The vaguely green-fingered thoughts of a rambling rose.

Feeling Hot Hot Hot!

Ah June. So different from the June in 2007 with the floods, or indeed last year! We had a drop or three of rain last night, but not nearly as much as we need. I had to empty one of the water butts this week as it had sprung a leak. Not a leak exactly, but the tap was coming undone, and the water was leaking out of the seal. Fortunately it happened while I was using it, so nothing was wasted. I filled up from both the tap, and by dunking a watering can into the water from the top. Once the vegetables were given a good soaking, The Man that Can tightened up the tap for me in preparation for the heavy rain that had been forecast overnight. It didn't materialise. Instead we had a little shower, which has barely covered the bottom of the butt.

Also in preparation for the rain, I applied a little weed-n-feed to the lawn, but in the absence of sufficient wet stuff or the possibility of any in the near future, we've had to resort to a good soaking with the hose - while we still can! I'm expecting the bans to be announced any day now.

Water is so very important to the gardener. Not only are my hanging baskets and containers needing to be watered every day, but the greenhouse needs damping down a couple of times per day to help cool it down a little and create humidity. Yesterday the thermometer in the greenhouse was in the 40's C despite both window and door fully open.

Of course we do need the sunshine to help the flowers and indeed crops. This has been the average temperature this week (30 odd degrees C) on my patio, home to many of my containers, and myself of course on the sunlounger reading...erm I mean wandering around the garden weeding, deadheading and checking for pests...ahem.

In the greenhouse, I have begun to harvest the pea shoots. They're just right to pop into you mouth while you're busy taking cuttings of hebe. I have a couple of really nice hebe's in the island bed that I want to propagate. All I did was pull off some sideshoots with a little 'heel' of bark, remove the lower leaves and pop around the edge of a pot containing some compost mixed in equal proportions with pearlite. Watered well and arranged them on a low shelf in the greenhouse. Not much will happen this year, but by next year, I hope that most of them will have created their own root system and be ready to pot up and grow on.

Talking of hebe's I bought  a new one this week, and it's begun to show off it's beautiful blue and white flowers which will be a magnet to bees and butterflies.

I also bought a Heuchera with dark purple leaves and yet more scented lillies that were irresistible, a new variety, bright pink which I'll share with you when in bloom . Oh yes, and a lovely fern with pinky bronze foliage when young.

Back in the greenhouse, more cuttings are prepared. This time a hardy fuschia, another variety of hebe, lavender and dianthus.

Tiny cucumbers are beginning to form behind the flowers...

...and the courgettes have begun to flower

Around the plot, Toad and the Bumblebee have been helping to harvest the strawberries. They've spotted the first raspberries and some blackcurrants, although not yet ripe.

The potatoes and tomatoes are beginning to flower, and something is stirring deep within the corn plants

We've begun harvesting the odd radish.

As for flowers, where to begin? As the vibrant red lillies begin to fade, the Sweet Peas begin to bloom. The trick with these fragrant lovelies is to keep picking them to prevent the pods from forming. As soon as they seed, their job as far as the plant is concerned is done. Fool it into flowering over a longer period by picking posies for the home. Keep them well watered to prevent mildew, and a weekly feed will pay off.

The wall baskets are doing well, awkward to water, but worth it for the colourful blooms of pelargoniums, petunias and lobelia. Regular deadheading to remove spent blooms will extend the display.

As promised, the fat buds of the fuschias in my hanging baskets have burst, revealing their contrasting inner petals. I used to think they looked like pretty little fairy dancers when I was small. The Man that Can thinks they look like space ships.

Before I wind up this post, there's just time to show off the Eryngium. I've been trying all week to get a good shot that shows how blue it is, and finally I have it.

A Cottage Garden

The cottage garden is a distinct style of garden that uses an informal design, traditional materials, dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental and edible plants. English in origin, the cottage garden depends on grace and charm rather than grandeur and formal structure.

I think my garden is about to be at it's best at last. So many of my plants are in bud, and any minute now, it's going to burst out like a firework. June is always a good month for many of my favourite flowers. Lillies, roses, fuschais and geraniums, and these are just my perennials! My hanging baskets, tubs, containers and pots are also about to explode into full bloom. Such an exciting time. Every day now I'm finding something new in flower, and I just feel compelled to share it.

This rose is called rosa Jacques Cartier. It's an old 'Portland rose'. I wasn't entirely sure it would bloom well this year as I've planted it a spot that is in shade for most of the day, but it's surprised me. It has such a wonderful scent that I cannot resist having a sniff at every opportunity. It seems very happy to grow among one of the hardy geraniums divisions we planted earlier in the year.

To succeed in my aim of a cottage garden, I need to really fill the spaces created by the losses I've had last winter. Some plants need only to bulk up and fill these spaces, but there are a couple of obvious areas that need reviewing. I don't yet know what plants I might actually want to fill these spaces yet. Any suggestions?
One plant I did manage to get my hands on, courtesy of the plant sales at the Botanical Gardens is Astrantia Major. Also known as 'Masterwort', this white variety, with it's pincushion flowers is quite happy on my clay soil. I'm going to let it self-seed around the plant, and plan to save some of the seeds to grow on in the greenhouse as a back-up plan so I can bulk them up. I also have a variety called 'Ruby Wedding' with dark red flowers, but it hasn't shown any signs of flowering yet. I suspect it just needs a little time to settle. I looks healthy enough.

It's an odd looking plant, but 'The Man that Can' has been wanting one for years. We did try to grow one in our previous garden, but it failed to thrive. With the harsh winter, we thought this one hadn't made it, but here it is. Eryngium. Also known as Sea Holly, it appears to be a metallic sculpture with an ice-blue tinge.

