Saturday, 25 April 2015

April pictorial including the woodland bit!

So much going on at this time of the year I just took the camera round the garden yesterday to see what I could see. Plenty of early treats but a promise of so much more to come.

Acer platanoides 'Crimson King'
 Rather like the photo' but the Norway Maple is not a good choice for most gardens although it is a popular choice for public gardens and streets. I bought it in a fit of pique to counteract the view from the intrusive extension built next door but subsequently moved it to a a place where it could be controlled without causing me problems.

Amelanchier lamarckii
  June Berry or Snowy Mespilus
Asarina procumbens
I can honestly say that the creeping snapdragon, of which I have several plants as they seed themselves everywhere, is never out of flower 52 weeks of the year, they are not spectacular but with the soft hairy leaves and pale yellow flowers are a wonderfully understated plant and much, much hardier than anyone could imagine. They are also very attractive to bees.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
The Brunneras are much admired and I also grow Brunnera macrophylla 'Looking Glass'  I suppose the problem will always be to me that they are too much like Forget-me-nots of which I have more than my fair share!

Camellia japonica 'Adolphe Audusson'

Cardiocrinum giganteum
 The king of lilies this is a bulb which is going to produce a flower this year, many of mine were decimated by lily beetle and slugs last year and haven't recovered very well. Lily beetle returned about a week ago and I have now sprayed and crushed what I could find so fingers crossed. Not to put too fine a point on it my thumb and forefinger turned red I was so busy.

Omphalodes cappadocica 'Cherry Ingram'
This is a little jewel I bought at Roger's open day last year, I think I read he is not doing it this year which is a shame.

Primula gracilipes
Very easy to grow for a Petiolarid Primula.

Viola jooi
I have two pans of this delicate little viola which have thrived for at least six years in the same container, native of Transylvania.

Squirrel Mayhem.

Don't we just love squirrels to DEATH.

A survivor.
Tulipa 'Monte Orange' almost intact.

The Hardy Orchid

Pleione formosana
Very much the star of many an alpine show, these beautiful "hardy" orchids are in fact easy to grow,  these were given to me by a good gardening friend.

The Red Corner 

The "Meconopsis bed"

"Woodland" bit in the background the bed in the foreground is for the likes of Meconopsis

Some fern fronds have actually survived the winter.

Meconopsis central with a few lilies poking through.

The "Woodland"

A mixture of my favourite epimediums along with trilliums, erythroniums, arums, geraniums, hellebores et al. 

Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messell'
I do hope you have enjoyed a wander around my very informal garden.

Don't forget you can click on the picture for a larger image.

Saturday, 11 April 2015


I used to have a descriptive website which was started around 2006 and then closed down before I started blogging so I have decided that this year, and maybe even next, I might just work my way through the A to Z list that I used and even regurgitate some of the old descriptions and certainly the pictures, interspersed with some more current observations, I hope you approve. It is no coincidence that the subject of the last few posts has begun with 'A', I have been looking round for inspiration as I don't like repeating stuff more than I have to, there is only so much variation in an established garden and having raised nothing new from seed last year the cupboard is a bit bare.

The Agastaches are principally from the southern USA and Mexico and although frequently described  as a hardy perennial are definitely not with me, come on guys in your wildest imagination how does a plant from Mexico become hardy in northern UK? The exception may be the cultivars of Agastache rugosa such as the popular A. rugosa ‘Liquorice Blue’ as the original species originates from Korea and China, the only one that does. Agastache foeniculum just about survives with me more from self-sown seedlings rather than the original plants. There are over 20 species and many different hybrid colour forms, known as Hyssop or Giant Hyssop they are noted for their aromatic foliage and the fact they are bee-magnets.    

Agastache foeniculum
To me the very basic agastache, survives a mild winter but then can disappear for a year and then re-emerge from self-sown plants. Like all agastaches it has the distinctive aromatic foliage the aniseed scent of which I am quite addicted to, probably something to do with an over familiarity with Absinthe.  

Agastache 'Apricot Sprite'
My favourite although there have been better colour forms since, these plants, which although grown as a batch of half-hardy annuals, actually survived the winter and came back much stronger as pictured. Needless to say they succumbed in the following winter, should have taken cuttings!

Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee'
A rather nice golden leaved form ex. Plant World Seeds where it was discovered. I love PWS, they try to provide fresh seed and are basically a very open and ethical outfit but unfortunately, being based in Devon, they have a habit, along with some less discriminating suppliers, of describing what are to me doubtfully hardy plants as hardy perennials, they also have been known to describe some plants which are essentially monocarpic as perennial.

Agastache foeniculum - white form
I was rather hoping this might be Agastache anisata alba but I am certain it is a white form of A.foeniculum this is what happens when you raise most of your plants from seed.

Agastaches are easily raised from seed, an early sowing inside will give you plants that will flower the same year, in milder areas late spring and autumn cold sowings will give you plants to flower the following year. Cuttings can be taken any time during the growing season but usually late summer. Definitely worth growing although not ideal for my conditions. Like most plants once established they will withstand more extreme conditions.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Underrated Abutilons

The weather seems to be improving after an horrendous week of rain and high winds, temperatures are on the rise and there are already several lots of cold sown seed showing germination.
The plant below is of course the half-hardy perennial Abutilon megapotamicum and probably the first one most gardeners would have come across. Although really a sprawling climber which needs tying in, it has been used in parks department bedding schemes as a spot plant for years. I first remember this in a parks department cool glass house where it was allowed to grow over the central doorway as a source of cuttings for such bedding schemes. Megapotamicum will survive winters here on a sheltered wall but it is best to take cuttings in late summer to be on the safe side.

Abutilon megapotamicum
There are a few improved forms available of a similar flower type such as A. x milleri  and A. 'Kentish Belle' but these have now been pretty much superseded by the larger flowering types.

Abutilon 'Golden Fleece'

Abutilon T&M Large Flowered Hybrids
These large flowered hybrids, particularly the Bella Series of F1 hybrids make really useful container plants in a variety of colours ranging through pinks, reds, peaches, yellow and white and have the benefit of being used year on year with some protection, in fact in mild areas a cold greenhouse may suffice. If unable to house the large plants, as mentioned above easily rooted cuttings allow a stock to be carried through the winter even on a windowsill. They are naturally evergreen and can be used as a house plant but do not worry if overwintering plants shed their leaves in low temperatures, pruning back to about two thirds of their height in mid-winter will stimulate new growth in the spring. Another very useful asset and one of the reasons I have grown them is that they are shade tolerant and do not need a sunny position to flower well.

Abutilon T&M Large Flowered Hybrids
Although a poor picture, it does show another colour form and the characteristic large maple-like palmate leaves which have led to some of its common names such as Parlour Maple or Flowering Maple. 

I notice it is not currently listed by T&M but there is just time to make a sowing inside to produce plants which will flower this year.  

Many thanks to the HPS image library for the first two pictures.