pond update

I've started to tidy up the pond. I thinned the zantedeschia (leaving the 2 flower buds) and put the recent plant purchases (cat-tail and iris) in the pond. The previous cat-tail seems to have died but I put the new one in the same basket as the old one in case the old one decides to start growing again.

the first artichoke flower

artichoke

fat buds ready to burst open

the centaurea montana has taken a few years but it has self-seeded magnificently, even in that pot on the right at the back, those red anemone buds on the right look like they will open soon 

centaurea montana

first fox and cubs flower and some wonderful fat buds underneath, forget-me-nots behind

fox and cubs flower

foxglove in bloom a few days after the pic below

foxglove

foxglove still in bud a few days before

foxglove buds

iris foetidissima tightly furled bud

iris foetidissima bud

another iris nearby which is in bloom

iris foetidissima

lupin bud

lupin bud

raindrops on the lupin leaves

lupin with raindrops

this is in the pond, in the ranunculus family, will need to check the name

this fern was in the back garden when I moved in but only recently I tried to tidy up around it and remove the dried brown spent stems, I love those round sprouts which I will take another photo of today

fern

perfect garden views

Black Parrot tulips, just by the front door

black parrot tulips

in one of the other tulip pots are these poppies (?), we threw in seeds on the top after planting the bulbs, of course, I lost track of what seeds were in each pot

further down the front path with Victor, the honesty on the left is showing those round seed "coins", on the right a brilliant purple aquilegia

and a little bit further back up the path there's a pink aquilegia, I never know which aquilegia are coming up where, they just appear

pink aquilegia

the iris foetidissima has masses of flowers

iris foetidissima

moving to the back garden, I can just see the buds in the fox and cubs

fox and cubs buds

centaurea montana - first blooms

centaurea montana

one of my favourite garden views: some of my favourite plants (centaurea montana), one of my favourite self-seeding plants (forget-me-nots), experiments with weeds (teasels), experiments with seeds (globe thistles) and a cat!

I have realised something that's shown in the pic above. That large pot near Victor is mostly bare. There's one ranunculus and one anemone whereas the smaller terracotta pots that have the overflow ranunculus are full with them. The pots (including that one) which I got from freecycle need a good clean and disinfecting. I knocked out some of that compost and found some unpleasant stuff. I've been too lazy (and cheap) about clearing out a pot if it has some compost. Jeyes Fluid and fresh compost are now on my shopping list. 

Grandpa Otts Morning Glory seedlings

Now these are the seeds I like - super fast germination, sowed on the 9th, pictured here on the 11th.

morning glory

and 3 days later on the 14th they have beautiful purple stems and leaves

Grandpa Otts

At first glance the large-leaved seedlings on the left are foxgloves but I thought they aren't quite right so put a foxglove next to them (terracotta pot on the right) for comparison. I suspect those large seedlings on the left are scrophularia grandiflora.

scrophulra grandiflora

the wild buckwheat is back and it's early in the season so hope to have some distinguishing flowers this summer

wild buckwheat

as I was trying to tidy up the seedlings I discovered this little clump directly on the table, not sure what they are yet, put them in another pot and watered them as a priority

The builders have struck! They put some new bricks on the top of that wall, knocking quite a lot of mortar into my garden (well they didn't want it in their garden as they just landscaped it - much easier to push the crap into my garden). The honesty have been pounded to the ground. When I tried to discuss with them, I was told my garden was a "f**cking mess", as if it didn't matter. I cleared up the mortar myself as I didn't trust them and I didn't want them in my garden. They might not appreciate it but this area is where I have a lot of wildflowers: aquilegia, green alkanet, comfrey, foxgloves and ferns, framed by this wall on one side and a hydragea petiolaris and pyracantha on the other and ivy and campanula at the back. London, like everywhere else, has its pros and cons.

honesty

I am trying to rejuvenate this scabiosa Barocca, the green growth is all at the ends of woody branches, maybe it would benefit from cutting back to ground level?

scabiosa Barocca

as I tried to cut the dry wood, a lot of the green branches broke off, I will try to get them to root in water

scabiosa Barocca

scabiosa Barocca

update on some of the weedlings

first colour on the knautia buds

knautia melton pastels buds

comfrey flowers

comfrey flowers

comfrey buds

comfrey buds

lily of the valley

The idea was to honour the memory of my grandmother with one of her favourite flowers around this tree, marked by bricks (now sunken into the ground). Their growth is inconsistent - great bare patches and extending - but outside the bricks! Very uncooperative of them. I have to clear out other plants periodically, even if I love green alkanet I want a small patch of the lily of the valley.

