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


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.


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



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


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.


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


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


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


in the back garden next door which I help look after


also in the back garden next door


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


in the main flowerbed at the front of the garden


in the middle of the garden


in the shade



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



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


below, back to my garden, 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.


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.


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

Spring 2018

This is my kind of Easter activity. How many plants / weeds can be identified? (this is also on Facebook so you can comment if you want)

with labels added

I think this must be the largest hairy bittercress I've ever seen. The long spiky bits are the seed pods. There is a tiny hairy bittercress in the centre of the pic above.

hairy bittercress

this is the first green alkanet I've seen this Spring, one of my favourite flowers

green alkanet

forsythia is magnificent for a brief period in the Spring


Hampstead Heath was a rather disappointing place to see plants this week (ground too trodden on by people and their dogs) but around Kenwood House I saw a few small bulbs including this chinodoxa. I love the intense colour of the closed buds.


close-up or one of the chinodoxa flowers


view from Hampstead Heath, Post Office Tower far right

view from Hampstead Heath

best buys from the garden centre (free from the skip!)

I bought some plants from Peter Nyssen, Bear's discovered the nepeta (catnip). Between the cold and snow recently and Bear, they aren't looking too good.

a couple more colours of polyanthus are blooming, and that blue "zebra" one I couldn't resist from the garden centre


angelica I bought from the garden centre last year as a "wildflower", good value, it's a biennial so will bloom this year after last year's planting


the cyclamen coum has survived the slugs, campanula and other seedlings near it

cyclamen coum

I plant out my previously forced hyacinth bulbs, they do bloom again but in a very subdued way. The garden withoutdoors overlaps with the garden withindoors

previously forced hyacinths blooming in the garden

previously forced hyacinths blooming in the garde

previously forced hyacinths blooming in the garden

I now have a huge pile of spent hyacinth bulbs to plant in the garden. I think it's warm enough now - for the moment - before the latest cold snap due before Easter.

spent hyacinth bulbs

bulbs want to grow! these tiny bulbs were on the patio or somewhere last autumn and got accumulated in this pot, I had forgotten about them and this spring started doing what they do

tiny bulbs

March 2018

I love these small daffodils. Tete-a-tete as far as I know but they're only small like this in the right conditions, otherwise they can be tall and leggy. These have been outside all winter.

small narcissus

from a packet of mixed colour polyanthus seeds, yellow; seems to be the strongest colour from any mixed packet of seeds (annoyingly)


It's hard to believe that this bulb bowl of hyacinths,

hyacinth bulb bowl

was under snow a week ago

bulb bowl under snow

garden under snow

end of February 2018

daffodils covered by last night's snow

daffodils in the snow

tête-a-tête daffodils in the small amount of snow we had a couple days ago

tete-a-tete daffodils

tete-a-tete daffodils

Chinese Lanterns

I'm a bit of a bore about Chinese Lanterns but I just think they are so amazing: they look great even in winter, they've grown and spread in my front garden without any effort on my part, they are incredibly tolerant of my poor conditions.

Chinese Lanterns

I tried to force a lot of muscari indoors the last couple of years (see gardenwithindoors) so had a lot of bulbs to plant outside. They seem to be quite early this year.


I love moss. The bright green moss surrounding the muscari is so nice - and I did nothing to add it to this pot, it just appeared. Deadnettle seedling on the left.

Vintage terracotta pot + small flower bulb + moss =  magic.


Winter Flowers Jan/Feb 2018

There's been so much work along the Regent's Canal near King's Cross/St Pancras. They've moved the gasometers and built flats inside two of them and made a park in the third (black one on the left). I was interested in what weeds were growing in the wall by St Pancras Lock but I couldn't see them well enough and the towpath is closed there at the moment with all the construction. I hope to get a closer look soon.

St Pancras Lock and gasometers

I've been walking a lot recently and I see a number of plants and shrubs blooming, even though it's winter.



Vachellia karroo (formerly known as acacia karroo).

vachellia karroo

I'd seen this before but didn't know what it was until this week when I researched it and found it's winter jasmine.

winter jasmine

and a weed I've not seen up close and personal before, lesser celandine (the previous pic in my Weed Guide was shared by a reader, now I have my own); I'm impressed this can grow and bloom in the middle of winter, as with all the flowers I've seen recently

lesser celandine

lesser celandine bud

lesser celandine bud

another yellow flower, closer to home in my garden, mahonia


a colour I much prefer to all that yellow, purple/blue rosemary flowers

rosemary flowers and buds

Polly Pocket venturing out on a nice day; the prostrate rosemary is covered with flowers and buds

prostrate rosemary flowering

a neighbour has naturalised crocus in their front lawn


I've been fascinated with this seed pod I saw nearby a couple weeks ago. Thinking it's thorn-apple? I didn't notice it in bloom last summer. Not sure if it's annual or perennial but I will look out for it this year.

thorn apple seed pod

I also collected some seeds from another pod that was brown and opening so I hope to sow those and see what I get.

thorn-apple seed pot

my first rhubarb emerging



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