Friday, 26 June 2015

You know it's raining when.......

the Astrantia are overwhelmed by raindrops

the first peony is about to open

the poppies are past their best

Papaver orientale Patty's Plum

the Alchemilla have all bar keeled over!

the moisture lovers take on mammoth proportions

the mecs look marvellous

Meconopsis betonicifolia Alba (2013 seedling)

Fighting Temeraire fights back!

Rosa Fighting Temeraire

Yet my spirits would not be dampened - my first grandchild was on his way home home from hospital.  Baby Boy R, as he is still known. made his appearance 17 days early.  Mummy, daddy and baby all well.  I just wish they'd hurry up and choose a name.  We can't call him baby for ever more!


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Bloom and Grow (June 2015)

Show and tell time is here again!  Back in January I set myself the task of purchasing a new plant(s) for the garden each month.  The aim is primarily to fill gaps in the borders or just to cheer up a specific area that may be void of any blooms.  The proviso being that they had to be a genus I had not tried before and it had to be in bloom.  It's not been as easy as I'd thought.  It amazes me just how many of the more popular garden plants I grow or have tried to grow in the past.  It also helps that you actually like any of the plants that happen to be in bloom at that particular time.  I already have quite a well stocked garden and many failures behind me.  Choosing a plant that I've never grown before is not as easy as it would be if I had been starting the garden from scratch.    

This month's purchase is one plant I tend to have mixed feelings about.  My grandfather was a big Dahlia grower and although I have many fond childhood memories of them growing in his garden, I have less fond memories of those clipshears.  What is a clipshear?  I hear you ask.  A clipshear is what we Scots call an earwig.  I remember my Papa fighting what seemed like a never ending battle against these wee beasties.  There was upturned pots filled with straw dangling all around his garden.  I wonder will I have the same issues?  Clipshears are presently not an issue in the garden.

As children clipshears filled us with dread.  It was a childhood belief that these wee beasties crawled into the ear and would eat our brains.  My brother was a particularly squeamish sort and I remember once I collected a few of them in an empty matchbox and terrorised him with them for hours.  Let me tell you, my backside took what it got when mum finally caught me.  What a cruel big sister I was! I wonder, are there similar childhood believes attached to these insects from where you're from?         

Dahlia Happy Single Kiss

Before I set out on my shopping trip, I had already made up my mind to source a Dahlia or two.  I think Dahlias would fit into the type of garden I am trying to create out front.  I did not want bedding type, I wanted the tuberous kind.  I am following hot on the heals from my success of over wintering begonia tubers.  Idealy I wanted something with dark foliage and a deep coloured single  bloom.  However, that was not to be.  Most of what was available were either too pale, too sweety pink, too showy or too blousy.  2 single pots in a far corner suddenly caught my attention.  

Dahlia Happy Single Kiss.  I managed to find something with dark foliage but the colour of the blooms was not quite the colour I was looking for but I was willing to compromise this time.

According to the label D. Happy Single Kiss has salmon flower head with dark centres.  The picture above reflects their description but to my naked eye they are more of a peach/orange colour than what I'd consider to be salmon.  The camera hasn't quite caught it.  I would have preferred to buy 3 pots but as there was only 2 left they had to do.  I snapped both of them up before a lady standing by me beat me to it.  I think she also had her eye on them.
Foliage - Happy Single Kiss

Both pots are very healthy and are a good size.  A 3l pot cost me £6.99.  Yes, an expensive way to buy considering I probably could have bought tubers a lot cheaper a few months ago but at least this way I start off with plants that are already growing well.

Each plant is not only healthy but also of full buds.  Apparently, I need to keep dead heading to encourage more throughout the year.  The buds are plump and very shiny as you can see below. Almost like little individual fruits.  Checking up on toxicity, the flowers are apparently not toxic but the foliage and tubers are if eaten in large enough amounts.      
Being single flowered they will also benefit the pollinators visiting the garden.  I specifically wanted a single variety for that reason.  It will reach a height of around 60cm with a spread of around half of that.  I am hoping that they will be short enough to to require support but I will have some ready at hand just in case.

Both plants seen below with another purchase I made this month.  One though that does not qualify in so much as I already grow Alstroemeria.  The purple foliage also shows up the red blooms of the Alstroemeria well too.

