Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – April 2017

There is a sense of nervousness around for gardeners at the moment.  In the South East it has been very dry and my water butt, along with many others, is now empty.  Pots need watering along with perennials now appearing with vigor due to the warm sunshine.  However, there is still an outside chance of ground frost, nipping at new growth.   I am waiting for the much needed rain to fill the empty butts and watch the nightly weather forecast hoping we don’t have frost.  However, there are lots of flowers in the garden to show off on this Garden Bloggers Blooms Day. 

 

The daffodils and narcissi are almost over, as are the early tulips.  There is a very pretty triple headed pale yellow narcissi that has appeared in the flowerbed which doesn’t match up with any of the packet labels, so I can’t name it for you.   The fading yellow tulips above are the last remnants of  Sweetheart and Yellow King.   A late pink tulip Synaeda Amor has made an appearance which is good, because it continues colour in the border, as the early tulips drop their petals.

Some combinations of colour are more by luck and judgment.  I am really taken with the peach tulips, no name (sorry) poking through the blue forget-me-nots.   These tulips are some of the few bulbs I left in the border from spring 2016 and have come back this year, but can’t remember what they are called.


At the end of the year, I bought a few bunches of bare rooted mixed wallflowers, on sale at half price to clear.   You know the sort, very wilted looking, wrapped in newspaper and a bit smelly!   I spread them around the garden, some didn’t make it but those that did are looking good.  I especially like the pale pink one.

If there was a test on how to prune clematis I would fail miserably.  I know the rules should be easy to follow but there are some things I can’t get to grips with.  In 2015 I over/incorrectly pruned the Montana ‘Elizabeth’ and had a dismal display of flowers in 2016, so I left it alone and this year, thank goodness, it is an abundance of flowers.  It does make getting into the shed a little tricky at the moment.

In past posts I incorrectly named this Clematis calling it ‘Josephine’ which if anyone knows their Clematis would know wasn’t right.  I know it’s not ‘Josephine’ so have no excuse to get it wrong.  It is in fact Montana ‘Mayleen’.  I have entwined it around the Sambucus Nigra (Elder), which is throwing up new shoots like there is no tomorrow.  

The Honesty (Lunaria) grown from seed last year have surprisingly produced both white and purple plants, although they came from the same seed packet.  They are in different parts of the garden, and the purple variety looks good in front of the Euphorbia. 

At the back of the spring flower bed, the lime green Euphorbia is giving a splendid backdrop to the tulips, and as I said above, the purple Honesty.  It’s looking a little unruly so may be the next thing on my list to give a bit of a tidy up.


The Choysia on the side patio is in flower and a lovely sight from the kitchen door.  I chop it back regularly to keep it tidy and in retaliation it continues to grow and if left to its own devises would take over the side flower bed. 

Even one of the best plants this time of year can disappoint, the Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’  in past years has always been so good, but this year it hasn’t spread its shoots about and there are only two or three stems.  The flower is not as vivid either. 

Another shrub I didn’t prune last year was the Flowering Currant Ribes.  It is a mass of pink flowers which the bees are loving.

The Bay Tree (Laurus) has lots of little greenish-yellow flowers.  This poor tree is usually ignored by me, but I have moved it to the edge of the back patio and another job for me is to repot it.  This is going to be quite some job, I have read it should be done every two years, and this tree has been in its same pot for over ten! 

I have always wanted a Tree Peony and last month I bought a spindly plant from a garden centre, deliberately choosing a pink flower and the only one that had a bud on it.   After deliberation as to whether it should live in a pot, or go in the flowerbed, I chose the later and this week it delivered the most enormous, beautiful pink flower. 

Under the spring bulbs, I planted a number of violas – the vivid colours are quite breathtaking.  I love these little plants, they have such smiley happy faces.

I have bombarded Twitter and Instagram with photos of my most favourite tulip and make no apology for including  Tulip ‘Bastia’ in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.   It may not to be everyone’s taste, but this double fringed tulip will appear in my garden again next year.

Thank you Carolyn at May Dreams Garden for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day monthly on the 15th.   Jump over to her blog and take a look at all the other blooms in contributors garcens from around the world. 

