Sunday, 31 August 2014

End of Month view August 2014

End of Month View July 2014

There is now a distinct chill in the air of an evening. Many of the plants around the garden are gearing up for autumn.  However, if the press are to be believed we are in for an Indian summer come September....roll on Monday then!  It's chucking it down here right now, early Friday evening.  We are experiencing a few more rain falls here and there and of that I am glad - keeping this new border and lawn adequately watered in it's first season has been a long slog!  Lack of water here in Scotland is certainly not the norm.  We are renowned the world over for our miserably wet summers.    

End of Month View August 2014
For this month's view I decided to take a couple of steps back and capture the entire area up there at the back of the garden.

Sorbus Autumn Spire
yellow berries
I wanted to include the Rowan tree in the shot.  New to the garden earlier in the year.  It should have been planted last autumn or at the lastest early spring but by the time I had made up my mind we were well into late spring, knocking on the door of early summer.  This year has been one of the driest I can remember, I've had to be very diligent when it came to watering.  I was doubtful of getting berries this year.  Although the Rowan flowered, the blossom didn't last very long, over in a matter of a day or two to be precise.   I had put this down to stress of me possibly not providing quite enough water.  I did up the watering considerably from then on in and it hasn't looked back.  You can just make out in the large image the little bunch of yellow berries.  I'm glad I chose this variety (S. Autumn Spire), I like the yellow berries way more than the red - it's nice to be different.  We've lots of Rowans growing nearby and all of them produce red/orange berries, I hope the birds appreciate something a wee bit different.

The new  lawn, although it doesn't show in the picture, I feel could do with a little pick me up - it's looking rather parched close up.  I'm not one for feeding lawn, lawns generally do just fine here on their own but only this morning, as I was mowing, I thought it was looking a bit miserable.  I've given it a general lawn feed and just hope I don't live to regret it.  Although the instruction said it can be used right up until September - it's at the back of my mind it's late in the year and don't particularly want growth to go into overdrive.  Mind you, it won't the the first time I've had to mow the lawn in winter.
There have been two minor changes since last month.  The first, was to do away with the Sambucus Black Lace on the back tier.  There had been a niggling doubt in the back of my mind at the time of planting - I was betwixt and between the Sambucus and the Physocarpus. The Sambucus won on the day of planting but the niggling doubt just didn't go.  I've now swapped it for the P. opulifolium Lady in Red - I like it far better than I did the Sambucus.  I think the reddish tones of the foliage fit better and the fact that it will grow no where near the massive  proportions of the Sambucus, is another plus.  I don't think you've seen this back tier since the early summer growth sprut of the perennials on the lower level.  You might be wondering what I've done with the Sambucus - it's found a new home in the neighbour's garden.

The Clematis montana Marjorie and Cotinus Golden Spirit have also settled into their new home well. Whilst the jury is still out on the Pyracantha as fence cover on the back fence, I have been tying in the growth from the clematis away from it but should I feel the urge to remove the firethorn if it gets out of hand, then it won't take too much effort to redirect some of the Clematis growth that way.

The contrasting difference I was hoping to achieve between the Sambucus and Cotinus is still achieved with it's substitute.  The observant amongst you will spot an out of place Verbascum.  Well not entirely out of place but certainly not reaching the 1.5m as promised on the label!  The Verbascum being raised a further foot higher than the perennials on the lower tier was supposed to make height that it would still be seen behind the taller perennials below.  What happened? Too much shade created by the other plants, I think.  I've been doing a bit of reading up on this plant and it is said to be more reliably perennial than other verbascums, if it returns next year, I'll find a new spot for it.  Verbascums generally don't do very well here in my garden but no point in making the effort now if it doesn't return next year, it can wait til spring and as you can see, the Hellebore is still flowering too.

The other change is not so apparent and came about when I got in a bit of tizzy regarding what might happen if we ever experience flooding again.  I lost so many plants a few years back that the risk of loosing my rather expensive Itoh hybrid Peony is one risk too many.  It's been replaced with a red flowering daylily and a new home found for the peony in the front garden.      
I would like to offer a public apology to the Lupins.  I've did nothing cut complain about them for the past 4 months or so.  Many of you liked them and some of you even when to the bother to suggest on what to do to help bring out the best in them.  My, how the tide has turned!  I'm growing rather fond of them - I'm not entirely sure why, I can't quite put my finger on why but it could be one of two reasons.  A.  The yellow of the Helianthus and the Blue of the Lupin go really well together or B.  Of the 3 plants, the two growing to the rear have been completely smothered by the larger one in front (proof that not all were dwarfs varieties either!) and rather than 3 different colours of lupin plants - a group of blooms in the same colour is making it much easier to the eye. It could of course be a combination of both reasons or neither but I've said it now and just for the record, I'll repeat myself......I like those Lupins!  

