Welcome to my gardening blog

flowerpot for a pillow

 

I hope I can share a little of what I've learned - and there is so much more to learn.

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Victor using a flowerpot for a pillow

mid-Summer 2018

I am still surprised when I get flowers from seeds I planted. I shouldn't be but it's so often hit and miss. Black Swan poppies and echium Blue Bedder. The poppies only last a short time so in just the last few days I have 3 seed heads without petals. The terracotta pot on the right on the bricks has an echium vulgare which I put next to the echium Blue Bedder to compare the flowers, difference in size but otherwise extremely similar.

black swan poppies and echium Blue Bedder

the bees are loving the poppies

black swan poppy with bee

I have one largish red poppy plant after sowing seeds the last few years. One of the more difficult plants to grow from seed.

red field corn poppies

the bees are loving the poppies, and the tomato flowers but so far haven't managed to get a photo of one on a tomato flower

red poppy with bee

View from my stairs down to the garden, flowers: cornflowers, delphiniums, verbena bonariensis, foxglove, knautia, scabious, corn cockle, tomatoes, poppies, honeysuckle, nepeta; buds: globe thistle; still awaiting buds: lupin and monarda.

patio

Trailing Bellflower

Two things happened recently, I saw this trailing bellflower on a church wall in a village in the Surrey Hills on the way home from the South Downs and I realised just how much the trailing bellflower is self-seeding in my garden and round the corner. It seems to have taken off in my garden much more extensively in the last year or two. It's such a picturesque effect of it trailing on walls and in the garden, I thought it's finally time to take notice (which for me is taking photos and blogging about it). I used to call it campanula without knowing which one but on researching it I think it is Campanula poscharskyana, commonly called trailing bellflower.

trailing bellflower

the buds are beautiful as well

trailing bellflower buds

a large clump is growing by my pond in a half barrel in my garden

trailing bellflower

from the other side shows how extensive it is

trailing bellflower

and it's growing from this wall on one side

trailing bellflower

it's all along the back wall of my garden, although difficult to capture the magical effect of it with my camera

trailing bellflower

round the corner, it's outside 2 of the houses

trailing bellflower

and even in the street

trailing bellflower

I also saw it at the dump a couple days ago

trailing bellflower

looking at some other plants in my garden, somehow a delphinium has survived the slugs and is blooming, black viola in the background, just self-seeded in that pot

delphinium

a week later the delphinium buds have opened, also in the background a small echium vulgare, which self-seeded, behind the black viola

delphinium

and I realise there are actually 2 different delphiniums, slightly different

delphinium

a bee is enjoying the echium Blue Bedder

bee on echium Blue Bedder

June 2018

Victor decided to use a brick for a pillow today. Nepeta (catnip) to the left, scabious to the right.

cat brick for pillow

I'm having some difficulty with the sea holly. I am growing them in a trough to keep the slugs off them and because of lack of room in the garden to plant them in the ground. I guess I'm not doing something right as the flower stems at the top are collapsing. I guess my watering regimen is all wrong - too much water after not watering and them drying out? At least a couple of times watering has perked them up but lately I see the stems are permanently damaged so cut those off. I need to let the trough dry out a bit now after over-watering I think. And from what I'm reading online, I should have put in more drainage. 

sea holly wilting flower stems

red poppies still going strong, a week after the pic further below

red corn field poppies

3 zantedeschia flowers so far this year, last year I had masses but I think other plants are crowding them out

zantedeschia

last year the green alkanet crowded out the fox and cubs but this year I made a small area free of it for them and I've been rewarded by the fox and cubs flowering

fox and cubs

I didn't plant anything in this SylvaC pot but these plants found their own way there: deadnettle, forget-me-not, foxglove, verbena bonariensis - basically my typical selection of self-seeders, just suprised no green alkanet

self-seeders SylvaC pot

the foxglove looks perfect in the crack to the left of the salamander - as a decoration - but it can't grow and flower there

self-seeders SylvaC pot

the pots I planted for my neighbour round the corner are looking good - and the hollyhock has self-seeded between the paving stones - they are amazing plants - even in that position, fat buds ready to bloom

a few days later the hollyhocks are in bloom

hollyhock in pavement

I pruned the honeysuckle and it responded by bursting into flower. The smell, in the evening especially, is amazing.

honeysuckle

I have a new hardy geranium in the back garden. I think it was one of those perennial specials last summer, like buy 5 for the price of 4. It's settled in and is blooming well this spring.

