Tuesday, 26 July 2016

July - emerging from the gloom.

What a disaster until a week or so ago, blooms rotting off before they open and standing water in July. This post is a compilation of what seems to be the best of a bad job as we have at last been treated to some sun now.

Primula florindae and Iris ensata along with Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff also a Polygonum showing colour. 

What I like about geraniums is that some have the ability to weave in and out of other plants without being detrimental yet adding splashes of colour. Geranium × oxonianum 'Wargrave Pink' is doing just that.

The delightful little Astilbe from the background in the above picture. its name is lost in the mists of time but I think Astilbes are wonderful plants, providing colour at just the right time.

The Japanese Water Iris (Iris ensata), Polygonum, Primula florindae, a white campanula and  Spiraea japonica 'Golden Princess' are adding a touch of colour.

Two groups of containers with some lilies just breaking bud. Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' is so useful for pots but the foliage does not age too well.  

Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' partnered with Sedum Jose Aubergine

The second group is fronted by Geranium oxonianum 'Katherine Adele'. Campanula 'Sarastro' is next to it but has finished flowering and will be replaced.

Campanula 'Sarastro' note the tiny flowers of Geranium pyrenaicum alba, these charming plants seed themselves into everything and come back year after year.

Another view with the Cotinus coggygria 'Grace' growing away in rampant fashion to dominate the area, I sometimes have to cut it back mid-season.

The Front Garden

There are not many pictures on the site of my front garden other than those of problems, more later.

I seem to be acquiring a love of hardy geraniums here we have the super award winning Geranium 'Rozanne', maybe not everyone's choice for the situation but 'Rozanne' being sterile just keeps on flowering. 

Front garden view includes Polygonum microcephalum 'Red Dragon ', unknown Verbena courtesy of Roger and several others including alliums and Rudbeckia hirta.

View up the path to the front door I used to put loads of containers down the path but because of poor summers stopped, this year I have gone overboard and used Cannas and bedding plants such as petunias to put on a bit of a show.

Unknown Canna cultivar.

A mishmash of mainly Geraniums but remarkably a self sown group of Sisyrinchium striatum from a clump that died out because of encroaching shade two years ago.

Okay its common but Lysimachia vulgaris (Yellow Loosestrife)is a great reliable plant which will thrive in adverse conditions, here it sits next to Digitalis purpurea yet another common native in shade, I enjoy growing those plants which can be described as "difficult" but at the end of the day you just have to love native plants.

Creeping around in deep shade Geranium wallichianum set off by the falling needles.

Cedrus atlantica glauca needle drop.
This is the bad news, needle drop is caused by a fungus which is triggered by temperature. The cold spring seems to have played a part, when the temperatures rose very quickly earlier this year, albeit for a short time, it created the worst attack I have seen leading to massive needle drop.   

At first a sort of attractive pinkish colouration appears.

Followed by a massive needle drop, all the brown areas are now denuded and much worse.
Good stuff

After the doom and gloom here are a few plants which inspire:

Francoa sonchifolia 'Pink Giant' Reliable hardy perennial, soft green scalloped foliage sets off the pink spires of flower. (Plant World Seeds)

Dregea sinensis, Chinese climber known as the hardy Hoya or Wax-flower, Hoyas were once a popular house plant. Grown from seed this rather exotic climber proves easy to grow even with me.
The pure simplicity of a specie rose, Rosa glauca.
The "Meconopsis Bed"

Things are moving, as the big blue poppies are finishing Meconopsis walichii is coming into flower amongst the lilies and Ligularia przewalskii.

 Meconopsis bed pictures, note the Rodgersia leaves 
After a terrible spring which has seen the failure of many a plant things seem to be getting back to normal.


  1. You have done great despite the wet. At the moment I am praying for rain here in York
    I wonder if your cedar is recovering. Mine regularly looks a mess at leaf fall in May and very quickly recovers. It looks as if your wet weather has encouraged the fungus.
    Your garden looks terrific but then we have similar tastes

  2. Thanks Roger, it has certainly been more than verdant this year, to be quite honest I think this year it could well be that the cedar is knackered.

  3. Thanks for describing your approach to using the geraniums -- letting them find their way about the borders... It helps me think about finding plants that can help create the garden here. It is such a learning experience: just finding which ones survive; I suppose it will be some years before I find which will naturalize satisfactorily! Love the various Meconopsis! How long do they normally bloom for you?

    1. Hi Amy, I do like my geraniums although not all have such a lax habit, many of them will tolerate dry conditions and some in fact come from much warmer climes than the UK and are only half-hardy here. Meconopsis do not bloom for long periods as an individual bloom but the entire flower spike can last for around a month. They may be comparatively fleeting but are certainly worth it with the bonus that many of them carry very attractive rosettes of leaves.

  4. I love the look of your astilbes, I never had much luck with them in my previous garden and never worked out what the problem was. They are supposed to be easy plants….
    I also like Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' and I keep snipping mine quite often so it regrows, keeping them looking fresh.
    And I am so pleased to see your Dregea sinensis in flower! Do you still have one indoors for safekeeping or is your only one outdoors? The first few years I had mine I kept taking cuttings to have in case the main plant died, but then I realised it was not necessary, not here in London at least and I just ended up with lots of cuttings with no one to give them to.
    I have not decided on where to plant my baby plant yet, but by next year I will need to decide, it is growing fast!

    1. Thanks Helene, the key to growing Astilbes is water, although having said that I have one which flowers in dry shade! The Dregea has done well since I took your advice and planted directly into the ground although a friend to whom I have given a plant is trying it in a very large container so we will see what happens. I still have a couple in pots somewhere :-)

  5. This is my third Summer here in Cheshire Rick, 2014 was excellent, in the eyes of an Aberdonian, 2015, still not bad, this year, well, disappointing. Your garden is looking really good, the red Astilbe caught my eye, thought it may be sentinel, but perhaps its not tall enough. I have seen the Polygonum microcephalum 'Red Dragon in your garden before, it really is very eye catching. I share your fondness for Geraniums, my latest one is Azure rush, similar to Rozanne, flowers a paler blue and it behaves a little better, for thos positions where you want that.

    1. Hi Alistair, I thought we were over the worst of the weather, but the wet blustery conditions have returned with a vengeance although I am expecting warmer drier weather early next week ........ever the optimist! I first saw 'Red Dragon' on Angie's blog and took to it as I love dark foliage, a word of warning like most Polygonums it is a sprawler.

  6. You have many plants which feature in our garden, it is difficult to choose a favourite, although the hardy geraniums give good value for many years with little maintenance. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    1. I have only taken to hardy geraniums in recent years but I am very glad I did as I now find them invaluable. Enjoyed my visit to your blog and I will continue to do so, thanks for visiting mine.