Six on Saturday – 25th May 2019

Tragopodon crocifolius (Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon)

Every so often there are unexpected delights in the garden and this week seems to have delivered more than its fair share.  I have grown Tragopodon crocifolius for years, well I have I have grown it, what I actually mean is that I grew it from seed probably around 8 years ago and it has seeded it self around the garden.  It is a hardy annual and I suspect I got the original seeds from Special Plants.  It sends up a tall stem with these wonderful lilac flowers which then turn to big Dandelion type puff ball seedheads – hence the self seeding around the garden.  Its common name is Jack-go-bed-at-noon because the flowers open in the morning and then close at noon.  To be honest I had forgotten about this plant until I noticed a number of them flowering in the front garden – a nice surprise.

Tulip sprengeri

But much as I love Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon the real thrill this weekend are the Tulip sprengeri flowers.  I have been trying to establish this plant in the garden for a few years.  I have tried sowing seeds in pots, in borders but no luck. Last year I bought a pot of seedlings, which I promptly forgot about as is my habit, but when I built the raised wall around the top border I rounded up a number of small pots of plants from the patio and planted them out and lo and behold one of them was the tulip sprengeri and this time they have flowered. I am really hoping that they will start to seed them and I will end up with a clump like I have seen elsewhere.

Dutch Iris ‘Miss Saigon’ was a new addition this spring.  I planted about 20 bulbs in the garden and they are simply gorgeous, such a special irridescent colour.

Another of my Dutch Iris, this was an early acquisition so there are only one or two in the garden but the white is so pure.

Peonies – have been a challenge for me for years.  I have planted many over the years but I obviously plant them too deeply as until this year I have never had many flowers.  But things have changed – this year the plant above has some 5 blooms on it and I have another one just the same.  Then this evening, while watering I spotted that some of the other peonies, of a different type going by the leaves, have buds too so things are looking up.

Iris Bumblebee Delight

I posted the other week a photo of Iris Langport Wren which has multipled itself over the years and this year felt as though it was the only bearded iris left in the garden.  I love bearded irises and like the peonies have bought many over the years but they seem to have disappeared.  I decided the other day that I needed to rectify the situation and try to add some more varieties.  I thought I would get some at the HPS meeting today but not an iris to be seen, nor at the garden centre on the way home; seems they aren’t in fashion.  But, when I got home I spotted that diminutive Iris Bumblebee Delight starting to flower – so thats two bearded irises but I do need more.

Those are my delights for this week for more Six on Saturday posts check out My Propogator’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

Six on Saturday – 27 April 2019

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.

Tulip China Town
Tulip China Town

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.

For more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagtor’s blog – who kindly hosts this great meme

Six on Saturday 20th April – Tulips

Tulip Ballerina

As the tulips are coming into their own this week I thought I would have a tulip special for Six on Saturday.

Tulip Ballerina grows in the front garden and is very slowly naturalising.   I planted the bulbs some years back now and each year they appear although I’m not convinced they are multiplying that quickly more a case of coming back year on year and they do seem to have longer stems now.  Today with the sun shining they look quite magical.

Tulip Blue Diamond

Another front garden tulip this year is Tulip Blue Diamond which was in a collection pack from Peter Nyssen. This year is the first year for a few years where I have made a conscious effort to add tulips to the borders.  I used to grow quite a few but the year we had the really hard winter I discovered that the “cute” badger who had decided to visit our garden looking for food had a weakness for tulips and all my bulbs were eaten. As we haven’t seen the badgers for a few years now I decided to have another go and the effort is certainly rewarding me.

Tulip Spring Green

Tulip White Parrot seems to be a later tulip.  Here it is growing amongst some Camassias which will be flowering in the next week or so.  You will see in due course that I have quite a swathe of Camassias in the middle of my garden which have increased year on year to the point where I seriously need to think about dividing them but I will save that until next week.

Another rogue tulip – I think it is meant to be Tulip Elegant Lady which is a pale pink.  This flower reminds me of someone not mixing the paint properly.  I think it has a rather distinctive charm about it.

Tulip Princess Irene

Tulip Princess Irene is another tulip which comes back year on year.  I think it is one of the nicest oranges and works well with so many other flowers especially reds and burgundys

Tulip China Town

Tulip Chinatown has been delighting me for weeks even though it hasn’t flowered yet.  I love its glaucous variegated foliage. The tulip will be pink so it should be quite wonderful.

I will definitely be planting more tulips next year and looking forward to seeing which ones come back up from this year.

