Saturday, 28 July 2012

Watership Down

No it's not about the rabbits.

This is Phlox paniculata Bright Eyes, purchased five years ago from Hayloft Plants. It took a while to get established in my garden, probably because it likes moisture, and we usually have quite dry summers. But not this year, and I've never seen it look so happy. This is the first bloom, there are many more to follow.

Remember I mentioned a while ago, that the birds were particular about where I get their food from? Well I've solved the problem of what to do with the food they won't eat. I put it in my 'squirrel-proof' feeder. You know, the one where the squirrel just lifts the lid up. He eats anything, problem solved.

And finally, a little observation on the weather. Hope you enjoyed the recent heatwave. Only I've noticed that our very weird weather this year, has actually kept to a very fixed pattern:

End March:   heatwave
April:            wettest April for 100 years
May:             heavy rain like April
End May:      heatwave
June:             wettest June for 100 years
July:              heavy rain like June
End July:       heatwave

Erm, I suppose the pattern could change, but then again........

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Brush Stokes

Nothing to do with painting though.

This is Callistemon citrinus, commonly known as the Crimson Bottlebrush from Australia. Erm, I don't mean I bought it from Australia, I meant it originates from there. I grew it many years ago from seed. I managed to get three plants to germinate and grow. The other two succumbed to the severe winter two years ago, but this one not only survived but is flowering again. What a surprise.

When I planted it in the garden, we were experiencing relatively mild winters, and after taking a few years to settle in, it flowered every year, until the severe winter of three years ago put paid to the blooms the following summer. But that was nothing compared to the next winter; the main stem was split in half by the sheer weight of snow. After a bit of judicious pruning, and a bit of TLC, the plant began to recover. I really didn't expect it to bloom this year though. Must be all the rain.

Remember the Berberis darwinii that was attracting all the blackbirds ?  It is now being visited by squirrels. They don't pick individual berries like the birds. Oh no, they pick a bunch and eat them like grapes. Well they would, wouldn't they ?

And finally, a bit of good news; the weathermen are predicting the end of our soggy summer. Apparently, the Jet Stream is heading back up north to where it should be, and as a result we should get  normal summer weather. You know, sunshine, remember that ?  Jet Stream, eh ?  So why didn't Air Traffic Control sort it out sooner ?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - July 2012

It's time to show what's in bloom in the garden this month:

Dahlia Bishop of Oxford, purchased from Brookside Nursery earlier this year, and still in the greenhouse.

Campanula persicifolia, one of the first campanulas I grew, and it self-seeds around the garden. Bargain.

Hemerocallis, commonly known as a daylily. Sorry I don't know the variety. The plant got through last winter, but the label didn't, it faded.

Viola, another self-seeded plant. I love plants for free.

Begonia Superstar, a wonderful plant for hanging baskets, only just coming into bloom.

Asiatic Lily, variety unknown. Lost the label. Really must be more careful.

Adenophora, closely related to campanula, grown from seed many years ago. I remember it took quite a few years to get established, but now it's a bit of a thug.

Matricaria, another one grown from seed many years ago, and now self-seeding around the garden.

Oxalis, this one escaped from my neighbour's garden. It grew through their hedge, and now flowers in my garden in dense shade. Oxalis can become a nuisance, but this one knows its place, and shows no signs of spreading.

Alstroemeria, this is one of the first Princess varieties, purchased many years ago when they first became available. I bought three at the time; a red one that died, a white one that still throws up a few stems, and this one that really took off.

Clematis Shimmer and Clematis Amethyst Beauty, growing together in a pot. Purchased two years ago, and flowering for the first time.

Sweet Pea, a perennial variety, also purchased two years ago, and also flowering for the first time. It's planted under an arch, but this stem decided to climb up a nearby apple tree.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this meme. Why not pop over to Carol's blog to see what is in bloom all over the world this month.

Friday, 13 July 2012

A Little Nut Tree

But this one doesn't bear a silver nutmeg.
It's not a nut tree either, but a Flowering Nutmeg.

This is Leycesteria formosa, which is also known as the Himalayan Honeysuckle. Erm, it's not a honeysuckle either. Now that you're completely confused, I'll introduce you to one of my favourite shrubs. I first came across this shrub many years ago, whilst on holiday in Cornwall. It was a specimen plant in the middle of a lawn, and was about 15ft. tall by 15ft. across. But what really attracted me to the plant, was how it was constantly visited by blackbirds who were gorging on the berries. This shrub has the added attraction of producing berries and flowers at the same time, later in the season.

On return from holiday, I set about purchasing my first plant, and it died. A few years later, I tried again, and it died. But I was determined to have this plant, so a few years later I purchased yet another one, and it.......wait for it, it survived. Maybe it was the pruning; I think I may have pruned the young shrubs too hard in their first year. Whereas with this plant, I let it get well established before attacking it with the pruners. And it has survived two severe winters recently too.

