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flowering bulbs garden photography Shropshire South Shropshire spring spring bulbs spring gardening

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 gardening gardens gardens open to the public National Trust Shrewsbury Shropshire spring bulbs

Camassias – subtle springtime beauties.

When we visit the walled garden at Attingham Park in early summer, we enjoy looking at their collection of the beautiful bulbs, Camassias. The ones usually seen are mid-blue and few varieties are made available via the garden centre trade. When we discovered the collection being built up at Attingham in part of the walled garden we were so pleased to see so much variety.

The Camassias were as popular with the bees, both wild and domesticated, as they were with us. We enjoyed spending time watching them moving from flower to flower in search of pollen and nectar.

  

Below is a gallery of the photos I took of this wonderful collection of these valuable early flowering garden bulbs at Attingham. Please enjoy by clicking on the first photograph and then navigating by clicking the right arrow.

 

 

 

 

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birds flowering bulbs garden design garden photography garden wildlife gardening gardens hardy perennials ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire shrubs spring bulbs wildlife Winter Gardening winter gardens

My 2017 Garden Journal – February

Here is the second time in 2017 when I share with you my Garden Journal, so please enjoy my February pages.

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On the first double page spread I look at Snowdrops and some early plants of interest. I wrote, “February, the month when gardeners’ working hours increase and the light values improve strongly. The snow white of the humble Snowdrop intensifies in the special brightness.”

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On the opposite page I wrote, “Our native Primroses, Primula vulgaris, begin to flower in February ready to be at their peak in early Spring. Pink “rogue” Primroses appear as self-seeders. Foliage of Primula vulgaris is beautifully textured and patterned.”

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Other early flowering plants giving bright spots in our borders include Crocus and Pulmonaria. This golden Crocus has a bright green Pittosporum as its partner. The pink Pulmonaria is partnering a fern and an Arum, A. italicum “Marmoratum”.

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A February flowering shrub features on the next double-page spread along with Hellebores.

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The flowering shrub is Cornus mas, which reliably flowers profusely early every year. I  have selected it as my “Plant of the Month” for February. I wrote, “The star of our garden this month has to be Cornus mas, the Cornelian Cherry, with its bright yellow flowers with just a hint of green. We prune off the lower branches and select main boughs to improve the structure of our’s and this also exposes the texture of the bark on the lowest boughs.”

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I moved on to show a few of our many Hellebore hybrids and wrote, “Hellebore hybrids start to put on a colourful show from green to yellow and from red to purple. Lots more will come into flower throughout the coming weeks.”

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The last photo is not a hybrid Hellebore like the others but our native Helleborus foetidus with its pale green flowers, a subtle beauty with an upright habit.

On the turning of the page we discover my account of re-developing an old border, the Shade Garden”.

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I wrote that “By mid-February we had finished re-vamping our “Shade Garden”, an opportunity that arose when we moved a shed that was situated part way along it. The shed was just 6ft by 3ft but the space released by its removal seemed far more significant that that. Its removal opened up the border. We decided to add a couple of Maples, Acer palmatum “Koto-no-ito” and Acer palmatum “Eddisbury”, and increase the variety and number of ferns and grasses, We liked the idea of mixing ferns and grasses, a new plant combination for us.”

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“Mr and Mrs Green Man”

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Rotting wood pile, Acer and Ivy, Ivy and Fern.”

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New growth appearing in the Shade Garden”

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Ivy is the feature plant over the next pair of pages.

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I wrote of the ivy, “The humble English Ivy, Hedera helix is a stalwart of any wildlife garden and we grow dozens throughout our Avocet patch. They clamber over fences, climb inside our covered seat and act as ground-cover. They attract wildlife who welcome their pollen and nectar late in the year, their berries in winter and shelter and nest sites.”

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We grow this unusual shrubby variety, Hedera helix “Erecta”, a bit of a novelty!”

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Another shrubby variety which flowers and berries profusely, Hedera helix “Arborescens.”

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Variety in variegation.”

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Finally two climbing ivies growing in our Shade Garden.

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“Hedera helix “Emerald Gem”                         “Hedera canariensis “Gloire de Marengo.”

Next I featured the birds that share our garden with us, particularly the ones who take advantage of our feeding stations.

