Wednesday, 23 July 2014

One man's trash......

At the tail end of summer last year, I was visiting friends living near the city centre here in Edinburgh.   In the city, refuse is collected by way of a communal bin system.  Large refuse bins are sited in many of the streets.  When the bins are full or even on occasion when they are not, waste is just heaped on the ground around the bin.  Often this leads to making passing by these bins hazardous for pedestrians, abled bodies or otherwise!  Litter and fly tipping are pet hates of mine.   What has this got to do with gardening I hear you ask yourself?  I'm getting to that.     

When we were leaving my friend asked me if I'd be so kind as to pop a bag of rubbish in the bin at the end of the street.  It would save her going down later.  No problem, I told her.  As I got nearer the bin, I thought it was full as some lazy so and so had created a big mound of garbage bags around the bin.  Amongst the pile of bags and other garbage, I noticed 2 plants had been discarded amongst them.  After spending the next few minutes putting all of the bags into the rather empty bin, yes, Mr or Mrs Fly Tipper was a lazy so and so (you can add your own expletive if you wish) and couldn't even be bothered to lift up the lid.  I gathered up both the pots and popped them into the boot of the car.  Both were easily identified, the first was an Agapanthus.  It was kind of in flower.  The other a Yucca but other than that, I haven't a clue!   

Here is the Agapanthus as it was when I brought it home.  Rather pot bound don't you think?  

You do wonder why folks throw some plants out but what ever the reason, I'm just glad I was in the right place at the right time.  Their loss and all that!  


Windswept and interesting!

Getting it out of that pot was not easy.  The roots had grown through the holes in the base and I just couldn't get any purchase on it at all.  Out came my trusty utility knife and pad saw.  I was sure the plant could cope with a bit of root damage so all I needed to do was to take care and not loose a digit or two in the process.   I began hacking and sawing away at the pot. It took me quite a while to eventually free the whole thing up. 

Root, toot and I'm oot!
Just get a look at that root system!  It was all root and very little compost as far as I could see.   

Where to start?  The root ball was solid.  I plunged it in a basin of water for an hour or so.  Purely in the hope it would soften and free the roots up a bit.  In the end, I had to be really brutal with it, handfuls of roots were coming away.  They were very brittle, the water obviously hadn't soften them one little bit.  They might even by brittle by nature for all I knew.

What to do next?  I remembered reading that they perform better when they are pot bound but from what I could make out by looking at the plant, this may well not be the case.  Rocket science was not needed to see that.  I didn't want to put the plant under any more stress than I already had, I decided just to pot it up into a bigger pot at this stage.  I would revisit dividing it should recover and come back next year.  

For a week or so it looked a bit worse for wear but regular watering and some rain, it began to pick up.  It was kept in a cold greenhouse over winter.  If I had know we were to have a frost free winter, I'd have risked leaving it somewhere sheltered.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? 

It didn't die back completely (as my other Agapanthus does) but that could also be the result of the mild winter rather than it being evergreen.  I'm extremely doubtful of ever finding an exact identification, there are way too many hybrids and cultivars out there to even narrow it down.

Bad hair day!

If you'd like to jump forward 10 months with me and take a look at how it's doing this summer.  It is flowering but even less that it had appeared to do last year.  Obviously my potting on didn't do quite what I had hoped.   

I just need to take the bull by the horns this autumn and set about dividing it into smaller pots.  I suspect it's going to be a bit of a real slice, dice and hack job rather than gently gently!

Before you ask, the Yucca?  Well, what do you think?  I really need some advice here if anyone has any to offer.         

For a while there, each new leaf was splitting across width ways when they reached a height of around 5 inches but that seems to have stopped now.  All new growth recently has been much healthier and is no longer splitting.   I think it's crying out to be repotted but am unsure of what's going on with those tuber like 'things' on the surface.  Are they roots?  Which growing medium would you recommend?  I know in the ground they will prefer a sunny well drained spot but don't think I'd risk putting it in the ground here as the winter wet will probably be an issue as might winter temperatures.  I'm thinking a John Innes based compost, with some grit and some soil conditioner to retain a little moisture. 

