On the home front

With more posts to come on my ‘local patch’ I thought I’d take a brief break to catch up on what’s hot and what’s not in my garden. Well, that was my intention but when I start chatting… This posting comes with a health warning – cuppa required! Oh… and you might need your shoes and your coat too.

May is my favourite month for both the plants and the birds in my garden. I am always particularly thrilled to see Wisteria buds developing into flower buds after waiting so many years for this climber to flower. The buds below are from my white flowering Wisteria but if you have a purple one they are likely to be more purple in bud too.

Allium flower buds bursting and revealing more tiny bud clusters that will in open to form a wonderful flower ball are also such a delight to see. They haven’t been in my garden for as long as the Wisteria but are almost as special. The bud below is the first of this year (Purple Sensation I think) growing in a pot at my front door. Fern fronds unfurling is another spectacle in the garden at this time of year. I do love the greens in the garden.

New additions, the perennial wallflower, Erysimum Bowles’ Mauve below are patiently waiting in their pots ready for planting. They’ve not officially moved in yet. I loved the grey foliage of this one and the purple flower. The yak. hybrid rhododendron (can’t remember which one) has been a long standing resident in my garden and given many years of loyal service but I am considering moving it after flowering.

Every other year I have a garden project in mind and this year I am considering a bigger pond. I am thinking a new one in addition to my ‘rock pool’ pond outside my window. I haven’t been in my garden so much of late (blogging either sorry) so I’ve yet to get to grips with exactly what I’m looking for. The rhododendron? Well, it and another two are in the spot I have in mind. Heavier rocks will need to be moved in this area so careful planning will be required. I am also considering a solar powered pump so I’ll need to research that too.

Woodland strawberries below are now in flower. I’m always amazed at the hardiness of this little plant. Its foliage always looks so good all year too.

Now, the little Violas (Ruby and Gold) are quite rightly beaming their little faces off now! I wonder did they know I nearly gave up on them and considered tossing them out of the border and into the compost bin. As I said, I haven’t been out in the garden as much as usual for this time of year and that has been quite fortuitous in this case! They are bringing such a richness to the border and I smile right back at them when I walk by them. Oh… we were both so very lucky!

Smiles too for the primroses grown from seed that are seeding themselves in nooks and crannies all around my garden. The flowering broom (recently moved) awaits bees passing by. The daffodils Ice Follies are standing to attention now awaiting inspection at any time. They came to the party late having been only planted on February 1st this year. I am thrilled with this planting and the incredible bargain they were too was a bonus.

However, some Euphorbias are now on the ‘up for eviction list’. I do love this plant for its form, its wonderful colour of both foliage and flower but, for me, they have the problem of taking time to bulk up to a good size. Then they give a growth spurt! I can’t deny they do look great. Problem is… by then I fancy a change to the planting scheme – I don’t leave well alone. So then we start the whole process all over again. In the case of the Euphorbia it puts on a serious sulk for a while to show its objection to my decision. Sorry, no room for Divas in my garden.

Bank Holiday Monday saw a rainy day here in my garden, windy too. However, although windy on Sunday it was dry and sunny so I headed out to give my grass its first cut of the year! It wasn’t too long either as we have had quite a dry April. By the time I got out with my camera later it was starting to get dark as I took my photos above (not deliberate this time) although I do still love the richness of colour this gives. Ah… but let’s see the last of the evening sunshine beaming down on Brunnera Jack Frost and the tulips growing through it.

Close-ups are great for details of the plants but how about a brief Evening Tour of the garden? Perhaps you haven’t visited before. I really so love walking around the garden as the sunlight leaves it. The orchestra of bird song completes the picture with full surround sound!

Shoes on? Let’s step out the back door. A new focal point here with an Arch, put up mid April, that doubles up as a bird feeder and frame for summer flowering climbers at the same time. I have planted the Rose Mde Alfred Carriere and two clematis. This Arch gets some of the last sunshine which will be great for flowers here. As for the birds visiting in the last few weeks the numbers of Goldfinches, Siskins and greenfinches have increased again so I have increased the number of feeding ports with this new grouping of feeders.

There’s still a few unfinished parts in this border which I’ll come back to the next dry evening. Yes, hands up I did move a few plants around. I hope the rose doesn’t sulk. I did give its feet a helping hand with a handful of bonemeal. It’s allowed to be a tiny bit Diva as I have yet to see it flower and I am expecting great things from it including a scent in the air as I walk by.