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“The birds have been busy in the garden during the month, feeding heavily to compensate for the cold nights. Their new year songs fill the garden from dawn until dusk. The Tawny Owls keep going, calling loudly from dusk through the hours of darkness.”

“Birds are singing now to attract mates and make declarations of territory. In January birds just called but now they sing so powerfully and tunefully. Recently a Reed Bunting (photo bottom right) has become a regular visitor as have the pair of Collared Doves.”

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“Goldfinches are now the most common bird in our Avocet garden. The population of most UK birds is dropping and this is especially marked in our song-birds. The wonderful Goldfinch is an exception, with its population on the increase. It is the entertainer of the bird feeders, being agile and fast-moving.

We think of it as our garden’s clown with its bright red face, black and white striped head and bright yellow wing flashes. We managed to increase the numbers visiting our garden by filling some feeders with sunflower hearts. Goldfinches love them as do other finches who visit.”

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We next turn over to a double page spread all about early flowers and a plant that displays amazing unusual foliage.

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I wrote, “The variety of bulbs that flower in the period when Winter becomes Spring, increases greatly in February. Snowdrops dominated the January borders in our Avocet garden but in February they get new flowering partners, Crocuses, Cyclamen, Muscari and the golden-petaled Winter Aconites.

Sunny days see these flowers open wide to greedily absorb the new light quality that February brings.”

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Concerning the unusual Arums we grow I continued, “Arum italicum ssp. italicum “Marmoratum” formerly known simply as Arum italicum “Marmoratum”. This is a tuberous perennial which we grow in our Shade Garden and beneath the shade of small trees. We like them for their foliage, arrow-shaped, extremely glossy and varied in its leaf patterns. Leaves are best described as being “marbled” with white, silver, ivory or cream markings. It flowers in Spring, producing cream spathes and in Autumn vertical columns of bright red berries shoot up to a foot tall. In addition to those attributes, wildlife loves the Arum Lily, bees, butterflies, moths and lots of beneficial predatory insects.” 

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We are so pleased to have established a clump of the rare Arum Lily called “Arum italicum Chameleon”, seen in photo below.

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More foliage features over on the following pages, the newly emerging foliage of perennials.

 

I wrote, “In the second half of the month we had a special treat in store, a few days of heatwave with daytime temperatures reaching 15 C in Plealey. This resulted in rush of new growth from the perennials that had died down after their display last year. The photos show perennial growth with new leaf growth penetrating the soil like the blades of swords.

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This final picture of new growth illustrates how new growth of Pulmonarias shows both foliage and flower bud shooting together.

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Opposite I share photos of broad-leaved perennials displaying their new growth, where I wrote, “Elsewhere broad-leaved herbaceous perennials were unfurling their fresh foliage ready for the new year. Here we have new leaves of Primula vulgaris, Sedum, Aquilegia, Polemonium, Centaurea, Fennel and Geranium palmatum. More growth appears daily as February comes to an end. It all bodes well for Spring and Summer.”

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And so that is my February report from my Garden Journal. We will visit again in March.

 

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flowering bulbs garden design garden ponds garden pools gardening gardens hardy perennials irises National Garden Scheme NGS ornamental trees and shrubs outdoor sculpture sculpture Shropshire spring bulbs Yellow Book Gardens

Another NGS Yellow Book Garden – visiting a friend’s garden.

Our friend Mary and her husband Bob open their garden for the National Garden Scheme just as we do, so we were determined to go and see her garden this year. A few weeks before her open garden she told us she hoped her tulips would still look good. She had no reason to worry – they were a treat for the eye and lifted the spirits!

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It was a perfect day for garden visiting, bright, warm and so sunny.

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We began our visit with big hugs from Mary followed by our usual tea and cake and found a seat where we could enjoy views over Mary and Bob’s garden. From there we could see interesting plants that deserved a closer look and inviting winding paths and archways. We watched with interest the reactions of other visitors and which plants they made a beeline for. Once suitably refreshed we explored!

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We found tulips throughout the borders some in exciting unusual colours. We enjoyed them all.

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These purest of white tulips were beautifully displayed in their containers which raised them up and gave the afternoon sun the chance to light them up.

