13.9.20

Review your garden.

 As I trundle around the garden every morning search for slugs and snails I tend to do a mini review of what is doing well, what needs tweaking, dead-headed, weeded, staked etc.  Now and again though I do a bigger review of certain areas that just don't work for me.  Some plants may have outgrown their space.  Some I just don't like how they have grown ie their shape or colour or their relationship with the plants next to them.  I am trying to be ruthless so am having to make the decision whether or not to keep the aster I planted (rather too close to the path), or move it further back, or do away with it altogether.  It isn't a plant that I love but it is a good do-er.  I think I will wait until it has gone over and then find a replacement - one that I do love.  The area near the patio where the soil can get quite wet and is rather clay-like is still annoying me.  A thorn-less rose like Zepharin Drouhin might do well there, but then maybe a couple of dogwoods would thrive in those conditions?  Is there room for both dogwoods and a rose?    Another area of uncertainty is the central bed where the large tree heath is growing just a bit too large.  You can see from the photo that it wasn't pruned right after flowering this year (you can see the old white blooms have gone brown) and I would like to cut it down in size to allow the other plants a bit more room.  How far down should I prune it?  I don't want to take it right down to the base so maybe just take a 1/3 off?  That would mean I wouldn't get any flowers next year but I can live with that.  We are still waiting for the house next door to be sold (been a few years now) and both the front and back gardens will be in a right state.  The garden wall is needing fixed as the previous owner removed the buttress on their side and has started to fall over at the back.  I haven't been able to sort that area out and plant up as we don't want any builders walking all over it.  Major pain in the backside!  Hey ho.

There are still a few plants which are flowering sporadically and some that come into bloom fully at this time of year so the insects can still enjoy a feed. The Japanese anemones, cyclamen and persicarias are looking great just now.  A couple of heathers are about to bloom.  A few of the hellebores are in flower, so too are the nepeta, mint, oregano, aster, coreopsis, viburnum, weigela, geum, knapweed, prunella, deadnettle, roses, parahebe, and even a few flowers still on the geraniums and foxgloves.  The apples are looking good.  They are not really keepers so I always have a bit of a glut at this time of year so I make apple sauce, apple pies and crumbles, stewed apples to freeze, eat some and give some away to pals.  Today however I will just be weeding and browsing my bulb catalogues.

ajuga coming through saxifage
Ajuga coming through a saxifrage

Large aster bulging over path

Tree heath

Persicaria amplex 'Blackfield'

Some pots on the patio in front of weigela


19.7.20

Jobs to do in July

There is always something to be done in the garden these days.  The never ending dead-heading and weeding, the chopping down and cutting back, re-positioning unhappy plants, potting on, sowing seeds and buying more plants.  This last week I have been pruning (with some help from Harry) the deutzia, philadelphus and weigela, which have all finished flowering now.  In the raised garden I have cut back some geraniums and dug some out that had outgrown their space.  The violas had spread far too much too so they were hoiked out.  Most of the foxgloves have finished flowering now and I have pulled a lot out but will save the seed from a couple to sprinkle where I would like the next lot to come up.  I am thinking of just getting rid of all of the nettles along the side wall now as I had originally grown them for wildlife, and I have not seen a single nibble on them over the last six years so I think it is time for them to go - a  job for Harry as I can't reach them. 

In the conservatory the cactus had five lovely big flower buds at first but the weight of two were too much and they fell off.  I put them in a vase so I could still appreciate their wonderful scent.  They only last a day or so which is such a shame.
plants, flowers,
5 cactus buds ready to open

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only 3 flowers left on cactus

plants, flowers,
2 cactus flowers in a vase

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cactus flower side view

At the moment I am loving the combination of the Heuchera 'Rachel' coming up beside the Spirea Japonica 'White gold'.  The spirea buds have a pink tinge to them which go so well with the pink flowers of the heuchera.
plants, flowers,
Spirea Japonica' White gold' and Heuchera 'Rachel'

