Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – June – Blast Furnace Days

I was away from the garden for a long weekend in Prague, visiting friends who were teaching there for a month; a great city for a break with masses to see especially if you like Art Nuevo and music – ah the music!

But I digress.  Before I went away we had more than a week of strong winds with temperatures about average or a little below the norm for this time of year.  On the day we left the direction of the wind must have changed bringing scorching temperatures of up 38 or 39° C, with wind as well on the first day.  So in four days the garden looks totally different.  Actually it looks as if someone went crazy it with a blow torch!

I hadn’t begun the automatic irrigation because every morning there had been evidence of quite heavy dew, so I felt the plants should cope.  I should have realised that the wind was already drying them out and that they needed a little help.  The automatic irrigation is now on; I’ll post about the different types of irrigation tubes I use and what I think are the pros and cons of each kind soon.

We are now entering the period when there are less blooms, only the toughest of plants flower when its this hot.  So I am now relying on foliage and form to give life to the garden.  Shiny, glinting silvers sparkle in the shimmering heat.  Even very tough, drought tolerant plants like Cistus don’t look their best; their leaves shrivel a little to help prevent water loss.  The garden has lost that feeling of lush plenty and is looking parched and lean.  Not my favourite time.

View of the Large Island with mounds of various silver-leaved plants

You can see in the above that my Cordyline is not happy, it really doesn’t like the heat; its days are numbered.

I showed this plant in spring, when it was wet so you could see how felt-like hairs on the leaf surface protect it from the strong rays of the sun.

Artimesia ponticum

Without these silver-leaved plants the garden would be very sad in summer.

Looking almost blue in the shade earlier this morning

Even the plant’s flower stems and flowers are covered in in tiny hairs for protection

Festuca glauca sparkles in the heat

These leaves look like machine embroidery lace

Euphorbia rigida

Euphorbia rigida’s new foliage is lifting itself clear of its spent flowering stems.  The seed pods were popping for weeks, I expect to find many new seedlings in autumn, time now to clear away the debris.

Euphorbia myrsinites is doing the same, its seedlings are already emerging in the gravel paths

More work to be done, did I really say in an earlier post that there wasn’t much to do in June and July in the garden?

Metallic leaves of Convolvulus cneorum have tough leaves for their protection

The loveliest thing happening in the garden is all the bees and butterflies that fill the space with fluttering wings and various levels or buzzing.  But even here there are things to shock.  Looking at the lavender hedge of the formal beds and taking as many photos as I could I saw this, at first I could quite believe what I was seeing.

Was the bee really being attacked?

I really think it has trapped the bee and is eating it! What could it be?

I checked in my ‘Complete Mediterranean Wildlife’ book and found that it is an Assassin Bug, Rhinocoris iracundus.

I hope you will join in GBFD and tell us what foliage is looking great in your garden at the moment.  To link in just leave a comment with a link to your post; I look forward to reading them.  I’ll read and comment on all GBFD posts, thank you for joining in.

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End of the Month View – May 2012

I’m joining Helen the Patient Gardener for this month’s review of what’s happening in the garden this month.

Here in Italy May is the month when everything flowers!  I remember the first time I saw a garden at this time of year I thought it looked fake (like at Chelsea flower show) with plants that would be flowering a month or so apart all flowering together.  This is lovely but it does mean that everything is also over very quickly.  Many plants go into summer hibernation if there is a drought and usually there is no rain from June until mid-August or even September.

For that reason I’ve been posting every day this month and even doing this there are many plants that haven’t appeared in a post.  For June I don’t intend posting everyday but will try for a couple of posts a week.

This month I’d like to share with you a small area I’m developing within the upper drive border.  Below is an image from above; the area starts at an Arbutus tree to the left and continues around to just in front of a holly bush.

Looking down from the attic window

Last autumn I decided to increase the variety plants with crimson flowers here.  In winter I moved Rosa L.D. Braithwaite which was quite small and seems to have moved satisfactorily and has flowered.  I purchased some Asters of different heights and forms and added those to the mix; I need an area that focuses on late summer- early autumn blooms.  I also moved a Penstemon that my friend Linda from Garden in the West gave me in the form of some cuttings she carefully carried from her garden when she visited 2 years ago.  The one that survived has made a good plant and is flowering freely now.  I will take some more cuttings so I can increase the clump size.

There’s still lots of bare earth but it will soon fill in.

Above: Rose L.D. Braithwait

A very hardy succulent type plant, which can become invasive, was also planted – I just broke off some pieces from those situated in the large island and planted them directly into the ground to form good ground cover.  Lychnis coronaria  is already scattered through the garden and I moved some of these to this border too, I like their small points of intense colour and the foliage is quite good too, even in winter.

and in close up

The above bright crimson salvia was a cutting taken from a friend’s plant, I love the colour.

Lychnis coronaria.

Achillea is also making a show, this will clump up quickly.

My intention is to plant some Barcelona tulips that I saw on Hillwards site, they look just the right colour, I also saw a smaller tulips of a similar colour on Julie’s post about her tulips  of again a very similar colour so hopefully the wow factor will last from early spring through summer and into autumn.

To finish here’s some views of the garden that are particularly lovely at the moment and some views of the slope that I have been showing in these end of month views up until now.

Looking accross the garden from the drive, the upper slope is to the right and the large island bed to the left, and you can just see the edge of the circular rose garden.

Looking accross the slope.

The upper drive border.

Below is the first humming bird hawk moth I’ve ever managed to photograph, there are usually lots in the garden but they move so fast, I’ve never had n image any where near in focus.