Six on Saturday – May Clematis

The late spring Clematis are beginning to flower beautifully.  Some scramble with enormous vigour whilst others are more moderate in their growth.  All are lovely however and exploit the vertical dimension of the garden to great effect.  Striking combinations of these delicate flowers with complementary foliage and flowers makes them really shine.  Here are my six for this week.


One:  Clematis montana ‘Odorata’

This delightful pink clematis has a a strong vanilla scent that fills the air in the garden behind the house.  Located close to one of our garden seats it is a lovely place to drink our morning coffee in the sun.

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Two:  Clematis montana ‘Tetrarose’

This clematis grows close to the house on a trellis in the patio garden. It produces masses of simple pink flowers in late spring.

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Three:    Clematis montana

This plant is extremely vigorous and needs a lot of maintenance to stop it overwhelming other trees.  It grows amongst a white lilac and a red leaved Prunus and it is this combination with the mass of  pink flowers of the Clematis montana that creates a wonderful show at this time of year.

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Four:  Clematis ‘Daniel Daronda’

One of the first blue clematis of the year.  We have two of these plants and they do not seem to grow with any great vigour.  However, they are very reliable returning without fail each year.

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Five:  Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’

‘Nelly Moser’ seems to be very happy growing on a north facing wall with very little direct sun.  Its large flowers, some 6-8 inches across, brighten up the shaded patio area behind the kitchen.  It also has attractive seed heads in the autumn that have a golden sheen.

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Six:  Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’

This large flowered early clematis grows in part-shade and is really striking against the dark ivy leaves that cover the trellis.  It seems to be very reliable returning without fail each year.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

 

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Six on Saturday – New additions

Like many of you we have been tempted by new plants over the winter months.  To be truthful there are many more than just six but these are the new additions to the garden that I have recently been getting into the ground.  As the plants are all very small or under the soil at the moment I have taken the liberty of linking to a few pictures of more mature plants (a taster of what is to come I hope!).


One:  Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’

From time to time we take a break from working in the garden to enjoy one of the excellent weekly lectures at Pershore College.  Many of the speakers bring along live plants to illustrate their talks and of course we cannot resist buying something.

This delightful new Mahonia is a compact evergreen shrub that has spineless leaves and grows eventually to about 1 metre by 1 metre.  We originally thought that we would grow this in a pot but to be honest we are very poor at looking after things in pots and it was beginning to look a little sickly.  It has now been planted out into the garden where I am sure it will fair much better

Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.gardeningexpress.co.uk


Two:  Aster ericoides ‘Vimmers Delight’

Another Pershore purchase after listening to a wonderful talk on autumn flowering Asters.   We do have one or two (or more) of these already but now is a great time for lifting and dividing existing plants and planting out new ones.

We have planted this in the new flower garden alongside a number of purple varieties that we have lifted and divided from elsewhere in the garden.  It grows to around 75cm so should become a real statement in the new garden with small white flowers backed by grey foliage.  If all goes to plan, in the autumn we will have a wonderful combination of late flowering Asters to keep the new garden going long into September.

Photo credit:  Real-time link to website at Farmyard Nurseries, Dol Llan Road, Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA44 4RL


Three:  Martagon lillies

One of the themes for this year has been to develop the small woodland area at the north end of the garden.  Carol has done a lot of clearing over the winter months and it is now time to get down to some planting.  There is already a colourful spring display of snowdrops followed by primroses, cyclamen and more recently planted Chionodoxa.

In developing this area further we have decided to introduce a large number of Martagon lillies to grow and hopefully naturalise under the trees in a sunny area on the edge of the copse.  These were certainly not cheap bulbs to buy but if it works they should create a wonderful show for many years to come

Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk


Four:  Winter colour – Dogwood Red-stemmed (Cornus alba Sibirica) and Dogwood ‘Midwinter fire’ (Cornus sanguinea)

On the edge of the copse is a slope down to the new flower garden.  The new flower garden was originally an old grass tennis court that has been dug out to make it level.  As a result the water table reaches the surface at this point and this area is very wet indeed over the winter.  We already have some successful yellow stemmed willow in this area and to add contrast we have added a stand of two different Dogwoods to develop the area still further.

This area catches the winter sun and we hope will add colour to a part of the garden that has very little winter interest at present.

Dogwood Red-stemmed (Cornus alba Sibirica)

Photo credit:  Real-time link to Buckingham Nurseries website (www.hedging.co.uk)

Dogwood ‘Midwinter fire’ (Cornus sanguinea)

Photo credit:  Real time link to rhsplants.co.uk


Five:  Heuchera ‘Electra’ and Heuchera  ‘Peach Flambe’

In the depths of last winter we visited friends in the Shropshire countryside and I was very taken by their tubs of Heuchera which were looking wonderful outside in the weak winter sun.

