Autumn 2018

The cats are unpredictable with the catnip. They'll ignore it for weeks and then one day pretty much destroy a plant, eating it and sitting in it.

cat in catnip

I'm not very good about digging up plants and moving them but I really have to move the globe thistles from this flowerbed as they are huge and take over so nothing else can grow really. I want to plant the self-seeded centaurea montana from that pot to join any other existing ones in the flowerbed but I fear the globe thistles crowded them out.

globe thistles

I had previously moved the globe thistles before but before I knew it there were still globe thistles in the flowerbed, whether the old ones or new self-seeded ones. To the left of the previously moved globe thistles below there's room against the fence for more so that's where they are going.

globe thistles

I managed to dig tthem up easily enough but their tap roots are broken off. Not sure how they'll like being transplanted.

globe thistles

globe thistles

I planted them in their new position to the left of the other globe thistles. It's been extremely dry so I hope they'll establish ok. Must remember to water them every day.

globe thistles

In front of those transplanted globe thistles, I've put my scabious plants. I was surprised to find yesterday that one had a flower stem and a bud. Later in the day it was bent over as I hadn't realised how dry the pot was. The garden is incredibly dry again. I watered everything, including the scabious plants and they revived.

scabious perfection blue

The pot above and the 4 below are the 5 scabious Perfection Blue I grew from seed this year. The description said blooms first year and it didn't seem as if that would happen but weather permitting I think I'll have at least one in bloom this autumn. Plant far left below looks like it might flower as well. Other 3 don't have those distinctive lobed leaves in the centre. In fact, one far right is being crowded out by a verbascum that self-seeded there, not sure the scabious will even survive. Should probably try to separate them but thought at this point I might kill one or both.

scabious perfection blue

Lesser knapweed is another plant, like the globe thistles, which is too successful. It took over this pot.

lesser knapweed

after pruning back the lesser knapweed spent stems, I can't see if there are any centaurea montana left, there certainly were some at one time

lesser knapweed

The honesty was fantastic earlier this year and growing them myself from seed, as I did last year rather than relying on the self-seeding, ensured early and large plants. I do find it difficult to pull up and discard seedlings but must thin out these honesty seedlings - much too densely planted.

honesty seedlings

I just did it quickly and determinedly. Of course, I had to repot some of the largest seedlings I pulled up.

honesty seedlings thinned out

I'm planting up some troughs with alliums for my daughter-in-law. I haven't grown allium flavum before so didn't know they came with some stem attached. Also allium azureum in the trough. I can't resist comparing different companies so two troughs with the same bulbs just different suppliers. Trough 1.

allium flavum and azureum

allium flavum and azureum trough 2

allium flavum and azureum

I went to the garden centre to get a few more bulbs for my bulb forcing and couldn't resist one of these. I've never grown them before but thought I'd give it a chance.

scilla hyacinthoides

this naughty squirrel has been digging up my seedlings, even though I'm feeding him lots of peanuts

grey squirrel


squirrel with peanut

these cheeky slugs ate my seedlings and then laid their eggs in the nice moist pot where they were growing

slug eggs

here are the two love birds


late flowers for bees

I went to RSPB Fowlmere the other day and saw some of the late wildflowers in bloom. One of the best was this Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica) just blooming and providing the bees with nectar and pollen after so many other flowers have finished. I'm not sure if those yellow bits are pollen baskets or parts of the flower.

bee on irish ivy

Irish ivy with bee

irish ivy with bee

I think those are pollen baskets either side but not absolutely certain.

irish ivy with bee

the ivy shrub is huge and covered with flowers - and lots of bees

irish ivy

I love purple flowers and self-heal is one of my favourite. I'm attempting to grow some from seed, not sure the slugs are going to let me.


I also love thistles. I'm not sure what one this is. I'm most familiar with spear and creeping but I don't think it's one of those. I will research it.

thistle flower close-up

it wasn't that tall, unlike most other thistles I've seen, maybe 30 cm?


thistle buds

lesser burdock, not a thistle but very thistle-like

lesser burdock

lesser burdock

there was lots of lesser burdock at Fowlmere, in all stages of growth from new buds to completely dry plants with hooked dried seed heads

I love cattails, don't often have a chance to see them up close.


