GBBD Rain Drops on Roses…..

Actually not just on roses but on everything.  For the last two nights it has rained and for a couple of hours during the day yesterday and most of the day today – I am very happy!

So when I went outside to take my photos for bloomday it was under the protection of an umbrella.  It wasn’t raining too hard and it was so god to see and feel the rain; the umbrella was more to keep the camera dry.  Today it is windy which isn’t so good, I want rain, soft and gentle to soak right into the soil.  Temperatures yesterday and today haven’t risen above 20° C.  It almost feels like winter, but it is so nice to feel cool; to go to bed and pull the sheet around me rather than throw it off in an attempt to be cool.

Next week the temperatures are set to rise again, but only during the day, at night it will be cool.  Even during the day it should just be pleasantly warm to work outside.

All the blooms this month have raindrops on their petals, for some this makes them even more beautiful.

Gaura are always beautiful with drops of rain on their stems

New foliage and new blooms on Rosa Clair Matin

Caryopteris is very reliable at summer’s end, even after the hot summer we’ve had this year it is flowering beautifully

To see what else is flowering in My Hesperides Garden in mid September, please click on the image below.

To enjoy what’s flowering in gardens around the world, some just entering spring and others beginning to look autumnal, visit Carol at May Dreams Garden,

End of Month View – March 2012 – The Slope

This is a very late post but I wanted to participate if only for my own records, I find this meme, hosted by Helen, the Patient Gardener, one of the most useful meme’s of the month.  It helps me see the progress in the garden and what still needs to be done to truly create my Hesperides garden.

From when I began work on the slope by the drive I have concentrated most of these posts on this area.  It has filled out well and has surpassed by hopes for it to become one of my favourite parts of the garden.  Almost everything is from self-seeded plants moved from other parts of the garden.  It is not irrigated and in fact would be very difficult to do so because water just runs off the, in places, very steep slope.

Here are two images of how the area looked in October 2009.

Looking accross the slope from the drive

Looking up the slope with newly planted Persimmon tree

In November 2010 I planted Stipa tenuissima, Gaura, Iris and Euphorbia all from the garden.

For this post I want to show some images of how full of interesting foliage and colourful flowers the slope has become.

Looking accross the slope from the same position as above

Time for the tree stakes to be removed

Looking up the slope, as above

The bare soil has been colonised by Californian poppy, European poppy (not flowering yet) and a wild plant, a member of the daisy family that I use the new leaves in salads. Here it’s called cresto di gallo or cock’s comb – a deliciously different taste, there is also wild rocket again I allow it to grow so I can pick it for salads.

The lower area edges the drive and at the top becomes part of a border that sweeps round and into a path that forms the large and small islands.  The part abutting this path I call the upper slope and will be showing this separately at some other time; the two areas are separated by windbreak planting of bush Quercia ilex, Arbutus and other shrubs which are included to protect the rest of the garden from the desiccating summer wind that blows in from the coast almost every afternoon.

2012.02.29 End of Month View – Pruning and new life

At the end of last month nothing was happening in the garden or with me.  In fact I was feeling down – illogically really because winter has been very short, intense but short.  This week we’ve had warm sunny days and also days when the wind is so cold and so strong it was bending the trees in half.

The snow has all melted and with the warm sun much is growing; I found that Iris unguicularis has flowered for the first time – I know that they don’t like being disturbed but I had hoped for flowers last year – so far there is one bloom, I hope there will be more.  They are planted under  Rosa mutabilis and I would really like to move them to a better position but it would be sad to lose the flowers for another couple of years.

I love this Iris unguicularis, despite its horrible name

Under the snow I found an Achillia blooming, but the cold wind has burnt the flowers now.

Tulips are emerging from the soil, I am so happy as I held to my resolve and I didn’t buy or plant any bulbs last autumn.  I long for their bright hues and beautiful forms to fill the garden with colour and announce that it really is spring!

When I read the Alberto at Altroverde was cutting back his grasses I thought he was being a little premature; last year I did mine towards the end of March.  But I thought I should check and almost all the grasses including the Miscanthus (that I consider to come into leaf late) had fresh green leaves emerging from the base; the wind and snow had burnt some a little but not enough to do permanent damage.  So another job to be completed ASAP.

On Sunday I decided the time had come to remove some of the Gaura that smothered the roses in the circular rose bed.  The roses are planted in four groups of three and Gaura had germinated close in around the roses to the extent that last autumn it seemed that the lower growing Sophie’s perpetual was almost completed buried.  From the original 12 Gaura plants that had been planted between the groups I removed about 36 plants that had grown since 2009.  I had already removed many, very many seedlings from this bed and used them on the slope and in client’s gardens.  I don’t really understand why they self-seed so much better in this bed than anywhere else; it could be because this bed has irrigation for the roses.  So the question was, what to do with all these plants, the compost heap seemed an impossible choice, I love the butterfly blooms of the Gaura floating amongst plants for so much of summer and into autumn.

