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

June – visitors to the garden

The gardens is full of butterflies and bees.  They love the Lavender (this is a good reason to keep it).

I have seen Swallowtail butterflies, a black and white butterfly that comes rarely to the garden that I never manage to photograph and there was a mucher larger humming bird hawk moth, again it was too quick for me.  Even the bees tempt me because they seem slow only to fly off as the press the shutter; I have numerous images of only sprigs of lavender when I hoped I was taking bees or butterflies drink necter.

This honey bee is feeding on Thyme, a variety that smells of camphor.

A small bumble bee on lavender

I usually cut the flowers off the santolina before they open as I don’t like their colour, but having left them this year, I find they are visited by numerous different insects, so perhaps I should always leave the flowers for them.

A waspish-looking hoverfly

The iridescent green of the fly reflects the acid yellow of the Santolina

Not just flies and bees like the Santolina.

A spider sets its web where it knows there will be many passing visitors which it can ensnare.

The spider is coloured like a wasp or bee.

You can see blue markings on the underside of the wing.

This moth? is on a tomato leaf, I hope it’s not going to cause problems

And these are from last month that didn’t find their way into a post.

Verbena bonariensis is another popular flower for bees and butterflies

But not all the visitors are harmless.  Rosa Molineux has been ravaged by one kind of insect that I’ve not noticed in the garden in other years.

Any ideas as to what they are?

They eat the petals almost completely!

So if you know what they are, what can I do about them (organically).

I can’t leave you with this horrible image, so here’s a swallowtail from last month.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – Spring

A month ago the garden was emerging from the snow and I was happy to report temperatures rising to 10° C.  Now that we are officially in spring the temperatures are rising to just on 20° C – that’s a rise of 10° in one month!

I have been away from the garden for a few days and on my return was amazed to see so much difference! Clematis Armandii had two flowers open last Wednesday, today it is covered in flowers, spreading their honey, scent in the warm air.  Many more Muscari are attracting bees and other pollinators and reassuringly flowering even in their congested clumps.

Clematis Armandii

But I’m not here to write about flowers, this is GBFD after all!  Before I left Rosa mutabilis was looking a little bare; I’d pruned after the snow and in doing so had cut away a lot of the stems still carrying leaves revealing bare stems!  Today when I looked out of the window all the bushes were covered in new foliage making the bushes look very impressive.

Rosa mutabilis, new foliage, maybe there will be flowers before the end of the month

I may have pruned some of the emerging flower buds (last year there were flowers during March) but it will be worth it to maintain the full bushy shape.

The Lavender hedges have been pruned and look very sharp!  I love how they look at this point, they grow so fast here that I think they would benefit from being pruned 3 times a year, sometimes I only manage once; the clippings make excellent mulch as the leaves contain a chemical which inhibits the growth of seedlings hopefully including weed seeds!

Formal beds with newly clipped Lavender

Having only just cut down last year’s dead foliage it is wonderful to see all the new growth.  Euphorbia in its various varieties is the star of the show at the moment, either its foliage or vibrant bracts.

Large island bed, looking south

Euphorbia with silver leaved plants

Large island looking towards drive

Small island looking towards large island and drive

Through all the new ground cover foliage a large number of tulips are pushing up, this is gratifying as none were planted new in autumn 2011 so all are from previous years.

Between the Box balls masses of tulips are returning

I can’t resist sharing this Swallowtail butterfly drying its wings in the sun after emerging from its chrysalis.

What foliage is taking the starring role in your garden this spring?  It might be a foliage plant that has been giving good structure all through the winter or the newly emerging leaves of a plant you grow primarily for its flowers, I look forward to seeing and reading about your gardens now spring (or of course autumn in the southern hemisphere) is here.

December GBBD, there are still roses

I am finding it impossible to believe that it is time for December GBBD.  As you will see from the slideshow of what’s flowering today in My Hesperides Garden, the range of blooms would lead you to believe that is was late May.  So Carol at Maydreams who hosts this great meme would be happy in my garden today.  Please visit her to see what’s blooming around the world today; don’t forget it’s nearly midsummer in the southern hemisphere, so forget the winter blues and visit these summer gardens.

