Tag Archives: Salvia viridis blue

Plotting and planning

 

IMG_5580

Prompted by Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden (and Helen, at the Patient Gardener), I too have spent a happy hour with the felt tips, creating a plan of my plot.

My starting point was a Google Earth photo which I traced and updated with the changes we’ve made since moving in just over five years ago.  What’s surprised me is just how busy the plot is with structures – some inherited, like the office and decking, but others new like the garage, the chicken shed (currently empty of chickens) the greenhouse, and the pergola with swing.  I’m surprised I’ve got any space for plants!

Unlike Cathy and Helen, I haven’t marked many plants at all, but instead thought I’d go round the garden from top right, sharing some favourite photos of each of the beds from the past year.

So, to start with, the veg bedsIMG_3852

the swing beds,

IMG_2732

IMG_2731

Grass bed (spring, summer and autumn),2013 05 009IMG_2727

IMG_5052

the left hand lavender bed,IMG_2738

the oak bed (spring and summer).  IMG_1302

IMG_3888

the melianthus major,IMG_2645

wisteria,IMG_3643

herb bed,IMG_2060 (2)

hosta bed,IMG_4622

raised cutting beds,IMG_4617

shady bed,IMG_4619

the greenhouseGreenhouse (2)

right hand med bed,IMG_3667

and the troughs.IMG_1406 (2)

So, if you’re still with me, what about the two areas shaded with red dots, described in the key as ‘Decisions’?  Well these are areas where I’m considering removing lawn to create new beds. The first, marked with hose below, looking towards the chicken shed, I was envisaging as a rose and peony bed.  I can’t see this bed from the house (due to the changes in height which I haven’t really conveyed on the plan), but it would be very obvious when looking west from the swing.  And swinging would seem more like a rose time activity than spring or autumn.

IMG_3679

The second potential bed, would be on the northern edge side of the smaller lawn.  As you can see from the oak bed photos above, the bed is good in the spring, but in the summer is less interesting, once the canopy of the over-the-road-oak is established.

The advantage of the envisaged new bed is that the oak’s shadow wouldn’t reach it and so I would have a new, sunny, south facing patch to play with.  If we eat outside, we sit under the verandah (see wisteria photo), and the new bed would be in full view of the table and allow for much more interesting summer planting than I currently achieve in the shady beds.IMG_3646

The planting I imagine here is coppery toned (as a break from all the pink in the rest of the garden), with plants like Bupleurum ‘Bronze Beauty,’ Calendula ‘Sunset buff’, Scabiosa atropurpurea `Fata Morgana’, ‘Hordeum jubatum’ and maybe a rose or two – ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ or ‘Summer Song’.

So any thoughts?  I don’t think funds will extend to both as the lawns are on very heavy clay and we’ll have to dig well down and replace with better quality soil to have any hope of success.

My preference is for the coppery bed.  The lawn here is poor anyway (in many ways I’d like the whole lawn up, but that’s another story) and it would be lovely when eating outside to have some blooms to admire, and maybe some scent too, but what do you think?

Annual round up

IMG_3379 (3)

After a weekend of leaf collecting, veg patch dismantling and (tardy) bulb planting, I thought I’d hark back to sunnier, summery times and give a review of some of the annuals I’ve grown from seed this year.

All the seeds mentioned here were from Sarah Raven, except The Aster chinensis Hulk, which I think was Thompson and Morgan.

Above and below is the gorgeous marigold, Calendula offiinalis ‘Sunset Buff’.  IMG_3378

As well as the ‘Sunset Buff’, I grew Calendula ‘Neon.’  I’ve never grown calendula before, but I have to say I love these two.

I’ve been lucky enough to grow them either in my raised cutting beds, or my borrowed neighbours’ garden, as I would struggle to fit these colours into my rather pink scheme.

With regard to their use for cutting (the main reason I was growing them), they have been good, but I’ve struggled to get very long stems and also struggled with mildew later in the season. They were only planted in March, so I’ve planted some seed this autumn, in the hope of having more established plants earlier on next year.

Another orange plant grown in my ‘borrowed’ garden has been provided by my Tithonia, Tithonia rotundiflora ‘Torch’.  This has been incredibly prolific this year with the blooms making such a cheerful, bold statement.  I do love this plant but wonder where I’ll be able to grow it next year as it does reach quite a height and spread and, as mentioned before, orange isn’t always the easiest colour to include in a planting scheme.  I do have plans for a new orangey/bronzey themed bed, but the Tithonia would be too tall.  

