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. Let's learn to love dandelions! and all those wildflowers that are so helpful for bees.dandelion

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Victor using a flowerpot for a pillow

Easter 2019

bee on green alkanet

green alkanet bee

there is green alkanet all over my back garden and I love it! the bees love it, it will die back in time for other plants to take over

green alkanet

my monster honesty is at it's peak and also attracting bees

honesty

I was trying to organise my pots and water every one in this dry weather and I see the stem of that honesty is enormous at the base. I'm wondering when it started. It looks like it's been growing for a while, I guess since last year at some point. That's why it's managed to get so big.

my comfrey is in bud

comfrey in bud

just to the left of the comfrey I saw Victor in the shade near the fence, the gap in the fence is convenient to the foxes who come and go through it into my garden

at one point he'd been laying in the sun, I guess it got too hot, one of my sea holly plants next to him and nepeta to the left

I see Scarecrow has gone next door to lay in that space which I just cleared by pruning the cherry laurel. That huge stump to the left is left from it being cut down. As no one else pruned the shoots back I thought I better before it gets to huge tree proportions again. I asked my neighbour first so he wouldn't freak out at me being in "his" garden. He said "ok" - he has his moments.  

at one point he went amongst the pots to find some catnip (he is in the middle)

this shows him more clearly with at lease 3 pots of catnip (nepeta) visible

I got on the stepladder to water the seedlings and check the plants on top of the greenhouse

while up there I discovered Scarecrow under the honeysuckle

I also saw the anemone or ranunculus has buds (I always get the two confused - I'll have to check last year's photos and see if I can establish what this is). One pot is looking good the plants in the other pot has been stripped by slugs before I got it off the ground and hopefully away from the worst of the slug damage.

Polly Pocket was attracted to it as well but she was too shy to come all the way down so I put a pot of catnip on the stairs for her.

 

The only place I've seen pink-sorrel is a walled cemetary in east London. It's formed a perfect dome .

pink-sorrel

Looking inside the dome, one can see why. All the stems are unbranched and grow directly from the ground.

pink-sorrel inside dome

Pink-sorrel flower close-up

pink-sorrel

in the cemetary was also Oxford ragwort

oxford ragwort

also there I saw veronica arvensis, only the second time I've seen this, the flowers are tiny

veronica arvensis

veronica arvensis flower close up

middle of April 2019

It is cold! so it's been difficult to do much in the garden but yesterday I started to do a bit and after working for a while I warmed up. I just had to pot up the last nepeta and that led to repotting some other things.

I grew scabious Perfection Blue from seed last year. I got 5 plants from the packet of seeds (not terribly impressive) and they've been in pots since. These three highlight what happens to pots in my garden. They are invaded by self-seeders. Left, a large verbascum rosette has taken over. Two on the right, snapdragons which I like but they can't take over my scabious. There are violas there as well but hoping they are small enough to co-exist.

scabious Perfection Blue

I repotted each of those (and the two others in pots of their own. I left the violas with them.

The pots are so large, I put the nepeta (new from Peter Nyssen) in with the scabious and another nepeta I had. It's small so I guess it's a nepeta cataria (catnip) I grew from seed but I'm not absolutely certain.

scabious pot

In that pot behind, there's also scabious from the garden centre last year. I buy whatever I can in the "wildflower" range and last year they had small scabious and scabious columbaria? Thought they were selling them as two different plants. I'll have to check. Anyway that pot is full of scabious. To the left another large pot with a nepeta fassennii from last year. In the back, the beginning of the globe thistles on the right and in the centre a self-seeded veronica which also got a globe thistles - they will take over given half a chance but the bees so love them so I try to accommodate them in my garden, as many as I can. One of my more successful plants grown from seed. 

scabious

this is the sunniest part of my garden so I cram in as many pots as I can on the patio

that honesty is amazing, the stem is so thick - and a gorgeous colour

honesty and orange tulips

One my my hostas, in pots, shoots just showing. Of course, the pot is also being taking over my self-seeders, in this case forget-me-nots.

hosta

Further back in the garden, the left flowerbed which I've tried to keep clear for other things but the green alkanet is encroaching and a foxglove has made itself at home. A few centaurea montana are left - the main plants I planted. I see another two globe thistles have self-seeded. I must move them or they'll take over.

further along the back garden on the left,

that same section of the garden facing the fence

facing the back of the garden, taken over by green alkanet at this time of year

beginning of April 2019

Red tulips left from last year. Behind on the left, monkshood - amazingly surviving from last year. I've had it before but it didn't survive.

red tulips

The honesty just starting to bloom, tulips from last year amazingly blooming (I don't find bulbs last too long), in the background lots of green alkanet, self-seeded violas and snapdragons.

a few days before when the honesty was just in bud, amazing thick stem of an honesty on the left, parrot tulips on the right, Professor Rontgen I think

snakeshead fritillary

snakeshead fritilary

I found my ranunuclus corms. It's a bit late I think to start them but hopefully they'll catch up and bloom at some point this summer.

ranunculus corms

Victor

another shot of that amazing honesty

I always love having pots of nepeta, as do the cats. Some nepeta left from last year are looking good but there are two fresh ones I just potted up (from Peter Nyssen, a bargain at 3 for £5.40 (I think)). My cat Scarecrow.

