Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Glory

It's the end of my first week of annual leave.I have shopped lots,been to the allotment a few times.Visited York,and Nostell Priory.We had a Sunday BBQ today.The sun was shining, the insects flying.I took photos of the summer blooming flowers.This White Scabiosa was from the plant stall.It is very angelic looking.The petals look like silk and lace.
My favourite Lily Casa Blanca has flowered today.Its heavy scent drew in the Hover flys from miles.The white petals contrast to the orange stamen.The scent travels on the warm summer breeze.This is about the third year I think that these bulbs have flowered in the pot.
Also flowering in the garden today was my Oriental Stargazer Lily.These are some of the most fragrant Lily's ever introduced to the world.Leslie Woodriff created it in the 1970's.I love the pink and white petals, with the strawberry jam splatter and the heavy scent.These have to be sited away from where Cat sits due to her asthma.I think the scent is very heady, and the colours remind me of Arabian nights. The Rose Wisley has finally bloomed.After I snipped the dead branches away it has grown on and developed a few flower buds.The Blooms are small and dainty,with a lovely old rose smell.I'm pleased it has flowered.I was worried it would not bloom this year, as it has looked quite sickly.
The last photo is of the Rose Margaret Merill.She has grown a second flush of Rose flower buds.The scent is very strong.This is the best seasons flowers I have had off her.She is about four years old now.I love the sunlight illuminating the Roses petals.
Sunlight can make flowers glow like stained glass windows.The garden today had washing hung in it in the morning, and hosted the BBQ in the evening.The birds and insects enjoyed the garden when we were not there in between.A garden can be functional,and beautiful in the same turn.
I have a further week away from work.I plan on doing more gardening,more blog posts,and spending time on the allotment.The late summer garden only needs the odd tidy,and watering.Lots of time to entertain,to photograph,and to enjoy the garden in all its summer glory.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Carrots And 2 Cats

Cat had a girls dinner today on the patio.I had watered the garden last night,and spent this morning tidying up the debris and rearranging the pots to show off all the flowers.The table was moved to the centre, and the Pelagoniums neatly arranged on place mats.I left them to it and went to the allotment.The Asiatic Lily's looked like Jewels.

The black Kitten (who is still nameless) came into the garden during the dinner, and went to sleep under the Butterfly Bush.He also correctly sat on the grass near to where the Mole burrowed up.He must have either smelt or heard the tunnelling mole.There was a small pile of dirt on the grass when I came back.The jury is still out on various organic,non lethal methods of controlling Moles.

It is the 28th of July now,so we are nearly three quarters of the way into the growing season.The allotment has produced a mixture of highs and lows.

The Borage is growing away happily with its cucumber scented flowers.The Bee's and flying insects are drawn to this flowering herb.The flower is nice frozen in an ice cube,to flavour a summer drink.I have grown both Vegetable plants and flowers at the allotment side by side.I liked the idea of a French Pottager.

The Poppy is growing besides my raised bed.The reclaimed timbers hold the soil in just,and the Carrots,Borage, and Sunflowers are growing in harmony.I harvested a half dozen Carrots today which is brilliant.Picking Vegetables grown from seed is the most amazing high.A sense of pride, and completing the cycle.From seed,to seedling,to planting,tending and watering,to harvesting,and finally to eating the produce.Our supermarkets have driven us away from this process.School Kids can think Carrots come in plastic bags from the Supermarket.That they are uniform in size,colour, and shape.I do love the wonkiness of my allotment grown Carrots.Their uniqueness,scent,& great taste are what matters to me, not the aesthetics of how long they look.

The Sweetcorn has not grown very well.There are a few ears forming but my plants are not as big and upright as some of the others at the allotment.The Onions and Garlic have not grown as well as I would have liked.My Cauliflowers have been decimated by pests.I do not know if it is slugs,snails,rabbits,or pigeons.Most of my Brassicas looked like green net curtains earlier.Some of them have revived a bit,so they might produce edible Veg at the end of the season.

The Pea's I picked eaten from the pod have been amazingly sweet, even in the raw state.I love eating them at the plant.You need to grow double what you want so you can have one for you,one for the pot.

The Courgettes have been very productive.The Pumpkins are growing steadily.I have about six at the moment.I want one to turn into a Jack O Lantern at Halloween.

Having an allotment,or even just growing your own veg in pots makes you want to find ways of cooking and eating your produce.I have lots of cookery books to give me ideas.

