Gardening in Lockdown – Aeoniums

Aeonium have been one of my plantaholic obsessions now for several years and I am still slowly adding to my collection. Recently I have managed to acquire a few cuttings of varieties previously unknown to me such as Aeonium ‘Kiwi’ and Aeonium lancerottense.

Kiwi is a variegated cultivar with pale greens highlighted with creams and oranges. I now have it well rooted but it is still very small. It will be a really special feature of my collection before too long! The A. lancerottense is similar but just a little more subtle in colour.

 

Aeonium ‘Kiwi’                                                   Aeonium lancerottense.

Most aeonium tend towards varied combinations of purple and green.

     

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Gardening in lockdown – new Sempervivum

Each spring I try to buy some new House Leeks, Sempervivum. This year though we couldn’t go out and choose some from nurseries due to “lockdown” so it was a case of ordering online. But it was exciting opening the packaging!

Here are some of my new acquisitions – enjoy! The beauty is in the detail.

The first two photos show selections planted out into two trugs, one wooden and one  a traditional Sussex Trug.

One set I bought had tasty names all named after fruity items which also related to their colours.

Sempervivum ‘Berry Cherry’                            Sempervivum ‘Cranberry Cocktail’

Sempervivum ‘Appletini’                                   Sempervivum ‘Cinnamon Starburst’

The others below are equally beautiful and interesting but came simply called mixed collection.

I will finish off with one more named variety which has lots of babies beginning to grow around its perimeter which will become useful cuttings later this summer.

Sempervivum ‘Big Cherry’

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Gardening in lockdown – Solestemon

Coleus were so popular as house plants for years, grown for their amazingly, coloured, patterned and shaped leaves. They used to flower but the blooms were a waste of time and often weakened the plants enough to finish them off.

We are now growing a collection of named varieties in the greenhouse for summer interest. We grew them all from plug plants. The botanists have now changed their name from coleus to solestemon, a much uglier name!

Here is a gallery of our collection for you to enjoy. As usual just click on the first photo and navigate using the arrows.

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First walk for months! Part 2

Continuing our countryside walk from our home village in south Shropshire, we packed up our fruit and coffee and followed the footpath between a hedgerow and arable fields. We were amazed how the fauna was affected by crop ‘overspray’ combined with a spell of dry weather. Right where we had enjoyed our snack ‘overspray’ of weedkiller was destroying the plantlife in the trackway and along the beginning of the headgerow. In places the hedge shrubs were also burnt and yellowed.

We had plenty to enjoy though to take our thoughts away from the effects of modern agriculture. In the hedgerows were heavily scented honeysuckles and wild roses

We rejoined the lane back to Plealey ,after we had traveled the length of the arable field,and on the gateway we found this sign, “Shropshire – love where you live”, which after some of the sad sights we had seen seemed a little ironic. As we neared Plealey we saw this field corner near the lane, an eyesore indeed!

But there was lots to see, heartening views of wildflowers along the roadside.

       

The strange brown ping pong ball sized features on an oak tree were some of many galls created to feed and protect wasps as they develop from eggs to juvenile wasps ready to bore their way out and take to the air.

Wild rose flowers are always great to admire and there were lots of varied shades from white to a deep pink colour.

 

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My Garden Journal 2020 – June

Back to my garden journal for 2020 again and we are into the last month of the first half of the year, June, the month that sees the longest day and shortest night.

I began by sharing some of our rose bushes and climbing varieties that we grow throughout our garden in mixed borders and up obelisks and arches. I wrote, “June, the month for roses …………..”

I then featured photos of some of our red roses, writing, “Roses are red!”

Here are the photos of some of our red roses that grace our garden in June.

 

On the following page I continued with roses but those that were not red! “My flowering plant of the month!

Roses are red? Or white, cream peach, yellow ……..”

 

After looking at our flowering rose bushes and climbers, I did something completely different. I collect bark that had been detached from one of our birches by recent strong winds and created a collage, which lets us see the variety in colours and textures.

“In June windy days blow detached bark peelings from our birch, Betula albosinensis ‘Septentronalis’. We find what looks and feels like paper all around the garden. Each piece of peeled bark has its own character.”

We can look over the page now for a complete change as I looked at some wildlife found in our garden, a damselfly and a wasp. “Being a wildlife garden, our patch brings us some beautiful visitors for us to enjoy, to listen to and to watch. They help balance the natural world of our garden.”

“Damsel Flies hatch from our wildlife pond by the dozens, beginning with various ‘Azures’ and later the ‘Reds’.”

This beautiful yellow and black Ichneumon Wasp has appeared in our garden in good numbers for the first time ever this month.”

From wildlife we turn to succulents on the opposite page, where I wrote “Our foliage plants of the month of June are Aeoniums, a very special group of succulents. I have built up a good collection now.”

I then shared photos of a selection of some of our aeoniums……..

Next comes clematis, with two pages of pics. I wrote, “Clematis, herbaceous and climbers are flowering throughout the garden. Some are already on their second flush having flowered in the spring.”

The first of the two pages feature flowers from “Pale blue to deep purple.”

