Saturday, 31 May 2014

End of Month View May 2014

Here we are at the end of May and how time flies when you are having fun!  The doldrums I found myself in at this time last month seems to have shifted and I am now feeling a bit more positive.  I've accepted the fact that I can't split myself in 3 and at times somethings just needs to take a back seat.  Taking the back seat of late has been blogging and reading blogs.  Having said that, I am determined to continue with my committal to my End of Month View postings.  It will be great to see what I've missed in your gardens, I'm willing to bet I'll notice a huge difference.

End of Month View April 2014
The month of May continued to be exceptionally dry here, we've had a few showers but no where near as bad as it's been in the rest of the country.  The grass seed that had only just germinated in April's post is now looking good.  It's been mown twice - one thing we do well here in Scotland is lush fast growing lawn.  The natural stone edging is doing exactly as I had planned.  Just level enough for the mower to skim over without the need of edging each and every time.  The stones are still a bit grubby but will get a good going over with the power washer later in the year - some of the grass seed has also managed to germinate in amongst the plants.  I just need to be vigilant and remove it when I find it.  It seems I've unleashed a demon too!  Mares tails have started appearing.  That's one weed I don't want to take hold.  Again, vigilance will be needed to keep on top of it.  

Not so red Lupin!
The border is now filling out - some things I'm happy with and others are annoying me.  My discontent is 4 fold.  Oriental Poppies (Pattie's Plum), don't seem at all happy.  The cause of their unhappiness has me baffled - Oriental Poppies tend to do well here. Next on the list of discontent -  Helianthus Lemon Queen, I've used this to fill out the back section (until Viburnum sargentii Onondaga matures)  between the Deutzia and the Cardoon.   Of 3 plants only 2 are thriving.    I'm not sure if I need worry about that though.  At the rate they are growing, it seems I have seriously misjudged how quickly they will fill out!  Filling the gaps between the alliums to the right of the cardoon.  Planting in that area is rather patchy - again, due to my misjudgement on how their neighbours would perform.  I've temporarily used some Candelabra Primula I had growing elsewhere.  I had bought a peony (P. Fragrant Pink Imp) to do the job of filling in, then promptly changed my mind.  Another day, another purchase, Verbascum Clemantine (now planted at very back of top border) didn't do it for me either.  I think I'll leave it be for now.   My final disappointment is the red Lupins.  They have all settled in and are producing flower buds and the first bud to colour up just happens to be purple!  It will be interesting to see what the other 2 produce.    
End of Month View May 2014
Just before the sun goes down behind the house for the night

It's not all negative, I do have to keep reminding myself of that.  I find it difficult to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, I doubt I am alone in that respect.  Let's see what's pleasing me.

Viburnum sargentii Onondaga
 The leathery foliage is as impressive as the bronze coloured buds before they open
Geum Bell Bank and Primula beesiana
Aquilegia vulgaris William Guinness
If we stand to the back of the border looking back down towards the house, the yellow of the Euphorbia polychroma contrasts nicely with the purple of the Allium and Aquilegia.   
Allium Purple Sensation, Aquilegia William Guinnes and Euphoriba polychroma 
I took a huge risk in moving a couple of peonies into this border back in March, one was already well into growth and had buds, the other had just come out of dormancy.
Peony buds fattening up
3 buds on Itoh hybrid Border Charm
Up on the back tier the Cotinus I planted to contrast with the Sambucus nigra Black Lace is positively glowing!  I've added a Clematis montana Marjorie to the back corner.  I had previously ordered this at my local nursery.  I can't remember where I had intended to plant it but it's found a home here.  I've had to use some plastic netting to protect it from the cats, they will insist on climbing the fence in this corner.   