Another combo I think is still looking good and should continue for a while yet - Hydrangea paniculata, Crocosmia Lucifer, Persicaria JS Caliente, Helenium Moerheim Beauty and Sedum spectabile.  Nice autumn colour on the persicaria foliage too.  

We all like surprises, don't we?  I'd like to end this post with a couple of surprises, nice ones, I should add.

Back in November, when I was moving a honeysuckle that had been growing over the front panel of the shed, a stem with the tiniest piece of root detached itself from the root ball.  Thinking little off it, I stuck it in the ground and completely forgot all about it - I was taken a back when I spotted a single stem meandering it's way along the ground between the plants.  I untangled it and brought it out into the light and within a day or two, the sorry pathetic looking buds fattened and opened.  
Lonicera periclymenum Fragrant Cloud

Another wee surprise lurking around in the undergrowth is an Aster, just poking it's head out from beneath the Philadelphus.  Last time I had Asters in this part of the garden was before the flood.  That was back in 2012 - I hadn't noticed it last year.  Either the parent plant has recovered or it is a volunteer.  It will be nice to see what colour the blooms turn out to be.  

Thanks for reading and please join me over at the Patient Gardener's Weblog to see more End of Month Views from gardeners across the globe. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day August 2014

I thought for a wee change I'd start by sharing with you a little area in my garden that I've never shown before.  This wee border came out of necessity rather than planning.  Have over purchased in the shade loving shrub department more than once, will I ever learn?  I doubt it!  I lifted a row of 3 x 2 slabs round the back of the house and over the years it's kind of become a shade lovers plonking ground.  I've also found it is the perfect spot in the garden to keep poorly Heuchera, they seem to thrive round here and as you can see last years invalids are doing remarkably well and are flowering now.

left to right: Heuchera Black Beauty, Caramel and Marmalade
and on the other side of the path, 3 more fully recovered Heuchera Caramel, albeit less floriferous.  This part of the garden is never used, it's mainly the thoroughfare between me and next door.  I legally have to allow them access to my side path but they never use it, except to pop over for a blether.      

and more!

The late flowering Clematis are now blooming.  Does anyone remember the Clematis I moved in springtime?  The one with the humongous root ball that caused me to have a high blood pressure reading at the docs a couple of hours later.  As you can see in the large picture, it has done remarkably well, reaching up and along the trellis.  I'm so glad I took that risk now.  It looks great meandering it's way along the top.

C. Princess Diana, Macropetala, Mme Julia Correvon, Rhapsody and Ville de Lyon
In the sunny bed outside the back door, many plants are looking rather tired, I commented last month that this border is in need of thinning out.  My autumn preparations have began and I have widened a small part of it and it's ready for some new occupants.  One of those new occupants is a white rose.  I wanted a pure white rose and chose R. Susan Williams-Ellis.  Trying out the bed for size, with her soon to be neighbours.

Phlox paniculata Violet Flame, Lonicera Fragrant Cloud and Rosa Susan Williams-Ellis
In the same bed, the seed heads of Clematis The Vagabond look every bit as interesting as the blooms. There is an Escallonia iveyi struggling to flower beneath the mass of Clematis foliage.  Another issue that needs addressing come autumn.  Does anyone clip back their Clematis by half in autumn, does it spur on new growth?  I'm thinking I would be doing the Escallonia a favour, giving it a bit of breathing space, so to speak.  It can't be happy under there.  I suspect it's almost bald under there!
Allium sphaerocephalon, Veronicastum virginicum roseum Pink Glow,
Monarda Croftway Pink and Leucanthemum Broadway Lights
Across the way on the shadier side, my teeny tiny wildlife pond is covered with pond weed and certainly about the only thing that thrives there!  Mainly with foliage interest, Kirengeshoma palmata is just coming into flower and the Cotinus is now of reasonable size that it's producing a bit too much shade for the Stachys under planted there, it is said to take a bit of shade but it's now reaching out for light.  This plant will benefit from a move over to the sunnier side in autumn.  Another plant that is loved by the bees and copes much better with the growing conditions in my garden that it's cousin Stachys byzantina.
Kirengeshoma palmata and Stachys officinalis Wisley White
There isn't much else going on in this bed, it's predominantly filled with Astrantia and having had a chop back a couple of weeks ago, are now putting on new leaf and they will flower again before they die back for winter.  A couple of Heuchera and a Hosta are blooming this bloom day.
Heuchera Paris, Hosta So Sweet and Heuchera Marmalade
As we go through the arch into the back garden proper the pot of trailing Begonias are still flowering away, granted at bit windswept and interesting.  I've grown rather fond of these and might give some more a go next year.  They certainly add a splash of colour where there is little else in flower.