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There was a lot more of interest here though than these beautiful tulips. Neither Jude the Undergardener or I are particular fans of evergreen coniferous plants and indeed have just a single alpine Pinus mugo “Mumpitz” in our patch, but the cones on Mary and Bob’s trees caught our attention.

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I think the best way to see the rest of this lovely garden will be to enjoy the following gallery. As usual click on the first picture then navigate using the right hand arrow.

 

 

 

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flowering bulbs garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden wildlife gardening grasses hardy perennials light light quality ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire shrubs spring bulbs water in the garden Winter Gardening winter gardens

My Garden Journal 2016 – February

Back with the second post sharing my 2016 Garden Journal, we will look at what it holds for February.

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On the first page for the month I mention the changing light values that occurs during February.

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“This is the month when light values really start to improve. We also get longer days when the weather allows. This change in light coupled with slowly rising temperatures encourages birds to change their songs and calls. The Great Tit is the master of calls with its huge repertoire. Luckily they are very frequent visitors to our garden. They are great entertainers! Their song in February is a “see-sawing ditty with mechanical overtones.” (Collins Bird Guide)

I added my gouache painting of a pair of Great Tits.

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On the opposite page I carried on talking about our continued development of our greenhouse.

Having completed the construction of our new heated propagation bench last month we then sorted out our pots, trays, pans and cells ready for the new sowing and growing season. We ensured we have plenty of labels as well as sowing compost and horticultural grit. Jude finished putting up insulation bubble wrap.”

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From greenhouse gardening to pond gardening, my next page features two photos of Jude the Undergardener in her waders playing in our wildlife pond.

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“Mid to late February is the time each year when our Common Frogs come to sing, mate and then leave balls of spawn in our wildlife pond. Thus early this month Jude donned her chest waders and cleaned up the pond. She removed Duckweed, Blanket Weed and fallen leaves, then thinned out the water plants.

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We tidied up the narrow border that edges the pond, pulling a few hardy weeds and taking up seedlings of our Cornus “Midwinter Fire”. It was heartening to discover how workable our soil was, this being the result of a decade of improving it with the addition of our own garden compost and the regular mulching deeply with organic matter.”

I continued onto the next page discussing the welcome appearance of sunshine in the February.

“Sunshine is not often in evidence this February but when it does make an appearance its effects are magical. It highlights the peeling bark of our trees and directs a spotlight on blossom and glossy foliage.”

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As I turn the page I see that I have written about cold temperatures and on the opposite page and on the following double page spread I share the amazing number of plants in flower on one day in February.

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“A sudden overnight plunge in temperature can have drastic looking effects on our early flowering plants. The flowering stem of this Bergenia can be standing to attention during the day but cold at night can make it droop, with the flowers almost touching the cold soil”.

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“The following day when the sun has driven away any frost and added a degree or two to the temperature, the Bergenia flower slowly rises again and returns to its former pink glory.”

February flowers are celebrated over the next three pages. I hope you enjoy sharing this selection of plants that keep us cheerful and the garden colourful.

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These pictures certainly illustrate how colourful and interesting the garden can still be in the depths of winter. From flowers I moved on to foliage, as on my next double page spread I celebrate Phormiums and how important they are to the winter garden.

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“Form, texture and foliage colours are so important in the garden in winter, so we are lucky to have discovered and planted Phormiums as they give us all three. They move beautifully too, swaying in the slightest breeze.”

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For some of our Phormium I took a shot of the whole plant and then one of the top surface of their leaves and finally the final surface. Their two surfaces are usually very different.

“I love plants that hide some facet of their beauty from us”.

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In the final pages of my February entries in my Garden Journal I wrote about coloured stems and look back at my first garden journal to see what I had put for my February entry.  I discovered that I was writing about grass and grasses.

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“It is in the dull times of February that we appreciate the brightly coloured stems of our Cornus, Salix and Acers. Once their leaves drop the colours, yellows, oranges and reds begin to intensify. I then shared a watercolour painting of a selection of these stems from our garden alongside a trio of photos.”

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Looking back at my original Garden Journal, I notice that I had commented “14th February and the grass gets its first cut. As the North wind died out the strength of the winter sun meant a good day could be had doing general maintenance work.” This year our grassed areas are wet and slimy and definitely too slippery to get a mower on. But the grass has continued to grow slowly so it is in need of its first cut. Meanwhile our ornamental grasses continue to delight.”

