climbing plants garden arches garden design garden furniture garden photography garden seat garden seating garden wildlife gardening gardens hardy perennials Hardy Plant Society ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture Shropshire shrubs South Shropshire water in the garden wildlife

My Garden Journal 2019 – August

Here we are with my journal entries looking at the last month of summer according to the the MetOffice. August has been a bright month with confused weather as has been this year’s norm. plants have continued to grow oversized and then flopped.

I began by writing, “August saw the arrival of some unusual pieces of garden sculpture to our garden, 3 corten steel panels and a bespoke bench made for us by sculptor Nik Burns.”

On the opposite page I continued, We both love Achilleas but sadly they are short-lived here, lasting 3 or 4 years only except for the tallest yellow cultivars ‘Goldplate’ and ‘Cloth of Gold’. All Achilleas partner beautifully with grasses and we love planting them together.”


I continued then by presenting a gallery of photos, where I wrote “An August Gallery”.

Garden wildlife features next, “August has been a great time for insects of all sorts. Butterflies are having their best time for years, seeing prolific numbers of all our garden favourites. Now we don’t grow veg we love the ‘Whites’ “

Over the page from my wildlife paintings, I continued “As usual during August we have plenty to do in the garden. I have now finished cutting the Buxus features. We spent hours tidying up in and around the pond and Jude weeded the two green roofs. We also added trellis to the Blackberry archway.”

Collecting seeds.                                                Taking cuttings.

Weeding the woodstore green roof and thinning the pond reeds.

Freshly trimmed cloud pruned box edging.

So that is my garden journal for August and now I am enjoying our patch in September and we will share that month in our garden in my next post in this series.


Over to the next double page spread and I



climbing plants colours garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening gardens gardens open to the public hardy perennials light light quality National Garden Scheme photography roses Shropshire Yellow Book Gardens

What our visitors saw in August

We open our garden a few times a year both by appointment and full open days so I thought it would be interesting to wander around our patch just after a group left, taking photos as I went, thus giving a visitors’ eye view of our garden. The date was early August.

Salvias featured strongly as did clematis and roses. Colours in the garden were strong and lively, helped by the sunshine when it occasionally came out to play.

avju-23 avju-52 avju-28 avju-39avju-30 avju-42avju-38 avju-41   avju-51 avju-18

The added bonus of wildlife always delights our visitors. We will soon be hosting our final visit by a garden group for this year but we already have groups booked to come and share our Avocet patch with us in 2017.


I now invite you to come with me and my camera lens for a wander around our garden by navigating through this gallery. I hope you enjoy the journey. As usual click on the first photo and navigate with the arrows.

birds climbing plants flowering bulbs garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden wildlife gardening hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs trees water in the garden wildlife

My Garden Journal – August

Here we are with part 8 of my monthly series looking at what I have put into my garden journal. August has been a disappointing month weatherwise, with winds, rain and dull skies, and the plants have responded with short flowering periods and even our roses have failed to repeat flower.

I began my August entries, “The month of school holidays when families make their way to the seaside, is not a holiday in the garden. We have to keep dead-heading and tidying to make sure it looks its best.” and continued with my monthly quote from Jenny Joseph“August is a time of vegetables and smells of leaves and roots as we clear: dusty, musty smell of old growth. What flowers we have in August depends on how diligent you’ve been at dead-heading earlier.”

I continued, “We dead-head our Roses most days in an attempt to keep them in bloom, and cut back dying perennials to encourage both fresh blooms and fresh growth from below.” 

2015 09 03_5007_edited-1

I next referred to our fun activity which takes us back to our childhoods, pond dipping, “An early dip in the pond with our net revealed that young Newts are still very much in evidence. We discovered the shell of a Dragonfly larva and a strangely bodied surface dwelling insect, its shape like an elongated diamond.” I wonder what a pond dipping session will reveal in September as autumn will then be creeping in.