As a result I decided to start developing our own small collection (always one for pinching good ideas from others).  These are the first two varieties that we are bringing on from a number of 9cm pot plants with the aim of developing some good winter colour on our patio for next year.

Heuchera ‘Electra’ Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk

Heuchera ‘Peach Flambe’ Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk


Six:  Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum)

In addition to the planting of the dogwoods and the martagon lillies in the top copse we are also just about to add a stand of Solomon’s seal.  Rather than planting these out directly into the woodland we decided to start these plants off in pots.  This has worked well and we now have a large number of strong plants that we can plant out as soon as the ground is dug over and cleaned of perennial weeds and brambles.

Photo credit:  Real time link to http://www.dutchbulbs.co.uk

All of the above are about planning for the longer term.  We are unlikely to see many results this year but hopefully over the coming years we should see more colour and interest in the autumn, winter and springtime.


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

 

Six on Saturday in March – White

All the hedgerows are now full of white Blackthorn blossom. I usually think of May as being the ‘white’month and March as rather more towards the ‘yellow’. Although there is no doubt that the narcissus and primroses are beautiful and in full swing, there does seem to be a wide range of white blooms in the garden at the moment. Choosing just six has been rather a challenge but here are my six for this week.


One: Amelanchier lamarckii

Amelanchier is a real star of the spring garden. The white flowers last only a short time but create a wonderful cloud of fine bloom in the shrub garden. But it is not only the blooms that excel at this time of year but also the new copper foliage which looks lovely alongside the white flowers and the fresh green spring foliage of many other shrubs and trees.

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Two: Plum

The first of the orchard trees to flower is the apricot but the plum is not far behind. When we planted the orchard 25 years ago we thought that it would be good to plant something with some local provenance. This variety is ‘Warwickshire Drooper’, a yellow egg plum with a beautiful wine plum flavour. Although now quite an old tree it still produces far more plums than we can cope with. It does make a wonderful jam.

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Three: Thalia narcissus

One of our favourite narcissus is the delicate multi-headed white Thalia. Reliably returning each year they are always a pleasure and create a lovely show.

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Four: Clematis armandii

One of our earliest flowering clematis in the garden, this fragrant armandii was originally planted to climb up a large eucalyptus which has now long since died. However it is a survivor and has now adopted a variegated Pittosporum that has grown up in its place over the last couple of years.

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Five: Spirea thunbergii

We would not be without the long lasting, crisp white flowers of Spirea. They are an important part of the garden each year contrasting here with the yellow and green foliage of Euonymus fortunei Emerald ‘n’ Gold. The first of these is Spirea thunbergii (below) followed later in the year by the dramatic arching flowering stems of Spirea x arguta ‘Bridal wreath’ .

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Six: Magnolia stellata

The magnolias this year have been spectacular. The blooms do not seem to have been damaged at all by frost or rain and have lasted much longer than in previous years. Last on my list of six but certainly not least.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Six on Saturday – At this time of year it is the little things that matter ..

These early months of the year are not about the loud flamboyant flowers of summer but the small jewels that survive the tough winter weather and lift your spirit when you come across them in the garden.

Along side the snowdrops there are a number of other tiny bulbs, corms and rhyzomes that quietly survive much of the year underground but come into their own in the early spring.  Here are six that have graced the garden in February and March.


One:  Iris reticulata

Flowering in early February this is one of the earliest spring flowers to come into bloom in our garden.  It looks so delicate but is survives the harshest conditions being native to Russia, the Caucasus, and northern Iran.  We do tend to loose them in the garden so we tend to grow them in pots of well drained soil containing plenty of grit.  The markings and colour are just stunning.

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Two:  Cyclamen coum

These are tough little plants which are slowly spreading themselves around the garden.  They have been flowering since at least late January and are still flowering now.  They seem to be particularly successful growing in dry areas under deciduous shrubs and trees in what appear to be quite inhospitable conditions.  Cyclamen hederifolium also grows successfully in the garden producing flowers in the autumn.

Their natural range is around the Black Sea from Bulgaria through northern Turkey to the Caucasus and Crimea, but there is also a second population near the Mediterranean from the Hatay Province in Turkey through Lebanon to northern Israel ¹ .

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Three:  Crocus

The spring crocus certainly deserve a place in this six.  This year they have been spectacular, really enjoying the warm February sunshine along with the bees.  This photograph was taken on 25th February 2019.  Typically for us the yellow crocus come first followed by the whites and purples.  We tend to grow them through the meadow grass where they can be left undisturbed.

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Four:  Chionodoxa

We are along way from having an extensive carpet of Chionodoxa yet but they do appear to be establishing well.  Last autumn we planted a large number of new bulbs to try and speed the process along and they have emerged and flowered in their first year.

Similar to Scilla, but in fact a different genus, they are natives of the eastern Mediterranean specifically Crete, Cyprus and Turkey² .  Their common name, ‘Glory-of-the-Snow’, suits them perfectly.

