Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rain Drops And Flowers

   The great British rain has returned over the past few days. The occasional sunshine has encouraged a whole batch of flowers to bloom. This is the Chinese Tree Peony bloom from the window side. It is a delicate pink and almost white. It has lasted quite well despite the wind and rain.
  The first Rhodie flower of 2013 is the Rhododendron Sappho. It seems to have thrived in the pot, and is covered in flower buds just short of this stage. They are quite compact green leaves, and the flowers are impressive.
 The Native British Bluebells are flowering under the Apple tree. Cat thinks they are scented, but I cannot detect any scent. Maybe you need a whole carpet of them to get the Bluebell wood effect?
  This jolly Welsh Poppy has bloomed in the planter behind the Rose bench. I love the sunny yellow colour, and the green centre. It was curved downwards like an umbrella so the rain ran off it.I lifted the flower up to get the photo.
 The Centauri Montana has bloomed over my nights. The beautiful sky blue petals are held out from the purple centre, and black stamen. The flower buds remind me of little hand grenades.
 The rain drops give everything a clean glow, and a shininess. This is the Hybrid Tea Queen Elizabeth. The leaves are tiny compared to my Shrub Roses.I hope the pink flowers are compact and scented, to compliment the leaves.
 The Hosta's are loving the cool wet conditions. All the containers are bursting with vigorous growth and new strong leaves. They have lovely waxy leaves that hold rain drops above them. They also funnel water down the stems into the base of the plant. Like a green pin ball machine. It is fun to pour water near the leaves stem and see how it runs it downwards to the base of the plant.A perfect design of beauty and function.
 The cold weather has played havoc with the Mexican Orange Blossom plant. Its leaves keep getting damaged by the frost and snow. It has flowered this year. The white flowers smell like almonds, a Bakewell tart smell. If only I could grow a frost resistant plant.
   The Pink Thistle plant is re blooming. The pink flower is like a fraggle, from Fraggle Rock. The sea of green is behind it and beneath it.
The last photo is of the newly blooming Geum Mrs Bradshaw. It is a lovely red flower with a golden centre.
  I'm running out of time to blog. I have 11 days left until I go to New Zealand. Cat may have to take photos of the garden for most of June.
 The rain cannot dampen the gardens enthusiasm for flowering.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kitchen Garden Musing

   The garden is multi functional. I showed the wild edges yesterday. Another side to it is the kitchen garden side. Growing edible plants or tree's for the purpose of harvesting them, and then using them in cooking. The grown your own bug has bitten me. This is the flower less Pear Tree Bonne Chretien.   
   Maybe next year? But it has the most sumptuous leaves covering the stems. I'm keeping the base of the tree weed free, and have been watering it, and using the worms fertiliser too. Hopefully all this leaf growth will develop flowering spurs for next year. Fruit trees are fickle, but I guess that means you enjoy it when they produce bountiful crops for you.
 This pretty Strawberry flower is smaller than the usual ones. This is the Mara De Bois Strawberry. Much loved by French chefs for its taste and sweetness. It has to be eaten right away as it loses vigour once picked. This is a chefs Strawberry, but not commercially grown by the supermarkets.
 Growing your own means you can pick old heirloom varieties, or ones less well known.
   This is the second trial year of the Pine berry. A white Strawberry that tastes of Pineapple. It produced no fruit at all last year, so I'm hoping for something to try this year.
 Strawberries are a big part of the garden with three separate areas devoted to them. Their is also a Gooseberry Bush, two Rhubarb plants, and some Raspberry canes growing in a pot.
 Is there anything better than eating Strawberries and cream from your garden in the summer?
 I have been growing a lot of plants for the allotment.These Pak Choi Ruby Shine were excess in the tray. I left them out on a chair and they grew better than the ones in the greenhouse! These are now planted in a cut green bag. These will be harvested by me, and stir fried with just garlic and soy sauce. They are yummy!
 The only Herbs that have survived the winter are a leggy Sage, and this pot of Garden Mint. Rubbing the leaves and smelling the minty scent is lovely. We used to make mint sauce at home with fresh garden mint chopped into vinegar and sugar. The smell takes me back when you brush the leaves.
  I have bought a Rosemary, and Lavender plant which can be used for cooking. They are being grown in two blue pots for their ornamental value, and for attracting the Bee's.
 The Greenhouse is full of Cabbages, Leeks, Green Beans, Chilli's, Tomatoes, and slow growing Celeriac. I have been starting plants off in seed trays and then trying to grow them onto a decent size with good root formation. The allotment plants need to be sturdy as they will have to cope with sunshine, rain, and pests. A three week trip to New Zealand for me has also complicated things.
 A welcome return to the Grape Vine that is growing in the Greenhouse. It has regrown from halfway up the stems. I need to make some support for the climbing leaves to clamber along. There are a good eight flower buds growing on, which means eight bunches of Black Munich Grapes.I maybe need to trim it further back in the winter to keep it low growing.
I hope that we have a better summer, so the Grapes can sweeten. The wet 2012 mean they grew but were not sweet tasting. I never believed you could grow grapes in Yorkshire. A long hot summer should mean lovely table grapes to eat.
   From the conservatory I can see the Oriental Mustard leaves, and Mizuna that I have tried growing. There are two planters growing Garlic.
 I have the two Cherry Trees in pots. The yellow Cherry has flowered, and is making the fruits. The Morello Cherry is all leaves and no flowers. The Bramley Apple Tree is also all leaves and no flowers.The old Braeburn Apple Tree in the pot will have a massive three apples only if they all grow into Apples.
   I loved cooking first, then go into gardening and plants. Now I can combine the two. A productive garden brings joy to the gardener/chefs heart.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wild Edges