As always, I’m loving the greens of this Acer at my back door, the Griselinia and Bamboo beside the feeders too. This year the Primulas and Magnolia have had an abundance of flowers which I have enjoyed immensely from inside and out.

Walking past the new climber/feeder Arch you can see right along the length of the hedge to the far corner. This line is broken with the gentle branches of the coral barked Acer in the border as this tree has grown over the years.

Rather a long time was spent edging and weeding this strip under the hedge on Sunday. I always appreciate seeing it when it’s done though so it’s well worth it. I prefer to cut the edges first before cutting my grass that way I really enjoy the results of mowing my lawn. Even if you don’t have time to cut the grass but still trim the edges the borders and whole garden just looks so much better don’t you think?

You can see the longer grass in the distance where my bulbs were growing. I like to cut and see this island bed of longer grass. I can easily see how fun it would mowing paths in a wildflower meadow. Looking to the left, you can also see the slight slope of another short grass path. This one would take you straight past the side of my house and out through the garden gate to my small front garden.

Standing at the bottom of this short grass path below you can see the smiling Violas, Heucheras, Broom and Primroses. There are lots more to come from this border including Alliums and Jap. Anemones. On the left again, you can also see another path (paved this time) with a step up to a path leading straight to my Arbour.

I am lucky to be able to just slightly change levels in my garden and with a change of material underfoot it makes for a much more enjoyable walk around. Yes, where I can I do like all paths to lead somewhere too. I can’t help myself with this. Yep, my eye likes to wind around a garden too. If you were to turn to the right from this spot you’d see a large blue glazed pot with a weeping pear in it in front of the hedge. That is the first focal point when you step through my garden gate.

The bottom of a hedge doesn’t look like it would be much of a focal point but the evening sun beaming through it really draws the eye up there. I have considered many times over the years how to solve this. Nothing much grows there except weeds. Last year I laid some grass turf to solve that problem but cats sat on it and it left bare patches. Yes I hear you, a cosy spot to view the birds at the feeders!

Anyway, this year I’m going to try something else. I spotted a primrose that had seeded itself there so I’ve decided to lift others and make it more of a primrose and wildflower banking growing through some longer grass. That might work. Turning an ugly spot into a pretty one – I like that idea. Spot the blackbird on the right taking advantage of the shorter grass to find insects.

Looking back up the garden you can see the last evening sunshine glowing over towards my garden shed which is this last spot to get it. Yes, a small grass path also leads you down towards it narrowing in and out around the borders and plants. The shed area would be an idea spot for a pergola and table but as this is on the boundary of my garden and neighbours are just on the other side on two sides it wouldn’t feel very private.

My tiny greenhouse is on the right of my shed. It doesn’t get high levels of sunshine there especially as my neighbour has a large shrub on the other side of the fence and only this morning I spotted a new Acer tree. That isn’t a problem for the moment as I am not overly productive in my greenhouse on average using it more for cuttings than seed germination. It gets the most use over the winter months.

Looking left below and over the path that leads to my Arbour you can see winding gravel paths. I have planted areas through the membrane which is below the gravel – notably the area in the foreground on the right. These particular plants hide another ‘ugly’ part of a garden – the rotary line for drying clothes. The hole is hidden in the planting of grasses. This area catches the sun in the morning and all the way through till late afternoon.

The flowering rhododendron can also be seen on the right. It is this area I have in mind for my new pond which I’ll be able to look out on to from my arbour seat.

On the left growing on the trellis part of my pergola you can see the branches of my wisteria. Growing up the trellis of my walkway in the distance you can see the branches of sweet scented Jasmine. The leaves will open out soon. It is wonderful to walk through later on in the year when this is in flower. My Gunnera grows on the other side of this trellis – out of water.

Stepping down and under the pergola, sharp right and we can look back over to the Arbour, the other focal point from my garden gate. You can see the Allium buds of Purple Sensation and tulips coming into flower behind a short strip of box hedging.

My Wisteria is growing behind the Euphorbia to the left of the Ivy Sulphur heart (a search and rescue plant). This Euphorbia I have enjoyed over the winter months but I do think it’s for the boot now!

