Wednesday, 20 June 2012


We're in the middle of a few days of record breaking heat and high humidity.  In a rare moment of foresight, and after 9 years living in a 90 year old house with no air conditioning, I finally bought a window unit for my bedroom.  I say foresight, but in fact I've looked many times before, and never found something that would fit the window, and in a pique of British stiff upper lip, I have managed through years of hot summer weather, with the aid of fans and sleeping uncovered.  Tis true that since I live within 100 yards of the lake, it does typically get nice and cool overnight.....but if we have a few days of temperatures above 30 degrees, the bricks of the house just store up all that heat and it takes a while to dissipate!
With this preview of summer, the chomping hoards have descended on the garden in force.  Slugs and snails, caterpillars, aphids and now, leaf cutting bees!  I lost all of my swiss chard seedlings to the slugs, and last night, my highly successful experiment in repeating pea-shoots was wiped off the surface of the earth!  I guess you win some, you lose some!  On a positive note, the heat has resulted in at least half a dozen embryonic figs starting to swell on my fig tree.  I truly hope they grow to full ripeness, as the single fig I have harvested to date, was a true revelation and must be repeated!  Here are some illustrations of the ups and the downs.

The new hydrangeas that I planted this year are already pleasing me.  Lots of blooms, and lovely red stems to boot.  The flowers will apparently fade to a mahogany red by the fall.

This silver leafed sage has proven to be a talking point.....some love it (me), others hate it (my friends!).  I'm looking forward to see if it blooms.

This meadow rue is in it's third summer, and has reached epic proportions and is quite lovely right now.  It is right against the house, and provides a backdrop to yellow roses in the foreground.

This feathery astilbe will bloom fleetingly, but beautifully, in the heat.

Leaf cutter bees in action

slug damage - these zinnias were meant to add some zing, but they have proven irresistable!

see the tiny figlet....hang on little sprout!

Rosy bowers against my garage.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Mid-June progress update

Distinct lack of time for writing, so a visual post only today.  Garden is holding up well despite relative neglect!
These sweet williams were supposed to be biannual, but I've had them for years now.

Rosemary bushes are now growing away strongly and the powdery mildew that was afflicting them appears to have resolved.

The window boxes are starting to fill up.

Hope this caterpillar is not munching through these leaves - looked like he was just hanging out.

Geraniums are starting to coming into their peak now.

New Dawn is quite lovely now.

And the front garden is bursting out all over.  Lavender, coreopsis, roses and salvia are the main players.

If I get a chance next weekend, I'm going to buy a couple more lavender plants to fill the gaps that have emerged in my little hedge.

My tiny rose garden is at it's peak...I must get out there and do some dead heading though!

The single carnations have a lovely classic clove scent.

2 out of 3 of my delphiniums didn't make it through the winter, which is a pity, because the one that survived looks great right now.

A torrid jumble of colour and form!


Graham Thomas and Caramel Fairy Tale

Caramel Fairy Tale - it's not so bad once the blooms are fully open, but it's too orangey for my scheme

Dew drops on the tips of Alchemilla little jewels

These leaves belong to a nerine which I'm trying for the first time in a pot, with alchemilla and hosta for companions.

Lots of buds on lilies and carpet rose.  I have spotted evidence of Japanese lily beetles and have been trying to make sure I squish any larvae that I see, and wash the leaves with dish soap.  Hope that keeps devastation at bay!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ring a roses

