Sunday, 5 July 2015

Up Close and personal 3

Some from June this year

Dames violet

Dwarf Aquilegia


Bladder campion

Jacob's Ladder

Rosa Ispahan

Ixia flowers on Sambucus niger foliage

Ox-eye daisy

Limnanthes douglasii, the poached-egg plant

Sweet William

Oriental poppy

Meadow cranesbill

Iris sibirica

Iris laevigata

I THINK these are two different cultivars of Geranium sanguineum, but don't quote me on that


Geranium cinereum 'Ballerina'

Lysimachia (and snail)

Geranium Purple Haze (possibly...)
Ragged Robin

Aquilegia Nora Barlow


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

More May Ramblings

In the stumpery

Tucked against the north-facing wall of The Bunker is a small raised bed bounded by decaying sycamore stumps, The Stumpery. It is shady, with a rich humus soil and I is planted with various ferns, a [i]Geranium sylvaticum[/i] and a few cyclamen. Which I haven't seen this winter come to think of it. Bugger. It disintegrates into a soggy brown mess of dead by the winter, but then you cut off the mat of dead leaves in April and get this extraordinary phoenix act in the spring and early summer, surging back upwards.

Over the decades we acquired quite a few old-fashioned roses – can't be doing with scentless ones, really – and they are scattered all over the beds and hedges. I have to shovel loads of grit into the planting holes for most things, but the compacted clay of this garden really suits roses of all kinds, and I've actually lost count now. 

The only way I get to 'remember' varietal names (this one might be 'Geoff Hamilton') is if I leave the label on, but just recently I've managed to grow a couple from semi-ripe cuttings, and I haven't got much more than the faintest idea what they are. 

Nemisia 'Vanilla Lady'

This is an unexpected pleasure, a tender plant that made it through the winter. The flowers are small and delicate,
but there are plenty of them, and the scent of vanilla is pretty amazing. I put the pot on a wall by the south steps for easy hooter access.

Late bloomer

This 'Firebird' (? – not kidding about being lousy on varietal names) broom, planted last year, took me by surprise,
started budding weeks after the others and is still going strong now, when their flowers are over.

Iris sibirica


Old Glory

Rosa 'Gloire de Dijon' was recommended to us by Terry, Chip's neighbour in the 1980s, as a climber that was both fragrant and extravagantly beautiful.
We grew it by the front door at our house in Oldland, but it wasn't suited to the location.
I've given it a go here and trained it properly, and have been rewarded with at least one perfect flower, although
the rest are already looking the worse for wear and black spot.

Achillea 'Cloth of Gold'

Always something pleasing about the froth of flowers in a head of yarrow.

The Engine Room

Down the side of the house is a parking space for two cars leading to a half-built-to-make-sure-the-planning-did-not-run-out garage. A tool shed, compost bins,
table and chairs and a whole load of rubbish and vital things fills the 'garage', and the rest is adapted to process plants in pots. 

In the top right, behind the hellebores, you can see, side-on, the Stumpery.
Which brings a neat circularity to the post

Friday, 29 May 2015

Up close and personal pt 2

Columbine, currently the garden's signature plant. This is a wild form. idea what this little  (just over 1cm across) beauty is, but it's spreading profusely

Box of treasures - oriental poppy

Five-fold symmetry – another columbine

Double Aquilegia. Usually doubles are excluded because they confuse insects, but I'll make an exception for this one.

This is what bees like: blue, clear directions, big landing pad, plenty of grub

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Up close and personal pt 1

Some of the minor characters:


 This little beauty was bought in 2011/2 in our last visit to Eggesford garden centre.



Hesperides / Dames Violet

I was distressed when this beauty, also known as sweet rocket, didn't turn up this year; gorgeous fragrance and one of C's favourites, but a version turned up in one of the pots and others have shown themselves since.

Hardy geranium

One of a six-pack offer by the Guardian. Can't remember the species.

Geranium Johnson's Blue

Schizostylus / Kaffir Lily

Iris laevigata

Acer palmatum seed


Sunday, 24 March 2013

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The recent change in the temperature has put a crimp in things, but the first weeks of March got the garden juices flowing in me. Following An Incident involving ovines, I decided that whatever damage the Scrapper could do if shut in the house on his own would be far less than he could wreak  on forays from the garden (which cannot be made secure), and found to my delight, after four days of a couple of hours or more gardening, that he had not chewed a single thing in protest or despair, while the effect on my spirits of  just getting my hands in the ground and doing something was singularly salutary.

And, my oh my, there's plenty to do. There's several pots of heritage sweet peas growing in the garden room (formerly Chip's study and craft room – I'm sure she would have approved), while all the beds have to be stripped of grass, moss and tap-root perennials, some of the furniture has to be moved around, and some large climbing roses need to have some support built for them. To this end (and others), I have been over the local green, bundling up the willow wands cut in the annual coppice and hauling them home to create basketwork trellises, as well as repairing the edging to various beds and marking out the new ones.

The fresh-cut willow from the Millennium Green, woven basket-style, is great for separating bark from beds, but not so hot at keeping out grasses.

The ‘new ones’ as yet don't exist, but the plan is to get rid of most of the grass paths between the beds, as they are too difficult to mow and no particular ornament when overgrown, and tend to invade the beds. When we first moved in, the largest part of the garden (behind the house, rather than at the front or side), was basically a grassy slope with a patch of – gah! – sedge, and some slightly less ghastly, but no less intrusively placed, pampas grass. Both of these have now gone, and so, soon, will be almost all of the grass, save for strips separating the beds from the western and northern boundary hedges.

All of the grass in this picture, save for a little in the foreground, is to come up to make more room for plants.
If you're not into sport or sheep, there's no point to swathes of grass in a garden.
rt of the problem with doing this sort of work is where to put the turves. When I first excavated the ponds, I made some loam piles, which I have since used up, or created new raised beds, but I'm fast running out of space to build a new one, so this time I'm going to extend the platform I made in the north-west corner so that I can put a seat on it, having extended the willow structure up which a Clematis montana is scrambling in order to create a scented bower, and to level up the grassy path in another part of the garden.

When I excavated the south-west corner of the garden, the turves I had taken up had a great deal of sand and gravel attached, so I stacked them to form a loam pile then edged it
with some double Roman tiles from an architectural reclamation yard and made a well-drained bed.

The new paths are to be made with bark chippings spread over a weed-suppressing membrane, and since I will no longer have to attempt to manhandle a lawnmower down them, they can be narrower, perhaps more sinuous, and I can increase the size of the beds accordingly.

The only bummer so far is that I slipped and fell while fetching the bird feeders to be recharged. No harm done to me, but not only were the two feeders bent out of shape, but I also managed to knock a large terracotta flowerpot full of iris bulbs off a wall so that it fell, earth side down, on the top of another pot on the ground, breaking both of them; we're not talking small pots either, both 12" in diameter and costing a good £50 to replace, although I won't be bothering – we aren't short of terracotta, although the frosting can be brutal.