Dahlia Happy Single Kiss and Alstroemeria Princess Kate
Being native to Central America, Mexico and Columbia, Dahlia tubers will need to be lifted and stored for winter here in Scotland.  I think the same is to be said for the rest of the UK.  The first frost will blacken the foliage and this apparently is the time to get them out of the ground.  They will need to be dried off and then stored in a cool dry place.  Before I get round to that though, the Dahlias will need plenty of organic matter added at time of planting.  The front garden is well drained and sunny enough to keep them happy.  I read that they will not tolerate wind therefore I will have to nestle them between other plants for that extra bit of protection.  The Dahlia Happy Single Series are bred in Holland and D. Single Happy Kiss is just one variety available in this series, there are others equally as beautiful.  Plants from this series have all been bred with the smaller garden in mind and are said to be particularly suited to grow in containers.  From what I can gather, Dahlia's are making a real comeback into gardens.  They are not a considered as naff as they used to be.  Their popularity has been improved through the introduction of more single varieties, all of which will benefit visiting wildlife.  Clipshears included I suppose!

They are not yet in the ground.  I want to wait until the roses bloom then I can find a spot where they can nestle in and look good.

Do you grow Dahlias?  Do you find issues or are they relatively easy going plants?  I'd be interested to know experiences with them.  

Monday, 15 June 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2015

First of all let me thank you all for the comments you have made on my previous Tree Following Post.  I am currently having intermittent broadband issues, it's been a bit of a hit or a miss if we are getting a connection this last few days. It seems to have rectified itself today but until I try to upload etc I can't be sure.

Because of the issues I will try to keep this post short and sweet!  Blooms continue to be a good bit behind the last couple of years, I had hope that they'd have caught up by now but it seems the plants have other ideas.  It will be interesting to read if others here in the UK, particularly in northern parts are experiencing similar.

Blooms in the top border have finally made an appearance.  Those Alliums have been in bloom for a while and the rest are now playing catch up.  The long awaited blooms of Papaver orientale Patty's Plum have finally appeared.  I think the name Patty's Plum is stretching it just a tad.  I'm not sure I'd describe the colour as plum.  There are many more buds to open.  Lupins, Aquilegia and Cirsium getting in on the act too. The Pyracantha blooms on the back fence, as does Clematis montanta Marjorie.

In need of work, the narrow section of the long border is full to bursting with Geum Bell Bank and Alchemilla mollis.  Whilst Geum Bell Bank is a lovely lookng flower, it's colour is a bit wishy washy for this section of the garden.

In the corner I hope to transform into a small woodland area one day, yet more Alchemilla mollis, Lamprocapnos spectabalis and the variegated Iris pseuodoacorus are currently fill the space. Aquilegia vulgaris Purple Emperor in the background is just about finished blooming.  It's looking rather scruffy now.

Over the shadier side, the candelabra Primula are just about finished, as is Lamium orvala.  Lupin The Page to the left of the screen is looking particularly good right now, it's strong scent is a bonus too.  The small yellow bloom in the centre is Trollius acaulis, a dwarf globe flower.  Corydalis Heavenly Blue planted earlier in the year is settling right in. I long for the days those fences are not so visible.

Through the arch, still on the shadier side of the garden, this bed is a real eclectic mix of plants.
I widened this border last autumn and moved plants around in a bit of a hurry, work is needed to balance it off a bit.  The only Heuchera, H. Binoche left in the garden now picks up the colour of the blooms of both Astrantia Moulin Rouge and Ruby Wedding.  In this border, the blues come from the Corydalis and Polemonium.  A couple of hardy Geraniums are almost in bloom too.  Clematis Scartho Gem at the far right is blooming it's heart out.  This is a reliable group 2 clematis that I find does not suffer wilt as can the others that I have gradually removed from the garden.  

On the sunnier side of the gravelled area is still rather green.  An unknown blue hardy Geranium is blooming alongside the first blooms of Clematis The Vagabond (another reliable group 2 variety). The white flowered catmint, Nepeta x faassenii Alba and yet more Allium Purple Sensation are also blooming here.  The variegated honeysuckly Lonicera x italica Harlequin is blooming in the corner, the scent is gorgeous yet the blooms just kind of fade into the background of the brown fence.

The side garden right now Aconitums and Peonies await their turn.  I am hoping that since all the peonies are so late they might have escaped the worst of the wind and rain and their blooms just might not suffer quite as much as they would in a normal year.  We shall see.  The variegated Rhododendron Goldflimmer is standing out right now, Along with some Geranium sylvaticum Alba.  The peachy coloured faded blooms of pink rhoddie are at that scruffy looking stage.

