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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Gardening in lock down – acers

Slowly but surely over the years we have built up a good collection of Acers, mainly Acer palmatum but we do have a few others too. At this time of year they are coming out of their fresh new spring green foliage so it is a good time to share photos of them with you as we come towards half way through our lock down period.

So the photos below were taken in the final week of April and show a selection of our different cultivars. We do hope you enjoy them as we do!

      

 

 

 

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Gardening in lock down – tulip time

We love tulips as they appear magically several months after we planted those beautiful bulbs so full of potential and promises.

 

 

Some of the tulips we planted last autumn have ended up looking striped which reminds me of raspberry ripple ice cream.

 

They provide masses of different colours and varied petal shapes, some even show off their frilly cut edges. We plant more each autumn so our stock is increasing slowly but we also lose a lot each year to winter damp and viruses. Planting new bulbs will carry on every year. Some are extra special such as this one with frilled edges to its petals where they turn from pink to yellow.

Here is a set of photos showing a selection of those we grow for you to enjoy.

      

By early May most of our tulips will have flowered and then dropped their petals. All the early herbaceous perennials are waiting to take over for months.

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My Garden Journal 2020 – April

Back with my garden journal I will now share with you my pages for April, a strange month as we are in total lock down because of the coronavirus problems. The many sunny warm days allowed us the luxury of leisurely time in the garden and even time for lots of sitting on our several garden benches enjoying coffee and cakes.

On my first page I featured the Kiwi Vine, the climbing plant which opens with beautiful moss green leaf buds which turn a purer green as the days progress. I wrote, “April sprung onto the scene with frost-free nights and days littered with ‘April Showers’, sunshine and sparkling light rain. Leaves change on shrubs, trees and climbers are opening rapidly, changing colour, shape and texture. Our Kiwi Vine has beautiful foliage and we enjoy observing how each bud opens day by day.”

The first batch of photos was taken during the first week of the month.

For the next set of photos I wrote, “The third week of the month and the foliage is fully open and bright green.”

I then moved on to consider some of the gardening tasks we undertook in April. “Gardening tasks  for April included planting Gladioli and Asiatic Lily bulbs in the ‘Hot Garden’ and cutting down our coppiced Cornus shrubs and pollarded Cornus Midwinter Fire.”

“The plants on the nursery shelves have now been potted on and returned refreshed to their shelves.”

“Jude has pricked out the seedlings of early sowings of annuals such as Cosmos and Sweet Peas, and I re-potted my succulents, Salvias and Fuschias” which have had winter protection.”

On the opposite page I revealed my foliage plants of the month, our many Acer palmatums, and I wrote, “Foliage plant of the month is Acer palmatum the wonder of  spring and autumn.”

Tulips featured on the next double page spread where I shared photos of “Tulips – open and closed!”

The final double page spread of this month’s journal features the early Imperial Fritillaries, of which we grow two cultivars and on the opposite page my plant of the month for bark and stems, Cercis siliquastrum.

“Flowering plant of the month for April is the very bright extravagant looking Fritillaria imperialis. We grow just two in our Shrub Garden, F.i. ‘Willliam Rex’ which is a rich orange-red colour with each flower topped in purple, and F. i. ‘Lutea’ a beautiful clear yellow one. But they attract the dreaded Lily Beetles!!”

I created i-Pad paintings of each when in full fat bud and then took photos of them when they had opened up.

I wrote, “Plant of the month for ‘stems and bark, for April is Cercis siliquastrum, a tree that I have chosen not so much for its colour or texture but for its attraction to lichen and its unusual trait of displaying its little cerise flowers directly appearing from its bark.”

“A close-up phot of the bark of the Cercis bark shows its texture and the variety of colour coming from lichens.”

I created a painting of the flower and lichen on a twig of the Cercis, using watercolour pencils, fibre tip pens and watercolour colour washes..

 

 

 

And that is my journal for April so soon I will be starting my May entries.

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Are you sitting comfortably – no 21 in an occasional series

First set of seats in this installment about garden seating features those we found while on holiday near Pembroke followed by more we discovered at Bodnant Garden in north Wales. Then a set we found at Wildegoose Nursery and Garden and finally some we found at our friends, Nathalie and Tony’s Oswestry garden and Ruth and Mike’s village garden in North Shropshire.

Posted in garden design, garden furniture, garden photography, garden seat, garden seating, gardening, gardens, gardens open to the public, National Garden Scheme, National Trust, NGS, nurseries, Shropshire, South Shropshire, The National Trust, village gardens, Wales, walled gardens, Yellow Book Gardens | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment