May Feast – Some pleasing combinations

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.

Cotinus ‘Palace Purple’ with Rosa ‘Old Blush’

Salvia with Hemerocallis Stella d’Oro and Phlomis suffruticosa

Rosa rubrifolia and Iris

bluey-pink aquilegea with Rosa Rhapsody in Blue and blue oat grass

Dark, moody Sedum with bright orange Californian poppy

Ground-cover verbena and Californian poppy

Iris ‘Kent Pride’ and Nandino

Rosa ‘Molineux’ with Iris

What combinations are pleasing you this month?

2012.02.15 GBBD What a difference a year makes!

In 2011’s February Bloomday I was full of hope talking about spring being just around the corner with bulbs flowering and tulips shoots coming through. I boasted that I was ahead on work especially weeding and I remember enjoying seeing all the signs of life to come, well what a difference a year makes! My Hesperides garden is still covered in snow, now icy and hard. It thaws a little each day but it is difficult to imagine that very much is really growing. Luckily I used a lot of mulch in the last year so hopefully weeding won’t be too much of an issue.

As you may have seen in January’s GBBD post there were still many roses blooming and everything had new shoots, I was panicking about when I was going to prune the roses as they didn’t seem to be having a dormant period. Luckily I pruned the Wisteria on the pergola at the front of the house; the white ones on the side are still waiting. Many of the roses still have foliage, turned red to protect the plants; as soon as we have a few warmer days I will prune all the roses and move one that I want to add to the new planting I made in autumn. The garden needs the moisture that the melting snow will provide; we’ve had very little rain since the deluge in September. The ground water levels need to be high before the long drought of summer.

The crab apple gives some colour

The Nandino is cheerful

and hope from the buds on Viburnum tinus

The snow has high-lighted how many birds now live in the garden; when we moved here, there were few plants to help feed the birds during winter, now there are more hedges for the birds to nest in and many seeds and fruits for them to eat. In the snow I saw the impression of wing beats of the Little owl where it had taken some small bird or perhaps a mouse, I left a few pomegranates on the tree and the fruit has been pecked clean; although I’ve seen birds on the crab apples they don’t seem to be actually eating them as the tree is still full of tempting, cherry red fruit. I do see the birds clinging to the grasses and so I imagine that they eat grass seeds. I leave most seed-heads during the winter for their interesting forms and also to the birds. This is the first 15th of the month when there have been no flowers for a Bloomday post; so now I understand why Carol dreams of May! I’m dreaming too this month so if you want to see some terrific blooms from around the world visit Carol at Maydreamsgarden.  Carol has more blooms than me this month so this might her fell happier.

There was one lone flower, a very confused Santolina, my one 'bloom' this month

Don’t forget Garden Blogger’s Foliage day on the 22nd of each month; what’s looking good for you foliage wise?

Brave flowers of January GBBD

I have been away three weeks from My Hesperides Garden – more about my trip to the US in future posts as I was very inspired by the native vegetation and the way some National Park sites used native planting.

An apology to my blogging friends that I haven’t had time to leave comments on my favourite blogs while I’ve been away, I did manage to read and enjoy some but internet access wasn’t always available to me.  A very Happy New Year to you all and I’m looking forward to seeing all your gardens in 2012

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived home; I’d heard there had been cold weather and lots of snow in the north of Italy and thought it likely that even in mid-Italy the weather would have been much colder than we I left.  But although there had been a couple of colder days and certainly much colder nights the garden still has flowers and even the fennel in the vegetable garden is still edible, just, which is a sure sign there wasn’t a heavy ground frost where it is planted.

I was welcomed home by the perfume of Lonicera fragrantissima, which definitely lives up to its name.

Most of the flowers on winter flowering shrubs are relatively small but often with an intense perfume to attract the few pollinating insects that are flying.

This Elaeagnus has been flowering since the end of September.

Rosemary has also been flowering for several months.