Cotinus coggygria Golden Spirit and floppy Verbascum Clemantine 
To the right of the Sambucus is where I've chosen to grow my coral bark Maple - I've filled in round about with a selection of perennials, all growing elsewhere in the garden except Geum Flames of Passion.  Primula aurantiaca are just about to come into flower, Himalayan cowslips, Knifophia, Ligularia and Astrantia will flower later.   The rambling rose (R.'Félicité Perpétue') growing on wires (espalier) was originally meant to be fence cover and although doing a great job, I think is now out of place.  The jury is out until it flowers.  By which time I'll have a better idea of the impact it will make.  I fear that I may have too many white flowering shrubs in this area.  
Acer palmatum Eddisbury
Last and certainly not least for this End of Month View, although technically not part of my End of Month View, it is contained within the same border, therefore I've allowed myself to include it and will continue to do so for the remainder of the year. 
I've longed for what I call a proper tree in my garden for a long time.  Space and telephone lines always put me off, scared me I suppose you could say.  I was having a wee wander around a local nursery, not really looking for anything specific, just browsing, as you do! I came across Sobrus Autumn Spire, tolerant of a windy site, columnar in growth habit, good autumn colour and suitable for wet situations (this area has on occasion flooded) - it ticked all the boxes.  I grabbed it with both hands and proceeded to the check out.  The Rowan was coming home with me come hell or high water!  There was quite a bit of juggling around in the car.  We finally got it in in one piece, phew!   Mum's options were to jam herself in a tight corner in the back of the car or have a cup of tea and wait for me to come back for her.  She chose the former and thankfully both mum and the tree got home unscathed!   
I'm fair chuffed with this and what a difference it makes, the height it adds really does 'finish' the area off - surrounded by Philadelphus Belle Etoile, Ligularia the Rocket and Astilbe Deutschland amongst others.  I hope it likes my garden. 
That wraps up my EOMV post for May, all that's left is for me to do is to thank you all for reading, wish you all a good weekend and if you want to join other garden bloggers who post their End of Month Views, please join us over at The Patient Gardener's Weblog, where Helen kindly hosts this meme on the last day (or there abouts) of every month.  

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Garden Blogger Bloom Day May 2014

It's May and that time of year has arrived!  What time?  I hear you ask.  The time of year when I can get myself downstairs in the morning and sit on the back step and wake up to the sound of the garden.  That's usually not really practical here until around Mid May.  It's the time when the sun is high enough in the sky to make the step comfortably warm to sit and contemplate the day's plan of action.

It's not only the sound of the birds frantically feeding and gathering food for their chicks or the distant sounds of lawn mowers and the general village activity going on round about me - I swear I can hear the Garden Fairies running around the undergrowth giving the plants one final  pre flowering pep talk.  The garden is quite literally ready to burst and yet at the same time there is a calm feeling to it.

Right now, the side garden - which is generally looking best at this time of the year, is home to inherited Rhododendrons.  They were moved here when I first moved in in 2007 to allow for building work, they've stayed there ever since.  This part of the garden gets minimal amount of sun in winter and in summer for a few hours mid/late afternoon.   The border is quite narrow and has no scope for widening.  I had to put in a high fence as part of my planning consent, which seems to provide some protection from the frost but it does make the area a bit of a wind tunnel.  Still, the plants seem to cope and those that don't are generally quite quick at letting me know!

If I stand in the middle - let's look left.  There's a bit of a 'pink' theme going on right now.  Dicentra eximia King of Hearts - now in full flower and should remain so until well into October - will soon be joined by Aquilegia and Dicentra spectabalis.  Lamium orvala, sadly had to be chopped right back.  It fell fowl of the cats having a bit of ding dong over something or other!  My cat's are often a 3 cat wrecking ball, occasionally bringing the sturdiest of plants crashing to the ground!  The Dicentra spectabalis is merely hanging on by a thread, a few strategically placed plant supports keeping it upright.  It's still putting on buds but whether there is enough life left in it is anyone's guess.

Turning to the right - you get a better view of the Rhododendron.  Those pink blooms will eventually fade to a pale creamy apricot shade.

Further down you can just make out the Aconitum and Peony Sarah Bernhardt gearing up for a super show - tucked down between them is a deep red Rhododendron.  This plant is a rather ugly looking thing - it has a couple of oddly shaped branches and that's about it!  I'm happy for it to be hidden most of the year but if wee peek in a wee bit closer we can see it's blooms.

 Just before we exit out into the front garden another Red Rhododendron and a self sown Aquilegia are busying themselves this week.  I really need to find a better spot for the Aquilegia, I don't particularly like the delicate pink next to the harsh red of the Rhododendron.

