Drought Busters in Our Garden@19.

Very few plants in our gardens can survive these temperatures let alone flower. These are the few exceptions here.

Inula magnifica
Hollyhock Apple Blossom
Echinops ritro is loved by the bees.

I was once told I would regret planting this in my garden because it can be invasive. In our free draining soil, I am very happy to have it.

Sedum Mr Goodbud
Aeonium arboreum Schwarzkopf
Cotyledon orbiculata just starting to flower.
Pelargoniums

What is surviving in your garden?

Thank you.

On June the 4th and 5th six gardens in the village of Hanley Swan opened in aid of the National Garden scheme.

Thank you to all the supporters who baked cakes, helped with serving the teas and selling plants in support of Saint Richards Hospice, especially the garden owners who put a lot of work in to ensure their gardens looked wonderful and not least of all the visitors without who we would not raise any money for the two charities.

Some pictures from our garden just before opening.

We also had a group visit from Evesham U3A on Wednesday.

Despite poor weather on Sunday we raised £1619 to share between the two charities.

Open Gardens and Flower Festival.

This bank holiday we joined in with 16 others in the village for the Open Gardens and Flower Festival.

Some of the tulips had gone over however the Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Heaven’ were just beginning to open.

Their true beauty can be really appreciated when photographed up close.

I created a short video of the garden during a quiet moment between visitors.

Please turn on your sound, select Watch on YouTube then select full screen.

In The beginning, Seed Sowing.

I guess, if you asked any gardener how to sow seeds, you would receive a different answer from each one.

 I recently gave a zoom presentation to the Worcestershire Careers Association gardening group on seed sowing.

These are my thoughts.

Containers.

There is a wide range of pots and containers for seed sowing, generally, I prefer to use small pots rather than seed trays because they provide a deeper root run until you get round to pricking out the seedlings.

Large seed trays also encourage the sowing of too much at a time.

 I also use root trainers. The large ones are useful for growing sweetpeas, beans and sweet corn, and they save pricking out. You can then plant them directly into the garden. You can buy smaller ones, ideal for starting vegetables such as lettuce or annual flowers.

 A free alternative is used toilet rolls centres which fit nicely into the plastic containers grapes are sold in.

Compost.

The choice of compost can be a controversial area. Legislation regarding the use of peat is driving the move to peat-free compost.

 I think you only need one type of compost, multipurpose. I use Melcourt ‘sylva grow’, a peat-free one recommended by the RHS. This year I am experimenting with using Fertile Fibre, a Coir product. This is dehydrated making it light to carry and is easily rehydrated for use.

This Coir brick is rehydrated with 3 litres of water.

There is no doubt peat-free compost requires more feed, which may explain why some comparisons show poor results.

I also use fine grade vermiculite for seed sowing, it is light to carry, helps prevent seedlings from damping off and benefits root development. Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral that is heat-treated. Traditionally horticultural sand or grit would have been used and as a gardener with recurring back problems, reducing the weight of materials is an important consideration.

Sowing.

For small seeds, I sieve multipurpose compost, to remove the larger pieces, mixing it 50/50 with vermiculite. When planting small seeds, I water from above before sowing or from below afterwards.

After sowing I lightly cover with vermiculite and label. You can cover it with a polythene bag and place it on a well-lit window sill. I use a heated propagator which negates the need to cover individual pots. You will need to remove the individual cover when the seeds have germinated, keep warm with good light to prevent them from becoming leggy.    

Coir Jiffy pellets are useful for propagating seeds and cuttings, they require soaking before use.

Once germinated they can be planted out into pots to grow on, this also saves pricking out.

I use a mixture of compost with around 25% vermiculite for growing on. 

I grow larger seeds such as sweet peas, broad or runner beans in the same 50/50 mix without sieving, planting into root trainers or toilet roll centres.

I use grit when sowing alpine seeds.

What is your secret to successful seed sowing?

Rocket germinated.

Mind the Gap!

I have been thinking for some time that the wooden bridge crossing the dry river in the Japanese garden would soon need replacing. It had developed a certain amount of spring when crossing!

It gave way the other day as I was crossing to the shelter, so the decision was made for me as to when I would replace it!

