It has been a rather blustery day…

It has been so windy this weekend that taking pictures for ‘Six on Saturday’ (and doing any gardening) has been a bit of a challenge.  Luckily there has been surprisingly little damage.  My other challenge has been limiting myself to just six as there are so many beautiful things emerging in the garden.  Anyway here are my six for this week.


One:  Anthericum liliago major (St Bernard’s Lily)

We saw this plant in the white garden at Bourton House Garden in the Cotswolds a couple of years ago and just had to have one.  It is lovely and has established very well.  Next year I think we will have a go at dividing it and spreading it further around the garden.   If you get a chance to visit Bourton House Garden is excellent.

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Two:  Eleagnus commutata

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This deciduous Eleagnus has been very successful growing in the long grass at the edge of the shrubbery.  It is currently covered in sweet smelling yellow/cream flowers and fills the air with scent even on a windy day like today.


Three:  Angelica archangelica

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These plants have been a long term project.  One of those spectacular, tall architectural plants that take a bit of time to grow.  They are biennials and I originally sowed the seed early last year planting them out in the early autumn.  This year they have come of age and the bees and insects absolutely love them.  They are tall (nearly 6ft) and magestic plants that stand up well despite the strong winds we have had this weekend.  I am pleased with them but I think my wife is less impressed!


Four:  Robinia

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This tree was originally grown from a small seedling.  It took a little while to get going but now each year it is covered with masses of white, fragrant, pea-like flowers.  It is something we always enjoy but beware it does have some seriously dangerous spikes.

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Five:  Dutch Iris ‘Red Ember’

As growers and former event florists I think we are both fans of dutch iris and typically grow the mixtures which are blue, white and yellow.  This year we tried the variety ‘Red Ember’.  It has a rather lovely exotic colour and I wouldn’t be surprised if we grow it again next year.  What we do need to do I think is decide what other plants would complement it in the border at this time of year.  Any views welcome.

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Six:  Greenfinches

Next for something completely different.  Greenfinches (Carduellis chloris) have been in trouble in recent years and their numbers have declined across the UK due to disease.  A recent decline in numbers has been linked to an outbreak of trichomonosis, a parasite-induced disease which prevents the birds from feeding properly.

Over the last couple of years we have heard the characteristic calls of greenfinches but they have remained high in the trees and rarely ventured closer into the garden.  This year we seem to have a group of three (perhaps juveniles) that have been skipping around the shrubs in the garden together.  Worth a place in the ‘six’ for this week I think.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

Six on Saturday: April blossom

Well what a few weeks of stunning spring weather we have had here in the United Kingdom. The blossom and flowering shrubs are looking spectacular, untouched by frosts or rain.  Fingers crossed, we should have a good crop of pears and cherries this year as it has been warm and sunny and the bees have been flying.

I have really been spoilt for choice this week with so much coming into bloom but I have decided to concentrate on the blossom and flowering shrubs.


Viburnum carlesii

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This shrub is certainly the star when it comes to fragrance at the moment.  Its large round heads of flowers have a wonderful scent that just hangs in the air.  This mature shrub is around 7-8 feet in height now and is situated nicely by the path where we walk regularly from the house to the garden.  A perfect position.


Malus

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I am not sure of the variety of this red leaved crab apple but it is performing extremely well this year.  We planted this small flowering tree in memory of our much loved German Shepherd ‘Fern’ and it brings her back into mind when it flowers each year.  It has sumptuous rich red flowers that contrast well with the white blossom of the wild cherry tree behind.

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Cytisus (Broom)

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This white broom is one of a number out in flower at the moment.  It is probably the Cytisus x praecox Albus but the label is now long gone.  For us this white flowered variety has a much more pleasant scent than the yellow varieties which can be a bit of an acquired taste.

Broom can tolerate quite poor soil and as a member of the pea family will also fix its own nitrogen.  Its green stems allow it to continue to photosynthesize during the winter months if the weather is mild.

