Saturday, 14 June 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2014

Since the end of May the garden has really started to come into it's own.  There seemed to be a bit of a lull between the last bloom day post and the end of the Month.  I'm none too worried about that, the exceptionally mild winter meant lots flowered earlier and in a normal year, would usually see the garden through to the end of May.

Out front, my non descript front garden has a few blooms.  There are two real highlights out there at the moment,  neither of them are particularly complimentary to each other in so far as colour is concerned.  Tropaeolum speciosum, for 4 years, I thought was a weed growing up through the front hedge.  I spent hours in the summer ripping heaps of it from deep within the privet.  Yet, each year, back it came!  It was determined to stay.  I finally managed to find out what it was, learning that it's a fussy begger - I thought it best to let it hang around.  I am currently trying to get the privet to grow tall enough to really show them off.

The first paeonies of the year are now blooming in the front garden.  These, I have no ID for, as they were planted when I first moved in here and the labels are long gone.  A close up of the blooms.  The scent is amazing and it hits you bang in the face as soon as you open the front door.  A bit too blousy for some tastes but the flowers don't last too long, therefore I like to enjoy them for the short time they are with me. 

The old and the new!
 As we go up the side path, in the wings, P. Sarah Bernhardt and Aconitum Stainless Steel are poised!  Meanwhile, Rhododendron Goldflimmer is flowering far more profusely than this time last year.  R. Goldflimmer is the last Rhododendron to bloom and always waits until June to share those purple blooms.

As we walk the remainder of the side path, just before we pop into the back garden proper, this is the view directly outside the back door.  The path separates the Physocarpus from the rest of the plants but I like the effect these colours create here.  Lonicera periclymenum, cultivar name Scentsation - really does as it says on the tin.  It has an incredible SCENT!  Even though the flowers are rather sparse right now, it can be smelt all around the garden.  The Dicentra spectabalis will flower for a while yet - this one's always later and last longer due to the fact it doesn't get quite so much sun.  I know I've missed the 'Derby Day' recommended trimming of the box hedge.  I've put my back out (putting up that temporary expanding trellis you can see) and can't do very much and I wouldn't dare trust anyone else to do them.  A week or two will make little difference to them, I'm sure.       

Lonicer periclymenum Scentsation, Dicentra spectabalis
Physocarpus opulifolius Nugget
You can just make out one of the flowers of Aquilegia Spring Magic which had gone over already but after a couple of days of drizzle picked up again.

Just over the other side of the trellis, which kind of marks out a boundary between the side garden and back garden, is my teeny weeny  wildlife pond.  Little happens there, no frogs, toads or spawn.  Plenty of other beasties and snails though.  Maybe one day they will come.  I don't grow much in the pond, it's way too small for most plants but there is a pot of Cardamine (which has finished flowering), Acorus and I fling in a piece of water hyacinth each year for luck but they never flower.
Surrounded by plants, which if I'm honest are generally not usually associated with pondside planting but they do well and are certainly not devoid of insect/pollinator activity.

Far left, just about to go over is Polemonium yezonense, around the front edge of the pond Ajuga Burgundy Glow and Aruncus aethusifolius, are filling out nicely.  Heucheras Marmalade and Beauty Colour surround Geranium sanguineum and tucked right in almost out of sight is a little dwarf Geum, Dingle Apricot, which really needs bringing to the front.  Clematis Scartho Gem - sets of nicely against the foliage of Cotinus coggygria Dusky Maiden.  The two areas combined are, in my opinion, not unpleasant to the eye.

Back in May
Across the way, on the sunnier side - the Bumble Bee bed has undergone a bit of a change.  The main focal point in this bed had been Physocarpus Lady in Red - the poor old Lady just didn't do it for me in that spot.  The red of the Physocarpus really did stand out, for the wrong reasons!  I had bought a new Hawthorn for elsewhere in the garden but after much toing and froing I decided that the double pink flowers would look way better down here with the blue, white and pinks in this bed, I set about removing the Physocarpus.  I cut it back almost to the floor and moved it round to the front garden as a temporary measure.  Not the best time of year for doing this. either moving shrubs or planting trees - providing I stick to a strict watering regime, then I'm confident they'll both be okay.
Here is the Bumble Bee bed yesterday evening - it was hissing down and quite windy, therefore the quality of this picture is not great.  I am much more pleased with this now and I don't cringe each time I look at it.

In the foreground Nepeta Six Hills giant, Geranium psilostemon and Cirsium rivulare will need a bit of a shuffle around, Clematis The Vagabond has been flowering for weeks now.

