In a Vase on Monday – Aster, stars of this season

Cathy of Rambling in the garden challenges us each Monday to pick flowers from our gardens to place in a vase to enjoy in our homes.  It is also a very accurate way of seeing what is flowering well each week as only the most prolific blooms will be picked from the garden or from the beds many of us have decided to dedicate to cut flowers. Continue reading

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In a vase on Monday – the season continues

In the week I was away from home enjoying the rain (I’m not being ironic) in Devon the weather has changed in Italy too.

No longer the intense heat of summer but now the pleasant warmth of early autumn AND it has rained!  I have become so accustomed to having flowers in the house that my first thought was to pick some flowers for a vase; so these were picked on Saturday but not arranged until Sunday. Continue reading

In a vase on Monday – More greens please!

Having been away for most of the week (I was taken to the Amalfi coast for my birthday) I returned on Saturday keen to see what flowers had been left standing after a deluge of rain last Monday and strong north winds on Tuesday.  A lot of the Cosmos, which has grown very tall (mostly all over 6 foot 1.8 m) had been knocked over but some judicious but rather late staking meant that there were flowers to pick.  The Dahlia continues to pump out blooms so it would seem churlish not to continue to include them in my vases.  The diverse range of colours made me want to create two arrangements.  Continue reading

End of Month View – There is Colour Again

Incredibly it is the end of September already.  Where do the months go?  It’s the time to join Helen the Patient Gardener for the EMV.

My Hesperides Garden is almost back to normal; there is colour again, there is GREEN again.  September has been the coolest I can remember since we moved to Italy in 2003; after such an unbearably hot summer it has been such a welcome relief.  There has been rain, we need more but the plants have appreciated what has fallen and have shown their gratitude by bursting into new growth and in some cases into flower.

Colours are different in autumn light, sunrise and sunsets are beautiful and on the duller days subtle colours that would have appeared faded in strong summer light have looked bright.

There is perfume in the garden again too; the subtle fragrance of Rosa mutabilis is the first thing I notice when I step out of the door.

Rosa mutabilis

Rosa mutabilis is so generous, apart from the hottest months in flowers most of the year.  When there weather is cooler there are more apricot coloured blooms, staying that colour longer than when it is very got so providing more variations of colour at any one time.  The two links above are to different posts.

More powerful is the intoxicating accents of Elaeagnus x ebbingei coming from insignificant but exquisitely scented flowers.  I’m told the fruits eventually produced in April are edible, delicious even, if I remember I’ll try them next year and report back.

Lots of the flowers are blue; Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’, Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’ and Perovskia are all clear pure blues.

Caryopteris ‘Heavenly Blue’, loved by the bees

There are also lots of pinks, they almost seem out of place at this time of year.

Tubaglia, these were divided in spring so didn’t flower much this year but are putting on a welcome show now.

Hibiscus have put on a long show this year, I bought another pure white from a plant fair, they are valuable plants in the garden, coping with drought and flowering later in summer and into autumn

Asters are beginning to put on a show.

You can hardly see the foliage on this Aster.

But more about them another day.

I have been busily taking cutting of plants I want more of in the garden, especially those that are drought tolerant.

My bulb order arrived this week and I have begun planting; it takes a while as I need to tidy and clear the spaces first.  I am finding that the spread sheet I created when I made my order with the positions of each bulb listed is making planting more efficient.

Another scented plant that is a joy when I walk into the garden in the morning or evening is the Datura; its perfume is so alluring to the bees that often they can’t wait for the flower to open (just as it’s getting dark) and they bore a hole to reach the nectar.

Datura

Thanks Helen for hosting this meme, even if it is a reminder of how quickly the year is passing!

EOMV – Scorching August

Another month has passed and it’s time again to join Helen the Patient Gardener for the end of month view; thanks for hosting again Helen

On Sunday last we had a little rain, enough to wet the ground.  Night-time temperatures have dropped a little; being able to sleep at night has made me feel a little better.

If the cooler nights continue, but already last night was warmer than Sunday night, the plants will benefit from some dew.  Lower temperatures are also promised for next week (I have everything crossed!).

The August issue of my Italian gardening magazine communicates that there hasn’t been a June and July together this hot and this dry since records began (and now there is a scorching August to add into the statistics); local friends, who are assiduous at keeping records of max. and min. temperatures and measuring rainfall, tell me that there has been no measurable rain since May 28th!  Again this morning we had a 15 minute shower – not enough to do much good but, for me psychologically good as it brings a promise that we will get some proper rain soon.

The extreme conditions are making me reassess my thoughts on what drought really is.  I’m sure this sounds silly – a drought is a drought is a drought.  But actually it isn’t just about there being no rain; we rarely get any rain here from July through to the end of August.  What has made the difference this year is the higher temperatures, just a few degrees higher every day and less obviously higher night time temperatures, giving plants less time to recover.  Then there have been even more strong winds this year; this morning’s shower wet the ground but then the wind grew stronger and everything was dry again within half an hour (at the most).  As I write the wind is blowing continuously, I can hear it in the chimney; I’m listening to the leaves of the wisteria rustling.  This desiccation by the wind is not to be underestimated.

