Friday, 13 September 2013

September Bloom Day 2013

Wind and gale force winds are battering the garden today.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to get out and snap some shots of what's blooming yesterday and Friday.  That's what we garden bloggers do on the 15th of every month, right?  We flaunt our blooms for the world to see.  Carol over at May Dream Gardens very kindly hosts Garden Blogger Bloom Day meme.  Pop over to link in your post.
My little front garden, which is in much need of inspiration, planning and plants.  The front garden differs enormously from the side and back gardens.  It has very well drained soil, full of stones and gravel.  This tends to be the place where I stick struggling plants or impulse buys.

As a testament to just how well drained the soil is - these Gladioli have survived here for the last 4 years.  An impulse buy at the time, I wasn't fussy if they survived not!  Gladioli surviving in the open ground in Scotland over winter is certainly not the norm!  They have even been joined by a self set Lavender seedling. For the moment I have to live with this combo.  The gladioli grows up through the middle!

Variegated Weigela 'Kosteriana' has thrown out a couple of late blooms. 

Weigela Kosteriana Variegata
Scabiosa atropurpurea Beaujolais Bonnets looks equally good with Polemonium caeruleum and Sedum telephium Gooseberry Fool.  The white bellflowers of Campanula persicifolia, are much more compact and don't need support second time around. 

My shady side garden is a mass of foliage in different forms and colours for most of the year - Hosta Halcyon is just holding onto the last blooms.

Colchicum autumnale

You all know what this is don't you?  Well, I didn't!!  I was handed a large pot of green strappy leaves a few years back.  'Purple flowers' my brother told me.  A gift from his neighbour who didn't know what they were called either.  Each year, the leaves grew and produced no flowers.  Earlier in the summer, I decided that they were never going to amount to much so they had to go.  I must have missed one of the corms.  Not one of my finest garden moments!  Unaware of their beauty they were relegated to the huge compost bin in the sky!  I wonder do any of you know will they naturalise from a single corm or would it be wise to purchase more?

The border which holds my teeny tiny wildlife pond has had a good old tidy up and there are a few blooms to share this September.  Lupins, Astrantia and Ajuga all flowered earlier in the year, it's nice to see their flowers again.      
The yellow waxy blooms of Kirengeshoma palmatum
Ajuga Burgundy Glow with a late flush of blooms.

Astrantia major Ruby Wedding
flowers again.

Lupin and a rescue pot of Rudbeckia
Whilst the new shrubs I planted further up on the shadier side have settled in, the old Hydrangea hasn't flowered (It's days are numbers!) Primula vialii, Persicaria Red Dragon and a Hardy Geranium are still flowering.

Persicaria microcephala Red Dragon with
Geranium himalayense Gravetye scrambling through the stems

A single Primula vialii bloom lost amongst a mass of foliage

A few weeks ago I managed to source a new David Austin rose I had been after for a while, I had hoped Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton might make her blog debut this September, despite being full of buds, they remain tightly closed.  Although the rain today might put paid to those!  I've chosen a few darker leaved Heucheras and Sedums to compliment her bronze coloured foliage.  

Heuchera Binoche
extends the season by flowering again 

Sedum unknown variety

Very poor picture of a new purchase
Sedum Red Globe
Clematis Ville de Lyon
There is little going on in the border at the top end of the garden.  The yearly debate of whether Heptacodium miconoides will flower or not rages on!  It's a young plant and the last 2 years, the flowers have been taken with an early frost.  I've high hopes this perfect year!  Meanwhile Clematis Ville de Lyon is just about to succumb to powdery mildew and Clematis Josephine, is this year's miracle plant.  She disappeaedr from this spot 2 years ago.  Yet, back with a vengeance this year.  She should have flowered in June and produced smaller single flowers this late in the year.  She opened her first flower yesterday.

Clematis Josephine
The sunnier side of the garden is still reasonably healthy looking the hot autumnal colours are holding on in there!
Helenium, Persicaria and others in the hot bed
Lemon scented Pelargonium
Note the Lemon scented Pelargonium in the pot - I successfully brought this through winter last year with high hopes for this year.  It's been rather disappointing and is only just flowering now.  Anyone else growing these?  I'd appreciate any tips - I did wonder if the late start to the year might have been the problem.

Rosa Warm Welcome 

Around the arbour The Wedgewood Rose flowers again - I share with you a shot taken a few days ago, they've probably been decimated by wind and rain today.
Rosa The Wedgewood Rose
A couple of new patio roses around the arbour seat, reduced by 50% in price at a local supermarket have settled in.  I was taken by surprise that they flowered this year, they had been pruned to within an inch of their life!
Rosa Happy Times
The long sunny bed, aka The Bee Garden - still has tons of offer for our garden visitors. 
Monarda and various Phlox paniculata

Cardoons, Sedums, Potentilla, Anemone, Verbena, Achillea, Salvia and Astrantia 
As the perfect summer draws to a close, I'd like to share with you the perfect ending, if I may!

Until summer 2012, red tailed bumblebees (Bombus lapidarius) regularly visited my garden in their numbers.  I considered myself lucky that they had chosen to nest underground amongst the shrubs in a particular part of the garden.  Sadly, this area was flooded last year.  I witnessed the Queen making her bid for freedom.  She was drenched and I would imagine pretty well exhausted.  Not wanting to interfere with nature, I watched as she recovered and dried out.  It took a good few hours for her to fly away. 

