Six on Saturday: Keeping Up Appearances

Clematis in the garden have generally been brilliant this year, perhaps assisted, as I have suggested before, a feeding and watering regime they have not had the benefit of before. Many, however, have run out of steam, but those that started flowering later are still going relatively strong and there are some hangers-on as well.

‘Gravetye Beauty’ (above) is always late to flower, and these flowers have only emerged this week; sadly, despite a huge amount of foliage, flowers are invariably sparse. ‘Prince George’, however, was unusually late to begin flowering this year but is making up for it with his density of blooms:

‘Gypsy Queen’ is always later to bloom than most other clematis, but flowers well and in such a strong purple that her tardiness is readily forgiven; this year, with changes to the screen that she clambers up, she is heading off to the left and our neighbour’s pigeon loft as well as aiming to frame the path to the right as she usually does:

The scrambling non-climbing varieties have earned their keep, with ‘Alionushka’ and ‘Arabella’ still in full bloom amidst the tired borders they sit within:

I struggles to find a sixth clematis to complete my Six on Saturday, the meme kindly hosted by Jon the Propagator, but found more than a handful of blooms still on Clematis ‘Alba Luxurians’, albeit smaller and without the green touches they sported earlier in the season. Meanwhile, to build on this year’s successful season of clematis, I am compiling a list of potential locations for additional varieties – after all, you can never have too many clematis (or roses…or witch hazels…or dahlias… or snowdrops, or perhaps even too many plants of any sort)…

Posted in clematis, Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday | 11 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Tetra Petra

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In a Vase on Monday: Not Totally Tangerine

I have always thought that the name of distinctive and popular Dahlia ‘Totally Tangerine’ was a bit of a misnomer, and growing it myself this year for the first time confirms this, as it is clearly not totally tangerine! In truth, there is barely any orange in it whatsoever, and the successful addition of pink-hued blooms in the form of Persicaria ‘Jo and Guido’, an unnamed achillea and spent head of Allium sphaerocephalon confirms this, whilst the nectarine, most definitely not a tangerine, proves the point emphatically.

Plonked in a lead crystal vase and supported by a metal frog held in place with florist’s ‘tac’, the arrangement provides a pleasing start to the week, adding to vases of the lingering pleasures of gladioli and limonium from last week and the helichrysum and rudbeckia from the week before. Of the annuals in the cutting beds, the limonium in particular just keeps on giving, completely unaffected by heat or dryness.

If you would like to share blooms or other material from your garden or foraged nearby, then pop them into a vase or jamjar and join us on IAVOM by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 21 Comments

Six on Saturday: Holes

When I suggested to the Golfer a couple of days ago that we ought to trim some of the ivy from the apple trees I did not expect to see so many holes in the canopy when the trimming began – there must have been a time when you could see daylight through it, but we had certainly forgotten this, and hadn’t appreciated quite how much of the canopy had become ivy rather than apple. Once the apples have been harvested, the branches that overhang the fence will be removed to tidy up the shape of the tree, which we guess will be at least 40-50 years old.

With the current lack of rain and my loathness to plant out the accumulation of new plants while the ground is so dry, I have compromised and begun removing plants that have outlived their usefulness or need more nurturing. I mentioned the clematis I had recently potted up for additional TLC, and here in the blue & white border this has left quite a hole, especially when accompanied by cutting back exuberant Centaurea montana. It occurred to me that this border has not been overhauled for many years, with non-functioning plants just superseded by new additions, and that renovating the veritable plant graveyard and improving the soil could inject new life into the border – another task waiting for damper weather.

There is an even larger hole at the back of one of the main borders, where today I removed a large hollyhock, an uninvited Japanese anemone and an acanthus that was ousted years ago but keeps trying to make a comeback. The hollyhock always looked out of scale here so I shall be looking for tall, but not quite as tall, alternatives to fill the gap – and having a ‘spare’ obelisk makes another clematis look a likely contender. The border seems also to be home to a number of gladioli, none of which has ever flowered, although some have much healthier foliage than the lacklustre ones you can see in the photo below – if they don’t manage to flower this year (and I am not holding my breath) they will be out on their ears…

