Notes from the Garden – 20th March 2016

Epimedium

Epimedium

Not such a gorgeous weekend as last weekend which was disappointing given it was the Spring Equinox but fingers crossed Easter will see a change and temperatures will start to improve.  The garden certainly appears to be waiting for the green light although the epimediums seem to have decided they have waited too long.    I am particularly pleased to discover flowering buds on the majority of the other epimediums; worryingly I seem to have accumulated 13 over the last few years.

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I do like spring as you have time to really look and see all sorts of delights emerging rather than being overwhelmed with things to look at as you are in the summer. I would like to claim that the combination of the white hyacinth and phormium (above) was planned. But it was a lucky accident with the lime green on the leaf seems to pick up the same colour at the base of each flower.  There are lessons to be learnt here about how plants combine well and that is something I have been reading a lot about recently.

I am reading Andrew Lawson’s The Gardeners Book of Colour which is brilliant.  I have read essays and books about colour with the obligatory colour wheel before but none have ever explained colour, tones and saturation as clearly as Andrew does.  I haven’t got far through the book but I am already thinking about how colour creates an atmosphere and how I might try to use this in my garden especially given the big rejig that is going on.  I am also reading Sarah Raven’s Bold and Beautiful which is also inspiring as I love strong colours but I worry about them looking garish in English light.  I am hoping that between the two books I might learn something useful about combining plants and colour and take my bitty garden forward.

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In the meantime I have sown the first seeds in the new propagator – Cobea scandens which I have wanted to try for some years.  I have pruned the prostrate rosemary that falls over the wall back hard so it looks a little embarrassed showing its legs but I know it will re-shoot like mad.  I have also cut back some of the tatty fern foliage from around the garden; it is great to see the new furry fronds ready to emerge as soon as the weather warms up. Peering in the borders I found both Iris danfordiae and iris tuberosa flowering but my photos arent up to standard so I will try again for next weekend.  This is the first time both have flowered in the garden so I am hopefully they might establish.

I’ll leave you with what is in my opinion the maddest narcissus

Narcissus Rip Van Winkle

Narcissus Rip Van Winkle

 

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.