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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Gardening in lockdown – new wildlife strip

At the bottom of our back garden we had a stock fence for which we were responsible under the details of our house deeds. Recently the farmer who owns the land behind us created a new enlarged paddock in which to keep their ancient pony and some ewes with lambs, which left us with an awkward strip of land just 45 cm or so wide but the length of our garden. This became home to tough weeds like nettles, brambles and comfrey which we found hard to keep tidy as they were jammed between the two stock fences.

So when I was chatting to the farmer’s wife I asked if we could move our fence back to theirs and use the strip as part of our garden. She was delighted to agree as she loves our garden and comes past when on dog walking duty and has a look at our patch.

We took our old fence and gate down and after quite a struggle managed to get up the old oak fence posts which had been there for over 30 years. Our fence panels needed stripping of algae before we set about putting in new posts alongside the field boundary and refitting out fence panels. The new strip of land was cleared of weeds, dug over deeply but not improved as we wanted to make a wildlife border with some natives.

The strip was sown with wildlife flower seed mixes and we planted lots of small plants we had grown from seeds which would also attract wildlife. Now we must wait for it to grow and for the wildlife to appear.

Three weeks later and the seeds have germinated and our little plug plants grown on nicely. Several plants are in bud and a few are already flowering. You will spot our insect attracting features, a couple of bee steaks, a stone pile and a couple of log piles.

 

We have no problem with weeds comng in from the field as the sheep and their lambs nibble right up to the fence and even tear off any leaf of our border they can reach with their tongue. Sheep pruning!

 

 

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My Garden Journal 2020 – May

My May pages for my garden journal are full of summery gardening. I opened with a page featuring two of my paintings of blue irises, one Iris germanica and the other Iris sibirica. I used Japanese brush pens.

I wrote, “May is the month when spring morphs into summer, a time when we can get warm sunny days and blue skies occasionally interrupted by days with biting cold winds and frosty nights. The garden fills rapidly with boisterous growth with flowers on trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

The iris family have the most unusually structured flowers in our garden, with their flags, falls and landing strips for bees.”

In contrast to the bright blues of our iris I looked at euphorbias on the opposite page where I created  a montage of photos of closeups of the heads of euphorbias, with their bright greens and yellows of their bracts and flowers. I wrote, “Bracts and flowers work in harmony on our large collection of Euphorbias. The flowers are very much less significant than the bracts that surround them.”

Turn over onto the next double page spread and we consider azaleas and succulents. I wrote on the first page, “We grow very few Azaleas in our gardens apart from a couple of deciduous varieties, ‘Luteum’ and ‘Golden Eagle’. My painting is of  ‘Golden Eagle’.

 

 

On the page opposite ‘Golden Eagle’ I discussed some work I was doing with succulents and I wrote, “For a few days in May I busied myself sorting out our succulent container gardens, using cuttings from last year plus some new selections. By the end of summer all these containers will be full and each plant will give me new cuttings.”

Onto the next double page we look at more azaleas and thalictrums, with azaleas on the left hand page. I wrote, “I have selected miniature azaleas as the flowering plant of the month for May. A few pages back I shared my watercolour painting of the orange flowered Azalea ‘Golden Eagle’, which is deciduous and scented. In the Japanese Garden we grow a few evergreens as used by Japanese garden designers.”

Pair of A. japonica ‘Ageeth’                              A. japonica ‘Spek’s Orange

 

A. japonica George Hyde

A. japonica ‘Spek’s Orange’

This next page looks at thalictrums, my foliage plant for May. My foliage plant of the month is Thalictrum of which we grow a wide selection. These are herbaceous perennials grown for both their flowers and foliage , but for now the foliage has the largest presence.”

For the final page of May I feature one of my favourite trees, a betula (birch). “Plant of the month for bark and stems is the most beautiful of birches, Betula albosinensis ‘Septentronalis”. It boasts white bark peeling to orange and salmon pink. The sun catches the peeling bark and it becomes fine brittle toffee.”

  

   

So when we next visit my garden journal we will be half way through the year – it is going far too quickly!

 

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Gardening in lockdown – Jude’s micro-nursery plants sort out

We sell lots of plants mostly perennials and shrubs when we open our garden and when we give talks to clubs and societies. I take the shrub cuttings and Jude deals with seed sowing and looking after plant divisions and self seeded perennials.

The greenhouse is almost exclusively used to sow and then grow on Jude’s perennial seeds.

 

As they reach a suitable size they are potted on and then hardened off in trays outside. This also allows us to water them from below.

 

Cuttings taken from succulents are also kept in the greenhouse until they are large enough to pot on and move outside. Perennials end up on the shelves in Jude’s little nursery which has a label saying “Jude’s Micro-nursery”.

At about the same time dahlias are potted on when they show good new growth after their winter rest. Begonias are hardened off too.

 

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Gardening in lockdown – Sitting Comfortably at Avocet

I have occasionally shared posts for years now called “Are you sitting comfortably?” where I feature garden seats we find on our exploration of other people’s gardens. As we are in “lock down” now we are not visiting any gardens other than our own here at Avocet, so I thought it would be fun to feature all the garden seating in our Avocet garden.

We hope you enjoy sharing them with us! I have taken a photo of each seat and then one or two of the view from each seat. This lock down period means that we have no visitors to sit in our seats – how strange!

Let us start in the front garden where we have a pair of purple chairs and a seat under an arch.

Here are the views from the arched seat…….

…..and from our purple chairs.

Moving into the back garden the seats become harder to find as they are situated in each area sometimes well hidden away from paths. The first seats, a pair of wooden folding chairs are alongside the Conservatory Garden give us views over the Conservatory Border.

 

Nearby is a set of metal table and four chairs sitting alongside the rill in the Rill Garden. The view from here looks out across the Rill Garden towards the Winter Garden.

 

If we then follow the central pathway and take the first grass path on the left we find ourselves in the Hot Garden where we have two hand crafted wood and metal seats made for us by sculptor Nik Burns. We like his work as he uses wood selected fro woodland local to us. They are so beautiful being made for us using local elm and burr oak, so special!

These seats afford us views around the Hot Garden.

Next to the Hot Garden is a path that we can cross over to enter the Japanese Garden where we find just one seat a cold concrete bench, from where we can get a good look around this part of our garden.

 

If we then wander past the Wildlife Pond and the Bog Garden we can visit Arabella’s Garden where we have an old Victorian Railway Platform seat made from cast iron and wood. From this seat we can see the plantings in Arabella’s Garden and also look out across the farmland beyond our garden.

 

Brightly coloured table and chairs sets are found in the final two garden rooms, The Secret Garden and The chicken Garden. The orange set is in The Chicken Garden and the pale blue set in The Secret Garden.

The photos below show on the left the view from the orange seats and on the right the view from the pale blue seats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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