Happy May Day everyone, here in Italy it is a holiday; all holidays are celebrated on the actual day rather than always on Monday as in the UK, this gives the opportunity for a ‘ponte’ (bridge) so that any holiday next to the weekend or even a Tuesday or Thursday give the chance of a few days holiday by only actually taking one day off as official holiday from work. Continue reading
After a week away in warm sunshine I expected that there would be more flowering in the garden on my return home; but no, it has been cold with temperatures hovering around zero centigrade at night and a cold north wind blowing during the day keeping the temperature in single figures for most of the week. Continue reading
I usually try to post every bloom there is in the garden for GBBD (for my own record of what is flowering if nothing else), but I’m beaten today! There are just too many flowers and to be truthful even though I love every single bloom it is the overall effect of the garden that is giving me the most joy.
I will try to post about more of the flowers individually during the next month. Cistus, Eschscholzia californica (and not just orange), Roses, Iris – all deserve their own post.
Thanks to Carol for hosting. You might want to peek over the garden wall at some blooms in other gardens so do visit Carol at MayDreamsgarden.
So here (grab a cup of tea maybe) is My Hesperides Garden on GBBD in May. I hope your gardens are giving you as much pleasure as mine is to me, happy bloom day.
The quality of the images isn’t as good as usual as today was very sunny but rain is forecast for tomorrow so I needed to get them today.
A couple of weekends ago I flew to Paris for some serious indulgence; no, not food, not culture but plant hunting. Several of my Italian friends had visited the plant fair at Courson in previous years and were full of enthusiasm. I have to admit to being a little sceptical. So far, no plant sales fair in Italy has been very good – poor quality plants, always in large sizes and often straggly tall plants that don’t bush out.
I left home late-morning on a warm, sunny Friday; I’d studied the forecast and rain was predicted for late Friday afternoon and Saturday early morning but clearing by 10 am – it might be cold, but warm clothes were not a problem; I’d actually rather be hot than cold.
I was with a French-speaking friend who had visited on several occasions previously (she is a Botanical artist and has had stand to sell her work at Courson in the past). Our hotel was near the Jardin du Plantes so our walk to the station the following morning was through the garden; a nice start to the day (it was very grey with very low cloud but trusting in the forecast I was hopeful that by the time we arrived the sun would be shining!
As we boarded the shuttle bus that took us the last 30 minutes of our journey to the Chateau of Courson the rain began to fall in earnest, I was trying to be very positive that the rain would stop before we arrived, but no, it rained and it rained and it rained for most of the day turning the ground into a quagmire of mud.
But I had come too far to be put off; French couples and ladies on their own were arriving well prepared with shopping trolleys on wheels, waterproof boots and weatherproof coats with hoods!
Undeterred we entered the showground, first port of call a small tent manned by two patient men each with a computer. Ask them the name of a plant you were searching for and they would look it up and tell you which stands had it!!!!!!!!!! I was impressed.
I wasn’t sure what I would buy but I was hopeful that I would find a good selection of Agapanthus. Now you may think that Italy would be an ideal place to grow Agapanthus and indeed many gardens have them but all I have been able to find are the very large evergreen varieties that suffer badly each winter and every year I am fearful they won’t survive. I wanted some hardy perennial varieties that I knew would survive the winter well in my free-draining soil. Success! I soon spotted a stand specialising in only Agapanthus! Better still (from my point of view) he was a Yorkshire man, a holder of the National collection. We were soon deep in conversation while I was selecting which of his vast assortment of varieties to buy. The rain came down even harder, he very kindly offered me an umbrella (I had left mine in the hotel – believing the forecast and also not wanting to have one hand occupied uselessly).
With my purchases from him made and the plants safely in bags behind his stall, awaiting collection later in the day I was ready to begin searching for other plants that would fit in my one suitcase. With my borrowed umbrella I could at least keep my head dry.
Do check out his website, all the plants were well grown, good sized and he promises will flower in their first year in the ground. Agapanthus specialist.
Next up Irises; something else that grows wonderfully for me here but which for some strange reason are difficult to find in nurseries here or when you do find the odd one cost a fortune. Cayeux, one of the leading Iris growers and sellers in the world did not disappoint although if I had been searching for particular varieties I might have been better to simply order on-line; they too have an excellent website and if I decide to buy more I will order from them in this way.
