Sunday, 30 June 2013

End of Month Review - June 2013

June is over, the year is half- way through and the nights will soon be drawing in.  Gosh how cheerful is that?  June has been a bit wet, a bit windy and a bit sunny.  This means the garden has grown like mad and then been flattened by the wind.

June has heralded the start of the rose season.  I grow quite a lot of roses and one of my favourites is Rosa Leda by the front gate.  It looks wonderful and smells amazing as I wander up the path when I get home from work. 
The other side of the gate is the magnolia which now has the pink geranium underneath it starting to flower.  It brightens this rather dark space.
The knot garden is moving from being a '(k)not quite' to a 'very nearly'.  The box is looks hedgy and the sweet peas are starting to flower.  I remain pleased with it, which is something I had thought I might never be.
The border by the front door is looking quite good too, there is a marvellous foxglove and the Rosa Gertrude Jekyll is scrambling up by the front door beautifully.  It took it a year or two to settle in but now it feels like it has got into its stride.
The gravel garden is expanding itself well.  Very little of it is planted on purpose, most of the planting is self-seeded wanderers.
Moving on through to the back garden, this has now exploded into growth.
The veg beds are doing very well.  I have already harvested two (yes two) asparagus spears plus some mange tout.  Yes I have become a person who eats mange tout, who ever thought that such a grown-up thing would happen to me?  The peas are almost ready to start harvesting and the broad beans are not far behind.  I am yet to get a flower on the courgettes or cobra beans but they are close.  My main thoughts at the moment about the veg beds is whether I grow too many potatoes.  I love growing them, they are fun but  they do take up a lot of room.  I am seriously considering not growing them next year and just growing more pickable veg.
The pleached hornbeams almost look pleached, they need a bit of sorting at the moment but I am really pleased with how these trees have developed this year.  This is partly due to the trees getting larger and partly due to me finding out more what I need to be doing.
The Four Sisters are growing well.  I am particularly pleased with the Edgeworthia as it is still alive and is putting on rather large leafage.  I have fed it a couple of times with liquid seaweed to encourage it to stay alive.
If I turn around from the Four Sisters I can look down the Long Shoot.  Ignore the length of the grass, it rained last weekend and I'm busy this weekend, it might get cut on Monday evening if I can.  The length of the grass though does enable the daisies, clover and buttercups to put on a good show, so I am not really that bothered that it is a little shaggy.

The Pond Border is a doing very well.  The geraniums are adding colour.  The roses are just starting to open and the poppies are on the verge of doing their thing.
It is a good year for foxgloves, this year I have many and they are good colours.  I do like a good foxglove.
The Coal Bunker border is also doing well.  The Eschscholzia californica is lighting it up with orange, all self-seeded from last year.
The Conservatory Border is also doing well, the oriental poppies are nearly over and will be cut right down, leaves and all, as soon as the flowers are finished.  This tidies them up as they get rather straggly and if I am lucky I might get a second flush of flowers later in the year.  The rheum is still adding great structure too.
The Nigella is flowering away in a sea of blue in the Pond Border.  I let it run riot a bit, but I pull it up when I need to clear some space to plant something new.
The Spring Border is sort of sitting back a bit at the moment, it not being Spring any more means its moment is sort of past.  The welsh poppies add colour and there is a Rosa Winchester Cathedral in the corner, so it is not completely dull.  I also planted two blue meconopsis in this border the other day and I have high hopes for them.  They, like the Edgeworthia, are also still alive, which is 100% more hopeful than I had been of either of them.
The Prairie Borders look wonderful in the evening sun, it was quite late in the day when I took these photographs.  The self-seeded verbascum have been edited so that just a few remain, but they have placed themselves well.
The Tree Lupin border is a bit in-between times too.  The woad is basically finished.  I have dead-headed a lot of it but some veils of seeds remain.  The purple orach is popping up nicely and whilst I remove a lot of it, enough remains to make nice points of colour.
I have planted a lot of dahlias, tithonias, zinnias, malope and cleome in this border, I am expecting a riot of colour.  Every year I expect a riot of colour yet it always falls short of what I want.  This year, this year it will work.  I am determined to get this right this year!  (I will report back.....)
These white peonies are in one of the corners of the Tree Lupin border and just look wonderful with the pink geranium.  They sprawl together well.
Just by the Dancing Lawn this rose is climbing up the apple tree.  It is a great rose, smells wonderful and has huge pink flowers.  Shame I don't know its name.
The Wild Garden, that runs up alongside the Dancing Lawn and around to the top of the garden is looking quite wild.  The flowers are starting to appear now and the grass is really tall this year.  Sadly it is also quite flat in places and I think I might have to scythe some back soon earlier than usual.  I will think about this, but it will not unflatten.
The new planting in the Bog Garden is doing quite well.  There are still gaps but I think it the planting will thicken up ok.  I am very pleased with the ferns who all seem to be settling in well.
Around the back of the Bog Garden is the Woodland Border.  That is doing very well this year.  There are a few poppies and a few foxgloves and I think it has come on quite well over the past couple of years.
For some reason I rarely photograph from this angle.  This looks from the edge of the Prairie Borders, down past the Spring Borde which is on the left along the side towards the Bramley tree.  The Pond border wraps around to the right of the photograph and it looks down across the formal lawn.  I want to reshape the formal lawn a bit, I'm not quite happy with it at the moment so that is a plan in the hatching.
I end as is traditional at the pond.  The pond is reasonably full for this time of year which is a good thing from all the recent rain.  I have already counted at least three discarded cases from dragonfly larvae,  this makes me very happy.  There are still some tadpoles in the pond and occassionally I see Tiny the newt.  As I often say, the pond makes me very happy.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.  Hard to think that next month will be July, I am sure I have lost a month or two this year.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Plantify plant trial - update 1

