Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April 2014

I find myself in the position of being prepared for my Bloom Day post this month.  Which really does make a change!  Rather than rush around the garden at the last minute, as I would normally would, it's been great to gather pictures at a more leisurely pace.   Each day there is something new in bloom and I'm pleased that there are so many plants blooming.  I do hope others are in a similar situation, especially our friends over the pond who have had a rather tough time of it this winter.  Please join me and other garden bloggers over at May Dream Gardens and find out how their gardens are fairing this April.  Carol kindly hosts the Bloom Day post on the 15th of every month.  If you don't join already, please do - it's a useful tool for referencing your garden at specific times in the month.

Looking back on last year, it was about now that the early bulbs were just putting on a show.  This year, it's a different story - the early bulbs and hellebores have now gone over and spring has really taken hold in my wee garden.

Narcissus cyclamineus Jetfire has been the only daffodil to hold up to the winds we've been experiencing.  The others were flat on their face within days of opening!

N. Rip van Winkle supported by the branches of a Physocarpus otherwise they'd have been down in the muck getting dirty faces. 

New to the garden this spring - I've planted Narcissus Minnow in various spots around the garden.  I'm pleased I did!  The flowers are minute - I love them!

Large yellow daffodils just don't float my boat but white ones on the other hand, I find them irresistible!  The first of many are also weeks ahead compared to last year.  I'm glad they've missed the high winds of the last week or so.  N. Thalia's beautiful scent makes them all the more irresistible.

Species tulips may not have the grandeur (depending on your taste that is) of their hybridized cousins, but for me, their hardiness and ability to perennialize makes them a must for my garden.  I will be adding more species tulips in the Autumn. 

I first planted T. humilis Persian Pearl in autumn 2011 - they have not let me down.  I love when they are tight in bud.

A newer addition to the garden - I wasn't sure I'd be too keen on the colour of these were but I am glad I picked them up now.  I found these in a local DIY stores - they may be small, no taller than 15cm (that's 6 inches in old money)  but I like the punch they pack under the Pyracantha.

Clumps of Fritillaria meleagris are dotted around the garden.  Single stems too - they appear to have moved around the garden as I take a few bulbs with me if I move a plant growing nearby.  I don't mind this, the more the merrier in fact!

Another plant that suffered from my moving things around is Leucojum aestivum - this will be the first time I've had a flower since planting in 2011.  I've think, she says optimistically, that I identified others growing as single bulbs elsewhere in the garden last year.  I lifted them just as they were going over and potted them up.  I have plenty of foliage but no flowers this year - they will be planted together with this one when it stops flowering.  I'm loathe to disturb it right at this moment in time.  So with any luck, I'll have a wee clump of Snowflakes next year.

Moving on from Snowflakes to Snowbells - a spring favourite of mine.  Soldanella.  I grow 3 different varieties and these are the first to flower.  In fact they've been in flower for a little under a month.  In the wild these beauties open their flower just as the snow is melting - can you imagine just how beautiful they are surrounded by crisp white snow?

Corydalis malkensis flowered beautifully back in March and is now making a decent sized patch beneath my pagoda dogwood.  It's thrown up a few more blooms just as the others are going to seed.  It was a nice surprise.

Pulmonarias are going stong now - another plant that is dotted around the garden.  I only grow one named variety - Blue ensign.  Now in it's second year here, I'm pleased to see it's kept it's colour thus far.  I've read that they often don't and revert to the run of the mill pink/blue type.

Another versatile plant that grows in any aspect in my garden, even full sun - Siberian bugloss.  Later in the year those leaves will just bet bigger and bigger.  A useful substitute for Hosta I find - the slugs, although they will seek shelter under the plant - they leave the foliage well alone.

After years of trying to bring Anemone blanda back for a 2nd year, I've succeeded - woo hoo!!!  I'm not quite sure what I've been doing wrong in years gone by - I don't think it's a frost thing.  My understanding is that they are fully hardy.  It could of course be a winter wet issue, time will tell and we shall see what happens next year.

Still having to crawl around on my hands and knees to capture this little beauty - Anemonella thalictroides.  Rue anemone is more common in white or a pale pink colour.  This is a dark pink form but I've noticed it's only dark pink just as the flowers open and they eventually fade to pale pink.  Not that I mind, it's a pretty little thing and now in it's 2nd year in my garden.  I hope it eventally becomes happy and spreads itself around.

A little alpine next - this time growing in my miniature garden, Saxifraga x boydilacina Pink Star is just about to go over.  The whole plant is around 3 inches in diameter.  So many flowers for such a small plant. 