2015 09 03_5014_edited-1 2015 09 03_5015_edited-1

Our Cercis siliquastrum tree featured again as we turn the page of my journal just as it has done in my May entries.

2015 09 03_5008_edited-1

“Discovering new points of interest in the garden is always refreshing. We have always loved our Cercis siliquastrum for its mass of pink flowers in May, but this year we have rows of seed pods hanging from branches like celebratory bunting or prayer flags from Tibet.”

2015 08 10_4637 2015 08 10_4636 2015 08 10_4639 2015 08 10_4638

I attempted to paint a watercolour of a selection of pods and this proved to be a real challenge with the subtle variations of green and pink from pod to pod.

2015 09 03_5016_edited-1

Further notes about the wildlife in our August garden followed on at the turn of the next page, where I noted, “Gardening in August is done with the sounds of Swallows and House Martins wheeling over our heads. Two very contrasting wildlife sounds add to the soundtrack, the deepest croaking grunt of our Toads and the highest pitched song of all our garden birds, the diminutive Goldcrest.” In my painting I tried to capture the character of the Goldcrest, cheerful, jittery and sparkling with life.

2015 09 03_5009_edited-12015 09 03_5018_edited-1

More sounds featured on the facing page, “Gentle, almost inaudible sounds emit from every border, the sounds of Hoverflies. Gentle humming from above flowers, rapid beats make wings almost invisible, the Hoverfly moves in sudden sharp changes of direction. They can be wasp-like, bee-like or fly-like, masters of mimicry and disguise”. I love taking photos of the wildlife that shares our garden and insects and have hundreds in my Photoshop storage space. I have found a few featuring a few of the many different species of Hoverfly to share with you.

2015 08 27_4717-1 2015 08 27_4718_edited-1-12015 08 27_4719_edited-1-1 2015 08 27_4720_edited-1-12015 08 27_4714_edited-1-1

It is one of my favourite families of plants that I featured on the next double page spread, the Crocosmias. “Hot colours throughout our garden are provided by many different Crocosmias. Yellows, Oranges and Reds.” I enjoyed the challenge of creating watercolour paintings of three of our cultivars.

2015 09 03_5019_edited-12015 09 03_5020_edited-1 2015 09 03_5021_edited-1

From one bulbous rooted plant to another, from Crocosmias to Agapanthus. “Remember those Aganpanthus buds of July? Well, just look at them now!”

2015 09 03_5011_edited-1

I hope you enjoy this little gallery of photos of our Agapanthus. Just click on the first photo and use the arrows to move on through.

My final page for August featured another garden favourite, this time a climber, the Honeysuckle. I wrote “Scent is an important player in our garden and one scented plant that waits until the evening to share its sweet aromas is the Honeysuckle or Lonicera. We have used a particularly beautifully coloured one to climb up the trellis that hides our composters. And our moths love it!” I turned once again to my beautiful wooden box of watercolour paints to create a little series of pictures of the buds, blooms and berries of the Honeysuckle.

2015 09 03_5012_edited-1   2015 09 03_5025_edited-12015 09 03_5024_edited-1 2015 09 03_5022_edited-1 2015 09 03_5023_edited-1

The next look at my garden journal will be in September when we may be seeing the early signs of Autumn.

colours garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening gardens hardy perennials ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture Shropshire shrubs succulents village gardens

Aiming for a year round garden – our garden in August.

This series aims to check out if we have been successful in creating a garden for all seasons with interest throughout the year. In this post we look at our Avocet garden here in Plealey in the first week in August, a time when summer is going off a bit and autumn is trying to sneak in by the back door. The wild carrot below is beginning to set its seeds in our wildlife strip behind the lavender hedge alongside the lane.

2014 08 19_3880 2014 08 19_3881

We have one more garden group yet to visit us which happens in about a fortnight so this post as well as checking on how well we are achieving our aim of a year round garden will also be a way of checking out how it will look to our next visitors.

