Monday, 31 August 2015

End of Month View August 2015

End of July 2015
A couple of readers have contacted me to say they are having difficulty posting to my blog and I am unable to find out where or what has gone wrong.  If you happen to be experiencing such problems would it be too much to ask you to let me know.  You can contact me via my facebook page, the link is there on the right, alternatively you can drop me a note via the contact me button.  I don't know if it's a blogger issue or an issue with settings.  She scratches her head.  I am quite the technophobe and after trawling various help forums I am still no further forward in fixing the issue. I've tried accessing my blog via alternative devices and it seems to be working fine.

Autumn looms as I put together this month's End of Month View post.  The front garden has filled out well.  It's been exactly 1 year since I put some serioius thought and effort into this garden.  There has been success and failure.  More success than failure I am pleased to say.  What started out as an orange/red/purple colour scheme has gradually morphed into orange/red/yellow scheme.  The purples, which I have had most difficulty with have proved to be the trickiest to get just right.  Salvia Amistad may be a beautiful plant but more at home in the pink/white/blue border round the back than out here I have concluded.

Looking west you can see that there are still plenty of blooms in the front garden.  Some of the roses are taking a bit of a break but most of them will bloom again.  Many of them have new buds.  I want to at some point over the next month do a stand alone post about the roses and my experience as a newbie rose grower.  

 Looking west - End of August 2015

Clearly missing this month is the Anthemis tinctoria growing to the left of the arch.  Other plants I've removed this past month has been Kniphofia Bee's Lemon, Geum Totally Tangering, the Itoh hybrid Peony and the large clump of lemon coloured bearded Iris.  All have transplanted well, either into pots or alternative spots elsewhere round the back.  A clear benefit of the cool weather.  

Phormium Evening Glow
The gaps that were created by their removal were a magnet to the cats that decided to use the bare soil as their toilet.  I've used some pots for the time being to deter them.  The Phormium, P. Evening Glow in the far corner fills the spot until I can get round to moving R. Lady Emma Hamilton into this spot.  She is growing to the rear but would benefit from being brought forward.  The pots of trailing begonia to the left of the arch.  I ruled out using R. Summer Song in this spot.  The tones of this rose I found were too pink to my eye.  I am now thinking more along the lines of R. Hot Chocolate.

The view towards the house, punctuated by the 3 clumps of Leucanthemum Broadway Lights. They are off to my brother's garden just as soon as I find time to cut them back and lift them.  Yellow blooms in the foreground are Achillea Inca Gold and Crocosmia George Davidson.  In the background Rudbeckia goldstrum in the far corner.  I read somewhere recently that yellow can be the hardest colour to get right in the garden.  This is one statement that I wholeheartedly agree with.  Providing I stick to deep yellows or golds I should have no difficulty.

Towards the house - End of August 2015

Standing in front of the house, the view from here is my favourite spot to stand and admire the front garden.  A bench in front of the window would be nice but whether or not it would get used is doubtful.  You can see just how tall both R. Lady of Shallot and The Lark Ascending have got.  The Lark Ascending needs moving back a little, there is plenty of space to do this and at the same time a side ways move of around 18 inches to balance the space once Lady Emma Hamilton is moved forward.  More Salvia Amistad to the right.  I already have some Crocosmia Hellfire to replace it and sandwich between the two roses.

Towards the gate - End of August 2015

I don't have an extensive list on what needs doing this autumn, just a tweak here and there should do it.  Nothing terribly labourious.  Right now I should really be focusing on spring bulbs but can't quite decide which, if any, I want to add here. You may remember my disappointment with a couple of my selections earlier in the year.  Perhaps I am just being a bit too cautious because of this.  I may just allow the crocus that are already there multiply naturally.  In winter the front garden is very bare. I commented back in spring that ideally I'd like some Hellebores for winter colour.  My main dilemma is just where to put them!  I could possibly get away with a few dotted along the the gap between the hedge and the roses but wonder if they might hamper maintaining the hedge.  This needs more thought.    

I'd like to focus on a few individual plants if I may.

Digitalis parviflora Milk Chocolate.  Three reasonable sized pots planted last autumn have failed to bloom this year. Disappointing really as I had high hopes for them. They are only now clumping up, you can make out the foliage just to the left of the Euphorbia in the shot above.  Here's hoping they's finally got their roots down and can concentrate on blooming well next year.

Rosa Jude the Obscure has finally produced a bloom that doesn't appear to have balled.  Hip Hip Hooray! I might get a sniff of the supposed wonderful fragrance this rose produces yet.  I am giving this bud a wide berth for now in fear I put a jinx on it.   There are in total another 10 buds, surely the odds are for rather than against at least one of them opening completely.