I’ve Gone a Little Daft about Dahlias

Is it my imagination or have dahlias come to the fore this year?  They seem to have a lot of  publicity appearing on garden programs and magazine articles, as well as people with lots of  ‘dahlia talk’ on social media.  I have always admired the dahlias in the cutting garden at West Dean Gardens, Nr Chichester  but only had one small yellow unnamed dahlia in the garden.   I certainly have been swept along on the dahlia train this year and spent the enormous figure of £9 on tubers from Wilko – a great provider of bargain garden ‘stuff’.   At £1 each I felt I could just about afford to take a loss and would be happy with even half of them grew.

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I am delighted, and proud that all nine tubers have thrown out shoots!   After avidly reading everything I could find about growing dahlias, I found Sarah Raven’s website and video provided all I needed to know as a complete amateur.  The biggest hurdle was (and still is!) protecting the shoots from slugs and snails.  Even with copper tape, a penny barrier, an idea from David Domoney, as well as my daughter suggesting supergluing pennies around the rim, plus a few strategically placed organic slug pellets, the pesky molluscs must have abseiled down to have a quick nibble.   Some dahlias, as you can see, have grown faster than others, albeit put in pots at the same time.

I am an impulse buyer and rarely, if ever, go with a plan when it comes to buying plants.  Rightly or wrongly, the dahlias I bought were chosen by name, and recommendation, such as Arabian Night, which is mentioned a lot.   To my surprise, rather than having a riot of unorganised colour, all my dahlias are the same colour range of white through to purple, apart from the pretty golden ‘Sunshine’ which I may grow in a pot.

For my future information and out of interest, I list below the dahlias I have along with photos of what they will look like.  Note the voice of positivity.   I must stress at this point I have NEVER grown dahlias before so fingers crossed they will all be successful and don’t succumb to slug and snail fodder.

Single Flower Variety

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Dahlia ‘Sunshine’

 

Decorative Variety

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Dahlia ‘Avignon’
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Dahlia ‘Arabian Night’
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Dahlia ‘Crazy Love’
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Dahlia “Le Baron”

Pom Pom Variety

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Dahlia ‘Franz Kafka’

Collerette Variety

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Dahlia ‘Teesbrook Audrey’

Cactus Variety

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Dahlia ‘Purple Gem’

Shaggy Cactus Variety

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Dahlia ‘Tsuki-yori-no-Shisha’

This last dahlia is my favourite, not only because of the name, I think it is going to be magnificent.  It is already the largest of all the new plants.  I have pinched out the tops of the bigger plants and will regularly be referring to the National Dahlia Society and National Dahlia Collection websites as well as Sarah Raven and the gardening folk on Twitter and Instagram for help and advice.

I have some weeks to go before planting out, so will take time plan the layout of the dahlias sensibly.   I am forward to have an impressive bed of dahlias to cut and have in the house and give to friends.   Watch this space!  Meanwhile, please leave advice and tips in the comment section as all help will be gratefully received – thank you.

Tulips from Worthing

Unfortunately my plans to tick a visit to the Amsterdam Tulip fields off my list went awry this year.  I have consoled myself with my tulips from Worthing.   I am more than delighted with the display and the thought I had gone overboard buying bulbs last year has proved me wrong.  You can never buy too many tulip bulbs! 


As well as using containers, I planted bulbs in the open border and these are Sweetheart, Purissima and Yellow King with a few pink Botanical mixed.   They have combined well with the white narcissi Botanical Thalia.


On the side patio most of the containers have tulips left over from last year – the pink are Angelique which are not as good this year.  The new bulbs are lovely red Tulip Kaufmanniana and you can see there is also a white one.   The yellow/white Tulip is Sweetheart and I think is a perfect partner with narcissi. 


 There is one solitary Grand Perfection left over from last year.  I like this one so will make a not to buy more for 2018.   I grew them in 2016 with Ronaldo and the combination was quite striking. 


This interesting tulip is a double fringed variety called Bastia – it isn’t quite open so as I write this on a Sunday morning I can’t show it to its full glory, but if you check out the link you will see what it will look like.  I suspect it’s a tulip equivalent of Marmite, you will love it or hate it. 


I found this year that the tulips took a while to open but once open, the petals fell quite quickly. Perhaps it’s because it’s been really quite warm this last week.   I hope you’ve liked what you see and would be interested in seeing your favourite tulips to give me some ideas for 2018.  