lily of the valley

late bergenia flower

bergenia

I pulled this pot of cerinthe out of the flowerbed. The mild winter has been great for cerinthe - too great - I will allow these flowers to develop seeds and then plant out somewhere or cut back.

cerinthe

the only surviving (from the slug attack) milk thistle, hidden by the green alkanet or I would have snapped sooner, I hope I can get some seeds from these to grow more - maybe with slug pellets??

milk thistle

tulips still looking great, some on the left have lost their petals and pot at the back is still in bud

tulips

the iris in this pot are looking good, along with foxglove and ornamental artichoke which have self-seeded, not sure how they'll all cope in this pot but I don't have any room for it in the front garden to put it in the ground

iris

not sure what these are or where they came from (freecycle pot?) but look a little iris-like, will try to grow them on to flower and therefore identification - and flowers to enjoy

moving teasels - and other plants with strong taproots

In the past when I've tried to move teasels, green alkanet and hollyhocks which have strong taproots,  they've proved impossible to keep alive, the latest try being the potted teasel in the pot on the right. I like teasels and want to grow them but they are aggressive self-seeders so sometimes they end up in the wrong place. I wanted to try again to move one and had a spare pot handy so popped it in. Result: unhappiness. I had another teasel I really wanted to move so dug it up but didn't have a spare pot but did have that trug with wet strulch handy so just put it in temporarily. Result: happiness.

teasel

various things have self-seeded around the tulips, I wonder if those thin seedlings are muscari, they look similar, only thinner, than the muscari following

weedlings in the pots of Little Princess tulips

I had excellent muscari flowers in recent years, on the shelves near these pots. The wooden trough many were in literally fell apart so I re-potted them, about 2 single flowers only this year. I don't know what's happened with them all. I guess they don't like being disturbed. I took all the bulblets I had from various sources and potted them up. No idea how long until they flower, if ever.

muscari bulblets

muscari bulblets

I was sweeping up the patio and noticed some seedlings (below), I rescued them and put them in a pot, I *think* that lesser knapweed dried seedhead has a lesser knapweed seedling growing from it, I'm just surprised as I've never seen one self-seeding before

lesser knapweed weedling

Scabious seedlings, very disappointing, from an end of March sowing: on the left only 3 seedlings from a packet of Scabiosa House's Novelty Mix of 35 seeds for £2.99 from T+M, on the right only 6 seedlings from a packet of Scabiosa Ebony & Ivory of 100 seeds for 99p also from T+M. At this point it's not just the cost but the waste of time at this crucial time when I've lost the chance for more flowers this year. 

scabious seedlings

not sure of these, maybe honesty? will confirm

I've put markers by the cornflower seedlings

a close-up of those cornflower seedlings

cornflower seedlings

large seedling is foxglove, on the right is a cornflower as above

the tiniest agastache seedlings (I think, will watch as they develop)

agastache seedlings

I trimmed back the cat grass in this tray which has been on the windowsill inside. How did all these plants self-seed when it wasn't even outside? Large middle left (and smaller below it and middle right) verbena bonariensis, largest globe thistle, under globe thistle nigella, top towards the left oxalis, bottom towards the left and middle foxglove, top edge cornflower?

dahlia tuber or so I've discovered, I've not grown dahlias before but had a pot from a neighbour and when I was cleaning it out found this, those are tiny white sprouts in the middle

dahlia tuber

when digging weeds up with a spade just cannot be avoided

When confronted by a monster like this dockweed, one can easily see the advantage of identifying weed seedlings when they are small and easy to pull up rather than when they have grown into an enormous multi-stemmed shrub that requires digging out with a full-size spade and wrestling with tenacious taproots. This weekend, so far, I have tackled this and 1 small dockweed in this back garden next door, about half a dozen in the front garden next door and at least a dozen in the next garden along. I know how difficult this task is to get round to doing so am happy to do it for neighbours who are working full-time while I'm not working.

dockweed

some of the Little Princess tulips - open in the sun and I was warm enough to be outside to take a pic

