Sunday, 18 August 2013

Weekend Colour

I took the opportunity to get an aerial view of the garden whilst I was cleaning the back windows earlier today - as I stood back, not literally or else I would have fallen from the steps, I realised how happy I am with my back garden this year.  It's hard to believe that 2 and a half years ago it was a blank canvas.

Since ridding my garden with most of the time wasters earlier this year, I find that I can truly appreciate how good a plant looks when it's thriving.  I am so glad that I got brutal!  I no longer feel the need to move things around to see if it will cope in another spot.  I don't consider myself experienced enough to offer much advice but if there was one piece of advice I would give any new gardener it would be - Plant for the situation.  Choose plants suitable for your environment.  A struggling plant isn't a pleasure!  Take it from me, I've learnt the hard way.  If there is one piece of advice you could give a new gardener, what would it be?

Let's take a closer look at what's doing well in my garden this weekend.  The first 3 are flowering for a second time this year, having benefited from a general tidy up after their first blooms they have rewarded my with another flush of flowers.     

Geranium endressii Wargrave's Pink

Geum Dingle Apricot
Nepeta Six Hills Giant

The long border, which I am now calling 'The Bee Garden'' is positively swarming with bees, hoverflies and butterflies.  I don't really have a scheme or theme going on in this border except for the fact that most of the plants have been chosen to attract beneficial insects.   There are lots of plants crammed in here, I consider my garden a bit too small to plant in drifts and I do like the 'shoehorned' effect!  I seem to be developing an aversion to seeing bare soil.

 We've got Veronicastrum, Monarda, Daylilies and lots more - join me for a closer look

Veronicastrum viginicum Roseum, Monarda Croftway Pink, Cirsium surrounding
Phsocarpus Lady in Red (Coppertina for those in the states)  
Monarda Prairie Night and white tailed bumblebee

Potentilla nepalensis Ron Mcbeath - bumblebee and hoverfly

Clematis Peppermint - not so prolific as it has been in previous years

Verbena Bonariensis
Verbena bonariensis, loved by bees and butterflies - grows as an annual here in my garden.  I
have read in numerous places that this self seeds readily, alas - not here!

Geraniu x antipodeum Chocolate Candy
A couple of hardy cranesbill have been flowering all summer, both very similar in colour but quite different in growth habit.  It's difficult to capture how lovely they look.  Both require full sun for best foliage colour.
Geranium x antipodeum Pink Spice
Hemerocallis Crimson Pirate

Hemerocallis Pink Damask
Scabiosa Beaujolais Bonnets
a must for any wildlife garden
Allium schaerocephalon another must for any
wildlife garden

Phlox paniculata Violet Flame
a shorter growing Phlox that flowers earlier than others here in my garden

Erigeron - flowering all summer

Cynara cardunculus
The first flower is opening on my giant Cardoon - I love it!!  Easily reaching beyond 7ft this year and has at least 20 buds to open.  Probably considered far to big for a garden small as mine - there is no way I would do without this in my garden.  It usually flowers a wee bit later here in Scotland and can succumb to the winds in September - not this year, conditions are perfect and I've not had to rush out to offer up last minute support (yet!)

Buddleja davidii Empire Blue
Buddleja, hoverfly(?) and peacock butterfly

This buddleja has now outgrown it's spot in my garden, I knew it would and have only ever considered it to be a temporary resident until the surrounding shrubs mature enough to fill the gap. I really need to reconsider and find it another home elsewhere!

Escallonia Iveyi (AGM)
Cornus alternifolia Argentea (AGM) and Dianthus Valda Wyatt

Dianthus Valda Wyatt grows comfortably at the base of my favourite shrub.  A Silver pagoda dogwood.  Still very small but will someday make a beautiful statement in my garden.

Nepeta Blue Danube

As we move up to the top end of the garden, it's hard to believe that this border was almost devoid of any plants this time last year.  Lots were lost due to flooding.  Planting out with moisture loving plants last August/September - I expected a lot of them to toil with the lack of rain this year but thankfully, they seem to be coping.   The white Astilbe Deutschland, doesn't really fit in and will find a new home elsewhere in autumn.

A new honeysuckle (Lonicera Fragrant Cloud) has been added this year.  I used some large stone to raise the soil level in this corner, I'm hoping that should sort out any flooding, should it reoccur.      

Across the way, continuing the hot colour scheme but minus the orange and yellow crocosmia I tore out last year, a mature clump of Persicaria and Helenium need a yellow companion but I know not what yet!!   

Hot bed and sun lovers growing in containers on the deck steps
Clematis Voluceau

I've chose a purple Clematis to scramble up the rose that grows against the shed.   It's still small but I like how it looks against the orange.

Persicaria and Helenium

Persicaria amplexicaulis J S Caliente

Helenium Moerheim Beauty 

Sedum telephium Purple Emperor (AGM) and bumblebee
Whilst I advocate choosing plants suitable for conditions in the ground.  It is worthwhile knowing that some plants can and will be just as happy in containers if you want to give them a go.  Sedum are one group of plants that doesn't cope well in the borders in my garden and suffer what I believe is root rot.  I've had reasonable success keeping them in containers.  I don't mind making the extra effort for the insects.  This year I've chose to give some Lavender and Eryngium a go - I've used a good quality John Innes based compost with some grit added to aid drainage.  Whilst I foresee no issues this year, how well they come through winter will tell me if they are keepers or not!    