The path leading to it contains slabs set at the diamond so it was an easy choice to add two more as stepping stones, through the dry river bed, along with some more small cobbles.

These should not rot!

I can now carry my coffee/wine to the shelter without fear of spilling anything!

Japanese Gardens.

Following my post ‘Peace and Tranquility’ I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures, as slide shows, of Japanese gardens we have visited here in the UK.

Tatton Park.

From their website:

“The Japanese Garden was almost certainly the result of Alan de Tatton’s visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910.

Inspired by what he saw there, Alan de Tatton decided to introduce a Japanese garden to Tatton.  A team of Japanese workmen arrived to put together what is now rated to be the “finest example of a Japanese Garden in Europe.”

The Shinto Shrine and artefacts contained within the garden are all reputed to have been brought from Japan especially for the construction of the garden.” More Tatton Japanese Garden.

Compton Acres.

From their website. “The Japanese Garden encompasses Thomas Simpson’s love for the unique elegance and incomparable beauty of Japanese horticulture. 

He imported genuine stone and bronze artefacts to enhance the garden. The Tea House is draped with Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and plants native to Japan have been used including the spectacular Kurume Hybrid azaleas, Japanese cherries and maples together with hostas, Hakon grass and a Ginkgo. The pool is home to large Koi carp best viewed when crossing the water on the stepping stones. The Japanese garden is still regarded as one of the finest in the country.” Website: Compton Acres Japanese Garden.

Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.

From their website: “It would be difficult to find a poet who hasn’t opined on the changing seasons, it is equally relevant for gardeners, be they amateur or professional, who wait with eager anticipation for the first signs that the earth is thawing.

Raymond Blanc OBE is no different and along with his garden team, waits patiently for spring to arrive, taking time to remember the different destinations he has visited and how these trips during different times of the year have coloured his visions.

When East and West meet

His visit to Japan in the early nineties was one such occasion, which ignited his imagination and inspired him to create a Japanese Garden in the environs of the 15th century Belmond Le Manoir. Captivated by the Japanese tradition of Hanami, a longstanding practice of welcoming spring (held between March and May), which is also known as the ‘cherry blossom festival’, Blanc wanted to bring part of his Japanese adventure back to the UK.

The Japanese Tea Garden at Belmond Le Manoir entices guests to become more mindful as they explore, crossing the oak bridge to find sanctuary and was influenced by Taoist, Buddhist and Shinto traditions.” More details of the Japanese Garden.

National Botanic Garden of Wales.

From their website: “This Japanese garden is called ‘Sui ou tei’, which refers to the national flowers of Japan and Wales, the cherry blossom and the daffodil.

It combines three different traditional Japanese garden styles: the pond-and-hill garden, the dry garden and the tea garden. Japanese garden styles have developed over a 1400-year history, each style celebrating the changing seasons in different ways.

Such changes illustrate the transience of life, and tiny details, such as leaf buds opening in springtime, play an important role by drawing attention to the passage of time.

In the last 150 years, Japanese gardens have been created all over the world, adapted to local conditions. They are appreciated for their tranquillity and sense of calm when visitors take the time to absorb the scenes presented by the garden.” Website.

Botanic Garden of Wales

Bridges Stone Mill.

Closer to home and on a more modest scale is Bridges Stone Mill, they open for the National Garden Scheme in Worcestershire.

“Once a cherry orchard adjoining the mainly C19 flour mill, this is now a 2½ acre year-round garden laid out with trees, shrubs, mixed beds and borders. The garden is bounded by a stretch of Leigh Brook (an SSSI), from which the mill’s own weir feeds a mill leat and small lake. A rose parterre and a traditional Japanese garden complete the scene.” Bridges Stone Mill NGS link

Then there is our garden with its small Japanese garden, open for the National Garden Scheme with five gardens in the village of Hanley Swan on the 4th and 5th of June. Details of all the gardens here: Hanley Swan NGS Open Gardens.

Japanese Garden
@ourgarden19

If you have the opportunity to visit a garden with a Japanese element, please do, I am sure you will find it relaxing and inspiring.

Peace and Tranquility in the Garden.