The top bed, which is the subject of my EMOV, Persicaria overload, just about describes it.  I used the Persicaria to fill the gaps between the shrubs.  They like it there, as you can clearly see!

Persicaria amplexicaulis JS Caliente

Yet more Persicaria, along with Crocosmia Lucifer and Helenium Moerheim Beauty providing for the pollinators.  Interestingly I've seen very few butterflies.  With the perfect summer last year and the even more perfect summer this year, I would have thought they'd be about in their droves this year.  Alas, this is not the case.

I'm surprised that Helianthus Lemon Queen is shy at flowering.  You can see the Cardoon and Verbena are not so coy.  I wonder if I expect too much from them in their first year.  The recent high winds had me a bit concerned but all is good and still vertical! 

Heading back down towards the house, Persicaria Red Dragon, is making a bid to out grow everything round about it.  It's flowers are like the Helianthus are rather sparse.

Persicaria microcephala Red Dragon

If we head down the side path towards the front garden, in the side garden, which is predominantly a spring/early summer border, the Cyclamen are sprouting here and there. Bought and planted in flower last year, I'm glad to see their return.  Nestled in amongst some ferns, they brighten up this wee spot.

Cyclamen hederifolium
Out into the front garden, last year's gap fillers made a return.  I had formed no attachment to these plants, knowing that I'd probably never see them again.  It's nice that they have returned.  Sadly, they will not fit in with my plans for the front garden come autumn time.  Speaking of autumn, can you see the peony foliage taking on some autumn colour.  Where has the year gone?
Scabious Beaugolais Bonnets 
On the other hand, three plants flowering now that will fit in with my plans are a couple of Crocosmia and a dwarf daylily.  The Crocosmia were corms given to me last year by a friend.  The yellow is C. George Davidson and the bi-coloured one was supposed to be C. Emily Mckenzie but obviously not!  I like it and it has a reprieve for now.  The Daylily is one I've had for many years and long lost the label.  It's a dwarf evergreen, so there's every possibility that it's H. Stella D'oro.

Well that's about my lot this bloom day.  I'm joining with other garden bloggers over at May Dream Gardens that are sharing what's flowering in their gardens in the middle of each month.  See you there!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Never say never!

In a recent post Chloris over at The Blooming Garden wrote about Taste in Flowers.  In her post she touched on varying tastes in flowers over the years.  It was considered a brave post by a few.  Me included.   I had prepared a post a while back but was a bit apprehensive about hitting the publish button.  It's easy to read blogs and not comment on a particular plant we don't like or wouldn't grow in our garden.  It thought you'd be interested in reading on how my taste has changed even in such a short space of time.     

When my gardening journey began back in 2011, I knew very little other than what I had picked up attempting to grow a few plants in the teeny tiny garden of my old house.  I didn't have a specific style in mind, somewhere between cottage and a rustic look just about covers it.  My gardening style is still in it's infancy and is constantly evolving.  I am really enjoying learning.   It's mostly through trial and error and from what I pick up reading blogs.  I am not big on reading gardening books.  Already I am much more appreciative of a plant growing healthily and happily in the right spot is far more worthy of our precious garden space than one that is sickly, struggling and ready to drop dead at the drop of a hat.  I'm willing to bet that I am not alone in the fact that some genus of plants have grown or crept up on us.         

I used to be scared of roses!  I know that will make some of you laugh but I really was petrified of them.  They come across as awkward and unforgiving plants.  Where to snip, how to snip and when to snip.  There are so many different opinions on how to grow them and take care of them successfully.   For me, as a beginner, I don't mind telling you it all made my head spin. 

The initial framework 2011
I decided one day to take the bull by the horns and jump right in with both wellies, so to speak.  If I was going to attempt to grow a rose, I wanted to try something a bit different and made the decision, after coming across a gorgeous image of a rose being grown against a wall espalier style, I just knew I had to give it a go.  Now, I didn't have a wall in the right place but my back fence was screaming out for some sort of cover and seeing that it wouldn't take up too much precious ground space, why not?   Lets give it a go.  I did suffer a bit of a set back in the first year.  I was disciplined and spent many an hour or so tying in the stems and by the end of the summer, although I had no blooms what I did have was a carefully tied framework with which too work.  In the winter storms of 2012 my back fence came
crashing to the ground and with it went the Rose.  It was severed at the base and all my hard work was lost.  I erected a new fence but hadn't held up much hope for the rose.  Would it regrow come spring?  Indeed it did and I spent the next 18 months tying and snipping again.  This was my eureka moment, I realised that roses were not as difficult to grow than I had previously imagined.        

