Wednesday, 27 April 2016

April Mish Mash

This post, like the weather this April, is a real mish mash of what's been happening in the garden this month.  As you all know I am creating what might be described as a monthly journal of the goings on around the garden.  I have kind of neglected the actual purpose of my blog over the past while and note that I have very few growing and planting notes on my garden.  These monthly posts are my way of resolving this and giving me some form of reference for future years.

First things first - I am up to date with all my pruning, weeding, and summer plant preparation. Much to my amazement.  Even more to my amazement is the fact that I should have little to do in the garden except potter around in the coming month or so.  Having pruned the roses last month, did I tell you just how guilty I felt at chopping off all that lovely new growth?  I am still feeling rather guilty, a few of them are extremely slow to get going again.  R. Lady of Shallot doesn't seem to mind the cold quite as much as R. The Lark Ascending.

Rosa Lady of Shallot and The Lark Ascending

Fritilaria mealagris Alba
The woodland corner  is, I think, looking good right now.  Shrubs are leafing out and the perennials planted in this area, primarily to fill in bare spots until my woodland planting matures and is added too, are coming away nicely.  Trees here and elsewhere in the garden are a only now breaking bud.  I trialed some Colchicum here last year and it is extremely pleasing to see they coped with some flooding.  I've given this area a good mulch in order to replace some of the goodness that may have been lost from the soil.  My only disappointment is that the 25 white Fritilaria bulbs I planted back in autumn seemed to have failed miserably.  I had hope for a nice swath of nodding white blooms beneath the witch hazel.  

The evolving woodland April 2016
The bleeding heart makes quite a statement here when it is in full bloom and it is spreading out nicely. This was a tiny wee £1 bargain plant at a local supermarket a couple of years ago.

With the weather being very changeable at the moment I am grabbing as much time outdoors as I can. We are regularly experiencing four seasons in one day at the moment.  I am working my way through some of those pernicketie wee jobs that I tend to put of until it's too late.  If I can get the timing right in between wintry showers I seem to be achieving quite a bit.  Some of the jobs turn out to be quite satisfying.  For once I am on top of tying in the Clematis.  I have also edged the top lawn.  The grass was now starting to spread between the stones.  I needed to get on top of it before it escaped into the borders.  My trusty old wallpaper scraper comes in handy for such jobs.  Again, it was extremely satisfying to get this done.

The swallows have returned.  Their presence is unmistakable as they dart about feeding in the skies above.  A new bird visitor to the garden this month.  One I haven't seen in the garden before.  A siskin (Carduelis spinus).  A small resident song bird.  These birds are fairly common here in Scotland but not in my garden.  It's always nice to welcome a new visitor.  I hope he and his family become regulars.

Male Siskin
More wildlife - I spotted the first butterfly of the year too.  This has been the one and only sighting though.  Strangely enough I've not seen any whites yet.  They are usually the first to appear in numbers.  The cold I suspect will be the cause of their absence just now.  I read recently that the Butterfly Conservation is launching a project to halt the decline of butterflies in urban areas here in Scotland.  It's a 3 year project and although they are not looking for volunteers in my area I am going to make a better job of providing for and recording butterflies visiting the garden this year.  In the larger pots and containers I am working my way through, that you will read about below, I intend to buy some butterfly friendly annuals.  Local nurseries and GCs always carry quite a good stock.

Peacock butterfly - Aglais io
A neighbour asked me the name of one of my plants recently, she loved the colour.  She just happened to pick the pot bound Phormium which has been sitting below the livingroom window all winter and wasn't at it's best.  She was looking for something similar to go in pots by her front door.  This spurred me on to finally get it out of it's pot and do a touch of slicing and dicing.  I split it in half to begin with and immediately potted one of those halves back into the original pot with fresh compost. The remaining half was divided into 3 pieces.  I kept one for myself as I'd like to give this plant a go in the ground in the front garden.  This had been one of those things I had always meant to do but never got round to it.  And as for Christine, she was most pleased when I tripped up at her front door with 2 plants that can now grace her front step.  Some Uncinia rubra seedlings I discovered whilst weeding were also lifted and potted up.  They too will suit the colour scheme out in the front garden.

