29.5.20

May Aquilegias

These beautiful aquilegias add a touch of the 'cottage garden' style to the garden.  They flower during spring and keep their foliage for most of the summer and autumn and although they look quite delicate, they are quite hardy.  They love the shade in the stumpery area and the raised bed, but are equally at home in the side border too.  One pink one has grown quite tall - 1m35cm which is as tall as I am (wheelchair user).  I love the way that, as the flower matures, it raises it's head until the seed heads point upwards like little jester hats.
I don't remember all their names and they have been quite promiscuous so who knows what will come up next year.  I did have to take quite a few out as they had seeded in the wrong place, but they have been potted up ready to be sold whenever the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club starts up again after lockdown.

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Baby pink aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Deep pink aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilagia,
Pink aquilegia

plants, flowers. aquilegia,
Purple aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Purple  aquilegia face on

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Purple and white aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
White aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Ruby aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Pale blue aquilegia

plants, flowers aquilegia,
Pink and white aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Tall pink aquilegia

29.4.20

Sunniest April on record!

My goodness what a change from the extremely wet winter.  I have been out with the hose a few times to keep some of the recently planted shrubs and small plants hydrated.  The later of the narcissi have now flowered, most of them beat the slugs, but a few have been nibbled before they flowered, some flowers nibbled while in full flower, and a couple chewed down to about 2 inches high!
The Actea is a very tall slender narcissi with a subtle scent.  The Pipit is a small petite variety which also have a nice scent.  The centre and cup of Pipit fades to a pale creamy yellow.

plants, flowers,
Narcissus 'Actaea'  poeticus
plants, flowers,
Narcissus jonquil 'Pipit'
Narcissus jonquil 'Pipit'

The rhododendron looks fine after it's move at the end of last year.  The pieris which was leaning over to the right and was very top heavy has now been chopped quite far down.  There was already new growth from the trunk further down, so after a good feed and water I am hoping it will bush out from the base.
plants,
leaning Pieris japonica 'Forest flame'
plants,
chopped Pieris japonica 'Forest flame'

The ivy-leaved toadflax is looking good just now and although some other plants are gradually coming into flower, most of the narcissi are over, so too are the corydalis, and some primroses.  I am waiting rather impatiently to see if the nepeta and coreopsis have made it through the winter, as I don't see any signs of growth yet.

plants, flowers,
Cymbalaria muralis (ivy-leaved toadflax)
plants, flowers,
Cymbalaria muralis (ivy-leaved toadflax)

And now for the mistake: I had originally thought of putting the sarcoccoca (winter flowering with fabulous scent) at the back of the garden where it would get quite a lot of shade, but a bit of sun in the morning.  I then changed my mind and thought it would be nice to have the scent drift up onto the patio area and so I asked Harry to plant it just in front of the patio.  WHY DID I DO THAT??  It gets much more sun there, and every day I checked on it, and it just looked sadder, and sadder.  It finally dawned on me that it didn't like that much sun, so it is now in the shadier stumpery area of the garden.  So far a few of the branches look like they are perking up, so hopefully it will survive.
plants,
 very sad looking Sarcococca hookerian var. digyna 'Purple stem'

Now is the time of year for the ferns to start uncurling their croziers, and each fern unfurls differently.  Oh how I wish I could remember all my ferns names!  I will attempt the names of these ones.
Now I am just waiting for some rain, it might just be a shower, in which case I may have to get the hose out tomorrow.

plants, ferns,
Osmunda regalis 'Purpuraascens'
plants, ferns,
Asplenium of some sort
plants, ferns,
Polystichum ?
plants, ferns,
Dryopteris crispa congesta

11.4.20

Spring flowers in a chilly Edinburgh garden.