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Pear

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We have three pear trees around the garden, a Doyenné du Comice, a Conference pear and an interesting cooking pear called Winter Nellis (excellent for Delia’s Spiced Pickled Pears at Christmas).  Along with the Cherry blossom the pears really bring the orchard to life.  The earliest orchard tree to bloom is the apricot followed by the plums, cherries and pears.  Very soon the orchard will shift from white to pink as the quince and apple blossom emerge.


Spirea arguta

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A couple of weeks ago I was praising the rich bronze foliage of a very different Spirea, Spirea japonica.  This week it is the turn of Spirea arguta.  This is a very reliable and easy maintence shrub that grows to about 5 feet in our garden.  At this time of year it is covered with small white flowers that make it look as if it has a dusting of snow.  In a week or two there will be a nice succession as S.arguta is replaced by S. nipponica.


Cherry

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Last but not least I must highlight the blossom of the sweet eating cherries in the orchard.  I love these trees although to be fair the birds do seem to get far more of the large ripe cherries than I do.  Perhaps this year will be my year!

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.

Six on Saturday – April shrubs and small trees

The dry days and sunshine over the last couple of weeks has transformed the garden. The soil is now workable and everything is coming to life.

Although many of the spring bulbs are still flowering it is the shrubs and small trees that are now coming into their own. This is my selection from the garden for this week’s Six on Saturday.

Skimmia japonica

This evergreen shrub is in full bloom at the moment and looks very lush and healthy. The honey bees just love it and it is great to see so many on the plant this year. A number of people in the hamlet have hives and this bodes well for an excellent crop of fruit later in the year (and a bumper cider harvest!)

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Spirea japonica ‘Gold Flame’ (syn. Spirea brumalda)

This is a stunning shrub and its golden orange foliage simply glows in the spring sunshine. It is something that I would like to have more of around the garden and hopefully we should be able to propogate it from cuttings later in the year.

The new foliage of many shrubs is not suitable for cutting for flower arrangements as the fresh emerging leaves wilt quickly. Spirea japonica ‘Gold Flame’ is an exception to this rule as the leaves emerge from old wood and can be successfully cut and conditioned.

This has the added advantage of pruning the shrub into shape and reducing the pink flowers that are produced from the old wood. It is really the glorious foliage that you are trying to encourage with this variety.

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Viburnum tinus

This year our large Viburnum tinus in the shrubbery seems to be flowering extremely well. It does seem to vary from year to year but it has clearly liked the wet, warmer winter conditions this year. It has large hand-sized clusters of blooms which are a mix of pink and white.

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Amelanchier lamarckii

I just love this small tree when it it comes into flower. The mass of delicate white flowers contrast beautifully with the bronze foliage. A must for any garden I think.

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Berberis darwinii

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Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s Barbary) is native to southern Chile and Argentina. There is no doubt it is a very prickly beast. At this time of year however it is in its prime with this stunning show of ‘in-your-face’ yellow blooms. I can imagine it is not to everyone taste but I think it sits well with the Amelanchier and Viburnum tinus which all flower together in the shrubbery under the silver birch trees. Both the Berberis and Viburnum are evergreen and provide structure in this part of the garden throughout the winter months.

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‘Victoria’ Plum

My final choice for this week is a new Victoria Plum tree that was given to me by my daughter for my birthday last year. It is only a small tree but it is flowering profusely and the bumble bees are regular visitors.

I am trying to do a little succession planning in the orchard as my lovely old ‘Warwickshire Drooper’ plum that I planted over 25 years ago is beginning to show its age. Limbs are beginning to die and drop off! Hopefully this old tree has a few years left in it yet but I wanted to get a new tree established to take over in the coming years. Victoria is common for a reason – it is such a great plum variety and I hope that it will establish quickly.

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to be inspired by what other plant lovers are enjoying this weekend.