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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

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. (30°C 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… 😉

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, 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 as 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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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! 😉

Number 8: Epimediums

Two reliable ones in my front garden are a yellow E. ‘Sulphureum’ and the orange ‘Orangekönigin’, 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. 🙂

Indoor Colour for Winter-Weary Eyes

A few really warm days with lots of sunshine (and showers – hey, it’s April!) have got me outdoors in the garden at last. But indoors some of my houseplants caught my eye as the evening sun shone on them the other evening. What glorious colour!

Above, a beautiful Begonia I bought last year. I am proud to say it has flourished… I am not terribly good at looking after houseplants, but this one is easy. If it needs watering it droops noticeably. Then immediately recovers once given a drink.

I have several Kalanchoe (Flaming Katie) in various colours – also very easy to care for – but this one is new to me…

I couldn’t believe those gorgeous bell-shaped flowers belong to the same family. The thick dark green leaves are a tell-tale sign identifying them clearly. I just hope this one is as undemanding as its sisters!

Do you have some indoor colour?

In a Vase on Monday: Yearning for green (or white!)

After a lazy Christmas and New Year break, I am back to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with a Monday vase. 🙂

Although our winter has been very mild (and wet!) there was little to pick today apart from some pretty white Hellebores from a patio pot and some greenery from the rockery. Still, I am glad to find anything!

The garden is looking rather brown and messy right now with no snow and hardly any frosts, and it is far too muddy to do any tidying up. I think I prefer frost and snow to this. But there is still time for our winter to show its darker side – as it is in North America at the moment – I hope all the gardeners there are staying indoors in the warm too!

Indoors are, after all, other delights at this time of year such as candles, hot spicy tea, comfort food…. and Hippeastrums!

This one is called ‘Rapido’ and has seven small flowers on one stem. A second bud is about to open too, so this has been another success after the lovely Lady Jane did so well in December. Unlike Cathy, I have not cut any of the stems so far, but it may be necessary with this one below:

I am certain that at that angle Hippeastrum ‘Red Peacock’ will not be able to remain upright once it opens… (The pinky peach coloured Hippeastrum flower on the left is the last of Lady Jane).

Wherever you are, and whatever your weather, I do hope you can find something of beauty today to either simply regard, or to put in a vase and share with us. Now go and visit our host Cathy to admire her beautiful ruby red Hamamelis flowers.

Have a good week!

 

Top Six November Blooms

Chloris at The Blooming Garden has recently been posting her top ten blooms for each month, and encoraging others to do the same. I am pleased that I can manage to join her and post six lovable flowers this month, despite the fact that is November!

The first is one you may have seen in my vase last week:

Persicaria/Polygonum amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’.

It has been flowering since July and has just got better and better. The flowers look a little battered after some heavy rain earlier in the week, and the foliage is starting to collapse after several light frosts, but it looks like I may still have some in flower in December!

Number two is my Hypericum. I have finally found the label:

Hypericum inodorum ‘Magical Red Star’

After freezing back hard last winter I was a little worried it would recover, and it did indeed take its time. But it flowered only a little later than usual in early summer, took a break for a while when it got too hot, and then with our damp September it suddenly almost doubled in size and started flowering again! Very impressive.

I will give it some extra winter protection this year (some mulch and evergreen branches spread across it).

The third flower that has become a firm favourite is this tiny Chrysanthemum which featured in my cabbage vase a couple of weeks ago.

Cath at Absent Gardener suggested it is an Argyranthemum, but the lack of a yellow centre is keeping me searching for the exact name. I love the frilly petals and it is still looking really healthy, tucked just under my porch roof for shelter. I have no idea if it will come through the winter in its pot.

Numbers four and five are new plants bought in October and planted up in pots for winter interest.

Hellebore ‘Christmas Star’.

This pure white hellebore will be planted out in spring, along with the Heuchera below, which did not have a name on it but is one of the most common ones found here.

Heuchera foliage looks good all year round, but the little flowers on tall stalks are often quite pretty too.

Finally, number six:

Teucrium hircanicum

This Teucrium is a wonderful plant that I can recommend if you have got space, as it does spread! It loves the warm and well-drained rockery, withstanding heat and drought without any problem whatsoever. It might curl up its silvery green and aromatic leaves when it is very hot, but the next morning it looks as fresh as a daisy again. Mine is purple, but I have seen a reddish one online too called ‘Paradise Delight’, which happens to be on my shopping list for next year. 🙂

So, a big thanks to Chloris for encouraging me to go out and focus on some of the better parts of November. Why not join her too? I bet there is more out there in your gardens than you think! 😉

And to prove my point, look what I found…