Phormium, Stachys and Uncinia 
I seem to be nurturing a whole lot more pots and containers than I'd like at the moment.  I am slowly working my way through all the larger decorative containers that used to sit on the decking.  I've binned a couple of shrubs that were struggling and the same neighbour took a couple more off my hands.  There are a few though that I am willing to spend a little more time and effort over.  Namely the Mahonia eurybracteata Soft Caress.  These plants have never lived up to their expectations.  They were a gift from mum when they were first introduced to the market.  They hate the wind and I have yet to find an ideal spot for them.  I topped dressed them in autumn and have given them a granular feed in the hope they might improve.

Mahonia eurybracteatta Soft Caress
There is still a few plants waiting for the soil to warm up or at least I hope they are waiting on the soil to warm up.  The pristine Hosta shoots are just popping up.  I recently learned that these fresh shoots are edible, who knew?  I'm not sure I'd be able to get the image of slugs slithering all over them out of my mind long enough to try them.  Has anyone tried them?  I should add a disclaimer that you should not take my word for it do some research before you go a cooking and a tasting!

Hosta Blue Cadet emerging between some Eranthis 
I thought reader might like to meet Angie's Garden's latest recruit.  He's out and about now, faster than a speeding bullet.  I need my wits about me when he joins me in the garden for a wee play. Readers please say hello to The Tiny Gardener aka Olli.

Olli making a beeline towards Granma working in the garden with Daddy close at his heals

Thanks for reading.  Up next on my blog is my End of Month View post and I will end with some of my spring favourites,  white daffodils.  All are scented and really lift the garden since they flower a bit later and the garden is at that in between stage.

Narcissus Thalia

Narcissus Tresambles

Narcissus Pueblo

Narcissus Mount Hood

Friday, 15 April 2016

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day April 2016

Just lately I have been embarrassingly late for most of the memes I take part in.  I am determined one way or the other to post this month's Bloom Day post on time.

This April the garden is well and truly coming to life.  Bright days, April showers and warmer temperatures are just what the doctor ordered.  Many of the plants growing in my garden thrive in the rain, they have no option other than to thrive if they want to stay.  Recently I was convinced that my garden was way further on than it had been in previous years but on checking back the past 2 years that appears not to be the case.  I think I've heard one too many news reports on the UK's mildest winter.  We are to expect wintry showers this afternoon.

Anyhoo, back to blooms, which after all is supposed to be the topic of this post.  My favourite daffodil and some summer snowflakes around one of the Cornus are just starting to open.  I'd love to get this particular group of bulbs out of there and into a far more prominent position but since they are left over from a previous incarnation of this bed they are well and truly rooted in with the Euonymus.
Narcissus Thalis and Leucojum aestivium

Around the garden the snakeshead fritilaria are blooming away. It is pleasing to see that they are now spreading themselves around the garden.  I have discovered that in one clump there is signs of fasciation on one particular stem.  The cause of fasciation is unclear.  It could be a symptom of one or a combination of many factors.  Environment, conditions, genetics, viral or even frost are just a few of the suspected causes. You can read more about it here on the RHS Website.  Even the usual chequered markings are somewhat different.  Whatever the cause the odds are it won't appear next year.  I have noted to observe this clump more closely next year.
Fasciation Fritilaria meleagris

I have checked all the other clumps and single self seeded stems and found only one more example of fasciation amongst them.  Fritilaria meleagris should produce a single bloom per stem.  Fasciation can take many forms, unlike the example above where there is 4 individual flowers give it more of a F. imperialis look about, this other example is where 2 flowers appear to be fused together.  A bit like conjoined twins.

Another example of fasciation in Fritilaria meleagris
Next up is a plant I was given by a friend who warned me that it may set seed and become a bit of a pest as it does in his garden.  However, that has not happened in my garden.  After 4 years I still have only the one wee clump.  Like Cyclamen it requires ants to spread its seed.  Ants only ever appear here when the peonies are coming into bud and then disappear from whence they came when they open.  Despite the fact that there are 5 peonies in the same bed as this wee plant I have as yet to come across any seed that may have germinated.  I also grow the cultivar D. cuccularia Pink Punk but it flowers a bit later that this straight species.
Dicentra cucullaria 

A group of plants that do well here are the Epimediums.  They grow in both sun and shade here and don't let me down.   I grow around 6 or 7 different varieties, most of them are still in bud but the first to bloom this year is Epimedium x warleyense Ellen Willmott.  This special barrenwort is one of many plants in cultivation named after the respected plantswoman Ellen Ann Willmott.  It is though essential to keep them watered well until they establish.  I have fallen foul of this before and lost a couple of plants when I neglected to keep them watered their first year in my garden.

