Saturday, 22 June 2013

All the Ps

My garden has made a leap from late spring into early summer this last week - a few things are now beginning to flower.  By sheer coincidence a few of them all begin with the Letter P. 
A preview before they burst into full bloom 
First Peony to flower

Papaver orientale (unnamed) 

Papaver orientale Princess Victoria Loiuse

Psilostemon, Geranium psilostemon that is!
Geranium psilostemon (Armenian Geranium)


Polemonium caeruleum Alba


Dianthus Valda Wyatt


Primula bulleyana
As we are now into 'Summertime' proper - I'm glad my garden is now heading that way too!

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Pottering About!

What a great week I chose to take off work - nothing new there. Ever since my son was born 24 years ago, the first week in June has become a regular week off from work. Weather is generally great and this year was no exception. Temperatures were regularly high teens or early twenties - sweltering even, for Scotland, that is!

I had been trying to think of a word or phrase that could best describe how I spent my long sunny days when the phone rang - it was mum to tell me she was on her way and did I need anything brought in. After a quick discussion around what we were to have for dinner etc - she asked me.....

"What have you been doing today? - Are you still pottering about in the garden?"

That was it......Pottering About! For the first time in as many months - my garden had reached the stage that all I had to do (for now) was to Potter About!

Those two words 'Pottering About' describe my week to a T! Sitting down, reading a newspaper or book, listening to the radio or just relaxing on a chair with my eyes closed - listening to the birds chirupping around me, the distant sounds of lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, municipal vehicles coming and going and the occassional dog walkers making their way along the pathway to the local park and river walk. Mental notes for autumn planting were taken. Plant wish lists were added to.

The odd half hour, here and there, was spent dead heading. Secatuers snipped away at a few over hanging stems or branches. Lawns were edged at a more leisurely pace. A few badly placed plants were moved or removed. Climbers were tied in before they reached a tangled and unmanageable state. A bit of random weeding. The only 'major' job doing the whole week - not that you could consider it 'major' - but it did take me more than a mere 30 minutes, self seeded Snowberry (Symphoricarpos) was beginning to take hold, growing amongst my back hedge.  I spent a whole afternoon ripping and tearing it out - they tend to pull out easily provided they have not been able to take hold!  Since clearing it out - my hedge has been loosing it's leaves at an alarming rate - I don't know what has happened but it  now needs further investigation.  I can't see any obvious infestation or damage but it is concerning me.         

I've been Pottering about today too, taking some shots of what's blooming in the garden for GBBD this June. Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is a meme very kindly hosted by Carol over at May Dream Gardens. Pop over to see what's happening in gardens around the world.

Please join me for a stroll around my little plot

Weigela Kosteriana variegata 
Polemonium caeruleum
Let's start in the front garden.  I should add at this point, my front garden will feature very little in my blogs.  I have yet to be inspired on what I'd like to do with this area.  I tend to heal in plants that have no permanent home or aren't doing too well else where.  A variegated Weigela and the Jacob's ladder is now large enough to be divided into quite a few plants this might make a rather nice 'drift' elsewhere in the garden.

Magnolia stellate mid June 2013
Through the side gate - The Rhododendrons are almost over.  Amazingly the Magnolia stellata is still producing buds - I declared in an earlier post back in May that it was only ever going to produce one flower - it has been producing a single flower every week since!!  Don't you just love getting proved wrong! Pinks and whites are the predominant summer colours in this border at the moment - the towering steely blues of the Aconitums will join in soon enough. 
left to right: Dicentra spectabalis, Dicentra eximia King of Hearts, Meconopsis betonicifolia Alba, Primula japonica Apple Blossom, Cortusa mattholli Alba and Geranium Sylvaticum Album

Pond Border mid June 2013
Still on the shadier side, in the back garden proper, is the area I call - the Pond Border.  In terms of ponds - it is probably best described as a 'puddle'. I did read somewhere once that even the smallest of ponds can have a beneficial effect on the garden, then again, I also read that whatever size pond you choose, go the next size up as they always look much bigger than they actually are.  How I wish I hadn't ignored that bit!!  I really would like a larger pond.
Let's take closer look at what's flowering this June - the Astrantia and Tellima have taken on huge proportions this year and are currently out doing the slow growing shrubs planted to their rear.  One day those fences will green up!