I’m looking with reawakened interest at the plants that are really thriving, not just surviving; I will use more of them as structural plants so that when this hot summer is repeated in the future there will be more plants that I don’t have to worry about.  I mentioned some in my post about foliage; the good ones are rosemary, Ceanothus, Teucrium, Myrtle and Euphorbia, although a couple of plants have died but they were probably a bit old.

Teucrium, thrives in the heat, you can prune it – maybe I will replace the dead box with this, not as long lasting but tough!

Cistus and Pholmis sufruticosa are alive but their foliage has curled to protect itself so that don’t look wonderful.

Then there were the surprises – plants I would have bet good money that they would be OK; Festuca glauca is a plant I’ve always considered very, drought tolerant but several have died and there is such a build-up of dead thatch on others that they either need replacing or digging up and dividing, discarding the dead stems and hoping that they will reform into their usual round shape.

these three Festuca glauca look dead to me

the alive one at the back is just on the edge of where the irrigation drip hose reaches

Nepeta is tough, just a couple of soakings with the hose and it is regrowing! I intend taking cutting and using more of this around the garden, I love its colour.

Most of the Sedums are growing well, although some are smaller this year.

I will use sedums as fillers around other plants, they needn’t be near irrigation drip hoses, I already took a lot of cutting earlier in the year, I’ll take even more next year

With irrigation (3 hours per week) the grasses look great

These grasses, Miscanthus and Pennisetum are on the edge of the circular rose bed, they are just receiving water through the soil, there is no direct irrigation to them but the roses receive 1 hour per night 3 times per week.

Once the trumpet vine is established it shouldn’t need any irrigation

In my free-draining soil Gaura needs just a little water, the amount in the soil near the irrigated roses is enough, to flower for months. In some soils they need no water at all.

There is a very obvious truth behind all the above.  If I want a garden full of flowers in July and August all I have to do is use masses of water!  I don’t want, or indeed feel it is right, to irrigate the whole garden so I must rethink some areas so that I am not forced to go around with a hose early morning or late at night trying to keep plants alive.  Where the irrigation is, the plants survive on the amount I give them, they won’t flower in a very hot year like this one has proved to be but they will persist to flower another year and I think I have to be content with that.

This abutilon was more damaged by the cold winter than the heat of summer but it does receive some irrigation

The Echinacea I grew from seed seems happy with just a little water

This double Hibiscus is still quite small, it was a cutting taken by a friend. Once established it is very tough and will survive with very little water

Asters need more water. I need to concentrate them in one or two areas where I’m prepapred to irrigate 3 times a week.

Sorry some of the images are a little fuzzy; the wind was blowing!

September GBBD

Carol at Maydreamsgarden hosts this brilliant meme that shows what is in bloom in gardens around the world on the 15th of the month.  When you’ve finished looking at what’s flowering in my Hesperides Garden do visit Carol to see other seasons, other flowers and other ideas; why not join in?  It is fun to see how some plants are present everywhere and others only appear in one or two places.

For me it helps me know which plants flower together and exactly how long they flower for.  This is so helpful when deciding if a plant is worth the space it is allocated.  As water is at such a premium here it also helps to know what effect the weather is having on flowering etc.  So while I find GBBD really interesting I try to always join in because it is good discipline for me.

When I wrote August’s GBBD we hadn’t had the usual hot summer weather – the temperatures changed on 16th August!  Two weeks or scorching temperatures 38° C plus during the day and the night-time temps, only falling by about 10°C followed.  The usual September rain hasn’t arrived, morning and evenings are cooler again (25 – 27°C) but during the days it is very hot and humid.  The humidity does mean there is a little moisture in the air that the plants can make use of, but I have only moved plants I know won’t suffer without water for a while.  Sowing seeds should be good as the soil in their trays warms up quickly; Some Hemerocallis I planted straight from the seed pod have germinated, I don’t know how true to the parent they will be, but it will be interesting to find out.

Circular Rose bed, Gaura has taken over

All four types of rose in the above bed (William Shakespeare, Tradescant, Queen of Sweden and Sophie’s Perpetual) have been flowering more or less all summer.  They have irrigation three times a week.  The amount of water is a key issue.  The irrigations tube to one of the pillars around the terrace was broken for a week or so which meant that that pillar’s rose was receiving much more water then I intended.  But that is the only one of the Yellow roses to flower during August and into September so it proves to me that if I want all my roses to flower more I have to give them more water or accept that they will flower in spring, with maybe a second flush and then no more until the autumn rains arrive.

R. Tradescant

R. William Shakespeare

R. Sophie's Perpetual

R, Queen of Sweden

The cooler weather does mean that R. Mutabilis has all colours of flowers together in high summer all are crimson.

R. Mutabilis

As you’ll see if you click on the image below to see a slideshow of everything in flower there are a few surprises.  The prostrate rosemary has flowers (normally this is during winter) and although there are some flowers on the Asters they aren’t at all in full bloom yet; maybe they will be for October’s GBBD.  Have a great day wherever you are.

Look carefully at the Californian poppy, I think a yellow spider is eating a fly, I didn’t even notice it when I took the photo.

If you would like to join me on the 22nd October I’ll be posting about Foliage in the garden, a new meme I hope you’ll join in.