Epimedium x warleyense Ellen Willmott

April is always the time for the drumstick Primula.  They bloom at this time of the year no matter what the weather.  They do well here in both sun and shade.  However,  the ones on the shadier side of the garden bloom just a bit later, thus extending their usefulness around the garden.

Prinmula denticulata Album, Rubin and Cashmeriana
I love it when my garden surprises me.  For a few years I grew some Iris bucharica in a pot.  I needed to ensure optimum drainage in order that it survived.  However a couple of  years ago when I was completely fed up with having so many pots to look after in winter I decided it needed to prove it's worth in the ground.  The front garden has the best drainage so tried it there.  Last year, it's first in the ground it produced only foliage but this year there are a couple of blooms.  Yipee!

Iris bucharica

The Euphorbia sent down to me by Frances @ Island Threads last year as small cuttings have thrived. All bar one is blooming right now.  Thank you Frances.

Euphorbia martinii, purpurea and Ascot Rainbow
Euphorbia characius Silver Swan took a fair battering in the storms earlier in the year.  It is suffering from extreme wind rock.  A giant stake is keeping it vertical right now.  I will wait until it finishes flowering before I investigate properly.  I hope it just needs a good firming in.  It has been in the ground a long time so am not wholly confident it would survive being dug out and straightened up. I've never had cuttings from this particular plant strike successfully in the past.

Euphorbia characias Silver Swan

Sitting here finishing off my post, those wintry showers have appeared.  More sleet like than snow so there will be no blanket of snow to pretty up the garden.  The first Camellia bloom is open, the others would do well to stay tight closed until this latest weather front passes.  Gardening here in Scotland, no two days are ever the same.  It was a T-Shirt in the garden day yesterday.
Camellia japonica Lady Vansittart

Lastly, I end this bloom day post with a shot of my freaky Lily.  I say freaky because never in a month of Sundays would I have expected to see it in bloom so soon.  It was planted at the correct depth - heck, I even got the tape measure out for once.  I've not grown lily bulbs in this manner before so want to make sure I followed the planting advice correctly.  I wouldn't say it has been kept in an exceptionally warm place or else the begonias would be far more advanced than they are at present.  At this rate I'll need to find a replacement for the Lilies.  Although just how I will replace them without disturbing everything else is beyond me!

Lilium Ladylike

I wonder who else has out of season blooms this April.  Time to pop over to May Dream Gardens to have a look.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Tree Following 2016 - along the river bank.

I set out along the river bank to get some shots of my chosen tree in between showers.  Dark grey clouds were looming in every direction.  Since intermittent showers are forecast for the next few days I decided now's as good a time as any.  I donned my fleece and grabbed my camera, If I am quick I can be there and back before the rain comes on.  As you can see the trees are still very bare.  The only obvious sign that it's not the dead of winter is that clump of dandelions on the right hand side of the footpath.  It's not until you get up close and personal that you can see buds are fattening.

However, I was not alone.  I had company.  Kooki Kat decided he was coming with me.  I could hear the tinkle of his bell as he bounded along the path to catch me up.

"Come on then, but you'd better behave yourself!" 
Buds in March

I rounded the bend and noted my tree looks exactly the same as it did last month.  It was suggested that my tree could be a common ash. Apparently I should be able to confirm this if the buds are black in colour.  The buds are not black as you can see they are a pale green. I did note a few trees along the way had distinctive black buds but not my particular tree.                

There is much more greenery appearing from beneath the debris.   As you will soon become aware I am not only rubbish at identifying trees my knowledge of wildflowers is just as embarrassing.

I am quite familiar with the brambles (Rubus fruticosa) and the viciousness of those nasty thorns.  I trampled on a few stems to get a better look round the back of my tree.  The dark side!  As expected moss is thriving here.

Moss on the shadier side

As are the lesser celandines.   They are just coming into bloom.