Rosa Jude the Obscure

Alstroemeria psittacina
Alstroemeria psittacina, I bought this last year yet it failed to bloom despite the perfect summer we had.  It was planted deep to give it as much of a chance to survive winter as possible.  Sadly, the blooms have turned out more pink than the red I had hoped.  It is not coping particularly well with the wind here either.  I am not going to be too hasty to judge this plant.  I will leave it for another year and see if my feelings change about it.

The Potentilla I purchased and mentioned in my previous post, P. Monarch's Velvet is settling in and has began putting on new growth.  The colour of the blooms is far more red than my camera has captured.  I look foward to thses filling out for next year.

Potentilla Monarch's Velvet

You may remember that in spring I treated the border adjacent to the hedge to a good mulch of manure. Intending to beef up the hedge, which it has, it has also benefited the Tropaeolum speciosum. I have never seen it quite to vigourous before.  Seen here taking hold over one of the Salvia plants.  I am not complaining about this, not one single bit.  I have promised one reader some tubers from this plant, you know who you are, I've not forgotten about you.  They will be lifted just as soon as they start dying back.  This apparently is the best time to do it.

Tropaeolum speciosum and Salvia Amistad

Crocosmia Jackanapes, a new plant here.  Already in the ground sandwiched between two of the roses, it looks a bit cramped just now but once the roses are spaced better there will be more room for it.

Crocosmia Jackanapes

That pretty much rounds up my post this month.  I leave you now to catch up with all the posts I've missed this last week or so.  Thank you for reading and if you are interested in taking part in the End of Month meme, please pop over to The Patient Gardener's Weblog.  Everyone is welcome!

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A visit to The Quirky Bird

Some of you may be readers of Rona's blog - The Quirky Bird Gardener and others this will be the first time you've come across the name.  Rona, used to work at a nursery local to me and I have followed her blog for some time now.   Rona has recently taken ownership of Quercus Garden Plants.  She has been blogging about this exciting new path for her and her family recently.  I am sure you'll all like to join me in wishing Rona and David all the very best in this venture.  You can read all about Rona's career in horticulture here.

At the beginning of the month I made time to visit.  It had been my intentions to make a whole day of it. My grandfather's family hail from the area and it has been a good few, possibly 30 or so, years since I was last down this way.  As things panned out that morning, a whole day out plant shopping and sight seeing was not going to be possible.  I did however manage to squeeze in a couple of hours for a visit. The journey down to Quercus is a lovely scenic drive once you leave the city boundary.  Travelling south-west around the Pentland Hills, which are situated to the south of Edinburgh, the journey took me a bit long than the 30 minutes I expected. Mainly because I took advice from my son on which road to take and as it turned out, I should have been on the other road.  Not that it matters, both roads south get you practically to the door.  The nursery was very well sign posted, there had be no chance I'd drive past the entrance.  If you follow the road to Lamancha, West Linton in the Scottish Borders, you can't possibly go wrong!  

As you can see Rona's new bridge over the stream is just delightful, inviting even.  It makes you want to trot over it.  Neither hers nor my pictures really do the area justice.  It's far bigger than it appears.  I was quite taken by surprise on how large the area was.  Rona wrote and posted about the work they carried out here and my how the plants here and further up the bank, especially, have really filled out already.  You can access the sales/plants area either over the bridge or up the gravel path.

Quercus Garden Plants, the sign says it all really.  Direct and straight to the point.  Hardy and unusual plants for Scottish Gardens.  It is Rona's aim to stock and supply plants that will do well here in our Scottish Climate.  If a plant grows well at Quercus, it should do well just about anywhere.  The open windy site means plants will need to be tough.  Taking over 8 or so weeks ago, Rona, David and family have already made great inroads on improving the area and with continued work I'm sure it can only get better.  I wasn't sure if Rona would recognise me as a customer from her previous place of employ.  It appears she did, either that or she was very good disguising it.  After an initial blether, I left both Rona and David to get on with their work and took myself off to peruse their wares.

One of the very well stocked sales benches.  Offering a wide variety of familiar hardy plants, there was one plant here that kept grabbing my attention but I had no idea what it was.  I made a note to ask Rona more about it later.   In the back ground the shade lover's tunnel has many of the plants you'd expect to find.

These large cable drums made an ideal station for showing off plants.  You can see the surrounding farm houses and businesses in the background.   And not forgetting to mention Rona's OH pushing the wheelbarrow to gather yet more mulch for down by the stream.  I would like to add that he was doing a very good job.  I hope that doesn't sound patronising.  I don't mean it too.

