Today in the Garden 1st March 2019

Yesterday when I was in the greenhouse I glanced out and was horrified to see that the Cypress by the gate was billowing with smoke; I thought someone must have set the tree on fire – but no as I looked at all the Cypresses they all looked as if smoke was blowing away from them.  Then, of course, I realised that it wasn’t smoke but the fine dust-like pollen!  I pity anyone with an allergy, the pollen is so fine it filled the air and there would be no way of avoiding inhaling the pollen.  Stranger still was the fact that the day seemed to be completely still (after days of strong wind), yet the pollen didn’t stream off the trees constantly but in gusts.

Today was cloudy but not cold; ideal for taking some photographs showing the advance of spring.

Anemone coronaria ‘Sylphide’

More Anemones are opening their buds around the garden; I have sown the seed I saved last year; I want to be able to have them all around the garden and have enough to pick for a vase.

Anemone coronaria

Anemone coronaria ‘The Bride’

The white Anemones remain with short stems; they are the most prolific Anemone in the garden but grow with consistently short stems – very annoying.

The formal beds looking towards the left hand border

You can see Anemone coronaria ‘The Bride’ on the left and Euphorbia rigida peeping out between evergreen shrubs giving a shot of early colour all around the garden.

Euphorbia rigida

Rosemary

Rosemary has been flowering since the autumn but there seem to be even more flowers at the moment.

deep purple crocus

Hyacinth ‘Miss Saigon’

Hyacinths have been in the ground for several years now, I planted more last autumn too.  They reliably return each year giving a punch of strong colour just when we need it most.

Hyacinth from a mixed pack of blues

Grevillia rosmarinifolia, another plant that has been flowering for most of February.  This Grevillia is very hardy, I would like to try some of the other varieties but I rarely see them in nurseries here.

Top of drive border

You can tell it is winter by the patch of bright green in the field beyond the garden, it would be golden or brown in summer.

Lonicera fragrantissima

I think there are more blooms on the wonderful fragrant Lonicera than I’ve ever seen before.  Maybe due in part to more rain last summer.

Lonicera fragrantissima

So much perfume from such tiny flowers.

Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ are blooming all around the garden at the moment; I love them.  This variety returns well each year but other varieties are less sure.  After seeing the wonderful selection of varieties Chloris at The Blooming Garden has, I hope to try some different ones next year.

I hope the good gardening weather continues everywhere.  Readers in the UK might like to contemplate that their temperatures this past week have been between 5 to 15 degrees higher than here in central Italy where last weekend we had a icy winds from the north.  Even yesterday, which was a glorious day our temperatures didn’t rise above 18°C.

Making me smile this week 3rd February 2016

Weather-wise it has been a mixed week with a couple of days of really warm sunshine and blue skies and the rest rather grey with a cold wind.  On Monday I began pruning the wisteria on the pergola at the front of the house.  I wish I’d taken a photograph immediately as the new structure against the blue sky was really making me smile a lot, against the grey sky today it looks far less impressive.  Continue reading

Perfume in the Winter Garden

Louise better known as Wellywoman wrote the other day about the perfumed plants in her winter garden and invited us to join with her and Sue at Backlane Notebook in recording each month what scented plants we enjoy in our gardens.

When I designed our first garden my husband said I could plant whatever I liked as long as it was scented; and although not every plant in my garden does have fragrance it is one of the major considerations when I am choosing new plants. Continue reading

Winter flowering plants in my garden – my thoughts

When designing a garden I have always given a lot of thought to how the garden looks in winter.  When I designed gardens in the UK I often devoted the front garden to winter interest as I feel it gives a lot of pleasure to the owners and passers-by at a time when many front gardens are rather bare.  The back garden was the space used most in summer and therefore I concentrated the other seasons there.

When I started gardening in Italy, between Rome and Siena I thought it would be possible to grow many plants to give pleasure during the winter months, I imagined that many bulbs would flower earlier here and so spring would be spread into the winter months.  I already knew a lot of shrubs that flowered in winter imagined my garden as an oasis of flowers throughout the year.  I WAS WRONG.

Many shrubs that flower in winter are triggered to flower by COLD; here the cold weather rarely begins before January so many plants that flower from November or December in the UK don’t start into flower here until February.

