The bleached garden begins

Now is the time year that the colour in the garden fades and bleaches with the bright sun.  The best time for taking photographs is early morning for just before dusk, but that doesn’t give a true version of how the garden looks for most of the day.

Allium sphaerocephalon with Euphorbia rigida

Some plants continue to look attractive even in the strong light but others look almost grey!  Silver leaved plants sparkle, I have many different species and varieties and I enjoy the way they make the colours near them sing out.

Allium sphaerocephalon blends with many other plants and usually repeat flowers in the second and third years in my garden, it will even seed itself and flower quite quickly. Here it is with a Phormium I thought had died in the cold winter, it is now looking better than it did last year. I do like the way the allium grows from pale green through to deep purple and makes little exclamation marks of dense colour.

Allium sphaerocephalon with a similar coloured Phormium

I planted a 1000 of these allium in a stream that winds its way through the other plants in the large island.

Much of the garden is dominated by blue and silver.  Both the lavender and the Perovskia are flowering earlier this year, already I can only push through the bee-covered flowers of the lavender to walk along the paths that a month ago were wide enough for two people to walk along together.

Yellow roses on the pergola are flowering again to give the contrast in colour I wanted and that last year didn’t happen, I must keep feeding and dead-heading them so they’ll continue all summer.

Fromal beds now in full bloom

The gift of wind-blown seed is a joy (not always of course as all the weeds in the garden are also brought in by the wind).  Last year the field to the west of the garden (and the direction the wind blows from in summer) was full of Verbascum Thapsus which looks very much like the Verbascum you will know from gardens called Verbascum olympicum; it has cleverly seeded itself just into the edge of the drive as well as into the slope.  When I drove up the drive the other night the headlights picked up their amazing forms looking like some kind of Triffid.

Visitors to the garden who haven’t seen it for a year are amazed at the growth rate of many of the plants – I am myself amazed at just how quickly the garden has filled out.  I started digging the first border (Left hand border) in 2007 and the islands were planted in autumn 2009 so it is still a very ‘new’ and I am so happy that it is starting already to feel mature.

&©Copyright 2011
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Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.

GBBD May 2011

May is probably the month when there is the most in flower on any one given day, so again I’ll let you see everything via a slideshow, rather than filling this up with everything.  This week the weather has thrown itself at the garden.  From bright sun with a cold north east wind which blew fragile stems horizontal to 2 hot days that felt more like mid-July with temperatures reaching 30°C to today, windy, dull with rain for about 3 hours over lunch time when I’d been hoping that my guests could have lunch in the garden.

Rosa Scepter'd Isle with Allium Rosem and opening Gaura

The above image and the following close ups are all taken of what I rather boringly call the Triangular Rose Bed (I do need to take advice about how to name the borders in a more descriptive, interesting way).

Erigeron never fails to be full of flower

R. Conrad F Meyer

Above pale pink Penstemon began flowering this week and will hopefully now continue until the autumn.

R. Stanwell Perpetual

R. Scepter'd Isle, a very good repeating rose, the plants are still new and small (planted last spring) but are full of flower!

Looking at the above colours, perhaps I should call it the “Pink, Frilly Knickers Bed”; all pastel pinks with just a hint of dark lace edging supplied by the dark purple cut-lace foliage of Sambucus.

Nearby on 2 pillars is R. Pierre di Ronsard – this has been slow to establish but given its NE facing location and the terrible soil its planted in, I think it’s not doing too badly.  It continues the pastel hues.

As I mentioned in earlier posts about roses, here and here my roses are about two weeks early flowering, even Veichenblu is half out and last year wasn’t fully flowering until I came home after the Chelsea flower show.  Irises have such a short season but some seem to flower for longer than others (I need to learn more about how they all perform as they are perfect for the conditions here and I do also like their leaves and the strong verticals to add to the show.

The hazy blue of Nepeta behind the strong yellow of Hemerocallis Sol d’Or with spikes of purple salvia in the foreground and yellow Phlomis all under a Melia tree (I forgot to photograph the blossom on that); you may recognise that it was in amongst these Hemerocallis that Tulips are planted.  This proved a great combination as the Hemerocallis foliage started to really grow just when I needed to hide the ugly dying foliage of the tulips.  I had chosen tulips for planting here that would have toned in colour with the Hemerocallis had they flowered together.  It is a combination I’ll repeat in future years.

