Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day October 2014

October 15th 2014 has rolled around damp and disgusting in my small Plymouth garden.  Not conducive to getting out and certainly not suitable for photography.  So it's a quick in and out session to see what's flowering and then relying on older photos to give you a flavour.

We're running against the back end of the year so only one or two new plants.  Most are hangovers from previous months.  Having said that it's still mild enough to leave a good few in flower.

Fuchsias - at least the species fuchsias - seem made for autumn.  I have a problem with thrips in the summer and my Fuchsia do seem to prefer the cooler weather to flower well.

Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae (previously alba) is a case in point.  It's a fairly hardy small tree when allowed to grow but, as I don't have the room, I have to keep it cut back to a twiggy shrub.  Small flowers but very pretty, with a delicacy that isn't always present in the larger cousins.

Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae
Fuchsia splendens 'Karl Hartweg' is, as I've said before, supposed to be tender.  Down here it acts as a woody perennial and reaches its peak in the autumn.  The rootstock must be pretty large by now to sustain 6-8ft / 189 - 240cm of annual growth before frost cuts it back.
Fuchsia splendens 'Karl Hartweg'
Also in good flower are the yellow foliaged Fuchsia 'Genii' and the old favourite 'Mrs Popple'.  Fuchsia boliviensis alba is putting out buds but isn't yet in flower.  Thrips again.

On the shed wall Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles' is once again putting out an autumn display.  I still can't detect the alleged scent!

Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'
I've been lucky enough to keep the definitely tender Tibouchina organensis going for the last three winters by tucking it hard against my south facing house wall and, when needed, covering it in fleece.  It's now paying back with the lovely purple flowers erupting from red buds.  Great in a cold conservatory where it would flower all winter - but mine will keep going till the frosts.

Tibouchina organensis
My two Abutilons, 'Waltz' and 'Patrick Synge' are still in flower, as are my passion flower and 'Graham Thomas' rose.  Ceratostigma willmottianum is still producing it's powder blue flowers, while in the little shade house both Streptocarpus 'Blue Harlequin' and my Christmas cactus are currently flowering.  They'll have to come in soon - but it's still warm enough to keep them outside, albeit undercover.

Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera buckleyi
Finally I have a patch of bright orange in the rear garden.  Purple leaved Canna 'Wyoming' has flowered.  I won't show the foliage - it's impressive more for the slug holes in the leaves than their size and grandeur - but I will show the flower.  Exotic October colour indeed.

Canna 'Wyoming'

As ever, 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. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014


In my last post I mentioned that I was a couple of days away from Hedychium gardnerianum flowering.  It's now fully out - and looking spectacular.

Fully mature spike of Hedychium gardnerianum
Kahili ginger, from the Himalayas in India, Nepal and Bhutan, has got to be one of the most exotic hardy(ish) perennial plants that can be grown in UK gardens.  It's not quite as tough as H.coccineum 'Tara' that I illustrated in the last post but the flower spike is twice the size.  Longer and far fatter, it makes an even greater impact in the September garden.  As part of my exotic theme I've grown it for a number of years, feared I'd lost it in some recent bad winters, but it's always come back but not always flowered.  This year has been an exception.  The mild conditions last winter allowed the pseudostems and their broad, glaucous leaves to overwinter.  That triggers better growth in the new stems and one has now come to full development.

I grow mine in a pot to give a better chance of flowering.  It also allows me to protect the plant if winter does get harsh.  All of which means I can move it around if needed.  Currently it's close by my plant of Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'.  Together they make a fantastic combination.

Hedychium gardnerianum grows alongside Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'
A broader view includes Hedychium greenii.  My plant of Chaemerops humilis sits below Acca sellowiana and Phyllostachys nigra in the background.

Hedychium gardnerianum in this view over the gravel circle in the rear garden
Get closer to the plant - but only in the evening - and the sweet scent that is designed to attract night flying moths hits from feet away.