It was nice to find 2 good sized plants and even better to have rescued them.  After all, if I hadn't someone else definitely would have.  I know I'm not the only one to have found plants in the most unlikely place.  Chloris over at The Blooming Garden has a Yucca in bloom for the first time since she rescued it from the municipal dump a few years ago.    What about you? Any exciting finds or perhaps you found a monster, a plant you regret rescuing and are wondering why you ever bothered in the first place.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day July 2014

I've had a brief look back at what was flowering this time last year and to be honest there isn't really much difference - one noticeable difference is that plants that had just coming into bloom this time last year are well on their way this year and it leads me ponder what will be happening come September.  Still, no point in worrying about that now and even if the worse comes to the worse, there's nothing I can do about it.  I can't insist that Mother Nature puts the breaks on for a few weeks.  Not that I would want her to anyway, the sunny weather has been a treat.   worth from my new hose.  It's been well used already.

This was the sight that greeted me as I walked out the back door on Monday morning.  What had been the perfect mingle last year is this year verging on the over crowding, depending on your taste.  I don't mind it like this as it means very few weeds to deal with.  The sunny bed in the gravelled area out side the back door is a real treat at this time of the year.  As you will see there is a wide range of plants blooming this week. 

left to right:
Phlox paniculata Violet Flame, Hemerocallis Crimson Pirate and Erigeron Dunkelste Aller
Alstroemeria Inca Glow and Hemerocallis Crimson Pirate

left to right:
Hemerocallis Pink Damask, Rosa Rhapsody in Blue and Alstroemeria Inca Glow

Geranium psilostemon, Allium sphaerocephalon and Nepeta Dawn til Dusk 

Clematis The vagabond

Clematis viticella Mme Julia Correvon  

Nepeta grandiflora Blue Danube
One the shadier side of the gravelled area, I have had to take the shears to some Astrantia.  They were on the verge border domination.  I left a small amount of flowers purely for the benefit of the pollinators.  This is another border that is now in it's fourth year and will need a bit of a shuffle and possibly widening if I'm to continue growing the same amount of plants. 
Astrantia major Snow Star
Lupin Gallery Blue, Alchemilla mollis and Astrantia Snow Star
Before we pop through the arch to the back garden proper, the climbers I planted here in Springtime are slowly but surely making their vertical ascent.  It will be next year before I am able to appreciate the effect I'm trying to achieve.  Still, lets see what's flowering.
Both The Wedgewood Rose climbers are looking healthy but only one is producing blooms.  By my reckoning they both receive a similar amount of sunshine.  They were cut well back in spring before being moved to their new home.  I wonder if I might have caused more root damage on one than the other, this rose flowers right up to the end of the year, so plenty of time yet.  This rose has a wonderful fruity scent but if you get your nose right in the centre, there is no mistaking the scent of clove. 
DA The Wedgewood Rose

Honeysuckle, L. periclymenum Fragrant Cloud to give it it's full name, another with a wonderful scent is on the same section as the non flowering climbing rose.  My vision is to have the climbers reach the top of the trellis and cascade down over the other side. 

Lonicera periclymenum Fragrant Cloud
In the long border in the back garden proper, this is the border that is the focus of my end of month view, my favourite combo at the moment and one that has panned out exactly as I saw it in my mind when I planted it back in 2012. 
I just love the stature of the Ligularia, it looks great with the pure white of Astilbe Deutschland and the yellow is picked up by the stamens of the Philadelphus. 
Ligularia The Rocket and Astilbe Deutschland
Just out of shot to the left and in front of the Kilmarnock Willow (which has just began suffering from rust) is another Astilble, Astilbe japonica Red Sentinel.  Is said to prefer shade or part shade.  To be honest, it struggled in those conditions in my garden but since moving it into a full sun spot, it's looking the best it ever has.  Compared to the other Astilbes I grow, this one is quite short reaching a maximum height of 60cm.
Astilble japonica Red Sentinel, Persicaria JS Caliente and Primula florindae