Little Princess tulips

Borage

The borage seedlings are looking great. I started separating the compartments of the egg carton, the roots are growing right through the cardboard - which is the idea - then the roots do not get so disturbed.

borage

I don't think the slugs eat them so I'm able to keep the small pots on the ground, in the tray just to make them easier to carry.

borage seedlings

I love lupins and, aside from the slugs, seem easy enough to grow. The seeds germinate well. Unfortunately I managed to drop this tray with the seedlings. 

lupin seedlings

I picked them up from the ground and in spite of the breakages planted them in these 5 pots, 3 to a pot. I put them on the patio next door which is drier than mine and I think the slugs will struggle to get to them. After these pots I plan to put them in larger pots, keeping them on the patio. After recent disasters I never plan on putting lupins in the ground again.

lupin seedlings

from an entire packet of delphinium seeds sown last summer I have one seedling, I had about 4 at one time but this is the only one around and it hasn't really grown or it's a new seedling from a seed that did not germinate last year, it's in the pot with that unknown small plant which I thought had died but it's back!

delphinium seedling

I have two lupins from last year which I grew from seed. Getting them to this point is not difficult in a pot - as long as the slugs cannot get to them. This first pot is huge. The lupin I transplanted here had self-seeders around it, eg centaurea montana and foxgloves and then I added more foxgloves as the pot had room, not that the foxgloves need slug protection, they seem to cope okay. Victor there on the path above it.

lupin

This pot also has a verbena bonariensis and I had put some crocus bulbs around it. That plant stand has 3 shelves and the lupin is in the middle. When it was on top the pigeons landed on it numerous times and I see the leaves still have not fully recovered.

lupin

I have quite variable success with seeds. These globe thistle seedlings, from seed I collected from my own plants are looking great, germination has been great - too great - I have way too many seedlings.

globe thistle seedlings

I started potting up 1 to a pot, then made it 2 and I have lots of seedlings left.

globe thistles

these are some globe thistles from last summer, they are great for bees, there are 3 bees on that one flower alone

globe thistles

centaurea montana

This is what I dreamt of when I planned and executed the rearranging of this flowerbed, moving the globe thistles to the back along the fence (left) and removing any remaining bluebell clumps: room for the centaurea montana (right front) to expand and hopefully self-seed. They seem to have self-seeded but I haven't seen those small plants bloom yet. I look forward to those flowers soon. Close-up of buds in the next pic and subsequent pic the knautia from the centre. Self-seeded forget-me-nots back right, lesser knapweed front left.

I see buds! they look like black balls

centaurea montana

and there are also buds on the self-seeded ones in the lupin pot

self-seeded centaurea montana

knautia with those pincushion buds on the taller stems on the left, times like this I wish I knew more about plants, why do the knautia have those pincushion buds and flowers but are completely different from scabious? to an amateur gardener (like me) they seem closely related, 3 important things I do know: I love them, the bees love them, the slugs don't love them - the essential criteria for any garden plant! (and I grew these from seed so cannot be very difficult)

knautia

One thing I'm not seeing in that flowerbed is any trace of the veronicas I've bought from the garden centre as plants. Like the centaurea montana I've had difficulty growing them from seed so thought I'd treat myself with one full-size plant at the garden centre. As far as I know they're perennials so an investment (yea, right). I have bought so many veronicas now in the past 10 years because they don't come back. I guess I'm doing something wrong but don't know what or maybe, what the British horticultural industry is doing is wrong.

close-up of those Comfrey buds from a week or so ago which I forgot to post, will post an update on progress this week

comfrey buds

I heard about the plant sale at B+Q and couldn't resist going but wish I hadn't bothered. The quality was quite poor but I managed to impulse buy 4 plants (which I didn't need) for £10. This lupin (back left) actually looks pretty good and for only £2.50 I thought it was worth it for a plant to flower this summer whereas my new seedlings probably won't flower until next year. The delphiniums look ok but when I potted them up they hardly had any roots so will need to wait and see if they establish themselves. The Johnsons Blue hardy geranium (front right) I will put in the back garden. I have some in the front but none in the back. I have a Rozanne hardy geranium but it's been totally pathetic and I'm not sure it's still alive so would prefer a known variety.

potted up that lupin is looking pretty good I must admit

lupin from B+Q

end of April and I am cold!