In my Gunnera border (no pics this time) I have many, many seedlings of the wild flower Red Campion (which is pink). Behind the Euphorbia is also the wonderful brown foliage of Physocarpus Diablo which I think would look stunning with pink flowers growing through it. Yep, decision made. The Euphorbia is going and some Red Campion should prepare itself for its Summer Hols.

Panning to the left a little more and we are at the entrance to the walkway. A small dwarf Rhododendron with lovely lilac flowers is going over now. This plant came from a cutting of a plant in my last garden. This gravel path has a slight slope and leads along to the right or behind this original garden rockery. You can the Ice Follies waiting inspection. I really am trilled with them there.

I bet you’re tired with all this walking (and chatting) about now. Almost done now. Let’s head back to where we started. Standing at the corner of my house, with my pergola on the left again, we can walk by my pond to the back door again. The planting at a glance looks lush but there is way more to come yet.

This area will see wonderful Blue Meconopsis flowers and the deep red thistle flowers of Cirsium. The Cirsium was first introduced to my garden in this area but has moved around the garden since (surprise, surprise). However I have a very special reason for its return here.

Bees love the flowers of the Cirsium. Did you spot the honey pot in this border? It has been located just above the largest cave around my pond. I had hoped to attract the bees to this nice new home especially set up as an alternative accommodation. However, they have not changed their decision!

If you build it they will come! Bees have set up home somewhere inside this largest cave above my pond. I was a tad worried at first (hence purchase of bee house) that it may get flooded after heavy rainfall but I guess they know what they are doing in there. I can see nothing from the outside. However, I am enjoying seeing them going in and out every now and again. Now… I wonder how the resident frog will feel about its new neighbours!

My, this has been a long tour! Finally, just a brief mention about the nestboxes in my garden. I had guessed that the Arch nestbox had no residents and I could see the camera one had no nest this year. However, recently I’ve seen a couple of Great Tits looking about the garden and they looked in the Arch Nestbox too. I would be thrilled if they popped by the camera one so gave it a sweep out at the weekend to make it a little more tempting. Sorry Blue tits but it was the Great Tits I always hoped would use our Camera Nestbox.

But hey surprise, surprise late afternoon yesterday we saw a flurry of activity by a Blue tit taking long pieces of dried grass into the Arch nestbox. Is it really thinking of nesting in there this late? I haven’t seen anything this morning. Mm… never say never – it isn’t’ over yet! I wonder…

Now can I keep you a moment longer? A little birdie (Jane) told me about a Nestcam at Dorset Wildlife Trust with a rather special nest. I wonder if you’d be interested in following the Live action of a Kestrel Nest. They are expecting the female to lay eggs any day now! Jane set this up and asked me to pass the word hoping ‘The more people we get watching, the more likely we are to see the first egg being laid’. Yes Jane, this does sound exciting stuff. Fingers crossed there!

Okay, we’re done now. You’ll need a walk now for some fresh air. Oh… perhaps if you are in or around London today you might like to pop along to Kew Gardens as today it’s they celebrate their 250th Anniversary. Congratulations to them – they do some very valuable work there! Have a great week where ever you go.

All photos above were taken in my garden on May 3rd 2009.

17 thoughts on “On the home front

  1. Oh Shirl, your garden is full of exciting plants. I love it when you give tours through your garden. I see things I have never seen before. I love the way you have your edges so neat and tidy. I think we have received the rain you should have had. We had a wet April.

  2. WOW…. I feel like I owe a fee for that tour! Fabulous!!!!
    I think my favorite is the water feature. THANK YOU for sharing these wonderful blooms.
    Happy Gardening!

  3. I do love seeing other people’s gardens, and especially to have a nice tour! [:

    Some wonderful landscaping with plenty of interest for the eye. I can see it’s taken a lot of work to get there with plenty more still I come by the sounds of things hehe.

    It’s certainly something for me to aspire to, and I love how you’ve raised your beds, a great addition to bring things closer to the eye at the same time as helping to guide you to the focal points.

  4. What a lovely garden you have, Shirl — a gorgeous spot to rest and dream. I hope your birdies settle into the nest boxes so we can watch that process as well. 🙂

  5. Brilliant. I really enjoyed a conducted tour of your garden Shirl. It all looks so neat and tidy I am really envious. You must have put a lot of time and effort in designing and maintaining it. All that was missing was a nice cup of tea to round off the evening stroll.
    Fingers crossed you get a nest box in use soon.

