In a Vase on Monday: Evening Posy

Monday is the day Cathy at Rambling in the Garden invites us to join her in putting flowers from our gardens (or near vicinity) in a vase. After a long absence I am pleased to join her and all the other Monday vase creators this week. A very hot and dry summer, coupled with long absences from my garden, made vases almost impossible this summer. But the cooler nights and shorter days – as well as a good rain last week – have worked wonders.

On the way back from the evening dog walk I picked a few wild flowers from the edge of the pathway near our garden. When I got home, one man and his dog needed feeding, so dinner took priority, but my Man of Many Talents kindly took over the photography before the evening sunshine disappeared below the trees.

I think he did a pretty good job, don’t you?

Pink and white clover, tiny harebells, Scabiosa, fleabane, autumn hawkbit/dandelion and Linaria.

Hope you are getting some of this lovely September sunshine this week!

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 🙂

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. 😀

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Happy Summer!

Hummingbird Hawk Moth on Centranthus ruber

Here is a short video of a Hummingbird Hawk Moth on the Centranthus ruber in my rockery, June 2nd, using my iPad.

The Centranthus stood up to torrential rain Thursday, that has washed away a whole road just a kiolmetre or two from us. Thank goodness the storms are abating, but the heat remains. May was also a record month – the warmest on record, after the warmest April  too. I hope June will not break any records!

Have a good weekend!

Mid May and Karel Čapek’s Gardener’s Prayer

We had the hottest and driest April on record this spring, and the first half of May was just as warm, producing only a few passing showers. This sort of weather is absolutely wonderful… unless you are a gardener! Still, the garden has soldiered on and produced glorious flowers once again. Here are the Moon Daisies in our meadow…

And a view from the top of the rockery shows how my Man of Many Talents has mowed even fewer of them away this spring 🙂

From the bottom of the rockery I can still look across the top of the giant Miscanthus and see the early deep reddish pink peony. Today the first white ones opened too. And the ferns in the foreground have taken off since we got more rain.

Recently my thoughts have often returned to this ‘prayer’ I found some years ago in ‘The Gardener’s Year’ by Karel Čapek. His wit is sometimes charming, but occasionally beyond me! However this prayer says it all perfectly, so I shall share!

“If it were of any use, every day the gardener would fall on his knees and pray somehow like this:

‘O Lord, grant that in some way it may rain every day, say from about midnight until three o’clock in the morning, but, you see, it must be gentle and warm so that it can soak in; grant that at the same time it would not rain on campion, alyssum, helianthemum, lavender, and others which you in your infinite wisdom know are drought-loving plants – I will write their names on a bit of paper if you like – and grant that the sun may shine the whole day long, but not everywhere (not, for instance, on spiraea, or on gentian, plaintain lily, and rhododendron), and not too much; that there may be plenty of dew and little wind, enough worms, no plant-lice and snails, no mildew, and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano may fall from heaven. Amen.’ ”

😀

In a Vase on Monday: Refreshed

We finally had a short rain shower on Thursday night, and when I got back on Sunday night from a weekend away the garden had changed noticeably. And my surprise Iris had flowered!

As you can guess, it had to go in today’s vase, to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely meme. 🙂

The contents of the vase on the left were actually in the taller carafe to begin with, but I started fiddling and fussing and eventually the stems were all too short and I started again! It consists of Irises and Moon Daisies, with the addition of Aquilegias and an early deep red peony.

I had no qualms about cutting another iris, as the hot weather is ensuring short lives for everything this spring. So, on the right is another of the lovely surprise irises which rarely flower. It must have been planted in the former water feature before we came here and for some reason only flowers every few years. I was extremely surprised this year as the ground is so dry. And I was also surprised at its scent. Mmmm! It is accompanied by some Siberian Irises, Moon Daisies, Vinca foliage, white Geranium phaeum, some white Dicentra, a few wild grasses, Hosta leaves (still intact before the slugs and snails discover them!) and a couple of sprigs of Aruncus dioicus flower buds – I love them best at this stage!

The bright sunlight and strong wind outside made photography difficult today, so I resorted to indoors in front of our fireplace…

It has just started to pour with rain as I write, with rumbles of thunder all around us, making my chosen title even more suitable! Rain! At last!

Mast Year 2018

I mentioned in a post recently that we have a lot of pollen this spring. (Understatement of the year!) Well, I have since learned that not only has everything flowered at once due to our warm April – the warmest on record since 1881 in Germany – but it is also a so-called mast year for birches, spruce and firs in our region.

A mast year is basically a year when certain types of tree in a whole region produce much more pollen and thus far more seeds than in a normal year. Birches do this regularly – every second year – while other trees such as oak or spruce only do this every 4-8 years.

Our silver birches, swaying in the wind

Trees generally use their energy for putting on growth in non-mast years. But in a mast year something triggers them to put all their strength into preserving themselves and to produce as much seed (and hence pollen in spring) as possible. This can apparently be seen in the rings when a tree is cut, with intermittent rings of very little growth. The trigger may be a warm spring, drought or other factors such as the North Atlantic oscillation. In other words, climate change affects tree ‘behaviour’. But what fascinates me is that, for example, practically every Spruce tree in the whole of Germany has started pumping out the pollen, whether in the far north, the Alps, the Black Forest or the Bavarian Forest. Clever. 😉

Spruce, only just showing signs of fresh green

Just looking across our valley at the hillsides around us recently it suddenly became clear to me that the Spruce, Firs, and probably many other conifers have joined the birch this year – the trees are gold and brown instead of green, with little fresh growth and millions of flowers and cones forming on their branches. Perhaps you can see what I mean from this photo taken yesterday where the conifers are all much darker than the fresh deciduous trees in full leaf…

In fact, when I walked around the garden and took a closer look I could see our Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Silver Fir, Austrian Pine and other conifers I cannot identify are all going mad this spring!

Douglas Fir, with fresh shoots just beginning to show

One article I read quoted a botanist suggesting the conifers are suffering from several dry years in a row, and this is a self-preservation measure should they die. A grim thought. While looking for more information on this phenomena I found myself engulfed in the technical jargon of meteorologists and botanists. But it was interesting to find out just why we are experiencing so much pollen this spring!

Have you ever heard of mast years or experienced the same where you live?

A Late Early Spring

Look!

My first tulip ‘Early Harvest’ is out! These, unlike most other tulips, flower extremely early, long before the rest of the garden has had a chance to wake up. They are, however, 10-14 days later than usual this year. The contrast of the bright orange against the brown soil is uplifting to say the least!

I have also got another early tulip already showing… can’t remember what it is, but perhaps it will come to me when it opens fully.

As usual, things are moving along rapidly now that the hard frosts have given way to some mild damp weather, and early spring means the bees are HUNGRY… this little fella couldn’t wait for the bud of the Chionodoxa (‘Glory of the Snow’) to open, and just scrabbled around until he managed to open it himself!

The crocuses have also been attracting the bees…

These splashes of colour are so welcome, and I hope they brighten your day too!

Enjoy the Easter weekend, and hope you get SUNSHINE! 😀