A newly 'hatched' bloom from what I gather is commonly known as butterbur or coltsfoot.  Petasites hybridus is afforded the perfect conditions here to thrive.

This next species I want to say is chickweed but I am not so sure.  I have tried to identify this from images online but I am finding nothing as definitive.  Pictures are mostly of wildflower's blooms.   I did warn you know that my knowledge of wildflowers is dire.  I am hoping someone can clarify just what this is for me.   Please put me out of my misery.

My phone for scale

Something has obviously been digging here.  More than likely moles if you take the mound of soil into consideration.  The moles are very active here.  Rabbits are abundant in numbers in this area too but since there is no visible rabbit dropping I dismissed them as the cause.  I doubt too that rabbits would have attempted to make their burrows in such an open site. Thankfully neither critter frequent our gardens here.      

Speaking of rabbits, my clodhopping around obviously disturb one or two.  3 adult rabbit charged straight past me.  I don't know who got the biggest fright.  The rabbits, me or Kooki.  I am thankful that he is useless at hunting.  He knows it too.  He didn't bother giving chase.

I didn't want to hang around too long, those rabbits might just pique his interest long enough to encourage him to run off in the opposite direction.  I distracted him with the strap from my camera and teased him all the way home with it.  

Tree Following is a meme hosted by Pat at The Squirrel Basket, you can read more about it here.  Thanks for reading and apologies to Pat for still not having an ID so she can update her list.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

End of Month View March 2016

End of February 2016
Joining in with Helen and other bloggers for their End of Month View post usually encourages me to keep on top of things.  Last month the frosts kept me back and this month my sore thumb is the cause of me being behind schedule.  Right now colour is by way of a few Hellebores, some Pulmonaria and Narcissus Tete a Tete.  Since the purpose of following this bed is to take note on what needs sorting out I note that there is no balance between the Hellebores.  I think an additional one planted at the back under the Cotinus would be a good addition, there is no winter interest in that back corner at the moment.  The drumstick primula planted there are just a bit too late to get going to add the height needed at this time of the year.  Of course later in the year this won't be an issue.  
Much to my annoyance I did not notice this until after I had moved the wind damaged Hellebore from the front of the bed 3 weeks ago.  I am loathe now to disturb it again, it has settled into it's new home at the top end of the garden and is looking the best it ever has.  This faux pas really does sum up my method of gardening.  I have replaced it with some Bergenia, which just happened to be struggling elsewhere in the garden.  I am hoping that Bergenia harzkristall is tough enough to take the beating from the wind.  Those dwarf daffs take the wind in their stride, they are tough little blighters.  The little white Primula are new too. A reminder of my day out at RBGE the other week.  It was such a pity they only had 2 small pots left in stock.  I'd have found a home for quite a few more.   

Narcissus Tete a Tete, Pulmonaria Blue Ensign, Eranthis hyemalis and Primula vulgaris Snow White

Muscari aucheri White Magic
Now for something I am hoping my readers can help me with.  I have an issue with some white Muscari (M. aucheri White Magic) I planted in this bed back in 2013 and although flowering when I planted it, they have come up ever blind since.  It looks as if this year will be no different.  I am at a loss as to what I am doing wrong.  Other plants nearby that like similar conditions are doing well.  They are allowed to die back naturally without interference from the me so can confidently rule that out as a possible cause to them not flowering.  Does anyone have an idea as to what might be wrong or better still a solution?  

End of February 2016
The Enkianthus bed however has received some attention.  I managed this before my thumb injury.  Weeded, tidied and mulched it's still all very green at the moment.  A nice healthy green I hasten too add.  There are a few perennials still to show their faces.  Namely Hostas, Japanese painted ferns and the rather lovely Gillenia trifoliata.  It was new last year so has not over wintered here in my garden before.  I am hoping it's a late starter rather than a no show.  The Camellias will flower later, there are plenty of buds on both.  Some Narcissus Thalia and Primula veris are about to come into bloom.  This will add a bit of interest in an otherwise sea of green.    

The Enkianthus bed - End of March 2016
As well as neglecting my garden lately I am also rather behind in my blog reading.  I hate to think just how many post I've missed.  I hope to catch up with you all at some point over the weekend.  Thanks for reading.