Category Archives: Garden

End of month view – June 2018

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“The best fertiliser is the gardener’s shadow” I first read at Kew – must be twenty years ago when I was working four days a week, had two children under three and a garden and an allotment to look after.  As you can imagine, it struck a chord – there was never enough time, and the garden and/or allotment often suffered.

Fast forward and the shadow is still often absent, and the garden continues to suffer.  Different garden and different excuse (a lovely one this time, away for the daughter’s graduation in Durham – not very handy for the Isle of Wight).  We arrived home around lunch time today and everything is so parched!  We did spend last weekend setting up some trickle hoses but we didn’t have them on whilst we were away.

Despite the drought (I genuinely can’t remember when we last had rain, it feels like it was May, but can’t have been!) some plants are thriving – not surprisingly often the Mediterranean plants like the Lavender above and below.
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Taking you on the usual tour, you can just see, oh what a shock, the decking has still not been replaced in front of the office.  To say I’m rather miffed would be a bit of an understatement, but let’s not dwell.  Instead we’ll admire the Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin f. rosea) planted last year.  Sadly it’s showing no sign of flowering yet, but I am enjoying the foliage.

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Now that the stocks at the back have finished flowering, I’ve planted Cosmos and Pelargoniums in the the metal troughs.  They are a long way from ‘filling out’ which is a shame as you can clearly see the rather ugly dripper hose we’ve laid out.  Not surprisingly these troughs do get very hot and dry so hopefully the dripper will help (if we’re ever feeling flush enough to turn it on!DSC01073

The Veg patch is the other place we’ve put dripper hose. This is another tricky area as the veg are largely planted amongst the huge bay trees so they’re always competing for water and we rarely have particularly good productivity from any of the plants.  I’m hoping the dripper will help change that this year.  We’ll see.

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Like last year, I’ve planted some cutting flowers in with the veg – here you can see my very pitiful sweet peas.  I live in hope they will eventually get going and I’ll get some lovely blooms, even if very late.DSC01077

In the Swing Beds the pink Geraniums at the front of the beds have largely gone over, but there are still plenty of rose blooms and Penstemon.  

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The Grass Bed has finally been cleared of the spent forget me nots and the bed planted with Zinnias.  In addition to the Zinnias are self sown Nasturtium and grasses (not Stipa, I’ve forgotten what it is.  I grew it from seed years ago and now I can’t get rid of it!).  The lack of water has meant they’ve struggled to get going, but I’m concerned I haven’t planted them close enough and they’ll never cover the ground in the sort of wonderful display I saw at West Dean gardens here .  To be fair, the photo at West Dean was taken at the end of August, so perhaps we’ll get there.

You can see just how many of the Stipa tenuissima were lost over the winter and I’m still deciding whether I should replace them.  I read recently that they do have a ‘life’ of only about five years and I’ve definitely had them longer than that, so perhaps it was inevitable and I should try something else.DSC01080

I’m really enjoying the pot of poppies with the chicken.  I’ve sprinkled some of the ripe seed on the Grass Bed – wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a whole bed like this next year?!

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The Mid Century bed is looking a little flat now.  The roses are taking a break having (I think) got too dry, and the Dahlias and annuals have not yet got going.  However the lovely Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (centre) planted last year is now looking well established.DSC01082

Round to the west side of the garden takes us past the rather bleached looking Flower Carpet roses

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and two newly planted pots.DSC01069

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The Bronze Bed is also having a lull while we wait for the Dahlias to start blooming and the roses to recover from lack of water.  Lovely to see the Wisteria having a second flush though.DSC01067

Looking the other way you can see the second (original) Cercis, and the shrubby planting which borders the road.DSC01068

Making our way back to the greenhouse, I can show a happy conclusion to something I suddenly started worrying about when we were away.  These are little Hosta seedlings, grown from seed collected from my own Hostas and planted at least two years ago.  I was fretting they would have curled up and died in our absence, but no!  Very dry, but not even really showing any distress

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Sadly the same can’t be said for the salad and peas growing in the (shallow) raised wooden beds.  They’ve looking very peaky, and some have definitely been lost.DSC01092

On a more cheerful note I’m getting excited to see how the greenhouse beds will look this year.  It’s a rather bold combination – you’ll have to wait for next month to see what it is!DSC01085

Into the greenhouse and this is what greeted me when I opened the door – the lovely Plumbago had fallen over and was almost blocking the door.  This is one of the original pair of plants bought years ago.