Making my way up the terracing, the area at the top was filled with a good selection of perennials too. As well as taking over the nursery, Rona also became owner of all the stock.  Although much of it, Rona informed me, was beyond rescuing.  There is plenty here to choose from.  I meant to and completely forgot to ask what the teepee or was it a wigwam was for.  Hopefully she'll read this post and let us know.

The view from up here, well I'm sure you'll agree, is superb.  You could not fail to enjoy working in such a place, nor tire from it.  Looking north towards Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills in the distance. This shot reminds me of how we forecast the weather here.  If you can't see the Pentland Hills, it must be raining.  If you can see the Pentland Hills, it will rain some time soon!

The building in the foreground is the restaurant and farm shop.  Whitmuir - The Organic Place.  You can ream more about it here.  I did not pop in this visit but next time I will do a bit of shopping in the farm shop.

Heading back down towards the office, a selection of trees and shrubs on offer today.  All looking very healthy.  You are lucky to get a brief glimpse of a blue sky.  A rare occurrence this summer.

Rona's office and more sales tables.  Had I not already had such a well stocked jam packed garden, I could have had a field day here.  As well as many garden favourites, Quercus stock a selection of native plants and it's important that I add they garden organically too.                      

So what did I buy?  Potentilla Monarch's Velvet - this plant is one that's been on my wish list for a
good while and never quite made it into the garden.  3 small, reasonably priced pots came home with me.  Planted out in the front garden almost immediately, they have settled in and are beefing out. There should be more to see of these little beauties in my end of month post.

Remember the plant I mentioned at the top of the post,  what really caught my eye was the white starry flowers.  At first I thought it was a shrub.  I was surprised to learn it was a perennial.  The plant has a shrubby look to it, in my opinion.  Let me introduce you: Gillenia trifoliata.  Apparently, we've to think of Gaura for shade when we think of this plant.  Having seen Gaura on a couple of blogs lately, I can see why the comparison is made.

Gillenia trifoliata blooms

The foliage is fresh and green.  It has serrated edges.  It immediately sprung to my mind that this plant would make a good replacement for the rogue strawberry foxglove that clashes with the yellow Ligulaira.  Offering a similar height.   I quizzed Rona on the conditions it would like and if it would take some shade.  She confirmed that it would.  And from what I've read elsewhere, it's the best place for it since it is a woodland plant.  

Gillenia trifoliatus foliage
With the foxglove already removed and in the compost bin, I will also need to remove the small buxus plant I was attempting to topiarise before I can get it in the ground.  Hosta Praying Hands and Athyrium niponicum also grows nearby.  I think these plants will play off each other nicely.

Gillenia trifoliata prefers a neutral to slightly acidic soil.  To be honest, I've never performed a soil test in the garden but in this same bed the Enkianthus cernuus thrives, therefore hope the Gillenia will like it there too. A woodland plant, from the eastern USA, it has been awarded an AGM by the RHS here in the UK.  You can read what the RHS say about this plant here.  With a hardiness rating of H7, winter should not be a problem.

Being new to me and in bloom means that this plant meets requirements to be included with my Bloom and Grow series for 2015.  It's nice to have sourced a new plant without having to put any effort into it whatsoever.  The Gillenia is also said to have good autumn colour too,  It's always nice to have an extended period of interest.  Google images shows autumn colour as both yellow and red.  It will be interesting to see which it colour it takes.

Currently shaded by other pots on the back step,  I can readily see that it is visited by pollinators as they pass by.  I look forward to seeing this permanently in the ground in the near future.

All in all my afternoon out to Quercus Garden Plants was good, just a pity that as soon as I began my journey home, the heavens opened and the enjoyable drive home was hampered by the fact I could hardly see 5ft in front of me all the way back!

If you are ever in the area, I can thoroughly recommend a visit.  Will I visit again? you bet I will! Thank you to Rona and David for taking the time out from their busy schedule to chat to me.  

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day August 2015

We had a fleeting encounter with summer Wednesday/Thursday this week.  We were keen not to get carried away, it was forecast to change again on Friday.  And change it did!  The weekend has been none too bad either, might we call this week summer!  Excuse my sarcasm.

Sanguisorba after the rain

In the sunny border things have got a bit too pink in the corner nearest the house.

Bloooming righ now: Allium, Sidalcea, Sanguisorba, Veronicastrum, Salvia, Stachys, Phlox and Nepeta 
Just out of shot the first Anemone flower is open.  This is supposed to be Anemone Ruffled Swan but it appears the bloom is a single rather than the semi-double I was expecting.

