Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sparrowhawk Saturday

 Its now the last day of August. Where does the months go to? I took this photo today of the Rose Arthur Bell. It has a beautiful cup shaped flower with delicious fragrance. It glows in the fading garden. A last bloom of this growing season.
 I had a surprise visitor to the garden today. I heard lots of commotion and saw this brown blur flying into the Ceanothus and then around it. Little birds flew off in all directions. After the swift dive he flew and sat on the garden fence. The camera was at hand to photograph this beautiful predator.
 I have seen Sparrowhawks three times before and they have always flown away before I could get the camera. The Buddleja obscured the view from the window so I tried to find a gap in the foliage to get some pics.
 The flowers attract the pollinators and insects. The small birds feed on these, and the bird seed. These birds of prey live off the small birds. These are top of the food chain.
They were persecuted and poisoned lots before, but I think there numbers are increasing now. I love the burning yellow eyes, and long yellow feet and claws. They have long tails but his was hidden behind the fence.
 The flight of this bird is amazing swooping into dense garden and picking off quick little birds. I think this time he only caught a few feathers and not a kill.
 Three times before I have seen the Sparrowhawk. I showed Cat the photos on the camera. She will see it one day.
  The days are drawing in earlier now, and the sun is rising later. Autumn is nearly here. The garden needs tidying up a bit.
 I have harvested a few Tomatoes over the past few days. Eaten off the plants with a little lick of salt to draw out the flavour.I love growing Tomatoes. All the other veg has not done so well because of the NZ trip in June.
 I keep getting seed/plant catalogues. I need to start perusing them for next years plants. The seasons are turning slowly.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Transition

 It is already the fourth week of August. The fiery orange Crocosmia is blooming now in the pot on the patio. I need to re pot it so it can grow bigger. It is a lovely flower contrasting to the strappy green leaves. This plant has suffered with the summer heat, drying out, and having very browned leaves. The recent rain and my tidying up has made it more attractive.
 Self seeded Forget Me Nots growing in one of the pots. It did have some summer bulbs but they dried up and died in the summer heat. I love how delicate the blue flowers are . Cool against the green leaves.These self seed everywhere, but I love finding new plants growing wildly each year where they fall.
 The Bronze Fennell has been cut back to the ground, and regrew to five feet tall. It has these pretty yellow flowers floating over the edge of the sunken border. The hover fly's love these small delicate lemon peel like flowers.
 A late flower Aquilegia has attracted small insects inside the petals, and the Hover Fly. These have long spurs full of nectar. I hope next year brings new colour variations of the Aquilegias.
The Cranesbill Geranium has re flowered again. The electric purple flowers sing out in the slightly exhausted sunken border.
 I was reading today about the West Dean Chilli Festival. You can even camp in the grounds now, and spend three days there. I must go next year.
I am trying to grow a Chili. So far I have two plants and no fruit formed. Im running out of time before the growing season ends.
 I used to be able to grow Cayenne Chili's. The Scotch Bonnet, and Jalapeno Summer Heat have struggled with the Yorkshire conditions. I used to grow them with no problems. Maybe my exotic choices are too difficult to grow in wet/cool West Yorkshire..
  The garden is looking green. The weather has cooled down a bit now. There has been the odd rain shower too.It is in transition between Late Summer and Autumn.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Garden Balance