Groundcover Verbena is still doing a great job of covering the soil and stopping the weeds.

This is another groundcover plant I should be dividing to have many more of. I think they flower every month of the year.

Teucrium always flowers early in the year

More surprising are the confused Achillea ‘Summerwine’,

and Abutilon, especially remembering that the Abutilon was knocked back to the ground by the cold temperatures of last winter.

The buds I showed last month on the Nandino haven’t opened yet but do look very attractive with the berries from last spring’s flowers and the winter red foliage.

It is not so unusual to have roses flowering in December but by January they are normally ready to be pruned; I was very pleasantly surprised to find several roses putting on a show for me today.

Yellow rose on pillar on the terrace

R. Clair Matin, also on a pillar

R .Queen of Sweden

The China Rose, has flowered since October

R. Gertrude Jekyll

One of the many blooms, single during the winter, of R. Sally Holmes

R, ‘Stanwell Perpetual’ has also flowered almost continuously since October

A hopeful bud on R. Scepter’d Isle

Strangely this Buddleia seems happier in winter than in summer when I expected it to thrive!

Cerinthe are beginning to flower but are a little later than other years to be blooming profusely.

To visit gardens where it really is summer visit Carol at Maydreams Garden to find Bloomday posts from around the world.

Thank you Carol for hosting this meme that we all enjoy so much, have a very happy gardening year in 2012, I look forward to reading about your garden and your ideas this coming year.

It’s September and Autumn is here

It is strange how from the extreme heat of mid-summer only a few days ago, now it is suddenly autumn.  This week the mornings have been noticeably fresher with dew left on the ground after the night; giving the plants some refreshment even if it hasn’t rained.  Autumn is when I can start work on the garden, moving, dividing, planting, in summer it’s too hot and even in spring I can’t guarantee that there will be rain for the plants to establish.  So I’m slowly winding up to having more time to garden when it isn’t too hot.

Looking back through my note book I read that there is much to be done.  In 2009 I noted that the new foliage of Nandino was the same as the flower colour of Iris Kent Pride; and they were the same colour at the same time so yesterday I began by lifting and dividing one patch of Iris Kent Pride which had been infested by a spreading thyme and planting them close to a Nandino where I had removed some Bergenia cordifolia that really couldn’t cope with the heat and full sun, this position should suit the Iris perfectly.

Above Iris Kent Pride and below Nandino showing its new foliage.  You can see the stoney soil quite well in these images.

The clump of Kent Pride with thyme invading it

Newly planted, with lots of space to allow for growth

I also moved some beautiful blue Iris Jane Phillips; these were in the Left hand border and had been happy to begin with but the micro-climate of this border have changed.  The mulberry has grown considerably and is creating more shade, also other plants have grown and they are also throwing more shade onto the Iris; lastly the bay hedge which I hadn’t thought was growing quickly enough I now realise has grown a lot and this too means there is more shade in the morning. So I moved half the existing clump, half of these to the drive border near a Ceonothus repans again this is a similar colour, the rest I planted near the prostrate rosemary on the slope.

While I have been lifting and replanting I have also been selecting seedlings of various plants that I have potted on for use in other parts of the garden and for clients.  Below you can see some of the many Stipa tenuissima seedlings, as I‘ve mentioned many times before these seed prolifically in the free-draining tuffo that is my soil.

1 tray of 15 stipa tenuissima

Asclepias tuberosa has been flowers for long periods during the summer but I find the seed pods and seeds dispersal nearly as interesting as the flowers.  I intend sowing these seeds as they are hardy and have a low water demand and would look better planted in larger groups.

Asclepias tuberosa flowers

seedpod just opening to reveal the seeds attached to white 'fluff' to disperse it

With the autumn come different skies and different sunsets here is yesterday evening’s show.

Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Kark Forster' in the foreground

The sky changes every second as the sun sinks, the silhouettes of the trees and shrubs seem black against the fiery sky.