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: Winky Pinky Whatever

I am pleased to be joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her regular Monday meme, as we start another weird week…

This rather pretty Aquilegia has a strange name, ‘Winky Double Rose and White’ but I am not going to discriminate it for that. 😉 I believe in freedom of the individual! And it has an upright and honest constitution.

It has set a few seedlings since last year but none of them are in flower yet.  The deep purply pink leaves of Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ and the maroon Geranium phaeum are a little dark and sombre but compliment the pink hues nicely. There is a deep velvety red Viola tucked in tight somewhere too. I also added a Pulmonaria ‘Wuppertal’ (Lungwort) which is actually past its best but the freckled leaves are almost as pretty as the flowers. And it is a reminder…

To lighten things up a bit I added a wild strawberry flower and a white Allium cowanii as well as an Alchemilla leaf. The leaves had to be rinsed as they were still covered in pollen despite a fair bit of rain recently. It seems we are having another mast year and the conifers are pumping out pollen like there is no tomorrow. I wonder if they know something we don‘t….

The doiley in the photos was crocheted by me several summers ago as a kind of therapeutic exercise… maybe I need something like that now too.

 

Excuse my odd mood this week. No, I am not on drugs and have not started drinking. Perhaps I am going potty or losing my marbles. I think you can all sympathise though.

Have a good week, and stay safe sane.

😷🤪🤪🤪😷

 

In a Vase on Monday: Shooting Star

Joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme is so much fun. 😃

A strong ice cold north-easterly wind over the past few days has provided material too, with several Narcissi being bent flat and the hellebores looking decidedly fed up with the constant battering!

First I cut some of my Hellebore ericsmithii ‘Shooting Star’. I decided it looked best alone in my mini vase bought in Norfolk a few years ago. 🙂 I love the way Shooting Star changes from pale creamy white/yellow to pale pink.

The background plant is my dear Maidenhead fern, which has forgiven me twice in the last year or so for not watering it and has bounced back each time!

Then I used the second matching vase for the other oddments rescued, including the battered Narcissi. I will make a mental note not to plant any more tall ones on windy corners. 😉

Since moving out further into the countryside away from street lights and motorways we have been able to see more stars than ever on clear nights, and more shooting stars in the past two years than in my entire life up to then! My first memory of a shooting star was in Blakeney, Norfolk, where my vases come from. I was only about 8 years old and I spied the star through a pebbled stone archway looking out to sea. Magical!

So, not only do I have some pretty flowers to look at, but pleasant thoughts to go with them. I do hope you are all able to have some pleasant thoughts today despite these difficult times.

Keep smiling and take care.

xx

The Butterfly Bed, October 2019

This time last year I started planting up my brand new flower bed. A year on it looks like it has been there forever. 🙂  It has been amazing all summer, despite the drought, and with some welcome rain in the autumn it has continued to attract butterflies until today.

We have had no end of Painted Ladies all summer in all sizes and some very pale and washed out but with exactly the same markings as this bright one pictured above. The German name ‘Distelfalter’ – Thistle Butterfly – reveals its favourite plant, and we have plenty of them both in and around the garden! It has enjoyed the Verbena bonariensis, Buddleia and Cosmos especially.

Another butterfly was caught with my camera the other day. I thought it was a Silver Washed Fritillary, but now think it may have been a Queen of Spain Fritillary. In any case it also loved the Verbena. 🙂

I have also seen Great Tits eating the Verbena seeds, which surprised me.

There are four Buddleias which I think attract the butterflies most in summer, but they are practically over now. Currently it is the Aster that is grabbing all the attention in this bed – not only that of the bees, hoverflies etc, but mine too!

Aster pringlei ‘Pink Star’ is leaning at a rather odd angle I’m afraid, as a storm in September threatened to topple it completely and it was propped up as best I could without damaging it. The butterflies – especially Peacocks – have been visiting regardless, and the bees love it!

Geranium ‘Rozanne’ has just got better and better since the heatwave in July which caused it to stop flowering almost completely. The little Achillea next to it is a relatively new addition. It is called ‘Pomegranate’ which describes the colour pretty well. Although we have wild Achillea all over the garden, the ones planted in the flower beds have not thrived, so I am hoping this one will do better.

Here is a wider view of both Pink Star and Rozanne.

Mmmm… Miscanthus!

