Categories
climbing plants drought garden photography gardening gardens hardy perennials Shrewsbury Shropshire South Shropshire

My Garden Journal 2018 – July

Here is my garden journal entries for the month of July, a month when the garden continued to suffer the effects of the drought.

My opening words were, “July begins as June ended, in a heatwave with temperatures in the upper twenties. And sadly for the garden, still no rain. Rainless time has now lasted for a month and very little for the previous month.”

I featured a set of photos of our Passion flower which grows in our greenhouse.

“We grow our passion-flowers in the greenhouse as we are too cold here for them to survive outside. We train them along the side of the greenhouse  where they can shade our tomato plants. Natural shading!”

On the opposite page I moved on to look at the digitalis we grow here in our Avocet garden.

“We grow so many different foxgloves in our patch, with several grown from seed by Jude. Our native Digitalis purpurea in both its forms of purple and white, enjoying spreading themselves around our borders, deciding for themselves where to settle down. Dan Pearson writes of Digitalis in “National Selection”,

“I like the way vertical lines of foxgloves draw the eye like an exclamation mark. They are delicate, using only as much ground as they need, but providing plenty of bang for your buck with the upward motion.”

Turning over to the next double page spread, I featured photos of a selection of the moths we trapped in our live trap.

“Butterflies and moths have been in short supply so far this year, but both appeared as July arrived. Our first session of live-trapping moths showed how many we had in our garden and how varied they are. We always delight at getting close up to the surreal Elephant Hawk Moths.”

Elephant Hawk Moths

  

Master of Disguise

These tiny moths are equally fascinating.

  

A myriad of moths.

           

The next double page spread features Tulbaghias, Leucanthemum, Helenium and several different Hemerocallis.

“Tulbaghias seem to enjoy the weather, whatever it does. These look great in dappled shade beneath the outer limbs of a Quince tree.”

“Leucanthemum and Helenium catch the light so well. Their shaded petals add extra depth.”

 

I next featured a whole page of photos of Day Lilies, Hemerocallis.

“In the middle of the month we visited our friend Mark (Zennick) with his wonderfully colourful collection of Hemerocallis. As always we came away with a good selection from his nursery.”

Next we take a look at how the garden is being adversely effected by the dry hot weather, and then I share my paintings of Camassia seed heads.

I wrote, “Another quote from Dan Pearson, upon his return from a trip to the Hawaiian Islands ………”I returned to a wet English summer, where the smells were crisp and clean.” Anyone returning to England this July would be met by golden dried-up lawns, trees with wilting leaves and dead leaves on herbaceous perennials.”

Opposite I used water-based pencil crayons to record the different stages as the flowering stems of Camassias were drying out.

“As well as their beautiful spires of blue, cream or white  flowers, Camassias have lovely green pods which dry slowly to digestive biscuit colours.”

My final page for July in my Garden Journal 2018 show a few plants that seem to thrive in the dry conditions.

“July moved on still without rain and the garden continued to suffer. Flowers bloomed but lasted a very short time. The lawn simply remained brown and stopped growing. A few plants though performed really well.”

 

Agastache                              Scrophularia

 

Erigeron and Hebe                                    Clouds of Achilleas

Two deep purple Clematis

As I finished my journal entries for July there was still no sign of any appreciable rainfall, just occasional short-lived showers which hit the ground and evaporated immediately. August will hopefully be kinder to our Avocet garden and its resident plants.

Categories
colours garden design garden photography gardening hardy perennials July ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire village gardens

My Garden Journal in July

Here we are moving into the second half of our gardening year, with my journal entries for July. By the time I had recorded all the entries for July My Garden Journal 2016 was full, so Volume 2 will begin with my August entries.

July, being well into summer, should be great month for the garden, the gardener and gardening. We should be able to look forward to long, warm and bright days to give us time to work in the garden and relax in it too. Relaxing in their own gardens is a skill many gardeners find hard to acquire. The weather put paid to any idea of sitting comfortably on any of our garden seats dotted around our garden rooms.

jujo1-03

Looking back at my Garden Journal 2014 for the first week of July I wrote, “Wet and windy start to July” so things were exactly the same in 2014 and 2016.

Luckily after the first week this year the weather warmed up and the rain retreated.”

Turning the page in my journal I moved on to look at hardy Geraniums.

jujo1-04

“The hardy Geraniums in our patch seem happy enough with our July weather. Our favourite is probably Geranium palmatum.

jujo1-05

“We have been planting hardy Geraniums in our garden since we moved here. I decided to take my camera out to see how many different ones were flowering in early July. We were in for a big surprise!” Below are 4 examples, but there are so many more!”

jujo-04 jujo-20jujo-25 jujo-27

Turning over we find a double page spread of Geranium photographs and among them the phrase, “Pink is the colour!”

jujo1-07jujo-35 jujo-29 jujo-27 jujo-26 jujo-24 jujo-23 jujo-22 jujo-14 jujo-13 jujo-08 jujo-07 jujo-05 jujo-04 jujo-03

Over another page and a third page of photos of Geraniums appears but this time featuring blue flowered cultivars, with the phrase, “….. and a few shades of blue.”

