Thursday, 16 May 2013

May Bloom Day Part 1

I really can't believe it's that time of the month AGAIN! Where does the time go when your having fun!  I say that with a bit of tongue in cheek really.  I've been a wee bit under the weather with a really bad cold and it has taken me an absolute age to shift it.  I'm now in the process of playing catch up on all the little jobs around the garden I had planned for this month!

I'm joining in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day this month.  Kindly hosted by Carol over at May Dream Gardens - it's an opportunity for gardeners from all corners of the globe to get together and share what's blooming and blossoming in their gardens of the 15th of every month.  Head on over if you want to join in!

It's been really difficult to decide what blooms to share with you all - therefore this is Part 1 of 2.  As well as playing catch up in garden, I'm also playing catch up in downloading and editing my garden pictures.   Being that this is the first year I'm recording everything in the garden, I don't want to miss anything out.

The first of the Rhododendrons are flowering R. Shamrock and R. Baden Baden - they would normally be joined by Rhododendron Taurus but as it has struggled with Cushion Scale this last couple of years it was removed from the garden last week.
Rhododendron Shamrock

Rhododendron Baden Baden
The flowers from this shrub are borrowed from next door - just peeping through the fence.  I think it's a Spirea.  


Little pots of Muscari are useful at adding a little spring interest where perennials don't bloom until later in the season.  I like the delicate colours of these - they make a nice change to the darker blue of the more common one.     


Despite being very optimistic in February - my attempts at succeeding to bringing tulips through 2 winters in containers has taken a bit of a knock.  I suppose that winter 2011/12 doesn't really count as winter as it was so mild!  Many have come up blind, others have miniscule flower heads and others are half the height and don't look like they going to produce a bloom worth blogging about!  Not pictured here today are 2 pots of Tulipa Queen of the Night.  Identical pots, both treated the same way after flowering in the 2 previous years, yet 1 pot has come up completely blind and the other has half and half of blooms (yet to open) and deformed flower heads.     
  
The little creamy white tulips, with no name, that share a pot with Narcissus Thalia are somewhat disappointing - only 2 bulbs produced flowers - the remaining 8 are blind.  The fact that the Daffs are doing so well in the container leaves me baffled!  I'd be interested if anyone has a thought on this.



Tulipa National Velvet is another confusing case!  They are shades lighter than they were in previous years.  All bulbs produced flower heads with only half of them choosing to open.  As you can see from the picture they are not the dark maroon colour they should be.  I don't particularly mind this colour - it matches perfectly with my new Aqueligia! 

Tulips National Velvet and Aqueligia Spring Magic Pink
   
A couple of alpine flowering this May - both quite different in nature.

Soldanella villosa - requires a moist cool shady spot.  This one grows in a container unlike the others in borders which have yet to flower.  it's common name is Snowbell and will push it's dainty little flowers up through the snow on the mountain tops of Europe.

Soldanella villosa

Erysimum kotschianum - Alpine Wallflower, prefers a sunny well drained site.  It has settled in well in the Alpine Trough.  It's bright yellow flowers really do stand out.



I've 2 Clematis flowering right now - both have not come through winter unscathed.

Clematis cartmanii Pixie - an H3 hardy evergreen climber.  Protected in winter with fleece thrown over it and stored against a sunny wall for shelter.  Certainly not abundant in growth but has produced a few of it's waxy blooms.  It will be given a larger container later in the season when it has finished flowering.

Clematis cartmanii Pixie


Clematis alpina Helsingborg has flourished in the garden this past few years but a 'cat fight' between one of my cats and a stranger that ventrued into the garden saw the clematis almost torn apart from it's support.  I spent a whole afternoon recently carefully snipping and untying all all the damaged stems.  Only 1 single stem has survived.  I live in hope that it will regenerate from the base.

Clematis alpina Helsingborg

Fritillaria, Primula and Narcissus from previous posts are still looking well enough to be considered 'flowering'.  The usual spring herbaceous plants are flowering - I will be including them in Part 2 of this post.