   I spent the day between the allotment and the garden. The garden is ordered but still a bit wild around the edges.Who remembers blowing these Dandelion seed heads to tell the time?Sending the seeds airborne with each puff of breath. This seed head was by the greenhouse.
 I cherish Dandelions. Having made a pillow of these to lie down on when i was small.The orange flowers attract all the local pollinators.They make a fabulous dry wine too.I read on Twitter that someones children thought that the dandelions were meant to be in a garden, because there were so many there.
 The funny thing is if you tried to grow them they would not respond. They self seed where they want to, and will not be swayed by the whims of gardeners.
 A Creeping Buttercup flowers by the greenhouse too. They have a beautiful simplicity, and purity. These are endemic all over the plot.I still adore the yellow flowers reflecting the sunlight.
  The wild edges of the unruly garden make a great home for some friendly native British wildlife. The pond has had newts since I dug the hole. How they found it I do no know. Maybe they smelled the fresh water? Here two common Newts swim around. They are fascinating to watch, swimming, doing Tai Chi in the water, or lying very still. I love the way they gulp their air down from the surface.
  The Birds are the most common wild things that I attract into the garden. This friendly Robin hops around even when we are in the garden. The Warlike Robin is a gardeners friend sat on the spade or fork handle waiting for the digging to uncover grubs and worms.He makes me happy to see him.

The other wild thing that I keep seeing, and have managed to photograph is our long tailed field mouse. He must live under the fence or patio. He scurries out from his hiding place, to raid the dropped bird seed.He can jump like a horse too if he is scared. Up and forwards.
 I think amazon the second is quite handsome in the mouse face stakes. He was happy to let me photograph him.I left some treats on the patio slabs.He has a funny habit of running between the slabs in the narrow gulley's.
 Some welcome returners to the pond are the common garden Frogs. They are like temperate water spirits peeking out of the pond looking at you. Some are skittish and dive straight into the water.
 Others are more laid back and will let me photograph them. I think the chilled frogs have seen me before and remember me.
 Its hard to estimate how many Frogs and Newts have taken residence in the pond. A lot hide in the murk, or under the bricks, or in the roots of the pond plants. I love seeing British wildlife having a home in our garden, when it has been built to attract them.The pond water has cleared slightly now, as the natural balance between clear water, and green algae has been reached.
The last photo of the wild edge of the garden is a Poppy flower head dangling down like a green tear drop. It is growing behind the rose bench. I think it is a welsh poppy but need it to open to work out what it is.
 The wind has blown the seed there, or the birds have dropped it. I love finding plants in new unexpected places. They choose the best place and bloom away. If you tried sowing them they would fail spectacularly. Nature is funny sometimes.
 The Chelsea flower show has exquisite manicured show gardens, but a slightly scruffy wildlife friendly garden is as much fun, and will last for many years to come.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May Garden Jewels