The” Beth Chatto Garden” still has plenty of interest but sadly the strange weather this year has meant that we have already had to cut down the Eophorbia griffithii Dixter which normally we can rely on for colourful winter stems of the brightest ruby red.

2014 08 19_3883 2014 08 19_3884 2014 08 19_3885 2014 08 19_3886 2014 08 19_3887 2014 08 19_3882

The other front garden borders still have patches of colour with the Perovskia’s pale blue flower spires looking good in a patch dominated by the white barked silver birches and purple leaves of Cercis Forest Pansy, Sambucus nigra Black Lace and Physocarpus Diablo.

2014 08 19_3888 2014 08 19_3889

Our new sculptural piece is looking good starring with the flowers of Leucanthemum “Shaggy”, several Asters (sorry but I can’t yet accept their new botanical names!), Salvia uliginosa, Gaura linheimeri and various annuals that Jude the Undergardener grows from seed.

2014 08 19_3890 2014 08 19_3891

2014 08 19_3892 2014 08 19_3894

2014 08 19_3895 2014 08 19_3898

The photos below show two very different looking plants which are in fact both Lobelias, the one on the left a cardinalis and the one on the right Lobelia tupa.

2014 08 19_3901 2014 08 19_3904

It is good to see the wildlife busy on the blooms every time the sun shines.

2014 08 19_3893 2014 08 19_3899

The ferns border developed earlier this year is looking better as the ferns get more established. From there you can look back along the Shade Garden through the archway towards the Hot Garden.

2014 08 19_3905 2014 08 19_3906

The Dahlias in the vintage galvanised containers along the house wall are still flowering but having a bit of a rest before hopefully producing more flower buds to delight the eye in a few weeks time.



2014 08 19_3907 2014 08 19_3908


Opposite them the” Freda Border” is looking cheerful with oranges and yellows and the odd white highlight of this honey-scented Buddleja.

2014 08 19_3913 2014 08 19_3914 2014 08 19_3915


The Tulbaghias continue to produce their delicate pale lilac flowers on their wiry stems. Close by the insect hotel snuggles within the” Pollinator Border”. Here the brightest flower of all must be the annual Leonotis leonora, which has become a real favourite in the garden this year. Opposite the heavy cropping grape vine continues to produce “water shoots” which need regular pruning to let the sun access the fruit to ripen it. The harvest is looking hopeful!




2014 08 19_3916 2014 08 19_3917 2014 08 19_3918 2014 08 19_3920


The pathway I take to feed the hens is full of plants that stop me on my way. Eryngium Miss Wilmott’s Ghost is turning from silver to biscuit and Geranium “Rosanne” clambers through any close plant. A real star of this pathway is the Bergena ciliata, a hairy leaved Bergenia with bronze colouring to the reverse of each leaf. I turn a leaf over each time I pass. It has big arching sprays of pale pink flowers in spring too! A great plant but rarely grown.

2014 08 19_3919 2014 08 19_3922 2014 08 19_3923 2014 08 19_3924

On the other side of this path we have the” Spring Garden” where the palmate leaves of the Acer japonica and Tetrapanax papyfer “Rex” sit close to each other. The Acer partners a couple of purple-leaved Lysimachia “Firecracker” and the deep green leaves of our thornless blackberry. The Tetrapanax is thowing up new leaves which are glossy but turn matt with the passing of time.



2014 08 19_3925 2014 08 19_3926

The Tropical Garden which was one of this year’s projects is looking particularly good at the moment. It is so full of contrasts. Contrasts in flower colour, leaf shapes, textures and colour.

2014 08 19_3929 2014 08 19_3930 2014 08 19_3931 2014 08 19_3932 2014 08 19_3933 2014 08 19_3934 2014 08 19_3935 2014 08 19_3936

The pale blue fish continue to swim through the Seaside Garden. Behind the chimenia a bright yellow flowered crocosmia seems to glow beneath the standard holly.