If you've liked any of my plants and want any more information on them you can follow the links I've provided to my 'What's Growing' pages - here you will find growing information on each plant.

Thank you for joining me this May GBBD - please come back soon.


Monday, 6 May 2013

White Narcissus

What a difference a few sunny days make!  A statement I have no doubt many of us here in the Northern Hemisphere will be saying to themselves lately.  At the time I posted my end of month review my favourite Narcissus was ALMOST but not QUITE!!

Narcissus Thalia
Narcissus Thalia - a firm favourite of Victorian gardeners had long been ignored for some of the bigger, bolder and shall we say brash varieties that were being introduced.  According to my research N. Thalia is making a comeback and I'm so pleased I got in on the act early on in my gardening 'exploits'.

As I walked out the back door this early evening (to bring the washing in - a woman's work is never done!) the scent hit me - BAM!!  It was gorgeous, from so few blooms it truly was intoxicating!

Whilst looking delicate it is an extremely sturdy flower 


Pure white blooms

Tip - I have grown these bulbs in containers for the last 3 years - they are in a mix of multi-purpose compost, John Innes No2 and some grit for added to aid drainage.  When flowering is finished, they are dead headed and fed with half strenght tomato feed on a weekly basis until the foliage dies back.  When the foliage has died, I lift the contents of the pot and replace with new compost.  The pots are wrapped with bubble wrap for winter and stored against a sunny wall until early spring.  I begin watering (weather dependent) when new growth appears.  It is important that container grown Narcissus are not allowed to dry out during their growing period.

N. Thalia has flowered for well over 2 months in both 2011 and 2012.  It will be interesting to see if the extended winter/late flowering will make a difference this year.

Adding to the delighful scent of N. Thalia is another white daffodil.  Planted for the first time last autumn, these bulbs are, unlike their cousins, kept to the borders.

Narcissus Tresamble has certainly not disappointed me!   N. Tresamble is another daffodil that produces upto 3 flowers on a sturdy stem.  It has stood tall and hasn't been affected by the recent strong winds, another plus as far as I can tell.  Off the 25 bulbs planted, all 25 have produced flowering stems.  Being their first year, this should be expected!

    

Slightly taller than I expected - those planted under the Cornus alternifolia (my favourite shrub) have come along just as the Corydalis, Crocus and Pushkinia have come to an end.  The Cornus is always late coming into leaf in my garden therefore these blooms are equally appreciated to add interest.

Elegant blooms on good strong stems  

A view from below

As I struggle down on my hands and knees - I thought a worms eye view was in order.  A whiff of the scent made the effort very worthwhile!

White or Yellow Daffs......what's your preference?  I have recently added a few yellow daffodils to my garden and whilst I admire them in many gardens, I am really struggling to form any sort of affection for them in mine!

If you are looking to grow some white daffodils I can highly recommend either of these varieties, they would make a great addition to any garden.  I'll be looking into planting another variety of whites this autumn, if you have any recommendation I'd like to hear about them.  Providing they are scented they will be grown in containers by my front door - I'm sure the postie will appreciate them too!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

April - All's well that ends well!

April is generally the month Scottish gardeners call spring and although this year it got of to a rather slow start, as was apparent at the time of my last post it ended pretty much as I could have hoped.  April showers have not been as they would in a normal April but we can't have it all, can we?

The majority of my gardening time takes place in the afternoon, this is due to my working hours.  I feel that this month, especially, I have been able to take full advantage of the bright sunny days we have been experiencing.  The garden thermometer has been gradually rising this signals time for my winter gardening attire to have it's last spring wash and is now packed away for the foreseeable!

