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Crocosmias – the brightest stars of the mid-summer garden

When wandering around our garden in mid-August we were surprised by how many crocosmias were flowering even though the earlier varieties such as C. ‘Lucifer’ had already faded and were producing their rather beautifully structured and coloured seed heads which will last for months and provide good cutting material. The gallery below features those crocosmias that we enjoy in our garden through August, September and into October for their flowers and then onwards through winter for their stuctural seedheads.

 

So I decided to wander around the garden with my camera and take photos of each different one, for you to enjoy as a gallery. As usual click on the first picture and then navigate using the arrows.

 

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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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colours flowering bulbs garden photography spring spring bulbs spring gardening

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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Spring bulbs at Avocet

This time of year is made extra special as the bulbs we planted in the autumn start to burst into flower. Daffodils give splashes of every shade of yellow often with orange trumpets. We have a few whites left from the hundreds we inherited. We are not keen on white daffs as they seem so wishy-washy so we dug out hundreds leaving just odd clumps. Crocus are far more delicate and come in a wider range of colours from white to yellow, orange and purple. Anemone blandas are joining these now and appear as delicate blue daisies among the fresh growth of perennial plants. We don’t have many hyacinths but the few we have are most welcome and remind us to order more next autumn. You may spot the interloper – the flowers of a bergenia – walking past I could not resist taking its picture!

The best way to savour the effects that our bulbs have on our March garden is to come with me with my camera and see what we spot. So follow the gallery by clicking on the first photo and then use the arrows to navigate. Enjoy!

 

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flowering bulbs garden photography

Attingham snowdrop walk

Every year in February we follow our usual walk around the grounds of Attingham Park, a National Trust property just a half hour drive away. What makes this February walk different is the thousands of snowdrops growing happily beneath beautiful mature trees.

Another unusual aspect of our walk was the amount of standing water around, including flooding from the river that runs through the parkland.

An extra feature this year was a display put on by the local WI (Women’s Institute) all knitting and different forms of fabric craft. The pieces were displayed on the trees and on lengths of woolen yarn strung between trees and were created to highlight the plight of our planet, caused by climate change issues.

 

We particularly liked our first sighting of the signs of spring!

 

 

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flowering bulbs garden photography gardening irises spring bulbs trees Winter Gardening winter gardens

My Garden Journal 2020 – February

Okay, it’s February in this leap year so we will gain a day, and it is time for another visit to my garden journal. Weather has been interesting this month just because it has been so extreme and variable, wild and wet, with gales, hail, snow, sleet and rain!

On the first page I wrote,“February’s flowering plant of the month, Iris reticulata.” at the page top above a photograph of Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’ and two of my watercolour sketches of the same iris plus one called ‘George. I used Japanese brush pens.

Over the page I painted two Cyclamen growing in our Arabella Garden, which were planted as a clump of five small plants and have now become a lovely ground-hugging patch in shades of pink with a few whites. The foliage is as interesting as the flowers.

On the page opposite I feature a beautiful brown-bronze foliage evergreen shrub, my “Foliage plant of the month. Coprosma ‘Pacific Night!”

More sketches created using Japanese brush pens appear on the next page where I selected a few branches of some of my favourite Salix shrubs, willows, Salix daphnoides, Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ and Salix gracilistyla ‘Melanostachys’. We love these for their unusually coloured catkins.

On the opposite page is my “Stem and bark plant of the month, Euonymus alata ‘Blade Runner’, so called because it sports long thin wings alongside each stem and these become a real feature in the winter months.

 

I finished off my February journal entries with a double page spread of photogrsaphs illustrating our “Gardening tasks for February”.

These tasks included pruning hydrangeas, pollarding our contorted willow, attempting to repair a leak that has appeared in our wildlife pond and beginning the time-consuming task of adding a 2 inch layer of organic compost as a mulch over every border. The most fiddly job was trying to repair our woven willow fence panel that the wild dog from next door decided to break through and create a hole right through.