The moss roses are looking good just now too.  Harry thought that they were covered in greenfly but it is just the kind of furry, mossy look that they have.  I have found that if they get chopped quite low then they don't get such a straggly look.  They tend to behave more like a shrub rose.  The other roses are doing ok but the 'Munstead wood' has some rust on it.
Moss rose 'William Lobb'
I treated myself to some air plants during lockdown.  Harry had given me some Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) at Christmas which I split into two clumps and I have kept thinking about some of the other Tillandsias that might go well with them.  I am keeping them upstairs which means that I had to get a grow light for them.  The trouble with upstairs is that I need all the blinds and doors shut to keep out the summer sun, which means that any plants I have would have to cope with very low levels of light.  The grow light I did buy has a few settings and I have chosen to use the pink light for 9 hours per day and see if they like that.  I don't actually like the look of this black light in front of the plants so I may try to find a way of clipping it to the side of the shelf but the lead is quite short.

plants, airplants,
Collection of Tillandsias and couple of ferns

plants, airplants,
collection of Tillandsias and couple of ferns with pink grow light
And lastly, here is a photo of a moth pupa I found nestled in the corner of a door in the conservatory.  I did keep it until it hatched but alas I did not get a photo of the moth.  It looked kind of khaki coloured and I looked through some moth charts but couldn't identify it.

wildlife,
Moth pupa

21.6.20

Noticing what is around you.

I have found that most of the time while working in the garden or doing slug patrols, you tend to be so focused on the job in hand that you may not notice what else is going on in the garden.  It is a good idea just to wander around and really see what is happening around you.  Our rhododendron is flowering quite happily after it's move last November so it never went in a sulk after all.  Mind you, I did keep it well watered just to make sure, then gave it a wee feed just before flowering.  We planted a couple of new shrubs (Enkianthus companulatus and Sambucus nigra f. porphyrophyla 'Eva').   And to fill in a bit of space, added all the foxgloves that were found in the wrong place (just till I figure out what should go in there long term).

plants, flowers,
Rhododendron Gomer Waterer
Just along from the corner is arch that I have been trying to grow a rose over (Rose Generous gardener), in place of the Clematis montana alba that died.  It is not an ideal place for them as they can only get the sun in the morning, and they are under the sycamore trees of the golf course.  I need to keep them well watered and that has meant watering them almost every day this year.  They are looking good so far, and once the elder is bigger I think the contrasting colours will look even better.

plants, flowers,
Rose, geranium and elder.

The foxgloves are the tallest they have ever been in this garden.  Harry is a about 6' 1'' and he is standing next to one that looks about 7' tall.  There is one in the middle of the stumpery which is even taller.  Although I read (Guiness world records) that the tallest ever foxglove was grown by Lydia Foy in Ireland in 1997 - 10'10'' (3.29m) WOW!

plants, flowers, Harry,
Harry and the tall foxgloves.

In the conservatory there were a few nice colour combinations or just nice colours that I liked.  I had a vase of roses and honeysuckle together and the buds of the honeysuckle were a bright deep red colour before they opened to release their exquisite scent.  Little things catch my eye, like the purple foliage of the axalis against the pale green velvet cushion.  Dangling roots of the sempervivums, and the little tufts of hair at the points of some of them.  Others have web-like hairs across them, and some go through a colour change from green through to a mahogany brown. The tips of other sempervivums are very pointed and look like they have been dipped in ink.
It is always worth taking a few moments to do nothing but look and be aware of what is around you.


plants, foliage,
Purple oxalis leaves against pale green cushion.

plants, foliage,
Purple oxalis leaves against purple cushion.

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Honeysuckle buds beside purple rose in vase.

plants, flowers,
Honeysuckle buds.

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Seedling against purple rose.

plants, foliage,
Sempervivums (mixed).
 
plants, foliage,
Sempervivums.
 
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Sempervivum with hairy tips..

plants, foliage,
Sempervivum roots and web/hairs.

