Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes for a fabulous festive season, and a wonderful 2016. See you in January. xo

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chaffinch Babies

I have been watching this Chaffinch nest outside our dining room window with interest over the last week. The parents are constantly coming and going with food for the babies. I am actually more fascinated with the intricate details of the nest than I am with the babies, if the truth be told. The lichen, the moss, bark and the wool woven in - incredible workmanship. So special to have them so close.

My Office Garden

The outer gardens at my office change with the seasons. At the moment the 4 different Heuchera are in full flower. I do love them, but I also love the tidiness of it when I have chopped them all off. The 4 buxus balls planted in the front courtyard remain the same 12 months of the year, and have added extra visual interest to the expanse of pebbles, without creating any extra maintenance or traffic flow issues. I am really happy with them.
The Heuchera are flowering (burgundy in foreground, white near the middle back).  

The Buxus have been a success, and add extra interest to the expanse of pebbles. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Papaver Orientalis - Oriental Poppy

Isn't the detail in this poppy just astonishing? Mother Nature at her finest. My father has one plant of this gorgeous poppy, that is a perennial. It has another 10 big fat buds on that one plant, so the show should go on for a few weeks. This bloom is 14 cm across! Beautiful isn't it?
Day one.......

Even the process of watching this flower age has been fascinating. The purple pollen drifting down onto the table is gorgeous in itself. Got my money's worth out of this single bloom!!

Day eight. The silent ageing has been fascinating to watch. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Solomon's Seal

This has to be one of my favourite perennials. Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum multiflorum) is tall, lush, tough and very elegant, and lasts a fabulously long time in a vase. It is also very easy to divide established clumps. Although it dies down completely in winter, it sprouts up and is at full height in early spring. Even the dying autumn foliage is attractive.

It looks particularly good with Hostas and other shade loving foliage plants
Great combo - Solomon's Seal with Viburnum opulus sterile - Snowball Tree
Exquisite individual flowers all the way down the stem
I started with several clumps from my mother-in-law, and 10 years later, I have it in large clumps in several areas of the garden. I divide it simply by brutally cutting my spade down the centre, just as the tips are beginning to show (it is a lot like asparagus in it's emergent stage). Then anything that has roots on will sprout happily in it's new location, barely blinking an eye.
It looks a lot like asparagus, the way it emerges
Roughly split clumps in a bucket, ready to be transplanted.
I wouldn't leave it much later than this to split the clumps. 
It prefers semi shade, and I suspect it would tolerate dampish soils. Also, it is gorgeous next to pathways, as it arches over towards the light, flanking the path for 8 months of the year. A really worthwhile plant.
It lasts for AGES in a vase

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Daffodils Daffodils Daffodils.............

They say yellow is the best colour to surround yourself with to create a happy mood. Well hello yellow!!! My lovely father has just delivered the most enormous bunch of mixed daffodils to me at my office. Within minutes they have been photographed, and put into vases - 6 to be precise - then photographed again!! Now here I am sharing their yellow cheerfulness with you all.

Just for fun, I separated them into the main groups of the whites and the yellows. Only because I had so many that I could, but also it is interesting that daffodils do not just have to be the classic yellow. These days there are thousands of variations. Best thing is to buy bulbs you like every year, in autumn, and plant them either in pots or in the ground. They multiply so well, and respond really well to being dug up after flowering, split apart, and replanted to make a larger group.
White bunch, yellow bunch.

Nothing says spring quite like a mass of daffodils....Thanks DBT - you have made my day!!! xo

Lobelia splendens 'Queen Victoria'

For a late summer accent of bright red, this perennial is excellent. It has height, intense and long lasting colour, plus the foliage is great. I bought some last autumn to fill a colour gap in my red garden, and have been watching it with interest to see what happens.

 Interesting to see that the plants I grew have stayed with the crowns in leaf over winter, which are a gorgeous dark red. And they have multiplied. If I am careful I will be able to divide the original plants. I will do that soon, but as well I have bought some more, for home this time. They are still waiting to be planted.
This was the flower in autumn last year. Very clear scarlet red flowers, and tall. 
Last year's plants have multiplied and I will be dividing them soon. 
New plants waiting to be planted in my red garden at home.
They naturally grow in damp, open, swampy areas in North America, which is interesting. This is a hybrid, obviously. Mine have been in full sun and not terribly well looked after, water wise, over summer. Thoroughly recommended plant. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

September Update - Orange and Purple Perennial Garden

From a distance, not much has changed in this garden since my last post in July. But as the weather has warmed, much new growth is occurring - bearded iris foliage is bulking up, delicate daffodils are flowering, and my favourite white primulas along the front edge are in full swing. And my favourite shrub, Fothergilla, is just starting to flower. I think that half the pleasure I get from this garden is the anticipation! I really look forward to small details such as the bulbs emerging, and the buds plumping up. It changes from week to week, and I love that.
These daffodils glow with the light behind them, and add a real highlight

The iris foliage is plumping up rapidly in the rear (three different species - bearded,
Siberican and Pseudacorus), with tiny details like the Daffodils,
polyanthus and Omphalodes creating interest from close up. 
Fothergilla just starting to flower. Wonderful shrub - I wish more nurseries grew it. 

Spring Blues

August and September in my garden are about the subtle plants - small pockets of interest - bulbs, primulas, polyanthus, and fresh foliage growth. I noticed on the weekend that blues are my feature colour, especially in miniature.

The Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) is a particularly nostalgic plant for me - childhood memories of picking little posies for my bedside table. The fascination of their miniature flowers is still with me, as is their subtle fragrance. I have split some clumps, and now have them in little pockets amongst white primulas, and fresh green foliage. They look fabulous. They also last for ages in a vase, and that way you get to enjoy the intricacies of their form up close.

Other blues at the moment are the polyanthus and Omphalodes. I can't get enough of the Omphalodes, and have divided it and poked in all the different gardens this spring. The bold foliage is useful amongst smaller leaves, but the colour of the flowers is fabulous. Like a very intensely deep forget-me-not, but without the pain-in-the-butt maintenance issues!

Omphalodes cappadocia.
This is a small division taken off the parent plant about 2 months ago. 
 Polyanthus are wonderful for a burst of colour, too. Any colour! I have mostly blues and purples, but also dark reds, but I definitely keep them within their colour groups in any one area. They stoically flower on for months through the wet and wild winter conditions. For only a few dollars, they give years and years of pleasure. It is these little details that make gardens more interesting for 12 months of the year.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Magnolia Stellata

After the dullness of June and July, it has been heartening to have some of the larger shrubs starting to flower. Appreciated all the more because of the bare branches around them. This Magnolia stellata is a favourite - flowering when not a lot of others have started, apart from the camellias and a few cherry trees (Prunus Felix Jury is spectacular right now, if you have it in a space it cannot clash with other colours!!).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Orange and Purple Garden Mid-winter

At home, the colourful perennial garden  of summer and autumn has given way to the main structural planting - Buxus balls, Dietes, and the front edge of Liriope and Primula, with young Camellia behind. The balls are only just starting to get big enough to have a visual presence. And thankfully the Liriope has filled out to give a hint of an edge line. June and July are the dullest months in the garden, so these structural elements are really important to avoid a dull and flat perennial garden.

Part of what I love about this garden, is the extreme contrast between the vibrant, bold flower colours of autumn, then this quiet period of green. Small bulbs will start flowering soon - daffodils, tulips and crocus.

This is it in full bloom, below!!