A case in point is Lonicera fragratissima, a favourite of mine as, for me; it has the best perfume of any plant.  In the UK it often begins to flower in November, maybe even October if there has been cold weather in September, here in Central Italy it doesn’t really begin to put on a show until February, then flowering on through March and if it isn’t too hot into April.  The heat of spring soon brings flowering to an end so if it didn’t have such a wonderful perfume I wouldn’t grow it here.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima

Viburnum tinus is perhaps the most reliable winter plant in the UK; yes, it is used in every municipal planting but for a very good reason, it flowers for 9 months of the year.  Not here!  It is really only just beginning to open its tightly closed buds and by April it will be over – then the foliage looks dismal before the new leaves grow, so not such a useful plant, mine was burnt badly by last year’s hot winds so is in need of a drastic prune, I had left the branches in the hope they might recover.

Tightly closed Buds of Viburnum tinus

Tightly closed Buds of Viburnum tinus

Shyly opening buds of Viburnum tinus

Shyly opening buds of Viburnum tinus

Some years daffodils don’t flower at all, or if they do it is late, so late that summer plants detract from their beauty.  Tulips, I won’t give up, I adore their colour and form but they too flower only a little earlier than in the UK and are often accompanied by early roses throwing my ideas of the seasons into confusion.

So it is with very much pleasure that this winter two plants have flowered for months and don’t seem to need cold temperatures to propel them into growth.  What plants you may wonder; well I think this post is long enough so I’ll describe these plants soon, can you guess what they are?

GBBD – Few but very Precious

The few flowers there are in the garden at the moment at very precious to me as a sign that spring is on the way.

Teucrium fruticosa flowers continuously from November through to April so though the flowers are small, they are profuse so they add a blue haze for many months.

Teucrium fruticosa

Teucrium fruticosa

Euphorbia rigida is the first to show signs of the acid yellow inflorescence that proclaims spring is here!

Euphorbia rigida

Euphorbia rigida

First pink colouration appears as the ‘buds’ swell, then they open to reveal bright, acid yellow/green.

Euphorbia rigida

Euphorbia rigida

These small Irises are one of my favourites, they don’t last very long and it can be easy to miss seeing them at all, but they don’t cost very much so I’m prepared to indulge myself.

Iris Purple Gem

Iris Purple Gem

Iris Purple Gem

Iris Purple Gem

Next

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima has the very best perfume of any plant I know! It doesn’t flower for as long a period here as it does in the UK, it needs some cold to trigger the flowers.

Viburnum tinus is mostly tight pink buds with just a few open to revel the white flower inside.  This is another plant that does not flower for such a long period as in the UK where it flowers for maybe 6 months of the year.  My plant has not fully recovered from the burning winds during the summer and a couple of large stems still seem to be dead.  I’ll prune them out later in spring if there really is no chance from them recovering.

Buds of Viburnum tinus

Buds of Viburnum tinus

Opening buds of Viburnum tinus

Opening buds of Viburnum tinus

Arabis

Arabis

Arabis, grown from seed is full of tightly closed buds, but a few are braving the cold nights.

A surprise is that one Phlomis sufuiticosa has buds that are nearly open, while another plant, perhaps a metre away, doesn’t even have any buds yet!

Phlomis

Phlomis

I planted these yellow Crocus Ancyrensis last autumn, I love their sunny colour.

Yellow Crocus Ancyrensis

Yellow Crocus Ancyrensis

Rosemary continues to attract bees to its masses of blue flowers.

Rosemary

Rosemary

But best of all are the dazzling flowers of Anemone Sylphide; I’ve never manages to grow these before and they are one of my favourite cut flowers too so now I’ve had some success I’ll plant lots more next year!

Anemone Sylphide

Anemone Sylphide

Anemone Sylphide

Anemone Sylphide

Anemone Sylphide

Anemone Sylphide

Not only are the colours stunning but the flowers last a long time, I showed the buds just before they opened for last GBBD and this is one of the flowers that was a bud then – I am impressed because we’ve had frosts many of the nights and heavy rain and terrifyingly strong winds and still the flowers are beautiful. Others I planted under the Mulberry tree are slower to flower but that will only extend the season further.

A very happy Bloomday to all gardeners everywhere. Thanks to Carol for hosting.

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.