hardy geranium

hardy geranium

one from the front garden is blooming as well

hardy geranium

also in the front garden, the poppies are still blooming

red poppies

the first lesser knapweed

lesser knapweed

in the back garden, the slugs love this acanthus (spinosis, I think) but somehow it's blooming this year, last year it didn't bloom as it was so badly eaten

acanthus spinosis

I've tried to grow monkshood from seed a few times without success so when I saw these plants at a garden centre, I decided to buy them as it was the only way I was going to have monkshood in my garden.

monkshood

Something I grew from collected seed last year that did work is chinese lanterns. They are flowering - very subdued white flowers - but it means there'll be lanterns in the fall.

chinese lanterns flowers

I seem to have spectacular success with seeds or total failure. The lesser knapweed were a success and they've self-seeded like mad.

lesser knapweed

The globe thistles have been a huge success. They've taken over! They've blocked the sea holly planted to the left but the sea holly in the trough in front seem to be doing well.

globe thistle

The globe thistles are also taking over this flowerbed. I moved some that had self-seeded here last year and they're back!

globe thistle

At least these iris foetdissima are out of the way at the back of the garden. They bloom, even in the shade.

iris foetdissima

I planted some next door and they're blooming as well.

iris foetdissima

mid-May 2018

My first scabious of the season. That centaurea montana in the background is pictured below.

scabious

one of my largest centaurea montana flowers ever

centaurea montana

My auricula theater didn't really happen this year. My patio was in disarray as a ladder had to be put up to repair the roof. I did buy 4 new auriculas last year; this is the best one (Blue Yodder), maybe even the only new one to bloom (one had died). I must admit I wasn't really able to keep track of them all. I am going to try to get it ready next year in time. (deadnettle self-seeded in the pot).

auricula

my chives are looking amazing

chive flowers

after my spectacular honesty flowers, lots of "coins", why it's called the money plant (I didn't notice the snail while I was taking the pic)

honesty coins lunaria

I have a red corn poppy - finally. I tried so many packets of seeds with only a couple pathetic flowers resulting so when I saw these at the garden centre in the inexpensive "wildflower" range I bought a few and they are looking great, tall, lots of buds and actually blooming.

red corn poppy

red corn poppy

I gathered together some of the forget-me-nots that have self-seeded in pots. I wanted to keep them until they finish flowering (they die back then) but wanted to free up the pots. I didn't want to throw them all in the compost pile, why not grow them ON the compost pile.

forget-me-nots compost pile

I added some ox-eye daisy

ox-eye daisy on compost pile

that magic time when a ceanothus is covered with flowers, lilac next to it has few flowers after a prune last year but the rosa rugosa next to it has lots of flowers quietly blooming every year with zero attention, it was there when I moved here 15 years ago

ceanothus rosa rugosa

close-up of one of the rosa rugosa flowers

rosa rugosa

a pink aquilegia self-seeded there

ceanothus pink aquilegia

I heard mention of  'dog violet' recently and realised I didn't know what that meant so googled it. Dog violet doesn't have a scent so it's not viola odorata which I assumed all violets were. I noticed these next door and picked one - no scent. So these are dog violets. I don't know how they differ physically, must research.

dog violet

a carpet of bellis perennis in a neighbour's front garden I thought looked so nice

bellis perennis carpet

knautia macedonica, one of my more successful growing from seed attempts, I planted these in a neighbour's derelict pots and they are doing great with little attention even watering, why all one shade of pink? they're supposed to be varying shades, one quite dark almost red

knautia macedonica

I saw this Bee Friendly Trust planter at a Highbury and Islington overground platform. (was there a plant in that gap that someone has taken?).

bee friendly trust planter highbury and islington

May 2018

one of my favourite flowers, always very happy to see the first centaurea montana in bloom, truly the start of the season

centaurea montana

difficult for my camera to capture that intense blue colour of the common field speedwell I'm seeing so much of, and loving, right now

common field speedwell

common field speedwell

it's difficult to notice the long leaves amongst the green alkanet (with the blue flowers) but I think that's my first comfrey of the year

comfrey

I guess I started my seeds and corms a bit late so I don't have much new yet, thank goodness for the honesty, green alkanet and forget-me-nots, and previous years' chives. Some of my seedlings have been devastated by slugs, some are looking promising, see my Seeds page for more info. Growing from seed does take a long time so there is that temptation for instant colour from the garden centre.