A day of brilliant sunshine,flying Butterfly's,Carrots,and Cats.We are going to York tomorrow my fave City after London.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Garden Jewels

The garden is still full of colour.More than enough colour to photograph.I love this Echinops Ritro, the Blue Flowers look like sparks flying off the manga like Globe Thistle.The Bee's love these blue flowers and were walking all over it.I love the spiky leaves, and the angular nature of the Thistle heads.These catch the sunlight and glow an ethereal blue.

The wildflower area has been trashed in one corner by the Mole, but otherwise is flowering beautifully.I want the whole area to self seed so it regrows year after year.I will only remove large weeds as it is only a small area.The Pink Snapdragons smell like candy.These are the second generation.These have self seeded from last years plants.I saw these Daisy flowers today at Nostell Priory and they were inundated by small orange/brown Butterfly's.

My favourite grass is my Stipa Tenuissima, or Pony Tails.As the breeze catches the airy grasses they sway.They are extremely soft to touch.I want more of these grasses to punctuate the border.I love their movement,and height.They add dynamism to the garden.I think grasses can work well in a mixed border.

The Frogs continue to bask in the pond.We went to Nostell Priory today, and I came back with two more porcelain Frogs for the garden collection.I am a Pisces, so i have a natural affinity to water creatures.I think Frogs chilling on my Lily pads is brilliant.The water Lily has actually produced a torpedo shaped flower bud.I will watch it over the next few days and have the camera ready to photograph it.

The last job tonight was to water all the baskets,feed the container bound Roses, and water the rest of the garden.The Rose Darcey Bussell is flowering for a second time.My poorly flowering Wisley has some flower buds at last.The Lady Emma Hamilton looks very poorly with yellowing leaves and hardly any Roses this year.Maybe Rose have off years?Margaret Merrill, and Harlow Carr are about to burst into a second bloom.

The garden has a lovely vibrancy to it with all the insects,birds,and flowers.The green seems to shine through in the late July garden.The flower blooms look like jewels glinting in an emerald crown.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Holidays

I am finally off on annual leave from work.Two weeks to enjoy the garden, and the allotment.I took this photo of a Blackbird on Friday.We took Mum to the RHS flower show at Tatton Park,in Cheshire on Saturday.

I took 265 photos at the RHS most northerly flower show.It was gloriously hot weather, and the deer park was packed out.I need to select my highlights then blog the best 24 or so photos..

Back in our garden the Mole has scaled down his digging attacks.Only one hole seems to have more dirt piled up it.For a small creature he has caused an inordinate amount of damage to our small grass lawn.

The birds have been feeding undeterred.They are eating all the fat balls like they are going out of fashion.I try to stock up the food and water daily.

The summer holidays have brought with them cloudy sky's, and rain showers.The baskets are blooming magnificently.There are explosions of colour all around the garden.The Bee's are very busy with all the nectar available in our small garden.

I harvested our first new Potatoes of the year yesterday.Three and a half pounds of Charlotte New Potatoes grown in a grow bag on the concrete path.I will go to the plot tomorrow where the early Potatoes should be ready to harvest.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pink Phlox And Mole

I am working nights and every time I come back home I find more mole hills.He is digging along the edge of the path but is wrecking our grass!The human hair in the holes does not seemed to have stopped his destructive digging.

The Pink Phlox is in flower now.This was brought back from Hils plant stall in June.

Does anyone have any ideas how to discourage our garden mole organically and humanely?

I have one more night to do.We are going to RHS Tatton Park flower show on Saturday.I cant wait..

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wild Gardening

The Lilys in the pot on the decking have started to bloom beautifully.The colours are bright,bold, and vibrant.The hanging baskets have started to bloom as well en masse.There is colour all around the garden.These flowers are all full of nectar for the Bee's,insects,and Butterflys to drink.It is like an flying insect buffet for topping up their energy levels.

The pond has drawn Frogs into it, and some common Newts.The mosquitos larvae have joined the water fleas, and smaller beasties in the clear water.The birds love to hop next to the surface to drink, or to bath on the rocks surrounding the pond.The surrounding wildflowers shade the ponds water, and provide neat hiding places away from hungry predators.Near to the pond there is a rotting wood pile, and a small rockery.Both are providing habitats away from the pond.