Rose 'Félicité Perpétue'
My second attempt was also on the vertical - a pair of climbing Wedgewood Roses over the seated arch.  The scent drifting around as I relaxed was heavenly.   I was a bit shell shocked one day when I answered the door and Jim (a neighbour) called round as he just wanted to tell me how beautiful my roses look from his upstairs window and they had been a real pleasure for him as his mother loved pink roses.  He thought of her each morning as he drew open the curtains.  How sweet is that?     

The Wedgewood Rose

Encouraged, I added another pink rose to my collection.  Rosa Princess Alexandra of Kent drew me in when I saw her gorgeous blooms and scent when I happened across her in the GC.  She just had to come home with me.

Rosa Princess Alexandra of Kent

The style of garden I am trying to create would be, I think, quite incomplete without roses.  I am so glad my initial apprehension has gone and I gave roses a chance.  What ever was I scared off?  I've fallen hook, line and sinker for roses.  So much so I've added another 9 to the garden this year.  They are of course deserving of their own post but here's a wee sneak preview.

Rosa Port Sunlight, Fighting Temeraire and Lady of Shallot 

I used to walk around GCs, often with my mother in tow, take one look at all the Fuchsia on offer and think why?  No matter how hard I tried I just couldn't see the attraction.  My mother loves Fuchsia and we would often have the discussion about me growing them in the garden for her.  My answer was always no!  However, earlier in the year, I was kindly sent some Fuchsia cuttings by Helene over at Graphicality UK.  I had explained to Helene that I did not particularly care for Fuchsia but my mother absolutely loved of them.  She encouraged me to give them a go, convinced I would be converted.  Upon receipt of the tiny Fuchsia cuttings, my mother promptly told her friend, a Fuchsia fan herself, that I had finally relented - she came home with a good sized pot of yet another Fuchsia.   I am truly amazed at just how easy these plants are.  They are no bother whatsoever.  An online gardening friend offered the advice to feed them with tomato food, other than that, they take care of themselves.  How right both of them were.  They truly are no bother at all.  They are all doing well and take pride of place on the back step.  I must admit they are growing on me!

Various Fuchsia

I touched on the subject of right spot, right plant at the top of the
Out with the pink!
page.  My next choice kind of came into the garden by way of necessity rather than choice.  Part of my garden that occassionally suffers a wee bit of waterlogging makes choosing plants rather difficult.  It doesn't regularly happens and over the past few years I've given up on many plants.  After doing a bit of research, Astilbles seemed to be the perfect choice for this spot.  My image of Astilbes was mass planting by local authorities of feathery pink and purple blooms.  They just we not me!  They were not the look I was after.  However, trying to keep an open mind, I managed to source some that would not break the bank and if I didn't like them, I wouldn't be so worried about ripping them up and tossing them out.  They thrived and did remarkably well in that particular spot in the garden.  The pink/purple was still bothering me but upon coming across a white flowering variety in a local GC, I decided to replace the pink with white and pair it with a yellow flowered Ligularia (another plant I had seen and not found a particular fondness for).  This combo really has done well in the garden and now I wouldn't be without them, not in a million years!

Astilbe Deutschland and Ligularia The Rocket
I added another Astilbe to my collection, I like this one too.  A dwarf Astilbe, A. Red Sentinel looks good at the front of the border, I think.

Astilbe Red Sentinel
Yellow flowers tend  to remind me of huge swathes of yellow daffodils in springtime.  I am not a fan of huge in your face yellow daffs.  I know from previous blog posts that opinions are divided on the yellow daffodil front.  As a compromise too not growing yellow daffodils, I first tried some white flowering daffodils, they were far easier on my eye and then soon followed some species and dwarf Narcissus.  I still don't grow any of the large narcissus that many of you love and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable. 

White, dwarf and species Narcissus growing in my garden
As I sit here contemplating on how to end this blog, I could easily go on forever but I thought the perfect ending would be to open the floor to my readers.  How have your tastes changed over the years?  Is there a group of plants or maybe just one in particular that you did not particularly want to grow or maybe you were gifted one and have learned to love it?  Maybe like me, you never will grow a shrubby Potentilla or covet after a carefully tended display of summer bedding.  Do share, if you have written a post or would like to write a post on the same topic, please leave a link in the comment box.  We'd all love to read it I'm sure. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

End of Month View July 2014

My garden has been a tad neglected this last week or so.  I've been thoroughly enjoying the TV coverage of the Commonwealth Games.  I'd have loved to have got tickets to attend some of the events but my working day and other commitments just doesn't allow.   The home countries have all done tremendously well thus far and all teams from the UK have exceeded their medal expectations.  I know it's not gardening but for those that might not have seen coverage, a wee Scots girl from the Shetland Islands became the youngest ever to win a commonwealth medal.  At 13 years of age, Erraid Davies's moment has made us all proud and stole the hearts of many.  A big well done to all those involved in Glasgow 2104.

