A Brief Summer Update

Hello dear friends! I know I have been silent for a while and do apologise! As several people have asked, I thought I would just briefly interrupt my blogging break to post a few photos – all is fine, but we have moved to our country house to care for our hedgerow shrubs and trees which were planted in April. Needless to say, the weather has been challenging; temperatures were in the mid to upper twenties all through May and June, rising into the thirties in July, and we have hardly a drop of rain for months. So watering is the main activity here – mostly at night to avoid the heat. No rain forecast for the near future and the heat goes on…

Back at my garden things look fine. Only a couple of hours of care over the last two months and it is still bearing up well in the heat and drought. This is the Perovskia mid July in all its glory.

Thank goodness my rockery doesn’t need watering!

Here is the Perovskia again a couple of days ago… fading a little, but that isn’t bothering the bees. The Scabiosa ochroleuca is wonderful again, but one of my favourite plants in this view is the Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’.

I hope you all have a wonderful August. I will try and catch up with all your posts I have missed very soon!

๐Ÿ˜€

Lavender Love and Pretty Pollinators

The lavender has been glorious this summer, flowering just after our heavy rain earlier in the month and with very little rain since.

The dry and hot weather suits these shrubs best. And I am not alone in admiring them either… here are a few of the visitors to my garden who love lavender too…

Vanessa cardui – Painted Lady

Inachis io – Peacock Butterfly

Ochlodes sylvanus – Large skipper

Pieris brassicae – Large cabbage white

Polygonia c-album – Comma

Melanargia galathea – Marbled white

Argynnis paphia – Silver-washed fritillary

Gonepteryx rhamni – Common brimstone

Macroglossum stellatarum – Hummingbird hawk-moth

Bee ๐Ÿ™‚

Here is the long view of the south-facing rockery – some of these lavender shrubs are ten years old or more and have been cut down hard at some stage. I try and stagger the cutting back, so that I have plenty of shrubs flowering well every year. The white ones will be cut back this autumn and next spring. Others are cuttings or self-seeded plants.

Do you see any of these pollinators in your garden? And if you grow lavender, what visits it most frequently?

Here is a slideshow of these beautiful creatures. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Happy Summer!

My Top Ten May Blooms

I am just in time to join Chloris at The Blooming Garden for her monthly invitation to post our favourite ten flowers. I feel I blinked and missed May, it has flown by so quickly. I have been almost as busy as the bees in my garden this month, and flitting about like a Hummingbird Hawk Moth! Talking of which…

Can you see him? Dead centre. The first day the Valerian/Centranthus ruber opened up, these amazing little creatures appeared! That is the main reason I love this plant so much, although there are other reasons to adore it too. In my rockery it will continue to look good for most of the summer, as long as I keep cutting off the spent flowers. It needs no other care except to be chopped down once it starts collapsing in October/November. It thrives on dry ground, seeds itself profusely into any nooks and crannies and attracts beautiful insects. ๐Ÿ™‚

So that was number one: Centranthus ruber

Now number two, a pink Aquilegia, bought from a garden centre (unlabelled) many years ago. This one hasn’t seeded itself yet, unlike all the others. I am pulling out a lot of the dark purple ones in the hope that the paler ones will spread more. Not sure how successful it will be though as some have gone to seed already!

Number three is the peonies. This one is Sarah Bernhardt, which has produced several flowers this year after a slow start. Worth the wait though. ๐Ÿ™‚

The other peonies in my garden are the early pink, then the deep pinky red, and of course the steadfast white Festiva maxima – these three all came from my partner’s Mum, and we think of her every year when they start flowering. ๐Ÿ™‚

Number four is my surprise Iris which doesn’t show up regularly and appeared from nowhere a few years ago. I think it may be ‘Frequent Flyer’, identified from online photos and descriptions of the scent. If you know better, do let me know!

Number five is the Moon Daisies, otherwise known as Oxeye Daisies and in Germany ‘Margeriten’. There are more than ever in our wild meadow/lawn this year.

Number six is, strictly speaking, not actually a bloom but a seedhead – the Pulsatilla seedheads are one of my favourite things in May and June and I must remember to cut a few to keep for winter arrangements.

My seventh bloom is the glorious Oriental Poppy. I grew these from seed one year, planting them out in late August and since then they have wandered around the rockery. This year a couple of pink ones returned too, but the orange ones are the stunners and it is almost impossible to photograph one without a bee bathing in it!

Yes, there is a bee in there somewhere…

Number eight is the lovely Campanula my friend in the village gave me. She has also given me seed and a white plant, but for some reason only the blue ones come back – everywhere! ๐Ÿ™‚

My ninth bloom is also a favourite, and one of the few plants that had survived the neglect when we first took over this garden: pale blue Veronica (which is also my current header).

It was hard to choose between Rosa rugosa and the wild strawberries for my final favourite… the rose won, because it was full of bees again (whereas the mice and slugs nibble on my wild strawberries!) and this year it is smothered in flowers and NO greenfly for once! ๐Ÿ™‚

A big thank you to Chloris for encouraging me to document my top ten flowers each month. Do visit her post if you haven’t already!

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: A Summer Breeze

As it is Monday again (how time flies and what happened to May?!) I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme, where we gather materials from our gardens to arrange in a vase.

