Tag Archives: Centaurea cyanus Black Boy

End of month view – September 2015

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Such a glorious day for my EOMV photos – so much more cheery than last month’s post which looked like October in August!

This part of the garden has taken on a rather purple hue with the Verbena bonariensis, Erysimum Bowles Mauve and asters.  In the two photos below, you can also see the lavender heads, but these are now grey rather than their original mauve, and should really have been trimmed back by now.

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In the left hand Swing Bed, as well as the Aster Frikartii Monch, you can see the annual Cosmos Dazzler and a matching bright pink Penstemon.  These Penstemons were already in the garden when we moved here and were transplanted to these beds five years ago when they were newly created. There are quite a number of them and in prior years they’ve provided a strong presence in these beds, whereas conversely, this year, they’ve been notable by their absence.  I’m not sure whether they got knocked back by frost early in the year, whether I cut them back too hard or whether they’ve suffered from competition, but I’ve missed them, and I’m delighted they’re back.IMG_8816

In the right hand bed, as well as the same plants as the left side, there is also a Caryopteris (front left), Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Heavenly Blue’.  This is a fabulous plant and matches beautifully with the Aster.  I’ve just checked the RHS website and apparently is can be propagated by cuttings, so that’s another one to add to my propagating list – I would definitely like more Asters and Caryopteris in these beds.

One thing I could do with less of, however, are the hardy geraniums in the front.  There used to be a mix of these, Alchemilla mollis and various other shorter perennials, but the geraniums seem to have bullied the rest and at this time of year they’re just green lumps.  It’s not good enough, but what to replace them with?

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In the grass bed, I’ve mentioned previously that I’d planted out spare Zinnia Raspberry Cordials here to replace the Verbascums I’d pulled out.  I don’t think the quite stiff Zinnias really work with the grasses, so I’ll be thinking again for next year.

In the front of this bed are numerous self seeded Nasturtiums, N. Black Velvet, but the blooms seem to be almost completely obscured by the leaves.  What’s the point of that?IMG_8804

The Mid Century bed is still doing pretty well, but certain plants have got rather out of control – certainly the Malope (which should have been staked but never was) and the Centaurea cyanus Black Boy which I think could also do with some support, but here the salvias are looking great, the Jubilee Celebration rose is blooming again and of course the Rhodochiton atrosanguineus continues its rampage up the obelisk.

The plant in the middle of this photo is an Acacia, Acacia baileyana ‘Pupurea’.  This had beautiful smoky grey, feathery foliage, but I’m concerned it’s got a bit droughted during the summer and hence is showing this rather golden colour.  For a plant that I don’t believe is known for its autumnal tints, this is a bit of a worry, but it seems healthy enough, so hopefully will pull through.

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I still have plenty of tender plants such as pelargoniums and marguerites in smaller pots, but in my large troughs I have rather mad Cosmos.  This is Cosmos Purity which (in common with many of my annuals) could really have done with some staking.  However, I quite like the mad exuberance, and the plants are still going strong, (unlike the double flowered Cosmos in the Cutting Garden down the road).  I think part of the problem is the vine, planted by the OH, which is growing along the back of the troughs and pushing the Cosmos forward.  I have to say I’m not at all convinced about the vine – the grapes are barely edible and it obstructs the view when you’re sitting at the table on the decking, but to date the OH won’t hear of me ‘editing’ it.  Grrr.

As well as the Cosmos, there are some Matthiola Incana plants here, originally grown from seed two or three years ago.  They’re really rather leggy now, but I just love the scent of stocks so I’m rather loathe to pull them out.

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The old tin bath by the front steps has filled out well and has a rather gaudy/cheery (depending on your perspective) array of Gazanias and Chocolate Cosmos, Cosmos atrosanguineus (also featured in this morning’s Wordless Wednesday).  There are also very dark flowered pelargoniums in here, but they seem to have been a little overwhelmed.  And I’m a bit confused about the dark foliage plants at the front – I thought they were the dark leaved Ipomoea, the Potato Vine, but looking at them online, the leaf shape seems to be palmate, whereas mine are heart shaped so I’m not so sure.  Can anyone else think what it might be?

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And lastly, the new Bronze Bed.  Some of you will remember that this was created out of the lawn earlier this year to take advantage of the fact that the area near the house is very sunny, whereas the bed further from the house is shaded by the oak tree over the road.  The picture below hopefully demonstrates this.  Both the oak and the bed on the far side of the lawn are in full shade whereas the new bed is singing in the sunshine.