Rhododendron Goldflimmer

Out of shot and in the middle of all this the Zantedeschia aethiopica flowered this year.  Threatened with removal should they not buck up their ideas last year.  They obviously took heed.  I like it when a plant reacts positively to my threats.
Zantedeschia aethiopica

I bet there are masses of you with roses and other summer delights blooming this bloom day post but right now in my garden, there is only a tiny glimpse of what I hope will become a proper floral display of the roses in the front garden.  Yes, this is it, the only rose bud with even the remotest hint of impending colour.
Rosa Port Sunlight
Readers will know that the front garden is the subject of my EOMV posts and some of you might remember that all the Iris I brought along from my brother's garden have been very slow to get going in my garden.  3 years in fact.  This year it's a real mixture of pleasure and disappointment.  All the individual plants have opened to be the same variety.  For weeks I inspected each of the buds for signs of impending colour but eventually all 6 plants that have bloomed have turned out to be the same.  There are still around 5 plants that are foliage only so in the coming years I might just get something different.  According to the British Iris Society, the plants I have are possibly I. Indian Chief..  The colour is not disappointing, they all fit in perfectly with the colour scheme out there, so all's good in that respect.  But, there's always a but, isn't there?  The pale lemon dwarf Iris are just too pale and need to find an alternative home in autumn.  Another disappointment is of the 25 dutch Iris (I. Bronze Beauty) I planted back in autumn, only 6 of those bulbs have come through.  The first one to open is certainly not a bronze beauty either!  As you can see, it's clearly very blue!
Geum Totally Tangerine, Alchemilla erythropoda, Erysimum Fragrant Star and bearded Iris
Annuals Sanvitalia Aztec Gold and Begonia Burning Embers temporarily fill gaps for the summer  
I got round to finding a replacement for the Geranium renardii that did not fit in with my scheme. The plugs of Begonia Burning Embers I purchased back in February and brought on on the kitchen windowsill had been destined to be grown in a pot by the front door but then decided that they'd do a better job here in the ground.  I'm sure the more observant amongst you will notice those gorgeous red blooms too.  I just could not resist those when I was in a GC on Saturday.  Alstroemeria Princess Kate needs a permanent spot in the ground but for now, I'll keep her in the pot until I find the right spot for her when the roses are in bloom.  There will be plenty more to say on the planting out here at the end of the month.

Lastly, a close up shot of Alstroemeria Princess Kate.  The fact that she was purchased on the very same day that our very own Princess Kate had her first official engagement after the birth of Princess Charlotte is a mere coincidence.  I hope she like it here!

Alstroemeria Princess Kath
It's time now to pop over to May Dream Gardens and see what's blooming in your garden right now. Thanks for reading and have a great week!  

Monday, 8 June 2015

Tree Following June 2015 - Sorbus Autumn Spire

I am intentionally a day late in posting this month's Tree Following post.  Why?  Suffice to say that the neighbours washing was hanging on the line over the fence and no matter how hard I tried I could not get a shot without their smalls getting in on the act.  Apologies Lucy but I wanted to save C and D the blushes should they ever come across my post.

Sorbus Autumn Spire - June 2015
When I think back to last year when it was newly planted, the tree produced only 2 cluster of flowers.  This year, there are a total of 7 on the entire tree.  All are nearer the top of the tree and as vertically challenged as I am, I was not going to get a close-up without a hoist up.  Cue kitchen step!  Yes, I need a step to reach the top shelves of the kitchen cupboards too. 

The flower buds are just about to open and the foliage is certainly not as fresh as it was at this time last month.  The entire garden has been taken a fair walloping from the recent winds.  They have been relentless.  Today has been the first day for weeks that has been calm.

Checking back my 2014 records, I think it's fair to say that I have been wrongly assuming that many of the plants are weeks behind.  In reality they are no more than a fortnight behind.  The cold weather has not affected as many plants as I'd thought it had.  Thus far I have seen no pollinators or pests on or around my tree.  Pollinators have been very scarce and sadly greenfly are affecting many of the plants around the garden.  Aphids are generally not prolific in my garden but this year it's quite bad.  I have ceased feeding the birds for now in the hope that they'll help keep them under control.  Late frosts obviously did not kill them off.  Sorbus, from what I have read, are susceptible to aphids, blister mite and sawfly.   I shall have to keep a close eye on those aphids and I need to do a bit of reading up on the blister mites and sawfly so I am familiar with the damage they cause.

Nearby, Viburnum sargentii Onondaga has started opening those bronze buds.  
Viburnum sargentii Onondaga
A favourite of mine at this time of the year this globe flower, Trollius x cultorum Cheddar is also blooming.


Finally the early evening sun provides a bit of light and shade.