Thursday, 25 June 2015

Night Scents

 Last night at about 10:30pm I took the dogs out to the garden before locking up. It was a still, warm evening and I was hit by a series of scents as I walked down to the lawn with them
 The first strong scent was from this curry plant, very distinct and spicey
 The strongest scent was from the honeysuckle, not surprising as it flowers at night to attract moths to pollinate it. I love honeysuckle so encourage it in the garden, however in the past it has given me quite bad hayfever but I seem more tolerant of it these days.
Close to the seating area the sweetpeas I have growing up the legs of the gazebo fill the air with their overpowering sweet smell. They are a fantastic plant for scent and one of the few that I cut to bring indoors, the more flowers yo cut the more blooms they produce

All these scents are floating on a background musk from the roses which are all around the garden.

I recently tried night walking which is basically walking in the countryside without light. I got the idea after reading a book by Robert Macfarlane. I walked a circular route around our village which I know really well and it was an amazing experience. Your eyes adjust to the darkness quite quickly, but your senses of hearing and smell really come into their own. You hear every rustle and movement and detect lots of smells that you would push to the back of your consciousness if you were using your eyes. It was a really thought provoking experience which I will do again soon.

Monday, 22 June 2015

June gap

 Gardeners often refer to the June gap, this is the period between the end of the spring flowers and the start of the summer blooms. This is not only a lean time for the gardener but also for bees as there is very little nectar about.
Here at the Willows I manged to bridge this gap quite well as you can see from these photo's of the wildflower area. The next succesion of flowers are already in bud ready to bridge the gap into July.

It is very important that gardeners do select bee friendly plants that flower at this time of year. The marked decline in the bee population will affect us all if our crops and flowers aren't pollinated in the future

Another native plant that is coming into flower is this stunning little orchid Dactylorhiza maculata or Marsh spotted orchid. This one is growing in a pot as part of my alpine/orchid collection the garden soil here is heavy clay which wouldn't suit it if I planted it out. I should add that it was bought from a reputable grower and not collected from the wild which would be both illegal and irresponsible.
Dactylorhiza maculata.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Flaming June?

Poppy 'Fluffy Raffles'
Well the weather might not be flaming yet but the flowers certainly are. Hot reds are appering all around the garden adding heat to the flower beds.


For me red in the garden is a mixed blessing. I am red/green colour blind which means that although I still see Red and Green i find it had to distinguish them apart at a distance, often we will be driving and Sharron will say that the poppies in a field or the blossom on a tree looks great and I haven't a clue what she is talking about.


The Pelagoniums in my urn's are looking great, some of these are from cuttings I took last year and some are new plants. hopefully they will keep flowering all summer.


The Sweetpeas I have growing up the legs of our gazebo are all breaking into flower, they are also filling the air with a wonderful scent.

These poppies are self seeded and growing in the wildflower bed, wonderful vibrant red, such a strong colour for such a delicate bloom which only lasts a day or so.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Wildflower bed pt1

Cornflower Centaurea cyanus

A couple of years ago we proud to become the temporary home for some moles, I first realised this when the wheel of the lawnmower disappeared into one of their runs. This gave me the excuse to get rid of half the lawn (I hate lawns) and sow it as a wildflower bed. The total area I put aside is about 500sq feet (46 sq M) over the winter i removed as much of the grass as possible and roughly dug it over, I then applied a wildflower mix and left it......... big mistake! I ended up with a huge bed of thistles and nettles. So this year I reapplied a (better) seed mix and have been carefully removing most of the thistles as they appear.

Red Campion Silene diocia

So this year I have got a far better mix of flowers and these will self seed which will generate more flowers each year. I thing that I have learnt is that a small wild flower area needs to be managed, that might seem to be an oxymoron but in the wild certain wild flowers will dominate an area due to slight changes in environment, soil type etc, in a small area there isn't a balance, for instance if there is a high phosphate level in the soil this will encourage nettles.