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Five:  Tulipa kaufmanniana ‘Ice Stick’

One of the first tulips to come into flower each year, the Kaufmanniana tulips have now come into bloom  (11 March 2019).  This variety is Ice Stick.  In general many of the tulips we plant only flower for one year and then have to be replaced.  The Kaufmanniana tulips however seem to be repeating well and returning each year.

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Six:  Anemone blanda

Last, but certainly not least are the windflowers, Anemone blanda, which come in whites and blues.   They are charming, reliable little plants that grow in our deciduous woodland areas.

They are native to southeastern Europe, Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria³ and prefer well drained soils that dry out in summer.  Our soil does tend to get waterlogged in the winter months but the native trees they are planted beneath does seem to keep the soil a little drier.

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That is my six for for this week but there are certainly many more special spring blooms just around the corner.  Exciting times.


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Early March – a quiet wander around the garden in early spring

After an unseasonably warm February we are now back to a more traditional March menu of sunshine and showers and windy days.  In between showers it is nice to just wander and browse.  Every day now there is something different emerging.  Green shoots are visible on many perennials and the peonies that we moved in the autumn to a new home in more sunshine are all looking very promising.

At this time of year it is the little things that matter.  There is no full-on show of summer flowers but the small clumps of bulbs and other spring flowers that come back year after year are always very special.

It will be interesting to see whether the warm February will bring on the spring flowers earlier this year.  These photographs were all taken on 11th March 2019.

Whilst sitting enjoying a well earned cuppa, it struck me how wonderful the two flowering cherries (Prunus incisa ‘Paean’) that flank the patio steps were looking.  They are in full flower and certainly the significant pruning that we gave them last year after flowering to get them back into shape has done them no harm at all.

Even when not in leaf or flower the old twisted wisteria stems add real character to this patio area.

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In the more shaded areas and in the top copse the primroses are now beginning to emerge taking over from the snowdrops that seemed to go over quickly this year in the warm weather.  One of the jobs for the next week or so will be to lift and divide some of the snowdrop clumps whilst they are in the green.  The snowdrop walk in the top copse has developed well but the individual clumps look ready to be divided and spread around to develop the walk even further.

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Also in the woodland walk the first of the Anemone blanda are starting to emerge.  We planted these some years ago now but although they seem to come back year after year they do not seem to have multiplied up to any great extent.  They appear to be very delicate but seem to withstand the wind, rain and cold.

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Somewhat unexpectedly we have found that some of the Anemone coronaria corms that we grew when we were growing commercially for Honey Pot Flowers have survived well over the winter and are flowering again.  When growing for sale we tended to replant each year to ensure that we had good quality long stemmed flowers.  This is less important in a private garden and if they continue to survive and establish more naturally they will be a great addition to the new flowering garden.

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Regular readers will know that we are transforming what used to be our flower farm into a more aesthetically pleasing flower garden where we can just enjoy growing flowers for ourselves rather than for sale.  The structural work is now all complete and the formal hedge is beginning to establish.  We think it has all survived the hot dry summer last year but only time will tell.   There is plenty more scope for plants that will give more winter interest in this part of the garden and we are currently planting a new area of colourful Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ and the red stemmed Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ on the moist bank at the north end.

One of our favourite spring flowers that seem to thrive here in Warwickshire are the Hellebores.  They seed themselves freely around the garden and are pretty trouble free.  It is such a pleasure to bend down and lift their heads to see the beautiful markings on the inside of the flowers.

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Another plant that is flowering its socks off is the perennial wallflower (Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’).   Although we always admire this plant in other people’s gardens, especially when combined with striking orange colours later in the year, it has been some years since we have had one in our garden.   It was planted last year in an open position in full sun and has established very well, remaining evergreen with some flower throughout most of the winter.  It is now getting into its stride as the weather warms up.  Luckily it is very easy to propagate from cuttings and we have a good number of young plants growing well in the greenhouse that will allow us to create an excellent show across the flower garden and create some continuity in different beds.

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Not much is happening in the orchard yet although the young apricot is beginning to flower.  The buds of the pear blossom are beginning to swell and new green leaves are just emerging on the quince. Whether it is just too early for the apricot fruit to set remains to be seen but we were very successful last year despite the bitterly cold weather.  Thankfully all the orchard pruning is now complete and the new tripod ladder that I wrote about in an earlier article has helped enormously (both with pruning the orchard and bringing down an enormous Pyracantha to a manageable height).

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Apricot blossom

Many of the evergreen foliage plants are certainly earning their place in the garden at this time of year.  The neatly clipped Lonicera nitada hedges, the evergreen Hebe, Skimmia, Pittisporum and trailing ivy all create structure throughout the garden and have done all winter.  Alongside these green shades new leaves are emerging.  Very striking is the rich golden foliage of Spirea japonica ‘Goldflame’ which shines out in the spring sunshine.

