Tuesday, 31 July 2012

End of Month Review - July 2012

July has been a bit odd really.  It's been quite wet, quite hot and very hot and now quite wet again.  The rain and cold has held parts of the garden back, but the recent sun has seen some improvement lately; today however it is back to grey, drizzley rain.
The front garden is driving me crazy.  Superficially it might look ok, the crocosmia Lucifer are wonderful this time of year and direct the eye away from the jumbly mess that is around them.  I have never been happy with the front garden and I am now actively disliking it.  The knot garden bit is ok, but the inserts do not work nor does the planting around the outside.  I have just planted some Dianthus Arctic Fire grown from seed into the corner triangles of the knot garden,  I had to spot weedkill the horrendous weeds that have been strangling everything and I think I shall have to keep doing that for a while yet, the weeds are pernicious.  No, the front garden does not make me happy.
The gravel garden is doing quite well.  It has not minded the rain and has loved the sun.  It is only small but I like it.
So, into the back garden.  The cardoons are growing really tall this year, I am very pleased with them and they add great structural height to the coal-bunker border.
These Leucanthemum Superbum 'Phyllis Smith' have loved the rain this year.  The plant is now about three years old and I divided it earlier this year.  It has been spurred on to put on the best show so far from it.
Walking around to the Conservatory border, that is now showing the pink of the roses (Portmeirion closest, Gertrude Jekyll slightly further away).  The self-sown Verbascum are now flowering and adding some needed height to this area.
The rose hedge (Rosa Hyde Hall) is getting a bit more hedgy every day.  I am very pleased with this indeed.  Originally it was going to be a yew hedge but after two failed plantings I put these roses in and they are just romping away now.  They make me very happy.
The pond border, which was mainly dug this time last year, is now looking rather full.  I am generally pleased with how it is doing.  The lack of sun has held back the annuals that I have planted in this area but they are starting to come through now.  The Ammi Majus can be seen at the corner and that is doing well.  There is also some self-sown purple orach adding height and colour.  This border had many poppies in it which are now mainly spent.
The grass path between the pond border and coal bunker border is looking good, I am increasingly pleased with this effect.
In the conservatory border the cats have been sleeping on the Stipa Tenuissima.  Cats seem to love this grass, to flattening effect.
The prairie borders are starting to look good now.  They were first marked out this time last year and now the grasses and plants are starting to thicken up well.  The borders suffer hugely from cat-flattening and fox-digging, but they are getting there, slowly.
I don't often stand this side of the prairie borders and look back across the garden, but I rather like this view.
As I move around to the woodland border and wild garden there are tangles of teasels now starting to flower.  I love teasels and spend a lot of time removing their seedlings.
The woodland border has been largely planted in the last twelve months, I nearly made it into a second pond, but it is coming together fairly well now.  I am still not totally happy that it is going in the right direction.
The wild garden is looking good, I am pleased when I look through it back to the house.
I love the way the Catalpa leaves shine in the sun.
I thought this Tulip tree was dead, it was just a stick,
So I bought this one to replace it - so now I have two - hurrah!
The dahlia border currently does not have a lot of dahlias flowering in it, but many have buds now.
The zinnias are providing tiny dots of colour, they do seem very small this year.
This corner of the dahlia border is doing very well, very pleased with this.
I go back through the pergola towards the formal garden.  The clematis on the pergola seem happy enough.
The annuals in the pond border are short but starting to give colour at last.
I even have more than one lupin in flower now.
The vegetable beds are just a disaster area to be honest, but the cobra beans are coming on and it looks like the sweetcorn is doing something.  Whether I will actually harvest any sweetcorn is another matter!  I harvested my first courgette this weekend and they look like they will do ok eventually.
The view back across the pond is looking quite good, the grassy knoll to the right, the dancing lawn directly in front and the wild garden up towards the Portmeirion bench in the top corner.
I finish as always on the pond.  It is still pretty much full, its gone down a little due to the recent sun, but no where near how low it was last year.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Trial 4 - Lily Lankon

As part of the trial I am doing for Thompson and Morgan I was sent nine Lily Lankon bulbs.  I have actually given up growing lilies because I am fed up with Lily beetles ruining them.  I squish the little red g*ts whenever I see them, but they rampage all over the garden.  I do worry a little about lily pollen and my cats too, but in honesty it has never actually caused me (or them) a problem.  Anyway, I do like lilies a lot so receiving some was not an unwelcome part of the trial.
As you can see from this photograph the lilies have been attached by lily beetle, the foliage has suddenly got a lot of holes in it.
Some of the buds have got damaged too.
The flowers though are beautiful, really so.  If you had asked me would I like freckly/speckly lily flowers I think I would have said no, I think I would have said I prefer clear, simple, plain Lilies.  This flower won me over though, it is quite stunning.
It is worthy of a closer look.