Tellima grandiflora, Heuchera, Astrantia, Polemonium, Polygonatum, Ajuga and Hardy Geraniums flowering in the border
In containers: Chiastophyllum oppossitifolium, Saxifraga cunefolia Variegata and Picea glauca J W Daisy's White 

Rhododendron Goldflimmer - not as floriforous as previous years is the last of the Rhododendrons to flower
Rhododendron Goldflimmer
Up onto the deck - a dwarf Azalea I've had for well over 15 years and long since lost it's label.  Clematis Nelly Moser usually compliments it but is very slow this year.

It's at this point in my blog I should have had pictures of some Oriental Poppies to show you - the wind today was making it impossible to get a decent shot.

A full 180 degree turn onto the sunnier side of the garden - my mid/late summer border is still very green

Summer border mid June 2013
Like the Astrantia on the shadier side - the Aconitums and Cardoon (top right of picture) are massive!  No need to guess which plants really benefitted from last year's rain.  Incidentally, most of us associate Aconitums with being shade lovers, if you have reasonably moist soil (not waterlogged) they will be just as happy in full sun as they are in shade.  

Clematis 'The Vagabond' has just started to add impact in the border, it will flower for most of the summer - Clematis 'Peppermint' will appear later in the year.  A disappointing Allium display - around 20 bulbs were rescued from flooding last year but only 2 survived and produced blooms.  A pretty little dwarf Geum 'Dingle Apricot' will be moved in autumn over to the pond.  I've tried some over there and it copes with a wee bit shade.  This will look nice planted beneath the Cotinus, I think.  Again, hardy geraniums on the sunny side are just starting to flower too, more on them in a later blog I suspect.

Flowering at the top end of the garden (where it flooded last year) a few plants that can and did cope with the weeks of excess water - the first of those flowering are some Trollius - these were planted new in the garden spring 2012 and the first time they have flowered.  Astilbes and Persicaria will follow later.

Trollius acaulis
This pretty little dwarf Trollius is native of China, despite being very small its sunny yellow flowers are very welcome. It's also popular with the pollinators.    

Trollius x cultorum Cheddar
Trollius Cheddar is a very soft creamy yellow and extremely difficult to capture a shot of, no matter what time of day!!  I'm hoping that one day this will make a lovely sized clump.  It's one of those plants that I was never quite so sure off but now I've seen it flower, I rather like it.  It's scented too an added bonus!

My new Primula bed is beginning to come to life - alongside a couple of slow growing Acers I've planted numerous Primula that will flower at varying times of the year.  I'm really pleased with this - considering I only finished planting it up a few weeks ago.

Primula beesiana, P. japonica Millers Crimson and P. bulleesiana
Also planted in this border is Geranium endressii Wargrave Pink it is a perfect little companion for purple leaved Heucheras - seen here with Heuchera Obsidian

That's it for a stroll around my garden and I'd like to end with a caption competition.  Please meet Titch - the smallest of my 3 cats, introducing himself to a new Nepeta (Blue Danube)  I've planted in the gravel bed.  I've no prize to offer but it will be fun to read his mind!

Guess what I'm thinking!

I should add that no cat was harmed during this shot - only his pride because he couldn't get at it!

Thank you for visiting - I'm off now to see what's been blooming in your garden!   

Friday, 7 June 2013

Sparrow Fledglings

By far the most prolific bird visitor to my garden at any time of the year is the Sparrow and this year in particular they are visiting in their droves.  I have in the past offered very little feed during the summer months but as we got off to a particularly bad start to the spring - I have not withdrawn any food except for suet and fat ball types (they would 'turn' very quickly in the heat we have been experiencing).

A distinct lack of Robins, Tits, finches and a sweet pair of Linnets, that had become regular, means there is more to go around for the sparrows.  Blue tits are nesting under the eaves of the house, they are there but only occasionally visit the feeders.  A lone male blackbird visits but never hangs around for long.  Of course, the Corvids, Magpies and Jackdaws bully their way into everything.  I distract them by putting bread and other kitchen scraps out for them before filling the feeders.  This seems to provide the smaller birds a bit of peace and quite to enjoy their food.

As I was sitting soaking up the early evening sun - a few young sparrows were finding their way around the garden, a few still being fed by their father and some venturing onto the feeders.  I could see that their confidence was growing and pretty soon were hopping around independently.