High and dry describes the month of July this year.  High temperatures and very dry weather.  I'm ever so glad I replaced the old cumbersome hose with one of those expanding light weight jobs.  It's made a time consuming job far more bearable.  Since bringing it home I've not been without volunteers to water the garden for me.  If only I had known it would be so popular, I'd have bought one sooner! 

End of Month View June 2014
The sea of green in June's End of Month View is in the not so dim and distant past.  When I planned this border back at the beginning of the year - my aim for this bed was two fold, late summer colour and plenty available for the pollinators.   It had been my intent that Helenium Moerheim Beauty would be central to this bed at this time of year.  It's never without wildlife visitors.  We don't see butterflies here until around now, therefore I feel that it's important to have lots of late flowering plants.  The new grass has taken well and looks like it's always been there.  The stone edging has worked well, the lawn mower cuts right over the top. 

I wonder, can you spot the subtle difference between the two shots?   I've had a pot of Leucanthemum Banana Cream sitting around for a while.  It had been destined for a spot in the front garden but I had never got round to planting it in the ground.  I popped it in here too see what difference it makes.  I like it.  I think there needs to be something between the Helenium and the lower growing plants in the front row in bloom at this time.  Had my dwarf yellow daylily flowered it might have made a difference and we shall see what happens when the Sedum flowers in a few weeks .  I moved a decent sized clump of the daylilies here back in spring, perhaps I should have divided it at that time too because if I think back, I'm sure it didn't flower last year either.  They do say that daylilies need to be regularly divided to perform at their best.  A job for spring.              

There will be a void when the Verbena dies, it's not perennial here and I've never found a seedling, despite me letting the plants to go to seed for the last 4 years.  Last years plants, elsewhere in the garden obviously made it through our frost free winter but are rather sorry looking specimens this year.   I need to source a more permanent resident for this spot.  Dotted throughout the border is the later flowering Allium sphaerocephalon.  These Alliums are British natives and are loved by all the pollinators.  They are a lot more reliable in my garden than the larger flowering types.  I shall be planting more of these bulbs in autumn.  The Lupins, I apologise for sounding like a broken record each and every End of Month post - not red, not dwarf and not staying!   A replacement for those will need to be sourced too.

I couldn't resist a close up of the Helenium.  I've just got myself a new phone and am impressed with the camera on it.   The next couple of shots were taken with it's camera.

To the left of the Helenium, you can just make out the flowers of Hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky.  I like the effect the white flowers have with the red and orange blooms, I hadn't been sure this would work.  As they mature, they will fade to pink and my opinion might just change.  We shall see what happens.  Crocosmia Lucifer is also coming into bloom, still a tiny wee clump and I know from experience it won't take too long to bulk out. 

Hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky, Helenium Moerheim Beauty
and Crocosmia Lucifer
To the rear, the Cardoon, Helianthus Lemon Queen and Verbena bonariensis are just starting to flower.  This is the first time I've grown the perennial sunflower so am rather looking forward to seeing it in full bloom.  At this moment it's smothered with flower buds and a lonely single flower. 

On the top tier, the Clematis montana and Pyracantha I'm using for fence cover are make good ground.  The Pyracantha flowered profusely and should be covered in bright orange berries in autumn.  The Clematis can make it's way along the trellising 'til it's heart's content.   Although you can't make it out from the image, there is a little surprise lurking about up there.  Helene over at Graphicality-UK commented on her summer flowering pink Hellebore in her most recent Bloom Day Post, Helene, you are not alone.  Look what I found on one of my trips up to the very back of the garden.  This plant did flower in the winter, unlike Helene's which chooses only to flower in summer.  Isn't it nice to have a plant flower out of season?    

A 2014 summer oddity!
Weighing up all the positives against the negatives, the scales come down in favour of the positives this month.  The border has filled out well in the few months since it was planted out and although it's not so obvious from the shot, there is plenty of room for most of the plants to fill out over the next few years.  I will find that this meme hosted by Helen over at The Patient Gardeners Weblog extremely useful when it comes to autumn time when I need to do a few tweaks here and there. 

Off now to have a nosy at what's going on in your end of month view.  Thanks for reading.