Another self sown pink Aquilegia sits along side a new addition to the garden last Autumn Brunnera macrophylla Hadspen Cream. 

Let's go out into the front garden, until recently my front garden tended to serve as a bit of a nursery for plants.  Only this spring I've moved a few shrubs round there to add some structure.  I've been threatening to do something with the front garden for a couple of years now but always seem to get distracted.  I feel an autumn project coming on!

By the front gate Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost is right at home, it tends to be billed as a shade lover - here in my front garden it copes perfectly well in a full sun position.

Further down the path, Alchemilla conjuncta - Silver leafed Lady's Mantle.  Just a wee bit different to the one we are more familiar with. 

A couple of pots of Pansies outside the front door are still doing extremely well, so well in fact they are swamping out the Azaleas growing in there with them.  I've not found the heart to tear them out just yet!

The last of the blooms in the front garden this May bloom day, a self seeded lavender has never really stopped flowering all winter - another sign of the mild conditions here.

Round in the shady border behind the kitchen extension, slowly making it's way up the fence and onto the trellis I intend to train if over is Leucothoe fontanesiana Whitewater has produced a few flowers.  Oddly, none of the Leucothoe and Pieris have produced many flowers this year.  As well as being mild here, it's been ridiculously dry for a Scottish winter.  I wonder if that might be the cause.

At the base of the Leucothoe a shocking pink Azalea is thoroughly happy getting a minimal amount of light.  The shade is cast onto a tiny corner of this border, as this plant matures, it will fill the corner completely.

Nearby Geranium Ingwersen's variety with it's aromatic leaves, which I'm none too fond of, required major surgery this spring, otherwise we'd have never got round the path to this side of the house.  It's spread was huge! 

Drooping red Enkianthus - another plant that prefers acidic conditions, is also flowering.  Moved to a new home, as part of Project Privacy, back in early spring - flowers are not abundant but they are there nonetheless!

Iris pumila Cherry Garden and Semi Aquilegia Sugar Plum Fairy - looking great in the border outside the back door.  Clematis, geraniums and friends are waiting in the wings.

Also in this bed, Choisya detwitteana White Dazzler, does exactly as it says on the tin!  It's kind of getting swamped in there as I hadn't expected it to be such a slow grower, this might do better round the front too.

In my miniature garden - a wallflower with a bit of a difference.  A native of turkey this tiny wee thing has a gorgeous scent too boot.  Being in the large terracotta pot means I don't have too far to bend down to sniff it out! 

Growing happily in my alpine trough, the Saxifrage are now producing their inflorescences (is that the correct way to use that term?).  The wind is making it difficult to get a shot of the plants as a whole, their stems are so delicate it doesn't take much of a breeze to make them difficult to photograph.

As you can see flowers are very similar but S. Southside Seedling, has darker maroon markings and is not quite as scented as S. Monarch.

Rather pleased with my first attempt at tuberous Begonias.  Sunning themselves in the gravel bed 2 out of 3 tubers have sprouted and brought on on the kitchen windowsill.  I will pot these up into one large pot for their summer display but am really surprised to see them flowering so early.  They should have been red but too me, I'd say they are orange.  They are brought in at night for the time being, I'm erring on the side of caution.  There has been a few nights where it's been quite cold.

Still in and around the gravel bed - Muscari armeniacum Peppermint, is rather late to come to the spring party this year.  My fault really, I had stored pots of plants around it and was being completely shaded out through the winter.  Now it's got some light, a few flowers have appeared.

The first of the creeping Phlox is putting on a show - Phlox subulata Kimono, thankfully didn't need to be moved for the trellis earlier in the year.  Others, however, did and they are just a wee bit behind schedule!  The star shaped flowers are move defined than others I grow.

More pastel shades, this time in the form of mossy Saxifrage.  This plant does well in the gravel bed.   It has flowered for a few weeks now, the flowers are just beginning to fade  - it's another plant that has benefitted from the dry conditions.