"Are you sure I'll be safe?" 

"I'm not ready yet"

"What's for dessert?"

"I'm right behind you!"

Over by the pond........  

"Do you promise I won't fall in"

"I'll keep watch!"

"Where did everyone go?"

"I can't!  I forgot my waterwings"

I'm joining in with Donna over at Gardens Eye View for the Seasonal Celebration Meme - please join us if you have something to share.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

May - My month in review

Where has the time gone?  I seem to be saying that quite a lot recently.  First of all, an apology goes out to all those who may have been eagerly awaiting a follow up to GBBD.  I just never managed to find time to squeeze in an extra blog!

Please join me and other garden bloggers who are reviewing their garden this month end.  A meme very kindly hosted by Helen over at The Patient Gardener.  Whether you have a blog to share or are just plain curious or should that read nosy?  Head over and see what other garden bloggers have been up to.  Everyone is welcome.

Over the last few weeks I've been getting ruthless in the garden and I'm taking no prisoners.  If something hasn't been happy - it's gone!  If something needs too much attention - it's out of here!  I'm fed up with plants that need molly coddling!  Much of my planting is now coming into it's 3rd year - it's easy to take stock, see what's thriving and what's not!  Those that are just hanging on in their have been given a good talking too - if by summer they haven't shaped up - they will be shipped out!  They can't say they have not been warned.

As well as being ruthless in the borders -I've lots of 'things' growing in pots and containers that should and will be perfectly happy in the garden.  The majority of which have now found home in the ground.   Work has started on a new Japanese Maple and Primula bed.  Rocks have been sourced, handy that I have a neighbour who manages a local quarry!  The Acers have had a couple of weeks to settle in their new space - there was no issues with planting them out in the garden at this time of the year.  An Enkianthus was transplanted over to the sunnier side of the garden - it has failed to flower this past 2 years and I suspect that it was not getting enough sun.  It is not advisable to uproot shrubs at this time of the year but great care was taken to ensure I had a large root ball and a strict watering regime will follow for the rest of the summer.  I finished planting the Primula and a few other perennials yesterday.  All they need do now is grow!

The long sunny border - which really isn't very long and the term 'sunny' comes complete with poetic license if last year is anything to judge by!  It is what one might call a summer border, plenty of summer flowering perennials which not only look good but also attractive to bees and other pollinators.  Rightly or wrongly, I don't choose many native plants but do aim for a selection which are considered 'beneficial'.  I do try to make sure that the pollinators are catered for!  It is presently a sea of green with a few dots of colour here and there.  Late spring/Early summer colour in this border comes by way of creeping phlox.

Phlox subulata
Amazing Grace
Phlox subulata
Emerald Cushion
Phlox subulata

Garden stalwart - Aquilegia are just beginning to flower, the deeper colours of Purple Emperor and Black Barlow alongside a self seeded pink variety.
Aquilegia at end of May

Semiaquilegia Sugar Plum Fairy

Semiaquilegia Sugar Plum Fairy a smashing little 'mingler' - billed as short lived, I was quite surprised to see these come through winter successfully.  Cirsium, Allium and hardy geraniums will take over soon enough!

Still on the sunny side of the garden, one of my garden 'late starters' - not just this year but every year.  I will never complain about that fact.  To it's benefit - the fact that it buds late means it misses any late frost.  Cornus alternifolia Argentea (Pagoda Dogwood) is a favourite shrub in the garden.  My specimen is just a baby and it will be many years before it really makes a statement.    

Cornus alternifolia Argentea
Elsewhere in the sunnier borders Peony buds are fattening, Aconitums are reaching skyward, Astrantia are on the verge of flowering and many more waiting on the side lines.  Woodland cranesbill, Geranium sylvaticum Album tucked behind the peonies has just made it for a May time flowering.

Geranium sylvaticum Album

Over to the shadier side of the garden -

In the little yellow and white border outside my back door - the cowslips, drumstick primula and Primula vulgaris have now gone over but just before the golden Physocarpus opulifolius (Ninebarks) takes over for summer,  Doronicum orientale Little Leo is providing food for the tiniest of pollinators and oddly enough untouched by slugs thus far!

