Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Touch Of The Arctic

Don't panic, it's not a weather forecast.
It's just a clematis.

This is Clematis Arctic Queen, purchased three year ago from Raymond Evison Clematis. It is described as one of the most free flowering double clematis. And you're probably thinking it doesn't look very double. I'll try another photo:

You're right, definitely not double, at least not yet anyway. Many doubles do produce a flush of single blooms. I'm hoping that's the case with this one, otherwise the labels have got mixed up. Oops. I'll keep an eye on this one to see if it produces double flowers later.

You'll be pleased to know that a number of those plants stranded in the greenhouse have now been moved into wall baskets outside. Don't know if the plants are very pleased though, what with the thunderstorms and all. Whilst I was in the greenhouse I noticed something hiding amongst the plant pots on the shelving. I presumed it was a snail, but snails don't have tails, do they ?  Yes, it was a little mouse. Didn't even move when I lifted the plant pots up. I went back later when the mouse had gone, and removed a snail from the same area. Guess what ?  The mouse had been building a little nest in there. Now I've no objection to the frogs that live in the greenhouse, but a mouse ?

The photos above were taken before today's thunderstorms. That heavy rain reminded me of the Sheffield floods five years ago this month. At the time I worked in an office quite close to the River Don near Meadowhall shopping centre. Most of us managed to get home okay, but some who stayed behind were trapped by the floodwater, and spent the night in the town hall. I remember looking at the traffic cameras when I got home. Couldn't understand why they were pointing them at the river. Then I realised, we don't have traffic lights and street lights in the middle of a river, do we?  Sheffield escaped the floods today. But that 'once in a hundred years' event could so easily happen again.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Best Buddies

The first strawberry of the season:

This is Strawberry Buddy, purchased earlier this year from Thompson & Morgan. As you can see the plant is in flower and also has its first ripe fruit. You can also see another buddy in the top right of the photo. Yes, at the same time as I noticed the ripe fruit, so did my dog.

The plants are growing in self-watering stacking pots, placed on pot stands with wheels, so they can easily be moved around the patio. Now that the plants are fruiting, I will have to cover them with netting to keep the birds off. However, it will take more than netting to keep Joey off them.

Strawberry Buddy is a relatively new ever-bearing variety. In other words, it crops throughout the summer, not just in June. In fact, it's not supposed to start cropping until mid-July and then continue until October. One of its parents is Strawberry Diamante. Oh, and the strawberry in the photo ?  It was delicious !!

And finally, a little conundrum for you. My calendar says that last Thursday was the first day of summer, and my diary says that today is midsummer. You can see where I'm going here, can't you ? Anyway, enjoy the rest of the summer, or should I say the rest of this week.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

She's A Lady

Albeit a fictitious one.

This is Rose Lady of Shalott, purchased from David Austin Roses last autumn. I bought four roses at the time, and planted them all in the front garden. Oh yes, I remember it well. We had had a glorious autumn, but when the plants arrived the weather was already on the turn, and wintry weather was forecast. So I prepared the ground, and dug four very large holes. Although I was wearing a coat, it was a short one, and to cut a long story short, I ended up with severe backache. Just before the wintry weather set in, I managed to get out into the garden and plant the roses. Really should have dug those holes whilst the weather was still warm. Oh well, you live and learn.

Anyway, this is the first of those four roses to bloom. I'm really impressed with it. The plant is full of buds, which should give a good display for its first year. I took this photo today because one of our regular summer deluges is forecast for tomorrow.

The rose is named after a character from one of Lord Tennyson's favourite poems. The poem is set in the time of King Arthur's Camelot. The Lady of Shalott lived in a nearby castle, but she was trapped in a spell. There was a lot of that in those days, you know. She was freed from the spell when she saw the reflection of Sir Lancelot in a mirror. Sounds just like an episode of Merlin, doesn't it?

And finally, I had this little visitor arrive in the garden during a thunderstorm:

Not the best photo, I know, but it was about 15 feet up in the hawthorn tree, oh and it was raining, heavily. I can say for sure that it is a moth, but other than that I can't be more specific. I think it might be a lime hawkmoth, but I can't be certain. One thing I do know, I've not seen one before.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - June 2012

Took these photos just before a thunderstorm.
Got some very soggy flowers now.