It is one of my favourite plants! This is ‘Adagio’, chosen because I grew it in the old garden and it is a relatively compact one. I have planted other Miscanthus, but they need another year or two to get established it seems. Adagio must be a strong one to have done so well in such a short space of time. The Gaura in front of it in this photo was planted in spring and will probably not get through the winter, but it has been a wonderful splash of pink here all year. (18th Nov: Correction! This pink one in the photo is actually Miscanthus ‘Red Chief’ and Adagio is next to it…)

Finally, the hardy Scabiosa (S. caucasica ‘Perfection Blue’) which I grew from seed have flowered on and off all summer and already set seed with new plants appearing. The flowers are about 8-10cm across, and such a beautiful shade of blue… I really recommend this plant!

So, all in all it has been a good year for the Butterfly Bed. Next year I will try harder to get photos of the other butterflies visiting.

Have you had many butterflies this year? Which was most common? I would also love to hear what plants you grow for attracting butterflies.

Wishing you all a wonderful Sunday and a great week. Thanks for visiting!

 

Sempervivums and a Sledge…

I love plants that take care of themselves, whatever the weather throws at them. Who wouldn’t?!

Recently I collected some old pots of Sempervivums from our old garden that had been neglected for … ahem…. quite some time(!), and replanted them in some grit and a little bit of compost along with all their ‘babies’ and a few new additions.

They have been placed in this antique sledge that a friend found for us on an old farm last year.

Now, be honest with me, do you think this is kitschy?! 😉

I can see the sledge across the yard from the kitchen window and we put some fairy lights on it last Christmas… now that was pushing it a bit!

Do you have any kitsch/almost kitsch in your yard or garden? Do share! 😉

In a Vase on Monday: Experimenting

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with a Monday vase.

It is always a joy to cut flowers and bring them indoors. What is even better is when there is enough material to experiment a little. And even better than that is when you have a ‘new’ vase!

Well, actually this ‘Lotus’ vase was purchased in the spring, and I was hesitant about using it as I feared it would need so much to fill it. It is a shallow glazed dish with a removable lid that has about 30 holes in it. I was surprised at how I could put varying stem lengths in it to create a rather pleasing arrangement. It will definitely be used more frequently in future!

The flowers and grasses used are:

Zinnia, Rudbeckia fulgida, Rudbeckia Prairie Glow, Cosmos Bright Lights, Cosmos Purity, Cosmos Double Click Cranberry, Lantana, Fennel seedheads, Echinacea Sunrise, Miscanthus Adagio, Pennisetum, culinary Sage leaves, Artemisia Silver Queen, Helenium Lemon Queen, Borage, Hypericum Miracle Night, Verbena bonariensis and probably a couple of others I have forgotten!

Special thoughts are with our host today. Do go and visit her and see what lovely flowers have been put in vases around the globe.

(Click on any image below to see a slideshow)

Wishing you all some of the gorgeous September sunshine we have been enjoying!

 

In a Vase on Monday: Antiquity

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme once again, and have picked some flowers to put in a vase and share.

I don’t think I have a single antique among my possessions, but the title of this week’s vase refers rather to the pretty Cosmos which features here and gave the inspiration for the pink colour theme. Whoever gave this flower its name was quite clever – the colour does in fact fade as the flower ages, just as a piece of material might fade over the years, giving a feel of time passing by, or nostalgia. How apt as we see summer fading to autumn as well.

The glass vase also contains some of the last wild flowers blooming in our meadow: Queen Anne’s Lace, Chamomile, Achillea…

In addition, there is a sprig of Buddleia, some Miscanthus, pink Heuchera, a white Cosmos ‘Purity’ and the lovely deep pinky red Cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberries’. I can recommend all three of the Cosmos. Each has a different growth habit; the white is tall and willowy, the Cranberry tall and bushy and very resilient to wind, and Antiquity is much shorter with barely noticeable foliage. Antiquity does need deadheading though, as the dark seedheads look rather unsightly. But since I love deadheading I don’t mind – I spent a whole morning doing the rounds last week!

I wonder if you grew Cosmos this year and which ones you liked best? I will be choosing seeds for next year soon and these three are on my list.

Before I go, I have got an extra vase today which is for my Mum and Dad. 🙂 Mum gave me the sweet little cream jug recently and my Dad loves Antirrhinums! These red and orange ones set seed at the foundations of the house where a pot of them stood last summer. A nice surprise.

Do visit Cathy to see her vase today.

And have a great week!