Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Heat wave ending.

The heat wave is coming to an end and the thunder storms are now with us. The garden borders are packed full of vegetation and are virtually impenetrable. A couple of the self sown plants which have appeared are borage (Borago officinalis) and the Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) which might actually do well in this hot weather. Of the two borage is the more welcome its striking blue flowers and hairy foliage are a treat. 
I have removed the majority of seed heads from the primulas and meconopsis allowing only a few to develop for seed, even though I do this each year I still have hundreds of self-sown primula seedlings plus a few meconopsis which unfortunately have to be treated as weeds with few exceptions. I wish I could keep them all!

Here are a few snippets from a walk round the garden:

On one side of  a central bed which although it gets a fair amount of sun is very damp, the candelabra primulas, foxgloves and meconopsis are now past their best and are being followed on by the Angel's Fishing Rods (Dierama), Primula florindae, lilies and geraniums. The spiky leaves are young iris plants which have not flowered this year.  

Geranium pratense 'Splish Splash' in amongst Primula florindae with lily stems in the background.

Primula florindae

This is a particularly well marked seedling of Digitalis 'Pam's Choice'. There are always a few which pop up every year from a sowing made about five years ago.

A self-sown plant of Angelica 'Ebony' which is still very fashionable after its use at Chelsea a few years ago. Many interesting seedlings have appeared as it has crossed freely with Angelica archangelica. Some have the height of archangelica but with red stems and slightly pinkish umbels. The plant at the back is Spirea japonica 'Golden Princess' which is one of the most beautiful and invaluable shrubs that I grow. The light yellow foliage is particularly striking but this is joined by the heads of delicate pink flowers which, in this case really contrast well. Can be cut back as hard as you like but will always come bouncing back in any reasonable soil and sun.

On a completely different tack, because much of the garden is in shade and is rather damp I do not grow many roses but couldn't resist the rambler 'Albertine'. I love the way the deep coral pink buds open into the much lighter pink flowers with a heavenly scent thrown in.

Bee eating badgers.
On the fauna front I have experienced badgers digging up a couple of bumble bee nests this year in the garden. Apparently they do this and are believed to eat the bees, grubs and what little honey is produced. Naturally this is not a much publicised aspect of badger behaviour.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


After the cold spring we have had temperatures in the high 20'sC for nearly two weeks now. Although there has been the odd drooping leaf the primulas have held up well despite the high temperatures, unfortunately the most affected plants have been the Cardiocrinums which have had the shortest flowering season I have ever seen, the petals dropping in around seven days. Even though the plants have been irrigated and are grown in two separate shady positions, as all were affected, it would appear that the high temperatures have caused the premature drop.

Cardiocrinum giganteum

The king of lilies syn. Lilium giganteum these Himalayan giants do best in the semi-shade at the edge of deciduous woodland in deep rich soil. Plants from autumn sown seed take about seven years to flower. Offsets can be removed from the side of the flowering bulb which dies in October or left to develop into flowering size bulbs in situ which is what I do, some years you have quite a few in flower, others not quite as good. On the pest side, slugs seem to have a fondness for the leaves and we suffer from the now ubiquitous lily beetle, however all problems must be overcome to experience the heavenly scent.