Walking around after my guests had gone photographing all that you see here I became even more aware of the fact that while I love many of the individual flowers either for their colour or perfume what really made me happy were the general views; seeing how the plants related to each other – their colours blending or contrasting, their foliage texture adding depth and the blurring of colours together not just in the images but also in reality because of the movement caused by the wind.  Please click on the image below to see all the flowers in My Hesperides Garden this May GBBD.

Happy GBBD to everyone and enjoy this very special time of year; visit Carol at Maydreams, AND IT IS MAY so she doesn’t have to dream any more, to nose around what’s flowering in other parts of the
world.  Thanks for hosting GBBD again, Carol and I hope this May is all you dreamt of during the long winter.

&©Copyright 2011
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Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.

Alliums, Irises and Roses

More Alliums and Roses are flowering now as are Irises.

All the Irises have flowered in the last week.  They are a new love of mine.  In the past I thought they were rather difficult to mix with other plants and that, as they flower for such a short time, they weren’t worth the space.  When I first began this garden a kind friend gave me some Irises; actually he gave them to me before I was ready and they sat for a while waiting to be planted.  How glad I am that they survived my mistreatment!  They are now very happily established and I’m sure the pale blue, brown (Maid of Kent, I think), have both more than doubled their clump size since last year.

I like this Iris with Rosa glauca and the foliage of Artemisia pontica

Strong but pale blue Irises under Mulberry

Two years ago he sold me some other rhizomes, one an amazing pink (that description doesn’t do it justice) and a true black, these have also doubled their clump size; a rather good purple is rather slower but I’m sure it will grow this year now it has flowered.  So now I’m looking at on-line brochures to check other colours that might give the right effect in other parts of the garden.  I’m thinking burnt orange for the back border which would benefit from some colour at this time of year, after the tulips and before the Hemerocallis and Abutilon.

Brown Iris - last year at Chelsea almost every garden had this one!

The brown Irises combine very well with the new growth tints of Nandino, and with bronze fennel, I’ll move the Irises closer to the Nandino when they’ve finished flowering (I said I’d do it last year but somehow ran out of time and I’m regretting it now.

Yes, they really are black, stunning!

Does anyone know the name of this one, a real beauty

These Dutch Iris Bronze Queen look better in the photo than in life where they look a bit sickly to me.

The above are now almost horizonal due to the terrible winds of the last two days.

Blue Dutch Iris are also planted near Hemerocallis Sol d’Oro but they’re not fully out yet so I post their image another time.

This year Allium karataviense looks even better than last year when it was its first year.  I have always loved the crimson edged, almost blue-green foliage; it has the advantage over other alliums that the foliage remains looking good while it flowers.  It even seems to be clumping up so I’m hopeful that it will keep growing for some years.  Not so A. aflatunense which has not re-flowered well in the formal beds leading me to think I might plant something else instead.

New for me is Allium Roseum planted in the middle of a group of 3 Rose Scepter’d Isle.  Small and dainty it resembles the wild alliums I’ve seen growing in various places, although this is more pink as the name would suggest.

A. Roseum

Allium Christophii

Allium Claret is about to open, already I like its colour

Then, of course, there are the roses.  All of them have at least some flowers with most now in full bloom!

Above is Rosa Westerland, which seems to me the colour of the sunsets we have here.

R. Queen of Sweden

R. Tradescant has more flowers on one bush at this moment than the one I had in England had in 3 years!

West facing pillars have R. Clair Matin

R. Rush

R. Sophie's perpetual

R. William Shakespeare

R. Scepter'd Isle

R. Gertrude Jekyll

…..and for something completely different, here’s what mother Nature can do when left to her own devices!

I pass this wonderful field of poppies every time I go out.

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Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.

Alliums and Roses

Sorry, I know I promised to post about Tulips combinations to hide their foliage but the roses are beginning to flower and are filling the garden with their perfume; I just have to share them with you.

I have to admit that in England, where every Italian thinks they must be perfect, I was never very successful with roses.  Here is different; they grow more quickly, have the long hot summer for their ‘wood’ to harden’ and dry summers that don’t encourage black spot or other fungal-type diseases.  They do begin to flower early, last year some began at the end of March.  This year it was mid-April when the first buds opened especially for GBBD.  Now Rosa mutabilis is full of colour and on still days gives off a delicious perfume.