A genus I’ve grown lots of before is Cosmos, but this year as well as the lovely Comos ‘Purity’, so prolific and so, well ‘pure’ (clue’s in the name…)

I also grew Cosmos ‘Psyche White’. These are very similar to ‘Purity’, but have semi double flowers, which are like a fun mutation of ‘Purity’.

As well as the whites, I grew three pinks, Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, which is quite well known but was new to me and was good, but to my mind not as good asIMG_3776 - Copy - Copy

Cosmos ‘Click Cranberries’.  These very double flower heads were fabulous, and in such a stunning pink (it look wonderful contrasted with the Tithonia).  However, one problem was that sometimes the flower heads were so heavy they didn’t stand up in the vase as well as the singles.

The last Cosmos was C. Rubenza.  I do like the rather unusual colour which fades as the plant ages to a very dusky pink, but this one is shorter than the rest and therefore impossible to get really long flowers for cutting, if that’s what you’re after.

IMG_3338 - Copy

I grew a couple of sunflowers – Helianthus ‘Valentine’ which was an attractive soft yellow and had realtively small blooms making them good for cutting.  Sadly, all my seedlings got eaten by slugs except one, so there weren’t many blooms to cut.  (I heard Sarah Raven suggest that it was as prolific as Cosmos but can’t say I found that with mine).

The second was Helianthus Claret.  I found these rather variable – you can see that the first picture shows the deep ‘wine-red’ colour I was expecting, whereas the next two don’t.  Although they were quite fun, and pretty prolific for cutting, I found it hard to put them with other blooms and didn’t particularly like just a vase of sunflowers.  I don’t think I’d grow them again.

Another plant I don’t think I’d grow again are Cleomes.  I rather like their spidery heads but I found them quite hard to arrange as cut flowers and certainly didn’t appreciate (or expect) their vicious thorns.  Ouch!

Something I would definitely grow more of are Zinnias.  They had a wonderfully productive year this year as it was warm and sunny, just how they like it, and they grow with long straight stems and last well in the vase.  I grew Zinnia ‘Genoa Mix’IMG_5362

IMG_5123

and Zinnia ‘Envy’.

Another favourite is Salvia Viridis Blue.  Although not that tall, I love the form with the wonderfully coloured flower bracts.  This is still going strong in the garden in November, as are

the Nasturtium Black Velvet.  These had a bad patch in high summer, but are flowering wonderfully now.  The stems are very short for cutting, but make lovely posies and are, of course, good picked and sprinkled on salads as they are edible.

This Malope, Malope trifida Vulcan, I hadn’t grown for years, but it did really well for me this year.  The petals have a beautiful silk like texture, which is gorgeous, but they can get easily bruised when cutting and arranging, so you do need to take extra care.

This Rudbeckia, Rudbekia ‘Cherry Brandy’ has also been great and was used in my ‘In a vase on Monday’ post on November 10th, as it was still going strong.

A couple more flowers I haven’t grown from seed since I had my allotment in London – Antirrhinum ‘White Giant

and A. ‘Liberty Crimson’

I loved arranging with both of these as they provided fabulous vertical accents.

To finish, my ‘greens’.  The first one, an annual aster, was supposed to be Aster chinensis ‘Hulk’, but goodness knows what it is instead.  I do rather like it though!

Secondly, Ammi visnaga white.  I grew this instead of the more common Ammi majus, but I think it was a mistake.   I found the flower heads were very dense and not so easy to mix with other plants.  It did look lovely in simple arrangements, for example with the white Cosmos, however.

My Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’, was an absolute revelation.  Lots and lots of fresh green cutting material, with funky long (sometimes very long!) green tassels.IMG_3775

And to finish, one of my favourite blooms of any colour – Molucella laevis, or Bells of Ireland.  I just love the form of this flower and for the first time ever got good germination rates and managed to grow some pretty tall blooms.  OK, not the two foot ones you get in the florists, but then I probably wasn’t as assiduous with my staking as I should have been, and they were never going to grow that tall along the ground!

Of course the other things I grew plenty of from seed this year were sweet peas, but I think I’ve gone on long enough.  You can read about my sweet peas here.

I would love to hear about your favourite annuals.  Do you like mine?  Know better?  Tell me!

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – November 2014

IMG_5366

So it’s November, and whilst the garden isn’t exactly overwhelmed with blooms, there are still many flowers – and some quite exotic.  Firstly this orange abutilon, Abutilon ‘Orange Marion’. This is still sitting on my barrow and has been flowering non stop since June.  It’s in a large pot so will be brought into the greenhouse once frost is threatened, but in the meantime it’s enjoying the sunshine.