Hardiness is a relative thing, of course.  This ginger is certainly root - well, rhizome - hardy through most of lowland UK, particulalrly if well mulched.  The evergreen top growth isn't hardy except in very mild winters - but new growth will certainly come from the fat rhizomes by the end of May.  The race is then on to produce flowers before winter sets in.  Good weather this year has allowed growth - and the result has been glorious.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Blogger's Blooms Day September 2014

Time again to look at what's in flower in my small Plymouth garden for Garden Bloggers' Bloom day.  So, on September 15th 2014, here's some of what's in bloom.

It's been fairly warm and sunny recently though there is a definite whiff of Autumn in the air.  Even down in the milder South West of England there are the beginnings of autumn colour and leaf drop.  Fortunately my more exotic plants don't recognise the approach of winter and will continue to flower till the frosts.  Add to that some true Autumn specialities and I'll still have colour and interest well into the death of the year.

One autumn speciality is Hedychium coccineum 'Tara', one of the hardiest and also one of the most spectacular of the ginger lilies.  The size of the flower head is dependent on the strength of the annual stem.  My little clump is good this year, probably because last years stems remained evergreen through the winter with the virtual absence of frost.

Hedychium coccineum 'Tara'
From ground level each of the pseudostems reaches about 5-6ft / 150-180cm in height before producing a terminal flower spike.  This produces a small succession of flowers to keep an individual spike interesting for about two to three weeks.  Add impressive foliage and what more could you want in a garden plant?  Not scented unfortunately, unlike H.gardnerianum - which may be a parent if this variety is, as suspected, actually a hybrid.  That's just putting out it's own flowers - but they're not open (tomorrow or Wednesday) so I can't include it this month.

But I can include Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert', one of the reliable Japanese anemones that do so much to brighten the approach of Autumn.

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
I keep adding plants (it's all getting a little crowded at this time of year) and one addition has done well so far.  It's a double flowered version of the coneflower, Echinacea purpurea 'Double Scoop Raspberry'.  A pretty thing that I hope will survive my winter wet and fairly heavy soil (lots of daisies don't!).

Echinacea purpurea 'Double Scoop Raspberry'
Begonia grandis var. evansiana, the hardy begonia, is a little too successful here.  I have to keep discarding plants otherwise it takes over.  I grow both pink and white varieties but the one I'm illustrating is the white, shown here backed by Musa basjoo, the hardy banana.  Acer palmatum dissectum is to the left in this shot across my little gravel circle.

Begonia grandis var. evansiana underplanting Musa basjoo
My two English roses, 'Summer Song' and 'Graham Thomas' are both doing well.  Here's 'Summer Song', photographed earlier this year, but in flower today.  It's a favourite shot of mine.

English Rose 'Summer Song'
My two Abutilons, 'Waltz' and 'Patrick Synge' keep on flowering, as does the hardy passion flower, Passiflora caerulea.  Hardy is a relative term of course, but Dad used to grow it in his garden in North Lincolnshire and that got pretty cold.  Down here it flourishes, twining annually into my cherry tree, usually reaching 12-15ft / 4 -5m before sending out trailing liana like stems with flowers opening progressively along their length.

Passiflora caerulea
Ipomea indica, my other exotic autumn flowering climber hasn't done so well this year.  Last year's winter wet probably had an effect.  However, it's flowering now so here's a more abstract close-up to disguise the fact that I've only had a couple of flowers so far this year.
Ipomea indica
One shrub I added when I first laid out the garden is Abelia x grandiflora.  I don't think I've illustrated it before so here's a shot.  Evergreen, fairly easy - but simple to overlook when more spectacular plants are in flower.

Abelia x grandiflora
I've got a number of hardy geraniums in the garden but I'm having to rescue a few of them from too shady spots.  As any garden matures, the shade encroaches and even shade tolerant plants fail to flower.  I'll be doing some clearance over the winter so a number have been potted up ready for replanting.  One that needs a move is Geranium wlassovianum.  Pretty flower, good autumn colour, but beginning to be shaded out.

