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


Six on Saturday

The debate rages on about Spanish Bluebells and whether, rather like the Grey Squirrel, they are driving out the native English version. Recent research suggests this is not the case and that the native Bluebell has a genetic advantage which makes them tough and resilient. So let’s just enjoy the beauty of Spanish bluebells, despite their tendency to invade and spread alarmingly!

We have Blue Tits in the posh new nest box! He or she had just gone in with a mouthful of something when I took this shot. Unusually, our old nest box on the shed, which has been occupied every year since 2010, is unoccupied for the first time. That’s the housing market for you, the lure of the new and untouched!

Talking of Bluebells, lurking beneath the beech hedge is a small clump of white ones which flower every year but don’t seem to increase; just the same small clump every year.

Early morning shot of the front garden today. Comments seem to suggest that followers like to see gardens as well as plants and flowers so I thought I would periodically bare all.

The middle garden this morning. I call it the rose garden but in all truth, it is mostly patio!

And the back garden minus the shed and greenhouse on the left. What you see are 20L pots of Tradescantia virginiana hybrids sunk into raised beds, the beginning of my National Plant Collection. Lots more to do, including a new website to go live shortly, but it’s a start!

I am always impressed with the sheer exuberance of Daylillies. The ability to go from nought to this in a matter of weeks in cold, wet weather is remarkable and a reminder that a colourful summer is just around the corner!

Enjoy your weekend.