  6. Enchanting Shirl!! Lovely tour … absolutely love the sensual curves to your gardens and the daffs in the rocks… stunning features and wow to the green walls! Great post! Great garden! Whew! to what it takes to maintain and now a larger pond! A kindred spirit to a labor of love.

  7. Lovely tour – I’m so envious of all your space! I see that your daffodils are still going strong. Down here in the south ours have been over for about 10 days. Are you at quite a high elevation?

  8. Hi again Lisa, Bren, Liz, Nancy, John, Carol & Linda 🙂Lisa – Thank-you, I’m so glad you enjoyed the tour. I am also glad I’ve done this now as in a months time the garden is really going to be way different. It will be interesting for me top look back on then too. Now, I have to say I try to keep my edges neat especially at the beginning of the grass cutting season. Oh… sorry to hear you’ve had a lot of rain this past month – I guess its your turn for the sunshine now 😀

    Bren – LOL… thanks! Yes, there is a great magic to my rocky pond with the beautiful moss growing around it. It looks fantastic in the winter months. Thank-you and wishing you Happy Gardening too 😀

    Liz – Me too, I’ve enjoyed many tours on other garden blogs. I also enjoyed doing the tour for real visitors many years ago when many gardens from our small town opened their gardens for a local charity. Pity it rained one of the days. Thank-you, the garden has really moved on a little every other year taking it to the place it is now. I had no master plan really. Many changes were in response to how we have used the garden at a particular time. Many memories in there too. One day I’ll get round to showing how the garden was used when our girls were young. I’ve a few ideas there too. Oh yes… you may well laugh with changes to come 😉 How are yours going 😀

    Nancy – Thank-you, we are so very lucky we have space for privacy to relax in too. Oh… being truthful I really doubt we will see any activity in our camera nestbox this year but you just never know what might happen in the natural world. I would be thrilled to share that. I am working on an alternative for you this year 😀

    John – Thank-you, oh now… that’s what I hoped someone would say! Yes, with the grass cut and the edges trimmed they do set of the borders well. It could then be assumed that the borders are neatly tended at the moment too. I have deliberately grown lots of ground cover plants to keep down on weeding. I also like to see them carpet together – that is my plan. However, weeds do get in and I’ve yet to get out there and remove them this year. The weeds in my borders are actually having a party all of their own in the small spaces that are available to them! That’s what I was trying to say about the lawn edges, they immediately fool the eye into thinking the whole border is tidy. A neat trick really 😉 Yes, I can confess to taking a lot of time over the years tweaking designs here and there. That’s what I love about keeping a garden – being creative. Yes, a cup of tea would have been a nice ending… I think I opted for a glass of red wine 😉 Yes, it really would be nice to see a nestbox used this year 😀

    Carol – Thank-you, ah the curves… I too love them and every now and again I tweak them a little as the plants grow. I was thrilled with the daffs as that was exactly how I pictured them there. Yes, these green walls need to be kept trimmed but do give a great background and wind break too. Thank-you, yes much thought has to go into this new pond as I don’t want it to take too much to maintain. Thinking cap required here 😀

    Linda – Thank-you, we are very lucky having a corner spot and a more L-shaped garden. Some of our neighbours have small squares. Ah… these daffs have only just opened their flowers but not at all because of a high elevation. I picked up these bulbs late as a garden centre was selling them dirt cheap as they were starting to sprout. When I planted them on Feb 1st they seemed to slow down in growth. Mm… I suspect your garden has pretty much the same temps and weather as mine 😀

  9. Oooh Shirl, I did enjoy that. I love a good ‘nose’ around someone else’s garden, it’s like looking into windows as you pass by when the lights are on but the curtains are still open 😀

    Your garden is lovely and so beautifully designed. I’m not good on vision, my garden has just sort of evolved.

    I thought I invented the idea of trimming the edges even if the grass wasn’t cut!! Doesn’t it make a difference to the flower beds? I think that is one of the best things I ever discovered!

    Let us know how you get on with the perennial wallflower, I had two beautiful ones but they weren’t happy and ‘gave up the ghost’, but my brother has some very happy ones at his holiday home in the south west.

    A super post with lovely photos, thank you.

