Monday, May 30, 2011

Bank Holiday Dozen

Its a Bank Holiday Monday and guess what?It is raining cats and dogs outside.I took this photo today.The Rose Harlow Carr is covered in raindrops.I guess its a good thing as the rain has been scarce for most of March,April,and May.Our pond needs plenty of rain to keep its level topped up.It had lost a lot of its original water during the hot sunny days as shown by tidemarks on the black edge of the pond.

The Flag Iris look beautiful covered in rain drops.The pond water below, and the raindrops above reflect the cloudy unsettled sky.

The Rose Harlow Carr is very fragrant.The plant has the smallest Rosebuds.They obviously pack more flower petal into a smaller space than usual Roses!I saw these Roses growing in the scented garden at Harlow Carr many visits there ago and had it on my wish list.

This is the tantalising Rose Bud of the Rose Molineux.We bought five of these to form a low hedge in the front garden.I will plant them in the winter.They are resting in the David Austin pots still by the house.These have a glorious golden yellow colouration.I cannot wait to see how they look with all five flowering together.

The only thing to do when its raining hard is watch the Gardens Wildlife.This is a juvenile Squirrel who keeps coming into the garden to raid the fat balls,sunflower hearts, and the peanuts.He is so agile like a fluffy tailed acrobat.He can leap between vertical structures, hang upside down, and is tenacious despite being disturbed by me many times.He runs off, waits, then returns to the food.I do not know if the squirrels live around here or if they cross the road where the deciduous woodland is?

The garden is always full of birds flying in and out.Eating, drinking,squabbling, and singing.They are a constant source of amusement and interest.The garden has attracted a lot of baby birds recently.Fluffy Blue Tits and House Sparrows.Beating their wings to be fed by the parent birds.I hope that the Baby birds grow up and return as adults to feed, and drink here.The only thing we have not done yet is put up nest boxes.This is on the to do list.

The Sun was actually shining yesterday.After I got soaked at the allotment the clouds drifted away and the sun came out.I took some photos yesterday that contrast to the wet flowers of today.On the decking outside the backdoor I have this decorative frog watering can with red glass eyes, and the red and yellow Primula that was dug up by a squirrel?,and left wilting.I rescued it,revived it, and put it into a smaller pot as a table decoration.It has re payed me by flowering away.

The Lupins,Geums,and Californian Lilac always shimmer in the sunlight.I keep trying to capture the diffuse light they make when the sun illuminates them from behind.I love the Alium Everest seed head leaning at forty five degrees.

The Teasels have grown massively in the wildflower area, and the sunken border.They are now towering at six feet high with sharp edged leaves, and pouches where they capture and hold water between their leaves.These are plants I have grown from the original Trilby Street seed head.These did not flower last year, but will this year.I have collected four self seeded plants so far which are growing in the greenhouse. Next year they will replace these plants.The self seeding plants will guarantee this plant in the garden for years to come.I love how tall, and architectural they are.Tough,rugged,and elegant looking.The dried seed heads are beloved by Goldfinches allegedly.

Another pleasing feature of the garden is the wildflower area.This flower has bloomed a few days ago.It looked like a Chrysanthenum as it was growing.The flower opened out to this beautiful Sun daisy.The wildflower mix has been sowed twice now, and is being left to grow itself.It will hopefully self seed and perpetuate itself.Every year should have a different feel to it as various flowers win the battle.There will be no compost added to the area around the pond.I want it to stay poor soil to encourage Wildflowers.The Bee's have already been drawn to the Wildflower area.

This was the first day that the Harlow Carr Rose bloomed.It looks beautiful.It is named after the RHS garden in Harrogate.I have the Wisley rose too that my Mum sent me for Xmas in 2009.I think Roses are so pretty, and romantic.I think gardens need at least one (if not eleven Rose bushes like me).I still want a Dog Rose,some Climbing Roses, and a few more upright ones from David Austin.The David Austins have been bred by an expert, selected, and trialed before they go on sale.The price is more, but the Roses are superb in shape,colour, and health.Botanic Gardens around the world mass plant these I bet.

The last photo is of a Blue Tit eating fat balls from the cage that is closest to the house.These are amazingly agile birds, very quick, and hard to photograph.