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It has all gone rather bonkers, with the Dahlia, Happy Single Date, by far the most floriferous of all my dahlias this year, the Hordeum Jubatum seed heads scattering all over the place (and dog) and the Icelandic Poppies still coming.  Happy date?  Happy face!IMG_8828

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With thanks to Helen at the  Patient Gardener  who hosts everyone’s EOMVs.

Married to Dame Edna, and a correction

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It’s a family joke that the OH likes gladioli and I don’t.  On (rare) occasion he will buy me gladioli as cut flowers just to see my reaction, which I’m afraid is never positive.

However, my view towards ‘gladdies’ has softened somewhat since coming to the island, as we have inherited the species gladioli, Gladioli byzantinus, (shown here with my Melianthus Major in May last year).  These flowers are rather more dainty and airy and also fill a slightly difficult gap after the tulips have finished flowering, and as a result I’m seriously thinking of planting some in the Swing Beds for next year.

Clearly, the top photo does not show Gladioli byzantinus, but instead Gladiolus Black Star, bought as corms by me this year, for the new Mid Century Bed.  To be honest they were a bit of a joke – I stumbled across them in the garden centre and bought them to charm the husband (whilst also thinking they’d suit the ‘bruised’ colour palette I had in mind for that bed).

They were duly planted in early March, and before too long the strap like leaves were showing as healthy clumps at the back of the border, but whilst the Ranunculus planted at the same time came and went, still there were no flower spikes.  I thought perhaps they’d take a year to settle in, and was quietly a little relieved.  Phew.

And then there they were, multiple flower spikes all along the bed, there was no escape, they were coming.  And here they are:

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I have to admire their sheer scale and majesty, and the colour is fabulous.  But do I actually like them?  Hmmm.  What do you think?

And to finish, a correction.  Blogging has got a little more complicated since I’ve been back at work and I’m quite often blogging when I’m not even at home, accessing photos taken a day or so earlier. But to confuse this, in last week’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day,IMG_8010a

with thisIMG_8013

really was inexcusable.

The first photo actually shows my Centaurea cyanus Black Boy, not a Dianthus at all, whilst the second is Dianthus barbatus Sooty, also grown from seed, but not exactly flowering yet.  Sorry!

I think I’d better go and edit it out…

End of month view – June 2015

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I’m joining Helen at the Patient Gardener to share my June End of Month view.

As some of you know, I opened my garden on Sunday for the local hospice as part of a group opening, and I have to say when I got back from work on Thursday I was devastated to see how exhausted everything looked.  Despite some watering and tidying there were definitely areas that were past their best, but the show must go on and I actually got lots of lovely comments (and over 150 visitors!)IMG_7889

All the photos, apart from the one above, were taken in Monday’s bright sunshine, and I’ve struggled a bit with the light levels.  The one above however, was taken during the opening, and you can see it was a lot greyer.  Luckily (for the visitors, not for the garden!) we missed all the rain bar a few drops.IMG_7907

The Swing Beds were definitely struggling, and even the roses which had looked so lovely the weekend before, were going off a little.  There are Dahlias and Cosmos and Dianthus carthusianorum (grown from seed) amongst other things still to come here, so I hope I can keep it going.

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The Grass Bed has a very limited palette of plants, just the grasses (Stipa tenuissima), looking lovely at this time of year, the self seeded Cerinthe, Allium ‘Hair’ (which has been very badly ‘rusted’ this year), the Verbascum chaixxi Album I grew from seed and the Catananche caerulea, which are new and I just love.  However, around all this is much bare soil, following the disposal of all the dead forget me nots, but I’m not sure what else to add.  I still have various seedlings kicking around, so perhaps I’ll pop some of them in.  IMG_7903

Above is the new Mid Century Bed which is really starting to fill out.  The Ranunculus are still going strong and have now been joined by the first of my new roses to flower, Rosa Munstead Wood, just gorgeous.  I’ve also planted some annuals here including Centaurea cyanus Black Boy, Daucus carota Black Knight, Molucella and Malope.  The Centaurea are just starting to flower, but hopefully the rest will have appeared by next month’s EOMV.

