Sunday 28 July 2013

An Image~heavy Day~

Gentle Reader, before I begin, I just want to say Croeso! Welcome, to those of you who follow me here, on my Facebook page, and on Twitter.  I am new to Twitter, and it is all a bit beyond me, but I am giving it a go!

At the moment, the garden is bobbing along as I get through the summer months, but very shortly I hope that some serious moving of plants and organisation or the future of the Garden In The Shire will begin! For now though, I am enjoying looking at all the wonderful blooms I have in my borders and pots. 

The heatwave has ended and the weather returns to comfortable, warm days.  We had rain overnight and some short, sharp showers today.  Some of the more delicate blooms suffered, but I think most will recover in a few days, benefiting from the cleansing, refreshing rain.  The lawn already looks much happier and I am amazed at how quickly the parched ground is sprouting green shoots!  I think the mower will be out for a trip very soon.

Now, as I promised, very few words and an image heavy update.

First, a little corner as it was in Spring~

and then it grew some~

And here is a little video of how it is now~

Frothy Alchemilla Mollis~the alchemist's favourite dew catcher~and an all together useful plant for filling in the borders, smothering weeds, and making a pretty addition to any posy or flower arrangement~

The firework~explosion of an allium Christophii gone to seed~ 

Audrey II ~ or a large, oriental lily bud, depending on your sense of humour~

Bramble flowers, soon there will be blackberries for pies and jelly~

 Three cultivated foxgloves in peachy pink, purple pink and creamy white~

Ladybirds are few and far between this year, but here is one on my white lavender angustifolia~

I love the spikes of this white lavender, how it sways in the breeze, a perfect summer plant~

Brightly bold, the oriental lilies make a vibrant splash of colour~

I love the centre, all those tiny grains of pollen giving texture, and fragrance calling to the bees~

A tiny hover fly pecks at pollen fallen on the leaves~

a macro shot makes me think of the work of a favourite artist, Georgia O'Keeffe~

Early morning dew drops~

Bright orange lily, purple stamens, and pink rose~such contrast, such colour~

Early one morning, I was up before the moon had gone to bed~

Considered by many as a weed, but a beautiful weed indeed~Morning Glories in the border~

A favourite of mine, a pair of Mullein thapsus {Great Mullein}

Pretty pansies, everyone's favourite garden bloom~

Look at those little pirate faces~who can resist?

A pink rose grown from a cutting~

and a lovely, fragrant Whetman pink I bought last year~

a small posy of Whetman pinks, with lavender, Alchemilla Mollis, oregano, and a Ruby Wedding rose~

the rosa rugosa is filling out at last~

Ruby Wedding rose  with Alchemilla Mollis~

A late rosebud on the Frances E Lester rambler~

Ruby Wedding rose (taken indoors without a flash)~

Pink roses against a twilight evening sky~

The flowers of Verbena bonariensis are a certain draw for butterflies and bees, and loved by goldfinches for the seeds in winter months~

Gentle Reader~as promised, many images, few words~until next time when I shall tell you of the soft fruits I am cropping~

~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~

Sunday 21 July 2013

Oh! Has It Really Been A Week?

Gentle Reader~I can scarce believe a week has slipped by since my last entry!  It has been blisteringly hot, over most of the UK, as the arrival of summer I reported in my last entry continues!  The Jet Stream drifted over us and is now sitting to the north of the country allowing the hot southern air to bathe us with some long overdue heat.  Indeed, much of Britain has been hotter than the Mediterranean! 

Here is a pretty posy of flowers picked from the garden, I am no flower arranger, I just gathered as I went along some oregano, Alchemilla mollis, sweetly scented pinks and lavenders, and more~

While this warmth is welcomed by many, it does bring it's own set of problems.  It is too hot to do anything other than sit in the garden by day ~ it is very uncomfortable working in your own personal sauna ~ and by evening I am generally too tired from the often oppressive heat, which is exhausting in itself, even if doing very little of anything.  I seem to have done little else other than water and pick fruit!  Why, those two jobs are enough anyway. 

The lack of rain means that the lawn is turning very brown indeed, for I will not use precious water on that, and as it is not growing it does not need cutting either.  The advice from Gardener's World is not to cut your lawns in these conditions.  I am concerned, so this evening I will throw the grey water from the house, which I save as much as I can, over the lawn in an attempt to give it some much needed moisture.  I do not want it to die completely as I do not relish the thought of re~seeding.

First, I must share with you some upsetting news.  For the first time ever, my blackcurrant crop has failed.  I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong.  The spring, although cold, saw good, healthy leaf growth which was quickly followed by plenty of flowers that in turn set fruit.  I truly believed I would harvest a bumper crop.  We have had a prolonged dry spell, so I watered the plants every few days, and then, at the beginning of this week they were looking plump and juicy, little jewels of deepest purple~black waiting to be turned into jams and pies.  I picked a bowl, but when I tasted them they are horrible.  There is no Delicious blackcurrant taste, they leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouth, and they are quite mealy in texture.  I cannot begin to tell you my disappointment.  I have been on the RHS website, and it seems I am not alone.  No one knows the reason, we can only assume the colder than normal winter and non arrival of spring is behind it all.  One person put it succinctly, saying the sugar:acid ratio is wrong.  I still have about 4lbs of fruit left over from last year, so this is now highly prized!  Such a sad waste of a good and nutritious food crop.