 

14.6.20

Woodland/stumpery/cottage garden?

In the stumpery - woodland area I have mixed some wild plants along with plants you might associate with a cottage garden like foxgloves and geraniums as they like a semi - shaded aspect and are often found in woodlands.  I mostly let the foxgloves seed about where they like but if there are too many, otr they are just too close to the path, they get hoiked out and replanted in another area.  The foxgloves are looking great just now and are mostly untouched by beasties.  There is some damage on a couple of flowers - possibly snail damage.  A couple have toppled over but most of them are standing up by themselves.  The main colour scheme are shades of pinks, red, mauves, purples with splashes of white and gentle yellows.  I don't particular like orange plants in this garden but I do like coppery foliage of some plants especially ferns. 

plants, flowers, stumpery,
Foxgloves standing tall.

plants, flowers, stumpery,
Foxgloves and geranium.

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Foxglove damage.

We have had a very sunny and hot May but so far a rather foggy, cold, and drizzly June.  The knapweed in my previous post is looking very bedraggled, and covered in mildew and brown leaves. I want to chop the whole thing back to the ground where it will shoot again, but there are loads of buds on these horrid looking stalks.  What I may do is; once I have chopped it back, I will take off most of the foliage and put the stems in a vase, so that when the buds open - the bees can still visit them and I can enjoy both the flowers and the bees.
The deutzia is covered in flowers.  It is usually covered in bees too, but not today as it is so cold there are only a few brave bees about. It may be Deutzia 'Mont Rose' but I don't know for sure as I bought this from a sale with no label on it and no body knew what the plant was. It is under planted with a red astilbe which is now getting a bit smothered, but I will be cutting the deutzia back after it has flowers so the red flowers of the astible will become more visible.


plants, flowers, stumpery,
Deutzia 'Mont Rose'

plants, flowers, stumpery,
Geutzia 'Mont Rose' closer.
There is also a Jacobs ladder on the corner near the deutzia but I am not sure that I want to keep it.  When in flower it does look pretty but the slugs go for it and the stems are quite easily broken and it always looks a bit scruffy.
The tierella are looking a bit 'lumpy' this year and have taken ages to get going.  I need to  lift and divide them, then  re-plant a little deeper. As they can take about a year to establish their roots  it is often better to do it in spring rather than in autumn, so that can wait until next spring.   After a few years they have a tendency, like the heucheras, to kind of extend themselves up wards out of the soil and can look very straggly, lumpy and generally scruffy.  There are more tierellas in the sunnier bed by the patio, but they have been so trodden on by the massive wood pigeons that I am thinking of replacing them that can withstand that kind of treatment.

In corner,  where the gutter down spout empties, the weigela, rodgersia, Soloman's seal, and the ferns are looking good.  The weigela is covered in flowers which the bees love.  There is a pink astilbe there and it has grown quite tall,  slightly taller than I had expected.  I planted a variegated form of Jacob's ladder at the front along with he twhite version of ragged robin to brighten up that slightly more shady area of the corner. The weigela often needs trimmed back to keep it under control so that can be done when it has finished flowering.

plants, flowers,
Weigela corner.

The new nepeta arrived this week so they have just been planted in the right hand border ,where it gets a bit more sun than the stumpery, and this time some organic slug pellets were sprinkled around them just in case.  I lost the first lot of plants so I don't want to lose this lot.  I do slug/snail patrols every morning and Harry does a patrol at night to try and keep on top of the slug/snail number.  Nepeta are another one of these plants often found in a cottage garden and they have a very gentle habbit and pretty flowers - again bees love this.   Behind the nepeta are the circisium which are always covered in bees and beside that are the poppies (Patty's plum) which have huge flowers on them.  They do need staking though and I was a bit behind with this so they had already fallen over by the time I asked Harry to stake them so they are looking a bit trussed up now.
 In the next few days  the weather should brighten up a bit and will hopefully be a bit warmer too.  It is much nicer to do the weeding when it is warm than when it is cold and drizzly.

