Saturday, June 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day June 2013

These 15th of the month Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day posts seem to roll around faster and faster.  Once again it's time to show what is flowering in the garden.

Summer has been late in coming this year after the longest and coldest spring for many years.  Inevitably this delays plant growth.  Looking around the garden this morning I still have a couple of flowers on my little pink, double camellia, and 'Anticipation' and 'Donation' have only just dropped their last blooms.  I've grown Camellias for over 30 years and I've never known them to go on so late.

A year ago I identified that there was a late May colour gap.  I added a few plants to provide some extra interest - but even these have been delayed.  Dutch iris are cheap, come in a variety of colours, and are great fillers to provide a colour hit in late May.  Here's two flowering in mid June, weeks delayed:

Dutch Iris
Dutch Iris
In the front garden the more perennial Iris sibirica 'Perry's Blue' has thrown up a good few flowering stems this year.  The plain - but very elegant - species has flowered and gone over, but this one is a little bit later.  Iris laevigata 'Variegata' in the pond is showing colour and will probably unfurl its first flowers tomorrow - but its not in flower yet so can't be included.

Iris sibirica 'Perry's Blue'

On the south facing house wall Abutilon 'Waltz' has come through the winter in good shape.  It's still young and rather leggy but is producing a lot of yellow-orange bells.  It should now keep flowering till late in the year.  I'm still waiting for the first flowers on 'Patrick Synge' but they are only a few days off.
Abutilon 'Waltz'
Another bulbous plant that I love at this time of year is Allium christophii, one of the ornamental onions, with big spherical heads composed of an explosion of purple stars.  Bees love it.
Allium christophii
In the front garden Crinodendron hookerianum has produced hundreds of its red lantern flowers.
Crinodendron hookerianum
Adjacent is a plant of the cut leaved Sambucus 'Black Lace'.  I've let it reach a decent height - about 10ft / 3m - to produce a backdrop of finely cut, ebon dark foliage - with the result that it flowers.

Sambucus 'Black Lace'
Lower down Rhaphiolepis umbellata is producing small heads of white flowers, closed against the cold of what is quite a windy day.  In sun and warmth they'd open wide.

Rhaphiolepis umbellata
I usually have at least one hardy geranium flowering in any month from May to November.  This month Geranium sanguineum is my selection to illustrate for June.  Pretty little flowers and delicately cut leaves are an asset, especially in the shady border where this one is planted.  Yes, it would do better in sun - but I don't have any sunny spots available in what is now a very crowded garden.

Geranium sanguineum
A couple of years ago I succumbed to the lure of the coloured leaved Heuchera varieties.  They haven't all done as well as I'd have liked but 'Chocolate Ruffles' has done really well and is now producing multiple spires of tiny white flowers over a carpet of large, richly brown leaves.  Again, very attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Heuchera 'Chocolate Ruffles'
Libertia formosa has now made a decent size clump in the front garden and is producing tall spikes adorned with tri-petalled white flowers.  The reed like leaves are evergreen so it forms a permanent feature in a little border at the front of the house.

Libertia formosa
One plant that seeds itself everywhere is the Welsh poppy, Meconopsis cambrica.  Light shade suits it well and I've got a couple of dozen plants all over the garden, front and back, all providing rich yellow colour for much of the summer (providing I keep dead heading).

Meconopsis cambrica

I felt the need for a bit of orange in early summer so picked up a plant of Helianthemum 'Ben Mohr' earlier this year.  It's a pretty little carpeter for a sunny spot.  They don't live long on my fairly heavy, acid soil but a couple of years pleasure for a small price is always worth while.

Helianthemum 'Ben Mohr'
Meanwhile my largest palm, Trachycarpus fortunei, is flowering well, producing 18in / 45cm branched trusses directly from the trunk below the terminal bud.  A bit difficult to photograph given all the uncut fronds in the way but this will give you a flavour.

Trachycarpus fortunei
To one side of it is a clump of Zandtedeschia 'Crowborough', the arum lily.  I've had the plant for years and it always comes back from the deep rooted corms no matter how harsh the winter has been.  It loves moisture but this cultivar will tolerate drier soils and still produce the large white spathes which wrap the yellow spadix.

Zandtedeschia 'Crowborough'
Still flowering from last month are aquilegias, Dicentra spectabilis, Saxifraga x urbium, Geranium renardii, various epimediums and Erysium 'Walburton's Fragrant Star'.  I've probably missed a few others but I'll leave you with a pretty little weed, toadflax, Cymbalaria muralis, which insinuates itself into cracks and crevices around the garden and produces little pink and purple flowers for months on end.  I wanted
Cymbalaria muralis, Toadflax
Of course, with a name like that it would have been ideal to illustrate it with a shot of a toad among the toadflax.  But I've only got one of a common frog that I took a few evenings ago, so that will have to do.

Common frog amongst the toadflax

As always, my thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme.  Head over there to see what's flowering in many more gardens round the world.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The European fan palm

No, this isn't a post about EU membership, Euro financial problems (will I ever get the €1.79 I'm owed in royalties?), or other benefits of what was supposed to be a common market.

It's a post about Chaemerops humilis, the European fan palm, one of only two European native palms*.  I have one in the rear garden.
Chaemerops humilis in the rear garden, June 2013

It was only a baby when I planted it in 2002 but it's grown a little since then.  We've had mild winters, cold winters, warm and cool summers, torrential rain and, this year, the coldest spring since 1891.  It hasn't turned a hair.  Not bad for a palm from the Mediterranean coastline, from places where winters can be cold and wet but summers are guaranteed to be long, warm and dry.  It's a tough plant, along with Trachycarpus fortunei, one of the two palms almost certain to succeed anywhere in lowland Britain.

Not only tough but good looking.  The palm fronds on mine have remained in good condition for years, clothing my - relatively - young plant to the base as the central growing point atop the stem gradually gets further and further from the ground.  In time, I'll need to trim the oldest away, slowly revealing the stem, and producing a far more palm like palm.  Having said that it will be a good few years yet before it reaches the sort of height and appearance shown below.
Trimmed Chaemerops humilis, Italy
This is a clumping palm, producing daughter stems from basal buds, an adaption to frequent fire in the garigue and maquis vegetation types.  Mine currently has four smaller offsets, their fronds hidden amongst the larger fronds of the parent, but equally capable of developing into trunked specimens.  But it won't be a rapid process.  In cool Plymouth I get about 8 - 10 new fronds a year developing from the terminal growing point, considerably less than in warmer gardens.  No matter.  At least it won't outlive its welcome for many a year.  Though it would be nice to have something like this in the garden:

Multi stemmed Chaemerops humilis, Italy
Mine now flowers annually, during May and June, the smallish branched flower stalks coming directly out of the stem.  I have, I think, a female plant but without a corresponding male I'm never likely to see the clusters of rather attractive red-orange fruit developing.

Chaemerops humilis,  female flowers

Chaemerops humilis in fruit, Italy
I have the standard form with normal green leaves but there is also a silver leafed form, 'Argentea'.  In hot, sunny climates it can appear an almost electric blue but under our cloudy skies it is less impressive.  Still attractive, with a silvery grey powdering on the leaves, it's well worth choosing as an alternative or in addition to the greener form.

As always, click the pictures to embiggen.

*The other European palm being Phoenix theophrastii, native to Crete.