This Butterfly was resting on the Cucumber plant in the greenhouse.He is protected from the wind,rain, and predators.He was accomodating in letting me photograph him.I provide food and water for the birds and they visit every day.They give me immense pleasure watching their daily lives outside through the patio doors.Not all visitors to gardens are as welcome.

Over the past few days we have had an unexpected visitor.I found a big hole a few weeks ago under the giant Teasels.I thought a mouse had been digging and that the soil had collapsed.Then the corner of the sunken border wwas disturbed and soil heaped up.I did not know what had dug it up.I thought maybe a Fox or Badger had been digging?

The next few days revealed two heaps of freshly dug earth.It had no insects in it,just stones and unfertile soil.I realised we had our first ecounter with a Mole.The European Mole,Talpa Europoea.This little Six inch Mammal is like a mini-me digger, excavating huge tunnels beneath the ground.This fellow is coming to the surface to deposit his earth heaps.They are small, virtually blind, and have hands like shovels.They are secretive and seldom seen above the ground.Their long tunnels form worm traps for worms to fall into.These provide our secretive visitor with his meals.

I just went outside with Cat to show her the third molehill photographed above.I had raked it off the grass.I looked outside an hour later and there was more soil heaped up.I watched and saw the soil mound growing as the Mole pushed it up.I cleared it from the soil and felt the ground.I found the soil collapsed to reveal a neat little tunnel running to the left.

I love Wildlife in the garden.Some are welcomed such as the small garden birds.Some are not as welcome but they still make themselves at home.

Magpies.Starlings,and Squirrels are not as beloved as some of the other garden visitors.You need to try to live all the creatures that share the earth with you.

Our garden is designed to be aesthetically pleasing,but also wildlife friendly.I love the diversity of creatures that a small semi detached garden can attract.It makes going outside educational, as well as to enjoy the flowers and plants.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Butterflys And Bee's

It has been a day of two halves.I went to the allotment this morning to do some weeding and watering.Everything has been growing on well with the recent rainy weather.The sunflowers have grown on in the carrot bed.The only poor performers are the Red Onions,and the Cauliflower plants.The failed crop beds are going to be filled with my Leeks.I wish I had more time to go up to water plants, but work gets in the way.This growing year has been challenging with the effects of a prolonged drought, then heavy rains,and hot temperatures.The slugs,snails,& caterpillars have decimated my Brassicas.I will not use any chemicals even slug pellets, so i have to grin and bear it.Some have survived and may even give us a crop at the end.I harvested Raspberries and my first half dozen Italian Courgettes today.

I finally got a photo of one of the White Butterflies landing to power drink some nectar from a wild flower.They are so flitting and perform mad aerial acrobatics.They dance with each other too in the air.I saw a variety of Butterflies species at the plot.

The local Bee's have gone mad with the wilder side of the plot.The grass path has lots of these Thistle flowers.He was accommodating in letting me photograph him many times.I watered and weeded until around Midday.I walked back home then to photograph the garden.

This is the first flower from the Bishop Of Llandaff.I bought four corms at the Spring Flower show.I wanted this Dahlia since I saw it growing years ago.It is a perennial favourite of many gardeners.I have four pots growing beautiful dark foliage, reminiscent of my Sambuca.I always think of Aztecs when I see Dahlias.It is a great colour red with golden yellow stamen.

The Butterfly bush is in full bloom now.I love how dark the colours are contrasting to the two toned leaves.It is scented strongly of honey.It intoxicates the Bee's that fly up to it.I want one of these up at the allotment.This plant always reminds me of railway lines,as i used to see them travveling up and down the country.The Black Knight is a more refined cousin of the common Railway siding Buddleja.

The Echinops is developing a blue streak to its Thistle.It is very Manga in design I think.The globes seem to float above the garden.They are dwarfed by the Butterfly Bush, and the Teasels.I hope that over time I can split this plant so I have lots of these Globe Thistles around the garden.

The Everlasting Flowers are doing well.These stems and flowers will be dried out,and used to decorate the house in winter as a dried flower.The flowers are very long lasting, and feel like plastic.I have these burgundy flowers, and others in red and orange.I want to find more Straw Flowers in other colours.They should keep for years.

I don't know what this flower is.The foliage is very fine and airy.It has these five petaled flowers with a central lip like a Sweet Pea.These have been growing in the pot by the kitchen door.I don't remember planting any seeds.If you recognise the flower please tell me!