Springwatch starts tonight on BBC2 from Wales.Kate Humble,Chris Packham,and Martin Hughes-Games present three weeks of wildlife watching from RSPB Ynyr-Hirs reserve.I love Springwatch.It is one of the tv highlights of the year.

Our garden is made for us, but is designed to attract wildlife,Bees, and Butterflies.Our pond has attracted Newts, and Frogs.The organic garden has a Hedgehog that visits to dine nightly on the slugs and snails.There are Pipestrelle Bats that fly around the house at twilight and night catching all the flying insects.We can hear the nearby Owls twit-a-wooing or screeching at night.All the wildlife is within a short distance of the house which is amazing.

The garden can attract wildlife, and be beautiful to look at.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Champagne and Jazz

I have spent the day shopping today with Cat.We went into town for some more Bird food.These Goldfinches always appreciate the nijer seed in the container.They have started to come back into the garden to feed.I have three large Teasels growing.The two in the sunken border are over six feet tall now and will grow lovely comb like flower heads which will turn into ornate dried seed heads for the Goldfinches to eat.

The Astrantia's continue to attract insects.Bee's get lulled to sleep on these pink cushion like flowers.This Ladybird was accommodating in letting me photograph him.I love how you can pick these beetles up and let them walk all over your hand before letting them get back to the business of eating aphids.

This is a photo from the Greenhouse looking down the concrete path towards the house.The two compost bins are on the right hand side.The bird feeder moves up and down the path to try to avoid the food spilt by the birds accumulating.

Roses,Hostas,Lilys, and mixed tubs sit besides the fence creating a live river of green.the planting softens the hard edges.I want eventually to have a border running alongside the path so there is two rivers of green plants.

The Sambuca nigra has survived being dug up from the old house.It originally collapsed and all the leaves died back in shock.I left it in the soil, then examined the roots.There was new root growth so I left the plant in.It has rewarded us with lovely black ferny growth, and these Champagne bubble like flowers, exploding out above the dark fronds.This is one of my favourite plants.It is very elegant and pretty to look at.

Growing in a container now is this Dianthus Jazz.This flower has soft pink and white flowers with a slight scent of cloves.It is a contrast to the electric Magenta plants of its sibling.These are picturesque and are perennials.The new Dianthus Red has not flowered yet.

Even Bees need to rest occasionally.This Bee was resting under the leaf of one of the Sweet Peas that are clambering up the green netting.He was very sluggish so maybe had overdone the collecting pollen?

When we were out shopping I bought four bags of compost,five pots of new grasses (festuca Glaucas),some guidebooks for British Butterflies, and British Insects.

I have planted my Outdoor Girl Tomato's in two containers.The red Cherry Tomato's need planting into the greenhouse grow bags.

May is a month of much activity, and a lot of blooming flowers.Time to go to the allotment tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Photos

I am off work for four days now.I can spend my time gardening, going to the allotment, baking, and shopping.I have just made some Scones to go with clotted cream and strawberry jam.I have been out with the old camera taking photos of flowers in bloom in the garden today. The first one shows a Red Astrantia with a Bee resting on it.This is the second Bee I have seen today alighting on a plant.Do they get tired and have to stop for a while?

The Oriental Poppy is flowering away beautifully in the pot on the corner of the greenhouse.Its red/orange petals look like silk.The centre is very ornate like a sweet.The seedhead looks like a pepper pot I think.This is a perennial so has flowered for the last two years.It gets bigger the clump every year.It may need re potting after it has finished flowering.

The David Austin Gertrude Jekyll Rose has finally began to bloom.There are about eighteen Rose buds on the plant.I bought a support ring for the Rose to grow up.The Roses smell so divine, this was Britain's best loved Rose before.The scent is heavenly and every time I go past I have to stop to inhale the Roses fragrance.yum.

The Rose is a flower of beauty grown for centurys.A garden must always have at least one if not more.I think I have eleven rose bushes so far.Every time we go to David Austins I buy another one.


The Red Hot Poker is looking fiery likes its name.The bottom flower buds are beginning to open to reveal yellow petals.I am so pleased that this plant is flowering now in its third season.I was worried it would never flower.I hope that it attracts the Bee's.