The bronze heuchera bed that surrounds the Acer griseum is a feature that worked pretty well right from the start, and removing the slate mulch and renewing some of the plants earlier this season spruced it up nicely. However, there were two heuchera that stood out like sore thumbs by not being ‘bronze’ enough – not what you would expect from a variety called ‘Bronze Beauty’! On a whim this afternoon I removed them, potting them up for later replanting elsewhere – leaving two adjacent holes…

Bolstered by this spontaneous decision, a vigorous geranium from one of the nearby main borders was also removed, possibly planted there as a temporary filler and gradually ingratiating itself with adjacent plants. When work was carried out on these borders in the lockdown summer of 2020 this border, being unaffected by the realignment, remained the same and would probably benefit from the same overhaul as its blue and white near-neighbour, with all plants being removed and the soil improved before their replacement. In the meantime, there is another hole…

The Sixth Hole on Saturday, my contribution to the weekly meme generously hosted by Jon the Propagator, is rather more discreet, hidden at the back of the dahlia beds. These beds are usually home to twelve different dahlias, six in each, complemented by sweet peas until the latter run out of steam. The sweet peas have now been removed and the supports stored till next year, but the dahlias are also struggling to perform with this summer’s heat and lack of rain. Eleven of them are, that is, as one of them hasn’t even begun to struggle, having barely emerged from the soil. This variety always seems to produce no more than a single stem, but this year even that seems too much of an effort, but at least the hole it leaves isn’t as obvious as today’s other five holes…


Posted in borders, Gardening, Gardens, projects, Six on Saturday, Weather | 19 Comments

A Sructural Border in the Making

You may have caught a glimpse of a new archway in the recent EOMV post, either in the video or amongst the still photos; the archway has now been painted, and has another climbing rose ‘Claire Austin’ planted at its base, planned to link with the two roses already established on the pergola on the right of the above photo, thus extending the structure.

This new structure is the starting point for the rebirth of the ex-snowdrop border, currently filled for the summer with annual limonium. I have been seeking inspiration since the named snowdrops were moved to their new home in the woodland in March, walking past and studying the border, looking out for ideas from gardens I have visited, asking visitors to our garden open days for their suggestions and consulting books for ideas and inspiration…

…all to no avail. Instead of working to an overall border scheme as I had hoped, it now meant reverting to the incremental approach that most of the garden has been built upon. Had I any ideas at all? Yes, extending the pergola with Rosa ‘Claire Austin’; new posts added, painted and rose planted. Anything else? Yes, adding height that wouldn’t interfere with hedge cutting in the autumn; two obelisks have been added for clematis, which can be cut back and the obelisks removed before hedge cutting if necessary. More? Because the border is visible from the kitchen windows, ideally there needs to be something to see in the winter; as well as the obelisks, perennials with striking form that last over winter (I already have veronicastrum, phlomis and perovskia grown from seed, but grasses would work too) and shapely shrubs could fulfil this brief. I have also moved a struggling witch hazel, H ‘Ruben’ from the edge of the woodland to the far left of the border where hopefully it will survive and bloom again.

Will it work? Time alone will tell, but just adding the obelisks (of differing heights) to the border along with the pergola extension brought it to life, so replacing the temporary limonium at the end of the season with structural planting is looking promising and I invite you to follow the border’s evolution alongside me.

Posted in garden structure, Gardening, Gardens, projects | 10 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: A Torch For the Shadows

Posted in annuals, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 8 Comments

Ina Vase on Monday: Glad All Over

I’m feelin’ (boom boom) glad all over
Yes, I’m-a (boom boom) glad all over
Baby, I’m (boom boom) glad all over
So glad you’re mine

from ‘Glad All Over’, Dave Clark Five 1964 ( boom boom representing the base beat)

You may have spotted a couple of spikes of gladioli in yesterday’s End of Month View – no longer spottable because they have been picked for today’s vase, as had been planned when I first spotted the emerging spikes myself. Having periodically planted gladioli but with no success, with a cheap pack of bulbs (Gladiolus ‘Traderhorn’) from Aldi I had little to lose – but nevertheless was still surprised to see some of them growing. Admittedly there are no more than half a dozen out of a pack of 25, but hey ho, beggars can’t be choosers. Sadly, they are not the scarlet the pack promised, but more of a deep coral…

I have not used the ikebana vase (from Chive) the gladioli are displayed in before, mainly because when it came it was larger than I expected, and somehow ugly, like a white ceramic slipper, but as long as I don’t look at it from above perhaps I can forget about that during the life of the contents. Joining the gladioli, I amused myself by choosing a double stem of Echinops ‘Arctic Glow’, reminiscent of drumsticks, and to complement the ‘red’ and white, thought I may as well throw in some blue too, this time Limonium ‘Seeker Pastel Blue’. The vase may not have the same finesse as those by some of our more accomplished IAMOV arrangers, but nonetheless I am fairly pleased with it in my own way, just wondering perhaps if I could have cut everything a bit shorter…?