Notes on Identification

It's the time of year when things are starting to grow and it may be unclear what's what. Self-seeders green alkanet, comfrey and foxglove are all quite similar at an early stage. Add to that lesser knapweed, centaurea montana and it can get quite confusing. On the right with the longer leaves is comfrey. I know because it was there last year and the leaves are longer than green alkanet. On the left and behind to the right is green alkanet.

comfrey vs green alkanet

On the right green alkanet, especially easy with the blue flowers in bloom, foxglove in the middle at the back and centaurea montana at the front, large clump to the left and small clump to the right.

lesser knapweed in this pot with a few centaurea montana in the front

lesser knapweed centaurea montana

Bluebells and hyacinths can get mixed up but by April 1st all the hyacinths are in bloom or have finished blooming. The hyacinths below are not great plants as they were previously forced and I only just planted them out.  In the foreground below is a bluebell, not in bloom or even bud yet. It's one that got away, I've dug them all up from my garden as they formed huge clumps and got in the way of other things growing.

hyacinths vs bluebells

My neighbour has bluebells and in their garden, amongst the annual mercury and dandelions, they look nice. The leaves are longer and thinner than hyacinths.

bluebells

Cerinthe and Pots

Cerinthe is one of those plants where you buy 1 packet of seeds and you have plants for life as they are a self-seeder but not invasive. All of these have self-seeded, last autumn and winter so they are ready to bloom early.

cerinthe

cerinthe

cerinthe

some of the plants can get quite large (green alkanet in there as well)

cerinthe

another plant for life from 1 packet of seeds is ox-eye daisy, haven't had flowers yet this year but lots of buds

this trailing bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana) has taken over this pot, I never planted it (in the garden or the pot), it was in the garden when I moved in

campanula

This pot started off with a meadow cranesbill I grew from seed but lesser knapweed has taken over and a teasel has decided it made a nice home. Teasel is another thing I grew from seed and I never need another packet of seeds again. They pop up regularly everywhere.

lesser knapweed

bugle (Ajuga reptans) is something I did try to grow from seed without much success initially so when I saw some small plants on sale late last year, I bought a few so I'd have some this spring

ajuga bugle

Seed Sowing

Results from seeds are so variable. I find things are either wildly successful or I can get only 1 plant from an entire packet of seeds. This pot and flowerbed reminded me of that today. The polyanthus are one of my more successful seed sowings, sadly not one of my favourite flowers, the seeds were just on sale. Self-seeded in the pot is a globe thistle. I got many plants from the packet of seeds and regular self-seeded plants ever since. I do love them as do the bees so they are a winner. To the right of the pot is my one greater knapweed (not to be confused with the artichoke with the large leaves). I've sown more than one packet of seeds but I don't think I got any plants. I think this lone one is a "wildflower" small plant from the garden centre. It's taken a few years to feel comfortable and I get a few flowers in a couple of flowerings in the summer now, or I did last year anyway. I love centaureas in general, greater knapweed in particular. Also to the right is a cerinthe which I always have self-seeding now. 1 packet of seeds, plants for life. A few are like that.

polyanthus

I sowed echium vulgare seeds a few years ago and got 1 plant which I planted in the front garden. Then nothing for a few years. Last year I got another plant in the back garden, out of nowhere. I suddenly noticed this today which I think is an echium vulgare, in the front garden.

echium vulgare

The small plants around the edge of the pot are self-heal, a wildflower I love (pansy / viola in the middle, another of my favourite flowers). I planted the seeds end of last summer and got a few plants and the slugs had a few. I seem to have a few left. They're rather small so I don't know if they'll bloom this year or not. I haven't grown them before.

self-heal

monkeyflower on the canal

I first saw the small monkeyflower plants along a wet area of the Regent's Canal towpath: the gutter at the base of the wall where it's green from the plants self-seeding there. View from St Pancras Way bridge over the canal.

While walking along St Pancras Way and looking over the canal, I noticed a monkeyflower had self-seeded there on the pavement.

monkeyflower

a close-up of that seedling

monkeyflower

after seeing the monkeyflowers on that section of the canal, I noticed some by one of the locks near me (Hawley Lock)

monkeyflower

and another younger one without that distinctive 3rd or subsequent leaf

monkeyflower  near lock

Hedge Mustard and Groundsel

Hedge Mustard

I've been looking at so many rosettes recently, especially hedge mustard and shepherd's purse. The shepherd's purse bloomed first, there are lots in bloom now and no sign of that initial basal rosette. I saw my first hedge mustard in bloom yesterday. It obviously takes a bit longer to develop.

This particular one I saw on St Pancras Way (22-2-2019) which is on my walk to and from the garden centre. It's right on the pavement so obviously pretty tough.

hedge mustard initial rosette

2 weeks later, the central stem has shot up and it has buds

hedge mustard in bud

and a few days later, the buds have opened and it's in flower

hedge mustard in flower

everywhere seems to be being mown but this has survived as it's on the pavement away from overzealous "gardeners"

Groundsel

I saw this in February and wasn't sure what it was. 14-2-2019

groundsel

11-3-2019

groundsel

15-3-2019

looking very groundsel-like now

groundsel

close-up of the buds

groundsel

after seeing the buds and how groundsel-like it looks, I decided to look around the area further and found a groundsel in bloom nearby

closer view of those flowers

groundsel

close-up of the groundsel flowers nearby

groundsel in bloom

close-up of the groundsel buds nearby

groundsel buds

More Rosettes - It's That Time of Year

I've been photographing a lot of rosettes recently. I didn't need to go far yesterday to find more. My garden and the patio next door had some interesting ones.

this one has knautia - a large one at the bottom and a small one growing on top of that, green alkanet in the middle and herb robert just left of centre

a close-up of one of those small knautia rosettes growing from a large knautia rosette

knautia rosette

another large knautia rosette with a smaller growing on top

knautia rosette

that large one below with dandelions either side and a green alkanet to the right

knautia rosette

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