The Clematis by the backdoor has three flowers on it now.The plant is slowly scrambling up the Trellis that i planted in the pot.The flowers are a lovely light lilac colour with jewel like centres.I cannot remember what the Clematis variety is called.

The last flowering photo is the Astrantia Major, my favourite flower.It is the one I first saw at Harlow Carr (where the blogs title photo came from) and I have loved them ever since.I bought the Ruby coloured one from the Gardeners World Live show last year, and the White one from Hampson's.

The Bees love the pin cushion type flowers and are always flying up to them.The weather is decidedly unsettled but I hope that I can get to the plot whilst it is not raining to check on my vegetable plants progress and to do some weeding.

The Tomato plants need sorting out in the greenhouse,Half are going outside in planter bags, and the more delicate Cherry Tomatoes are going to be grown inside the greenhouse in grow bags.

I need more garden compost to be able to do this.Maybe I will go to Hampson's tomorrow.I saw some lovely Festuca Glauca grasses that would look lovely next to my Stipa Tenuissima, my Pony tails grass on the concrete base by the greenhouse.

There is one more day left of the Chelsea flower show.I need to watch the programs that I missed whilst I was working.I have started to formulate my highlights.

Whilst the eyes of the world have been at Chelsea I have been enjoying my own little patch of earth.It may be small but it is tended with an equal amount of passion, but costing much less.I have seen some plants at Chelsea that I think would look good.

The next thing I'm looking forward to it the return of Spring Watch from Wales.I love Chris Packham and Kate Humble.They make the every day things around us more exciting and makes you go looking for it.It starts on the 30th May.

I hope to have a good weekend outside in the garden and allotment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beautiful Blooms

The garden continues to bloom away in the sunshine.I took these photos over the past two days.The Rose Darcey Bussell is magnificent still and a second and third Rose are nearly blooming.

The Rose Gertrude Jekyll has started to bloom with masses of Rose buds.The scent on this rose is divine.It varies between citrus to apple juice.I love sniffing these Roses whenever I go into the garden and detecting hints of fragrance.This Rose looks dreamy.

The Flag Iris still looks great blooming in the pond.It is well visited by Bees and today a spider was laying in wait in the cup of the flower.Some fly's would have had a nasty shock.The bees walk down the flower where the markings are.They waggle around getting covered in pollen on their backs.

Growing in the wildflower part of the pond is this White Clover.Its amazing how intricate these common wild flowers are close up.The Bees love the Red and White clover that is growing now.I think these may have been in the wildflower mix that i sowed last year and this year.

This was the pond yesterday.All the planting around it has flourished with the hot sunshine and occasional showers.The green growth and flowers seems to make the pond seem smaller than it is.The plants are towering above the pond giving it some shelter from the elements.I saw two Frogs and a Newt on my night time torch parade.

The last bloom is the first 2011 flower of the Clematis.The plant survived being frozen in the winter, then blown around by gale force winds.The plant has regrown with vigour from the base and is festooned in flower buds.It is in a pot with Trellis at the back of it.The Clematis sits on the opposite side of the backdoor to the two Honeysuckles.It flowered on the press day of the Chelsea flower show.

I spent the day in the garden.I re potted my Sunflowers,planted the Sweet peas in a rectangular tub with netting for them to climb up.This is on the Balustrade near to the Honeysuckle.The sweet scents should perfume near the door, where the outside table and chairs are.

I bought a new Red Dianthus, an Armeria, and a Pitcher plant from Hampsons.I watered the garden late on, and the greenhouse plants earlier.I rearranged the pots on the path after watching the BBC's Chelsea flower show program.

I have two days to work before I can get back into the garden again.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Third Year Lucky

One of the plants that we moved with us from fishponds to our new house was the Kniphofia or the Red Hot Poker.After two years of just green leaves it has grown this flower spike.It is on the end of a very thick stem and will flower from the bottom to the top in a fiery range of colours I hope.It is basking in sunshine today, and getting occasionally wet from passing showers.

The sunken border has colour from the second year flowering Lupins.The colourful purple spires are contrasting to the bright red Geum Mrs Bradshaw.They dance around in the breeze and compliment the Lupins.I want to buy more Lupins with other colours.