For more Six on Saturday check out The Propagator’s Blog

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – 13/4/19

A gorgeous day in the garden here in Malvern.  Whilst there has been a cool wind, when the sun shone it was almost t-shirt warm.  Especially when you are rapidly going up and down a sloping garden moving pots around. As I hope to do Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post on Monday I thought I would try and avoid flowering photos.  So my first photo is a Cornus backlit by the sun.  I’ve no idea what it is, I’ve had it for ever and it never seem to put much growth on.  I have removed the odd stem in the past to see if I can get those nice red winter stems but I have concluded today that this really isn’t that type of Cornus so I will let it shrub up.

Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Some of the ferns are starting to send up their new fronds.  My favourite at this time of year is the Regal Fern (Osmunda regalis). I love the colour of the fronds, a sort of grey burgandy and they are just opaque enough to glow when the sun shines.

 

Arisaema speciosum

Another plant that fascinates me at this time of year is the Arisaema speciosum.  Their mottled stems appear and then their three leaves slowly unfold before the weird spathe type flower appears – quite fascinated.  I grew these from seed probably about 10 years ago now and they flower every year without fail

The winds last month blew most of the flowers off the Camellia (variety unknown) so I was really surprised today to notice there seems to be a second flush of flower buds.  I’m sure they are new buds as opposed to original buds which were slow to open.

I mentioned, at the top of the post, that I have been going up and down the garden all day moving pots.  I decided my focus today was to sort the patio out and plant out everything I can.  I haven’t sown any seeds this year nor do I plan to. I have decided this year to abstain.  My reason for this is that I have been growing plants from seed for at least a decade and I have loved it.  I have all sorts of strange plants in the garden as a result of seed exchanges but at the moment my spare time is limited whilst I love the excitement when something germinates, I hate it when the seedling gets too leggy as I haven’t moved them on quickly enough. It will also give me the chance to get on top of things rather than spending all my spare time pricking out.  The little box above was a seedling I picked up from a walk way at a garden somewhere. It was little more than a matchstick and it has languished in various pots, growing slowly for around 10 years.  It has grown despite me!.  I thought I would treat it today and pot it up into a new pot with fresh compost and give it more of a starring role.  This is the very right hand side of my patio and if we have heavy rain this corner floods and can stay wet for days.  It has always been hard to manage but in recent years I have gone with the conditions and it is planted with a number of iris that like a bit of damp such as Ensata Iris, some Sensitive Ferns (Onoclea sensibilis) and a variegated grass/sedge which likes the damp.  There is also a tall grass which people grow in bog garden which has taken over this corner so I spent a difficult hour digging as much of it as I can out.  This should give the irises more of a chance to establish.

My last photo is the left of my patio.  I need to say here that I dislike my patio and plan to replace it at some point but its down the end of a long list of expense. This photo was taken when I had moved about half the pots of seedlings.  I have a significant number of peony and lily seedlings grown from HPS seed exchanges which I have been dutifully potting on.  Why I thought I needed to try to grow so many I have no idea – I think it was a case of having a go and not expecting much germination.  They are now all relocated up the garden by the top bench where it will be shady and they are out of the way.  In the muddle by the greenhouse are also the various snowdrops I bought back in February and these have all now been planted out with labels. I’m pleased to say that all the little pots to the right of the photo have gone and most of the plants have been planted out.  So next weekend, I will weed the patio ready for some summer patio pots.   I should confess that whilst all those pots have now gone, I have as many to the right of the patio which I am hoping to sort tomorrow.

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting this weekly meme which is really getting me back and engaged with my garden.  I love reading everyone else’s, which you can find in the comments, on the Propagators blog – I have to confess to hardly reading blogs for some years and it a real delight to find so many new and interesting gardeners and gardens.

Six on Saturday 6/4/2019 – Front Garden Highlights

Grevillea victoriae

I need to learn to love my front garden just a bit more. Its a lot better than it was three or four years ago before I dug up the lawn but the truth is I just walk past it every day and every so often I find myself thinking I need to spend some time tidying up and sorting it out . So today I thought I would include it in the Six on Saturday meme so I would be forced to look at it more.