 

The second page showed “Every shade of red.”

The final page for June is all about the bark of Acer rufinerve. I wrote, Plant of the month for bark and stem this month is one of our snake-bark acers, Acer rufinerve also known as the ‘Melon-skin Maple’. These six photos start at the base of the trunk and move upwards.”

So that is my journal entries for June. Next report will be July.

 

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First walk for months! Part 1

After not being allowed out of our own property because of the coronavirus once we heard I was allowed a little freedom we immediately went out for a walk around the village. We set off down our lane which goes through the village and soon turned left into Well Lane where we soon found the footpath we were after.

We were delighted to see a puddle, the first we had seen for weeks.

It was good to see that Mother Nature has continued her good work during lock down and we enjoyed seeing wildflowers, grasses and seeds on trees. This earl stretch of our walk took us along an ancient drovers’ road with hedges both sides. Occasional glimpses though gaps show crops growing sadly regularly covered in chemical sprays. We were to discover the bad effects of this later on our walk.

   

Sadly there were signs that plants were suffering from the long spell of hot dry weather.

After walking for half an hour or so we reached an old beautiful manor house where our path turned at right angles skirting the lake. Alongside the lake was a beautiful extremely wildlife friendly wide verge of wild flowers with annuals added for extra insect food. Below is a short gallery of photos taken of this feature. As usual click on the first photo then navigate using the arrows. Enjoy.

After enjoying the wildlife border and its wildlife we walked on a little way to a place where three fields met and stopped for a break. (See part 2)

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Gardening in Lockdown – Cercis siliquastrum

Earlier this year you may remember that our specimen Cercis siliquastrum got blown over in a series of three gales day after day. We did finally manage to get it back up and tie firmly to its post which we put into a new hole. We then kept our fingers crossed and looked what happened in May! Such a stoic of a tree!

 

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Gardening in Lockdown – clematis

At the end of May onwards our larger flowering clematis varieties come into their own producing waterfalls of colour. Their beautiful buds promise delights to come as the flowers themselves.

 

Come with me and my camera for a wander and see which ones are well in flower. To navigate through the gallery simply click on the first pic and then navigate using the arrows. enjoy

 

 

 

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Gardening in lockdown – early roses

However we feel pressurised by the pandemic at this time the garden reminds us that time moves on, nature continues as normal and the garden thus becomes a powerful presence in our daily lives and our ability to look to the future. Gardens give us some promise of good things to come.

Surely in early summers roses take central stage in many of our gardens. Here are a few of those adding colour and scent to our Avocet patch in early June. I grew up in a garden full of roses as my Dad was a keen gardener and roses were his first love. He grew them in a rose garden that took up the whole of our square front garden, up arches, against the house walls and over arbors with seats below. Our front garden was unlike the rose gardens of the fifties which would normally have a central rectangle of lawn with narrow straight edged borders around the perimeter. Roses were the only plant allowed. My Dad had no lawn just Cotswold stone paths winding their way beneath the roses and beneath the roses he grew lavenders, aquilegias and other delicate annuals and perennials.

We grow our roses in our mixed borders as shrubs or as climbers up posts, swags and obelisks. Here are some we are enjoying now. I wandered with my camera starting from the conservatory doors and followed pathways right the way around the garden front and back.

Rosa ‘Winchester Cathedral’                                     Rosa ‘Warm Welcome’

Rosa ‘Goldfinch’                                                  Rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’

Rosa ‘Veichenblau’

Rosa mutabilis – variation in flower colour

Rosa ‘Bobby James’                                             Rosa ‘Wollerton Old Hall’

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Rosa ‘Pauls’ Scarlet Climber’                             Rosa ‘Summer Wine’

Rosa ‘Summer Wine’ with Clematis romantika     Rosa ‘Red Velvet’

Rosa ‘Bengal Beauty’                                          Rosa ‘Raspberry Royale’

Rosa ‘Prince’s Trust’

Rosa ‘The Enchantress’

Rosa ‘Lady of Shallot’                                           Rosa glauca

Rosa ‘Jude the Obscure’                                      Rosa rugosa

Rosa ‘The Enchantress’ with Berberis ‘Helman’s Pillar’   Rosa ‘Geranium’

And there are so many more to come! Many of those still to come will be David Austin roses bred not far from us here in Shropshire, such as Rosa ‘Shropshire Lad’ a heavily flowering climber with a beautiful scent.

Just as I was ready to publish this latest lockdown post two more David Austin shrub roses came into bloom, R. ‘Fighting Temeraire’ (left) and R. ‘Lark Ascending’ (right).

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Gardening in lockdown – Succulents in Containers

Once it is warm enough day and especially night time for plants to be hardened off out of the greenhouse I always enjoy smartening up my succulent containers and perhaps create a few new ones.

Even within lock down I still enjoyed this activity, especially as I had a few new aeonium and echeveria cuttings to include.

What is special about succulents is the way we can appreciate foliage close up, its textures, colours, patterns ans variations with temperature, season and dryness.

 

We do also get wonderful surprises from our succulents in the form of flowers.

 

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