From the kitchen table this is my usual view. I love the flowers of the Aliums.The white one is Everest, and the purple one Gladiator.The first Alium Gladiator lost its flower bud early on, like it had been chewed by something so the stem lost its rigidity.I bought them at the Autumn Flower Show last September.

All the plants in the border have grown on and mingled into each other to create a continuous flow of colours.The leaves shape and texture contrast, and the occasional flowers are like fireworks of colour.

It is the press day tomorrow at RHS Chelsea flower show.I think HM the Queen visits Chelsea and is usually guided by Alan Titchmarsh.I will get up and watch the morning program.I want to check on the progress of the allotment plants that i planted a few days ago.

It has rained quite a bit so they should not be drying out and wilting.The sun is shining now as I'm writing.

I have spent the day sweeping up bird food and rubbish from the garden path.The birds continue to feed even with me there.I watered the greenhouse plants, and moved the pots around to create better flow along the path to the shed.

I topped up the birds food.They have nearly demolished the ten fat balls I put in the ring on Friday.I saw the Woodpecker this morning at around 7am.The local Starlings are starting to frequent our garden.I love their glossy feathers, and comical walking, like the Anthill Mob.

The wind is building up to gale force strength.I have put bricks onto the outside table cover, and in the Honeysuckle and Clematis pots to try to stop them being blown around.The last job I did was take the Basil out of the Herb Planter and apply some Copper Tape around the top of the pot. The seedlings have been demolished by Slugs and Snails.I did not know that they liked Basil to eat.I hope that the protection will allow the Basil to grow as well as the other three herbs. Chives, Parsley, and Coriander.

Im working in a few hours before some much needed days off.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chelsea Thoughts

The 2011 RHS Chelsea flower show is only four days away now.I have had a few emails about some of the gardens that will be on show.There will be four types of gardens. Show,urban, Artisan, and generation.There are thirty four very different gardens for people to admire at the show.There will be a packed floral great pavilion where plant sellers will display their wears, and unveil their new plants, picked to be unveiled to the world.A large selection of shopping,dining, drinking,and socialising will also be done.The 157,000 tickets sold out within days of being released.I will have to watch the coverage on the BBC, and follow it on twitter.
I never realised how much work goes into the gardens from planning, being accepted by the RHS, to sourcing hard materials and plants from all over Britain and beyond.Then arriving weeks before to build your garden from a marked out area.I have been following some of the designers through their tweets and photos.
The grounds of the Chelsea hospital grounds are turned into the horticultural highlight of the year, and the start to the party season.Chelsea is still world famous, and very exclusive.A gold medal here for a designer is priceless.
This is garden design on a competitive scale.People can admire the beautiful gardens that look like they have been there for ever, when in fact they may be a few weeks old.They can take the ideas back home with them, and on the final Sunday you can buy part of your favourite garden if you are lucky.
The designers work hard for 18 months for a garden that will be judged to strict criteria on one day, then admired by the visitors and around the world.
Chelsea is an amalgamation of gardening and art.The briefs the designers submit are very ethereal and touchy feely.I like seeing the finished garden and whether it looks like the artists impressions.To make it tougher this year we had a freezing winter, followed by a dry hot spell that has destroyed many early flowering plants.They will have to think on their feet about whether to substitute their plants and whether it will detract from their designs.The triumphs and disasters are part of the drama and magic of Chelsea.Some gardens look poor compared to the picture, whereas some look much better when planted and built for real.

The first garden impression is the Royal Melbourne Australian Botanic Garden, designed by Jim Fogarty.It shows the story of water flowing from the arid Australian outback to the Urbanised coast.It will feature red sand from the deserts, bubbling water, and over 2000 native Australian plants, including rarity's like Albany Woolybush, Hybrid Kangaroo Paws, and Grevillea Forinda.These three plants are worth seeing for their novelty.I wander if they managed to bi pass customs to import all those Aussie plants?

The second garden I am intrigued by is the Royal National Institute For The Blind (RNIB) which will feature a sensory garden designed by Paul Harvey Brooks.This was inspired by a school; the RNIB Pears centre for specialist learning where children with visual problems, and other complex needs go to.It will focus a variety of natural textures, through the garden.The planting will contrast colours and textures and make people want to kick their shoes off.Maybe grasses or soft Chamomile lawn?The picture is teasing but does not show too much. This garden will be relocated after Chelsea to the centre that inspired the design.There are a few gardens with the sensory garden tag so I will see which are the best.