There are a few plants just gone over, and many plants almost in flower, but right at this minute there are plenty of spring plants that give lots of welcome colour.  In my back garden few of the shrubs that are in flower now are  the Spirea  Arguta 'Bridal wreath', Pieris japonica 'Forest flame', Prunus Shiroto 'Mount Fugi', Osmanthus burkwoodii, Viburnum x Bodnantense Dawn, Corylus avellana contorta catkins, and Berberis darwinii or x lologensis apricot queen.  In the front garden is the Mahonia Wagneri pinnacle.  I won't photograph them all but here a few:

plants, flowers,
Pieris japonica Forest flame
plants, foliage,
Pieris with fresh leaves
plants, flowers,
Spirea Arguta Bridal wreath
plants, flowers,
Prunus Shiroto Mount Fugi
plants, flowers,
Prunus Shiroto Mount Fugi close up
plants, flowers,
Berberis Darwinii or x lologensis apricot queen

The Pieris will have to be lopped off  once it has flowered I am afraid, because it is leaning all the way over to the right as it is very top heavy.  The good news is that around the base is lots of new growth so it won't be long before it gains height.
The spring plants are dotted around the garden: Anemone blanda white, Brunnera macrophylla and Jack frost, Fritillaria meleagris snakes head, Hellebores (various), Lamium hybridum, Lunaria annua, Myosotis, Narcissi (various), Oxalis acetosella, Primulas (various), Pulmonaria Lewis Palmer, Vinca major and minor, Viola, Corydalis solida pink, Dicentra formosa, Cymbalaria muralis, Epimedium sulphureum, and Tulips Mystic Van Eijk. There are quite a few just ready to come into flower soon.

I am sure the pink tulips were darker last year.
I managed to decapitate one of the tiny Narcissus Segovia as my wheelchair spokes just caught the flower head.  Some of the other Narcissi have succumbed to slug or snail damage. Only one Anemone coronaria Bordeaux is in bloom just now.  I love the combination of the purple hellebores with the purple stems of hebe,  just as the flowers go over on the hellebore, the hebe flowers bloom, although there are a few hebe flowers out just now. The Pulmonaria has lovely pink and blue combo flowers and pretty spotted leaves.  Don't you just LOVE spring!!
The pond however is rather bare as the lockdown due to the coronavirus meant that the pond edges had been tidied up and the overgrown grasses etc taken away, however,  the company could not work during lockdown so I am still waiting for the new plants.  Only the yellow marsh marigold is in flower at the pond edges.

plants, flowers,
Hellebore alongside Hebe Pink paradise (about to flower)
plants, flowers,
Pulmonaria Lewis Palmer.
plants, flowers,
Helleborus argutifolius
plants, flowers,
Corydalis solida with Munstead wood rose.
plants, flowers,
Oxalis acetosella
plants, flowers,
Lamium hybridum
plants, flowers,
Narcissus pontresina
plants, flowers,
Narcissus cheerfulness
plants, flowers,
Narcissus Segovia
plants, flowers,
Anemone coronaria Bordeaux
plants, flowers,
Tulips Van Eijk


7.3.20

Hellebores for early spring colour.

Finally a bit of warm sunshine - warm enough for me to get a spot of gardening done and tidying up of the patio.  February was such a wet month, the ground has not been able to dry off for months now.  The patio is full of plants at the moment: some of which need to be planted in the back garden, while others are in little pots to be sold in May at the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club.  
I have been waiting for my six double Hellebores to flower before I plant them as I couldn't see any labels on them when they arrived from the nursery last year.  They were only small plants and so were nice and cheap.  Three have now flowered and have been planted, but three are still to flower.  I do love Hellebores as they give great colour at this time of year and they clump up well. I had a couple of old large clumps that needed a bit of rejuvenation so I  split  the old large white clump so that I could have some in the stumpery as well as in the main bed.  They didn't mind at all being split and moved.

plants, flowers,
Helleborus niger white
I split the purple clump to have some at the back of the garden, raised bed and also the main bed.  This one is in the raised bed which is much drier and shadier than the main bed so it doesn't put on as good a show.
plants, flowers,
Helleborus niger purple

The one in the main bed is also in the shade, but it gets more rain than the raised bed, and the soil is more moisture retentive too.  It loves it there.
plants, flowers,
Helleborus niger purple

Of the six Hellebores that I bought last year, the Helleborus Double Ellen white spotted is doing ok (a little bedraggled but ok) and was not on the list  - it may have been substituted instead of the double white but I won't know until the others have flowered.
plants, flowers,
Helleborus Double Ellen white spotted

This next photo may be the Double form of Picotee but is is not in great shape so is pretty hard to tell.
(Just after I took the photo my new dog had a mad run around the garden and took both flower heads off! Grrrrrrrr!)
plants, flowers,
Helleborus Double Ellen Picotee?
The Double purple one is looking good and I can't wait for them to clump up and put on a good display in the coming years.
plants, flowers,
Helleborus Double Ellen purple

