Hemerocallis – one day wonder!

Before the winter and spring just past we have had two years with very little rain; it has been so dry that many of the plants that are drought tolerant have survived but many have flowered very little or not at all.  Hemerocallis are one example. Continue reading

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April 7th 2016 Companions for tulips

You will be aware that I love tulips and luckily they grow well in my very free draining soil.  Tulips hate summer wet which is why in the UK it is usual to lift and store them for replanting the following autumn – that is a lot of work so when I lived in England I usually treated them as annuals and planted them in pots. Continue reading

Blue and Orange

Now that we are in July the colours and flowers in the garden are changing; the most noticeable colour is suddenly the misty blue of the Perovskia and the slightly darker blue of Lavender in the formal beds at the front of the house.

The formal beds looking from the front door

The formal beds looking from the front door

Clipped box and Perovskia

Clipped box and Perovskia

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Clipped box and Perovskia

Clipped box, Lavender and Perovskia

Perovskia

Perovskia

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Perovskia with the brilliant orange of pomegranate flowers

Perovskia with the brilliant orange of pomegranate flowers in the back ground

Perovskia with Stipa tenuissima in the foreground

Perovskia with Stipa tenuissima in the foreground

This is joined by newly opening Agapanthus.  Sadly I think all the agapanthus I bought last autumn at the plant fair in Courson need more time to reach flowering size, but we’ll see some may flower later.  The Agapanthus in the Left Hand Border were part of the very first planting in the garden in Spring 2007.  I planted 5, and in subsequent years there has been an increase in the number of flower spikes.  Most winters the foliage is very damamged by the cold and I always think they will die.  This last winter, although a long winter did not have very low temperatures and the foliage entered spring looking very healthy and I was full of hope that there would be a huge number of flowers this year.  But no! there are FIVE flowers again – who knows why, I certainly can’t think why there should be less flowers this year.

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

The view from my kitchen window in the evening is the orange Hemerocallis positively glowing behind the mass of Perovskia in the sunset.

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evening light catches orange hemerocallis and makes it glow

evening light catches orange hemerocallis and makes it glow

Tall Hemerocallis

Tall Hemerocallis

Perovskia with Achillea

Perovskia with Achillea

Red Hot Pokers, Kniphofia planted with Nepeta, not really visible in this image

Red Hot Pokers, Kniphofia planted with Nepeta, not really visible in this image

Above the upper slope path, the kniphofia are hidden within the bed, I will move an ornamental pomegranate that isn’t actually very ornamental in the autumn to open up the border.

Orange trumpet vine, Hemerocallis and blue foliage of Euphorbia

Orange trumpet vine, Hemerocallis and blue foliage of Euphorbia

Above the back border.

GBBD Summer at Last!

Until this past Monday, 10th June, the weather here in central Lazio as not been its usual sunny and warm self.  Then as the forecasters promised Tuesday the temperature has noticeably risen; the air feels warmer and the afternoon wind from the sea began to blow. Actually just a few moments ago when I was taking photographs there was a mini-whirlwind; I looked around and thought the sky was full of strange birds but instead it was hay that had just been cut from the field behind the house, moments later it passed through the garden lifting dropped petals high into the air, sorry I didn’t manage to get a clear image. Continue reading

September GBFD – Getting the garden back

September has brought with it some refreshing rain, cooler temperatures and regrowth of foliage.

I was surprised just how many plants underwent summer dormancy this year; the high temperatures, hot wind and no rain meant that even many of my drought tolerant plants looked miserable, well to tell the truth many looked dead!  But the plants were being sensible retreating beneath the soil, or leaving brown crusty leaves above to protect and presumably reduce the temperature actually hitting the plant.

Now it seems more like spring, with new foliage pushing through the soil.  I am appreciating this growth even more than in spring because this is proof that the plants aren’t dead, so reassuring that they mayflower now, if the weather doesn’t become too cold too quickly or that they have time to build some strength before winter and another period of dormancy.

Re-emerging thyme

Bit by bit this thyme lost all signs of green until I was almost convinced it was dead, it all looked like the part on the right in the image above; now, slowly, slowly new growth is pushing through the dead, maybe I should give it a ‘haircut’ to allow more of the green foliage space to grow.