  The third week of May has seen the garden explode with new growth and flowers. This Peony Sarah Bernhardt has never flowered. It is growing up into the green concentric ring.Their are lots of ants running all over the small flower buds.I hope this will be have lovely blooms.
 The new plant in the wild flower area is beginning to show a little blue. I cut back some of the wildflower/weed that had covered the wildflower area to allow some of the shyer plants to grow and bloom. These should hopefully self seed and come every year.
 This lovely Thistle has dark maroon flowers. I saw it in some of the Chelsea show gardens. It is refined, architectural, and attracts the bees.
 Another new addition to the Apple tree pot are five English native Bluebells.They are supposed to have a violet smell, but i could not smell it yet.maybe when more of the bells flower I can smell it.
 Another returning plant is the Alium Gladiator.I have three of these plants that regrow from the ground year after year.
 The flowers look like purple or white fireworks and are beloved by Bee's and pollinating insects. If they can stay upright and not fall over with the weight of the blooms.I keep wanting to buy more bulbs at the Autumn flower show. They punctuate the sunken border with their colourful globes.
 This is one of my surprising photos. It shows the sunken border under the Ceanothus.It is unfurling the first honey blue flowers. The Dogwood from Harlow Carr is a rich yellow leaves and flower buds that contrast to the Lupins, and Geum Mrs Bradshaw.The problem is the Dogwood is starting to grow out onto the concrete path.It will need moving or trimming down the path side.The yellow leaves inject some colour into the predominantly green border.
 The Aquilegias are nearly flowering. I planted a load more of them in the wild flower area, and the sunken border. I love their trailing spurs, and cottage garden looks. I hope they mix and self seed. I have Welsh Poppies, and the Oriental Poppy that self seed and appear where you do not expect to find them. If i recognise the seedling I will let it grow.
 The Pansy's under the Roses continue to delight me with their many colours. Like Josephs technicolour dream coat. Their colours are great.
 The Kerria flowers still look beautiful on the dangling stems, with the Japanese painted fern, and Yellow Cherry tree as a backdrop.
 The Geum Orange look amazing still. The leaves are perfect, and the flowers glow like orange flying saucers. They catch the sunlight and just shine like little jewels.I love them.
The last photo shows the newly planted Barrel container. I planted two of the Domino Foxgloves, and the Sweet Peas Navy Blue, and White Supreme. Two planters have the spiral wires for the peas to grow up. Their is a third pot with the Alan Titchmarsh Scented Mixed too.I hope that they give the house cut flowers to fragrance the rooms.Bringing the garden indoors is a good reason to grow them. The more you cut them the better they flower.
 I watched the medals handed out at the Chelsea flower show today.It is inspiring when you see all the flowers, and arrangements of the gardens. It just remembering when you go plant shopping what you have seen

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pinks And Whites On Chelsea Eve

    The garden seems to have come alive now.there is lush new growth, and flowers appearing every few days. The Roses along the path seem to have grown with renewed vigour. I top dressed all the pots, and gave them some Rose food. It will be a race to see which of my Roses blooms first.The front runners are the Moliniux in the front garden, and the Darcey Bussell in the pot by the back door. Some of the newer bare root Roses are trailing behind in the leaf growing stakes.
 The Hosta collection looks magnificent this year. Lots of greens and blues, with some white edges.the leaves are looking verdant and lush. There has been little slug damage to the pots. They were top dressed and seem to benefit from it. The new Hosta's look tiny in comparison with the old faithfuls.
 The Dicentra has gone mad. It is now about four feet wide and long, and a good three feet high. There is masses of the bleeding hearts. The local Bees have gone mad for them and are constantly buzzing between the pendulous flowers.
 The Petunia Presto White have begun to bloom in the hanging baskets. The Presto Blue is being a bit more leisurely in their blooming. I will photograph the blue when it decides to grace the basket with its presence.
 The Chinese Tree Peony (CTP) has made me wait almost three seasons to give me this spectacular pink bloom. I am a fan of the olive green foliage that grows from the base.It grows upwards, then bushes out.It has been swamped by the rampant Dicentra alongside it.I have spotted two flower buds on the CTP.
 Today it finally opened its flowers to reveal is golden centre. Like a magenta treasure chest, with golden stamen inside the petals.
 It is a beautiful bloom, worth waiting all that time to see it flower.It is more vibrant in real life (after a rain shower) than the picture on the plant label. I have misplaced the CTP's label but will look for it so I can name this magenta beauty.
 Not too far behind the Rhododendron in thee pot is beginning to open its flower buds.I have two Rhodie's still alive in the garden. They are some of Cats favourite plants. I need to plant the Sweet Peas tomorrow in the barrell planters with the twisted metal supports.The Petunia Blackberry Sour need to be planted too in the three remaining baskets.
 I have also spotted that one of my original Iris has flower buds on it.It has been growing for three seasons now and i have never seen it flower.The two Iris i bought were called Indian Chief, and Black Knight.I do not know which the Iris is.I hope it flowers soon so i can share it on the blog.The Peony also has flower buds and ants.Again it is three years old and has never bloomed.It seems to be a vintage year for some of the plants that I originally bought when we moved here.Gardening with patience..
  I watched the BBC's pre RHS Chelsea flower show coverage tonight.It looks amazing. A sumptuous chocolate box of plants, flowers, gardens,gnomes, and celebrities.Tomorrow is the press day, then Tuesday is RHS medals day.The BBC will have some of my favourite presenters like Andy Sturgeon, Christine Walkden, Tom Hart Dyke, Toby Buckland, and Carol Klein (who has grown on me over the last few episodes of Gardeners World. She loves her plants and is very knowledgeable).
 I will have to watch it on the BBC (or BBC I player) as I do not have tickets.One year I will go to see the show for myself.
 I love the Chris Beardshaw garden, and have high hopes for the Sentebale garden of Prince Harry.The Gnomes have already invaded, as i have seen pictures of them on twitter.For one show only.You know spring is here when the Chelsea flower show starts.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Paint Box Colours