Lavendula angustifolia Hidcote  (AGM)
Eryngium bourgatii Graham Stuart Thomas
In another container is Agapanthus - I bought a bare root plant 3 years ago, just to give it a try.  Each year it has increased in bulk and always puts out plenty of foliage, until this year that is!  It was supposed to be a deep blue - not that it matters, it has flowered.  I love it when my effort is rewarded. 

Agapanthus (African Lily)

5 Agapanthus flowers
I received a couple of pots of Leucanthemum Victorian Secret as a gift a few weeks ago.  Unlike the tall ones, which more often than not collapse in a heap, these are quite short and seem sturdy enough.  They are in pots, flanking either side of the path.   As you can see already attracting visitors!

Leucanthemum Victorian Secret and Small Tortioseshell Butterfly
In my Sempervivum and Sedum trough - Sedum Chocolate Ball and a sempervivum are about to flower.

Down by the pond foliage provides most of the colour at the moment.  The Hostas have struggled at bit this year 


Cotinus Dusky Maiden, Stachys Wisley White and Alchemilla erythropoda flowering 

Hosta Devon Green and Bog Pimpernel in the pond

Astilbe Red Sentinel
Veronica spicata Heidekind
Thalictrum actaefolium Perfume Star
 I hope you've enjoyed your wee stroll around my garden - tell me, are you as happy with your garden this summer as I am?  Enjoy the week ahead!

Thursday, 8 August 2013


It's been a good while since my last blog.  I'd love to say that I was off visiting some exotic climes but not so!  Due to a family illness, I've had my young nieces to stay for the last 4 week and things have been rather chaotic at times.   Although I do have the girls everyday after school - you soon get out of practice, don't you?  Still, we got through it and they are off home tomorrow - their mum is no longer getting the horrible side affects from the medication and as school term begins next week, they need to get back into a routine.  Me, I'm going back to work for a break!     
I will have missed all your summer garden tales, what's looking good and any woes that may have come your way.  With the best will in the world I would love to say I promise to catch up but looking at things from a practical point - I don't want to make promises I can't keep. 

I did manage the odd hour here and there in the garden - I do wonder if the fact that I've spent so little time 'working' in the garden it has allowed me to really enjoy the plants without worrying about what needs doing.  I have been taking lots of pictures with the good intention of blogging at some point but have fallen so far behind in sorting out the good from the bad that I don't know if I'm coming or going!

Talking of comings and goings, there has been an amazing increase in butterfly activity in the garden this year.  Masses of Cabbage White Butterflies (Pieris brassicae and Pieris rapae).  Their courting and flirting antics ever so obvious.  Spiralling onwards and upwards.  They only pass through my garden - Jim, my neighbour, has a massive patch of brassicas growing on his veg plot, this I suspect is the primary destination!

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) are another popular butterfly visitor - this is one the UK's most familiar butterflies.  Although a decline in numbers is being recorded in the South.  A very familiar sight in gardens late summer as they build up their fats in preparation for hibernation.

Although a common species in the UK - Red Admiral Butterflies (Vanessa atalanta) is not such a regular visitor to my garden.  Primarily a migrant but are now considered resident to the UK.  Their distinctive velvet black wings with striking red bands make them easily identifiable from afar.

Peacocks (Inachis io) are not so easy to spot until they land.  Often you get a glimpse of their dark underside as it flits past and catches you unaware.  Easy to see how it gets it's common name as those wings spread open.  Found throughout the UK except in the North of Scotland.

Being ever vigilant, I'm always on the look out for new species visiting my garden.

The Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) Although common throughout the UK, I've never seen one visit my garden.  It was kind enough to hang around for a quick photo shoot.  They usually prefer a grassy habitat or field margins, even overgrown gardens.  I'm sure I could not describe my garden as over grown despite being a wee bit neglected over the last few weeks.  There are grassy areas near my house, so perhaps it just lost it's way!  I do hope it liked what it found and encourages it's friends to visit.

Please remember to keep your plants in tip top condition this summer - caring for your plants will help maintain a good source of nectar throughout the remainder of summer and into autumn.  Water deeply (if needed) and dead head regularly to encourage more blooms.      

If you live in the UK have you taken part in The Big Butterfly Count?   It runs from the 20th of July through to the 11th of August.  The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world's biggest survey of butterflies. Almost 27,000 people took part in 2012, counting 223,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.  There are 3 days left if you want to submit results.

If you would like more information about butterflies species found in the UK, I can recommend
UK Butterflies.  It's jammed packed full of useful information, in fact everything you could possibly want to know about butterflies!  For gardeners looking to encourage more butterflies into their garden the Butterfly Conservation is a good place to begin.

Can I thank you all for reading and say that it's good to be back!