2014 08 19_3937 2014 08 19_3938

The Shed Bed has bright splashes of colour provided by Ricinus, Verbascum and Crocosmia.



2014 08 19_3927 2014 08 19_3928


In the Rill Garden the Aeoniums are all doing well showing great leaf colour but best of all must be Aeonium arboreum” Schwarzkopf” which is tree like in form with the blackest glossiest leaves possible.

2014 08 19_3939 2014 08 19_3940 2014 08 19_3941

If we move further into back garden now we can look through the arches down the central path. Off this path to the left are the “Crescent Bed”, “L Bed” and the “Long Border”.



2014 08 19_3942 2014 08 19_3943 2014 08 19_3945 2014 08 19_3946 2014 08 19_3947 2014 08 19_3948 2014 08 19_3949


2014 08 19_3950 2014 08 19_3951

If we cross the grass path at the far end of this patch we enter the” Japanese Garden” with the” Prairie Garden” to the right, which features two of our sculptures, the Copper Leaves made by our daughter Jo and the dancing figure of “Amber” created by a local artist.



2014 08 19_3952 2014 08 19_3954 2014 08 19_3955 2014 08 19_3956 2014 08 19_3957 2014 08 19_3958


And finally across the central path again to the” Chicken Garden” and the” Secret Garden” which are still looking very colourful. The first photo is of our everlasting sweetpea which although perennial so easier to grow than the annuals it is sadly without scent. The red poker shaped flowers in the second photo are Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail” which is so long flowering and attractive to wildlife as a bonus.


2014 08 19_3959 2014 08 19_3960 2014 08 19_3961 2014 08 19_3962 2014 08 19_3963 2014 08 19_3964 2014 08 19_3965 2014 08 19_3966 2014 08 19_3967 2014 08 19_3968


So that is the study of our garden in August, hopefully still confirming that it is an all season garden. Next month we will probably be seeing the first signs of autumn colour and seedheads beginning to take on more importance.



garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening July photography shrubs

Mr Buddles Shrubs

Buddleja can be seen as a common and very ordinary shrub especially when we observe how readily it seeds into gutters, between tiles, along railway embankments, river banks and canal sides. These commonest of buddlejas are quite stunning with their long conical panicles of pale mauve flowers which attract bees, hoverflies and are a firm favourite of butterflies and moths. Move in close and enjoy their delicate scent.

I usually spell it “Buddleja” but I am not sure where that spelling came from. I turned to my garden plant bible, the Royal Horticultural Society’s  “A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants”, and they refer to it as Buddleja but add syn Buddleia.

I continued to research and have now discovered that it was Linnaeus who named it Buddleja with a “j” and he named it to commemorate Adam Buddle. So I still cannot find out where the “j” comes from. Adam Buddle was an English vicar who worked in Essex and like many of his contemporaries turned to botany to fill his time. He compiled an English flora which was never published but little else seems to be known about him.

In our gardens we can grow buddlejas with flowers from the purest of white to the deepest purple, from pale to deep pinks and even shades of orange. I decided a few days ago to have a wander around our garden to see which ones we had in flower. Most are varieties of Buddleia davidii. Many have rich yellow or orange centres to each of the tiny individual flowers.

This first set of photographs are of the Buddlejas in flower in our garden this August.

On a day in  mid-August our Buddleja davidii were attracting butterflies, as we had experienced a few warm, bright, calm days after weeks of cold, wet and wind.

In the communal borders on our allotment site we grow many Buddleja davidiis in their full colour range, but we also grow the orange-flowered Buddleja weyeriana.

On a recent visit to a garden with the Shropshire branch of the Hardy Plant Society we came across this beautiful Buddleja davidii with soft grey leaves and blue flowers.

In another border we discovered a much more unusual variety called Buddleja lindleyana. It’s leaves were much brighter green than the davidiis and the individual florets were further apart from each other. The inside of each floret was a rich bright violet while the outsides were a greyish violet.