Grevillea Canberra Gem

There are two Grevilleas in the front garden.  The Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has been in the front garden for probably 11 years.  I love it, it reminds me of my late sister as I bought it with her. At the moment its about 5 ft high by 5 ft wide and thats after we heavily pruned it last Autumn by about 2ft all over.  It has just started flowering and is beloved by the pollinators.  The other grevillea is Grevillea victoriae (see top picture).  Interestingly, it has broad leaves not the pine like leaves of Canberra Gem and it is only the flower that really, in my opinion, indicates they are the same family. This shrub was added to the garden probably about five years ago and was moved a few times so is now only really begining to establish itself.  The shrub is less floriferious than the Canberra Gem, you really have to seek the flowers out, although I am wondering if that will improve with time.

Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’

As well as two Grevilleas, there are two Sorbus in the front garden; more of a flux than by design – I just like Sorbus.  I planted a Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) when we moved in 15 years ago and a couple of years back added Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ to add balance in the garden.  They form a sort of triangle of trees with a Birch being the third point.  I was pleased to see the leaves had reappeared today, as it struggled last year in the drought and was one of the few plants that I consistently ensured had a good watering once a week.

Persicaria nepalensis

I have a preference for foliage these days over flowers as I think the garden looks better all year round with a good tapestry of interesting foliage and then flowers add interest as they come and go.  I’m not the biggest fan of Persicaria as it can be a bit of a thug and attempt to take over a border (been there, done that) but I did succumb to Persicaria nepalenis because of its beautiful leaves.  I think the flowers are a pale pink, but as I can’t remember it shows you that the main attraction of this plant is its leaves.

Lunaria ‘Chedglow’

Last week I showed you the swath of Lunaria (Honesty) at the back of the main garden, which self seeds around.  From the colouring of the leaves they seem to be a cross between a couple of Lunaria I have grown over the years.  In the front garden I am more certain that the Lunaria are self-sown Lunaria ‘Chedglow’ due to the distinctive dark stems and leaves with variegation.  This one has placed itself in the gravel path and is thriving.

Fritillary melegaris (Snakeshead Fritillary)

Finally, I spotted a line of Snakeshead Fritillary growing along the beech hedge.  I planted them years back when there was a lawn and I laboured over whether or not the dryness under the hedge would work for them for not.  It seems to have worked well, although now it means that the fritillaries are growing at the back of a big border and not really seen so I may have a think about trying to relocate them – or maybe not.

Thanks to the Propagator for hosting this weekly meme which gets me into the garden even when I dont have time to garden but I can find 5 minutes to take some photo and see what is happening, and ponder plans.

 

Six on Saturday – 23rd March 2019

Anemone coronaria ‘Bordeaux’

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.

Pulstilla vulgaris ‘Papageno’

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.

Melianthus major

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.

Six on Saturday – 24/2/19

Yes I know its Sunday, I seem incapable of remembering to do this meme on a Saturday. I don’t think Saturday has been a usual blogging day for me in the past so maybe that’s the problem.  Anyway, here I am a day late, again, but at least I can now share something other than hellebores and snowdrops.

This is how the garden looked at 9:30 am today and it didn’t really lift until well past 11:00.  But it need give me the opportunity to take some more interesting photos of the first narcissus flowering in the garden, if you don’t count Narcissus ‘February Gold’ which has been flowering for a couple of weeks now.

I think this is Narcissus ‘W P Milner’.  Its a miniature narcissus, similar in stature to Narcissus ‘Tete -a -Tete’. I have a habit of buying random narcissus bulbs each Autumn and then forgetting what I have bought from one year to the next.  I have a preference towards the paler yellows and whites and the smaller flowers.

I have no idea of the name of this narcissus, I have had it for a few years now, but I do like the paler yellow petals to the trumpet. I took the photos when the mist was still hanging and tried to capture the moisture on the petals.  I’ve been playing with the manual settings on my camera, trying to learn how to use the features better rather than relying on auto and macros.  For a first go outside I am quite pleased with these photos.

This narcissus was a surprise, it appeared unexpectedly and I suspect is a survivor from the alpine bulbs I grew a few years ago, well tried to grow, in pots.  I got fed up with them two years ago and decided that I didn’t have time to manage so many bulbs in pots and that I actually preferred the plants growing in the ground.  So the pots were unceremoniously emptied out into the borders and I keep coming across surprises.

My last six for Saturday is a photo of the Crocus tommasinianus that is slowly spreading itself in the border.  The crocuses are the best they have ever been this year and it was interesting to hear, at the HPS group I go to, that other gardeners have experienced the same.  The theory was that the heat last year gave the bulbs a good baking allowing them to produce better flowers, which makes sense when you think they come from Turkey.  As you can see the sun eventually came out today and bleached out the colour in my photo.

For more Six on Saturday, visit The Propagator’s blog