I have been lucky enough to have been asked to trial some plants for Plantify.co.uk I have received six plants in total from them in two batches.  The first selection arrived back in October last year and they were duly planted out.  The three plants were:  Anemone x hybrida 'Robustissima', Aster x frikartii 'Monch' and Geranium 'Tanya Rendall'.  All are growing well though it is not the time of year for the Anemone or the Aster to shine just yet.  I shall therefore gloss over them until it is their moment.  Today I want to share with you the progress of Tanya (we have been together since October, I can use just her first name now.)
Tanya is doing fine, flowering away merrily after getting through the winter with no problems at all.  She was flowering in October when she arrived and I am hoping that I get a good long period of flower from her.  My only observation is not to do with the quality of the plant at all, that is beyond reproach, no, the issue I have is that I think I planted it in the wrong place.  This is a low growing plant and I think it needs to be closer to the front of the border.  Now I do keep extending the borders so even things that were once at the front find themselves further back quite quickly.  So I think in the Autumn I might move it forward a bit, I might see how readily it will divide too.  I am happy with this plant.

The second delivery brought me: Rose 'Millie, Helleborus x hybridus 'Red Lady' and Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'.   All three plants are doing well, the rose is coming on strongly and the hellebore is putting on growth well.  The hellebore arrived a little late to flower so that is a joy to come next year.  The rose is budding up well.

The peony, you may recall, was dormant on delivery.  Receiving dormant plants is always a challenge of good faith though as I planted it I could see it had a good root system.  I waited...
growth appeared......

and then buds appeared.  Now I did not expect buds in its first year.  Peonies can be a little sensitive and do not always perform when first planted so to see buds was a real joy.
and the flowers emerged.  I am very happy with this pretty little peony.  I am not sure if it is possible to have too many peonies and this one is definitely worth having.
So, first update ends with all being well.  No disappointments, the plants are all doing what they should. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Blackberry Tales 6 - X marks the spot

My garden is a constant source of amazement and wonder to me.  Not only does it contain the things I have planted and planned but then there are the inexplicable things that happen/grow and I know point to a more mystical/fantastical world that I can only imagine that is happening.

In the wild garden there are the patches of lime green grass.  Just a few tufts, but there they are, distinct and proud.
What do they mean?  They must signify something?

Does it point to where the gold seams are?
Are diamonds found underneath these areas?

Do they mark the ancient burial tombs of the little people?
 Who knows?  The less enlightened mutter things about self-seeded grasses from other parts of the garden, but seriously, how likely is that?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Looking at show gardens can be like a spaghetti western

or part 2 of an Unexpected Journey

As I explained in a previous post, I won a ticket to go to Gardeners World Live at the NEC, a show I have not visited in recent years but that this time I rather enjoyed.
I also explained that when the show gardens were first introduced I hardly noticed and when I did notice, I was not that overwhelmed.  Partly this was caused by the perceived habit to repeat gardens I had recently seen at Chelsea Flower Show.  Now I fully understand that not everyone can get to Chelsea, so part of me liked the idea of widening the audience for the gardens, yet somehow it did not seem to quite work.
So guess what, this was a repeat from Chelsea Flower Show!  But in my usual inconsistent fashion I did not mind this overly as this was a display from Birmingham Libraries and we were very close to Birmingham.  This felt a little more allowable.
 
I loved this VW van garden 'The Plant Van' designed by Erica Ward.  I liked it, it was put together well and had nice stuff. 
Vehicles in gardens was clearly a theme as further along I found this:

It was designed by Charlie Bloom and the planting was excellent.  I mourned the demise of such a beautiful car and worried a little about what was going to happen to it next.  I get easily distracted by such things.
Along a bit further, The Austerity Garden, crikey I liked this garden.  I am not a huge succulent fan but this was beautifully put together, well planted and just a cracking bit of design in general I thought.
Next door to this was Lavender Island by Pip Probert.  The paving was used to really good effect, the planting was good and oh look, a heuchera.
This next garden I neglected to make a note of the name of, which might have been a bit subconscious as I did feel it was a bit too much structure, not enough planting.  But, and this is a genuine but, the mass planting of Cirsium occidentale venustum was amazing, I really liked it and so did the bees.  I also liked the orange walls, though I am not sure they went to well with the Cirsium, but there was too much wall not enough Cirsium in my un-designer opinion.
At the back of the show, almost missable were the Birmingham borders (just past the doors in my previous post).  These borders were brilliant, a good small size as a sort of starter for ten and I think they worked really well.
This one (below) won the prize for the best use of a heuchera (I awarded this prize, apparently no one else wanted to do so).
This one (below) also involved a heuchera to great effect (I was by this stage convinced it was not possible to have a garden without them).
 
This one did not involve a heuchera, but I am sure it would have it had been around when they were being handed out.
I also awarded my own 'Best in show'.  I loved this garden below best of all.  No I would not have anything similar in my garden, but I loved the boldness, I loved the use of gunnera and just the general madness of the whole idea.
 
I loved the way as you walked around the garden you could see different angles.  I liked how the Gunnera caught the light even on this dull rainy day.  I liked the under planting and the landforms that surrounded the garden.   I thought this garden showed imagination and wit, two things always to be encouraged, it was designed by Tony Smith and I salute you.

So that is my brief wander wander the show gardens, I wished I had had a poncho (mainly for the rain) and I was thinking it was a bit like a spaghetti western as I mentally categorised the gardens as the good, the bad and the ugly (actually in fairness I did not think any were particularly bad or ugly, some just worked better than others, but that just would not work for this theme).  This also led to a bit of wishing that I had boots with spurs on, sometimes my mind wanders just a little too far.