Geranium wlassovianum

I've a number of fuchsias in flower, all of which I've illustrated before and may well do again in October, Begonia 'Bonfire' and other bedding begonias, but these are starting to fade now.  There are fat buds on Tibouchina organensis, Camellia sasanqua and Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'.  I've three more Hedychiums to flower before the year's end and the cycle begins again.  All of which marks the end of another Garden Blogger's Blooms Day.  As ever, 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. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day July 2014

Time again to look at what's in flower in my small Plymouth garden for Garden Bloggers' Bloom day.  So, on July 15th 2014, here's some of what's in bloom.

I illustrated Abutilon 'Patrick Synge' last month and it's now been joined by Abutilon 'Waltz' on the house wall.  This will take a little while longer to build a substantial framework but it's already adding decoration to the rear garden.  Flowering will last for months, an important consideration in a small garden.

Abutilon 'Waltz'

Trachelospermum jasminoides on the wall by the back gate is in full flower now.  Pot grown and supported on a home made bamboo trellis, it scents the air for yards around.

Trachelospermum jasminoides
As does Brugmansia aurea when 4:00 pm rolls around.  Without heated glass I've given up trying to keep these over winter so buy a new plant every year.  I'll not have the mass display of big old plants but even half a dozen of the big trumpet flowers are impressive garden features.

Brugmansia aurea

Red seems to be a prominent feature of the rear garden at this time of year.  Fiery in the case of Crocosmia 'Lucifer', bright scarlet with Hemerocallis 'Berlin Red', orange shaded with Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire', red and purple with Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple' and an indescribable hue with the English rose 'Summer Song'.
Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Begonia boliviensis 'Bonfire'
Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple'

Hemerocallis 'Berlin Red'
English rose 'Summer Song'
I should, I suppose, add Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips' to this group but what the books don't tell you is that the pink and white colouration isn't entirely stable.  It's always illustrated as below but flowers can vary from pure red-pink through to pure white. Hardy here in Plymouth, it flowers for months on end.

Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips'
Complementing the red and pink flowers are the blues.  I illustrated Convolvulus sabatius last month but its now been joined by Hydrangea 'Blue Wave' and Ceratostigma willmottianum.

Hydrangea 'Blue wave'

Ceratostigma willmottianum
Another hydrangea is deciding whether to turn blue or stay a sort of purple-red.  Sold to me as 'Midnight Blue' it's actually the black stemmed hydrangea 'Nigra'.  I'm not that impressed.  It's a gawky thing, only the new growth has black stems and, unlike my 'MMe Emile Mouillere', flowers on overwintered buds rather than new growth so doesn't have the same long season impact in a small garden.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nigra'
Passiflora caerulea  popped open the first flower of the season a few days ago but there are none open today so I can't include it.  August or September, perhaps.  There's loads of fat buds. 

Lower down I've still got orange and yellow forms of Meconopsis cambrica in flower, a few hardy geraniums and various other odds and ends. 

And a bowl full of orange African marigolds in the centre of the garden table.  I'll leave you with a glimpse of it overlooking the rear garden.

Part of the rear garden, July 2014

As ever, 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. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom's day June 2014

It always amazes me how quickly the 15th of the month rolls around and June 15th 2014 has been no exception.  So welcome to what's in flower in my small Plymouth garden this month.

Less than you might expect.  A number of plants are either just over or yet to come and I've got a bit of a gap.  It doesn't help that I rank good foliage higher than flowering abundance.  But, having said that there is a good bit of colour and interest as we approach midsummer.

Pride of place in the front garden goes to Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'.  This elegant cut leaved black elder is full of flower right now.  Yes, I should cut it back hard to enjoy the finest foliage - but why bother when it can produce this:

Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace'
Close to it my Chilean Lantern tree, Crinodendron hookerianum, is also flowering well.