Over on the shadier side of the gravel area - aka, the pond bed, which will be dominated by Astrantia Snow Star for the majority of the summer but right now, Polemonium yezonense Purple Rain and Ajuga reptans Burgundy Glow are the predominant plants with Polygonatum multiflorum tucked in the back corner.  After 3 years, this bed is now what I would considered cramped!  I'll be thinning this out come autumn, if not sooner.  I can't for the life of me think what's missing from the gap at the front of this border, mmmm - odd!  I'll need to do a bit of detective work there, I think.  The fresh new growth on Cotinus coggygria Dusky Maiden looks as good as any bloom can at this time of the year.

Before we pop through the arch into the back garden proper (more on that in my EOMV later in the month), a pot of lavender sits comfortably in the sun.  This was self seeded the front garden - swamped last year, I've brought it on in a pot and had no idea it would be white.  I can't remember ever buying a white Lavender, therefore I must assume they don't come true from seed.  Of course if you know different, please let me know.

"Through the arch and into the back garden proper" - I kind of like the sound of that!  I suspect you'll hear me say that again!

One the sunnier side - whilst the climbers (roses, honeysuckle and clematis) are slowly, yet surely beginning to soften the look of the trellis and of course readying themselves for flowering, everything that has been moved here since spring is thoroughly enjoying their new home.  Right now, Dicentra spectabalis is putting on a marvellous show.   I've never seen it so big!  It is usually recommended to grow this plant in part shade, but I find in my garden, the soil is moist enough that they cope with a bit more sun than they would in the south.

Tucked in at the back, you can just make out the golden foliage of Aquilegia vulgaris Purple Emperor but it's deep purple flowers are kind of lost in amongst the green foliage of the surrounding plants.  It used to be partnered with the cardoon (which was moved from here) and looked amazing against the silver foliage - note too self, needs moving!

Most plants over on the shady side are grown mainly for their foliage, with the odd flower at various times throughout the year.  Presently Tiarella Spring Symphony has just started blooming.  I've added some strawberry foxgloves nearby which will flower later in the year.

I've added this next shot for Helene over at Graphicality UK - it's one of the plants she sent me in our plant swap, it will be the first for those plants to flower - if only it would hurry up!  I do, though, love the foliage and hope it's very happy here in my garden.

Now spreading around just as I had planned - Viola soraria Albiflora is just coming out.  I like when a plan comes together, don't you?

In the new border at the top of the garden, the plants have settled in and the first of those new plants are just about to come into bloom.  I could not have ended this blog without sharing it with you all - Geum Flames of Passion, just threw itself into my basket on a recent trip to the GC.  How lucky was I just to be there to catch it!  It would have been such a shame to see it fall to the ground, right?

It's taken me 2 days to get this post together, life just got in the way.  As it does!  So apologies to Carol over at May Dream Gardens for joining late.  Better late than never right?  Pop over if you fancy seeing what's going on in other gardens around the globe. 

I'm off now to see what you've all been up to - or rather, what your garden has been up to.  Thanks for reading and apologies it was so long.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Carried on regardless - the garden that is!

Despite me loosing my gardening mojo of late - the garden carried on regardless!  The early bloomers are long gone, most of the bulbs have now gone over and the vast majority of the shrubs are now fully clothed in their summer finery. 

Since my bloom day post the remainder of the Camellias have bloomed.  All bar one, which is not featured, was new in the garden 2011.  Their stature maybe small, their blooms sparse but they are all gorgeous nonetheless!

Clematis cartmanii Pixie is not fully hardy here in Scotland and generally takes a bit of a knock in winter.  Not this year, her almost Chartreuse colour flowers cascades over the edge of this large container.  The elderberry scent is just wonderful!  Pots of pansies and violas add some contrast.

In the side garden, Acers and Magnolia stellata are doing their thing right now.  The colour of the Acer is picked up in the flowers of the Primula, Dicenta and Lamium.

A complete 180° and we see Acer shirasawanum Aureum - fresh lime green leaves look equally good (I think) with the white of the Magnolia, Drumstick Primula and Narcissus Thalia.

Acer palmatum Orange Dream might still be tiny but packs a bit of a punch and really shows off Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost's blue flowers.  Just out of shot a pink pulmonaria totally clashes and might need a bit of a rethink - I shall see what happens when both finish flowering.  The foliage might just work!