The last garden that intrigued me is the Fever Tree garden.This was designed by Stephen Hall, and was inspired by a drinks company that sources high quality materials for their mixers drinks.The lovely poetically named tree Cinchona Calisaya or Ledgeriana has been used for the manufacture of Quinine, used for treatment for Malaria, and as an ingredient for their tonic water drinks.There will be a Treehouse made from reclaimed wood from the Legeriana Tree, and surrounded by plants like Ginger, Citrus,Lemon Thyme, and Rosemary.There will also be plants traditionally used for treating fevers.The founders of Fever Tree travelled to the Congo to find the last remaining plantation of Ledgerianas and started using the bark for their drinks.The email I got said the reclaimed wood had been impounded by HM Customs officials.I hope they release it for the flower show.

Other Gardens that look inspiring are a Korean Garden by Jihae Hwang inspired by going to the toilet!

Diarmuid Gavins Irish Sky garden will be amazing, the biggest garden ever built at Chelsea, and a show stopper I think.Maybe gold for the rebellious one?

Jamie Dunstan's garden is sponsored by a Wakefield drilling company, and combines gardening and industrial recycling.The items used include a Victorian safe, a prison door, and a series of fans.I wander how this will all work in the context of a garden.

The B&Q garden (by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins) has the tallest structure ever constructed for Chelsea and is related to their themes of vertical gardening and fruit and vegetable growing for every one.

James Wong and David Cubero are doing another Malaysian themed garden this year.Expect water and lush planting!

The British Heart foundations garden has lovely big red blood cells in its garden as steps, and plants that led to the discovery of Aspirin.A drug that is used extensively to treat heart disease.This was designed by Ann-Marie Powell.

These are only a few of the thirty five gardens that will be on display.I love the Chelsea Flower Show as you can tell.I cant wait for it to begin..

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moving On

I got up early this morning to get the vegetable plants ready to be driven to the plot.These had all been grown from seed and tended in the greenhouse and it was time for them to move on to the next stage, growing in the warm earth of the allotment.I had dug the beds over at the plot and marked them out with canes and string, and handwritten white sticks.Some crops had been planted already like Onions,Garlic, and Potatoes.I sowed Carrots,Parsnips, and Pea's a few weeks ago.These plants on the grass had grown over the past few months,crowded together in the greenhouse, surviving the hot March and April.I'm proud of the results of all my work.

Any job you do always takes much longer than you think.To plant all the above plants, water them, and do some weeding took me around six hours.I did turn the beds over to remove any remnant weeds.The Sweetcorn went in first, followed by Cauliflower,Brussels Sprouts, Swede, Broccoli Garnet,Cabbages,Courgettes/Squash, and lastly Pumpkins.All my tended plants are now in the hands of the allotment.Subject to the vagaries of our British weather, and all manner of pests.I hope they are okay when I'm working.

The photo shows my plot from the raised bed (with Carrots and Sunflowers) to the grass path near the neighbours shed and greenhouse.

This was the view the other way.The Courgettes have black mulch mats, and cut pop bottles to aid watering the root ball of the plants.There are eight Courgettes, and one Lightning Squash growing.The Pumpkins (on the right of the Courgettes) needed watering as the heat of the day dried them out.The second bed on the left is the caged and netted cabbages.I bought the cage frame from the Spring Flower Show.The lady who sold them was a gardener, her husband was an engineer.He came up with a novel solution for making a frame to cover tender plants from pesky pigeons.It is a tall metal pole with two curves to hold canes.Once linked up the canes form a frame that can be covered in netting to protect your crop.

The Sweetcorn (on the right below the Wigwam) was swaying in the wind.The green stems and leaves glowed in the May sunshine.I cannot wait to eat some Corn On The Cob when it is ready with lots of butter.

Cat came to pick me up to save my weary legs from the walk back.She took a rare photo of me standing in front of the allotment.

The beds had been watered and weeded.I have to work for the next three days.Sunday will be the next time I can get down to the plot.Im hoping the weather forecast is right for some rainy showers.