The roses are now bursting out in my garden and glorious they look too.  Was mighty pleased to see lots of ladybird larvae in the garden this week also, as the aphids have moved in and I don't seem to be able to find time or proper weather for spraying them with insecticidal soap, so any help that the ladybirds can provide will be gratefully received!  You may recall that I planted a small (more accurately, miniscule) rose garden in my front yard last year.  The plants came through the winter well, and are quite vigorous this year.  I had decided that I would go for a yellow colour scheme for the roses, and contrasted this with the purple of clematis "Arabella" on a small obelisk in the centre of it all.  Unfortunately, I'm having the same reaction to "Caramel Fairy Tale' that I had last year, which is one of complete dislike at it's faded amber blooms, which really don't go with the other selections at all.  So, after having given it a reprieve last year,  I have decided that I will be digging it up in the fall, to be replaced with something hopefully more suitable the next spring.  Graham Thomas, on the other hand, is a complete triumph.  I absolutely love it's warm, golden blooms, which rise above perfectly healthy, lush green foliage.  In the backyard, "New Dawn" has completely festooned the garage, and is just starting to come into bloom....about 3 weeks ahead of normal schedule.  The lavender is also starting to bloom, but unfortunately my planned lavender "hedge" in the front yard is looking decidely patchy, and several of the plants clearly struggled to make it through the winter.  On the other hand, the bronze fennel that survived the winter for the first time ever in my garden, is absolutely vast!  So much so, that I had to hack some of it back yesterday to avoid it crowding out some other plants!  In a peculiar moment of experimentation on Saturday morning, I decided to try pickling some of the stems.  Not at all sure of the likelihood that this will result in a success at the end of the day, but I'll give it a few weeks to mature and see what we end up with.   I did crack open the last jar of pickled beans from last year this weekend, so that was a reminder that I definitely need to make more of those this summer...they are perfect with a cocktail and a little bit of strong cheddar or parmesan!
Graham Thomas - absolutely lovely warm golden colour.

This clematis on a trellis by my deck, flowers all they way through until October.

This rose was a transplant from another has the most amazing fragrance.

Another transplant...popular with the aphids!

New Dawn, just starting to come out on the side of my garage.  It's reached prodigious proportions now, and has swatched the whole wall.  Should be a picture by next weekend.

Graham Thomas in early evening sunshine
This photo shows that my garden is definitely in the cottage garden style, with a bit of a jumble of plants.  Here, you can see that I need to do a bit of rearranging of the achillia and this salvia.

This allium has just been wonderful this year...and long lasting too.

Alchemilla mollis is running rampant...but very pretty, especially first thing when the dew drops are sparkling on the leaves.

Another "cottage garden" looking photo.

From this angle, my lavender hedge looks fairly successful....but in reality it hasn't filled in successfully, and a few patches are not faring well.  Jury is out on whether I replaced weak specimens, or try something else at the front of the garden.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Early June blooms

No time for a proper post, so in the interests of helping myself keep track from year to year, a few photos of current status of the front yard.  Glad to report we had substantial rain on Friday, and sporadic showers since, so plants look considerably refreshed!
Achillea moonshine is adding a vibrant, sulphur yellow and lovely silvery foliage.  It's doing well , and divisions I made in summer last year have also come up beautifully.

The bronze fennel that I mulched up over the winter has gone gangbusters, and the second year plants are thick and full and sturdy.  It's the first year I've had this success, so I will be repeating this from now on.

These pyrethrums are in their 3rd year now, and finally have formed a good clump, which hasn't flopped over this year!  The fleabane next to them has also been a real hit - it was a freebie that come in a job-lot from Greg's grandmother's garden.

These salvias were planted last year, and have produced a really strong showing this year.....

As has this clematis, also in it's second year.  It's planted alongside a later blooming specimen, so they work well at covering up a municipal guy-wire. 
Fragrant dianthus.

This Allium nectaroscordum has been in the garden for several years, but has only ever put out one or maybe two blooms.  This year there are six, so I can only assume more sunlights due to removal of the locust tree last year, and the mild winter have suited it well.  

Photo isn't quite doing it justice, but the individual flower heads are just lovely, and the whole bloom looks like something from a William Morris print.

The peonies have burst open this weekend....a little earlier than normal.

My other alliums are setting seed and looking nicely sculptural.

Adore this peony, which was one of the plants that was in the garden when I bought the house.