It has only just started flowering this year, I wonder why, so there are no berries just yet. The blackbirds in my garden are currently feasting on a bumper crop of Berberis darwinii berries:

Sorry about the poor quality of this photo, only it was pouring with rain, yet again. Remember the blackbird who was sunbathing the other day, well she really doesn't like the rain:

There was no food on the bird table, so she was just sheltering from the rain. Can't say I blame her.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Fit For A Princess

Yes, it's another rose:

This is Rose Princess Alexandra of Kent, the third of my four new David Austin roses to bloom. It managed to produce four lovely blooms before the deluge on Friday. I dead-headed it yesterday, and it now has some new buds showing through. The new roses have all done very well this year, must be all this rain. In previous years, new roses have struggled to produce many flowers in their first year.

This rose is named after Princess Alexandra, who is a cousin of the Queen, and a keen gardener and rose lover. Apparently, the rose has a fresh Tea fragrance that changes to the smell of lemon as the flower ages, and eventually gives off a hint of blackcurrants. I wouldn't know, because I have no sense of smell. And even if I could smell them, my flowers only got as far as the fresh Tea stage before the weather put paid to the display.

We had a glimpse, and I mean a glimpse, of sunshine the other day. Whilst I was out in the garden I stumbled across this blackbird sunning herself.

She wasn't very pleased about being disturbed. See the look on her face, but she didn't move. Well, why should she ?  She was there first. So I went back inside, as did the sun.

Friday, 6 July 2012

An Amazing Discovery

A couple of days ago, a discovery was made.
More about that later.

This is Linaria purpurea, commonly known as the purple toadflax. It is a short-lived perennial plant, much loved by bees, as you can see. I purchased some seed many years ago, and it has self-seeded ever since. Although the individual plants don't live very long, there are always plenty of youngsters to replace them. They grow to about 2ft. and are self-supporting.

And now about that discovery. For all of you who have been eagerly waiting to read about the Higgs boson, er sorry, not that discovery. No, this is what I was talking about:

Yippee, a ladybird larvae. Yes, despite the horrendous weather, the ladybirds have had babies. Found this one on a bin lid. The bin contained some hedge prunings; branches of elder coated in blackfly. The ladybirds must have laid their eggs on the elder knowing that their young would have plenty of food. I lifted this larvae off the bin and placed it in the greenhouse, on an orchid that was covered in greenfly. I also recovered two more larvae from the bin and placed them on suitable plants.

And finally, the weather. Despite June being the wettest month in over a hundred years nationally, here in Sheffield it was the wettest for only five years. But now it's July, and there are new records to be broken. Last night I attended an open air concert in Sheffield Botanical Gardens. I know, fancy attending an open air concert in the summer. Anyway, despite a thunderstorm that came uncomfortably close, we didn't get too wet. Memo to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain: next time you come to Sheffield, can you pick a venue with a roof, please ?

Monday, 2 July 2012

A Fighting Chance

Another rose flowering for the first time:

This is Rose Fighting Temeraire, an English Rose purchased from David Austin Roses last autumn. As you can see, the bloom is a different shape from most English Roses. It is one of four roses I planted in the front garden last November. It has an eventual height and spread of about 5 feet, so I placed it further back in the border than the other three. Would you believe it, the other three have all grown taller than this one. I'm hoping it is just a slow grower. I'll take more photos when it has produced more blooms.

Rose Fighting Temeraire is named after a painting by JMW Turner from 1839. It was named for the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate, Kent last year.

This little chap came visiting last week. We don't get many bullfinches in the garden, but we have had quite a few this year, probably as a result of the weather. Oh, don't get me started on the weather. They've just announced that last month was the wettest June for over a hundred years.

And finally I am pleased to announce that Jane at Tidy Gardens by Jane has nominated me for the Lovely Blog Award. Thanks Jane, it is very much appreciated. I now have to tell you 7 things about myself, so here goes:

1. I love summer, you can't beat a good deluge or two or three or .....

2.  I was once the proud owner of a sports car; Kelloggs used to put some nice toys in their breakfast cereal boxes years ago.

3. I like seafood. I'm not going to mention that corny joke about 'see food and eat it.'  Oops, too late, said it now. Sorry.

4. I'm fascinated by thunderstorms, as long as I'm not caught out in one.

5. I love rainbows, and the pot of gold at the end. Oh dear, I'm sounding like a banker now.

6. I like strawberries, as do the blackbirds, the squirrel, and my dog. Latest score: 3 - 0 to me.

7. Three days after passing my driving test, I had an argument with a car park concrete bollard. It hit me from behind. They don't half move fast, those bollards.

I'm now supposed to nominate 10 other blogs, but as I have said before, I find this impossible to do. So may I direct you to my Blog List where there are some excellent blogs to read, it's just that there are more than ten of them.