You will struggle to see the prop in the first photo, but it is a little pin badge of a drumkit, a gift at the time I was learning to play drums, perhaps 15 years ago, following a conversation with a colleague who had booked flying lessons because it was something she had always wanted to do – I did the same with drum lessons, and played for my own amusement for 3 or 4 years.

IAVOM contributions, with or without admissions of long-held desires, are always welcome – just leave the usual links.

Posted in annuals, bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Summer | Tagged | 33 Comments

End of Month View: Jaded?

Please join me for an apologetically brisk sprint around the garden at the end of July, a month that seems to have been largely written off because of the heat, leaving the garden just a little jaded. Is the gardener a little jaded too, perhaps? No, not jaded, but the ground is so dry that a lot of things I would like to do need to be put off until conditions are a little better, and there has certainly been far less gardening done this month than any other this year. There is still colour in the garden, however, and plenty to bring pleasure, but it feels as if it has been neglected, which of course it has.

To business, then, with the usual view from the back of the house (still with washing line) and the adjacent streamside and shrub border, the latter from both directions.

The woodland, the view over the main borders from the bothy at the end of it, followed by the same views from the back of the shed:

The woodland edge border, grass border, and two anything-goes borders:

The cutting beds and working greenhouse:

The blue & white borders, rose garden and walking between the main borders:

The ex-snowdrop border, with a new addition (more on that soon), looking towards the house, inside the Coop and finally the Coop Corner:

Sorry if this leaves you out of breath, but perhaps you might now like to take a few more minutes to watch the accompanying video – although I suspect you will find the pace no more leisurely! As always, you can check out a map of the garden and the route of the video tour under The Garden tab above.

Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | 17 Comments

Six on Saturday: In the Mix

As is so often the case, it’s very much a mixed bag for Six on Saturday today, the meme hosted by genial Jon The Propagator, starting with the now naked witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Strawberries and Cream’. It’s not the only thing to have lost its leaves from the recent heat and lack of rain, and there are little piles of leaves beginning to accumulate in corners around the garden and on the streets, with an early autumn very much on the cards.

The weather has certainly had an effect on many plants this year, although not necessarily bad and, despite it, clematis has done particularly well, no doubt assisted by the early season feeding and regular watering they have received as I strove to provide them with some TLC rather than benign neglect. Some though, like the crinkly white ‘Prince George’ (front post on the right), have been unusually late in beginning to flower.

In the Coop, the flower spike on Eucomis pallidiflora ssp poleevansii seems late to emerge, but at least it is emerging, unlike any of my other eucomis; last year, frustrated by the lack of bloom on E ‘Sparkling Burgundy’, I purchased another bulb already in flower…this year I have two non-flowering E ‘Sparkling Burgundy’…!

Down at the bottom of the garden, in the working greenhouse, instead of no appearances we have re-appearances, as I lifted two fairly recently planted clematis that had failed to emerge from the ground and, finding there was still evidence of life, potted them up. Within only a week or two they rewarded me with fresh foliage and a viable future (below is C heracleifolia ‘Cassandra’). Boosted by this, I lifted two other non-emergers and gave them the same treatment: I am now awaiting equally positive results.

You may recall back in February that I shared my excitement in ‘chipping’ snowdrops, a means of propagation, and showed the first signs of new bulbils. Out of the four snowdrops I experimented with three have produced a number of bulbils or new scales and I am about to pot them up in the anticipation of leaves as winter approaches. I had to sift through the little bags of vermiculite they were stored in to find the bulbils, as some had become detached from the original sections of bulbs.

For my sixth contribution, I originally planned to show some of the newly blooming roses, as many begin to get a second flush underway, but my attention was caught by more than just a single Cyclamen hederifolum emerging – surely a clincher for that early autumn we are beginning to expect?

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, Six on Saturday, Summer | 27 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Dining Out

Posted in Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | 5 Comments