I came back home weary, but felt the urge to take a few flower photos.The Darcey Bussell Rose is a bit more open today and showing her beautiful petals.Her fragrance is more noticable today too.

The last photo is the Forget Me Nots that are growing in the wildflower area around the pond.I shook the dried seed heads last year into that area, and they have grown up.I love the daintiness of the pale blue flower with the yellow centre.They are very prodigious in the amount of flowers and seeds. they make like a ethereal cloud of blue when they bloom en Mass.

Dont forget its the RHS Chelsea Flower Show soon.It is only five days away now.The greatest Flower Show in the horticultural world.I will post about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bee Heaven

A few days ago I was photographing the garden.I noticed that there were lots of Bees flying into the purple spired Lupins.I started trying to take some close up photos of the Bees.They were incredibly quick and flighty.I took over 100 hundred photos trying to capture them flying and landing on the pollen rich Lupins.

This is one of my favourite photos of a Bee in flight between the flower spikes.I noticed three varieties of Bees.The common Honey Bee, a Bee with a red fluffy bottom and body, and a smaller round bee.I wander where they go to after they have collected the nectar from my plants. How far do bees fly to get pollen?Is there hives near me or do wild Bees make their homes somewhere near?

This is an arty photo of the Lupin and the bee looking determined to find some nectar to take back away with him.Some of the Bees appeared to have red bags underneath them, like saddle bags.

This is the best closeup photo I took of a Honey Bee?I love how you can see his translucent wings, black and tan furry body, and smooth obsidian eyes.A good photo allows you to appreciate what is gone in a few seconds.

Human farming activities are so tied up with the common Bee.A lot of plants rely on the bee pollinating them as they collect the nectar.I read that farmers in California paid for hives to be shipped to their fields to make sure their crops were pollinated.Changes in environment, and Colony collapse disorder have impacted on Bee populations.

My Apple Tree, Strawberry plants, and Gooseberries in the garden have all been pollinated this year by Bees.

I love sitting and watching them flying from flower to flower.I even saw one going into the lip of my Flag Iris today.It walked down the patterned throat under the top petal to get the flowers nectar.Flowers are brilliantly inventive in design to get insects to walk into them to spread their pollen (and genes).

Bees are very hard to photograph when they are buzzing full tilt between flower to flower, but I do love them and the challenge of photographing a welcome garden visitor.

First In Show

My first Rose in bloom is this Darcey Bussell Rose, named after a famous Ballerina.It has dark crimson petals with a slightly fruity fragrance to it.I love how the sunlight was shining down onto the Rose petals.

I spent today cleaning the greenhouse out.I cannot believe how much stuff can fit inside it!I took half of it out to tidy the pots and sweep the floor.

I moved the plants around to free up space on the floor for the three Tomato grow bags I bought from Wilkos the other day.The Cherry Red Tomatoes will be grown in grow bags on the greenhouse floor, with the shelving above removed so the plants can grow.

The Outdoor Girl Tomatoes need to be planted in some large green grow bags that I bought a few years ago.They will be filled with compost and the Tomatoes grown outside.

I started pricking out Cats plug plants today.I have 160 Busy Lizzie's now in four trays in the greenhouse.The Petunias and Pansy's need doing tomorrow.

The Gertrude Jekyll Rose has masses of Rose buds almost opening, but not quite.She obviously wants me to be patient.

Tomorrow the Greenhouse plants will be moved up to the allotment.I will plant them when Cat is sleeping tomorrow morning.Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sweetcorn, Courgettes,Pumpkins, and Swede.I'm hoping that all risk of frost has passed.

It has been raining intermittently so they should be OK when I'm working.They have all been grown from seed, and tended in the greenhouse.I have gone mad this year and am growing many kinds of plants.The garden is packed full of perennials, Roses, and Hostas.

There are annual Straw Flowers, and Asters growing in the greenhouse.These will be joined by the Petunias,Pansys, and Busy Lizzies.

The allotment will soon be covered in lovely healthy plants in the marked out beds.I will add French Marigolds, Sage, and Borage too as companion plants. There are already Peas, Carrots, Onions,Garlic,and Potatoes growing up there.I wander if my Swallows will fly into my shed again like the last time I was up at the plot

The first rose bloom of the year is a cause for celebration, and makes me look forward to many more flowers this Summer.