It seems I've been cold for weeks but it's probably not been that long. When the sun is shining, you want to go outside and do some gardening or walking to look at gardens and plants but it's too cold! unless you steel yourself.

polly pocket under artichoke

I have no idea what kind of tulip the red and yellow one is as I did not actually choose it and think it was included in a pack by mistake. It's bloomed well both last year (the first I recall it being in the front garden) and this year. Looks like there's a small snail or something inside it at the top which I did not notice when I took the pic.

tulip

these Little Princess tulips have been very confused, sun comes out and they open then next day cold and they close up

Little Princess tulip

the Honesty is fab this year, I've had some very very small plants that are blooming before they go through the usual stages with the large leaves, etc so wanted to have some better pics of the flowers so I can identify the plants earlier

honesty plant

honesty plant

here is that very small honesty, about 12 cm tall

honesty plant with flower

same small honesty showing a large honesty in the background

honesty size comparison

a view of that large honesty from the other side, about 60 cm tall

large honesty plant with flowers

the large honestys above and below, they developed large heart-shaped leaves on the bottom half of the plant before flowers were even considered, unlike that small one above with very few leaves and certainly no heart-shaped ones, about 80 cm tall

honesty plant with flowers

I ordered 5 bulbs of tulipa whittallii, but I only have 4 that have grown, to me they are indistinguishable from the Little Princess tulips

whittlalii and Little Princess tulips

a close-up of those 2 on the left

whittallii tulips

some of the Little Princess tulips in bloom, that pot on the right still has one in bud

Little Princess tulips

will add a pic of the remaining 5 flowers today (bought a pack of 10, half in bloom above)

new Taylors Narcissus Green Eyes - how very unimpressive! from a pack of 10, 5 have grown, 2 buds visible, it's almost May, shouldn't narcissus be in bloom by now??

narcissus green eyes

a tiny, tiny chinese lantern sprout which I didn't notice until I stepped on while pruning, still growing - I think - will try to look out for them better

chinese lantern tiny sprout

update on the hostas, still amazed I have some, in spite of the slugs

as it's so cold, everything is late this year, including the hostas, they are the spikey purple sprouts, the small green plants are green alkanet

hosta 1 think it might be Sum and Substance

hosta sprouts

hosta 2

hosta sprout

hosta 3, seems to be doing the best of the ones I have

hosta

hosta 4 is the one sharing a pot with a large foxglove, which unfortunately provides shelter for the slugs, last I checked the slugs had eaten the tops of the sprouts, will take another pic and add it here

hosta 5 still in a small plastic pot but doing well, will repot it this summer

hosta

hosta 6 was in a small plastic pot last summer and I don't see it right now, I must have planted it in the garden or in another pot, not sure where right now but I'll find it and add a pic

mid-April 2016

the Honesty has been fantastic this year; the green alkanet is always fantastic! but compared to a neighbour's garden in the sun (shown at the bottom of the bluebell page) my Honesty flowers are sparse

honesty and green alkanet

They were talking on Gardeners Question Time about the difference between comfrey and foxglove. I happen to have them near each other, also with green alkanet which is sometimes confused with foxglove so all 3 for comparison, left to right foxglove, green alkanet, comfrey:

right in the middle of those textured comfrey leaves some buds can be seen

comfrey sprouts

close-up of those buds

comfrey buds

I haven't sown cerinthe seeds for years but they are appearing regularly and fabuously

cerinthe

these flowers are usually visited regularly by bees but it's so cold I'm not seeing many, sure when it warms up there will be lots of bees

cerinth flower

I think these are Little Princess tulips but I must check. I guess being in the cans has warmed the roots and they are blooming earlier than the pots.

orange tulips in pots

the tulips in the terracotta pots are still in bud

tulips in bud in terracotta pots

I see a fat ripe pincushion! I've got lots of these new scabious 'Melton Pastels' (Knautia macedonica) from seeds I sowed the end of last summer but this is the first one with buds. I'll love them as will the bees and butterflies.

scabious buds

April 2016

Early flowers are blooming in the garden: honesty and green alkanet:

green alkanet and honesty

forget-me-not:

forget-me-not

A deadnettle (the bees love them) has self-seeded in this pot which I had planted up with a foxglove seedling. Foxgloves are bienniel so will bloom the following year and I did sow the seeds last year but many of the seedlings are so small I think they may well consider this year to be their first and I won't have flowers from them until next year (2017). Luckily I have some much larger foxgloves which will bloom this summer. I must have planted them in 2014. Foxgloves are one of those self-seeders which will give you fab flowers every year if you just leave them to get on with it.