It has been said many times during the pandemic how important gardens and outdoor spaces have become to people from all walks of life.
Whether walking in the city parks or exploring the countryside everyone feels a benefit.
Those of us with gardens have also found them sanctuaries either to sit in enjoying a beverage of your choice or with your head down planting, weeding or sowing, when you soon forget everything else that has been going on.
When gardens have been able to open to the public there has been an increase in visitors, delighted to be able to visit gardens again.

Historically, gardens have always been considered sanctuaries, from the ancient Islamic gardens to the tranquillity of Japanese gardens.
Irene and I have, for some time, been attracted to Japanese style gardens, inspired by visits to Japanese gardens with the Japanese Garden Society. Most notable to Tatton Park where we meet Professor Fukuhara who helped with the restoration of their Japanese garden.
He took us inside the Japanese garden at Tatton and gave us a tour explaining the restoration of this famous garden.

The Shinto Shrine at Tatton Park.

The professor lectures on Japanese garden design in Japan and designed the gold medal and best in show Japanese garden at Chelsea in 2001, now relocated to the National Botanical Gardens in Wales, which we have visited several times.

National Botanic Garden of Wales.

He also redesigned and supervised the construction of the rock garden at RHS Wisley for the bicentenary of the RHS.

The Rock Garden at RHS Wisley.


Those of you who have visited our garden will know we have a small enclosed area designed in the style of a Japanese stroll garden. Many visitors comment on the different atmosphere when they enter and sit in the shelter. With the three essential elements of a Japanese garden, rocks, water and plants, there is at the one entrance a Cherry tree.

Inside there are flowering spring trees, shrubs, bamboo and Acers, for their wonderful leaf colour, with rocks and a dry river bed leading to the Bamboo water spout.

The other gateway is covered with the stunning Japanese white Wisteria, floribunda ‘ Alba .‘

These elements can, I think, be easily incorporated into any garden or even just on a patio to help bring that sense of peace and tranquillity that many have searched for during these times.

Little did I realise when I booked this month’s speaker, for our garden club, on Japanese garden design history how important some of these elements in a garden would become to those of us who are fortunate to own a garden.

A window into our Japanese Garden.

Wishing you peace and tranquility were ever you find it.

A Frosty Morning Workout.

Every January I wait for a frosty morning to pollard the Acer negundo Flamingo.

Without the cold weather, even in January, the sap will pour from the cut wounds, which could over time weaken the tree. The branches provide a lovely winter grey blue colour.

This is done to maintain the beautiful leaf colours, otherwise it can revert to green.

The first cuts.
Done, now back inside for a coffee and warm up.
Acer negundo Flamingo

Next the rambling roses.

Do you have a cold weather must do job?

2022 Calendar.

I have chosen these pictures taken in Our Garden@19 during 2021 to create a calendar for this year.

It is difficult to select a favourite photograph from each month of the year.

However these are my choices.

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
Cover Picture

I have chosen my favourite photograph from last year as a calendar cover picture.

Do you have a favourite picture from 2021?

Happy 2022.

Trees for the small garden.

With encouragement from the Government and countryside organisations such as the RHS and NT there is an increasing interest in planting trees and the benefits to the environment of doing so. While most of these reported on are on a large scale, if chosen correctly there are some wonderful ornamental and fruitful trees for even the smallest garden. 

Our garden is approximately 125ft by 45 and within it we have 12 ornamental and 12 fruit trees.

One favourite, Acers can be grown in a pot for many years. They will grow in any reasonable soil although they do prefer soil on the acid side which can be achieved by mixing some ericaceous compost in the pot or planting hole. You can purchase simple soil test kits to find out if you have acid or alkaline soil.

Acer palmatum ‘Senkaki’’

We have several Acers in our garden, Acer griseum is a special one. It looks wonderful with the winter sun shining through its peeling cinnamon-like bark.

In the oriental garden, a favourite one is Acer Negundo Flamingo, its variegated leaves consisting of green centres splashed at the edges with salmon pink, which later turn cream. The trunk of this tree is now four foot tall, the branches above this are pollarded in January to help keep it compact along with preventing it from reverting to all green leaves.

 Also in the Oriental garden is the Ginkgo biloba it’s autumn foliage turning a deep saffron yellow. It is a member of a very old genus, with some fossilised leaves found dating back 200 million years. They can grow up to 100 ft tall, I purchased a young 4 ft one which I prune in January to keep it as a column shape.