September 2011, where are the roses in the rose bed? UNDER the Gaura!

They are one of the few consistently flowering plants in late July and August.  I have been considering adding another something to join the Perovskia in the formal beds.  The front two are under-planted with white tulips and Allium although I’m not sure how many will regrow this year, they were planted in 2008.  I was already thinking about transplanting some of the many dwarf hyacinths that are becoming overcrowded in other beds and under the olives.  So I decided to experiment with planting the Gaura into the back two beds.  I’m half way through planting one bed and I’ll use some of last year’s seedling plants to complete at least one bed.

This month I have pruned the Wisteria ‘Prolific’ on the pergola.  I made the decision to prune all the roses despite the fact that they had retained most of their leaves and were in no-way dormant, some including ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ even had new viable flower buds; like ‘Wellywoman’ despite wearing leather pruning gloves my wrists and the backs of my hands are covered in scratches!  All the Perovskia has also been pruned; again much earlier than I have pruned them before.

As soon as the sun shone Lonicera fragrantissima opened new buds, I have this shrub planted near where we park so when you get out of the car you are greeted with its delicious perfume.

small but deliciously perfumed Lonicera fragrantissima

The very best thing about February is that sunset is later and later each day; very noticeable on sunny days, it is now gone 6pm when the sun sinks below the horizon and at 5pm it feels like the middle of the day instead of dusk.  The disadvantage of being closer to the equator and having more light in winter is that in summer it is dark earlier than I am used to in Southern England, but it is a price worth paying.

Thank you Helen, the Patient Gardener for hosting this useful meme; if you would like to see what others have been doing in their gardens this month follow the link to see what’s happening around the world.

End of Month Review, August

The bee eaters have been flying low around the house as if to say goodbye until next year.  Normally they are high in the sky and although we know they are beautifully coloured, as we see flashes of iridescent blue and gold; we’ve never been able to see them so clearly before!

I don’t claim any credit for these photographs, my husband who is quite keen on bird watching took them.  I did try, but the birds flew so fast and only hovered in a tantalising way before diving off in unexpected directions.

On 15th August, GBBD I reported about the difference in the weather this year – cooler, more rain – on the 16th the weather changed completely!  The daytime temperatures rose from the mid to high twenties to the high thirties and I believe one day 40° C!  No rain, not even a little morning mist and the night-time temperatures were the same as the daytime ones a few days previously.  Only in the last couple of days have temperatures become more tolerable – I hate the heat!  Many of the trees I had planted in 2009 became very stressed; the persimmon lost all its fruit; the fig that has always been here lost half of its leaves and the September fruit, which had been growing and ripening well, is now dropping of the tree and although we are able to eat some, many the ants get first!

Miscanthus with fig tree (almost without leaves)

The sun sets earlier and one of the pleasures this brings is to see the grasses, most are flowering now, with their seed heads being lit from behind.  I am going to make a determined effort to collect some seed and try to grow more.  Many don’t need water and so would be great on the bank which is very steep and therefore always very dry; even some of the Gaura succumbed to the intense heat of the last couple of weeks.

Pennisetum villosum with Sedum Matrona in the small island bed

Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' on the upper slope

Pennisetum 'Little Bunny'

The almost impossible to photograph Eragrostis spectabilis with in the background Pennisetum 'Karley Rose'

Some Miscanthus are already flowering and most are much more tolerant of drought once established than the books would have you believe.

Above is either Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ or M. Graziella, I moved it to the circular rose bed this spring as it grew less tall where it was before and I thought it would fit better here; luckily Rosa ‘Queen of Sweden’ is also growing taller than expected and so the Miscanthus forms a pleasing division between this rose and the shorter deep coloured ‘Tradescant’.

In this general view with the umbrella pine you can see how the seed heads and grasses combine with the flowers to create an overall ‘fullness’ in the garden.  I like the very solid forms of the Box cubes and bay that contrast so well with the airy grasses and ephemeral Gaura.

My plans for September are to divide and move some of the plants that have begun to outgrow their allotted spaces.  I’ll begin next week with Irises as they won’t mind even if it stays quite hot, then some Hemerocallis that were on the list last year and are very squashed where they are now.

Finally I’d like to introduce a new meme I’m starting about Foliage in the garden.  It can be foliage plants that don’t flower at all, foliage when the flowers have finished, grasses which I think count as both flowers and foliage, new growth that might be very different from the mature leaves and of course we are coming into autumn (at least in the northern hemisphere we are) so I hope for some fabulous autumn colour.  It will be the 22nd of each month.

If you would like to read more about what’s happening in other gardens all over the world visit Helen at The Patient Gardener.  Once again a big thank you to Helen for hosting this meme for us.

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.

End of the Month Review, February 2011

I will continue to show progress on the slope for the next few months so you can see how all the seedlings I transplanted last autumn are developing.

