Just behind this plant is Salvia armistad which I haven’t lifted and is still just about in flower and the deep blue/purple flowers contrast wonderfully from afar with the Euphorbia.

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Finally an unknown Primula.  There are a lot of primulas in my garden, with the numbers increasing year on year as I am a sucker for the Barnhaven Primrose website.  This one is a straight forward lilac Primula vulgaris and probably due for dividing in the Spring.  It is one of the first real spring flowers to open and makes me feel optimistic that Spring isn’t really that far away.  I have a couple of different snowdrops that are producing flowers but not open enough yet to include and the Iris unguicularis which I featured a few weeks ago is still producing flower after flower which is making me very happy after waiting for a few years for it to establish.

So those are my floral December highlights.  For more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit May Dreams.

Foliage Follow Up – November 2015

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Having managed to do the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post in a timely fashion this month I thought I would also join Pam over at Digging in the Foliage Follow Up.  I have read Pam’s blog ever since I started blogging some 8 years ago and met her when I went to the Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco.  Having a growing preference for foliage it is a logical meme for me to join but I often find myself thinking oh I have shown this or that and so I don’t join in.  This month it dawned on me, I can be a little slow at times, that I should show some of the foliage on my decidious plants so this month I am focussing on the Birch jacquemontii which lives in my front garden.

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My sons bought the tree for me probably about 8 years ago and I love it.  Its one of the few plants that I will be upset to leave if I ever move house and I keep an eye out for seedlings which I might be able to pot up but they are few and far between.  I see this tree every morning from my bedroom window when I look out to see what the weather gods have decided to present us with and it struck me yesterday morning what a wonderful colour the leaves had turned.

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Due to our mild temperatures this Autumn the leaf colour seems to be changing quite slowly and amazingly the birch seem to be hanging on to the leaves despite the strong winds we have had.  The leaves look almost orange in the photographs but this morning in the dull light of an overcast day there was a distinct pale yellow glow to the tree.

So there’s my foliage follow up post this month, not a succulent or evergreen leaf to be seen, makes a change for me.  To see more fabulous foliage pop over to Pam’s Austin garden and check out the comments box for other links.

Ornate: A WC to Behold

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate” I am sharing with you the indulgence that is Helen Dillon’s downstairs WC as I think it fits well with the definition of ornate as “breathtakingly extravagant”.  For the non-obsessive gardeners amongst my readers I should explain that Helen is a well-known garden writer who lives in the suburbs of Dublin.  I blogged about a visit to her garden back in July which I visited as part of a garden tour to Ireland.

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Being an older property, I am guessing Georgian, the downstairs WC is shoe-horned in under the stairs so is a tiny space with a sloping ceiling which means that I had to take close-ups rather than take a photo of the glorious whole.  I should say that Helen was very keen for us all to visit and see this space, in fact we were almost ordered to do so and I know from friends who have visited with other groups that this was not peculiar to our group.  If you can imagine a small downstairs WC with the basic facilities of toilet and small sink and then every bit of the wall and ceiling is covered in shells all in intricate designs then you are half way to imagine this extraordinary creation.  I have to admit that I found it a little intimidating and a little frightening as some of those shells are quite large and sharp-looking!

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The whole creation had been commissioned some years previously and what was even more extraordinary was that one of my fellow tourers recognised the artist who it turned out was a friend of hers – small world.

 

Careful – Weekly Photo Challenge

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This week’s  Daily Post’s  photo challenge theme is  “Careful.”  

‘Careful’ makes me think of small things.  We are careful with babies, small children, delicate ornaments for fear of injuring them.  “But what am I careful with I wondered” and more importantly I added “that I can illustrate with a photo”. Fiddly things come to mind, things I have to focus on – so sowing seeds and embroidery.  “Easy” I thought “I’ll take a photo of my current embroidery project”.

Foolish me, it’s not easy to take a photo of yourself sewing; not unless you have someone else to take the photo or you can set the camera up on a stand.  How do you focus the camera on your own hand when you have to hold the camera?  Impossible.  So I have ended up with a photograph of my embroidery without my hand doing careful sewing.  It is a careful occupation and the photograph was taken carefully – so I have doubly completed the challenge!

Extraordinary

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Here is my response to WordPress’ weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

I thought for a while about what I might have seen this year that was extraordinary. I was reminded of my trip back in May when I took my Mum to Rome.  She had a desire to see the Trevi Foundation whilst I was determined we would go to the Pantheon and see its amazing brick-built dome; the largest unsupported dome in the world.  My mother was rather blank about this place I kept mentioning. Luckily it wasn’t that far from the Trevi Fountain and with lots of eateries in the small roads around it an ideal lunch destination.

I have been to the Pantheon once before; some 9 years ago the day after my 40th birthday.  I was in Rome on a mad work trip which lasted little more than 24 hours.  Our hosts were so determined that I should see the sights that we did a tour of Rome at midnight which was quite magical but the Pantheon was the one place we couldn’t look inside at that time of night.

I am so glad that I insisted we went to the Pantheon.  It was the highlight of the trip for me.  I found the vastness of the interior awesome especially when you think it was built around 125 AD in the reign of Hadrian, he of the long wall. The opening at the top of the roof is 8.8m in diameter that’s 28.87 ft ; the total diameter is 43.2m (141.73ft). Added to this is its religious significance. I’m not a religious person but whatever your faith or lack of faith you cannot help but be moved by the religious imagery throughout the building.

The Pantheon – a truly extraordinary place.