The Sorbus family is worth considering, Sorbus Eastern Promise is a lovely small tree, perfect for the small garden, its dark green leaves turn deep purple and orange before falling onto our garden during the autumn.

Sorbus Olympic Flame is one to seek out, it is a small, highly colourful Japanese Rowan tree with a columnar habit distinctive for its large foliage that starts coppery in the spring before turning green in summer and fiery red come autumn.

You cannot mention autumn colour without considering the Liquidambar we have Liquidambar slyraciflua ‘Stella’.

One in our neighbour’s garden is particularly stunning in the autumn, always turning colour before ours. This will eventually become a large tree, fortunately it is slow-growing.

Spring colour can be provided by the magnolia family, ‘Lennei’ with its pink-white flowers can grow to 20ft without pruning. A more compact variety is Magnolia stellata.

There is a wide selection of ornamental Cherry trees for the garden. This unknown one in our garden is loved by the honey bees.

Although normally associated with spring blossom, there is Prunus Autumnalis, an Autumn-Winter flowering cherry with white blossom. It is a small tree, suitable for most small gardens. Choose a variety with a single rather than a double flower for the pollinators.

I call Prunus serrula our Champion Tree, it is grown for its wonderful mahogany bark although its delicate flowers are loved by honey bees.

Decorated as a mug tree for our open gardens.

The Silver Birch Betula jacquemontii is considered the best for white bark. With its upright habit it can be grown as a single or multi-stemmed feature. It can reach 4metres within ten years when some carful pruning will be required if you need to control its eventual height and shape. 

I think the first choice of tree for any small garden should be fruit trees. The modern grafted Apple tree is well suited to any size garden. We have in our garden Malus ‘Blenheim Orange’, ‘Grenadier’, ‘Hereford Russett’, ‘Kidd’s Orange Red’, ‘Rosette’ and of course Worcester Pearmain’. We also have the Cherry ‘Sunburst’, the Pear ‘Invincible’, Plums ‘Opal’, Victoria the ‘Cambridge Greengage’ and the Crab Apple ‘Golden Hornet’ trained as a globe.

The smallest of the trained fruit tree are the step-over apple trees, 18 inches to 2ft tall with a level side branch trained each side, you can literally step over them. They are very productive, often found in French Potagers and are excellent for edging a vegetable border or herb garden. Apples, pears and cherries can be decoratively trained into fan shapes, espaliers and cordons. Plums can be trained as a fan. Ensure it is grown on a ‘Pixy’ rootstock or it will be too vigorous. Plums should not be pruned during winter because silver-leaf and canker can enter through the cuts. Young trees can be trained in the spring with more established ones in the summer.

Fan trained Cherry, Prunus ‘Sunburst’

You can purchase any of these already trained, although expensive you are buying time. Alternatively, you can buy much cheaper bare-root two-year-old whips during the winter.

 While many people find pruning daunting it is very rewarding to see a trained fruit tree in blossom knowing there is fruit to follow. I would recommend obtaining a copy of the RHS book Pruning and Training it covers everything from trees to shrubs, climbers, roses, soft fruit and tree fruits. 

When visiting gardens and nurseries look out for some of those mentioned above and talk to garden owners. It is worth taking your time before buying a tree as it is a worthwhile, long term investment but can be an expensive mistake to rectify.

Malus Rosette in the raised bed with Malus Blenheim Orange trained as an espalier on the Oriental Garden fence.

The wildlife enjoy the trees all year as a safe landing area before visiting the bird feeders or as a source of food. You see them feeding on the insects hiding in the trees during the spring and summer or the fruits during winter.

Yellow is the colour…

…of my true loves hair sang Donovan in 1965. It is currently the dominate colour around the garden.

In the Oriental Garden.

On the Patio.

Malus Golden Hornet
Ilex x Altaclerensis  Golden King

Around the Borders.

Euphorbia ‘palustris’ over the blue churn.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang …

From Shakespeare to Donovan the colour yellow inspires words.

Wildlife in Our Garden and Autumn Colour.