patio

3 days later lots of the chive flowers opening, hope there'll be lots of bees there soon

chive flowers

a bee enjoying the green alkanet currently covering my back garden; I did see a different type of bee around this time so I think it's time to research what kind of bees I have in the garden

green alkanet with bee

self-seeded viola, not quite open yet

self-seeded viola

violet

violet

end of April 2018

Japanese Knotweed. How bad is it? I saw this around the corner, an isolated shoot in the centre of a front garden. Where did it come from? (I'll go back and take a wider photo)

japanese knotweed

I am so happy to see some fox and cubs in this flowerbed and looking good. I had removed the green alkanet just from this small area but I had to repeat the exercise as some had snuck in.  There were also forget-me-nots that had invaded the cleared space so I removed those as well. That left me a bit of room to plant in the ground a meadow clary ("wildflower" from the garden centre) and an oriental poppy (had bought 3 from Peter Nyssen but the other 2 are in slug damage intensive care). And I seem to have the globe thistles back. I do love them but not in the front there blocking the sun for the other plants. I did move some but more have self-seeded there. I'm going to have to be more brutal like I was with the green alkanet (believe me it is all over the rest of the garden! just not in this small space).

fox and cubs

While I was organising that flowerbed I potted up these 3 pincushion flowers: small scabious ("wildflower" from the garden centre, never heard of "small scabious" before) on the left; field scabious on the right (also "wildflower" from the garden centre) and a small knautia macedonica Melton Pastels which self-seeded at some point. Also one planted in the ground, top left above. Why are knautia and scabiosa two different genus?? They look so similar to me

pincushion flowers

these are the labels for those 2 plants above from the garden centre

pincushion plant labels

this pot just got a selection of the small plants around my patio: ox-eye daisy, aquilegia, campanula, sea holly and knautia macedonica Melton Pastels

Another knautia macedonica Melton Pastels (one of my most successfully grown from seed flowers) I potted up for a neighbour. I'll see how this pot and the one above look and put them outside their door when they are looking promising. I've put some of the corncockle and echium Blue Bedder seedlings around the edge.

Something very strange is going on in my front garden. One of the leaves of this artichocke has been completely stripped but the rest of the plant looks fine

eaten artichoke leaf

the upper leaves look fine

artichoke leaves

the same happened with one of the foxgloves, the one on the right is stripped but the one on the left is looking ok

foxgloves

Speaking of pests, these scarlet lily beetles have managed to find the few lillies in my garden: snakeshead fritillaries. I haven't done anything about them and am not going to. I think we should avoid chemicals in the garden.

scarlet lily beetle

one of my favourite flowers, centaurea montana, mountain cornflower, taken a while for them to get established, especially to the point of self-seeding, buds are those black balls, 4 in this photo

centaurea montana

3 more here

centaurea montana

4 more here in this nearby pot next to the lesser knapweed on the right

centaurea montana

mid-April 2018

I went to the South Downs one day last week and saw primroses in the wild.

primrose

I've never seen these horsetail in person before - very unusual - prehistoric-looking.

horsetail

Back in my garden, parrot tulips are my favourite and this Professor Rontgen also has a fantastic scent

Professor Rontgen parrot tulips

I haven't tried these Princess Irene tulips before but I think they are exquisite with that glaucous sheen.

Princess Irene tulips

these species tulips (Little Beauty and Little Princess) are usually in bloom earlier but they are overlapping with those latter ones above, I guess because of the crazy wearher we've had

species tulips

I especially like what's growing on the bottom shelf

my chives have fat flower buds

chives flower buds

this is the year of honesty, it seems to be doing so well, maybe it's benefitted from the cold weather? I have them all over the back garden and these are in the front garden next door I look after

honesty

these are in the garden next door to that which I helped with a few years ago now and shared honesty plants - they've self-seeded very successfully

honesty

in the back garden next door which I help look after

honesty

also in the back garden next door

honesty

at the end of the my garden where it's pretty shady

honesty

in the main flowerbed at the front of the garden

honesty

in the middle of the garden

honesty

in the shade

honesty

honesty

regular readers of my blog will know I love buds, almost as much as the resulting flowers, the honesty inflorescence (I hope I'm using that word correctly)

honesty buds

the snakeshead fritilary doesn't seem to have suffered with the freezing weather

snakeshead fritilary

snakeshead fritilary

the weather so far this year has been crazy; the auriculas were looking very poorly but at least a few have buds; 1 of the 4 auricula plants I bought last year appears to have died but the other 3 don't look very good, I don't think they'll bloom this year

auricula buds

auricula buds

I wasn't sure these hyacinths were ever going to bloom after thawing and refreezing at least twice but they are finally blooming and overlapping with tulips - crazy

hyacinths bowl

Since at least 2013 I've been trying to grow corn poppies from seed for the centenary of World War I but they proved to be extremely difficult to grow from seed so when I saw these in the "wildflower" range at the garden centre I bought some.

corn poppies

They do seem very crowded in the pots but as the label said they don't like root disturbance I decided to just plant them as they were.