More in containers - Muscaria latifolium and some blue pansies flowering outside the back door.

Blue Pansies and purple Violas.  There is a little blue tit visiting the garden that has taken an utter dislike to the pansies - he continually pecks at them all day long.  What's his game?  Who knows - he hasn't bothered about any of the others.

The early flowering Primulas are looking great,  I do have a bit of  thing for Primula as regular readers will know.  I do quite well in having at least 1 Primula in flower no matter what time of the year it is.  This month we have:

P. denticulate, veris and vulgaris
beneath Physocarpus opulifolius Golden Nugget

I've had enough of crawling around on all fours, so please excuse me whilst I hoist myself up.  It's time to see what's flowering a bit nearer eye level!.....Ah, that's better - knees a bit stiff though!

A new Clematis in the garden this spring.  Growing on part of the new trellis - it's settled in nicely.  Later in the year the seed heads will add just as much interest as the flowers.

Euphorbia characias Silver Swan - I had been considering ripping this out.  Whilst it look great all last year, the winter took it's toll on the foliage and it looked awful.  Now that the surrounding plants are coming up, it's looking a bit better.   The heads will be cut off when they've gone over to make way for the new growth at the base.  It's been told that it needs to improve it's look or it's a gonner!

The scent that is given off by Skimmia japonica Snow White is gorgeous but only if you get up close and personal.   This Skimmia is quite a low grower - reaching a height of no more that 60cm.  Ideal for a spot near the front of the border - providing you can offer it the conditions that it likes.     


Regular readers already had a sneak preview of the Camellia flowering this week.  2 Camellias down - 3 to go!  I look forward to a time when my Camellias mature and have an abundance of blooms rather than the odd one or two!

Last and certainly not least - Lamium orvala.  There aren't many well behaved Lamiums out there and thus far it seems to be keeping itself under control. 

It's time for me to pop over and see what you've all got blooming - I hope the weather is kind to you wherever you are this week!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Attempting Espalier

My family and friends tend to give me gift vouchers for Christmas.  The kind of vouchers I can spend in Garden Centres are my favourites.  I don't have a big family therefore it didn't take long for word to get around that I'd far appreciate them than a gift that will sit in a cupboard gathering dust for the foreseeable!  In years past, power tools were my favourite gift but since I've got all the tools a girl could possibly use, they needed another option. 

The first year I started doing the garden (2011) - I gave everyone fair warning of what to buy me.  To some of you that may sound incredibly self centred but I am what I am!  I hate surprises and much prefer a gift that is practical.  A trait I inherited from my mother. 

Christmas 2011 was the year I treated myself to a couple of new Camellias.  One was growing as a shrub, the other was trained as a climber.  After identifying a spot for them, I decided to have a go at training the climber as an sort of Espalier/Fan against the fence in the side garden.  The border here is really quite narrow and has no scope to be widened.  Growing it against the fence would take up the least amount of precious garden space.

It flowered beautifully it's first year, as the always do and when flowering was over, I planted it in it's new home.  It settled in well and the following spring it had plenty of leaf buds.  A sure sign it was happy.  I knew not to expect flowers Spring 2012.  Plants will often take 3 years to settle into a garden.
January 2013 - plenty of leaf buds forming, alas no flowers this year!
This year however, it's a different story. With Camellias is often difficult to tell immediately if new buds are a leaf or a flower.  As the weeks went by those buds fattened rather than unfurled.  I knew I was going to have flowers this year.  Admittedly, there wasn't many of them but they were there nonetheless.  It's a start, right?  
A few more weeks went by but the buds seemed to be stuck in limbo.  It had been warm, I couldn't understand why they remained tight.   Then I thought about bud drop - I had all my fingers crossed that the plant would not suffer such loss.  The summer may have been hot and dry but I did not forget to keep this plant well watered.  I've learned enough to know that lack of water when the plant is forming it's flower buds is the main cause of bud drop.  On a large mature plant it would not be an issue - they can afford to loose a few blooms here and there.  Please, please, please Camellia God - don't make me wait this long only to watch in horror when the buds fall flat to the ground.  Temperatures dropped this last week, low cloud, drizzle and mist for the last 5 days.  I had spent little time out in the garden this week.  As I walked up the path this afternoon, something caught my attention.  Just as a watched pot never boils, it appears that a watched Camellia never blooms!  There may not be many flowers but I'm well pleased that it has produced some this year.

