In a Vase on Monday: Meadow flowers

On the edge of the woods and the perimeters of the garden there are lots of pretty meadow flowers and grasses opening. Some of the grasses are as pretty as the flowers with a reddish tinge to them, so I picked a mixture for my vase this week.

 

On the left are some of the remaining Moon Daisies from last week‘s vase, in my cornflower teapot. On the right, two Purple Rain Alliums that had disappeared beneath an ambitious Euphorbia and a single Scabiosa that got cut off by mistake. And in the middle the meadow flowers.

Harebells…

Cow parsley and bedstraw, ragged robin, buttercups and daisies and a few grasses…

The elderflowers and dog roses are also in flower already. I shall be making elderflower pancakes again soon. Doesn‘t time fly!😃

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this special Monday meme. 😃

The Oval Bed

Finally I can show you what has been keeping me busy during lockdown, and keeping me sane… 😜  I think!

In the middle of winter I started planning my next garden bed. The long-term plan is to have several beds like islands on the south side of the house, with grasses being the linking feature. This latest bed is intended to bring the garden – and the birds – closer to the house. The centre will have a stone birdbath. I hope I will find something suitable from a local stonemason once things return to normal.

This was the view in winter, photographed from the warm living room, when only the edges had been marked out…

And then before planting began…

Don‘t worry, the obelsiks have been straightened out…and fixed with steel rods deep in the ground. Let‘s hope they withstand our strong winds on this exposed hill! They will look lopsided at certain angles anyway as the whole garden slopes slightly.

This is what it looked like after the first planting session on Good Friday:

Waiting for plant orders to arrive meant constant weeding was necessary in between. But finally, last week, the newly sown grass leading to the centre was up, and most of my planting was complete (for now!). So I spent several hours spreading wood chippings as mulch to suppress the weeds and retain moisture…

There are about 80 plants in there, some of them divisions from other flower beds, but don‘t they just disappear! To give you an idea of size, the tallest obelisk is about 2 metres, the smallest 1.2 metres.

I put the sprinkler on it afterwards and am very impressed with the moisture retention so far. I also like the appearance – softer than gravel, but distinctively different to the other beds.

I have chosen Dianthus and Phlox for ground cover, Stipa tenuissima and Miscanthus as grasses, and several Clematis on the obelisks. Two are flowering already…

Nubia (which should flower all summer)

And the Duchesse of Edinburgh, just unfurlinge her petals…

I also planted Centranthus ruber, Verbena bonariensis and Gaura for height, Echinacea, Salvia and Scabiosa for the pollinators, and added my favourite Viburnum – V. carlesii ‘Aurora’.

Scabiosa Butterfly Blue

All these plants should be eventually be happy with our dry well-drained soil and south-west-facing position. The wind may be a problem. But I will cross that bridge when I come to it! 😉 After all, my word of the year is HOPE, and I hope to gradually find plants that are tough enough for our hot summers, cold winters and strong winds!

Helianthemum ‘Ben Hope’ (chosen for the name!)

Now I need to plant out my annuals grown from seed into all the beds – sunflowers and tithonia for the sunshine bed, calendula for the herb bed and gaura, cosmos and cleome in the Oval Bed. So glad I have had this project (and such good weather for it) to keep me physically and mentally occupied over the past two months. 😃

Have you had any particular projects or done anything different in your garden this spring?

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Fresh as a Daisy

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with a vase for Monday on this beautiful May morning.

My vase contents were decided for me this week… the farmer who mows our larger grass areas announced yesterday he was on the way. So I nipped out quick and picked an armful of the freshly opened Moon Daisies and plonked them in the pretty jug my sister gave me a few years ago. 😃

Leucanthemum vulgare

I always call them Moon Daisies, although I know they are more commonly known as ox-eye daisies. But how unromantic is ox-eye!

I found a lovely quote from a British naturalist, Marcus Woodward:

… ‘the flower, with its white rays and golden disc, has small resemblance to an ox‘s eye, but at dusk it shines out from the mowing-grass like a fallen moon.’

I couldn‘t have said it better myself!

I found some other names for it used in various parts of the world, including moon penny, moon flower, midsummer daisy, golden marguerites and butter daisy.

😃☀️😃

We still have a few in between where was mown, and harebells and cow parsley are also starting to flower. This is such a lovely time of year.

Here is a shot of the mowing in action. In the foreground you can just see the tip of the Butterfly Bed where the Alliums are the stars right now.

