Tag Archives: Hydrangea petiolaris

End of month view – August 2014


July’s End of Month View was thrown together well before the end of month, just before we left for the States, and as a conclusion I wrote “as I write this I wonder how they’ll cope with a two week absence.  Fingers crossed.”  Well sadly, the answer, despite having housesitters who were apparently watering, was very badly indeed.

We flew home overnight on the 2nd August, arriving back around lunchtime on the 3rd, but despite my sister and brother-in-law’s heroic efforts over the final few days, the damage had definitely been done.  The sight that greeted me almost reduced me to tears – no veg, few flowers (certainly no sweet peas) and very sad looking pots.  And whilst I know there are far bigger tragedies in the world, seeing six month’s worth of effort shrivelled up in front of me was pretty hard to bear.

Consequently, the month since then, has been spent vacillating between intensive garden recovery activities and sitting inside sulking.  And if I’m honest, there has been so much of the latter that my End of Month photographing this morning resulted in me looking at things I haven’t looked at for weeks, so it’s been somewhat of an eye opener for me.

So let’s share.

The left hand Swing Bed above isn’t looking too bad now – the verbena are complete stalwarts and have been joined by the lovely Aster Frikartii Monch, of which I wish I had more.  There are also salvias, nepeta and phlox, and the St Swithun rose is having a second flush.  What there isn’t, is pretty much any sign of the numerous annuals I planted, or the dahlias which I thought would do a marvellous job of providing late colour.  They have survived and are now, finally, in bud, but are still so short I’m not sure they’ll ever appear over the top of the plants in front.  We’ll see.


The right hand Swing Bed is suffering similarly, but you can see there are some annual Cleomes towards the left of the photo, but little sign of any cosmos or the dahlias here either.

Surprisingly, the troughs have done well and I love the exuberance of the Cosmos Purity.


Opposite the troughs, I’ve cut back the verbascums in the Grass Beds, and there’s not much to see apart from the grasses. The first year we were here I planted Cosmos in this bed and they were great.  I definitely need to rethink this bed next year. Nothing apart from the grasses and the bulbs early on really last long enough, so I think I need to find something that’s a better ‘doer’.


On the other side of the garden, the Oak Bed I’m always so dissatisfied with is actually looking ok, largely as its shadiness has protected it from the ubiquitous shrivel!IMG_4637


Similarly, the Shady Bed is fine, as would the Hostas be if they weren’t so painty.  But the Hydrangea Petiolaris seems to have turned its toes up.  To be honest it wasn’t doing very well anyway, so perhaps it’s a good excuse to plant something more exciting.



Meanwhile the veg bed had a lot to contend with.  Firstly drought, but then the aftermath Hurricane Bertha, which caused a general collapse of all the bamboo structures which are now held up by strings attached to the bay tree.  This makes picking somewhat of a limbo dance – now that there is finally some more veg to pick.


In the greenhouse, where there is a drip hose system fitted, things are looking far more promising




The plants at the left hand end of the photo above are Cucamelons, one of James Wong’s ‘Homegrown Revolution’ suggestions.  The taste is supposed to be (funnily enough) a cross between a cucumber and a melon, however I certainly think there’s a lot more cucumber taste than melon.  The plants seem to be very leafy and not particularly productive, and the fruits are only grape sized (although pretty).  I’m not sure I’d grow it again.


And to finish, a view which isn’t even in my garden.  This is a bed in a neighbour’s garden which I’ve commandeered for my loud orange annuals, Helianthus Claret, Tithonia and various Marigolds.  They look even zingier in the evening when they catch the west light.


So that’s it.  And guess what?  I feel much better now and will stop sulking and get on with enjoying the rest of the gardening year.

And, having this very day delivered my son to uni, perhaps I’ll have a little more time to do it.  (Although he has taken my laptop with him, which seems to be causing a few problems on the photography quality front as I battle with an older laptop with different software.  Apologies!)

With many thanks, as ever, to Helen at the Patient Gardener,  for hosting everyone’s End of Month views.



Where are you blue (kangaroo*) mouse ears?

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It started with a gift from lovely neighbour Martin a couple of weeks ago – a large pot containing a hosta, already showing its ‘horns’.  It made me wonder where my hostas were, and the answer was, they weren’t.

Fast forward three weeks and they’re all coming along well apart from one – ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.

I have two beds including hostas, the first, the aptly named ‘hosta bed’ was created last year in a small north facing strip of a bed behind the new porch.  I was due to open the garden in June, together with others in the village, under the ‘Secret Garden of St Helens’ banner, and thought this bed was looking particularly tragic with nothing but a rather untidy Hydrangea Petiolaris to offer.  So when I was at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, I sought out the Bowdens stand, had a lovely chat and picked up a catalogue.

I returned from Chelsea and, of course, a few weeks went by before I finally got round to phoning Bowdens.  The phone call started well with the charming man at the other end of the phone saying ‘hang on a sec, just let me wash my hands’ – talk about hands on knowledge!  I decided to order their ‘Surprise Collection’ of ten hostas, plus one – the Blue Mouse Ears which I couldn’t resist – Just what it says on the label, blue, small and rounded like the ears of a mouse, but with a remarkably thick texture”.  He gave quite a long delivery time, but when I explained the opening date was only a week away he quickly revised his estimate and said he’d get them to me within a couple of days, (despite the Chelsea rush) which he did.  

The hostas were all fabulous – bigger than I’d anticipated, an interesting mix and in wonderful condition.  I planted up the hosta bed and still had some left over to add to the ‘shady bed’ too.


See below some of the hostas up close (I did bury the lables with the plants, but haven’t dug them all up to identify them, sorry!)   I’ve bought a huge tub of the wool based ‘Slug Gone’ which seems to be doing fine (the only one looking a little holey was the first one up which I hadn’t noticed, but of course the slugs had).  However the OH doesn’t seem to trust in the natural method and has added a few slug pellets.  I’m not happy, partly because I don’t want to be using them, but also because it will now be difficult to see whether the Slug Gone has actually worked.  I think a little pellet picking is in order….

The second bed is the so called ‘shady bed’, which actually gets more sun than I’d originally appreciated, but late in the day.  The surprise success here is the inherited white rose (out of shot to the left of this picture), which rather undermines the theme of the bed, but is beautiful so I just go with it, and have actually used it as a prompt to make this a largely ‘white’ bed.


Above you can see the Fatsia and hellebore leaves, and also the Poeticus daffodils just out, as well as, below, a newly emerging hosta (amongst the honesty seedlings):

IMG_1827However, what’s sadly missing so far is my extra purchase, my Blue Mouse Ears.  Let’s hope they’re still coming.  Fingers crossed.

*For those without relevant aged children “Where are you blue kangaroo?” by Emma Chichester Clarke is a lovely children’s book about a lost toy.   Thankfully it has a happy ending, let’s hope mine does too.