As the months passed this year, I had made not one single sighting of these creatures.  Not only did I scour my own garden - I asked neighbours if they minded joining in on our own personal Bee Watch.  Until a couple of weeks ago, none of us had a positive sighting.  Sitting on the back step, something black flew straight by my nose!  I closed my eyes, not daring to wish for fear of disappointment.  This disappointment was not to be!  A lone bee flitted about flower to flower.  I daren't move for fear of frightening it off.  Having spent an good while feeding off it flew. 


They may not have returned in their droves but there has been one or two visiting every day.  I'm so pleased they have come back to visit my garden! 

Have a happy Bloom Day!  I'm off now to see what everyone else has blooming!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Seeds - lesson(s) learned!

An online gardening friend asked me if I would mind collecting some seeds from my garden for him.  Easy peasy I here you murmuring.  Not for me!  I'm a bit heavy handed therefore a bit awkward with fiddly things.  Anyway, it's only easy if you know how, isn't it?

This kindly gentleman, who incidentally is not a blogger, has been ever so generous with not only his time, advice and expertise, he has on occasion shared some of his beautiful plants with me.  I really wanted to make the effort for him.  Until now, I've always been a bit obsessive when it comes to dead heading and cutting plants back before they got a change to set seed.  I didn't want a garden full of unwanted seedlings - my experiences with upturned bird feeders put me right off the idea of allowing plants to set seed freely around my garden. 

First lesson learned - identifying which plants I wouldn't mind having more of and just letting them do their own thing.  Worse thing that can happen - I spend more time weeding!         

Meconopsis, Primula and Tropaeolum flowers
In the hope that the flowers had been pollinated by visiting insects, the waiting game began!  Weeks passed.  Being the type of person who hates letting people down, I didn't want to blink and miss my chance at gathering the seeds.  I watched patiently as the seed pods formed, swelled and ripened.  I think I caught them at the right moment.  Both the Primula and the Meconopsis had a rattle like sound when I tapped.  A few days later, the pods began to open!

Primula seed head forming

Lets start with the Primula......
I scoured the internet for tips and advice on how to collect seeds.  My friend did give me clear concise instructions but thought it best to do some further research.    Since I had so many Primula, I thought that I'd best start with those.  Each individual stem was snipped off and placed upside down in a large envelope.  Boy, was I surprised by just how many seeds come from one single stem.  Each of those whorls held hundred of tiny black seeds.  I split the harvest 50/50.  Packaged up half to be posted, the remainder was split between sowing some into pots, some scattered around the garden where I would like them to grow and the balance popped into an envelope and stored for a spring sowing. 

Meconopsis betonicifolia next.....
I had 4 Meconopsis seed pods to play with - each one ready!  If I was impressed by just how many seeds I got from the Primula - I was almost taken aback by the amount of seeds which came from these!  One seed pod was safely packaged to go south.  Along with advice from Brian - The Meconopsis Group had detailed information on what to do with the seed.  Apparently they should be sown December - February.  I need to store them in a sealed container in the fridge until needed. 

Since I had so many I decided to have a wee go at sowing some of the seeds immediately.  There was differing advice on how to sow.  All agreed that type of compost wasn't vital.  Some said seeds should be covered and others disagreed.  I decided I'd give both ways a try.  If I'm being entirely honest here, I really didn't hold out much hope for success.  This was after all my first ever attempt at sowing seeds. 

Meconopsis seedlings
As you can see - the seeds have successfully germinated now - this took just over 2 weeks from sowing.  I covered some with sifted compost, others with alpine grit and to the far right, no covering at all.  I left them outside to their own devices, uncovered in a shady spot.  They seem to have germinated at an equal rate.  There is of course, always the chance that these are weed seeds - time will tell!  I will be watching for those little hairy leaves to appear.

Having ignored the expert advice, on sowing time - I'm very doubtful that these will grow large enough to pot on to bring through winter.  It's fairly obviously my definition of sowing finely differs somewhat to the expert's sowing finely.  I now have far too many fragile seedling in each section than would recommended.  Still, I'm pleased to have got them thus far and I'll just have to see how things pan out!  Lesson learned - heed advice, otherwise I would not be worrying if the seedlings will survive winter, would I?  

As for the Tropaeolum seeds!  I'm still waiting on the pretty blue metallic seeds to dry.  I missed an earlier opportunity, some of the seeds have already dropped from the plant.    

Tropaeolum speciosum seeds
Tropaeolum speciosum is by all accounts a tricky plant.  Most of the seeds, when gathered will be sent south but I will hold onto a few and given them a go myself.   This is one plant I have allowed to set seed in the past and thus far, I've unsuccessfully moved and transplanted those seedlings.  I might have better luck with seeds.      

Packets of seeds stored for spring

I don't mind telling you all that I really am very pleased with myself, I sort of feel like a real gardener, if you know what I mean.  I know one thing for sure, this won't be my last attempt at collecting and sowing seeds.  I've singled out a few plants that I'm raring to give a go!  Next time though, I will follow advice and not waste viable seed.
I've written this blog as part of a series hosted by Beth @ Plant Postings on Garden Lessons Learned.