And a bonus photo from early this morning snapped from the window!

Have a great week, with plenty of May sunshine and hopefully no more frost! 😉

The Ice Saints, May 2020

Modern art, you may ask?

No, it’s a young Gingko tree, given to us by friends when we moved here, and wrapped up in garden fleece!

In Germany the final frosts of the year according to ancient folk sayings are mid-May, on the four Saint‘s Days from 12th to 15th May. And until today they are surprisingly accurate. Last night the 11th-12th was Saint Pankratius and we had a couple of degrees of frost. Tonight is Saint Servatius and temperatures could drop below zero again… a nightmare for gardeners who have been tempted by an exceedingly mild and warm April and early May to plant up pots of Pelargoniums and vegetables and sow annuals…

The Cold Frame

Thank goodness for garden fleece and various bits of packing materials saved for wrapping up sensitive plants. And for our trolley, which came in handy for gathering up these pots to put under cover for the night.

The zucchini and butternut are in pots this year as the ongoing drought deterred us from starting a vegetable bed again this spring. Maybe next year… In the meantime, it means wrapping up pots overnight. These looked a bit peaky this morning when I took the photo, but by the afternoon they had perked up, albeit with some slight leaf damage despite the fleece wrapping.

With our greenhouse plans also postponed for at least another year, I invested in this mini patio greenhouse. It has been worthwhile, with room for twelve trays. And with a bit of garden fleece it stays above freezing overnight. It was delivered in a trillion pieces though, so don’t ask how long it took me to put it together! 😫

At the beginning of our lockdown in mid-March I panicked a bit and worried I would not get any tomato plants, as even if our garden centres ever opened again there would be a rush for them. So I ordered a mix of tomato seeds from a Russian lady not far from us who has a private nursery and usually sells young plants in spring. They are all old varieties brought over from Russia by her parents, and so are not EU certified (so I can‘t eat them… 🤪🤣😉) and ALL of them germinated! So I now have 28 healthy young plants and cannot give them away as I can‘t visit anyone! I think I will be spending all summer watering…

Tomatoes, Tithonia, Sunflowers, salad leaves and a couple of leftover zucchini plants

Some dahlia tubers freshly planted in pots were brought indoors, as were my Lemon Verbena plants. I have been coddling these darlings, bringing them indoors every night.

I love lemon verbena tea and dry the leaves so I can enjoy it all year round. Last year my plants did not thrive and I had to ration my remaining tea. I hope this year I can refill my stock. 😀

The last of our Ice Saints is the dreaded ‘kalte Sophie’, cold Saint Sophia on the 15th, and it looks like that might be our last frosty night…. I do hope so as the wrapping up and unwrapping is getting a bit ridiculous!

How do you cope with late frosts? Is there a specific date for the last ones where you live?

🌷❄️🌷

Sunshine Bed and Larch Forest, Spring 2020

The Sunshine Bed, planted up last Spring, has come to life and really is shining in all the wonderful sunshine we have had recently. Shining despite the lack of rain this month too… I think we had one afternoon of light showers early April! (And just a few spots this afternoon)

The creamy yellow tulip is Akebono, which featured in my tulip vase last week. It is quite blousy with pretty edges that sometimes turn slightly peachy. In the background the broom has started to flower. I love having this in the garden as it grows wild in our region and is also just starting to colour the roadsides. 😃 In the foreground is a small Alchemilla mollis… in the Butterfly Bed the Alchemilla are much bigger already, but this bed is more exposed to the cold nights and wind. I have had lots of Narcissi in this bed too, but they are all over now. And I am very happy to see the Californian Poppies I had last summer have spread and are already forming nice clumps.

From a slightly different angle the new larch forest, planted last year, is just visible.

Last autumn I suddenly decided I wanted to plant a larch forest. How many trees make a forest? I chose seven small trees, about 1.3 meters tall, and planted them in the rain one dreary December afternoon. It was dark by the time I was done, but what a great feeling! 😃

And now the beautiful fresh green of their new needles is creating a lovely focal point beyond the Sunshine Bed. My Man of Many Talents kindly mowed around it the other day…

Their spring colour is intense and yet soft, and the golden autumn colour is quite magical.  Do you have larch trees in or near your garden?

I wonder what green you look forward to most in Spring… Larch green? Euphorbia green? Grass green?! Do share your thoughts! 😃

Thanks for reading. 🦋