3.6.20

The stumpery and raised bed in May.

The view of these areas from my (wheelchair user's) eye height must be quite different from my Husband's who is over 6ft tall.  He would be able to see over some of the plants and see what lies beyond, whereas I, being closer to the ground, see more of the weeds, slugs and snails.  This April and May have been extremely hot and sunny, with very little rain so most of my time has been spent keeping things watered well  (young, new plants especially).  In 2014 we put a lot of paving in the stumpery area for me to be able to access most of it, but in doing so it looks quite bare and brown during the winter months. Come spring however it becomes lush and awash with colour.
Along the back of the garage there are 2 small apple trees with a few crocus and iris reticulata bulbs, and cyclamen.  I have tried a variety of plants to brighten that area without adding too much competition n to the apple trees. This year I was looking forward to a tulip and wallflower combination from Sarah Raven.  Hmmmm it didn't quite match Sarah's website image.  Beautiful  tulips and wallflowers, but, the Tulips Menton flowered way after the Tulips Sarah Raven, and were very tall - 32 inches (81.5cm)!
The old curling stone had blue ajuga all around it, but it started to look very straggly in places so I added a little white saxafrage (unknown).
The purple knapweed is doing well but the plant  has a habit of keeling out to the side leaving the middle bare, and also getting mildew so doesn't look too attractive at times. But it is flowering and the bees love it.  Also the forgot-me-nots and the brunneras, and some of the honesty are covered in flowers.  The stumpery is left to go a bit wild and I have left a lot of nettles all along the side wall.  Other so called weeds are more or less tolerated here, and just get dead-headed before they seed everywhere.

stumpery,
Stumpery looking to back wall.

stumpery,
Stumpery looking towards bench.

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Stumpery from the  brunnera side.

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Curling stone with blue ajuga  reptans and white saxafrage.

stumpery, plants,
Purple centaurea (knapweed)

stumpery, plants,
Tulip Sarah Raven

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Tulip Sarah Raven, and Menton with the Ruby wallflowers.

stumpery, plants,
Very tall Tulip Menton.

stumpery, plants,
Tulip Sarah Raven, and Menton with the Ruby wallflowers.

 What it should have looked like.  (Image from Sarah Raven's website)
The raised bed is looking pretty full and overgrown, but I love it like that.  It isn't your typical raised bed for disabled people.  I have filled it with woodland plants so I can get that feeling of being right inside the woodland.  I can see, feel and smell the plants up close.  The syringa is in full flower and smelling gorgeous.  Shame the flowers are all at the top now.  It will have to have a good prune so that it can produce flowers slightly lower down so that I can experience them more.
The combination of the bright green of the saxifrage against the deep purple of the acer is fabulous and these delicate flowers just flutter and quiver in the breeze.  
My favourite fern had been chopped back as usual and is looking scrumptious right now and it will continue to billow out over the next month or so.  There is a lovely purple aquilegia growing  far too close to it and kind of spoils the look of the fern, so the aquilegia is going to be howked out once it has finished flowering.
And it isn't just the big plants that I adore - have a look at the mosses on the wall.  The furry moss is so tactile and I stroke it every time a go past.  The tiny sporophytes of some  moss species are just as beautiful and fascinating. 
Now that the rain has come - so too have the slugs and snails.  Back to the early morning and evening slug patrol to keep these blighters at bay.

raised bed, plants,
Raised bed from the back corner.

raised bed, plants,
Raised bed looking from back towards door.

raised bed, plants,
Raised bed from right side.

raised bed, plants,
Raised bed, Saxifraga umbrosa and Acer palmatum 'dissectum garnet'

raised bed, plants,
Furry moss on the raised bed wall.

raised bed, plants,
Tiny moss sporophytes on the raised bed wall.

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

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Pale blue aquilegia

plants, flowers aquilegia,
Pink and white aquilegia

plants, flowers, aquilegia,
Tall pink aquilegia