It is hot again today, and a breeze would be welcome… instead I shall have to settle for this vase of breezy, summery, lemony flowers and foliage!

A slice of lemon and some lemon thyme at the foot of my carafe will remind me to chill some water and add a sprig/spritzer of each for later in the day.

The yellow day lily always catches me unawares when it opens… whatever made me buy a yellow lily? But as the pastels of the Aquilegias fade and the grasses, poppies and foliage take centre stage I am relieved to find they do actually fit into the picture. Hemerocallis citrina supposedly smells of lemon, although I personally cannot detect any citrussy scent.

The foliage on the left is the Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus), which I love best before it flowers. It is so elegant and makes a beautiful structural feature in the garden for a few weeks. A shame it tends to get frazzled and needs cutting back by the end of June.

The variegated Vinca is also looking fresh still, although it has drooped a little in the photo above after being cut in the strong sun. The flowers have almost all gone over, but as ground cover it will remain attractive for some time I hope.

At the centre I just had to use another of my lovely white peonies – Festiva maxima – even though the pink tinge to the petals doesn’t really fit in with the colour scheme! They are going over rapidly in our heatwave. (30ยฐC forecast for today)

But it is surrounded by the lime green of the Aruncus leaves, some Alchemilla, ferns, and a pretty Euphorbia seguieriana.

Well, May has come and gone and we have had another very hot month… despite some heavy thundery showers it is still dry. I wonder what June will bring?

For certain some roses… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a good week!

Top Ten Flowers for April

Every month Chloris at The Blooming Garden shares her favourite ten flowers…. and often a few entertaining anecdotes or snippets of information too! We are encouraged to join her and, since I now finally have something flowering in my garden after a very cold March,ย I am pleased to join in the fun this April and share my top ten!

First off, the Hepatica – usually a March flower, but the ones in my garden didn’t really get going this year until early April.

These magical little blue flowers have such intense luminosity. They show up on nearby roadsides and at the edges of woodland even in poor light. In fact, they really are magical asย the violet petal colour is able to transform light into warmth, thus protecting the flower from hard frosts. You can see an older post I wrote on Hepatica here. On occasions I have caught a whiff of their elusive fragrance. Like violets, it seems to disappear as soon as you have smelt it, and I thought I was imagining it until reading about this phenomenon in ‘The Secrets of Wildflowers’ by Jack Sanders:

‘The blossoms may or may not be scented. Naturalist John Burroughs, who called hepatica “the gem of the woods”, wondered about this oddity in several of his essays. “This flower is the earliest, as it is certainly one of the most beautiful, to be found in our woods, and occasionally it is fragrant,” he wrote in A Bunch of Herbs. “Group after group may be inspected, ranging through all shades of purple and blue, with some perfectly white, and no odor to be detected, when presently you will happen upon a little brood of them that have a most delicate and delicious fragrance.” Elsewhere he wrote that more often than not the scent will be found in the white flowers, but that one year after a particularly severe winter almost every blue hepatica he came upon was scented – another of the little unexplained peculiarities of wildflowers that make them so fascinating.’

Another favourite in April is Pulmonaria. I have several in varying shades of pinks and blues. Here are some of the prettiest…

 

Number three is my little ornamental cherry ‘Kojo-no-mai’. It never ceases to produce a gasp when I open the blinds one morning and there it is in full bloom!

Fourth: Geranium phaeum, which often doesn’t flower until May

I love the delicate chocolatey coloured flowers, somewhere between maroon and brown, and the foliage mottled with matching brown markings. This plant seeds itself profusely, loves warm dry spots with poor soil and can cope with heat well. It will go on flowering until it gets too hot, then I shall cut it back and it will come back again. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fifth: Pulsatilla pratensis

The blue ones grow on our open chalky hillsides but this pinky red one (possibly ‘Rote Glocke’) lives in my garden and is cherished not only for its gorgeous flowers, but also for the fluffy seedheads which stay looking pretty for many weeks and are perfect as fillers for arrangements in vases. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sixth: Violas

Some have self-seeded in the path, and others are thriving in pots planted in March…

 

Seventh: Viburnum ‘Aurora’.

The scent of this is simply gorgeous, but this year the mini heatwave mid April shortened the life of the pretty flowers. My bush has put on lots of growth this year though, so I will no doubt start picking some for vases next spring! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Number 8: Epimediums

Two reliable ones in my front garden are a yellow E. ‘Sulphureum’ and the orange ‘Orangekรถnigin’, but my favourite is this orange one – ‘Amber Queen’ – with spiky petals making it look quite elf-like, or perhaps UFO-like? Chloris also featured this one as a favourite for April.

 

My last two favourites are from trees…

Number 9: This may sound strange, but these teeny weeny flowers always inspire wonder when I see them – mostly on the ground after a strong wind has knocked them down – the larch flowers. They are only about 1cm in diameter and are usually too high up to see with the naked eye.

 

And finally, my tenth flower for April is the Japanese Maple. As soon as the tiny flowers appear the bees are there! The tree also emits a musty aroma which always reminds me of fried food – not unpleasant, but a bit weird!

Thanks to Chloris for suggesting we share our favourites each month – posting about them is extremely useful as a personal record and reading about other people’s favourites is not only fun but also very informative and inspiring. ๐Ÿ™‚