Rosa Clair Matin has been flowering profusely since May

Almost all the roses have some blooms, they had more before the rain on Monday but hey, it’s December.  Other plants I wouldn’t expect to see blooming now (would I really expect anything?) is Lavender, the Philadelphus, and the orange Abutilon – this seems to have more flowers than at any time during this year.

Philadelphus

Papery Abutilon adding some unseasonal orange to the garden

Looking back at last December, there were quite a lot of roses then too and one Lavender plant had flowers, but a different variety than the one flowering now.  But I also posted images of frost covered foliage in early December 2010 and we haven’t had any yet this year although snow is forecast for next Monday!  With this in mind I moved the pots of lemons, limes and oranges into the greenhouse which suddenly feels very small (what will I do when the citrus all grow?).  I picked the limes before moving them, they are losing their green colour, I think they are over ripe; I’m surprised there are 18 limes, I’m going to juice them freezing some juice for Thai recipes and I may drink the rest, I like lime juice.

I should have taken the photographs yesterday as it was a calm sunny day, but I like to be honest and take the photos on the day I’m actually writing the post and today was cloudy, dull and worse for the photographs it was very windy.  I apologise now that some images are not focused as well as they should be.  Please click on the image below to see everything that is blooming today.

View towards the circular bed

Despite the numerous flowers in the garden to be really honest what I’m enjoying most is the structure of the garden and the foliage; don’t forget to join me on 22nd December for GBFD (Garden Bloggers Foliage Day) – forget the presents, forget the Mince pies and the shopping, get out into the garden and see what foliage is performing for you.

If you’re new to GBFD you can hopefully be inspired to write a post yourself by viewing last month’s post here.

The bleached garden begins

Now is the time year that the colour in the garden fades and bleaches with the bright sun.  The best time for taking photographs is early morning for just before dusk, but that doesn’t give a true version of how the garden looks for most of the day.

Allium sphaerocephalon with Euphorbia rigida

Some plants continue to look attractive even in the strong light but others look almost grey!  Silver leaved plants sparkle, I have many different species and varieties and I enjoy the way they make the colours near them sing out.

Allium sphaerocephalon blends with many other plants and usually repeat flowers in the second and third years in my garden, it will even seed itself and flower quite quickly. Here it is with a Phormium I thought had died in the cold winter, it is now looking better than it did last year. I do like the way the allium grows from pale green through to deep purple and makes little exclamation marks of dense colour.

Allium sphaerocephalon with a similar coloured Phormium

I planted a 1000 of these allium in a stream that winds its way through the other plants in the large island.

Much of the garden is dominated by blue and silver.  Both the lavender and the Perovskia are flowering earlier this year, already I can only push through the bee-covered flowers of the lavender to walk along the paths that a month ago were wide enough for two people to walk along together.

Yellow roses on the pergola are flowering again to give the contrast in colour I wanted and that last year didn’t happen, I must keep feeding and dead-heading them so they’ll continue all summer.

Fromal beds now in full bloom

The gift of wind-blown seed is a joy (not always of course as all the weeds in the garden are also brought in by the wind).  Last year the field to the west of the garden (and the direction the wind blows from in summer) was full of Verbascum Thapsus which looks very much like the Verbascum you will know from gardens called Verbascum olympicum; it has cleverly seeded itself just into the edge of the drive as well as into the slope.  When I drove up the drive the other night the headlights picked up their amazing forms looking like some kind of Triffid.

Visitors to the garden who haven’t seen it for a year are amazed at the growth rate of many of the plants – I am myself amazed at just how quickly the garden has filled out.  I started digging the first border (Left hand border) in 2007 and the islands were planted in autumn 2009 so it is still a very ‘new’ and I am so happy that it is starting already to feel mature.

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Christina.
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