As you can see neighbouring Persicaria and Himalayan Cowslips are just coming into bloom.  Further on up to the top end of this border, which is in a bit of a 'tweeny stage at present.  You know, when things have gone over and others aren't quite there yet.   Helenium Moerheim Beauty is just beginning to inject some late summer colour at the top end of the garden.  The large drift of these planted in spring, which all came from 3 plants that I divided up when I transplanted them, are shall we say, in your face.  Oddly though, they are far more verging on red than they've ever been before.  They do recommend dividing them every 3 or 4 years, perhaps I've rejuvenated them.  
Helenium Moerheim Beauty
As we walk back down towards the house, the opposite side of the garden, is a bit more shaded.  The border curves round the step of the decking.   The curved end receiving far more sun that the rest of the bed, is home to Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton.  My experimental planting scheme comprising of Rose along with a Sedum and Heuchera that compliments her bronzy coloured foliage hasn't quite gone as I had hoped.  Whilst all the plants are happy together, I'm not so keen on the Heuchera flowers drawing the eye from the beauty of Emma's blooms.  I'm tempted to snip of those flowers when the Sedum finally blossoms to see the effect it has, so watch this space come next bloom day post.  Everything else in this bed is in a bit of a guddle, due to the fact things were moved around to make way for the Laburnum in spring.  More Autumn work!
Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton, Sedum Red Globe and Heuchera Palace Purple 
Down in shady corner,  which despite the hot dry weather is still looking remarkably lush.  The different shapes, textures and shades of green courtesy of the Ferns, Hostas and Tiarella is only added to when blooms spring up here and there.   
left to right:
Primula capitata norverna, Primula vialii, Tiarella Spring Symphony and an unknown Hosta in flower this July Bloom Day
Just before we leave the back garden, the first flower on one of my Fuchsia has opened.  I received some Fuchsia cuttings from Helene over at Graphicality UK a while back.  Now, I'm not a particular fan of Fuchsia but my mother is and each year she asks me to grow some for her and each year I make some lame excuse to save me the effort.  Since I received the cuttings from Helene, which she was over the moon with by the way, she appeared home with another given to her by her friend.  See what you've started Helene!  Joking aside, they are all coming along nicely and have made great growth.  I should have more blooms over the next couple of weeks. 
Fuchsia Annabel
Sitting on the back step alongside the Fuchsia is a pot of what was meant to be Trailing Begonias?  They don't do much trailing in my opinion, more like semi upright with a dangly flower stem.  Somehow, I don't think the breeders would appreciate giving them such a non de plume.  I don't know what I've done wrong.  I've tried them in full sun, I've tried them in part shade.  Any ideas?  Or am I just being too impatient.
The side garden, which is predominantly a spring garden, Zantedeschia aethiopica and Hosta Frances Williams have bright white blooms right now.
I've deliberately omitted what's blooming in the front garden this post.  There are blooms but they are going to get a post all of their very own.  I've finally got a plan for the garden out front.  I'm quite excited about it and feel it deserves a stand alone post.
I'm late at posting this Bloom Day Post, for once I'm just not disorganised - The Garden Gremlins struck again!  I tripped over my own feet, fell full force into the whirligig, brought it crashing to the ground in two pieces, smashed my front tooth and knocked out a crown.  I've had other priorities this last couple of days!  All is well, teeth are fixed and new whirligig has been installed.  Thankfully, as my son and his GF are just back from their vacation in Cyprus with two suitcases full of dirty laundry.    I'll be over later to see what's been going on in all your gardens this July.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Summertime Blues

They say that a true, pure blue in the garden is hard to find.  There is masses written about plants that are or are not blue but in fact shades of purple, lavender or mauve which pass themselves of as blue.  I do like blue in the garden, blue is my favourite colour.  Whether or not the blues in my garden are in fact blue, they look blue enough to me to consider them blue!  I've also read that bees, insects and other pollinators can't actually see the colour blue.  I find that in my garden they have no problem locating these plants, in fact some of them seem to be favoured by them.  I therefore conclude that it must the their scent that is the attraction.  Some I find have obvious scent, for example Nepeta, Salvia and of course Lavender but others are completely void of any scent to human nose.   