   Cat planted all the Rose pots last year with spare Pansy plants.They have over wintered and now are blooming away like mad in a paint box explosion of bright colours.Each flower has a unique pattern and colour, testing the Nikons sensors to colour.
The purple and white Pansys have striking petals and the colours look like a face.They are cheeky garden spirits.I love the yellow centre with just a hint of red around the yellow eye.                     
  This one has a burnt orange colour, contrasting to the green leaves below.
 A red Pansy with a dark centre.
 The Red and Yellow pattern with red patches on the lower petals.These are lovely plants and have been growing away with not much help from me. On Gardeners World a grower suggested cutting them back hard in the summer, so they flower sporadically over Autumn and Winter, and then explode into colour the following Spring.It is like a firework display under the Roses. A multi coloured dance troop, support flowers before the main event of the Roses flowering.
   The Hostas are growing away fast now, they seem to develop even bigger leaves than before.The top dressing has inspired them to grow healthy leaves.They are bordered by baskets, willow wigwams, and The Lady Emma Hamilton Rose.The Cherry Tree Mertons Glory is on the far right with the newly developing yellow Cherries.
The first Strawberry flower growing in the sleeper bed.I need to construct a frame to put the netting over the fruits when they develop.I have four different Stawberries growing. Two in bags( Amelia Jane, and Mara De Bois), the raised sleeper bed which has mostly Elsanta and other unnamed Varieties being grown before we bought the house, and the White Pineberries.
  The rain and sunshine has caused the plants to start growing towards the sky.they have been flat to the soil for the winter.
 There is a Bramley Apple Tree, Gooseberry Bush, and Raspberry canes growing besides the Strawberries. A mini soft fruit oasis near to the Rose bench.
  There are nine days left untill the 100th RHS Chelsea flower show.I will devour the BBCs coverage of it and admire all the gardens. Im looking forward to seeing if Prince Harry goes to his charitys garden.Apparently they sold all the tickets within a few days.They put it down to public interest in his garden.
 Gnomes will be allowed for one year only.I have my Grandads gnomes in the greenhouse.They are old, and worn thin.I love the cheekiness of them.They are not to everyones taste however.I am still looking for some Pink Lawn Flamingoes, much loved in Florida.The garden is already full with a cat,a Crocodile, the classical female Statue, various Frogs, and a weather beaten metal Buddah.They add some uniquesness to the garden.
 I mentioned on twitter earlier that the Chinese Tree Peony has a second flower bud. The first one is losing the papery casing covering it.I am excited.It will be the plants third growing season, and we have not had a flower yet..
 The Rhododendron Sappho is opening its first flower too in the pot by the backdoor.I'm excited about seeing it rebloom.I bought three Rhodies. One is growing in the front garden (the Purple Splendour), and the Sappho in the pot. The third Rhodie looked diseased and died.
 The Peony Sarah Bernhardt is also growing lots of flower buds for the first time.It is also the plants third season.These exotic plants are teaching me patience, and the joy of seeing a plant flower for the first time.
  All the Roses have new leaves and are looking healthy.I used some powdered Rose food this year, and will do when they have bloomed.The Wollerton Old Hall, and Moliniux look good.The Hybrid Tea Queen Elizabeth has such delicate small green and red leaves, compared to the Lady Emma Hamilton.
 The Rose Gertrude Jekyll is also looking healthy growing through the support ring.I hope she blooms lots as i love the scent and pink flowers.The nations favourite Rose according to a recent poll.
 I want to buy an Iceberg Rose, which I saw was on the Chelsea flower shows plant of the centenery. They have picked a plant for every ten years, and the public get to vote for their favourite.My Streptocarpus Harlequin is on the list too.I had an Iceberg Rose but had to leave it behind when we moved.I answered a question about it on email and feel nostalgic for it.The trouble is im running out of places to plant more Roses.I need to win the lottery to buy a house with a bigger garden!
 Despite the rain I love venturing out to see what has grown on, or bloomed.