Happily, I can tell you, gentle reader, that the raspberry crop remains unaffected by the weather, and I am now picking a small bowlful of this delightful fruit (probably my favourite after blueberries) daily.  Some I am freezing, some I am eating fresh for breakfast.  I feel richer than a Queen!

While some parts of the garden, like the poppies, native foxgloves, and borage, are going over and setting their seed~the harvesting of which is a high priority job this week, other parts are coming in to their own.  Do you remember the few images, last week, of the oriental lilies?  They were teasing and taunting me with big, fat buds that just did not want to burst open?  Well, they have begun!  Oh! What a treat they are~a display of fireworks colour and brightness, in colours to rival the heat of the sun by day and the cool of the moon by night~

Here is the first one, a bright and vibrant yellow~

which was quickly followed by the Hot Hot Hot of this incredible orange~

I think it looks mighty fine along side that pretty pink rose?  A lovely contrast of colours ~ then, just this very morning, the cool, creamy~white, a perfect foil against the scorching vibrant orange~

There are still two more types of these lilies yet to open and delight~I wonder what their colours will be?  I hope for pink, and maybe even one with those delightful stripes and spots that lilies sometimes have~
Quite unintentionally, as the lilies have declared, my garden has taken a little side~step from it's usual cooler shades of purples, pinks, and blues with hints of white into brightly hot and vibrant hues, and the Crocosmia Lucifer, which I bought a few years back, is no exception~

For now I must leave you, Gentle Reader, until another day ~~ but I promise to return quite soon with a photo~heavy blog to catch you up with all the flowers in my Shire Garden~

~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~

Sunday 14 July 2013

Discounted Plants and Bargains

Gentle Reader, I am indoors this very sunny summer afternoon, for sitting in a room with the curtains drawn across the window to keep the heat out is one way to keep cool.

As the country basks in long overdue heat and sunshine, it is getting too hot in the middle of the day to work in the garden other than necessary jobs, such as watering and weeding.  Work is now done depending on how warm it is, and I am moving according to the shelter given by the cottage from the baking sun.  Temperatures are around a delightful and warm mid 70's most days now, but the sun reflects off all the stone and this exacerbates the heat, and with little or no wind to temper the heat I quickly start to melt.  Little bits and often while wearing a good, wide brimmed sun hat is the order of most days now, with frequent breaks taken sitting in the deck chair with a cooling drink, or indoors to get away from the parching rays of the sun.

Look how bright the sun does shine in a clear and cloudless sky~

The main work of the last few days is making sure the plants are watered.  I am working my way slowly through them now, weeding out the dandelion and other unwanted seedlings that are sprouting in the pots, and topping up the compost where it has settled in the pots to cover up bare stems and encourage sturdier roots.  I am also giving everything an extra feed this week because all the plants are going into overdrive with the sudden burst of heat and I know there will be masses of new flowers very soon.

The lily buds are, mostly, enormous now and one has even started to burst open!  I am so excited.  I bought my lily bulbs as an end of season job lot at a bargain price.  They were already starting to shoot when they arrived so I had to hurry along and get them planted up.  Here is one of the big, fat buds~

Here is a pot full.  Each pot has an assortment, and are all sizes.  The buds are all in different arrangements too on the stems.  Some clustered at the top, while others are individually placed at intervals along the stems~

I have tended them well and am about to reap the rewards.  I have no idea what colours they are, so I am eager for them to open up and show me.  I am moving the pots around to maximise their impact when they do open and sweeping around and behind all the pots too, so everything is spick and span and looking very neat and tidy.  I love how the pink patio rose (above and below) sits happily amongst the pots of lilies~

I do not know the name, for again this was a bargain plant as the nursery had lost the label.  I have quite a few such plants, for nurseries either discount or compost plants that have no labels.  It does not matter that I do not know their name, I am well rewarded for rescuing them and giving them a good home by their beauty and fragrance.

Here is a little splash of colour in a mixed pot; I love the bright purple and pink of the pansy next to the petunia~

I don't often have petunias, but again, they were a bargain buy and I bought the tray of pot bound plants for half price.  Now, a few weeks on, the plants are establishing and flowering forth.  Again, these could have ended up thrown on the compost heap if they had not sold, yet here the are bringing lovely colour and variety to my garden~

This is how I bought them, crammed jammed into an all too tiny tray they were quickly outgrowing~

Here they are, planted out, well spaced into a tray~

And here they are now!  They are growing really well and flowering so prettily too~

 A fine reward in just a few short weeks with a little effort and care~

At last the geraniums that give such a lovely green backdrop to the pansy and petunia is developing flower buds.  I was very worried, for last year they produced prolific greenery and very few flowers, and this year looks the same.  I will know very shortly what has happened.

Gentle Reader~ I have had my first breakfast pick of soft fruit, and here is a picture of the very fruit~

It is a mixture of three different types of raspberries and loganberry.  They were delicious, if a little tart because of the loganberry.  I have four different raspberries, which are supposed to give me a five month picking season as they fruit at different times, but this year again all four seem to be fruiting together.  I think it must be the variations in our weather affecting the production of flowers.  It would be so lovely to have them starting in June and picking all the way through until the end of September into October as they are meant to do.  Still, I am grateful to have such bounty only a few steps away from my door.  What better summer breakfast than a bowl full of fresh picked, sun warmed fruits served with home made organic yogurt?  Are you hungry yet?

Until the next time~

~~~A Gardener's Work Is Never Done~~~