After pruning the lavender in the formal beds I was dismayed that so much seemed dead; while it was flowering all appeared well, the usual huge number of bees, butterflies and other pollinators all testified that the flowers contained the usual pollen and nectar; but after pruning there was a lot of dead wood, I did give it some water but the hedge is long and so it didn’t receive very much and hey – lavender doesn’t need irrigation!  Now most of the old wood is shooting, if you look closely you can see tiny new leaves appearing, some are doing even better with lots of new foliage covering the plants; I think one or two bushes maybe dead but they were planted quite closely so I think those adjacent will knit together to reform the hedge.

Spot the new growth

Looking down onto the upper drive border you can see there is now more green than brown. Stipa tenuissima needs a bit of a comb but the new growth is there.

I have removed most of the Festuca around the garden; even those that aren’t dead are too full of thatch which is impossible to remove.  I have some small plants that are potted up seedlings and the plants that have more living material can be pulled apart to yield some new specimens.

This year it has been easier to get started with the autumn clean-up because so much of the foliage had stopped growing.  Seeing the Iris foliage cut and looking clean and fresh really makes me feel I am getting the garden back.

Iris foliage standing to attention

This year all the foliage of the Hemerocallis died back; I enjoyed pulling away the dead leaves and seeing tiny green shoots; within a week they have grown back, I think they may even flower again!  In the background the Nepeta has also grown back quickly after trimming away all the dead flowers and foliage.

As you come in the gate at the bottom of the drive, the prostrate Rosemary always look happy, they are even beginning to flower!  That is even earlier than usual, every time I pass there is a waft of bees and butterflies in the air.

New buds and foliage, Rosa Clair Martin

Many of the roses are putting on delicately coloured new growth, this is what feels like spring, best of all there are buds and flowers as well.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing what foliage is giving you pleasure now that autumn is here in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern.  Please just add a link to your post with your comment.  Thank you in advance I really appreciate you joining in this meme.

GBFD – Hotter Still!

This is my 200th post, I wish it were a more positive one – but it is giving you a true vision of how the heat is effecting My Hesperides Garden.

A week ago rain was forecast and I was just a little hopeful that the temperatures would begin to fall.  Mid-August is when often the weather breaks; but not this year!  This last week has been hotter than ever with news broadcasts recommending that the elderly stay indoors or visit air-conditioned shopping centres to keep cool!  More elderly people die in Italy during hot summers than in winter.  By eight in the morning it is almost too hot to stay in the garden and in the afternoon it is still really too hot to work even at six pm.  The plus side to this is obviously that we can have dinner outside and watching the sun going down and begin to breathe again.  This is an exceptionally hot year; records are being broken but I sincerely hope that the furnace that is August this year won’t be repeated for some years to come.

In the parts of the garden planted with drought tolerant plants I have been shocked to see plants suffering and possibly dying!  Just how many plants I’ll lose is difficult to tell just yet; maybe I won’t know until next spring the exact number of plants that have succumbed to the record temperatures and the lack of any real precipitation for many months.

I admit to being deceived earlier in the year April and May were not as hot as some other years although there was little rain.  I resolved not to begin irrigating until it was really necessary – MISTAKE!  Early June was also not excessively hot but the 15th June the temperatures suddenly rose and with the heat also came strong desiccating winds – worst scenario for a garden and worse still I was away in Prague that weekend.  When I returned and saw the garden on Tuesday morning I realised that the ground was already dried out and that many plants were struggling, the struggling has continued to now.

What plants have thrived in this heat and parched summer?  Not many have thrived!  Euphorbia myrsinites doesn’t mind how dry or hot it is, and most of my other Euphorbias are doing well too, especially E. rigida.

You can see how shrunken the foliage is on this Phomis fruticosa

I had imagined that all silver leaved plants would at least tolerate the heat but some look pretty sad.  Senecio maritima and S. cineraria aren’t dying but their foliage is curled to protect them even more from the sun’s rays, this is also true of Artemisia varieties.

Curled leaves even on a Senicio.

This usually beautiful spreading thyme seems to be 85% dead

Foliage of Solanum jasminoides also shows how leaves curl to protect itself from too much sun. It isn’t wasting energy by flowering either

Ceanothus repans certainly copes in these conditions and gives a lovely dark green mound at the corner of the drive.