In the other new bed, the Bronze Bed, some combinations have worked, including this one of Calendula Sunset Buff, Achillea Terracotta and Nasturtium Caribbean Crush.IMG_7892

But in common with the Swing Beds, the overall look is a bit exhausted.  However, this picture does show clearly why I wanted the new bed as you can see just how shaded the Oak bed is, in comparison, across the lawn.IMG_7893

In the veg beds, the beans and peas are all rushing up their poles, we’re having the best Raspberry crop ever IMG_7913

and the Diving Lady has again got somewhere to swim

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The raised cutting beds are still looking rather empty apart from plants that overwintered.IMG_7917

But the barrow, which has been a bit of a mess for quite a while, had a good tidy up in honour of the opening, and is looking rather pretty again.IMG_7915

The barrow sits to the right of the greenhouse and this year I’ve added some more orangey plants here too.  Firstly the Antirrhinum Orange Wonder, which I’d originally grown for the Bronze Bed but decided there was more room here

IMG_7919and also the Lathyrus Belinensis, grown in pots either side of the greenhouse door.  These have been really slow to get going but are now starting to look more settled.  They don’t grow as tall as ‘normal’ sweet peas, and nor do they have the same fragrance, but I love their bicoloured flowers and how they work with both the brick and the pot.  I just need them to fill out!

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And to finish, the one bed looking untouched by the recent heat – the Shady Bed looking cool and calm.  IMG_7920

With thanks to Helen for hosting this meme.

The Cutting Garden(s) – May 2015

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So finally I can join Julie, at Peonies and Posies‘ party to talk about the cutting garden.

As last year, my cutting beds are spread about a bit which isn’t ideal, but I’m still very fortunate to have space for cutting blooms.  Again I’ve been allowed to use some space in my neighbours’ walled garden, however this time I have had two different areas allocated.  The first, shown above, is an area that used to be inhabited by chickens, but sadly they were dispatched by a fox earlier in the year and haven’t been replaced.  I’m glad to say there is another area with (live!) chickens just above, so I’m not without company.IMG_7587

The bright green in the photo above is some (I assume) self sown lettuces that I didn’t feel I had the rights to dig up and discard!

As well as (let’s call it) the Chicken Bed there is also a smaller area next to one of the walls.IMG_7589

Whilst the Chicken Bed slopes to the south and is sunny, if rather stony and sandy, the Wall Bed is to the east of the wall and loses the sun relatively early on.  However the soil here seems richer; I think there’s been manure added (you’d think the chicken area would be rich with chicken poo, but it doesn’t seem so).

If you look closely, you can see I have now planted both areas out and I’m interested to see how they fare comparatively.  I haven’t planted any sunflowers in the wall bed as I didn’t think they’d be happy, but I have planted some seedlings in common across the two.

So, seedlings planted so far include Antirrhinum majus Orange Wonder, Centaurea cyanus Black Boy, Cosmos Click Cranberries, Cosmos Dazzler, Cosmos Double Click Snow Puff, Helianthus deb ssp cuc Italian White, Helianthus deb Vanilla Ice, Helianthus Ruby Eclipse (thanks Cathy!), Salvia horminum ‘Oxford Blue’, Stocks Ruby Punch, Ten Weeks Mixed Stocks.  In addition I’ve planted a couple of Dahlia Roxy plants I had spare.

I’ve also got multiple different Zinnia seedlings ready to go in the Chicken Bed in a week or so, as well as plenty of sweet peas that I don’t have space for at home (largely because of my new wider spacing strategy).

As well as the two beds at J&A’s, I’ve also got the two raised beds I used for the first time last year.  The photo below shows them in August last year.

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Both the Antirrhinums (front left) A. Liberty Crimson and the Euphorbia oblongata behind have overwintered and are looking good.   I’ve planted out some shorter seedlings here,  including Molucella laevis and Calendula.

Whilst I still seem to be up to my neck in seedlings, I’m already regretting some omissions of plants grown last including Amaranthus viridis and Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy.  I also don’t think I’ve got nearly enough foliage and fillers (I seem to recall Sarah Raven suggests you should have a similar quantity of flowers and foliage, well I’ve failed there!)

However, there are two bigger issues, firstly will I have any blooms to speak of for my daughter’s 18th on the 19th June?  And, conversely, later in the year once the cutting garden is in full production, what on earth am I going to do with all the blooms I will have?

Something I never confessed at the time, was that last year, when I wasn’t working, I sold flowers twice a week at the local post office (mostly small bouquets in tin cans, see below).  The trouble is, whilst I could still attempt to sell blooms, what I’m concerned about is that if I’m not there to pick them mid week will they all go to seed and stop flowering?

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With many thanks to Julie at Peonies and Posies, (who has a completely glorious cutting garden) for hosting this meme.  Do go and take a peek.