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The second one died last year – but look, the cuttings I’d luckily taken from the original were planted up last year and are possibly looking better (certainly less leggy) than the original.

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The rest of the greenhouse has now been planted up with aubergines

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cucumbers and tomatoes.DSC01089

So, back to the ‘gardener’s shadow’ – well, I’ve already been out watering this evening and hopefully tomorrow I can spend the whole day in the garden.  Goodness knows, it’s about time!

With thanks to Helen who hosts our End of Month Views.

 

End of month view – May 2018

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I arrived home yesterday for the first time in ten days, and the change is absolutely extraordinary.  I’ve used the word ‘bonkers’ before about the garden in May, but this year it’s more bonkers than ever.

I popped out in my lunch hour today to take these photos, but haven’t had a chance to do even a minute of tidying (or lawn mowing), so hopefully you’ll excuse the rather dishevelled look.

Bearing in mind that due to a sequence of lovely trips away I’ve only spent three non working days at home in the whole of May, it’s amazing it’s looking as good as it is.  Having said that, scratch the surface, and you’ll see there’s an awful lot of work required and PLENTY of serious weeding.

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Let’s forget all that for the minute and take the usual tour.

Sadly there’s still no decking but I live in hope it might be there for the end of June.IMG_4075

I’ve replanted the Pelagonium ‘Surcouf’ at the front of both the pots as they were all lost this winter.  Luckily I had taken some cuttings, as I’d hate to be without the glorious fuchsia pink blooms to keep (Clematis) ‘Princess Diana’ company.IMG_4084

At the right hand end in front of the decking (well where the decking should be!) the Mulberry tree we had in a pot in Richmond and brought to the island ten years ago is finally finding its feet and looks like this year might bear proper quantities of fruit.IMG_4076

I had a mad planting out session two weeks ago so finally there’s something to see in the Veg Bed.  The flower at the front is Peony ‘Coral Charm’, bought going cheap at the end of last year.  I’ve planted it here for cutting, but clearly I’m some way off a bunch!IMG_4077

The rather odd combination of Agapanthus and strawberries is full of promise.IMG_4078

In the left hand Swing Bed there’s a rather mad combination of poppies, roses, geraniums and sisyrinchiums.

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and in the left, a similar mix, but with a rather handsome lupin thrown in.IMG_4080

The Grass Bed is in desperate need of attention – not least a change of name!  As you can see, nearly all the Stipa tenuissima which previously lined the back of this bed, have died over the winter leaving just a couple of wispy memories.

The majority of the bed can now be cleared as it’s full of faded forget me nots, bulb foliage and (eek) mare’s tail.  However, I’m not sure what I’m going to plant instead, and I can’t decide what to do about replacing the Stipas.  Hmm.IMG_4081

I treated myself to these poppies at the local garden centre and I popped the chicken in amongst them.  I just adore poppies and I’m excited there are so many buds to come.IMG_4082

This bench sits behind the Mid Century Bed and is normally ignored (and never sat on!) but I like the effect with the Rosa Seagull in full flower above it and the paired cans.IMG_4083

Here’s the Mid Century Bed with plenty of roses, foxgloves and more poppies.IMG_4073
In the Drive Bed I’m chuffed that some white foxgloves I only moved from the Mid Century bed a fortnight ago, have survived and flourished.  The rose here is the same plant featured in the two photos above, but on the other side of the fence.IMG_4065

This (inherited) rose scents the steps up from the drive, providing a lovely welcome.

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At the western end of the garden, looking the ‘shady way’ (actually south, but shady due to the magnificent oak) we can see the tapestry of shrubby planting.  Unfortunately I didn’t get round to pruning any of these this winter, so they’re all looking rather shaggy, but I’m pleased with the purple/green/purple/green repetition.IMG_4067

Looking the other way, to the much sunnier Bronze Bed, you can see the roses and Geums featured in my last Monday vase.  IMG_4069

Heading back towards the greenhouse takes you past the barrow,IMG_4085

the unpelleted (and thus chewed) hostas, IMG_4086

and various seed trays hardening off and in desperate need of planting out.  (The ones on the left below are stocks which sadly look unlikely to survive).IMG_4088

Talking of not surviving, my Winter flowering sweet peas which were planted out sooooo late, have not done well at all, and a number have not survived the transition to the greenhouse beds.IMG_4092

Happily the tomatoes are a lot perkier.