deadnettle

the cerinthe self-seeded from last year is looking magnificent, in additon to those purple flowers which the bees love, the leaves are a gorgeous glaucous green with shades of purple

cerinthe

cerinthe

looking forward to the tulips blooming, I've pressed into bulb service lots of containers

some mushrooms have been encouraged by recent rain

end of March/beginning of April

my handsome boys

I went to the garden centre yesterday and bought 3 weeds! ok, we can call them "wildflower"s. As soon as you call a plant a "wildflower" they are less expensive at the garden centre, in this case £2.99 each. Last year I got some good wildflowers there: milk thistle, viper's bugloss and sea holly, although only 2 of the 3 sea holly bloomed. I'm hoping the 3rd will bloom this year. These are Fox and Cubs which I've never grown before so was curious to try them.

fox and cubs small plants

I planted them today as I had room in the flower bed after some rearrangement

fox and cubs plants

The milk thistles from last year did well and I was able to collect seed and grow more. Unfortunately the slugs devoured them all except this one:

milk thistle

Victor enjoying the sun

Victor in the pussy willow tree

Victor on top of my mini-greenhouse

Fitzy who visits every day. I have never heard him purr. He hardly lets me pet him or hold him. Behind him, on the other side of the wall can be seen some building work my neighbour has been doing. He has a new landscaped patio like something out of Monty Don's Big Dreams Small Spaces. My garden is more like Blue Peter compared to it!

time for the tulips to replace the crocus

muscari in the front, my 5 remaining auriculas behind

honesty with the pink flowers, green alkanet on the right, teasel top right

Bergenia is as tough as old boots. Sometimes I don't appreciate it but other times, such as today, I remember how great it is for early flowers and how it survives any conditions. This morning I saw the pink from the front path and thought it was rubbish that needed picking up, only to discover a bergenia had self-seeded there - and bloomed! What a nice change from the usual rubbish and cigarette ends I see there.

bergenia near pavement

anemone and narcissus in the front garden - first year from new bulbs - always the best results (one of the combos from deJager)

this pic shows the orange cups of the Jetfire narcissus better than the pic above

jetfire narcissus and anemone blanda

3 hyacinths in this pot, 2 bloomed early and are now brown, 1 in full bloom, aren't plants annoying like that!

pink hyacinth

that tulip bud on the left above a few days later

the taller narcissus - also first year from new bulbs, think from bins at Camden Garden Centre, Polly Pocket to the left

narcissus

the other cats in the back garden (Victor and Socks) with more blooming bulbs

narcissus Tete-a-tete blooming in the compost pile, I've removed them and planted them in the garden

crocus and hyacinths

close-up of those beautiful hyacinths

delft blue hyacinths

that bulb with buds bottom left was looking good but it is now rotten

hyacinths

these are previously forced hyacinths from previous years blooming in the garden

previously forced hyacinths in garden

mid-March

it's cold and windy but the crocus are making a spectacular show in the sun

crocus

crocus

A very dark purple hyacinth, Kronos?, Peter Stuyvesant? these are the replacements from J Parkers for the Sky Jacket hyacinths, but they aren't Sky Jacket either! I did force the other bulbs I received (that's how I knew their colour) but received these later so planted them outside.

the flower on the right looks more uniformly purple than the one on the left which has blue at the base of the florets but I'm not sure

crocus and other spring bulbs

muscari

muscari

large Dutch crocus

crocus

tete-a-tete daffodils and crocus

crocus

some of the indoor hyacinths got planted outdoors, think they were from a bulb bowl? will check

hyacinths and daffodils

this is a better view of those fat fab hyacinth buds, Miss Saigon bottom left, other 2 Delft Blue

hyacinths and daffodils

White Pearl hyacinths at their peak

white pearl hyacinths

the crocus are blooming like mad (end of February)

crocus

crocus

crocus

the early daffodils are in bloom as well, tete-a-tete I think, those hyacinths are spent after blooming indoors

crocus

I still have lots of bluebells in the front flowerbed, the hyacinths are blooming so the leaves that look similar to hyacinths but without flowers are bluebells and I'm going to work at removing them

these are the "Sky Jacket" hyacinths which J Parkers sent me when the original bulbs weren't Sky Jacket - neither are these!

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