Anemone, Sanguisorba and Potentilla

The Agapanthus pots are also coming into bloom.  Agapanthus africanus (right hand side) was a huge clump of bare root plant I picked up for a little over £2 back in February.  It filled a 12l pot and bargain of the year in my book.

My favourite spot in the whole garden at the moment.  I'm sure I said that last month too!

Roses, Achillea, Rudbeckia and friends

Bought as plugs back in February Begonia Glowing Embers are exactly that!  These I think are not the tuberous variety, probably not worth the effort to bring through winter.

Begonia Glowing Embers

The beautiful Salvia Amistad.  Cuttings from last year's plant, 16 in all, I was hedging my bets.  I gave half of them away and the remainder fills gaps in the front garden.

Salvia Amistad

Some more blooms in the front garden.
Hemerocallis Crimson Pirate
Rudbeckia Summerina Brown and Orange
Cosmos Chocamocha - Rudbeckia - Helenium Ruby Tuesday 
I was glad I found time to take some pictures while the sun shone yesterday.  The rain has wreaked havoc with the Helenium.  Suffice to say they look as if they've been dragged through the hedge backwards now!
Helenium Moerheim Beauty

Ligularia Brit Marie Crawford and Persicaria amplexicaulis JS Caliente

I was not surprised to find this Hellebore in bloom up on the top tier.  This is the third year in a row it has bloomed in August.  But never quite so prolific as this year.

Helleborus orientalis

Persicaria Red Dragon blooms getting ready to take over from Digitalis mertonensis.

Digitalis x mertonensis and Persicaria Red Dragon

Hosta Blue Cadet is not being put off by the wildly ways of the Persicaria.   I like these two plants together, I must remember to move the Hosta forward a bit next spring.  Most of  the other Hostas are in bloom now too.
Persicaria Red Dragon and Hosta Blue Cadet

On the arch/trellis, The Wedgewood Rose has had a bit of a tough year.  Hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky is just about to do its thing.

Rosa The Wedgewood Rose and Hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky

In the shady border, the Polemoniun are getting going for a second time and in the background one of my favourites, Kirengeshoma palmata in the background is also coming into flower.

Polemonium, Hosta and Heuchera
Rounding up this month's Bloom Day post are the tiny flower buds of Cyclamen hederifolium just nosing their way from beneath the surface of the soil.  Thanks for reading.  

Cyclamen hederifolium with aphid!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Tree Following August 2015 - Sorbus Autumn Spire

Unlike the neighbouring Laburnum tree, my Rowan appears to be holding it's own against the strong winds.  Obviously both trees have decidedly different growth habits and whilst the Laburnum is loosing new stems/branches at a worrying rate, the Rowan is showing no signs of wind damage what so ever.  I point this out for comparison because both trees were purchased because of their said tolerance of the wind or for exposed coastal areas.  It can get windy here, some mature trees nearby have a distinct wind swept look and grow at some odd angles.      

Sorbus Autumn Spire has continued to put on a bit of height and pleasingly is filling out a bit too.  I forget now which shrub this tree replaced and I worried if the surrounding plants may have detrimental effect on the tree's ability to settle in but it appears not to be the case. 

This wider shot give a better idea on how dense the planting is round about.  I much prefer dense planting like this.  I hate the sight of bare soil and this is a fool proof way of keeping the majority of the weeds down. 

I mentioned last month that there was very few berries on the tree.  This month there are even less. Is the snail I found snuggled up in the centre of the tree the culprit I wonder!  The birds continue to use the small feeder hanging on the tree.  Mainly sparrows just now along with the odd blue tit or two.

I am on neighbour's tomato plant watering duty at the moment and I just happened to noticed that she has planted, what I think might be the dreaded snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), on the other side of the fence from the Rowan Tree.  How have I missed this?  It's quite sizable too, although at the rate it grows here it might only have been in the ground a month or so, for all I know.  I know it is not my garden and what she plants should not be any of my concern but some of you may remember she has a penchant for plants that tend to sucker or invade or dare I say both!  I will need to keep my eyes peeled for signs of it suckering under the fence. These plants are very invasive in the conditions here and if I dare take my eye off the ball for a moment it will over run this area in no time. They have a hedge of this stuff at the top end of their garden, she is always complaining about it.  I must remember to point out to her that this is the same plant.  I hope my power of persuasion works. Wish me luck in that department.

That about sums up this month's Tree Following post.  A big thank you to Lucy for hosting, please pop over to Loose and Leafy to read more tree following posts.  See you there, I've lots to catch up with.