In the far corner, a white oriental poppy mingles with Astrantia Buckland.  This combo works well, the Astrantia gives much needed support to the poppies.  Some of you will remember the issues I've been having with Patty's Plum elsewhere in the garden.  There is a Patty's Plum in there too but it's not flowering yet. Sanguisorba Pink Tanna and a Blue hardy geranium will take over when the poppies have gone.

Also, tucked in away at the back, a young Lonicera x italicum Harlequin has flowered for the first time.  It's still hidden behind it's neighbours but making good growth up onto the trellising provided for it.

One of my favourite hardy Geranium, G. sanguineum Elke, to give her her full name, has started scrambling around at the foot of the phlox and noble clover.
In the miniature garden, Sysrinchium EK Balls has started to flower - I love the daintiness of these flowers.  I need to check but I'm almost certain that each month (apart from January) my miniature garden has had something in bloom.  I'm pleased with that, as it's what I was hoping to achieve. 
The trellis (Project Privacy) is still as yet, devoid of blooms.  They shouldn't be far away. Roses, Honeysuckle and Clematis, I hope will create a riot of colour before the end of the month.  Speaking of roses, the first rose to flower is a patio rose - Rosa Happy Time.  It's a pretty little thing I picked up in the supermarket last year.  Here's a shot taken last week - the other buds just about to open have taken a bit of a beating in the rain.
At the base of the trellis on the shadier side, a lovely little Mock Orange.  I picked this shrub up in a local DIY store on the sale table for 50p last year - a little tlc and looks great, don't you think?  Not quite as strong a scent and other's I've had the pleasure of sniffing.
Through the pergola arch on the shadier side, whilst the shrubs were all new to this area back in spring, they will eventually fill out this space.  Meanwhile, the perennials that were already here fill in round about.  Although the border will need widening at some point, nothing is really too big for it's allotted space at the minute, I'm sure will cope here until autumn or spring.  It will depend on how long I can hold off my itchy trowel!
Shady corner of project privacy
Aconitum Gletscheris.  This was one of 3 plants that really suffered back in the 2012 floods.  Signs of life by way of the tiniest piece of new foliage, it was lifted and kept in a pot in the hope it would recover.   This is a special plant - it was one of the first I ever bought for this garden and have never seen it for sale since.  It's odd how we get attached to some plants isn't it?  
Tiarella Spring Symphony is surrounded by foliage in all shapes and colours.  Primula vialii is currently scarlet red, this will change in a few days.  

At the base of the new Rowan, Trollius Cheddar is just about going over and Philadelphus Belle Etoile is about to come into flower.  The scent of which just kind of creeps up on you as you walk up the garden.  I say walk, what I really mean is hobble!
It's difficult to make out the Rowan flowers in this picture but they are there and are loved by the bees, except when I have my camera to hand that is. 
The new bed, which is the feature of my End of Month View blogs has plenty in bloom this June.  I'm going to be frank and tell you all - I'm not happy with it this June!  My vision back in February is not what I've produced.  I was in two minds whether to post about what was blooming in this bed, I struggled on and took individual photos of all the blooms but felt that was cheating and then considered how helpful some of you might be by casting a neutral eye over it and giving me your honest opinion.  I think know where I've gone wrong - it's either the pokers or the lupins.  The lupins should have been red, which I think might have drawn the eye down from the pokers on the back tier.
As it turns out, the 3 red Lupins I planted ended up blue, purple and a deeper blue.  Certainly not red is clearly shows and describes on the label!  A chance you take I suppose when buying young plants very early in spring, that will teach me for trying to grab a bargain!  This hasn't happened to me too often I'm glad to say.  Isn't it annoying.  Thank goodness I don't have a Chelsea Show Garden to plant up.       
I like the paeony and Primula together, even with the deep purple of the Clematis and orange of the climbing rose on the top tier thrown into the mix, it's not unpleasant to the eye.  Deutzia Strawberry Fields also blends right in, I feel.
I also like the Poker and Primula together - please excuse the blue Primula in the shot, that's for elsewhere in the garden.
But marrying them together is proving difficult.  Still, that's gardening I suppose!  I do understand that gardening is a personal preference and each of you will have a different opinion, either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  If you'd like to express them that is! 
Well that's my bloom day post, you've had your lot!  Please join me and other garden bloggers over at May Dream Gardens.  It's the place to be on the 15th of every month.  Garden bloggers from around the world open their gardens and share with us all their blooming delights! 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Was it worth the wait?

You bet it was!

When my brother moved into his house back in 2010, he had a reasonably well stocked garden.  Very little of it too my taste and certainly not his!  He doesn't do gardens!  End off!  There was a raised bed in his back garden that looked like it hadn't been touched in years, it was over run with all sorts.  In amongst the weeds, Japanese anemones and the cornflowers (centaurea montana) and many more were some huge clumps of Iris - bearded Iris judging by the size of the sword like foliage I told myself.  I'm no Iris expert, far from it - they could have been anything really but that was my guess and I was sticking by it.