I have been calling this Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) but checking it, I think it's more correctly hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum). But I would quite like to know and understand the differences between them. Certainly lots of it at Fowlmere, at all stages, mostly fluffy spent flowerheads but also buds and flowers. Firstly, buds.


close-up of the buds with some just starting to open


close-up of the flowers fully open

flowers in full bloom and some starting to wilt


dry fluffy seed heads

hemp-agrimony seed heads

I'm putting this in the "unknowns" section of the Plant Identification page as this will need some research to establish exactly what it is.


garden next door

so many plants have self-seeded between the paving slabs but the most amazing is the passionflower


the trunk (and it is a trunk not a stem) is thick, like a tree

passionflower trunk

surprisingly, there's and old man's beard self-seeded by the passionflower and climbing up it

old man's beard

it looks good but didn't bloom this year

old man's beard

the cats are a big component of this garden (as well as my garden), here's Victor

in front of Victor, cleome flowers, verbena bonariensis and honesty brown dry seedpods to the right, white verbascum flowers in the front


Jeffrey surrounded by plants, clockwise from Jeffrey's back, green alkanet, plastic pot with an eaten (by Jeffrey) catnip, terracotta pot with an uneaten catnip, nepeta faassenii, clover, knautia macedonia, ox-eye daisy pot, more green alkanet, pot with snapdragon and ox-eye daisy

that agastache has had great flowers this summer

close-up of that ivy-leaved toadflax

ivy-leaved toadflax

huge knautia macedonia Melton Pastels, foxglove in the pot to the left, green alkanet above, aquilegia below, spreading honeysuckle? to the right, I think

knautia macedonia

verbena bonariensis

verbena bonariensis

Bear, just as I was trying to take this photo, Bear's mum, Stitch was on the wall so both would have been in the shot but she jumped down before I snapped

early September 2018

It rained the other day so the ground wasn't totally rock hard so I made the effort to plant out some of the plants that are ready: chicory, wild bergamot, calamint and scabious. Anything in a pot needs watering so whatever I can get in the ground I'm trying to.

3 chicory plants planted out, 2nd wild bergamot on the left behind planted out, the one on the right I had previously planted in the ground. Not sure what to do with the pot of ox-eye daisies on the left behind. They took over that pot. Eventually, next Spring, they'll probably took great. Then I can move them for best effect.

chicory and wild bergamot

the small scabious plants behind the bricks self-seeded in  pots, ready to plant them out, and make sure the bricks were in place along the path


it wasn't long before Victor used them as a pillow

scabious for a pillow

the calamint was in a pot for ages but every pot needs watering so trying to get everything I can in the ground


My late delphinium has opened fully and the bees are loving it. I can see pollen baskets on the bees.

bee on delphinium

The whole slug thing has gotten so discouraging, the only place left to move anything is inside or on the stairs to the garden. There's another small delphinium that I rescued from slug destruction by keeping it inside for a while. Now it's on the stairs, along with that Black and Blue salvia which has buds after I also had it inside for a while. I can't keep the whole garden on the stairs. 

stairs to garden

new flush of greater knapweed flowers looking great - and not bothered by slugs

greater knapweed

borage also is pretty tough


Maybe it's crazy to even attempt plants like delphiniums and lupins - or hostas! when plants like Japanese anemone can grow and thrive completely untouched? Maybe I should just stick with plants like that. 

japanese anemone and hosta

something special on the shelf amidst the passionflower and morning glory

September 2018

I can't believe the summer is coming to an end already. It seemed like there'd be plenty of time for sowing seeds and growing things but it's almost Autumn.

After it rained, after the drought and heatwave a few weeks ago, some plants came back to life including this delphinium which has a second flower spike. Behind it is the sunflower which has some new small flowers off the main stem.


another delphinium has come back from slug damage and now has buds

delphinium buds

the new batch of borage is blooming and attracting bees, although I only seem to have a few in my garden

bee on borage

some of the sea holly flowers dried up and died but new ones have bloomed

sea holly

snapdragons have self-seeded, above a pink one on the right and below a white and lighter pink and a calendula

snapdragons and calendula

a pink water lily in bloom and 1 bud that's either going to open or is finishing, I can't tell which

water lily

I haven't seen a yellow water lily in bloom this summer so far but I see there's a bud

yellow water lily bud

the morning glory has a good flush of flowers today and the passionflower has intermittent blooms

morning glory

end of August 2018

cleomes and Polly Pocket


the sedum just below the cleomes is in bloom now, I thought it was called something like "rhubarb and custard" but on googling I can only find "Stewed Rhubarb"


and just below that, a perlargonium - best value from the garden centre - free for loyalty card holders, been going strong for months


There were lots of chicory flowers in St Pancras Old Church churchyard and lots of bees enjoying them. Difficult to get a photo in focus but on the left is a bee with white pollen baskets either side.

chicory with bee with pollen basket

also lots of bristly ox-tongue with bees

bee on bristly ox-tongue

I usually just hack away at the ivy as it usually seems to grow pretty fast but the other day I just pruned the stems without buds and was careful to leave the buds to produce flowers for the bees.

ivy buds

If only the fruits of the passionflower were nice. They aren't.