The Asiatic Lily's are blooming magnificently.Like Row up row of different coloured sweets they glow in the evening light.A few rogue Tomato plants have started growing between the Lily's.

These should be called Banana splits.The Yellow Lily's have delicious orange streaking to the middle of the petals.They contrast brilliantly to the dark green leaves behind.

The Pink Lily's have a hint of lemon sherbet near the centre of the flowers.I have never planted so many Lily's in a single pot.Next year I will repeat the experiment but buy the individual colours myself.I want them to match in some pots, but to contrast in others.

The day has been about plants, and insects.Tomorrow we are going to the Great Yorkshire Show.The biggest agricultural fair in England.It is forecast to be sunny, and dry.I have the camera batteries on charge.I cant wait.I will blog my favourite bits here.It is one of the highlights of the summer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Black Knight Meets A Comma

The first Butterfly of the year that I have managed to photograph landed today on the Black Knight Buddleja.Its common name is the Butterfly Bush.I think it is a Comma butterfly.

I saw it fly around before it alighted on the honey scented flowers.This plant has driven the Bee's mad.They get chilled out drinking the nectar.It is always surrounded by flying insects.

I watered the pots tonight, and gave the Tomato plants some liquid feed.These Tomato's have grown really well this year, so im hoping for a bumper crop.

I went to Hampsons today and bought some poetic plaque signs for the garden,three bags of compost for potting up plants,and a little stone Buddha for the outside table.

The Great Yorkshire Show starts tomorrow at the Yorkshire Show Grounds in Harrogate.I will be there on Thursday with Cat.I love the farm animals and the horses you can see around the grounds.It is the biggest agricultural show in England and a fabulous day out.

I hope that I will take more Butterfly photos.They are lovely insects to tempt into our wildlife friendly garden.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Edible Garden

The first photo is really like Fire and Ice.The Cool white Marguerite's contrast to the fiery French Marigolds in the tub planter.Some planting combinations can work with opposite colours.I like the frothy olive green leaves behind both strong flowering colours.

The garden is not all flowers.There are textured plants with coloured leaves.These are the Hosta Great Expectations.This year it has exceeded my expectations by almost doubling in size. The Hosta Fire And Ice has grown much more slowly, and has had more weather damage to its green/white leaves.

I have a Laurel in a small pot,two Buxus Balls, and lots of grasses.These are the backbone of a garden giving colour,shape,and form all year round.

The second generation Straw Flower seeds that I grew from Mums original plants have started to flower.These make great Cut flowers as they dry out and last for ages.The petals almost feel like a plastic or a very thin shell.I'm hoping for a variety of colours.I have three trays of these still to get planted!I may cut the flowering ones and replant the spares for a massive end of season Bouquet of the Ever Lasting Flowers.

Cats Sweet Pea Spencer have started to flower at last.These Sweet Peas were bought at Tatton Park last year.They are sweetly scented, and have flowers in a range of pastel colours. These are growing up the netting on the balustrade on the decking.I hope that the flowers will cover the netting and supply the house with plenty of Cut flowers to sit in small vases.They are one of the most fragrant flowers you can cut for indoors.To bring some of the magic of the garden indoors.

The Asiatic Lily's I was given have also started to Bloom.They have such jewel like quality in their bright coloured flowers.So far the two colours of the Lily flowers are Red, and Orange.Their are Pinks,Yellows, and a Red/Pink Lily's yet to bloom.

The Asiatic Lily's were meant to bloom for the Big Lunch on June 5Th, but they had different ideas.I received them quite late, and did not plant them straight away.I love how the pots outside the house are blazing away full of colour.The back garden has two Barrel planters,and two large green pots full of more Lily's.

Orange is such a serene colour.I love the solidness of these Flowers.The petals are strong and not frail.The only thing they lack is a scent!

I went shopping yesterday for bird food, and canes for my Tomatoes.The Outdoor Girls were falling over in their grow bag.The Greenhouse ones have the frame and the cover to lean against.They are much more pampered.I tied all the stems to the canes and trimmed the excess leaves growing around the base.The Tomato plants energy can now be turned to growing the fruit.

The first proper Tomato of the year that i have seen is being formed.It is the size of a Marble now.