My other passion, as my regular reader will know is grasses; again I was spoilt for choice with many of the stands having grasses and a couple of specialist growers too. A few found their way into my bags along with some Asters a friend asked me to look out for.
The show doesn’t have show-gardens, nothing to distract from the pursuit or plants!
I have never seen anything like this before; maybe Hampton Court Flower Show would be the nearest thing but Courson had hundreds of top quality nurseries selling an amazing number of different plants. I haven’t mentioned the vast selection of trees, shrubs all in different sized containers. I think many English gardeners would love this show. It’s not far from Paris and so great for a weekend break. We combined this with a day seeing the show gardens at Chaumont. But that’s for another day.
If you are travelling by plane, some careful thought is needed. My choices of Anapanthus and Iris I packed without soil; the grasses too, I removed most of the soil while still at the show ground. A tiny Kaffir Lime I tenderly wrapped and placed with soft cushioning around it to protect it from the sometimes rough treatment of the baggage handlers.
The garden is made up of individual plants that from part of combinations that create vistas. I wanted to share some of the combinations that I feel are working well during May.
What combinations are pleasing you this month?
So much has flowered this month it has been impossible not to walk around the garden without finding another plant that has begun to flower.
Our hot dry weather has continued for the whole month; and even when I can see rain falling only a few kilometres away nothing has fallen on My Hesperides Garden! The ground was already dry as this winter there was hardly any rain at all. A year ago it was very different (then we’d had almost a whole year of rain except of course for July and August when it rarely rains in Lazio).
By the beginning of May all the tulips were finished, a very short show this year but enjoyable all the same. Then in very quick succession Irises, Allium and then of course, May means roses.
Last Monday I was a judge at an International Rose competition and I have to say that it made me realise how many bad roses enter into the market without having any additional value than the thousands that already exist. We were judging roses that had been in commerce for less than 5 years and apart from perhaps one or at most two of those being evaluated I don’t think they merited inclusion ion any garden. It certainly made me appreciate my own roses even more and made me happy with my choices.
For the first time some of the Eremurus I planted 2 years ago have flowered. Either they liked the cold this winter or the lack of rain – I like them but think they are probably too fussy for me to purchase more, maybe they will spread by themselves, I hope so.
Now on to the slope, the part of the garden I usually concentrate on for the EoMR. Here is the slope when I first planted Stipa, Gaura and Verbena bonarienis last November.
Everything has grown much more than I could have hoped and it is looking how imagined it would look in a couple of years’ time. The effect of a meadow or prairie is strong especially with Stipa tenuissima blowing in the wind.
As always there are some happy accidents, I found some loose bulbs at the bottom of the box and thought they were allium so added them to the ‘stream’ flowing down the slope but I was wrong they were Gladioli byzantinus – I love the contrast in colour with the Cerinthe and large grey leaves of Verbascum.
The Gaura is also beginning to flower, a few plants didn’t survive ants mining under them, but there are enough and I have more I can add if necessary.
What do I need to do to improve the planting? I’m very satisfied already and I don’t want to add too many different plant species to the mix. I’ve already planted the cuttings of Solanum jasminoides album I took last autumn and they are growing, I’m longing for the mass of frothy white flowers that will flow from the top of the bank to the bottom in future years. At the moment I think I need to just wait and see what happens. The Cerinthe are looking well past their best, but I’ll leave them to set seed and hope they plant themselves in an interesting way; the same for the poppies, both Californian and European. If the Stipa get s too big I’ll just pull it out and allow seedlings to grow where they choose.
Just to finish a couple of views across the garden and a rose that grows wonderfully in hot climates but doesn’t like damp, cool weather so isn’t often grown in the UK. R. Sally Holmes, I have three in the garden that were cuttings from a friend 4 years ago.
Thank you Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month View this month. Visit her to see what others are planning and doing in their gardens this month.
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.
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).
Above pale pink Penstemon began flowering this week and will hopefully now continue until the autumn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
…..and for something completely different, here’s what mother Nature can do when left to her own devices!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.