Crinodendron hookerianum
The main displays in the rear garden come from the clump of calla lilies, Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Crowborough' - the hardiest and most drought tolerant variety; my white, almost perpetually flowering Hydrangea 'Madame Emile Mouillere'; the flowering maple Abutilon 'Patrick Synge' which has threaded it's way through my Acca sellowiana; and a pair of ornamental onions, Allium christophii and A.moly.  I really must get some different Allium varieties for next year, they really do fill an early June gap.

Allium christophii

Hydrangea 'Madame Emile Mouillere'
Abutilon 'Patrick Synge'
Lower down some of the hardy geraniums are flowering.  Most of mine flower a little later but Geranium endressii and G.x magnificum are showing up well today.

Geranium endressii
Geranium x magnificum
June is the time for a couple of little bulbs.  Freesia laxa is slowly - too slowly - taking up the space I've reserved for it in a narrow little border alongside my Yucca bed.  I year or so ago I complained that I'd only got a red flowered Ixia left.  I've added more bulbs since then.  Not all have survived but at least I've got a cream one now.

Ixia hybrid
Freesia laxa
I mentioned for the last Garden Bloggers' Bloom's Day that four of my five Phormiums were putting up flower spikes.  'Tricolor' is the only one to have actually flowered so far, a quintet of tall, branched sprays which have produced a host of attractive yellow flowers.  No way could I fit the entire spray into a 900px long photo and have any image quality so here's a close up of a few of the flowers.
Phormium 'Tricolor' flowers
Perennials that are also flowering are Meconopsis cambrica, Saxifraga stolonifera, Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple', F.magellanica 'Alba'. F.splendens 'Karl Hartweg', and F.'Genii'.  Add to those a goodly number of bedding plants grown in pots - there's no room in the ground - and the garden, despite its foliage orientation - is looking quite colourful.  And in a couple of days, when my day lilies open their fat buds, Rosa 'Summer Song' opens its red buds, Trachelospermum jasminoides flowers by the entrance to the rear garden, and another of my hydrangeas opens its sterile mophead flowers it will be more colourful still.

Always remembering, of course, that green - in all its shades - is also a colour.

As ever, 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. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Down in the Jungle

Maria often describes our garden as a jungle.  It's not - certainly not compared to the aptly named Jungle at Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall.

The story of the rediscovery and restoration of Heligan after years under rampant growth has oft times been told.  I've even heard it from Tim Smit, the main inspiration behind the restored garden - a most impressive public speaker - and a fine tale it is.  But not one for here.  Others do it better.

I've visited Heligan a fair few times since it's initial re-opening.  It's only an hour away.  It's been fascinating to see the restoration of the decorative and productive sides of the main garden.  But I have to confess the main attraction for me is the Jungle, a steep sided valley with pools and a small river at the base, penetrated by boardwalks and bark paths, and densely planted with big leaved plants.  Tree ferns, Trachycarpus palms, Sequoia, Gunnera, bamboos, Musa and many others forming an almost sub-tropical rainforest type structure.  My idea of a garden.

First sight is impressive - but also deceptive.  Rhododendrons and tree ferns round a small lake, the view framed by a Trachycarpus fortunei palm.

But then you move into the jungle and things get even more rainforest like.

Dicksonia antarctica under massive rhododendrons
Water is everywhere, framed by bamboos and tree ferns

Waterside plantings of massive leaved Gunnera and Lysichiton are dwarfed by tree ferns and bamboos

And Iris pseudacorus is dwarfed by the tall stems of Trachycarpus fortunei and fronds of the tree ferns in a drier patch.

One of my favourite views has to be looking down from the bark and wooden steps down to a slab crossing over the connecting stream between the lakes.

Or, if you fancy something a little more 'interesting', how about a trip over the rope bridge.  Apparently it's not going to be there for long.  As Maria said after her journey across, 'That's another one off the bucket list."  The camera was in the bag for the crossing.  You need both hands!

Another couple of shots taken in May last year to finish up with.

Now, how do I get all that in a 250 yd sq / 220 metre sq of garden?  Ideas on large denomination banknotes, please.

As always, click the pictures to embiggen.