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as are various tender flowers still waiting for their chance to shine outside.IMG_4090

And to finish, just look at this Leptosermum.  I was thinking over the winter it had got rather leggy, but all is forgiven now!

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With thanks to Helen at the Patient Gardener who hosts our EoMVs.

 

 

 

 

 

In a vase on Monday – perky posy!

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I made this little posy for my lovely neighbour, and, starting with the jewel like tulips, I thought I’d see where they led me.

Firstly T. ‘Queen of the Night’ (and T. Merry go round) and zingy, fresh Spiraea japonica foliage,IMG_4040

then Cerinthe major purpurescens,IMG_4043

and lastly fabulous Erysimum ‘Red Jep’.IMG_4042

Simples!IMG_4045

With thanks to Cathy who hosts all our Monday vases.

End of month view – April 2018

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I feel like I’ve barely been here for weeks!  Firstly a lovely weekend away with my daughter and then a week in Italy has meant this last weekend has been the first I’ve spent on the island in a month.  Goodness know when all this happened, but look!  It’s all happened!

On a slightly more negative note, the dear OH, has occasioned this to happen.  The decking outside the office was becoming increasingly unsafe and, as we had builders in doing other work, he kindly instructed them to take the decking away.  I can’t say I’m exactly thrilled that we’ve lost our terrace just as the weather’s changing, but hopefully we can conclude discussions about its replacement and get cracking.  Hmm.IMG_4010

My absence has meant progress on the Veg Patch has been extremely limited.  There are some broad beans under the cover at the bottom but everything else is way behind – including the weeding.IMG_4005

As previously noted, the Agapanthus in the strawberry bed are threatening to squeeze out the strawberries.  And the Diving Lady is looking increasingly like she needs a machete to find her pool.IMG_4013

In the Swing Beds, after last year’s dismal performance, the tulips have come up trumps.  The larger, blousier ones are T. Pink Impression, with the rather smaller, softer ones ‘Menton’.

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In the Grass Bed the N. ‘Peeping Jennys’ are over and have been replaced N. ‘Lieke’ and T. ‘Green Star’.  Sadly many of the grasses (Stipa tenuissima) do definitely look like they’ve died over the winter.  I’m still deciding whether I’ll replace them or come up with another plan.IMG_4034

In the Mid Century bed I added ‘Night Club’ tulips to the existing ‘Merry go round’ and ‘Queen of the Night’.  These latter two are returning for their third year, which is great as so many tulips really aren’t perennial.IMG_4018IMG_4020

In the Bronze Bed the N. ‘Yazz’ are still blooming but the ‘Jimmy’ tulips seem to have largely disappeared this year.

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The Wisteria is out along the front of the veranda and the scent is heavenly.IMG_4024

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In front of the greenhouse I’m very disappointed with these tulips.  I’ve had the same Narcissus ‘Bellsong’ in these pots for years but have bought various tulips to accompany them.  This year’s ‘Mango Charm’, firstly, don’t look anything like the ones of the same name I bought last year, but also don’t look remotely ‘mango’ and are instead an insipid pink.  The one tulip I do like is the oddity which has turned up in the middle!IMG_4027

Inside the greenhouse is utter chaos.  Although I have moved out some tender plants since this photo was taken, there are still pots and pots getting in the way of seedlings and cuttings.IMG_4028

Even more sadly I still haven’t planted out my winter flowering sweet peas (languishing half dead in the foreground).  I was picking bunches by now last year.  Silly Jen.IMG_4029

In large pots I have various dahlias sprouting, including some new large orange ones to go in the bed outside the greenhouse.  IMG_4030

And to finish a rather more pleasing pot.  This is N. ‘Blushing Lady’ and, would you believe, T. ‘Blushing Lady’.  Clearly nothing goes better with blushing ladies than more blushing ladies!IMG_4031

With thanks to Helen at the Patient Gardner who hosts our End of Month Views.

End of month view – March 2018

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What a grey day for the end of March!

There were the odd glimmers of sunshine earlier, but sadly I didn’t manage to take my photos then, and by the time I got round to taking these, the light was very flat.

The photo above shows the Drive Bed which has a mix of inherited multi headed Narcissi (which are so top heavy they tend to collapse), seed grown Erysimum ‘Ivory Giant’ and newly planted ‘Thalia’.