corn poppies

my rhubarb is unexpectedly flowering, I only bought them last year and I read they flower when they are older

flowering rhubarb

flowering rhubarb

I'm going to leave it to flower as I'm quite curious to see what it looks like and if bees like the flowers

flowering rhubarb

Plant Identification

The large plant bottom right is an unknown to me which I've been waiting impatiently for to become identifiable. After I took this photo yesterday (9-4-2018), I thought it would be interesting to look at all the plants - some I didn't notice until I was at my pc. 1. mint?? 2. first unknown 3. garlic mustard? 4. unknown 5. herb robert 6 strawberry 7 greater celandine 8 willowherb?? 9 green alkanet (click for a larger view)

If we can't identify the smallest plants, we may weed out some wonderful self-seeding wildflowers: green alkanet, forget-me-not, common field speedwell, deadnettle.

deadnettle common field speedwell forget-me-not

common field speedwell

common field speedwell

forget-me-not buds

forget-me-not buds

forget-me-not flowers just opening

forget-me-not flowers

some shoots of my beloved chinese lanterns

chinese lantern shoots

green alkanet on the left, honesty on the right

honesty green alkanet

honesty

honesty

I love centaurea montana and have it planted in my flowerbed but at some point

centaurea montana

it self-seeded either directly in this pot or in another pot and I put it this one (I can't really remember) but I was able to keep it as I recognised it

centaurea montana

this I don't remember, what was it/is it?? (the brown dried stalks in the square pot); I'll have to look at pics from last year

I'm embarrassed to say, I did not know what this was - but I didn't dig it up until it became identifiable

veronica beccabunga

it greened up with some fresh leaves and finally I realised it was veronica beccabunga spreading from the nearby pond

veronica beccabunga

- update 20-4-2018 - 2 weeks later

they are looking quite like fox and cubs now, which I'm happy about, I had some here before but they haven't successfully grown since but maybe my banishment of the green alkanet has allowed them to grow

fox and cubs

 

veronica beccabunga spreads like mad - definitely one to thin out; the tiniest flowers that don't make up for the thick mass it makes

veronica beccabunga

Sometimes I forget, the most likely id is from something I already have in my garden (Occam's Razor?) Like the veronica beccabunga above which spread from nearby, this plant that self-seeded in my wall, looks remarkbly like wood avens which I only just realised. It's likely to be that as I have lots of wood avens, in spite of pulling it out every chance I get. That is one wildflower I just don't like. At the bottom is the seedling in the wall, above is a wood avens plant I pulled up from the garden to compare it with.

wood avens

April 2018

yellow wallflower Camden Town Parkway

above, outside a cafe on Parkway, Camden Town, below, forsythia, Park Village East, Regents Park, amazing how these bright yellow flowers suddenly cover the shrub at one instant in the spring

forsythia

below, back to my garden, muscari

muscari

for some reason my camera cannot get all these muscari in focus at the same time but I spotted  bee on them this morning so posting anyway

muscari with bee

I can't keep track of what I planted where and the snakeshead fritilary look very grass-like before the buds appear, luckily I didn't "weed" them out. 

snakeshead fritilary

snakeshead fritilary

It's finally good enough whether to go out into the garden, or at least it was for a few hours today, raining again now. I planted out my spent, previously forced, hyacinth bulbs. It reminded me that if you dig or plant in the garden, weeds will respond! I planted some small plants last autumn and I had so many creeping buttercup to dig up today. 

creeping buttercup

the buttercup have gotten into this sea holly seedling's pot, as has oxalis and the ubiquitous forget-me-not on the other side but I just leave the forget-me-not, they flower early and die back and aren't a problem (to me), the buttercup has to go - it just takes over

I also had grass, two types, one that spreads and one that appears to be self-seeding and makes a clump. I think the clump type is couch grass but I must look into them further. Another spreader underneath is snowberry. It spreads like mad.

weeds

speaking of weeds, teasels can go a bit mad, but I do like them and happy to have them in the garden but not everywhere, the small pot bottom right has a small teasel seedling

teasel and monarda

I pulled it out and one can see how it copes so well, with that long root

teasel seedling roots

I didn't catch this one in time and it grew to be a monster - in one of my hosta pots so it had to come out.

teasel

It's early enough that there's some room in the garden for the previously forced hyacinth bulbs to be planted, before the green alkanet has gone mad - lots of small plants in the next 5 photos.

previously forced hyacinth bulbs planted in the garden

more hyacinths planted, some of previous years' in bloom

previously forced hyacinth bulbs planted in the garden

more spent hyacinths planted

previously forced hyacinth bulbs planted in the garden

more hyacinths planted, some of previous years' in bloom

previously forced hyacinth bulbs planted in the garden

previously forced hyacinth bulbs planted in the garden

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