He announced that this was the spot his shed was going into and if I wanted anything, I'd best take it soon because it's all coming out!  Without any consideration (at that time I knew no better) I came armed with spade and fork first thing the following morning.  Some of the clumps were so large they were almost impossible to lift.  My only choice was to slice through what I could and take a piece of each, leaving him with the impossible job of getting the rest out.

The only piece of knowledge I had concerning Iris was that they like sun - yep, sun!  That was it.  A quick internet search then told me they needed to be planted on the surface in order their Rhizomes bake in the hot sun.  That made sense, when I considered how near to the surface they were when I attempted to lift them.  When I got them home, I chose a sunny spot in the back garden and lifted some turf.  Dug over the entire area and proceeded to plonk them on, rather than in!  I covered the roots and firmed them in.  Ensuring the rhizomes were still on the surface.  I religiously watered for the remainder of the summer.  They hadn't died and had began sprouting some new foliage.  Autumn and winter came and went - come springtime I was confident they were still alive.  As the year went on, sadly they produced no flowers but they were still alive.  Maybe next year - I kept telling myself.

Jump forward to late spring 2012, they looked ever so healthy and as we moved towards May, dare I hope for flowers?  Let me tell you, the suspense was killing me!  May turned to June and still no flowers - disappointment again!  To say I was gutted is a bit of an understatement.  But they weren't dead - the voices in my head kept telling me that was a good thing.  Then it happened!  The wet summer of 2012 rolled in - the spot I had chose for the Iris flooded.  I watched for weeks as the plants were drowning in front of my very eyes.  I lifted what I could and potted as many of the shrubs as I had large enough pots for.  I was determined I was not going to loose those Iris - I had brought them through this far, I wasn't going to let a bit of wet weather beat me.  By this time - I knew that my front garden had far better drainage than the back garden.  Perhaps I should give them a go round them.  As I dug them from the ground, that big slurping sound haunted me as I put the fork underneath them - I lay them in my neighbours greenhouse for a couple of days to dry out.  Rightly or wrongly, I'll never know but when I went back to look at them, some of them were pretty rotten and mushy and of course, I think what roots they did have were left in the ground when I removed them.  With nothing left to lose I re planted them in the front garden - where they were left to their own devices.  If they were meant to be then they would survive.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!  Over the ensuing weeks, they got worse instead of better and any foliage that remained all but died right back.  They've had it I told myself and I completely forgot all about them.

Last year, 2013 - we had a wonderful summer here in Edinburgh.  One of the driest on record and I was amazed to see that some of the rhizomes had dared to put out some foliage.  Yet again, these Iris had my hopes raised - they certainly know how to keep a girl (well, not quite a girl) on tenterhooks.  Sadly again, no flowers.  I gave them the good old talking too - you know the one.  Either buck up your ideas or your out of here.  I always think that odd because 9 times out of 10 it works.

I know I've kept you all on tenterhooks, I wanted to add to the effect and of course share with you just how great it feels to finally have some Iris flowers.

Back at the beginning of May, the largest clump  had started to send up a few flower stems - had my perseverance, prayer and patience paid off, you bet!  Look what I got

Unknown Iris
This Lemon/White flower was not alone - sadly unscented but you can't deny their beauty, well I can't that's for sure. 

Further along the bed a couple of more rhizomes began sending up single flower stems - I dared to get excited.  I kept my beady eye on them every single day.  

Down by the front gate - we have another, identical it may be, I don't care - I'm just so pleased some of them have flowered.

We have twins - no, change that, we have triplets!  Can you see it?  You can just make it out.  I must have missed a piece of rhizome when I was taking them out.  This one is special - it's totally swamped by the surrounding plants.  As you can see - this bed is now planted with moisture lovers, Trollius, Ligularia, Periscaria and Astilbe - just in case the flooding reoccurs but so far, touch wood, it hasn't!
A close up of the flower - this one obviously doesn't read the gardening books, whilst it's in a sunny spot, it certainly can't get baked in the sun - I had a look under the Persicaria it is growing through and I can't see the rhizome at all.  It must be completely buried under the roots.

It's a beautiful burgundy colour with white and gold markings and scented too boot!  I might never find out it's name - not that it matters, I'm hoping it's here to stay.

There are still many more rhizomes with leaf only, they are sorry pathetic looking things but hopefully given enough time, I'll have a few more to add to the collection.

Many more like these in the garden
I know there are many of you that successfully grow Iris, if you can offer any tips, I'd be really grateful.  Would you recommend feeding them, if so what do you use?  I know they aren't in a particularly roomy spot for them but in my hurry to rescue them I didn't give room much of a thought!