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So that is it for another month. Next time we make a visit to my Garden Journal we will be in March and maybe we shall be seeing signs of spring.

 

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colours flowering bulbs garden photography

A Mystery Lily – a case of mistaken identity

Occasionally we buy plants wrongly labelled and usually realise the mistake the nursery has made but this is impossible to do when bulbs are wrongly named. It is a long wait for the error to reveal itself. Early in the year we bought a batch of Asiatic Lily bulbs to boost the range we currently grow in containers throughout our garden. We chose varieties of deep reds with some almost black. Most performed just as expected and we loved them. They added depth to the colour range.

But one pot of bulbs was late throwing up its flowering stems and when we saw how it grew with thin dark stems it made us realise we had something rather unexpected. When it started to produce flower buds in large groups atop each stem we realised it definitely wasn’t what the label said. This Lily was supposed to be Lilium Landini with very dark red almost black flowers.

Just look at what our mystery Lily turned out to be!

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And just look how each beautiful golden flower opens up for us to enjoy!

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What a wonderful mystery! A golden Turks Cap Lily!

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But what would have grown in our pot if the label was correct – an equally beautiful but oh so different so dark bloom. Almost black velvet! Luckily we had three pots full of these too.

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colours flowering bulbs garden design garden photography garden ponds garden pools gardening gardens grasses hardy perennials light light quality ornamental trees and shrubs photography shrubs spring bulbs spring gardening water in the garden

Aiming for a year round garden – early spring.

We looked at our garden in late winter to see if our aim of creating a garden with interest all year was paying off. Now in Early April things have changed a lot in the garden since our last look so I thought we could have a look at it in early spring. Are we getting there?

I shall start with a look out over our gravel garden, The Chatto Garden, which illustrates just how important Euphorbias are at this time of year. The second shot illustrates how our new border has developed since we planted it up earlier this year.

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Foliage is still a key element in early Spring including fresh foliage of newly emerging herbaceous plants.

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Plants don’t have to be new to be good! Just look at the old favourite shrub, the flowering currant – just ask the bees and they will say how important they are! And of course daffodils and muscari bring life to our spring gardens every year without fail. All bulbs give little splashes of colour to brighten the dullest spring day.

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Our Hellebores are still going strong.

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And now a quick visit to our Japanese Garden and the pond side border alongside. There is a lot of colour to find here.

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Our native Primrose is perhaps our favourite plant in our garden at this time of the year with the delicacy of its scent and colour. Other small flowers star before their larger neighbours take over the borders.

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The star plant in our garden for early spring has to be the Chatham Island Forget-me-Not, Myosotidium hortemsium, with the flowers in a shade of blue that is so intense it is impossible to describe in words or give labels to. It lives in our Shade Garden so we have to make an effort to go and see it. It deserves our effort.

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One part of the garden that we have given a spring clean to is the Seaside Garden which was in need of a face lift.

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And for a promise of scent and colour soon to come  we need to turn to the Viburnum family.

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There are just too many photos left so I shall move into a gallery for you to enjoy.

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indoor plants

The Blooming of a Big Bulb

We had a lovely present from my brother, Derrick and his partner Lyn at Christmas, a big fat Amaryllis. We potted it up and waited. It seemed a long wait but suddenly there were signs of  growth, buds started opening looking like little green tongues sticking out. Once they reached about 4 inches in height a flowering stem burst upwards growing at a great rate. It was noticeably taller each day and the bud at its topmost point plumped up until it reached about 18 inches. It then stopped adding any growth to the stem length and instead the bud expanded. Until.

The deepest red petals started to appear, almost black.

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After a few days the flowers were huge, as wide as a saucer and each petal developed the texture of the softest most luxurious velvet.

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We positioned them near some of my paintings as the petals matched colours in the paintings. these abstracts were based on a special rock structure on a beach in North Wales, where the darkest grey rock had extrusions of red forced into them.

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At their peak the four flowers that topped the stem looked far too heavy. It seemed as if the stem would bend or snap at any moment. The contrast between the yellow and red became intense.

And now for one final set of photos – the bloom at its best.

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