Stipa tenuissima on the bank is beginning to fill out

Gaura from 4 leaves to small clumps over the winter

I am surprised by just how much growth even the tiny Gaura seedlings have put on.  Last autumn I didn’t expect them to flower this year, now I’m hopeful there may be a few flowers from each plant, my fingers are crossed.  It is strange, I’ve had some Gaura plants in the Left Hand Border (I really must think of a better name for this area) for the last three years and have never found any seedlings.  Then in autumn 2009 I put 9 plants into the circular rose bed, they flowered for months covering the roses and everything else in the bed. When I was tidying up last autumn I found masses of seedlings growing over the whole bed.  I lifted and transplanted masses onto the slope.  Most were very small but I thought they would have more chance of establishing in this challenging situation while they were small – they have clumped up incredibly well so I’m really looking forward to seeing the whole slope covered with their butterfly flowers.  I have since potted up about another 100 small plants that I’d left in the rose bed to grow on a bit, I gave some to friends but there are still a lot I’ll need to find homes for.

Muscari beginning to form the 'stream'

You may remember me saying that my good friend Linda from the Garden in the West very kindly planted some bulbs for me when I was suffering from tendonitis and couldn’t do very much; the Muscari are beginning to flower creating the blue stream I had hoped for.  There is also a stream (perhaps more a river as the scale is different) of prostrate Rosemary which has been flowering for the last month or so.

In other places in the garden, where the Muscari have been planted for longer the clumps already look as if they need dividing.


At this time, I’m full of hope for good things to come – the ‘wild’ Iris I moved from the top of the Etruscan tomb (outside the fence but inside our property) are looking fine, I don’t know if they’ll flower this year or not.

In other parts of the garden Allium are pushing their spider leaves up through Euphorbia Myrsinites

Apricot flowers

I’m not so hopeful about the Apricot tree.  Its flowers continue to open even in the freezing winds and I have doubts about there being any apricots to harvest.  My hope is that the below zero temperatures are coming to an end and there are lots more buds on the tree, so I will have to be patient and wait and see.

Some flowers are turning brown probably frost damaged!

Maybe some of you heard Anne Swithingbank, on Gardeners Question time (Radio 4) describing combing her grasses to remove the previous years growth much as I described in a previous post about Stipa tenuissima.

As always thanks to Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting the End of the month reviews.  This was such a great idea, Helen, thank you.

Sunny, sunny day

Today has been the most wonderful day!  The sun shone all day, there was no wind and I had the time to be in the garden until the sun set.  For most of the time I was warm enough with just a short sleeved T-shirt, so this year’s tan (at least on my lower arms) is underway; don’t misunderstand me, I’m not actually very interested in getting a tan but working outside so much it happens and sadly usually only on my lower arms and face and to garden I wear jeans and never shorts as I find it uncomfortable kneeling on the ground (and my knees get too dirty) if I wear shorts.  Here in Italy this is called a ‘builder’s tan’ because everybody else would make sure they were tanning evenly, not getting lines where a T-shirt ends etc.  But I’m not Italian and I garden wearing the clothes that are comfortable for me when I’m working outside, so I have the unfashionable tan.

The low evening sun, lights up Miscanthus around the garden

Today I spent most of my time weeding the bank.  This was not easy for two reasons: 1. the plants I was weeding around were very small (most had only been planted as seedling in the autumn) and 2. The slope is quite steep and it is very tiring balancing and weeding.  The slope is unfortunately too steep to mulch so my answer will have to be to plant very close together to squeeze out the weeds!

Miscanthus is my favourite grass, and I love most of them!

Euphorbia rigida is the first to flower this year, I like the pink rim to the leaves

I have been weeding and tidying most days this week as the weather has been good, though the wind was strong so it felt quite cold.  The joy of not tidying up too much early in the winter is that it has allowed time for seedlings of the plants in the beds to establish themselves and be ready to pot-up or move to another location.  The circular rose bed yielded about 100 seedling of Gaura.  This meant I spent almost as long potting these up as I did weeding the bed.  I didn’t cut back the parent plants yet as we may well have some more cold weather and the top growth protects the new growth.  I put the seedling in my very small cold-frame which already contains cuttings of Penstemon and Solarnum jasminoides (I did these in late autumn and most are green so I’m hoping they are making nice strong roots).

Even though dry Sedum flowers are still adding to the ‘images’ in the garden, at their base, the new shoots are already pushing up.

This is Sedum matrona

In the vegetable garden I only have a few crops (I think I might try to grow more next winter as even with all the cold weather we’ve had this winter I’ve enjoyed a great crop of Broccoli; leeks and Black Tuscany cabbage have also done well.  And here’s a photo to show you what I meant about my garlic pushing out of the ground!

New moon planted garlic

Broccoli has continued to produce secondary stems that are delicious

Black Tuscany Cabbage, perfect for Ribollita.