End of Month View – March 2017

Gosh it’s been warm here on the south coast for the last week and really brought everything on.   I checked back a couple of years and my End of Month View March 2015 blog post shows the garden is more advanced this year. 


Compared to most gardens, my garden would be described as ‘tiny’.  I have more by accident than design managed to move away from a square garden that can be seen in total from just one view.   It means that wherever you stand you get a different view, which gives the impression of a larger garden when photographs are taken.  


I removed the raised bed a few months ago and enlarged the bed to sweep around the left side of the garden.  The new bed is full of spring bulbs with the intention to turn it into a cutting garden during summers months.  I try to garden on a budget and can regularly be seen in Wilko browsing the garden section.   Their bulbs might be cheap and often disappointing but I bought 8 dahlia tubers at a £1 each and so far 6 of them have sprouted.   I did buy a packet of 2 Echinacia ‘white swan’ and sadly there was only one very limp plant in the dry dust they pack them in and I’m not sure if anything will come of it, however at £2 I can afford some no shows.

I have a plastic greenhouse, which really is nothing more than a cold frame, but it is full at the moment with sweet peas,  Cosmos, rudbeckia and sweet william.  I ordered cleome, aster, calendula and scabiosa seeds from the lovely Benjamin (and Flash of course!) at Higgledy Garden and when I can move some things out of the greenhouse, I will sow ready for a summer showing.   I ran out of copper tape and read that copper coins work just as well, it will be interesting to see if they work, and certainly will be one way to empty the coppers jug.  By the way, the slug pellets you can see on the bottom shelf are organic and only used as a last resort. 


The north side of the garden has a bed which in the winter is boggy, and in the summer under the shadow of the stone wall gets very little sunshine, so I have to be careful what I grow here.   The pink Astilbe loves it as you can see, along with Alchemilla Mollis.  Recently I put a lot of Levington Organic Manure on this bed to improve and feed it, however, it has been an attraction to the local cats, who have managed to knock off a lot of the Euphorbia ‘Fireglow’ tips and in order to protect the rest of it I have placed a bit of plastic, but I don’t think the Euphorbia going to be as good this year. 

A few months ago I bought a small Tree Peony and after deliberation and advice from gardening followers on Instagram and Twitter as to whether to plant it in a container or in a flower bed, decided on the latter and it seems to have settled into its new home. 

There is a very small corner at the end of the garden which I have left alone – I call it my ‘wild section’, the primroses love it.  A job to go on the ‘to-do-list’ is to clear the ever invasive ivy before it gets a real foothold.  

It is quite exciting to see the number of buds on the peony this year, the first time since I planted it many years ago.  Previous years it’s only produced one or two flowers. 

A couple of years ago I planted a Clematis ‘Josephine’  to wrap its self around the Sambus Nigra (Elder).  I love this because the flowers are a good combination of colour with the new shoots of the Elder.

In 2015 I over pruned the Montana ‘Elizabeth’ and it hardly flowered in 2016 so I left it alone last year and look at it now! In a week or two it will be a picture of pink, fragrant flowers.

The photos above are a part of the garden I often ignore and don’t write about because it is not interesting and tends to be a dump area.  This year it is going to receive most of my attention.   The bed by the house wall, has had ever spreading raspberry bushes.  At the end of autumn 2016, I cut the raspberries right down to the ground and planted lots of spring bulbs which has given it lovely colour.  There is a small gravel patio in front of the shed, and a rather too large patio set donated to me by my youngest daughter.  There is a small path leading around from the side of the house across the front of the gravel area.  At the moment it is full of containers because it is the sunniest part of the garden.   My first job to improve this part of the garden is to dispose of the patio set, opening up the area which feels cluttered.  


The Day Lillies and Agapanthus are going to look really good this year and are filling up the left hand sunny corner.    The garden is still full of bits of chicken wire to protect young plants from animals who have complete disregard for the hard working gardener.   


My final photo is of the lime green Euphorbia adding contrast to the yellow tulips and Alliums which, although you can’t see, has some flower shoots. 

Thank you Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting this invaluable monthly meme.  Please pay her blog a visit and take a look at her lovely interesting garden as well as those of other contributors.