Goldfinches feeding on sunflower hearts.
Vitis ‘ Spetchley red ‘ 
Fuchia ‘Mrs Popple’
Malus Golden Hornet and Tithonia ‘Torch’

The Alpine Boxes and pots.
Nerine Bowdenii

Please select Watch on YouTube then full screen for video.

What is giving you Autumn Joy in the garden or countryside?

Thank You.

Along with many garden owners, we originally decided not to open our garden this year due to the pandemic. However, with the improving situation, we have now held popup openings in June and September supporting the charity National garden Scheme. ngs.org.uk

During these days we have also sold plants for St Richards Hospice and at the village of Pirton church fair.
These events have raised just over £1000.

We have to say a big thank you to all our visitors who purchased tickets, refreshments and plants. To the volunteers who manned the stalls and the staff at the National Garden Scheme for their support.
The pictures are from the garden just before the September opening.

We are going forward with more confidence with five other gardens in the village joining us next year on the 4th and 5th June for the National Garden Scheme.

Some July Specials.

Thalictrum flavum subsp.glaucum and Campanula lactiflora ‘Prichard’s Variety’
Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur and Dianthus carthusianorum
Geranium Johnson’s Blue and Lychnis chalcedonica

Who would have thought a runner bean flower could be so beautiful?

In the raised beds edging the patio Runner Bean White Emergo
With Sweet pea Air Warden.
And Self-seeded Poppy.
On the Patio.

Do you have some July Specials in your garden?

August Video Garden Tour.

Historically August has been viewed as a low period for the garden, due in part, I think, to owners of large estates traditionally moving to Scotland for the grouse season, today it is the main holiday season for everyone with school children. (Except for this year). High temperatures such as the ones we experienced early in the month this year can spell the end of some plants, such as my Sweetpeas.

It does not have to be so. There are a wide choice of plants to fill the borders in August, Phlox, Japanese anemone, roses, if you have deadheaded, dahlias, late sown annuals, pot plants such as pelargoniums, asters are just beginning to flower complimenting ornamental grasses for the late summer look.

The video is of Our Garden@19 filmed towards the end of the month and following the heavy rain and winds. Please select full screen and turn on your sound.

What has survived the August weather in your garden?

Virtual meetings, the Garden in July and Plant Sales.

The Covid-19 restrictions have inevitably prevented any meetings of our club, The Black Pear Gardening Club..blackpeargc.org.uk Our family has been using Skype for keeping in touch so I decided to try and hold a trial meeting for the club with the opportunity for members to say hello, I then presented pictures from our garden with the aim to include pictures from members gardens at the next meeting. While technology can be challenging we did manage to hold the meeting.

July has been a busy month here in Our Garden@19 with the open garden visits cancelled I had been left with a large stock of plants that I had hoped to sell. We decided, with the village of Pirton, (Worcestershire), where my brother Derek lives, to hold a plant sale in memory of his wife and our late sister in law, in aid of St Richards Hospice who cared for Diana. When the plants had been made presentable for sale, a large transit type van arrived to transport all the plants the day before, ready for setting up the sale the next morning.

The sale was well supported by the village, both helping and purchasing plants along with several members of the garden club.

The video below is the one I presented at the virtual meeting, ‘Our Garden@19 in July.’ Please turn your sound up, click to full-size screen, play and enjoy.

 

The tomatoes are a bush type? ‘Maskotka’ which crop well despite their vigorous growth.

Are you using technology to keep in touch?

Tulips, Pots and Saucers.

The beginning of November saw the planting of pots with, crocus, iris, narcissus and species rock tulips.

Old hanging baskets used to keep the squirrels away.

Two large pots either side of the banana bench were planted with Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’, Siberian Wallflowers and Forget-me-Nots.

When the rain finally eased I managed to complete planting my remaining tulip bulbs.

Those of you who regularly follow my blog will know that I rotate dahlias with tulips in the raised beds edging the patio. Last year I used three bulb saucers for the tulips as an experiment to see if it was any easier, when it came to lifting them in the spring.

I was suitably impressed to use them for all the tulips in these beds this year. I purchased extra ones to have four 30cm ones for each bed. One hundred flaming spring green tulip bulbs were shared out between the eight saucers, four pots of Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Heaven’ saved from last year, Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ planted around the edge with Wallflower ‘Vulcan’, grow from seed planted in July, in between the bulbs. Forget-me-Not’s will be added in the spring from self-sown ones from around the garden.

