Six on Saturday

Okay, I know they are frowned upon, hated by some, very promiscuous with the natives and difficult to remove once established BUT if you keep them under control by removing as many as possible each year I think the hybrid bluebell, Hyacinthoides × massartiana, is an acceptable plant in small numbers in suburban gardens. (ducks down under the desk to avoid flying brickbats!) It is an annual process, just like removing any other plant having domination tendencies (Sapponaria comes to mind!) but, after all, that’s part of gardening.

This Chaenomeles japonica (ten points if you know how to pronounce it properly!) was grown several years ago from a pip in a fruit stolen from a friend’s garden. Lucy, if you are reading this, sorry! They are the easiest things to grow from pips and there are often 30 or more in each fruit. They have to be old and dried up before you break into them to take the pips but 3 months on a greenhouse shelf usually does the trick.

The Monkshood, Aconitum carmichaelii, is just emerging from it’s slumbers and looks remarkably like a weedy geranium at this stage. Soon however, it will reach up to the skies with spires of blue hooded flowers, provided I remembered what it was! Sometimes, when I am in weeding frenzy mode, head down, iPod earplugs in, things get mistaken at this early stage and woosh, they are gone!

I have to give the flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, a round of applause for a spectacular show this year and for providing masses of early nectar for thousands of emerging bumble bees and early exploring honey bees. This plant is on an awkward corner and gets sheared with the beech hedge in August, much later than the books suggest, but it always rewards me with the most wonderful Spring display. A bit out of fashion these days but a stalwart of the Spring garden in my view. The same goes for………

Forsythia, tall, straggly, ugly. Say what you like but it is a trooper and as reliable as a Labrador. Frankly, if I had the time I would prune it properly by removing a third of the oldest branches each year and carefully cutting back this year’s flowered shoots in May. But I don’t have the time or the inclination because I know that whatever I do, it will flower again next year. So it also gets hacked back in August with the Beech hedge which obviously gives it just about enough time to form flowering shoots for the following year.

To round off this week’s common or garden ‘must have’ spring flowers, I should give a very brief mention to Forget-me-nots and Grape Hyacinths. There, I have mentioned them.

Have a great weekend


My Garden This Week – The Best Bits!

DSC_0024I have been trying to take a good photo of Salvia uliginosa and have found it very difficult so this is the best I have managed so far but it really doesn’t do it justice. The colour is simply exquisite and it flowers for months. The bees love it and it is a full 1.8m high and wide which makes a wonderful border statement. Believe it or not, it is thriving in one of the worst parts of the garden overshadowed by trees and in sticky clay soil, all the things it should hate!DSC_0028

Aconitum carmichaelii, the common Monkshood, has got a fearsome reputation for being the most poisonous plant in the garden, particularly since a gardener died of it’s effects earlier this year. It is, however, a rather beautiful and statuesque plant, just don’t touch it and then eat your sandwiches!DSC_0034

The front border is filled with colour from the salvias, echinaceas, monardas and heleniums with the fresh foliage of the asters and chrysanths supporting them. Everything props each other up and avoids flopping. DSC_0036

Amongst the asters is this rather unusual Solidago ‘Fireworks’ which is not your average Golden Rod but a more refined version which works well with the purples, mauves and crimsons of the asters which are now beginning to open.DSC_0046

Best hoverfly attractor plant? This Lysimachia ephemerum, the Willow Leaved Loosestrife, gets this year’s award. Yes, better than Verbena, salvias or scabious and at least on a par with echinacea for attracting pollinators. Never seen it without something crawling over it!DSC_0054

The ever reliable Rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii which lights up the borders in August and goes on for weeks and weeks. I wouldn’t be without it. Shorter than ‘Goldsturm’ and a brighter yellow in my opinion.DSC_0057

I do find it easy to ignore the more mundane plants in the garden and take them for granted, particularly those which have been there for years and just perform without fussing, feeding or propping, things like this Echinops ritro, a reliable drought resistant, clay loving plant if ever there was one. Loved by bees, flies, beetles and all manner of creepie crawlies, it must be overloaded with pollen and nectar. It is not until you look closely, really closely at those blue balls that you see why.DSC_0061

Each flower ball is comprised of hundreds of tiny florets, each one packed with food and drink. Isn’t nature wonderful!