“I found over 20 different Geraniums in flower at that moment but we have others flowering earlier and later. We never dreamed we had so many.They are a good reliable and colourful family of hardy perennials.”

jujo1-08

jujo-17 jujo-06 jujo-21 jujo-15jujo-19

There are so many hardy Geraniums flowering in our July garden I thought it would be interesting to present a gallery for you to enjoy. Click on the first photo and then use the arrow to follow your way through the gallery.

On the opposite page to the blue Geraniums I move on to consider one of the brightest flowers in the July garden, Lychnis coronaria.

“In July one of the brightest flowers in our garden borders are the cerise gems, Lychnis coronaria. They work well in many combinations with other plants despite their extreme brightness of colour. They make white look extra pure and clear, they sparkle with orange and sit comfortably with every shade of green foliage. Their own foliage is a soft, furry grey.”

jujo-18 jujo-32jujo2-11 jujo2-13

Over the next page I continue looking at Lychnis coronaria with the emphasis on the flower colour and the subtle variations among them. Among my selection of photographs to show the colour of the foliage and the variations in cerise itself I include the phrases,

“Silver-grey foliage” and “Variations of the theme of cerise!”

jujo1-09

jujo2-01 jujo2-02jujo-10 jujo-09jujo-11 jujo-12jujo2-03 jujo2-04    jujo2-08 jujo2-10

Opposite this page of cerise beauties I feature a more subtle variation on the pink theme, as I found another Lychnis we grow, this one being Lychnis chalcedonica “Salmonea” and  just like the coronarias their colours vary.

“We grow another perennial Lychnis which also displays pink flowers. These blooms though are not of the brightest cerise but a much more subdued dusky salmon. This plant is Lychnis chalcedonica “Salmonea” and just like the coronarias the flower colours vary but more gently so.”

jujo2-05 jujo2-07jujo2-06

The final four pages in my journal entries for July are all about one of the grasses families, the Carexes. I set myself the difficult challenge of painting 6 different varieties, concentrating on the flower and seed heads. A very big challenge indeed as it turned out!

jujo1-10

“We love grasses and use them in almost every border where they enhance flowering perennials as well as adding their own particular charm, their movement, sound and structure. We particularly love two families, Miscanthus and Carex. In July our many Carex are in full flower and they have distinctive characteristics.”

jujo1-11 jujo1-12 jujo1-13 jujo1-14 jujo1-15 jujo1-16 jujo1-17

Volume One of my Garden Journal 2016 finishes with the words, “It is good to finish Volume One of my Garden Journal 2016 with such a challenge, drawing and painting six different Carex flowers and seeds. In Volume Two I will begin with my report and photographs for August and maybe a little painting or two. I might even be tempted to draw and paint some of our other grasses.”

 

Categories
bird watching birds garden photography garden ponds garden pools garden wildlife gardening gardens hardy perennials meadows poppies

My Garden Journal – July

I can’t believe we are in the second half of the year but as this is the post about my garden journal in July then we most certainly are!

I began my July journal entry with a reference to the weather, the obsession of the British especially gardeners. “The month of July burst in with a heatwave. Some plants objected by wilting but flower colours were enriched in the sunlight. Lilies and Clematis joined the colour pallette provided by June’s Roses and Geraniums.”

2015 08 04_4461_edited-1

Our Oriental Lilies were the best we have ever had this July and we have been growing them for many years. We grow them in big pots so that we can simply drop them in where and when they are needed to add splashes of dramatic colour. Enjoy my little gallery of Lily photos. Just click on the first photo and then use the arrows.

I then wrote about our July pond dipping adventure, “A pond dip early in the month showed young newts still present in abundance alongside nymphs of Dragons and Damsels. This little creature (painting below) caught my eye. At just over a centimetre in length the Water Lice, or Isopoda, is the wet equivalent of the more common Wood Lice. They cannot swim but simply scramble around devouring detritus and decaying plant material. They are common prey of the larvae of Damsels and Dragons.”

2015 08 04_4462_edited-12015 08 04_4466_edited-1

I moved on then from pondlife to birdlife and looked at two of the most beautiful birds that visit our garden. “We have been visited by two of our most colourful birds over the last few weeks, Bullfinches and Redstarts.” The Redstart made a fleeting visit on our last open day at our garden when it was full of visitors, which seemed a bit brazen for a normally shy woodland bird.

 

2015 08 04_4468_edited-12015 08 04_4469_edited-1

Agapanthus featured next in my July garden journal as our collection in our Beth Chatto garden were budding up nicely promising a beautiful display before too long. We have been building up our collection of favourite Agapanthus for a few years now and it is now coming along well. “Our collection of Agapanthus in our Beth Chatto Garden is slowly getting more colourful as flower buds burst. Surely these are the slowest of buds to become flowers!”