Hopefully they will all be putting on a show for our opening on the 2nd and 3rd of May, in aid of the village church, when we will have a plant stall to raise funds for St Richards Hospice, based in Worcester.

Here’s looking forward to Spring.

Autumn Project 4, Unexpected!

Banana Bench & Boston Ivy, Autumn 2018.

This year I noticed that the Parthenocissus Tri. Veitch, Boston Ivy, behind the banana bench, had been almost completely replaced with wild Ivy. Now while I like Ivy in the garden for its benefit to wildlife, here I would prefer to see a more colourful plant. I decided that it was necessary to remove the ivy.

This revealed that the Ivy was holding up the trellis, with most of it rotten along with two of the posts at ground level. I was left with no other option than to replace it all.

Picture from behind where trellis would have been.
From the front, with two posts waiting for sanding and staining.

I have, in previous blogs mentioned my inclination to watch TV gardening programmes for inspiration. On several occasions concrete reinforcing steel grid has been used to support climbing plants instead of wood trellis. With the advantages of not going rotten, not requiring painting (the rust look is on trend, so I’m told) and at 3.6m x 2m for just under £20 is cheaper than trellis. Two repair spikes were required with some rapid set postcrete to repair the two rotten posts, then a coat of wood preservative applied. Next grid was cut to size with a steel cutting angle grinder. The grid was fixed to the posts with 2×1” treated and stained timber screwed through to the posts.

Autumn Unexpected Project Completed.

Have you had any unexpected autumn Projects?

Autumn Project 3 Completed.

I have long held the view that autumn is the beginning of the gardening year, preparing the garden and the plants for their winter rest before the explosion of spring and summer glory.

The main autumn project, this year, has been to move plants into their correct positions!

I am sure many of you can relate to the gardener’s curse of initially positioning plants in the wrong place.

Two of the first candidates for moving were the Cytisus, ‘Golden Cascade’ and Albus. While they produced wonderful spring colours and scent, they had become far too tall, even with some pruning.

I did not want to completely lose them, following a hard prune, I have moved them to the rear of the borders and hope with generous watering they will successfully establish. This has freed an area, which has been planted with Lupins and Foxgloves to flower in June for the open gardens. The lupins will be treated as annuals, in the Great Dixter way. Colourful exotics such as Dahlias and Cannas will follow.

I have for some time had a yearning for a Cornus Kousa ‘Miss Satomi’. After ordering one two years ago, I planted it in the garden. Sadly it died during the winter. The nursery that supplied it kept promising to replace it. When visiting Pershore College plant centre, they had some very reasonably priced Cornus Kousa ‘China Girl’. One was purchased, then planted in ‘Miss Satomi’s allocated position. Soon afterwards the nursery rang to say they had a replacement for me, although they could only obtain ‘Milky Way’. I decided this would have to live in a large pot, on the patio by the entrance to the oriental garden, while I decided where it was going to live permanently.

This turned out to be an ideal position, we could see it from the dining room windows. Three slabs were consequently lifted from the edge of the patio to provide a permanent home. Ironically the flower colours are more like ‘Miss Satomi’ than ‘Milky Way’, The nursery has not returned my email asking if there could have been an identification error!

Several years ago I was given a Rhus hirta Staghorn sumac. Because of its reputation for suckering, it has been residing in a pot on the patio where we could enjoy its beautiful autumn colour.

Last year we inexplicably lost a five year old Snake-bark Acer from the middle of the blue border. This completely unbalanced the border, there is an Acer griseum on the opposite side. Not wishing to risk another reasonably sized, quite expensive tree, I decided to plant the Rhus there, after seeing one looking stunning with it’s autumn colours, in a Piet Oldoulf garden.

I may pot up any suckers to sell on our open days. I think it looks very colourful in its new home among the Asters and grasses.

Moving the plant theatre in project one, freed up an area. This provided a space to plant a Greengage tree that I had purchased as a young bare root tree two years ago. It had been growing on in a pot, now it is planted along with the rhubarb, emptying more large pots.

Having admired large pots packed full of colourful exotics and annuals in other gardens, all these freed up pots will provide an opportunity to do the same.