Only this afternoon I was driving past a garden that was full to bursting with Blue Hydrangeas.    The sweeping bank that wrapped around the driveway was a sea of blue.  The garden was large and could easily carry it off.   How I wish I'd had my camera with me to get a shot.  It was a sight for sore eyes let me tell you.

For a moment or two I had a slight pang of regret at having gave away my Hydrangeas last year.  When I got home, I realised that my garden was not completely void of blue.  There's lots of blues that I suppose aren't really blue if you want to get down to the nitty gritty but I'm not one for getting into the nitty gritty of such things, life's just too short!

Two blue plants that grow in my garden are really not for me, if I'm honest!  I just get the benefit of the flowers.  I grow these especially for the cats.  One of my cats is particularly possessive over his catmint.  He goes to all sorts of lengths to stop his brothers or neighbouring cats getting their paws on it.  Here's a picture taken last year, I had just planted it and had a good old chew before I gave it some protection.  You can actually see the loving and longing in his eyes or is it that's he's just high!  More likely the later.

Titch looking admiringly at a newly planted Nepeta

Tip - For those that find cats destroy catmint - protecting the crown of the plant with an upturned wire hanging basket like this is great.  It prevents the cats from rolling on the crown and killing the plant.  It does look a little odd until the plants fills out and disguises the wires.

The dry sunny weather has done wonders for the catmint this year.  Nepeta grandiflora Blue Danube - is a nice compact variety and thanks to the wire basket, remains very upright.  This is the same plant as above one year on.

Another catmint, a taller more vigorous variety Nepeta Six Hills Giant.  It can be rather floppy in the conditions in my garden but the wire basket just helps it stay a tad more erect but small enough to keep the arching habit the plant has naturally.  The fact that Nepeta is popular with the bees is another good reason to grow at least one of these in the garden, providing you have a good spot for it that is.

Nepeta Six Hills Giant
Buddleia davidii Blue Empire, with a feeding drone fly (Eristalis tenax) is flowering a good couple of weeks earlier this year.  I do hope we see some early butterflies to go along with it.  I'll need to keep on top of dead heading if it's too meet the demand of the butterflies that appear later in the season.

Buddleia davidii Blue Empire and Eristalis tenax
A hardy blue geranium, naturally a bit of a clamberer rather than a clumper, has managed to use a nearby Clematis as support and is doing almost as good job of climbing the trellis as the Clematis is.  You can make out Aconitum Stainless Steel in the border behind the trellis, another non blue blue!

Unknown blue hardy Geranium and Aconitum Stainless Steel 
Spring flowering Brunnera produces an abundance of pretty little forget me not type flowers early in the year.  The plants that grow here in full sun are generally a bit tired by the time we reach June, those in shade do far better.  I learned many years ago that by chopping them right back to the ground, they produce new foliage in a mater of 2 weeks and a second flush of flowers mid July.  Granted it doesn't flower quite so prolifically but I don't mind that one bit.

Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost

A new blue I've introduced to the garden this summer was a bit of an impulsebuy  to tell you the truth.  Once I got them home I really did struggle to find them a home. I found the dark blue quite intense and it clashed with almost everything I placed it beside.  However, after reading they are short lived (expensive lesson!) I decided that I'd give them a go beside Primula vialii, which is also quite fussy but reliably perennial here in my garden for the past 3 years.  So if it's to come back, this could well be the ideal spot.
Primula capitata noverna Deep Blue
The next blue came as quite a surprise.  I have not seen this plant for 2 years.  I planted 3 together in a clump summer 2011 and gradually they all disappeared.  I planted Geranium sanguineum in it's place.  Which appeared to be a bit more reliable in my garden.   Isn't it odd when these things happen.
Geranium Pratense Black Beauty
Geranium sanguineum
Hosta Aureomarginata gets a bit too much sun, not only does it fade the foliage, it reduces the purple tone of the flowers to the extent they look almost blue when they are fully opened.

Hosta Aureomarginata
If you visit nurseries and GCs in summer there are generally a wide range of Salvias available in many shades of blues and purples.  Salvia x sylvestris Blue Queen seen here with the blue of Clematis The Vagabond.  Salvias are another range of plants that are loved by pollinators.