It was 3 years ago work began on the garden and now that some of the plants are entering their 3rd year, I am filled with hope that those that survived and thrived should look at their best this year.  3 years ago my garden consited of a large square lawn, a square of gravel chips and a large square deck.  Surrounded mostly by old rotten fencing - the gales in March 2011 and January 2012 soon saw the back of them.  I finally put the last remaining trellis tops on the fence that edges the sunny side of the garden - phew, as she wipes her brow!
I have, single handily removed and replaced all the fencing.  No, I am not blowing my own trumpet - budget restraints meant that I'd rather not hire someone in to do it.  Money wasted on labour is less money to be spent on plants, right?  I'm more than capable and it's the kind of work I love doing!  My neighbours in adjoining properties are either local authority tenants who have no interest in maintaining their boundary fencing or in the case of Dave (to the left)  and Nick (over the back) - completely and utterly useless at DIY.  Their share of the work was disposable of the old wood - which, even now, lies in heaps at the rear of Dave's garden.  Not that I worry about that - I can't see it anymore!

As most of my shrubs are barely waist high, they have yet fill out and reach a maturity that shows them at their best,  I find that because of this I tend to appreciate the beauty of the 'little things' around at this time of the year and I suspect for a good while yet.

Lets take a look around.......              

Yellow daffodils are all new to the garden, planted last autumn or bought in bud recently.  I have always been hesitant of planting yellow daffodils in the garden.  Personally, I am not a big fan but my increased garden blogging and on line gardening time has seen me appreciate their spring colour more.  The ones I chose are all smaller varieties and have quite grown on me (excuse the pun)!  Narcissus Jet Fire, Rip van Winkle and Tete a Tete.
Narcissus 'Thalia' however, is a different matter - I just adore these.  They tick all the boxes. Scented, multi-headed, pure white and have in previous years blooms for in excess of 2 months - what's not to like.  I grow these in containers and this year - they are destined for the borders, where I hope they will be very happy! Another white daffodil 'Tresambles' is full of buds but not quite there yet.


Tulipa humilis Persian Pearl are the only Tulips that don't grow in containers.  Generally my soil is not as light and free draining as tulips require.  These, however, have coped well and come through last year's wash out!
They grow in a gravelled area and add a bit of punch in the gravel bed now that the Iris retics have gone over.

Primulas are now coming into their own, I do have a bit of a thing for Primula - luckily they grow well in my garden, which always helps, doesn't it?  Over the forth coming months, there will always be a Primula of some sort flowering - a topic for a future blog, me thinks!  In a normal year, our native 'primula vulgaris' will generally throw up the odd flower throughout the year but won't really put on a show until March but this year being so far behind it has taken until April.  I apologise for so many pictures but I didn't want to miss any out.
Primula denticulata (drumstick) Cashmeriana always first to flower
     
Primula veris (cowslip) grows under a golden Physocarpus


Primula Don Keefe

Primula (unknown)

Primula vulgaris Innisfree

Primula vulgaris Drumcliffe
My newest addition - yet to find a home in the garden
Primula maximowiczii
I have found this spring that the Dicentra spectabalis is very slow - both white and red are miles behind the normally later Formosa and Eximia, some are barely above the surface of the soil, yet King of Hearts and Luxuriant are almost ready to flower!  Dicentra cucullaria, awaits a permanent home.  A couple of losses Persicaria Red Dragon, Kirengeshoma and Rhododendron Taurus.  The later has now been removed completely.  It has suffered Cushoin Scale for the last couple of years and it's becoming a chore to keep on top of.  Opportunities for new planting in the border it came from though!   Persicaria and Kirengeshoma are presumed dead!  The Kirengeshoma I was kind of expecting but the Persicaria should have had no problems with winter at all!  My large Cordyline australis has come through winter having been wrapped like an Egyptian mummy for the last 6 months.  The foliage leaves a lot to be desired but I'm glad it's alive!

Other April blooms
I end with a bit of optimism for May - someone forgot to tell this Peony that everything else in the garden is at least 1 month behind.


Thank you for joining me as I record my April garden, these monthly look backs will provide a useful reference tool for me.  If you want any further information on any of the plants I have growing, please, where I have provided a link - is a more detailed profile and my findings on growing here in Scotland.  

Helen over at The Patient Gardener hosts an end of month review meme.  If you are interested on what's been going on around the world this April, please pop over and join in!