My early borage died in the drought and heatwave, then I had a couple small plants, now I have a lot of borage buds and flowers. I just wish I had bees enjoying them. I don't have many bees this year, sadly. There's been a huge construction site nearby (and a number of smaller but still large ones, as well) and I do wonder if it's disturbed the environment to such an extent that I have fewer bees in my garden.


my neighbour's squash is spreading over another neighbour's garden and into mine (vine on the left)

it's the only thing they grow in their garden and they built that monstrosity (with the posts sticking up) just for it, it's growing up that olive tree

and down the other side

my mint started to bloom, see more about mint at my Lamiaceae page

mint flowers

This salvia was blooming when I bought it earlier this year, then the slugs got to it and it was a bare stick, then I moved it inside and it recovered but no flowers, not until next year I imagine. I think it was something like "Salvia Blue and Black" but I'll have to see if I can find the label.

salvia black and blue

a delphinium I thought was too slug-damaged has new buds

delphinium buds

the heat has brought out the water lily flowers

water lily

I always have honesty self-seeding around the garden but last year I planted the seed myself and had spectacular results. This was one of them. I'm going to plant some of those seeds again.

honesty seed pods

a lone viola has appeared in the sea holly trough, the agapanthus to the left have not bloomed this year and there's no time to now, that sea holly in the foreground hasn't sprouted flowering stem - hopefully next year, I didn't notice the slug in the flowerbed to the right when I was taking this photo


Please don't use cut plastic bottles as cloches in the garden. Animals can get them stuck on their head. I mentioned this before but it's worth repeating.

fox with bottle cloche on head

mid-August 2018

I can finally do something in the garden as the heatwave has cooled down. I've been tidying some things and was going to prune back these dried stems of the poppy when I realised the new flower is growing from the dried stems. We shouldn't be too much in a rush to clear things away. (catnip at the front, honesty to the left, sea holly behind, nasturtium on the right)

late red poppy

I continue to notice Japanese knotweed locally

Japanese knotweed

surprise viola springing from a pot


For the last couple of years I've been doing pots for my neighbour round the corner. One pot had agastache, another had a hollyhock. I removed those and replaced them as they died back. Now agastache and a hollyhock is growing between the paving stones.


A neighbour nearby has a whole row of mint along the edge of their front garden and right now while it's in bloom it looks amazing. That hoverfly is enjoying it as well.


After seeing that fab mint, I pulled mine out from the crowd of pots while I was tidying up a bit and looked carefully and it has buds. Looking forward to some flowers.


I've seen gipsywort before but this example yesterday along the canal was so fresh and new I just had to photograph it again.


The weather has been so extreme so many plants are out of their natural rhythm. I don't know if the ivy should have buds right now or not but it seems quite early to me.

These are in my garden.

ivy buds

These are along the canal.

ivy buds

I love greater knapweed. Now that it's rained a bit, they are looking so much better than during the heatwave drought.

greater knapweed

greater knapweed

The comfrey has come back as well now that it's not so hot and dry. And the bees are enjoying it.

comfrey bee

comfrey bee

August 2018

Difficult growing conditions have meant some plants have not bloomed and won't be blooming at all this year and some have bloomed incredibly early. My Chinese Lanterns are a disaster. The first orange lantern weeks ago, months early. I did try to grow some in pots and as I watered my pots, they have done well, unlike the ones in the ground, which I can't share a photo of as they are so heart-breaking.

chinese lanterns pot-grown

also in a pot, some self-seeded borage with lots of buds



I wasn't sure how the morning glory would cope with this shady corner of my neighbour's patio but it's been fine. Not as shady as I thought. (Scarecrow on the chair under the table)

morning glory

the toad lily has lots of flowers but they're small; I'm afraid I'm underwhelmed

toad lily

beginning of July the toad lily didn't even have any buds, I guess the hot weather really accelerated things

The globe thistles bloomed early and are already past their best. In previous years, August was their prime time.

the lupin has only bloomed because I've been watering it - a lot


but all the watering has helped the slugs, they've started on this hosta which I've been keeping out of their reach recently - but they've found it

slug-eaten hosta

and they went for the hyssop seedlings which had been doing so well, I just see a slug trail

slug-eaten hyssop

even though it's so small, this nepeta has buds, some plants react to difficulties by blooming - to ensure seed production and long-term continuation (prickly sow thistle on the right)

nepeta prickly sow thistle

I have no idea why this poppy is so small (in a 9-cm pot) and so much later than the others (nipplewort or smooth sow thistle seedlings in there as well)

the heat has helped the cleomes which have some prominent buds

a couple days later, the flowers have started to bloom

cleome flowers

the ever reliable Japanese anemone, appear totally unaffected by the heatwave

japanese anemone

a self-seeded calendula


a few days later, the first bud has opened


I love green alkanet and have it all over the garden in the spring but it's totally unnecessary to have any in pots. My agapanthus didn't bloom this year, whether because of the weather or being crowded out by the green alkanet, I don't know. It's time to remove all the green alkanet from pots. I'll start on that when the heatwave ends, in theory tonight (August 7th).