R. mutabilis

They are forming a hedge between the drive where we park and the vegetable garden.

These images are the end of April.  Next into flower were R. Conrad F Meyer and R. Stanwell perpetual.  Both are in the Triangular Rose bed that links into the walled bed you can see above.

R. Conrad F Meyer

Stanwell perpetual opens pale pink but quickly fades to white. This is a very generous rose with masses of blooms over a long flowering season.

R. Molineux also opens early and last year (its first year) surprised me by how long it flowered.

Allium roseum, just opening

The first R. veichenblau, possibly my favourite rose

What is giving me most pleasure at the moment is R. Rimosa (known in the US as climbing Gold Badge and in the rest of the world as Climbing Gold Bunny) it is planted on 4 of the pillars at the front of the house along with Wisteria prolific, which I’m sure you saw in my earlier posts.  I choose this rose because at the nursery, when I saw it in mid-September it was flowering right from the base, and that is just what it is doing now, it has even grown taller than I imagined it would and it has linked up to form an arch of roses when I look out of the sitting room or kitchen windows.  This too is delicately perfumed.

Looking out at the sheep

Looking down from my bedroom window

Rosa Rimosa

When I planted this rose with the wisteria I did think they might flower together creating a good contrast, but usually the wisteria has more or less finished before the rose comes out.  It does make an interesting combination with the Perovskia when it re-flowers in autumn.

The old cliché of the roses around the door

Enough of the roses for now; A friend posted about her alliums this morning and I was surprised that hers, in North Devon, were at exactly the same stage as mine here in Lazio.

Allium Mount Everest in the small island bed

A solitary Allium Schubertii

The garden is the most full and colourful I’ve ever seen or even dreamed it could be!  (the downside might be that in autumn many plants will have outgrown their space and need to be moved) but at present I’m just enjoying the show.

The slope with Allium Purple Sensation and European and Californian poppies

You can see a wind sown Verbascum – I’ve never seen one with such large leaves – it will grow as big as the new tree next to it (Persimmon)

To finish and a reminder of the wildlife I love to see in the garden here is a lacewing and 2 blue butterflies doing what butterflies do!

A Daddy Long Legs feeds on a Euphorbia.

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Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.

End of Month Review 30th April 2011

The bank is filling out.  There is an issue with weeds unfortunately; and because it is so steep when I tense myself not to fall while I’ll pulling out weeds I damage my back.  There have been some moments in the last week when I was bent almost double like a very, very old woman!

The Stipa tenuissima has really filled out since last autumn

Some Gaura are looking a little wilted; it has been a very hot month with very little rain.  As I write it is raining very gently just perfect for soaking slowly into the soil.  When it rains hard the water just runs off the slope and very little is absorbed.

A bit further up the drive

Finally the Panicums showed signs of new growth so I have been able to lift, divide and replant them.  Some have found homes in other beds too, where I needed grasses that didn’t require water.  I have spaced them differently too so that I will add some other perennials between them to add to the prairie effect.  There are lots more Gaura self-seeded in the rose bed and also into the gravel paths so I will move some of these.

Newly re-planted Panicums

I would also like to add tulips here in the autumn although the thought of planting them is rather daunting.

I hope you can see my method of planting; creating a depression around the plant to hold water while it establishes – this is the method I use for all my plants; trees and shrubs have a large depression(we call it a vase here) around them that might remain for up to one year.  It allows me to give a lot of water at one time, then nothing for a while to encourage the roots to search deeper for water.

To one side where there is a Solarnum jasminoides I have planted some rooted cuttings I took last autumn.

First flowers on the Solanum jasminoides

I underrate this plant (it was the only flowering plant in the garden when we bought the property), it has just begun to flower this year and last year it was continuously in flower until December.  I am hoping for a frothy white mass tumbling down the bank.

This week the alliums my friend planted for me last autumn have opened their buds and are making a striking contrast with Californian poppies that I scattered the seeds of when planting everything else.

A big thank you to Helen, the Patient Gardener, for hosting the end of month review.  Visit her to see what’s happening in other gardens.  Reviewing the garden, or at least part of it every month really helps to focus the mind about what is working and what needs to be done.
&©Copyright 2011
All rights reserved.
Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.