There's a bit of a sad tale that goes along with my Coral bark Maple, Acer palmatum Eddisbury.  In 2011 it was a gorgeous 5ft specimen that cost me quite a few pennies!  Come spring 2012 it had a severe infestation of  black aphids on the young growth.  I religiously cleared and squished as many as I possibly could.  It lost almost all it's foliage, then just as it was making a come back the wet summer of 2012 haunted me!  From Black Aphids to severe waterlogging in a matter of weeks - wouldn't you feel rather beat?  One by one the stems began turning black and drooping horribly.  I promptly lifted it from the ground and potted it into a 50/50 mix of Ericaceous compost and JI No.3.  I made the decision to cut off all bar one stem.  An experienced gardening friend did the 'gum suck' when I told her what I'd done and told me there was no hope of survival!  Ha! proved wrong she has been.  It may not be the beautiful specimen it once was but it's recovered and all new growth has been above the graft, which is good.  Moved from it's nursery bed when it was dormant, it has settled in well.

A new addition to my garden this spring - Abies koreana Silverlocke has produced some cones.  These will turn blue as they age (I hope) - I hope to pair it with some blue Hostas.  I've a few already in the garden, they will be moved in autumn. It feels good to be thinking so far ahead - I hope this means my mood is well and truly lifted.

Another conifer, completely on a different, much smaller scale - Bird's nest spruce, is a low growing spreader, I do love it's bright new growth.  It's rare for this shrub to produce cones - not that it matters, the new growth makes up for it.  The shocking pink Azalea behind just coming into flower.

My 'In your face' inherited Red Dwarf Rhododendron is blooming right on cue!  This one thrives on pure neglect.  It's never watered nor fed and really only catches your attention for a short couple of weeks in May.  It's almost three times as wide as it is tall but you can't tell from this picture - I can't get a head on shot due to narrowness of the path between plant and the house wall.

New to the garden last year, the fist time it has flowered - Berberis thunbergii Rose Glow.  I hadn't realised just how pretty the flowers are. 

Mexican orange - Choisya x dewitteana White Dazzler, is a bit of mouthfull don't you think?  Getting a bit cramped in there now - it's being smothered by it's neighbours.  This is a 'very' slow growing shrub and since I bought it in 2011 it's hardly grown at all.  I had expected it to be a bit taller by now - this may have to be rehomed in Autumn.

When it's balmy and warm in the early evening - the scent of Daffodils still hand in the air.  It won't be long until the Honeysuckle takes over but for now we make do with the few remaining daffs.

We need to get right down for a worms eye view of these pretty little woodlanders - Dicentra, Anemonella, Corydalis and Epimediums are putting on a fine show, if you can be bothered getting down for a closer look that is!  The fresh pastel shades are a lovely change to the 'in your face' yellows of early spring.

No longer known as Dicentra - let's be happy calling them Bleeding heart, Dicentra flows much easier from the tongue than Lamprocapnos in my opinion. 

I'm not keen on this combo - that might change when the Aruncus aethusfolius flowers.  The creamy white flowers should pick up the edging of the Ajuga leaf. 

The blue flower of the Ajuga might make the perfect partner for Primula denticulata Cashmieriena - they are currently planted a few feet apart and it wouldn't be too much bother to grow them together, something worth considering.  The drumstick Primula will go over just as the Polemonium Purple Rain flowers.

Remember my day out at the SRGC Dunblane Early Bulb show back in February, one of the gorgeous Primula I bought that day was already in flower - low and behold it has flowered again.  This one you may remember is supposed to smell of fish - the scent escapes me, phew!  I wish I had bought more!

My otherwise large clump of Solomon's Seal is somewhat depleted this year - why?  When I transplanted the Firethorn elsewhere in the garden, I inadvertently took some of this plant with me.  That will teach me for taking such a large rootball with it!  This is the parent plant - the other is now flowering in full sun position - it will be interesting to compare the difference and how they cope.

It's been a Bank Holiday this weekend here in the UK but where ever in the world you are, I hope you had a great weekend.   I was out in the garden but only to water and do a wee bit here and there but it's a step in the right direction. There will be more of what's blooming in my garden on Bloom Day - I felt that this post would bridge the gap between the end of April and the middle of May.  Thank you for reading!