Abutilon Hardy Red, I had four different colours originally, the other three obviously weren't that hardy.

Lobelia erinus Superstar, still stuck in the greenhouse, really should be outside by now.

Clematis Ice Blue, bought five years ago, putting on its best display yet.

Digitalis purpurea, a self-seeded foxglove. Nature always plants them in the right place.

Corydalis lutea, another self-seeded plant. This one does get a bit giddy though, really have to keep it under control.

Dactylorhiza pupurella, growing in a pot in the greenhouse. Look at those aphids, wildlife at no extra cost.

Hebe, variety unknown, has now outgrown its allotted space. Will be taking cuttings to replace it next year.

Verbena Trailing Red Velvet, another one in the greenhouse awaiting its escape.

Geranium versicolor, just coming into bloom.

Allium siculum, complete with bee. Don't get me going about the name change, it's an allium, right ?

Osteospermum Voltage Yellow, another one still stuck in the greenhouse.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting. If you want to see what's in bloom around the world today, why not pop over to Carol's blog.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Fruit For Thought

Or should I say the lack of it.
I'll explain later.

This is Clematis Rebecca, purchased about five years ago, and growing atop an apple tree. It was bred by Raymond Evison, and named after his eldest daughter. This year it has produced its best display ever, and as you can see there are lots of buds to follow.

It was whilst taking this photo that I noticed the apples, or should I say lack of them. The apple tree is Bolero, and it has only a few apples on it this year. Normally it is a prolific cropper. So I decided to check my other apple trees. Three of them have no apples at all, despite producing plenty of blossom earlier. Obviously this is the result of the crazy weather we have had this spring and the lack of pollinators. Ironically, my Polka apple tree is laden with fruit despite not having had much blossom, but it bloomed later than the others, when there must have been more bees around.

I then decided to check my gooseberry bush; two fruits, just two, hardly worth getting the cream out. On a more positive note, the blueberry plants are full of fruit, and the raspberries and strawberries seem to be doing well also. The blackbirds must be licking their beaks in anticipation.

You may recall I mentioned in my last post that I had been nominated for the Sunshine Blog award by Mary at Muse, and that I had to answer some questions. Please feel free to stop reading at this point. Normal service will be resumed next post. Anyway here goes:

Favourite colour:      Blue, I'm sure I've answered that one before.

Favourite animal:      Dog, Joey would never forgive me if I had chosen anything else.

Favourite number:    A winning lottery number. Although I'd need to know it before the lottery was drawn, not much use finding it out afterwards.

Favourite non-alcholic drink;    Tea, there's nothing like a nice cuppa tea.

Facebook or Twitter:     Twitter, I love the dawn chorus.

My passion:      Music, if music be the food of love. Do you know, I'm sure I've heard that before.

Getting or Giving Presents:    Tis far better to give than to receive. And I've heard that one before too.

Favourite Pattern:   A mackerel sky, one of Nature's magnificent paintings.

Favourite Day of the week:   All my working life it was always Saturday, but now I quite like Mondays.

Favourite Flower:    Difficult this one, there are so many that I like. Anyway I'll go back to the Fuchsia, see what I did there. It was one of the first flowers that I grew.

And finally I'm supposed to choose five blogs I like. As I explained previously, this I find impossible because there are so many excellent blogs out there, so I'll just direct you to my blog roll for some excellent reading. And thanks again to Mary for nominating me, please check out her blog, it's brill.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

In The Summertime

When the weather is ........
Mm, that wasn't a very good choice of song, was it ?

This is the first of my David Austin Roses to bloom this year. I bought it over fifteen years ago, along with Graham Thomas and William Shakespeare. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of this particular variety. It's really had a bit of a rough time. Shortly after it was planted, the nearby Ceanothus grew above it, and it has spent most of its life in the shade. The Ceanothus was removed last year, and the rose started to thrive. Strange that. So this year it has been treated to food for the first time ever, and a mulch. Seems to like it.

The photo was taken a few days ago before the wind and rain, or should I say gales and deluge. This particular bloom is now spread around the lawn, but there are plenty of buds to follow. Weather permitting, of course.

