A walk around the garden Tuesday 22nd May

The garden is at its most beautiful in May; and even though the tulips are over as are most of the Irises the garden is FULL!  When I look at the garden now, especially this year after so much rain this spring I can hardly believe it will all become parched in a few weeks and I will feel sad looking at a garden that is struggling to stay alive. Continue reading

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GBFD – Scorched and then the first rain came

As I mentioned in my last post we had our first rain for over a month during Monday night plus the temperatures have dropped this week by about 10°C, making it again possible to work in the garden with some degree of comfort at least for most of the morning and in late afternoon. Today I worked on until 1.30pm and it was hotter than I at first realised! Caution is needed, I was wearing a hat! Continue reading

The Formal Garden

This year the Perovskia in the formal beds at the front of the house did not do well.  I mulched the ground heavily to suppress weed growth and I think it must have been too acid; the plants haven’t grown as much as in other years and are only now beginning to flower well.  The lateness of flowering is, I’m sure, also due to the exceptionally hot summer.

This is a bonus as the blue haze when I look out of the windows is very much appreciated now.

Looking down from a first floor window

The LH border is to the left with soft edges while the lavender is cut straight.

Taken from the right side of the terrace looking diagonally across to the mulberry tree.

In the above image you can see where some of the lavender may be dead, I’m relieved to see that there is a lot of new growth on most of the hedge.

Looking through the beds, the blue of the perovskia is so intense

This is the view from the kitchen window

Here you can see the symmetry; taken from the centre of the front door.  The pre-existing bay block at the back of the garden isn’t central, I’ve added a couple more plants but they need to grow to reach the height if the original before their presence will be felt.  The Walnut trees are happily placed more or less centrally to the beds on each side, I also want to divide the Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ so there are four in front of the Bay.

End of Month View

Time again to join Helen the Patient Gardener for her end of month view.

May and June are usually the best months for me; the weather is warm enough to enjoy meals outside, the garden is full of flower and everything is lush and full.  May was almost like this, but there were cool evenings which meant no meals outside.  The beginning of June was very windy so again not many meals outside and the plants in the garden took quite a battering.  In the middle of the month the temperatures soared AND there were hot winds!

I usually delay turning on the automatic irrigation (except to the vegetable garden) for as long as possible; 1, because I want the plants to become tough and search out water deep down and 2, as all the water comes from a well 100 m deep there is considerable cost in terms of electricity to pump the water to the surface.

As it was cool in May, especially at night, there was always dew on the ground each morning so I felt it correct to wait before beginning the irrigation this year.  With hindsight this was a mistake; the desiccating effects of the wind were pulling water up out of the ground via the leaves.  When I went to Prague I didn’t want to begin irrigating without being there to make sure there were no damaged pipes (there was one so I was right about that).  The wind became even stronger and the temperature rose to 37° – 39° Celsius over those four days and when I returned the garden was scorched, I used the term “flame gun” and this wasn’t really an exaggeration.  The irrigation is on now, I have been hand-watering to try to help some of the plants that were really suffering, but with temperatures now pretty much set for the next six to eight weeks the summer hibernation of the garden has started early!  Some plants do continue to bloom with minimum irrigation and I’ll be showing those over the next weeks.

Some plants will reward me with abundant blooms with very little water.  Rosa mutablibis is one that only needs minimum water to flower almost continuously.  Gaura lindheimeri is another that with just a little irrigation or run off from nearby roses flower profusely.  The groundcover Verbena near the terrace is flowering much more than usual because I’ve been watering pots on the terrace and water has run off from there to reach them.

Ground cover verbena benefits from a little irrigation to ensure it flowers all summer

Figs grow all around the Mediterranean and I’ve seen them growing out of cliffs with no soil, but mine needs water every year!  In past years this hasn’t occurred until August, but just look at my poor tree, and this was even before the last week of June; the first crop of figs hasn’t been harvested yet although any day now some should be ready.