The Helleborus argutifolius is situated in the stumpery and is just starting to flower now. Their flowers last such a long time and are a quite  bright, pale green that show up well against their very dark green foliage.
plants, flowers,
Helleborus argutifolius
Now I mentioned a new dog, well, he is a force to be reckoned with in the garden.  He has already charged into my lovely Acer palmatum Dissectum atropurpureum and broken off a very large branch.  He has trampled a few tulips (not in flower yet).  He has ripped out a Verbena bonariensis, and has chewed on a few shrubs and just loves to leap about in my favourite fern! Argh!  He is six years old (from the dog home) and still requires a bit of training so here's hoping he will calm down a bit in the garden eventually.  I have already removed my beautiful dark red rose ('Erotica') as it had extremely big lethal jaggy prickles and I didn't want the dog to get hurt.  The good news is that my good pals (neighbours) now have it in a position to deter opportunistic crooks.

There are a few bulbs in flower in the garden, like the purple crocus, but still waiting for the Narcissi and tulips.  The conservatory is looking colourful just now with the reds of the cyclamen, yellow Narcissus Tete-a-Tete, purple Oxalis, green Selaginella Kraussiana and  Soleirolia Soleirolli (mind your own business plant) and various Sempervivums, cacti and ferns.  The greenfly are around already so I have to regularly check my plants to just keep the blighters from getting out of control.

plants, flowers, conservatory,
Conservatory colour
There is still no sign of frog spawn yet although the heron has been spotted on the garage roof again, and Harry did find a frog in the front garden. The first spawn in 2018, was on 20th March, then in 2019, it was 27th February.  Wonder when it will be this year?  The pond is very overgrown at one side and really needs dug out and replanted.  That will be the next big job.

7.2.20

My tips on cleaning houseplants.

House-plants collect just as much dust and debris as your furniture, shelves and ornaments do.  This dust can not only affect the appearance, making them dull and lifeless, but can also prevent the plants from respiring by clogging up the stoma. (Respiration facilitates gaseous exchange via stoma which are small pores in the leaves).  This dust can also prevent sunlight falling on the leaves which can reduce the photosynthesis by reducing the light levels.   
Some plants with large, flattish leaves can be easily sponged with clean tepid water one leaf at a time, but I prefer to stick a few plants together in the bath and give them a tepid shower.  It is best to do this in the morning so they have time to dry off before the cooler night.  Make sure to drain them well - you could even put a rack underneath them while they are in the bath so they don't get water-logged.  Or you could hold them at an angle while using the shower head  over, and under,  the leaves.  While the plants are draining you can check the decorative pots or saucers for any damage and give them a clean too.  Before replacing your plants back in their decorative pots, check the plant for any signs of pests or disease, and remove any tatty looking foliage or  dead material.  Check if the roots are showing out through the bottom of the pot as this may be a sign that they need re-potting or dividing. Give them a gentle shake to get remaining water droplets off, and be careful of positioning your plants just in case any droplets could fall onto a wooden surface, or worse - an electrical appliance.  Water and electricity don't mix!
You can buy products that contain wax or oils to polish some leaves to give a high shine.  You would just use a soft cloth or cotton wool to apply, or it may be sprayed if it is an aerosol, but, I would suggest that this could actually clog up the pores that you have just cleaned.  I have  also heard of people using milk or oil (such as olive oil or coconut oil) to shine leaves.  In nature, usually only  the young leaves look glossy and they tend to get duller as they age, so in my opinion, if the whole plant looks shiny then it doesn't look natural.  I would avoid putting any product on the leaves.

house plants,
plants in the bath having a shower
Some plants shouldn't be showered, such as, some succulents or cacti, or those that have hairy leaves.  I clean them using an old, soft watercolour brush or a clean blusher brush.  These soft brushes can remove the dust easily.  To get some bits of debris from very hairy cacti, I use my tweezers.  The cacti hairs tend to act like nets and collect all sorts of seeds blown in from the garden or discarded fragments of a spider's feast such as wings and heads.  My conservatory is home to many spiders so I am constantly picking bits out from my cacti.   I have even found slug eggs at the base of a cactus plant during a routine clean and inspection.  If you clean your plants regularly then you prevent any infestation of pests or disease occurring and your plants will stay looking their best.

house plants,
cacti debris can be removed using tweezers