Thought you might like to see this. In the centre of the photo is a young blue tit. Now I'm not saying it's Orville. In fact, after watching Springwatch on TV, I realise that it's highly unlikely that he survived. But I do know that it is one of his siblings. And how do I know that, you may ask. Well, one of Orville's parents had very distinct markings, and today I saw it feeding this little one. And there were a few others twittering in the tree. Yes, they are already on Twitter. They'll have their own Facebook page soon, no doubt.

I also had a visit from a squirrel today. I'm thinking of calling him Harry, as in Houdini. He managed to open not one, but two squirrel-proof feeders twice today. Mind you, the blue tits didn't complain. When he'd gone, they sat on top of the seed, and had a banquet. No wonder the youngsters now look bigger than their parents.

And finally, a big thank you to Mary at Muse, who has nominated me for The Sunshine Blog Award. I am truly honoured. Apparently, I have to answer some questions, so thinking cap on, and I'll answer them in my next post.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A Peony For Your Thoughts

And it's a tree peony too.

This is a Japanese Tree Peony, sorry I don't know which variety it is. I bought it a long time ago, I mean a very long time ago. I purchased two of them and planted them in the front garden. One of them, a lovely yellow double, was planted under the front window, where it just grew and grew. As it was obviously in the wrong place, I decided to move it. Big mistake. Tree peonies don't like moving. It died.

So this one I left alone. It only grows to about four or five feet, dependent on the severity of the winter. It was quite happy until the gas men came and dug up the pavement near the front garden. The gas pipe they were replacing was quite close to the peony's roots. Tree peonies don't like root disturbance. Don't worry , it didn't die, but it did sulk quite a bit. It seems a lot better now than it was last year, so hopefully it is now recovering from the experience.

The flowers are dinner plate size, huge things, but very heavy, and they bow their heads to the ground. So despite having about a dozen blooms at the moment, after the recent rain, the flowers are all facing downwards, and the display is hidden. No point in trying to lift them up; heavy rain forecast for tomorrow. Oh well.

You may have seen in previous posts, the bird feeder I use, which is covered in a squirrel guard. The guard keeps out the squirrels and the large birds, but I wasn't expecting this:

Didn't know snails liked bird seed. On the subject of bird seed, I read a letter recently where someone was asking if birds are particular about the bird food they are given. The letter writer said that if he changed the make of bird food, the birds weren't happy and would ignore the food until their regular make was offered. I too have experienced this. I usually get my bird food from CJ Wildbird Foods, but if on occasion I buy from another supplier, you know special offers and the like, the birds won't eat it. Even food from other very reputable suppliers is ignored. It's as if the birds just don't like change. The BTO say birds can tell which food is best, and they will eat the best food and ignore poorer quality food. I suppose it's a bit like, once you've sampled M&S food, do you really want to go back to Tesco?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Know Your Onions

Yes, the ornamental onions are in bloom.

This is Allium siculum, a bulbous perennial that seems to thrive in my garden. What's that ? What, it's not an Allium ?  Ah well, you see when I bought it, it was in the genus Allium, and that is where it remains for me. If the botanists want to change its name, so be it, but they are not changing my plant label. Oh and if you want to know what it's called now, well it's simply Nectaroscordum siculum. Now that's a memorable name, isn't it ?  And you wonder why I'm sticking with the old name. I haven't got a plant label big enough, for a start.

Anyway, the plant itself is a real bee magnet, although there were no bees out today in the rain. Yes, it's June, it's a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, so it's got to be raining. When the flowers have been pollinated, they fold up and lift upwards, forming a sort of conical shape. The plant is also very good at self seeding, and grows wherever it feels happy. I've had plants coming up quite a distance from the main planting. If you come across it in the bulb catalogues, I highly recommend it.

A few days ago, whilst sat out in the garden, no it doesn't rain every day, I was reminded about why I like to garden for wildlife:

This wood pigeon came to the bird bath just a few feet from where I was sitting, no zoom was used on this photo. The birds and animals have become quite tame over the years. As long as I move slowly and quietly, they just get on with their business as if I wasn't there.

And finally, on a completely different subject, you know how folk are always going on about eating your 'five a day' fruit and veg. I was reading an article in a newspaper the other day, about 10 superfoods that you should eat every day to keep you healthy. All the usual suspects were there, but in at number ten was, wait for it, four, yes four pieces of dark chocolate. That's every day, folks. Must go now, I'm off to eat my 'four a day.'