Now to plan filling these!

Plant of the month.

Asters, Michaelmas Daisies or Symphyotrichum, as some of them have now been renamed, are one of the autumn garden flowers I have always loved to see. This is probably because of the wonderful stand that grew in my parents and grandparents gardens.

There are many to choose from, for October’s plant of the month, in Our Garden@19.

I have selected Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’, it has RHS AGM status and is generally disease-free. With its masses of small blue flowers and yellow centres, I think, it is a good companion with Solidago Fireworks.

It will self seed around the garden, although it will not come true, it can however be propagated by division, preferably in the spring.

With it being a simple flower it is popular with the pollinators.

Do you have a favourite October flower?

Autumn Project 2 Completed.

I have to confess to watching many of the gardening programs on television along with reading gardening magazines, books and of course blogs, for inspiration in planting and design.

One programme featured, what I thought was a good structural design for supporting climbing plants.

When I had finished building my version, I thought it looked too much like railway signals. The original one had used wider timber.

My design consultant (Irene) convinced me it was okay and would soon be covered by the Rose.

I have either been brave or stupid (you will, I am sure, have your own opinion) planted a Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’, which I have grown from a cutting, to help screen one side of a shed. This is the one I have built the support for.

This is the rose the cutting came from! It has never been pruned.

Will it be ideal to ‘train’ a Rose over?

It will certainly need to be pruned.

Plant of the month.

Choosing a plant of the month at this time of year is a little like choosing your favourite child. Daucus carota, the wild annual carrot, flowering in the blue border mainly from self sown plants is my choice. I grew it two years ago from seed, there was none in the garden last year, now this year…

Scarlet Tiger Moth, you see the red underneath when it opens its wings.

A simple drought tolerant plant, easy and cheap to grow, used by herbalists, loved by the pollinators and ideal for wildlife friendly gardening.

Do you currently have a favourite flower?

April Top Ten.

A quick tour around Our Garden@19 to capture my Top Ten, joining Chloris at The Blooming Garden.

The White and Green garden, Lunaria annua ‘Alba’ and Tulip ‘Spring Green’.

Lunaria annua ‘Rosemary Verey’ and Cytisus ‘Golden Cascade’

Cytisus praecox Albus

Clematis alp. ‘ Broughton Bride ‘

Primulas

The Lego inspired Bug Hotel with Roof Garden.

Tulip ‘Angelique’ and violas.

You can see more April Top Ten by visiting The Blooming Garden

Do you have a favourite or a top ten of your own?

‘Brazen Hussy’.

The plant family, Ranunculus, includes buttercups and lesser celandine, plants that most gardeners would not welcome into their garden. However with these looks and the name of ‘Brazen Hussy’, I have made an exception.

Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’

It was discovered and named by Christopher Lloyd growing in the woods at Great Dixter.

Here, enjoying the sunshine, it has brazenly self seeded into some cracks in the path. What is being ‘Brazen’ in your garden?

In the February Sunshine.

These winter months are the time of year I try to carry out any ‘estate’ maintenance along with completing the pruning of the climbing/rambling roses, wisteria, vines, the apples and pear trees.

These all require the use of a ladder, which in the past has involved balancing on the top of a rather unsteady step ladder. Having some time ago reached the age where I don’t bounce so well and not wishing to add to the queues at the local hospital A&E department I have invested in a Henchman ladder. This is one of the best investments I have made in garden equipment. The ladder is similar to the Japanese tripod ladders, with adjustable leg heights to accommodate different ground levels and a bar at the top that you can safely lean into, so long as you don’t go any higher than recommended. This feature doesn’t seem to appear on the Japanese ladders which was the deciding factor for me when making my choice. They are made in the UK from aluminium and therefore very light to carry and come in different sizes. I did feel very safe using it this year, it can also serve as a coffee table!

You can view more details Henchman Ladders.

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Two jobs required the help of a local builder, one has been the replacement of the walls to the raised herb bed. I originally built it, in 2004, with treated timber planks, as these have rotted away in places, I decided to replace them with new sleeper timbers.
This bed is also home to a climbing ‘Albertine’ rose, on the trellis, a red currant fan trained along the side fence and a standard red gooseberry in the centre. The new bed is not as big, therefore more of the herbs will be in either terracotta pots or the old galvanised bath and buckets.