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The stars of the show at this time though are the bulbs.  Small clumps of the miniature narcissus are returning like old friends in flower beds throughout the garden.

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Hyacinths that we grew in pots in previous years and could not bear to simply throw away are now establishing themselves and creating a lovely spring show amongst the evergreen shrubs.

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Even more exciting are the delicate flowers of the Chinodoxa that we are slowly building up around the garden.  Their delicate pink and blue flowers seem to be establishing well at the base of the long hawthorn hedgerow and amongst the primroses on a sunny bank in the top copse.

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I could go on!  This is always an exciting time of year and there will be plenty to talk about over the coming weeks.

 

 

 

Early February – spring is definitely on the horizon

Although some days remain cold and grey the garden is on the move. The green shoots of many bulbs are beginning to emerge from under the ground and there is an array of small, exquisite blooms to enjoy throughout the garden.

Without doubt the Snowdrops are in their prime in February. Over the years we have spread them around the garden here at Waverley and every year we have the pleasure of seeing them emerge (even though we have long forgotten where exactly we planted them all).

Over a number of years we have sought to create a snowdrop walk in the copse at the north end of the garden. The bulbs of the common snowdrop Galanthus nivalis that we lifted and divided in the green have established well and bulked up into substantial clumps. Each of these could probably be lifted again this year and spread out further under the trees.

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It is always wise to stop and turn over some of these beautiful flowers. I was surprised to come across this double variety in the leaf litter of the woodland. We must have planted it deliberately in this position at some time in the past.

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Some of my favourites are the larger, glaucus leaved Galanthus elwesii which tend to stand tall and bloom on much longer individual stems. They also start flowering soon after Christmas. This group contrast well with these dark hellebores that flower at the same time.

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Similarly the naturalised snowdrops sit so comfortably with the first of the emerging primroses.

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But it is not all about snowdrops at this time of year. The yellow crocus have now pushed their way through the winter lawn and as soon as the sun shines will open into their full glory.

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Also complementing the snowdrops are these tiny pink blooms of Cyclamen coum surrounded by a carpet of their mottled green leaves.

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The striking blue flowers of the Iris reticulata are also starting to emerge. We have tried to grow these in the flower beds but they do not seem to thrive in our cold damp winter soil. However, growing them in bowls of gritty compost seems to work well and they are a delight to see each year on the patio.

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It certainly will not be long until more spring flowers begin to appear but for now it is the snowdrops that take centre stage all over the garden.

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Six on Saturday – January blooms

In spite of the rather uninspiring grey (but mild) weather after Christmas we have been out and about in the garden cutting back and pruning ready for spring.  We have just about finished the winter pruning of the orchard, made much easier this year by the purchase of a new Niwaki tripod ladder.  Just the clearing up and shredding of the resulting pile of prunings is left to be completed.

Winter is not devoid of flowers and many of the shrubs in bloom at this time of year give off a strong fragrance to attract the few pollinating insects that are out and about.  In January you get the chance to stop and appreciate the few plants that are braving the weather.  Many are exquisite and well worth a closer look.

Here are my six for this week.


Sarcococca confusa

This small evergreen shrub, a native of western china, is producing a lovely honey scent that hangs in the air around the patio by the kitchen.

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Daphne

Again in full bloom at the moment, this slow growing shrub was originally a rooted sucker that we obtained from a relative in Cornwall.  It is now establishing well and flowers profusely every year giving a wonderful fragrance in the winter months.  Many of the plants we have collected together over the years remind us of friends and family, holidays and special garden visits.  A subject of a blog in its own right perhaps.

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Snowdrops

We really associate snowdrops with February in our garden but the first few that emerge are a real pleasure and herald the beginning of the new year.  They are such charming, perfectly formed flowers.  See last year’s more in-depth blog on snowdrops for more background and their associated folk-lore.

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Winter flowering cherry

A number of the trees around the garden mark certain events.  This particular tree was planted in memory of our very first German Shepherd Dog, Lenka.  It is a lovely reminder of her each spring.

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Helleborus orientalis

Just budding up and starting to emerge throughout the garden are our hellebores.  We love them and they seem to love it here in the garden.  We are quite happy to see them seeding new plants all over the garden and never quite know what hybrids and colours are likely to result.  (See last years blog for more background)

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Viburnum x bodnantense

Another highly reliably plant that flowers consistently year after year in the winter months and produces a lovely scent.  Yet another hardwood cutting from someone’s garden over 20 years ago (Carol and I can’t recall quite where it came from but thank you anyway if it was you!).  This now substantial shrub (nearly 8 feet in height) is situated just near the path and we enjoy its fragrance whenever we walk out into the garden at this time of year.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.