Poor tree, it must have lost half its leaves

Crumpled, yellow and brown, the fallen leaves under the fig tree

Rosa Rimosa again has had only run off water from watering pots on the terrace is giving a great second display.

See more about this good tempered rose here.

However the grasses are beginning to light up the garden, especially in the evening when the last rays of the sun shine through their flowers.

Pennisetum villosum lighting up the garden

Another Pennisetum, possibly Karly

June is the month for Lavender and the sound of bees buzzing all day collecting nectar and of butterflies fluttering and dancing in the air above.

With the extra pruning this year I can just squeeze through the lavender surrounding the formal beds

A honey bee doing what they do best!

Silver-Studded Blue Plebejus argus

Alliums in the formal beds

I planted 1000 allium aflatunense ‘Purple Sensation’ in the front two formal beds in autumn 2008.

26th April 2009 First year after planting the alliums

All have now disappeared sadly; rather than replant I have decided to scatter seed from a wild allium that grows on the road verges and in the area outside the gate.  I have been sprinkling the seed already for the last couple of years but it obviously needs a year or two for the seed to produce a plant large enough to give flowers.  This year there is a small group of flowers which poke satisfyingly above the growing Perovskia.  I like the effect, maybe even more than the cultivated variety.  So I am now noting carefully where I see them growing wild so I can hopefully pick them when the seeds are ripe and spread them throughout the 4 formal beds, I realise it will take some time before the beds are overflowing with the lovely blobs of purple, but I can sometimes be patient!

There are actually many more than you can see here, but they will spread.

I love the contrast between the foliage of the Perovskia and the purple allium

The above image was taken late in the evening, silver of the Perovskia becomes almost blue.

the wind alliums have an even stronger colour than ‘Purple Sensation so I think they will look even better.

Views from my windows

I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, but it is either actually get things done or write about doing them!

After several weeks of hot sunny weather yesterday afternoon we finally had a couple of hours of rain.  The first hour was extremely heavy, monsoon-like battering down the plants, the second hour was just what every gardener wants – steady but not damaging rain that really penetrates the soil.  Given that the temperature in the morning was about 27 ° C of even a little higher the result is that you can almost see the plants growing now.  Today is humid, hot and there was another shower, although not really enough to do more than wet the surface.

I would like to share with you the views from my windows, this will give you an idea of which bed I’m talking about in future posts and as some of the windows are quite high it is a bit like looking at a plan of the garden.  I am slowly trying to write details of each bed which will appear in Borders and areas within the garden, this will help me see the progress and changes that have occurred and remind me of all the plants in each bed.  I actually took these photographs a month ago and a lot has already changed, the roses flowered, were wonderful and have now more of less finished their first flowering; they have been dead headed and I need to feed them so they will flower again.  The only rose that is still looking amazing is R. Sally Holmes.

Upper Drive border and part of Large Island

Above you can see the drive, with to the right of the picture the olives with just grass and wild flowers under them.  The upper drive bed joins the Slope (you can’t see that from the windows but you can see progress there on my End of Month Views) and continues, wrapping around the Large Island, The Circular Rose Bed and the Small Island eventually becoming the Back Border which in turn joins the Left Hand Border.

A closer view of the Upper Drive Border

Part of the Large Island

I laid out the island shapes using hose pipe to help decide on the most pleasing shapes – this did involve a lot of going up and down my very steep stairs so quite a healthy exercise.

Above: The circular rose bed, with a small section of the Large Island (foreground, right) with the edge of the Upper Slope and a small piece of the Back border.

The Formal Garden

It is now becoming difficult to walk between the lavender hedges of the formal garden as they have grown so much and are about to flower.

Here is the Left Hand Border (in April 2010)

Rosa mutabilis hedge separates the vegetable garden from the drive and the back of the house

And finally the vegetable garden.

I hope that this helps to understand the layout of the garden.  The property is 3,000 square metres including the house, the olives and a portion outside the fence which I will be writing about in future end of month views.



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Christina.
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