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The lawn just off the patio always looks a mess, especially at this time of year, it is not very wide and all the foot traffic passes through here ( human and animal ). I have had it edged with porous black pavers, to match the ones incorporated into the patio design. Wether the grass remains, in this small area, or is replaced with gravel, is yet to be decided. Another option is artificial grass, I am following Cathy at Rambling in the Garden’s progress, with interest, to see how she gets on with her small installation.
I have also edged the fence along the Green and White garden with the pavers to save having to strim the grass.

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Our neighbour has a willow (Salix) tree right against the boundary fence by the Oriental   garden. We have dropped several, so far unsuccessful, hints regarding keeping it pollarded to prevent it becoming to dominant.

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I decided to remove the worst offending boughs, the main branches will be placed, in a corner of the garden, to become a wildlife sanctuary, with the whips along with some Cornus trimmings, being woven into a small natural edge to the bed behind the banana bench. The remainder will be chipped for mulching around the shrubs in the Oriental garden.

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My compost bins are in a poor state of repair and need replacing. I have for two years, had one of the local authority garden waste recycling bins. This has reduced the need for so many bins here. I have replaced one with an extra leaf bin, this is such a useful garden by-product, either for mulching or adding to potting compost that I don’t send it away from the garden.

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Shadows in the sunshine!

We have recently taken delivery of 400 NGS Worcestershire County booklets this month to distribute around local shops, libraries and any garden clubs we visit. We also have our county AGM and lunch this month, where we garden openers collect all the publicity material for our open days. It reminds us the clock is ticking ( I think I have heard that before with a french accent!)

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We have been fortunate to have recently enjoyed some winter sun, thus enabling me to make some progress on the maintenance list, while enjoying the winter sunshine, entertained by bird song.

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What winter maintenance projects do you have for your garden?

Catching up!

One problem for a gardener who chooses to go away on holiday in May is the work preparing to go away and then to catch up on your return. This is especially so when you have an open garden date looming in June. This also applies to catching up on reading and writing blogs.

Here is a quick tour of our garden@19 to see what is currently performing following the absences of the gardener.

The copper barrier has so far protected the Hostas, although we have not yet had any challenging  slug weather. (warm rain).

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Leading off the patio the white wisteria has survived the late frost and is now in full bloom.

IMG_1548The White and Green garden is home to Hosta Patriot, the white Hesperis matronalis…

IMG_1556…and Allium Mount Everest.

IMG_1555The Iris are at their peak, here in the front garden…

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Iris ‘ Ola Kala ‘

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Iris Gudrun

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Iris pallida subsp. pallida

Also in the Blue Border along with Allium Purple Sensation and Euphorbia ‘palustris’ is…

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Iris Alcazar

The Iris sibirica are just stating to open, this is such an easy, beautiful plant to grow.

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Iris Sibirica

The Welsh Poppy cheerfully seeds itself around every where.

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Meconopsis cambrica

The last of the Rhodo’s to flower.

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Rhododendron Yak flava

The Clematis are beginning to do their thing..

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Clematis The President

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Clematis Rebecca

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Clematis Niobe

…along with a new Climbing Rose, which true to its name, it is the first to flower this year.

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Rose May Queen

Whether Home or Away, take a seat for a moment and enjoy a garden.  This weekend is the NGS Anniversary Weekend Open Gardens. May 27th to 29th is their 90th Anniversary weekend and will see over 370 gardens opening for a weekend of horticultural delight.

For information about the open gardens, where to find one near you and the charities they support please visit NGS

IMG_1558What is ‘Performing’ for you in your garden in May?

Spring is in the air.

In Our Garden@19

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While enjoying the early signs of spring the head gardener has been preparing for the summer drought. The garden benefits from the borrowed landscape of the neighbours trees in the autumn, the downside is the amount of water required by such large trees.

Partial soaker hose irrigation was installed when we originally laid out the garden, it has now been installed into the rest of the garden.

img_0786img_0785Laying out a coiled roll of soaker hose without stepping on emerging bulbs and perennials was reminiscent of playing Twister. (You have to be of a certain age to know the game Twister!)

What has been causing you to perform a jig in the garden?