I read about the Edible Food Show in March next year.It is a show devoted entirely to growing your own fruit and vegetables, and cooking them.James Wong (the Grow Your Own Drugs plant man)will be there at Stoneleigh House in Warwickshire and doing regular updates before the show

Our Garden has growing Strawberry's,Apples,Gooseberry's,Parsley,Coriander,Chives,Black Basil,Potatoes,Broccoli Garnet,Chili peppers (Scotch Bonnett,Habanero,Purple Tiger,& Cayenne),Tomato's(Outdoor Girl,and Red Cherry)and lastly in pots Courgettes.The Edible plants are growing alongside the flowering ones.I enjoy growing both kinds of plants.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Garden Colours

The wet weather and hot sunshine has made the garden flower magnificently.I have become a plant collector over time.Each trip to a flower show, or garden centre brings new additions back to the garden.Many Hundreds of plants nestling together.I love walking around the garden in the early morning or evening and looking at all the plants and flowers.Rain and sunshine seems to sharpen the colours, and makes the green leaves glow.
The first photo is of the David Austin Molineux Rose.The colour is pure liquid sunshine.I love the strewn petals on the floor beneath the plants.These will be moved into the front garden once its winter.

These cheeky flowers are annual Lavatera.They were sown by me in Fishponds Drive.They self seeded into the Hosta pot.The colours work so well with the Pink and red flush flowers contrasting against the variegated Hosta leaves.I want to collect the seed heads from these volunteer Lavatera to grow next year.

The second flower of the Spider Lily has bloomed as well.These are such striking flowers growing over the Marguerite Daisy's.The lime scent is amazing.There are two further bulbs planted but they have only made strappy leaves so far.I must remember to dig them up to over winter in a frost free dry environment.I might buy a lot more of these from the flower shows if I can find them.

The Roses have been in three categories this year.The first category is early bloomers.These have stopped blooming now (Gertude Jekyll,Harlow Carr,Lady Emma Hamilton,Arthur Bell,& Margaret Merrill).The second category is Late Bloomers.These are still going strong Roses Molineux, Darcey Bussell, and the photographed Dark Lady.

The third category is the non flowering Rose.The mystery is why the Wisley Rose has not flowered this year.One branch looks dead, and the black spot has ravaged the small dainty leaves.Maybe the wet cold winter has diseased the Rose bush?I will wait and see if it flowers this year.

The Echinops Ritro has grown astonishingly this year.Last year was its second growing season.It grew one round blue ball flower.This year it is four feet high and covered in these amazing spiky flower buds.They will eventually turn blue.The leaves are thick and spiny.These will look spectacular in the late summer when other plants have done flowering.The Blue Thistle flowers are supposed to attract Bee's,flying insects,and Butterflies.

My Butterfly Bush has started to flower.The Buddleja Dark Knight has deep purple flowers with the traditional honey scent.I am hoping this will draw in the local butterflies.It has been too wet though for the past few days.I'm hopeful I can get some Butterfly photos in the garden this growing season.

Another Wildflower I have grown from seed is the Teasel.This is the first flower that is blooming.The local bees have gone mad for it.I have two in the sunken border and one by the wildflower area.The first was so large that I trimmed excessive side shoots.It is very vigorous, but has continued to grow upwards.They are about nine feet tall now.The dry seed heads are the favoured food of Goldfinches and other Finches.

I saw a Goldfinch today alighting on the spiky stems.It is such an architectural plant.I have five plants growing in pots that were self seeded from last years plants.These plants are the third generation from the parent plants I bought at Harlow Carr a few years ago.

Each day brings more colour in different flowers.I enjoy spending time in the garden every day.It is therapeutic with the birds singing and the movement of the plants and flowers in the wind.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Mystery Lily

The mystery bulbs that I bought and could not remember the name of are Spider Lilys.I sudden noticed it flowering yesterday.It looks like a summer flower daffodil, with the petals hanging around the trumpet.The stamen are dangled in front of the Trumpet.I read a blog yesterday from a Vietnamese writer who stated these were roadside weeds in South East Asia.

They have a lime green colouration inside the trumpet.They smelt of nothing in the morning, but in the early evening they have a sweet lime scent.

The sun is blazing hot outside.I have to work for the next two nights.I have just watered the Tomatoes in the greenhouse.

We picked our first Raspberrys of the year yesterday at the allotment.I watered all the crops up there too.I have just watched the mens singles final at Wimbledon.

The weekend flys when you are having fun.