Ceanothus repans looks good

Festuca glauca was another plant that I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about (it is a signature plant in my garden), but the larger plants are looking very untidy and with more dead thatch than I’ve ever seen in previous years.  I am hoping that if I lift and divide them the new plants will establish for next summer, I also have some small plants that were self-seedlings that can be planted as replacements for any that are truly dead.

Surprisingly Lonicera fragrantissima hasn’t lost any of its leaves, I have given it some water during the summer but only when a nearby crab apple is stressed and I water that.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Viburnum tinus is usually considered a tough plant for almost any conditions; it is the wind that has caused most damage to this shrub, the side that receives the afternoon wind from the west is completely scorched, and I doubt that the branches on this side will recover.

Viburnum tinus has been very damaged by the hot wind

Even the lavender hedge around the formal beds has patches that I’m hoping aren’t dead.  It has been pruned so that light and air can reach into the bushes; again this will be a wait and see scenario; it will be a huge problem if some plants have died completely leaving ugly gaps.

To finish a few other images (good and bad) of My Hesperides Garden today.

These box balls are likely to be my more expensive loss!

I love how prostrate rosemary clings to the wall. It thrives in the heat

I don’t think these Hemerocallis are dead but they are really suffering.

The large island is planted with drought tolerant plants but it doesn’t look great at the moment

Wisteria on the pillars is lush and full of flower, but it gets some irrigation as the roses planted close to them receive water, which even reaches the lavender hedge close to the terrace

All the images were taken at around 8.30 in the morning, you can see how strong the glare of the sun is, even at that time.

A Cotinus is happy, the purple leaved versions are less content

View accross the garden from the Large Island

I hope you will want to share some of your foliage on this Garden Bloggers Foliage day, just leave a comment with the link, thank you.  I’m looking forward to some lush foliage from the UK and spring offerings from the southern hemisphere.

June GBBD

The hot weather of the last two months has continued but we have had some rain; mostly as showers that occur in the late afternoon.  I have a least been able to turn the irrigation off for several days.  Almost all the images of the flowers blooming today have rain drops on their petals as you’ll see from the slide show.

The garden feels much more like mid or high summer than June.  Lavender is flowering and is overflowing onto the pathways, meaning that when I walk through the garden I brush against it releasing the heady perfume. Many of the roses have finished their first flowering; some are already showing signs of being ready to start again.  R. x odorato ‘Mutabilis’ is flowering again as is R. Stanwell Perpetual, R. Sophie’s Perpetual.  R. Queen of Sweden already had new shoots growing below each previous bloom and even some buds; even before I had dead-headed it.  R. ‘Clair Matin’ on the pillars also has lots of new growth with buds, there have always been some flowers from when it started to flower in early May.  Pierre di Ronsard is situated on a north facing pillar and so this is the first flowers.  William Shakespeare is still being generous with new flowers opening.

R. William Shakespeare

I have been tying in the long waving shoots of the Wisteria which also has lots of secondary flowers. These Lilies are flowering for the third year in these pots, without any extra food or change of soil – that’s great value.  Their growth is stronger too after the first year and don’t now need staking as they did when first planted.

Regal Lillies

Self-sown Verbascum are very impressive; all are taller than when they grow in the fields around the house, this one is about 2.3 m tall!

I planted some ornamental Verbascum as I realised last year when I saw all the wild ones around that they would be happy and perform well.  In spring I sowed a very old packet of V. Phoenician Hybrids, they need potting on so they will be good size plants for planting out in autumn.

Teucrium hyrcanicum is new for me this year and I am enjoying its kitten tail flowers very much.  They contrast well with Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’ and another paler yellow Hemerocallis.  I also like their strong form against the softer form of Nepeta.

I planted a stream of Allium sphaerocephalon through the large island last autumn and they are now opening from green tight heads to deep crimson drum sticks.

There are others in the garden flowering for a second year and also others that have self-seeded.   As you will see from the slide show when you click on the image below there are several starry white flowers, they are: Jasminum officinale, Trachelospermum, and Solanum jasminoides ‘Album’

Upper drive border

Today is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day when gardeners from all over the world post about what is blooming in their gardens; why not visit Carol at May Dreams Garden who hosts this meme.  So whether its early summer or early winter with you have a great GBBD.

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