Below, the Swing Bed has been cut back and nearly all of the roses pruned.  As previously, I’m concerned I’ve cut back the ramblers (outside posts, Rosa ‘Wedding Day’ on the left and ‘Snow Goose’ on the right) too hard, too late, but they’ve always bounced back, so fingers crossed!

This photo makes me think I really should add some sort of shrubby planting in these beds to keep some structure over winter, but what?IMG_3980 - Copy

There’s are a patches of  ‘Jenny’ Narcissi here, IMG_3981 - Copy

with tulips to follow.IMG_3983 - Copy

The ‘Minnow’ Narcissi are just starting to flower in the troughs and the Stocks (Matthiola Incana, at the back) are looking much more established having been transplanted as diminutive cuttings last year.IMG_3979 - Copy

In the Veg Patch I persuaded the son to do a bit of weeding and plant out the broad bean ‘Stereo’ seedlings.  I also asked him to take some photos and this is what he came up with:IMG_3969 (2) - Copy

And proof to family members who find it hard to believe he really was helping:IMG_3977 - Copy

Whilst in the Grass Bed the ‘Peeping Jenny’ Narcissi are perkily peeping at the Duver, I’m rather concerned that many of the grasses (Stipa tenuissima) are less than perky, indeed I think a number have been lost over the winter.  I’ll wait and see over the next few weeks but will then need to either replant or think again.IMG_3982 - Copy

The Mid Century Bed has been rather taken over by self seeded Euphorbia.  I think these will have to come out, but at this time of year there isn’t much else going on, so I’m leaving them for the minute.IMG_3986 - Copy

You may have noticed in the background a tree in front of the greenhouse.  This greeted me when I returned from London on Thursday.  The OH had bought it during the week from ‘some guy with a van load of plants’.  It’s an olive tree, and whilst a very handsome specimen, I have no idea where on earth it’s going to go.   Hmmm.

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Round the corner, the tin bath has taken a nasty knock from the recent weather and as well as losing the Chocolate Cosmos, and some of the Pelargoniums, I think I may have lost all the Osteospermums and Gazanias.IMG_3995 - Copy

See much happier picture from January below:IMG_3859

The eagle eyed will spot a significant absence from the picture below.  The Melianthus Major, which normally forms the backdrop for the Bronze Bed photo, has been cut right back.  The Narcissi ‘Cragford’ are as floriferous as ever, but no sign of the ‘Yazz’ which follow, and were already flowering this time last year.

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In the Oak Bed plenty of Hellebores are still flowering stronglyIMG_3998 - CopyIMG_3997 - Copy

In the greenhouse everything is almost exactly as it was a month ago.IMG_3988 - Copy

The Winter Sunshine Sweet Peas still haven’t been planted outIMG_3990 - Copy

and pretty much the only other seeds planted to date have been the ‘outside’ sweet peas. IMG_3991 - Copy

I don’t know what I’ve been up to, but I clearly haven’t been gardening.  Looking at last year’s March post makes me realise just how behind everything is.  Partly that’s the weather, but it’s also the lack of time I’ve spent out there.  And that’s not going to be helped by being away for the next three weekends.

Perhaps three weekend’s gardening can be squeezed into Easter Monday?

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter, with as much, or as little gardening as you like! IMG_3992 - Copy

With thanks to Helen at the Patient Gardener who hosts EoMV.

Catching up!

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It hasn’t been my best gardening/blogging year so far, not least as I failed to blog last weekend at all, and hence missed posting these unusually snowy scenes whilst still germane.

I’ve definitely struggled with the weather this year, and whilst I know the Isle of Wight has suffered less than many places, I’ve been spoilt since we moved here, and have struggled to rise to the numerous meteorological challenges posed!

Today, however, was finally different.  Not only am I exceedingly overexcited by an extra hour’s daylight (I am SO useless at getting going in the morning) but I finally got out in the garden for hours rather than minutes.  And, having worried that my gardening mojo had gone the way of spring (ie lost!) everything came together in a fabulous few hours of cathartic chopping back and rose pruning.

I found myself, more than once, doing something I used to tease my mother for – randomly smiling at garden ‘things.’  It was so lovely to be outside ‘doing’ rather inside attempting to plan, but somehow failing to do even that.

I’m terribly behind but, with a long weekend coming up, I hope all can start to be licked into shape quite quickly.

And of course, if there’s one thing I saw today, it’s that the garden is waking up perfectly well without my help.IMG_3953