There are still roses flowering – Snow Goose,IMG_5385

and two inherited, nameless varieties:IMG_5352

IMG_5354

Another good genus still going strong is Salvia, Salvia microphylla ‘Cerro Potosí’IMG_5376

unknown and IMG_5372

Salvia ‘viridis blue’, flowering in front of the Stipa tenuissima in the grass bed.IMG_5381

Climbers include Honeysuckle and IMG_5387

Clematis ‘Freckles’.IMG_5380

In the ‘med’ beds, this Potentilla nepalensis ‘Shogran’ is still flowering well.  I just love this particular shade of pink.IMG_5392

On the more exotic side, flowers which you think should perhaps know better than to be flowering in November, there is a Grevillea (is it just me or do the buds remind you of a rather pretty  fist?)IMG_5370

Marguerites, still looking cheerful despite the chill, IMG_5369

Nerine bowdenii,

IMG_5394

Zinnia ‘Giant Dahlia Mixed’, in the cutting troughsIMG_5362

and the lovely diascia I was given by Nick Peirce from White Cottage Daylilies, which I wrote about here.  I really must ask Nick what it’s called.IMG_5378

And still the Verbena bonariensis come!IMG_5388

With thanks as ever to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting GBBD.

End of month view – July 2014

IMG_3792

Another post thrown together in haste before our departure to the States.

You may remember I avoided sharing photos of the garden in this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, instead showing the exuberant blooms in my cutting garden down the road.  Well I feel I should (wo)man up, and share for the end of month view.

The picture above captures the rare sight of raindrops (on the scaffolding that’s been erected for the house painting).  I have to say I’ve really struggled to cope with the almost complete lack of rain until the thunderstorms just after the middle of the month.  And as my watering has concentrated on the vegetables and the greenhouse, the flower beds have been suffering.

The left hand Swing Bed still has the St Swithun rose flowering, but the the other roses are long over.  The sweet peas are climbing enthusiastically up the pea netting at the back of the pergola, scenting the area around the swing wonderfully, and the phlox, penstemons and verbena from prior years are all fine.  However, the annuals I planted in both Swing Beds have really struggled to get established, despite my watering efforts.  Interestingly, many of the same plants (Cosmos and Cleomes) are now doing well in the cutting garden, which I think it’s more a reflection of their being planted out earlier, rather than any superior watering regime.

IMG_3854

The right hand Swing Bed shows the apple tree’s potential two apple harvest as well as a salvia, the new growth of the Euphorbia and the mirror sweet peas at the back of the bed.

IMG_3856

Meanwhile, in the Grass Bed, the Verbascum Chaixii Album I grew from seed last year have all come into flower at the back of the bed, adding a certain amount of cohesion, but the planting in front is still a terrible mess.  There are still the remains of the Allium Hair (which really should come out), as well as some Salvia viridis blue used for cutting, the Fox and Cubs (yes, they should come out too) and the Nasturtium Black Velvet.

IMG_3861

In the shady Oak Bed, whilst I’m still not happy with the overall effect, the foliage is calming on hot days and shows the planned pattern of green and purple foliage.  I particularly like the Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (in the foreground) which is one of the only things I’ve planted in this border, having admired it in Beth Chatto‘s garden years ago.

IMG_3888

More positiviely, the raised cutting beds have been doing well (although they had to be lifted and moved as part of the painting works and are now in a rather strange place)

IMG_3867

the Verbena bonariensis are unstoppable

IMG_3844

and the vegetables are all becoming productive (just as we go away!)

IMG_3852

French Bean ‘Cobra’IMG_3877

Runner Bean ‘Painted Lady’IMG_3875

chard,

IMG_3873

courgette

IMG_3847

and Pumpkin ‘Munchkin’IMG_3872

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are romping away

IMG_3865

and the Plumbagos by the greenhouse door are flowering beautifully,

IMG_3863And whilst there are still some good looking pots

IMG_3845IMG_3886

IMG_3869

IMG_3868IMG_3887

there is still too much chaos and still far too many plants in pots, (a legacy of over ambitious seed planting and obsessive division and cutting taking).

And as I write this I wonder how they’ll cope with a two week absence.  Fingers crossed.

IMG_3866 (2)With many thanks, as ever, to Helen at the Patient Gardener,  for hosting everyone’s End of Month views.