Flowers are described as Formal semi double - pale blush pink or white
When flowering is finished, I'll take the opportunity to tighten up the stems on the wires whilst they are still a bit flexible.  I'm very pleased with my efforts - not bad for a beginner, I keep telling myself!  Incidentally, I'm also having a go at Espalier with a rambling rose - more on the success of that later in the year.
A mistake I made at the beginning was to have the wires spaced too far apart.  I originally spaced them 1ft apart but found that was a bit too wide - I introduced wires midway as a bit of an after thought.  It seems to work a bit better, although there are a couple of wire that has no stems to grow along them.  I don't know how to address this or if the chance to rectify this has passed.  Have you any idea?  I'm not unhappy with the shape and doubt my ability in producing one of those floral masterpieces I've seen.  I don't think the formality as such would suit my style of gardening anyhow.  
Have you ever attempted Espalier?  I'd love to hear about it, it's a topic I've not come across on many blogs and most of the information out there tends to be of a technical nature and some or most of the terms are lost on me!
Once again, thank you all for reading and all that's left for me to say is I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend out in the garden.  I'm hoping for good weather this week.  The forecast tells me to expect it - time will tell!      

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Doesn't time fly? - End of Month View March 2014

Where on earth has the past 4 weeks gone?  I blinked and missed almost the whole of March.  I had really hoped to be on top of renovations by the time I got round to posting this month.

Wrong!  It's been a case of one step forward, two back some days.  I can't get one job done without doing another and I've often felt like I'm going round in circles.  Taking on this and Project Privacy simultaneously was perhaps just a wee bit too optimistic!  It feels like I've bitten of more than I can chew at times.  Still, I plod on regardless.

The hardest work thus far was moving and sorting out all the rocks I had planned to edge the border with.  I needed to bury them deep enough and flush with what will be lawn.  When I say lawn, what I really mean is grass.  I'm not too fussy for the perfect lawn - providing it is green, I'm happy.  It was a bit like a jigsaw puzzle at times and although I had a rough border marked out with sticks, the flow had to be dictated by the shape of the rocks.  I think I've achieved not too bad a shape but that won't really be obvious until the grass is growing.

Planting is almost finished, with just a few gaps left to fill.  I know I said I was NOT going to plant perennials in this area.  I had too much time to think about it - I opted to go down the perennial route after all.  Being that this area is in fact the sunniest in the garden, it would be a shame not to make full use of it.  However, being that I have never gardened in this area before and not 100% sure of what the conditions will be, I don't want to waste too much money (at the moment) on plants.   I have made use of a few plants that were already growing nearby and in need of dividing.  With any luck will cope the conditions.  I have dug in plenty of soil improver and for a couple of the plants, added plenty of grit to their planting holes.

Rain has stopped play this last two day - I took a quick run up the garden to grab a shot this lunch time,  it's all looking rather wet!  However, by the time dinner was served, the ground was clear of the water on the surface.  I hope I am right in assuming that because I've been working in this area, the ground has got a bit compacted,  Between the dip in the levels and compaction, the water is taking a while to drain.

End of March 2014

Previous end of month views
Of all the plants that have been moved into this area, it appears only one has suffered.  The Knifophia at the right hand side of the raised area is not at all happy!  The Cardoon, centre at the back was a bit of a struggle.  It's root ball was huge.  Ideally I should have taken the opportunity to divide it but it's size is what makes it such a spectacular plant.  It was the first plant to move into it's new home almost a month ago, with continual watering it has settled right it.  Other plants at the back for height are Helianthus Lemon Queen, some Verbena bonariensis and a tall dark pink Phlox. 

I will focus on the other plants in my next end of month post - by which time they should have put on enough growth that I actually have something to talk about.  I don't like the Photinia where it is - I don't know if it's the red or the plant I am disliking.  A plant on my wish list is Buddleia x weyeriana Sungold but I'm not sure if it's one late summer bloomer too many!  I might hold off a few weeks before making a final decision, you never know,  I might find something that flowers early that really grabs my attention!

Priorities this coming weeks will be to work on the area that will be turned back to lawn, once its levelled, I will top it off with some fresh top soil and seed.  This will be easier than trying to take the level down and laying turves.  

I'm thoroughly enjoying taking part in this meme.  End of Month View is hosted by Helen over at
The Patient Gardeners Weblog.  It's turning out to be quite useful, if for nothing else but getting my thoughts down and enabling me to concentrate on what I want too do.  Of course, it needn't be a work in progress, your focus could be on many things - it could just as easily be an individual plant, a view from a window, your entire garden.  How you interpret is a personal choice - so if you want to join in just write your post and mention on Helen's blog for us all too read.