The vaguely green-fingered thoughts of a rambling rose.

The Great British Summer

We Brits are renown around the world as the nation who are obsessed with the weather.  I think maybe we use it as an ice-breaker to begin a conversation, or a passing comment to your neighbour...."oooh isn't it cold today?....Phew it's a hot one!....Feel's like snow today...etc etc.  We're never content.  Gardeners are no exception not enough rain, not enough sun blah blah.

With 72 flood warnings in place, homes and businesses across the UK flooded with a month's worth of rain falling in 24h in some places and more rain on the must be the British Summer.  What joy.

Fawkes and Hedwig are sporadic in their laying so we've had to buy some in!! Fortunately there is a farmer nearby who sells them.  He has an 'honesty box' whereby you help yourself to the eggs and leave your money.  We have been so spoilt with our own eggs that even the top-of-the-range free-range organic eggs bought in the supermarket are bland in comparison, with yolks that are pale and tasteless.  Mind you, the shop-bought ones are at least 2 weeks old before they even hit the shelves!

These were just £2.50 for a dozen - a bargain

I know I showed this previously, but it will soon be just a pile of blue-purple petals blowing around the garden.  The creamy coloured boss in each will be transformed into fluffy spider-like seedheads.

A rain-drenched  rose.

 One of my newest acquisitions

A rare shot of the Toad.  I had a day off this week and as we had a dry day I got busy on a pretty wet lawn in desperate need of a trim.  The Toad followed me round as I tidied up the edges picking up the clippings and pulling the odd weed out of the border.  This unusual creature is usually found in a darkened room attaching itself to various electrical gaming and entertainment systems.  It very seldom ventures out into the daylight and rarer still if the sun is out!

Another of my new plants. The photo doesn't really do the colour justice.  The dark pinky-red flowers will be watched carefully over the next year or two to ensure they stay a dark red; the soil's acidity levels altered if necessary.

Right Royal Summer

June is usually our garden's most favoured month.  This year June has so far been a washout, which is a shame because we had a 4-day national holiday at the beginning of the month to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.  Of course, it being a Bank Holiday in Britain, it was wet and cold.

This stunning display has more than made up for it though.  Almost completely clothed in regal velvety purple, this clematis has courted a fleet of admirers from passers-by (sorry, couldn't resist).

Alongside the clematis, the honeysuckle has finally put on a delightful show of its bright yellow fireworks.  I have yet to catch if it has a scent, but for £1.99 4 years ago, you can't complain....but it would be nice if it was fragrant...

There has been some progress in the space freed up from the removal of the huge pine tree.  Along the far left, where The Man That Can erected the wire fencing, we have planted the three ivies.  The plan is that they will soon fill this ugly screen with their glossy variagated evergreen leaves, creating privacy and hiding the unsightly mess next door.  I have seen this done in a favourite garden we visit to great effect and hope it won't take too long to recreate here. 

We emptied the compost bin of perfectly made soil improver, mostly made up of old compost and bedding plants along with chicken bedding and...shall we say their fertiliser, into the new bed we've created here.  The stump has been lowered to create a little stool for the Bumblebee and the Toad to take a seat on.  Along the back edge of the bed which joins the existing bed at the bottom of the lawn we have planted young box hedging.  This will eventually thicken up and we shall have a low boundary to replace the old rickety picket fence.

We also found some excellent bargains in a garden centre over the Bank Holiday.  Due to the poor weather, garden centres have been struggling this year - is it wrong of me to take advantage of them having to sell some of their stock off cheap?  This is a red hydrangea (That makes 4 varieties of one of my favourite shrubs in our garden now).  Although it looks a little sorry for itself at the moment, it has a couple of flower buds on it.  It'll take a year or two to find its feet, so watch this space.

We have also planted a rougue fern that popped up in an unsuitable place in the garden, along with a couple of aquilegias that had been hampering the path to the greenhouse.  Other plants liberated from the sales stands of the garden centre include a Hypericum with it's warm yellow flowers and another yellow-flowered shrub, the name I cannot for the life of me recall at present.  Some seeds of annuals and biennials have been sown to help fill the gaps while these shrubs establish.  Oh and the open soil for the time being has some old pine twigs laid over them to help protect against the local cats...

As always, it doesn't look much yet, but give them another two years and they'll be well on their way!


Since it had been too cold to move the hens down to their 'summer residence' at the bottom of the garden, I took advantange of The Man That Can the weather and he built me a little patio down here for the little seating area I use when I spend time chatting with the hens.  This was all from reclaimed paving stones that had once created an odd paved area at the top of the garden. 

Unfortunately over the winter, the local cats had used our lovely barked area down here as a personal loo, so things had to change - eew.

Lets take a quick stroll around the garden in May

As you can see things are catching up, but for some reason, the hardy fuschia's are a little slow to get going this year.  End of May and this one is barely a clump of leaves at the bottom of the old twiggy stems.  It should make up for it at year's end though.

This is the sea holly making it's appearance in the front garden.  I'm always pleasantly surprised to see it emerge.

With all the loss of habitat over the past couple of years - the local council decided to rip up trees that had become unsuitable (although they had replaced with young saplings of suitable trees, but not yet established enough to house valuable nesting sites)  They had also decided to remove decades-old hedging in favour of brick walls and drives for many of the residences, which again destroyed bolt-holes, hiding places and nest sites for our precious birds.  The result has been a tremendous drop in visitors to our own bird feeders as nest sites had been searched for elsewhere.  Since we saw this mass destruction looming, a couple of years ago we added some bird boxes around the garden. 

Until this year none had been used.  How thrilled we are now to announce the arrival of a family of house sparrows in one nesting box fixed high above the garden at the eves of our own home.  You may just be able to make out one of the parents visiting their tiny (but very noisy) chicks, with a beakful of vital insects.  If this family are successful in raising their young this year in their new home, they should return again and again each year.  And since these birds tend to live in a 'terrace' alongside one another, I might be able to persuade The Man That Can to add another box along the other side of the window.

Back to some pretty flowers around the garden in May

This ceanothus shot was taken just as the flowers were fading.  They had been a more vivd blue.  This plant was bought from one of those special offers in the gardening magazines in 2009 following the devastating loss of a beautiful deep blue variety we inherited with the garden.  I overwintered it and planted it out in the spring of 2012.  It's certainly found its feet this year!  I may well have to move some of the other shubs it is overcrowding!

Not sure if these are self-sown weeds, but since they have such beautiful flowers they can stay for now.

Peonies and Acer.  Great colour combination.  The bed at the top of the wall is weed-infested I'm afraid, but time is a premium at the moment and since this bed is hidden away behind the garage, it gets the least attention.  Mental note to self - add to list of jobs.

It's taken a while, but I have now found 3 large climbing ivies for the screen project.  The other 3 plants are a dark pink hydrangea, a white hardy geranium and a weigela with lovely scented flowers in two-tone pink.

What a shame we haven't got smelly-vision!