The wildlife pond is situated on the shadier side of the garden.  Flowering now in the pond is this wildflower, Cardamine Pratensis, commonly known as Cuckoo Flower - tiny little pollinators do enjoy this one!  Being that it is a small pond, probably considered more of a puddle than a pond - most plants would be very invasive.  Acorus also grows there, a tight reign will be needed.    

Growing in the pond
Cardamine Pratensis
Hostas, ferns and Astilbe are gearing up as I write - Polygonatum multiflorum, a british native grows at the rear of the pond.  Despite being stocked with tadpoles last year - the frogs that emerged have thus far failed to make an appearance.  We do have frogs in the area - they are often seen at night and I get quite sad that they haven't shown an interest in my pond.  One day they will come or so I keep telling myself!

Polygonatum multiflorum

Ajuga Burgundy Glow
A couple of Rhododendrons flower  - a good few weeks later than they would normally.  Other residents on the shadier side - namely Pieris, Leucothoe and Camelllia are all putting on new growth, yet have failed to flower.  Interesting that no flowers have been produced - they are all healthy and happy enough.  I'd be interested if any of you experienced gardeners had any thoughts on this?

Rhododendron Red Jack
grows as a standard
Unnamed Rhododendron
A nice delicate colour

Acer palmatum Orange Dream

Hydrangeas are still generally leafless twigs and are adding no value to the garden at the moment. I've removed one of the to make room for a little Japanese Acer, a supermarket purchase a couple of years ago.  I feel it is now time for it to embrace the big wide world and make it on it's own.   
Acer palmatum 'Orange Dream' might one day become a lovely sized tree - currently only just over 1 foot tall - my hopes and expectations exceed it present stature!   

Let's take a walk down the side path.  My side garden is long and really quite narrow - it does not allow for layers of planting, especially where the shrubs grow.  The fact that the shrubs are quite young - I can, for now, enjoy a few perennials dotted in the gaps between them.  Also in the side border, 2 Camellias failed to flower.  I am attempting to train one to a fan shape on the fence.  I have not been rewarded with blooms.  There's always next year, isn't there?
It's not all doom and gloom down the side path though.

At the top end, nearest the back door - Acer palmatum Crimson Queen.  My favourite and oldest Japanese Acer.  I've been the keeper of this beautiful little tree for 17 years.  Flanked by a couple of young Pieris, Flaming Silver to the left and Forrest Flame to the right.
A closer look
Aquilegia spring magic and Dicentra spectabalis bloom in the background, the foliage of Hostas and Japanese Holly Ferns will take over when those are finished.
Epimedium and Heuchera foliage fill the gaps around Dicentra eximia King of Hearts - Hosta Halcyon and Hart's Tongue fern are shoehorned in!
Just out of shot Shuttlecock fern, Polypodium and Dryopteris are unfurling - Cortusa mattholia, a new addition this spring are about to flower and should make their debut in June's Bloom Day.

Magnolia Stellata - as shown in my last Wordless Wednesday Blog looked as if it was only going to produce a solitary flower.  I'm surprised and delighted that it delivered a couple more this week.  Try as I might though - I'm just not getting that fragrance!!
Moving swiftly along a pastel pink Rhododendron is beginning to bloom it's heart off.  I think the Rhododendrons really benefited from the wet summer last year - they are or have been putting on a great display this year. A couple of self sown Aquilegia are flowering.

I am on a week's annual leave from work, dare I say it that I intend to take it easy this week.  I've a few little chores to do in and around the garden - nothing major, she says!!  I hope the nice weather continues, it's been so long, I've almost forgotten what it's like to eat al fresco!

I'd like to end my month review with a question.....

I am hoping that amongst you - we have a lily grower or two!  Can anyone offer an id of what kind of lillies both these plants are.  The top one - I suspect is an asiatic lily (white flower) and the bottom one came as a gift without a label.  The foliage on both are quite different and am unsure what conditions they would prefer.  
Flowering Augus 2012
White Lily Foliage

Unknown Lily 
Over too you lily growers!

That's about it for now but before I go - I thought I'd share a picture with you.  This is Chip - one of my 3 cats.  He loves spending sunny afternoons in the shade of the Acer tree.  Of all my cats, he is the scardy cat - afraid of everything, even his shadow!   

Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoyed!  I'm off now to see what you've all been up to!