2015 08 04_4463_edited-1

 

To see some of our Agapanthus up close, some still in tight buds some opening up, please enjoy the little Agapanthus gallery below. As usual click on the first picture and use the arrows to move through. Next month promises to be a month of Agapanthus flowers rather then buds. Can’t wait!

My next double page is about the weather and our min-meadows.

2015 08 04_4464_edited-1

My journal continues, “This year the heat of the early part of July was not set to continue for us in Shropshire. Dark grey masses of clouds took over from clear blue skies.”

Mighty Mini-Meadow is the title of the next page of my journal which features photos of the little but very floriferous meadow we sowed in early May in vegetable bags. The seeds germinated so well that we have been treated to a mass of blooms reminiscent of a summer meadow from the days before intensive agriculture changed our countryside into huge barren fields of monoculture. It sits beneath my collection of antique garden tools. These native wildlflowers attract insects as if drawn in by distant memories, bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

2015 07 20_3783 2015 07 20_3788 2015 07 20_3784  2015 07 20_3786 2015 07 20_3785

What an honour Mother Nature bestowed on us this month! This is how the next page of my journal begins. It is all about a special time in our garden, a moment we will never forget.

2015 08 04_4465_edited-1

 

“Early one morning we noticed that a Dragon Fly larva had crawled from our pond, across the decking and up the door of our summerhouse. The green colour of the door must have fooled it into thinking it was tall rushes. Once in place the back of the larva opened up and a Dragonfly very slowly emerged. At first it was wingless but as warmth increased they popped out looking as if they were made of plastic. The creature shivered itself into life and the sun helped pump life and rigidity into its wings. An hour later we watched an adult Dragonfly off.”

2015 07 18_3717_edited-1

I illustrated this amazing spectacle with a simple i-pad drawing and a photo of the head of the Dragonfly gripping the empty shell of its former self.

 

2015 07 18_3719_edited-12015 08 03_4460_edited-1-1

 

So with this amazing experience my journal closed up for July and will soon re-open for August.

 

Categories
garden design garden photography gardening grow your own hardy perennials July ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs photography poppies roses Shropshire shrubs succulents trees

A Wander around our Garden in July

July in the garden so far has carried on where June left off – rain! The grass paths squelch as you wander, trees drip on you and herbaceous plants soak your legs. The plants have loved it relishing in the warmth and dampness. They grow tall and lush too quickly and do so without gaining strength. As a result they get knocked over in windy spells and any heavy showers.

As rain persists each day from dawn till dusk a moment of light and dry gave me an opportunity to take photos for my July wander. After waiting all day I finally took the following pics just before 9:00 in the evening.

One plant that never fails is this wonderful tall grass with striped leaves. It is a good four foot tall and the long leaves are popular with the “Undergardener” to cut for flower arranging.

Our gravel garden, The Chatto Bed, is now full of colour, gentle yellows, pinks and purples. When the sun does come out for its short sessions the gravel bed is buzzing with bees. They are having a hard time this year with all this rain and wind.

The Huskers Red Pentstemon is now at its best – what a beautiful plant it is – coloured foliage, dark stems and delicate contrasting pale flowers. Having grown this from seed sown a few years ago it feels good to see it looking so good.

The Quaking Grass, Briza maxima is also known as Nodding Grass and Sparrow Grass, presumably because it simply can’t stay still in the slightest breeze.

Jude’s Border is a rich combination of purple-leaved shrubs and contrasting perennials.

Our mini-meadows  sown in terra-cotta pots have been very successful. Different flowers appear each day. The pink poppy glows in the dullest of weather – a “dayglo” poppy.

By our front door the “Freda Border” continues to provide colour in the perennials and gentle variegated foliage in the shrubs.

 

Let us now wander into the back garden and see what’s going on. Our apples are filling in nicely now and even getting a little rosiness as they start to ripen, while the Blueberries change from green to blue.

The secret garden is probably the most colourful patch at the moment.

The “Chicken Garden” although less colourful at the moment as the alliums are losing their colour, has an impressive show of perennial foxgloves, favourites of the bees.

Grasses are flowering delicately in all the borders and often after a storm hold onto rain drops. The droplets of moisture act as prisms as light finds them.

In the greenhouse tomatoes are forming on their trusses and further flowers open from their buds. Peppers like glossy green boxes promise sweetness to come.

As we approach the middle of July we can but wonder what the rest of the summer can have in store for us. So far we have had the wettest summer months on record – it is hard to imagine that summer will truly arrive. It has been hard to keep up with maintenance in the garden this summer. There is so much growth that herbaceous plants need frequent deadheading and thinning and shrubs pruned to stop them overpowering the plants beneath. Jude, “The Undergardener” is pruning back the lower branches of the variegated dogwood to let light into the smaller plants below.

As the light began to fade I took a few photos to show it glowing through foxgloves.