I know I've shown you these lillies, but I just wanted to show them off again now that the majority are open. I think they might make good bed-fellows for the eryngium next year.

Despite cosseting last year's plant in the greenhouse over winter, we lost Toad's Chocolate Cosmos. Not to be disheartened, he bought himself a new plant a few weeks ago after scouring the shelves for some weeks. This morning brought us the first of the deliciously scented dark brown flowers, famed for not only looking chocolatey, but smelling like it too. Not a calorie in sight!

Spring onions are coming up well so far

And these are the cuttings I took of the bedding plants. I haven't yet got around to potting them up individually.

Peas seedlings to the left, and various flower seedlings on the right.

The cucumbers and courgettes in growbags with twine to climb

And finally the large leaves are those of the first crop of radishes. To the left is another, younger crop and to the right is a feeble-looking crop of beetroot. I am disappointed somewhat so far with these as they were sown at the same time as the radishes. We'll see.

Right, I'm off to see if England can possibly win this game. Have fun in your gardens!

The Passion of Purple

At a glance, my herbacious border in the front is a mass of purple. Varying shades of purple, but purple non the less. I shouldn't complain, at least it's not all green.

But a closer look reveals small pockets of other colours, the white of the Digitallis, tinged with the palest of pink.

Strangely, some of the first flowers to open on one of the Digitallis spires appears to have been partially eaten. Of course the initial thought is snail or slug, but in the absence of any slimy trails or damaged foliage, I have to rethink. I have heard tales of bees chewing into the side of the forming bells to gain access to the nectar within, so I can only assume this is what has happened here.

I have a bit of a thing for Hardy Geraniums, I admit. I find them a good do'er. They fill out spaces cheaply and flower over quite a long period if you can get hold of a few varieties. They're not fussy about soil conditions, Don't mind a shady corner, and in the ten or more years I've grown them, I've never had a problem with pests or diseases. If you cut them back after flowering, they usually reward you with another flush of blooms later on. They are so easy to propagate by division, and come in a great many colours and markings. This particular one is a favourite of mine, G. Ann Folkard. This spring I divided it, so now I have two cerise patches in amongst the clouds of purple geraniums. Another good point to having hardy geraniums is the bees love them. There is never a quiet moment to be had when pottering about in this border. I do so like to watch them at their work.

Last year, I took a photo of Clematis 'Rhapsody' on 2nd June, and it was a show-stopper, with too many blooms to count. I treated this pretty climber exactly the same way, but this year I have a total of five flowers. Perhaps it was down to the weather, or perhaps it was just because it flowered so well last year, this year it was resting.

My hanging baskets either side of the door have filled out, and make a very good focal point.

The Fuschias have yet to flower in the baskets, but by the look of these fat buds, I shoudn't think they will be far behind.

There is a lot in bud at present, so all being well, the front border is on it's way to becoming that riot of colour that I see in my head. If the weather behaves of course.

The back garden is a whole different kettle of fish. I suppose you could say it's divided into rooms, each with it's own conditions. The shady corner behind the greenhouse, with another Hardy Geranium, this time in baby pink. Home also to a small pink-and-white Rhododendron, a smaller purple flowered Azalea,and the huge towering spikes of a very popular clump of digitallis, almost constantly visited by fat noisy bumble bees.

In the veg patch, the sweetcorn is still growing strong. I've thinned out the carrots, beetroot and radishes. They are needing to be watered every evening now, regardless of whether it has been raining or not.

In the second veg patch beside the boys' hut, the sweetcorn is coming on nicely too. Here we also have the courgettes, french beans,onions and a mixed lot of flower seedlings. The intention here is to create a bit of a floral under-planting, but some of them will be dug up and replanted in other parts of the garden as the late spring flowers go over and create gaps. I can't actually remember what I sowed amongst all the veg, so it's going to be a bit of a surprise when they are identifiable. A nice one I hope...

A hop, skip and a jump up the garden path brings us to the patio. Here many of the pots are filled with the flowers-yet-to-come, but some colour is to be had here. The wall baskets are begining to fill out, and the first petunia blooms have opened.

Sweet Williams.

Vivid lillies really pack a glowing punch. The only thing these particular lillies lack is fragrance.

The dahlia's were finally planted in the patio border and the peppers, cucumbers and second batch of courgettes planted into grow-bags.

Today I tasted my first home-grown strawberry of the season. Ok so they aren't all especially shaped like the traditional strawb, but what they lack in looks, they more than make up for in flavour. Far and away better than your average water-pumped supermarket variety.

Green Green Grass of Home....

Ok, so there's not so much colour in the garden, but maybe it's because of the late Spring.
The Peonies, while having dazzled us with their vibrancy, are now fast becoming a victim to the weather. Since our return, it seems to have done nothing but rain. It's cold, damp and miserable, just like the garden. There is a flash here and there with the hardy geraniums, strawberry flowers, and creamy spires of foxgloves, but on the whole, the garden is very green.

There is plenty of new life though. These are beetroot 'bolthardy' and a form of red globe radish who's name evades me at the moment. The radish will need thinning quite soon, and I shall use the leaves in a stir-fry to add a bit of 'zing'. The beetroot leaves are edible too. Young leaves in a salad, larger ones wilted as spinach or chopped up in a quiche. Or the trusty bung it all in soup. Lovely!

I'm going to finish this very short update with a look at how the ferns are coming along. I don't actually know what either of them is called, so if you do, please leave me a message!