I am using the lilies to hide my oil tank
I can hardly see it.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Poppies and metaphysics

“You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I'll tell you all the news.”    ('I'm explaining a few things'.  Pablo Neruda 1904 – 1973)

I wanted to start off this post with a nice poem about poppies.  As many of you are aware on Twitter my name is Papaver and whilst in reality I might try and claim it is not always my favourite flower, it is really, even from a young age I was delighted by poppies growing by the roadsides and seeing them fluttering in fields.  Anyway, my hunt for a poppy poem took me to Pablo Neruda.  Now whilst I would also claim I am not the world’s greatest poetry fan, he is my favourite poet.  I find the power of his words beyond beautiful.  The rest of this poem can be found here, it is not a joyous, pretty poppy poem at all but it is a great poem and worth reading (in my opinion).  
The concept of ‘poppy petalled metaphysics’ is quite striking.  Poppies are such beautiful flowers, yet their meaning is underwritten with ideas of Remembrance Day and the WW1 battle fields.  Poppies are also grown for opium and are therefore related to the misery associated with drug production, trafficking and addiction.  Underneath the beauty of the poppy is the distinct whiff of misery and death.

I balance this thought with the colour and life that poppies bring to my garden and this year in particular they have been incredibly good.  I grow several different types of poppies:

the perennial Papaver orientale (Oriental Poppy),
the Meconopsis cambric (Welsh Poppy), 
Eschscholzia californica (Californian Poppy), 
Glaucium flavum (Horned Poppy), 
Papaver rhoeas (Field Poppy) and 
Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy).  
From this list it would appear that I have joined that group of gardeners who are obsessed with a particular plant/flower.  Well I think I am guilty as charged on that one.  I have even spent a few weeks this year posting photographs of the day’s favourite poppy, choosing the flower that I have liked the most on that specific day to post to Twitter, yes I think that is clear evidence I might like poppies a bit.

So as it reaches near the end of the poppy season, with the garden now being more full of poppy seed heads than flowers, I would share a few of the best from this year as they have been amazing:
Definitely a good year for poppies.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Wild Garden 2012 Update - still miffed

I thought I would do an update on my wild garden.  I wrote about it in June 2010 and when I look back at that post it looks a bit more restrained than it does at the moment. 
The Wild Garden is about one quarter of my back garden, it is the top left hand side.  I have a pergola and a line of pleaching hornbeams to delineate it on one side.  The pond forms part of the boundary, sort of, in a way; and the prairie borders are to the right of it.  It has a distinct sense of space about it.
I knew when I first looked at my garden, about five years ago, that this top bit would be the wild area.  It felt like it should be so, I cannot explain it any better than that.  The garden has led me with its design, not the other way around.
In its first Spring I planted quite a lot of native wild flower plugs.  These pretty much did nothing in that first year.  In the second year I was not convinced any had survived really but by the third year suddenly there were flowers and things were starting to happen.
Of course now I cannot remember exactly what I planted and what has just appeared.  Some of the plants clearly were around to being with.
I did plant these blue cranesbills, they are really doing well now.
I also planted these scabious, but they pop up in different places now so I think they are moving around a bit.
I do not think I planted this wild mallow though, it also pops up everywhere and is very pretty.
This appeared this year, no idea what it is, it looks like its a pea relative to me.
Some patches are looking pretty good now.
The grass has done well this year, now its perked up a bit after being so flattened by the constant rain we have had recently.
There are some good seed heads, I have a lot of Queen Anne's Lace in this part of the garden and the seeds are as pretty nearly as the flowers.
I have lots of this....
and this..... (when I refer to things as this, it means I do not know what the name is)
I think this might be ragwort, I have lots of this.
However, ragwort has its benefits, namely the Cinnabar Moth lays its larvae on them, this is a very pretty moth so I am pleased to have it in my garden.
I have a lot of nettles,
some very painful and very tall nettles too.
Around the edges of the garden there are many blackberries and they wander through into the wild garden.  I do try and remove them when they get into the garden itself though, it is a bit like growing razerblades.
I cut paths through the wild area so that I can wander around it and see how the different areas grow.

Of course one challenge with the wild garden is that in a garden where self-seeding is encouraged, some of these plants do take that as a very open invitation and I struggle to control some of it.  I admit I do spot weedkill the some of the ragwort and some of the nettles too to try and keep them in this area only.  I also need to control them or they will swamp out some of the other plants.

So there it is, the Wild Garden, still a bit miffed if truth be told.