 The Dalmatian White Foxgloves have flowered beautifully in the barrel planter against the backdoor wall.I love the white trumpets with burgundy spots. I planted five Foxglove plants, and so far two have flowered. I think they were quite slow to establish, but are loving the mixture of hot days and rain showers. The Sweet Peas and Black Bamboo all look healthy still. It is a little sheltered suntrap. The Bamboos have greened up nicely in their new sheltered position.
 After a few sparse weeks the Rose Gertude Jekyll has started a second flush of flowers. The delicate pink Rose contrasts nicely to the healthy new green leaves underneath it.
 The Rose Dark Lady has had a poor 2013. The leaves have been diseased and the growth not very even. She has finally shown me a beautiful dark crimson Rose.I hope that I can revive this plant next year.
 The latest Rose to flower is the Hybrid Tea Queen Elizabeth. I originally got a free Rose last year from Sutton's which promptly died. I saw this is Wilkos for £3 and thought I must have it, to see what the flowers are like. They are a light blush pink Rose, with nice cup like petals.
 Alas there is only a faint rose scent, but the five Roses it has grown are all healthy. There is minimal black spot on the lower leaves. It has been a slow starter. Maybe next year the new growth will make it flower more profusely. That said the five Roses are all perfect, with little pest damage.
 The Old Grand Dame of the Roses is the Rose Lady Emma Hamilton. The Apricot colored roses smell divinely of fruit and citrus. Strongly scented. I need to change a lot of the soil and try more pruning. She is very spread out in the pot despite spring pruning. There have been less Roses this year than previous years. I think this Rose is at least five years old.How long can shrub roses last?
 The one star Dahlia is the Bishop Of Oxford. Orange is a very healing color, and I love the contrast to the dark leaves below. I will try to over winter my Bishop Series of Dahlias, and try to collect the four Bishops that I have not got. They maybe need deeper pots than they are currently in.
 Another successful plant is the Lavender growing in a pot on the small coffee table.The scent is lovely, and I have seen a few Bees flying onto the light blue flowers.I bought the Rosemary and Lavender to try and feed the native Bee's.
 The Lavender has flowered. The Rosemary has dropped half of its leaves on the other table. I saw a good Horizon program about the decline of Bees with Bill Turnbull from BBC Breakfast. He has kept Bees for 12 years as a hobby. He showed all the different reasons they think Bees are struggling here in the UK. There were three main scientific theories.These were from environmental changes from intensive agricultural use,  to the Veroa Mite, to the use of Neonicotinoid pesticides in Agriculture.There are scientists all over the world working in all three fields.
 He said that City Bees are bucking the trend and producing double the amount of honey of their country cousins?I know that London has more urban Bee Keepers than the rest of the UK.
 Our garden is packed full of flowers that will hopefully feed the Bees'. There are 240  species of Bees in the UK, not just the Honey Bee.I'm always pleased to see them in the garden. They are little garden Spirits.
The garden still has a few productive plants. The Strawberries are still growing. My four pots of Tomato's are growing strongly and there is a little glut of Tomatoes growing. There is one pot of gardeners delight, two pots of whatever Tomatoes I tried sowing to start with (I cant remember what I sowed.I must have reused the soil and they subsequently germinated). The last pot is the Hampsons bought Tomato plant,the Chocolate Cherry Tomato plant which is huge and laden with nice fruits.
  The Chilli's are outside now. I bought the two plants from the Spring Flower Show. None of my Chili seeds germinated. I have Scotch Bonnet, and Jalapeno Summer Heat. The CSB has flowers on it, but no fruit yet...
 The CJSH has flower buds but no white flowers yet. Fingers crossed!
  The Grape Vine has about eight bunches of Grapes of various sizes. The ones photographed are the healthiest. I need lots of sunshine so they can ripen and develop sweet sugars in the grapes.
 The Grape Vine has been trial and error as I have never grown them before last year. The Internet is awash with much conflicting advise about pruning and training. I hope that each year I get more confidant in growing Table Grapes. Their is a legendary plant at Hampton Court palace which is hundreds of years old. My Black Hamburg has royal pedigree.
  The garden is still lush and green with a lot of flowers and wild life in it. The pots have been rearranged by Cat to make the path line on two sides by plants. The Fruit Trees are all growing impressively. The Ceanothus and Buddleja have grown massively filling the garden with their leaves. The birds love flying into them in between feeding. The garden is a perfect shared space between the wildlife and the gardeners. Aestheticly pleasing to sit in, functional, and wildlife friendly. A perfect balance.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Roses Today

  The Roses continue to inspire me with their blooms. I think they give a good injection of colour when other plants are starting to fade. The Lady Emma Hamilton freshly opened glows in the sunlight and smells so divine of citrus fruits. yum!
 The Rose Scent Sation getting ready to open five blooms on one stem. They smell best when they are just opening their petals, but it gets less strong as they open further. I cant smell Turkish Delight, maybe a sweet shop smell?
 These Hover Flys love the Scent Sation. It only has minimal Black spot on a few lower leaves. The Rose bush looks quite healthy. A bargain from Fryers Roses. A late developer but this has meant the Roses have staggered in their flowering.
The Hybrid Tea Queen Elizabeth is just teasing me with fat rose buds. I'm working the next three nights so this will be one of the first things I look at when I come back from work.
 Its hot and humid, and even a sharp rain shower has not cooled things down. Its a lovely balmy August Day.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Retail Therapy

   I got Cat to take me to Hampson's to buy some replacement plants for our dead hanging baskets. Six baskets needed replacing from the heat and drought. We walked around the Hampsons equivalent of the green mile (red and yellow tickets for damaged plants).Looking for plants that could be revived.
  I loved this Gazania mixed variety. It looks quite healthy to me, with a lot more unopened flower buds.
 Three extra plants that need a home. A Celosia, a Pelagonium, and a third yellow Geum to join my collection. Lady Strathden.
 I have Geum Mrs Bradshaw, and Geum Orange. This is a third lovely yellow variety.
 Cat replanted the three pots by the front door. There is silver foliaged Cinnereria, Prince Of Wales Feathers,The prarie like Red Coreopsis, two Spireas, shrubs with small pink or white flowers. Fifty pence or a pound each!
 The six baskets have been replanted with a mixture of Diascia, Pansy's, Lobellia, and Campanula.
 I wanted the Blue and white plants in the baskets. This Pansy has the blue, the white, and the egg yolk yellow.
 The Lobelia was a pack of twelve. A rare find in all the dead and damaged plants that they had ticketed.
The cost of planting the three large pots by the front door, six hanging baskets, and four extra plants was under forty pounds.
  Today was the hottest day of the year. Hopefully now it will cool down as I'm back on nights again tomorrow.
 Rainfall would water the new basket plants and front door pots. The garden is still full of colours, Bees,Butterflies, and other pollinating insects.
 I watched the BBC's program about Urban Wildlife with Mike Dilger from the One Show. He saw Kingfishers and Peregrine Falcons in Sheffield. Badgers in South Yorkshire. Newts in a mans swimming pond..
 We have Newts, Frogs, Pollinating Insects, an occasional Hedgehog, Bats at night. I love how the garden brings wildlife closer to me. Only a few steps from the backdoor.