We also began to create a new water feature for our front garden, a large fibreglass bowl finished in a granite effect ready to become a miniature water feature. We took up a square of turf up and filled the area with a few inches of gravel to sit the bowl in. We now wait until the right time to plant suitable plants.

So that is my February entries for my 2020 Garden Journal. In next month we might be able to report a few early signs of spring.

 

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colours flowering bulbs garden design garden designers garden photography gardening gardens half-hardy perennials hardy perennials meadows National Garden Scheme NGS Yorkshire

The Sheffield Gardens – Part 2 – James Hitchmough’s patch

So during our weekend up in Sheffield after visiting the garden of Nigel Dunnett, we moved on to explore the garden of his colleague, Professor James Hitchmough. This garden was half way up a steep narrow road near the city centre with terraced houses on both sides.

An NGS sign pointed us through a gateway, where a path took us through the side garden where a wooden gate opened up to reveal the back garden, where glimpses of yellow, orange and red invited us to explore further.

These colourful glimpses hinted at the array of South African bulbs such as watsonias and gladioli, which formed part of a garden that was one low growing meadow below a few gnarled old apple trees. This was no surprise as James Hitchmough is the pioneer of seed sown meadows mixed with such bulbs, but his public gardens such as the one at Wisley tend to be so much larger than his own little patch.

It is a gentle garden with foliage playing an important role and many blues, pinks and whites adding some subtlety.

This was a small but so interesting and atmospheric too.

 

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My Garden Journal 2019 – November

I started my entries for November by commenting. “November takes us deep into autumn, the red hot colours of foliage dominate but little gems of flower colour provide spots of colour that attracts us. This November the dominant colour has changed to yellow by the end of the first week.”

     

On the second page I continued, “We continue to be busy revamping areas of the garden and began the month reworking the Rill Garden. We cleared the borders and rill and pond of all herbaceous plants. After clearing out the rill it was replanted. In the Winter Garden to the right of the rill we added a new selection of shade-loving plants.”

 

The two Brunnera are B. ‘Alexander’s Great’ and B. ‘Little Jack’ and between them is the unusual shade lover, Azara splendens.

Two epimedium have been planted in the renewed border in the dappled shade, Epimedium ‘Spine Tingler’ and Epimedium ‘Mandarin star’

“We had a new  stable door fitted which we needed to protect with coats of yacht varnish.”

 

“Half pots we planted with dwarf bulbs and top-dressed with horticultural grit.”

“General views around the garden show just how much colour there still is to enhance the look of our patch.”

“Wildlife is full of surprises as we still see and hear so many bees feeding on our mahonias,  fatsias, and ivies. Whenever we garden buzzards and kites entertain us with their acrobatic displays in the sky overhead. Migrating starlings, and thrushes fill the sky with gossip.

“There are usually a dozen or more blackbirds in our patch who gorge themselves on the berries we grow for them, especially our cotoneasters, of which we grow several species and cultivars.”

“We continue to be busy whenever the weather allows, re-developing the two gravel circles in the front garden.”

So that is my garden journal for November 2019, and now we are waiting to see what December brings by way of ending the year.

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Simply Beautiful – no 32 in an occasional series – iris flowers

Back with the 32nd post in my Simply Beautiful series where I look at the beauty of a single object, in this case Iris flowers, one white and one black found in the same garden.

   

Simply beautiful!

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Moors Meadow – a romantic garden full of magic

We had not visited the magical garden at Moors Meadow for several years so we were really looking forward to exploring it with my brother Graham and sister-in-law Vicky.

The garden here was pronounced Britain’s most romantic garden by a national gardening monthly. We were so looking forward to finding out if it lived up to this and if it still felt as magical as we remembered.

It didn’t take long for us to discover that it was indeed a garden full of surprises, artifacts, unusual plants, amazing seats and wandering pathways through changing moods of garden.

   

I shall now share a gallery of photos showing our walk around the gardens.

So there is my gallery of photos of our journey around the magical and romantic gardens at Moors Meadow. I hope you enjoyed sharing our journey and our enjoyment.