Salvia x sylvestris Blue Queen
Clematis The Vagabond
A couple of sun loving blues that don't cope with conditions in my garden - a blue agapanthus (there will be more on this plant in future blog) and Eryngium bougatii Graham Stuart Thomas grows in a pot, it means I can provide better drainage that is available in the ground. 

Blue Agapanthus

Eryngium bourgatii Graham Stuart Thomas
The Eryngium should come complete with an ouch warning.  If I've pricked myself on that sharp foliage once, I've did it a thousand times! 

The bendy blue racemes of Veronicastrum virginicum Apollo fascinate me.  No two flowers bend the same way.  This North American native makes a nice statement in any border.  Despite the fact it is not a native and blue, it still attracts plenty of pollinators.  Except when I have the camera out that is!

Flowers aren't the only blues right now.  Mahonia, The Oregon Grape (you can see why it got it's common name) is abundant with blue/purple berries or should that be grapes?  Either way, they make a nice statement on their own.  This year was the first it had flowered in 3 years, therefore the first time I've had berries.  Whether or not they are eaten by the birds remains to be seen.
Mahonia x media Charity
More blue adornments, this time by the way of cones on Abies Koreana Silberline.  Everyone that sees this tree comments on the cones and can't believe their eyes.

Abies koreana Silberline
The last of my blues in flower this week is a new Clematis I picked up in the supermarket in springtime.  It was rather small but is coming on a treat in a pot until it puts on a good root system and I can plant it out in Autumn.
Clematis Rhapsody
So there you have them, my summertime blues!  Are you a sucker for blue flowers?  I know I am. Do you find that the pollinators are as attracted to the blues as they are other colours in your garden?  You might not even like blue in the garden, I couldn't imagine a garden without it mind you.

I hope the weather has been kind to you all this weekend, as it has here.  Long may it continue!
Shades of Blue

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

End of Month View June 2014

End of month view June 2014

End of Month View
May 2014 
Green!  Yes, that's the word that I think best describes this month's End of Month View.  The late summer flowering plants are gearing up.  This bed was always meant to be a predominantly a late summer border, the garish colours of the flowers look better at the top end of the garden. 

Presently colour/blooms come by way of Astilbes, Trollius and Lupins - The Astilbes have a few weeks left in them and the Lupins are perhaps on borrowed time unless they get a second wind.  I'm told, not checked though, that we are to get a rather wet weekend.  If that's the case, it might breathe a bit of new life into those Lupins.
I'm far happier with this border now that the bright pink peony has finished flowering.  That's on the list to be replaced in autumn.  With what, I'm not sure - there are a few contenders already in the garden.  The new Trollius, T. chinensis Golden Queen is presently at the top of the list.  You can make out the flowers just left of centre.   The cardoon has taken on epic proportions in the last 4 weeks - it's full to bursting with buds.  They are a long way off from flowering yet though.

On the top tier, the rambling rose on the back fence is flowering it's heart out.  I've been training this on wires, a sort of espalier if you like.  Whilst I'm pleased with my efforts, it's a shame that it can't be fully appreciated now it's stuck behind the shed.  My concerns leading up to it flowering was whether or not is would look out of place but that isn't the case.  An alternative site for it gives me yet another dilemma! Decisions, decisions, decisions!  Also growing on the fence a Pyracantha, has flowered and gone over since my last post - moving it here in spring without cutting it back, was not only difficult,  I worried that it might not flower.  I worried unnecessarily, it flowered beyond my expectation.  There should be masses of orange berries later in the year. 

Rose 'Félicité Perpétue'
The new patch of lawn is looking great, it has blended in with the older grass and is not so noticeable now.  I've been keeping myself busy by having to weed out all the stray seed that got blown into the border.  Just when I think I'm on top of it, more appears.  It will be much easier to deal with when the plants are dying back later in the year. 

Well, that's all for my End of Month View post for June.  If you want to join in or read more on what's been happening at the end of June elsewhere, pop over to The Patient Gardener's Weblog, there's lots more to see.