pot with green alkanet

end of July 2018

It's been a very difficult time in the garden and wider environment. It's hot and dry. So hot and dry I don't even want to think about it. I refuse to waste water watering the entire garden and have only been watering pots and the recently planted rhubarb and a few others recently put in the ground. I only planted the wild bergamot in the ground recently after growing them from seed sown last summer. I could not even begin to get that larger pot in the ground until it rains and softens the rock-hard ground. If this weather continues, these are the kind of plants I will need to concentrate on.

wild bergamot

the morning glory flowers are here and there on the patio

morning glory

this sunflower was from free seeds with a seed order, only 1 germinated and grew but for free - I'm happy


close-up of the sunflower, which just opened this afternoon since I took the photo above this morning


the next day, a bee has found the sunflower

sunflower with bee

I wish I could say the cats are enjoying the catnip but it's been so hot and they seem so uncomfortable they've only had a bit of it. At least the bees are enjoying it.

nepeta cataria

it was hit and miss with the slugs but I did manage to achieve 10 catnip plants from seeds (sown in May)

nepeta cataria

this was a catnip plant I had grown from seed in a previous year - and it survived

nepeta cataria

finally a lupin flower spike, after repotting this a few weeks ago

lupin flower spike

a few days later the flower are opening, revealing my favourite colour

I've never grown toad lily before so looking forward to seeing the resulting flowers from these buds.

toad lily buds

10 days later the first flower is open

I saw this beetroot in a neighbour's vegetable plot in their front garden.

beetroot flowers

I could see the similarity with the sea beet I saw on Hayling Island recently.

sea beet

As well as the sea beet above, I saw a few other plants on Hayling last week, thistle

thistle on beach

horned poppy and thistle

thistle horned poppy

a certain amount of woolliness

thistle beach

sea holly

sea holly



wild carrot

wild carrot

wild carrot

echium vulgare

echium vulgare sand dunes

the spent echium was all furry

echium vulgare spent flowers

also saw sea purslane, golden samphire, rock samphire and sea kale, see South Downs and Coast

the artichokes in the front garden are amazing - magnificent purple flowers beloved by bees and growing without any rain, I planted them originally in my garden, bought a very small plant for my neighbour 2 doors down (far right in the pic) and they self-seeded themselves next door, the garden in between

artichokes front garden

Wildflower garden at the Crick Institute

Sadly, not everything can stay undeveloped so it's good when a new development has a decent wildflower area, as the new Crick Institute does, not far from St Pancras Old Church and the canal. Those are bees on the globe thistles. This area has full sun so the globe thistles are in bloom, mine aren't quite yet.

Crick Institute wildflower garden

there were dusky cranesbill

dusky cranesbill Crick Institute

close-up of some of the globe thistles

globe thistles with bees



I didn't know this euphorbia before, google tells me euphorbia griffithii.

euphorbia griffithii

I don't know if it's attractive to bees. I didn't see any around it. But then I'm seeing a lot fewer bees.

euphorbia griffithii

contrast that with this epic fail at Gasholders

green space gasholders

they've put in flowerbeds - in a very controlled way

great burnet

great burnet and yellow yarrow ?

great burnet

but it hasn't stopped them from using weedkiller nearby

weedkiller Regent's Canal St Pancras

thank goodness red valerian can still self-seed by St Pancras Lock

red valerian St Pancras lock

just to the left of the lock, my most frequent non-plant photographic subject, the Post Office Tower, in the distance (railway line out of St Pancras just beyond the canal, new Somers Town pedestrian bridge to the left)

and further along the canal there are some wildflowers that haven't been chemically treated or controlled

purple loosestrife

purple loosestrife


great hairy willowherb

great hairy willowherb

great hairy willowherb

wild buckwheat, not sure how "wild" it is, I've had it in my garden from bird seed

wild buckwheat

large drifts of common orache and

common orache

fat hen

fat hen

huge teasels

teasel Regent's Canal

bees on the lesser burdock

lesser burdock bee

This large-leaved plant is at the edge of the canal, I'm not sure but I think it's white butterbur (petasites albus or maybe the other butterbur, winter heliotrope petasites fragrans). I guess flowers would be definitive but not sure when they'd appear. Must note specifically where it is, in case the leaves die back, so I know where to look for flowers.


Subscribe to garden withoutdoors RSS