Monday gives us all the change to experiment with our flower arranging skills and to participate in Cathy at Rambling in the Garden‘s challenge to find flowers from our own gardens to pick and plonk or arrange in a vase. After a week when each day was windier and colder than the last, today is warm, sunny and definitely more spring-like than it has been. Continue reading
Spring came early this year, already most of the tulips are over and roses and Irises are taking their place; yet despite the quantity of blooms in the garden it is foliage that still takes pride of place in my eyes.
There is a good reason for this; even though there are large numbers of different plants flowering, the percentage of the garden that they represent is still small in comparison to the foliage! Continue reading
There is a definite feeling of spring in the air; it isn’t that the temperatures are higher than before; it is the light levels that sign out that winter is over and spring is here!
There are new blooms opening almost every day now, but it isn’t the principle reason that the garden is telling me it is spring; new shoots, new foliage and changes in colour of foliage plus that hard to describe ‘fullness’ even of evergreen plants announce that though there is still time for some cold weather (last year we had a very cold spring even into May) there is now no stopping the relentless urge for plants to grow, flower and reproduce themselves. Continue reading
The weather really changed this week. It was quite a shock to the system as the temperatures dropped and on Monday there were gale force winds and rain for most of the day; the wind has continued all week, dropping in intensity a little on Tuesday but still strong yesterday. Leaves were ripped from branches whether they were ready to fall or not; a whole branch was broken from one of the Leylandii.
But today is sunny and bright, the wind still present but not so cold.
Although I don’t have a Sissinghurst-type white garden as part of my garden I do love white flowers. They add pools of light in dark shady areas and are, for me, essential to have on the terrace or near it because they seem to be luminous in the evening as dust and then night arrives.
Here are the white flowers in the garden during the first week in May.
The above you’re seen in my post about Irises, but worth seeing again I feel.
Almost everything is now dressed in its new fresh foliage for spring. Even evergreens like Box are covered with bright green leaves, a reminder to me that they should ideally be pruned into shape now so that they still have some time, before the really hot weather and their summer dormancy, to grow. This is the first time they have put on so much new growth; a good friend has a theory that the sharp cold weather we had in February has shocked some shrubs into producing for new foliage and more flowers this year.
April is the month when the most change happens most quickly in the garden. Despite there being a large number of flowers now it is still the foliage that does the biggest job in making the garden look full and lush.
I think of spring as being green, but many plants produce bronze or other coloured leaves before they turn green. This, as in autumn, is a defensive mechanism to protect the tender new leaves from the strong sun and maybe also the startling changes in temperature that often occur in spring.
When we moved here a good percentage of the boundary hedge was composed of Photinia, it is a shrub that I used to dismiss as being rather boring. It is widely used here, as once established it is very tolerant of summer drought. It also doesn’t mind the strong winds, either cold winter Tramontana or hot summer from the not so distant sea. The foliage in spring reflects the colour of my favourite tulips ‘Brown Sugar’ and the new foliage growth of Rosa Westerland. It also gave a interesting contrast when there were a large number of white tulips in the formal beds. When their flowers open they are an attraction to the bees who love the strange perfume (I’m not so sure I like it).
I happened on a post the other day written by The sproutling writes all about how she loves roses for their foliage more than their flowers!
Hostas are spiralling out of the ground, their new leaves pushing through the soil where a few days before I had wondered if they had survived the winter as there was nothing at all to see.
The silver-leaved plants sparkle in the sun and they are creating some lovely combination with purple sedum, Rosa Rubrifolia and Cotinus. Dark Heuchera contrasts with Festuca glauca.
Here are some images that illustrate what happens to when a silver-leaved plant gets wet. The hairs on the leaves get wet and don’t reflect light in the same way; result the leaf appears green.
Actually the leaves ARE green and appear silver because of the hairs not the other way around as I described above.
Please click on the image below of Rosa rubrifolia to see the rest of the foliage in My Hesperides Garden today.
Did you spot the wasp making its nest in the middle of the Lavender?
All are most welcome to join in GBFD, just leave a comment and a link to your post (or wordpress will do it for you). Happy Gardening!
There was a time when I didn’t really like tulips, I don’t even remember why but for many years now they are truly one of my favourite flowering plants. I love them for their bright colours, for their beautiful flower shapes and because they flower early and tell me it is spring.
In England I would carefully work out the flowering periods and order to have the colours I needed spread over a six week to 2 month period, from Early April to Mid-May. Here they grow differently, true I don’t have to left them when they have flowered and many will return year on year making it easier to fill the borders with colour but they flower for a much shorter time-frame, from the last week in March to the end of April if I am lucky. In a warm spring as last year they flowered for perhaps three or four weeks.
Last autumn I was strong willed and ordered no new spring bulbs. This was partly due to wanting spend the money on other things and more importantly I knew I needed to move and divide many perennials and thought I would be very short on time. The fact that the weather remained very warm right up until December meant I could have found an opportunity to plant some.
It has been good to review which varieties really do perform well a second year and which need to be considered annuals.
I have decided to plant the varieties I know to be shy about a return visit in pots which I will place on the terrace to enjoy from the windows or even to plant in places where I will cut them to enjoy inside the house.
Those that are to be planted in the borders will need to be combined with plants that will grow to hide the tulips’ foliage when they have finished flowering which is not particularly attractive.
Another consideration which may seem strange to some non-gardeners is that I like blooms to dye well, by this I mean that the petals should turn an attractive colour and fall gracefully. White blooms can be difficult in this respect as white blooms, of many different plants, turn brown.
Here are my thoughts on the tulip varieties I have grown over the last few years and the combination plants I have found successful.
Above is the boundary Photinia hedge with its orange, bronze new foliage with Rosa Westerland whose new foliage is a similar colour with T. Brown Sugar whose petals are a caramel colour. There are more planted in an adjacent bed with muscari to give a contrast from some angles. As ‘Brown Sugar’ dies, its petals look like a piece of iridescent silk, almost more beautiful than when they are first out. Added to this almost all the bulbs planted in 2010 have flowered again this spring. Tall orange Hemerocallis grow to hide the foliage as it dies back.
Here T. Negrita is paired with a silver leaved Buddleia (I think it’s called Silver Wedding) and a very fluffy, silver leaved Artemisia. The Negrita were planted in 2010 and I am almost sure there are more now than when I planted them. Others I planted in 2009 in the circular rose bed are also flowering again although not so well and I think this is because the rose bed is irrigated in summer and the tulips prefer to be left in baking soil if possible.
Above, T. Pretty Woman planted on the upper drive bed – there are some Gaura here but what you can see is wild, self-sown Rocket. Perfect I can pick the leaves and it will grow taller to hide the foliage of the tulips as they die back.
I may have mentioned in posts about tulips last year that they have a strange habit of growth in my garden. They begin to open their flowers while their stems are still very short. I did wonder if this was due to the fat that this garden is very windy, however, until the last couple of days there hasn’t been much strong wind and the tulips have maintained this growth pattern. The stems do grow with the tulips continuing to flower but it certainly makes them less elegant at the beginning.
Which varieties didn’t return? Just as useful and important to know when planning a long-term display. There was only one Fringed Blue Heron, however there were only a few last year I remember that these bulbs didn’t seem as good quality as the others when I planted them. I like the colour so I may try again.
There isn’t even any foliage to show where Double Early Peach Blossom flowered so beautifully last year.
There are more tulips yet to open so the season will last a little longer, I’ll post about them and their companion plants later.