  10. Hi Shirl. Well I actually stopped for a cup of tea, sat down & just soaked up the atmosphere of your lovely garden spaces. Your passion & love for it are borne out in the words & pics. Thanks for the tour.
    We have Gt Tits using a box that's been the home of Blue's for many years. Now into their 2nd week of frantic feeding. Must spend some loot & get a camera box!
    How appropriate (word verification = wings) must be a good omen for your nesters. Cheers Frank.

  11. Thank you for that tour of your beautiful garden, Shirl – I really enjoyed it 😀

    I do like those Violas, and your fabulous rockery pond – and I love your Acers; I wish I could grow them here. I’m with you on the Euphorbias too – I’d ditch them, and I’d wear goggles and gauntlets to do it – the sap is just too irritant for me to think they’re worth the effort of growing.

    I’ve seen birds in our garden gathering nesting material in the last few days – a lot of them seem to be quite late this year, so let’s hope your bluetits are among them, and that you’ll soon have babies in your nestbox.

  12. Shirl, you have an amazing garden with so much to look at. Thank you for this latest tour, I so enjoy seeing all your lovely plants.

  13. Wow, you’ve got the loveliest garden, Shirl! Thanks for bringing me along this evening walk – I feel so inspired! I love the high hedges surrounding your garden, the softly shaped borders, the choice of plants, the…everything!

  14. Hello Shirley,
    A real old fashioned garden.A place for everything and everything in its place.
    Can’t remember when we last had our garden looking like that.
    If ever.

  15. Hi there ShySongbird, Frank, Juliet, Keewee, Katarina and Jo 🙂ShySongbird – LOL… yes I know what you mean. Thank-you, although some parts have been designed the ideas have only evolved through the way we have used our garden as a family too. Ah… great minds think alike on the lawn edge LOL. Oops… its been raining and very windy most of this week and the wallflowers are still in their pots. I must get them planted over the weekend. Never, tried them before so it will be interesting to see how they do. I could prob get cuttings too – will look into that. Thank-you, wishing you a great weekend 😀

    Frank – Excellent, I enjoy stumbling over postings like this with a cup of tea/coffee myself. You are most welcome. I enjoy doing a tour every now and again. It’s great for me to look back on too. Spooky word verif. I guess it’s your nestbox of Great tits that will get the luck. Still can’t see what is going on with ours. Too much stops and starts. Yes, the camera box is great but can be quite addictive viewing too! You’d never get out the house 😉 Enjoy seeing the Great tit action. Here’s hoping you’ll see the young about your garden once fledged too. Fingers crossed 😀

    Juliet – You are most welcome! Yep… hands up… I didn’t fully appreciate the potential of the violas at first. My pond, I guess, I take it for granted at this time of year as the mossy green on the stones blends in with the foliage around it. This area particularly captures me over the winter months. Yeh… some Euphorbias will be ditched but I do love them too. It is a love hate thing. Yes, you’ve to be careful with the sap. I didn’t grow Euphorbias when my daughters were young. Great to hear of nesting activity sightings in your garden too. Yes, I am being realistic about our Blue tits nesting in our cam box – I do think its too late now. I have had one thought about the design of the new box – perhaps there is a draft coming in under the roof. We’ll take a look at that over the weekend just in case there is any chance it could get used yet. Have a great weekend 😀

    Keewee – Thank-you for your most generous comment, I am thrilled that you and others have enjoyed this tour. Enjoy your weekend 😀

    Katarina – Thank-you, you are very kind. It is wonderful to receive such generous comments from fellow gardeners. Wishing you a wonderful weekend 😀

    Jo – Hello there! Everything in its place, LOL, yes I do try to control plantings to a certain degree although I do allow a bit of free form too. It still goes through stages. It’s the feel of the different spaces that I strive for yet at the same time connecting them all together. ‘A real old fashioned garden’ has never been a description I would have associated with my garden. However, we all see gardens with different eyes and that’s what makes us shape our own too I guess. I enjoy foliage plants and greens in my garden but more colours and flowers are coming through now. However, my garden continually evolves and that’s the fun part for me. I am always moving things around. Enjoy your garden and your weekend 😀

  16. Thanks for the KestrelCam mention. They now have “2” eggs and seem to be doing well.

    A great tour – you’d better not come to my garden is more like a jungle!

    Jane x

  17. Hi there Jane🙂

    You’re most welcome! I see you have five eggs there now! Excellent 😀 Glad you enjoyed the tour… a jungle garden sounds good 😉

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