So the bed is very much a work in progress, but already it is looking great with lots of colour and it is encouraging lots of insects and other wildlife into the garden, the moles however seem to have moved on.

These are pictures of a few of the flowers and grasses in bloom at the moment.

White Campion Silene latifolia

Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare

Timothy Phleum pratense

Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens

Festuca sp

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Our Walnut

Walnut Juglans regia

This is our Walnut I say ours but we are just its current owners and protectors. Its a symbiotic relationship really, we look after it and it repays us with nuts ( if the squirrels don't get them first), Wood for carving when we prune it and leaves for leaf mould for the rest of the garden. 
The tree towers over the house and must be about 80ft high and we know it is about 120 years old. In this photo of the house from about 1903 you can see a shrub growing at the side of the house, the young tree.

In fact if the Walnut wasn't growing where it is we wouldn't be living here. The previous owners of the house wanted to fell it so they could extend the house, luckily there is a Tree preservation order  (TPO) on the tree so it was saved and they moved. 

One thing has always puzzled me which is as you can see from the old photo this house was called Rose Cottage, at some point in the last 100 years it was changed not to Walnut cottage but to The Willows. We do have a small pollarded Weeping Willow at the end of the garden but the Walnut is the dominant tree.

We try and encourage wildlife into the tree, there is a bat box on the trunk and birds nest in the canopy every year. I think however my highlight was when this fledgling Tawny owl chick used it   a couple of years ago.

This is part of Lucy Corrander's monthly Tree Following meme. See more at Loose and Leafy.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Monday morning

 After the wind and storms of last week all seems peaceful in the garden today. Everything is growing fast now as you can see from my wild flower bed (above) which has shot up from nothing in the last few weeks. At some point I will post a list of some of the species in the bed with photo's but I need to spend a few hours working out whats there. I also need to start recording some of the insects visiting the flowers. I am so pleased with the decision to create it partly driven by our unwillingness to do anything to tackle the moles that were ruining the tatty bit of lawn we had, not to forget the damage the dogs were doing trying to dig them up :-)

The climbing rose (Bobby James)has taken over my potting shed, if you look closely below you can just make out the side window through the foliage. This monster was planted about 8 yrs ago and is massive, it does however look  amazing once it breaks into flower which should be in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile in the Alpine house this stunning carnation (Duchess of Roxburgh) is in flower. I grow several old greenhouse carnations but this is one of my favourites.

This lovely rose ' That's Jazz' is also in bloom, I planted this one in memory of one of our cats, Jazz who we lost a while back. I am really pleased with it and I think of him every time I see it.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Blow the wind southerly

Well yesterday was exciting we had a strong southerly wind sweeping across the garden with the occasional very strong gust (or gussock as they are known in these parts) realy moving the trees around.

Elsewhere in the garden this clematis is in flower hiding under a huge climbing rose (Bobby James) which has completely engulfed my potting shed. I can't remember which clematis it is, in fact I don't actually remember planting it.

Although it was windy it was quite mild with the occasional smither of rain, so I planted out 5 tomato plants I had bought for 20p each from a stall outside a house in the next village. I have given up growing them under glass as we have been plagued by blight for the last few years. I have put these in the herb garden quite spaced out so hopefully a good airflow around them will keep the fungus at bay.

And in the alpine house this alpine aster Aster alpinus 'Golith'
is in flower.

It's a lovely little plant only a couple of inches high.

Monday, 1 June 2015

June is upon us

 Today is is the first day of summer according to the Met Office which is why we needed hot water bottles last night. Luckily my greenhouse heater is permanently set to kick in at 10 c to keep my orchids happy.
Rose 'Darcy Bussell'
 One of my favourite roses is in bloom 'Darcy Bussell' not only is it stunning looking but also has a lovely scent.

The herb garden has taken off in the last couple of weeks. Yes I know there is a leek in the foreground going into seed but I like the flowers and I also collect the seed for this years crop.