Sorry this is late, pressure of work and other commitments.  I took all the images on the 14th.

I am surprised by just how many plants are flowering this month.  Usually in July the garden is entering its summer dormant stage.  But this year it seems that just about everything is flowering.  I am very happy that all the roses are flowering for a second burst.  Some like Gertrude Jekyll only put on a second show during September and October last year, but this year they are nearly as full of blooms as they were in May.

R. Gertrude Jekyll

I have mentioned before that I am becoming more and more aware that it is the overall grouping of plants and the fullness of the borders that is pleasing me more than individual plants, however special they may be.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy seeing other bloggers special plants and proudly produced ‘difficult’ flowers; just that for my own garden and when I am designing for clients it is the overall effect I am aiming at.  I feel this is achieved by the correct choice of plants for a particular environment.  If this means I can’t grow some plants I really love, so be it.  A plant that is not happy where it is will never give of its best and will appear sad rather than giving the joy one hopes for.

View through the island beds

So I really enjoy seeing these plants vicariously on other bloggers posts of rarely in visits to other gardens.  I think in the UK gardeners are not so aware of this because in reality the climate is more accommodating than in the extremes we experience in Italy and of course other countries too.

In England the summers are never too hot for too long; and in winter never too cold for long periods and of course it does rain fairly regularly.  In Lazio there is always a 3 or sometimes even 4 month period with no rain at all with hot winds and daytime temperatures that hover around the low 30° C and only falling at night into the mid 20°s C.  I don’t believe in irrigating excessively and large areas of my garden are not irrigated at all.  I will water if I see a plant suffering and naturally new plants, especially if they are large specimens will need irrigation until they are established, but my aim is to select plants that will thrive in these conditions.  Where I do irrigate I do so by means of buried drip hose so that none of the water is lost to evaporation.  I also water for a long period but infrequently only once a week or every 10 days, this encourages the roots to grow deep to search out water that is deep down in the soil.  I also mulch and this definitely makes a big difference to the water retention of the soil.

Click on the image below to see all the flowers blooming in My Hesperides Garden today.

View from the back of the left hand border

Thank you to Carol at Maydreams for hosting GBBD for us all.  I will enjoy looking at many other posts to see what is flowering all over the world today.  Happy GBBD to everyone.

GBBD May 2011

May is probably the month when there is the most in flower on any one given day, so again I’ll let you see everything via a slideshow, rather than filling this up with everything.  This week the weather has thrown itself at the garden.  From bright sun with a cold north east wind which blew fragile stems horizontal to 2 hot days that felt more like mid-July with temperatures reaching 30°C to today, windy, dull with rain for about 3 hours over lunch time when I’d been hoping that my guests could have lunch in the garden.

Rosa Scepter'd Isle with Allium Rosem and opening Gaura

The above image and the following close ups are all taken of what I rather boringly call the Triangular Rose Bed (I do need to take advice about how to name the borders in a more descriptive, interesting way).

Erigeron never fails to be full of flower

R. Conrad F Meyer

Above pale pink Penstemon began flowering this week and will hopefully now continue until the autumn.

R. Stanwell Perpetual

R. Scepter'd Isle, a very good repeating rose, the plants are still new and small (planted last spring) but are full of flower!

Looking at the above colours, perhaps I should call it the “Pink, Frilly Knickers Bed”; all pastel pinks with just a hint of dark lace edging supplied by the dark purple cut-lace foliage of Sambucus.

Nearby on 2 pillars is R. Pierre di Ronsard – this has been slow to establish but given its NE facing location and the terrible soil its planted in, I think it’s not doing too badly.  It continues the pastel hues.

As I mentioned in earlier posts about roses, here and here my roses are about two weeks early flowering, even Veichenblu is half out and last year wasn’t fully flowering until I came home after the Chelsea flower show.  Irises have such a short season but some seem to flower for longer than others (I need to learn more about how they all perform as they are perfect for the conditions here and I do also like their leaves and the strong verticals to add to the show.

The hazy blue of Nepeta behind the strong yellow of Hemerocallis Sol d’Or with spikes of purple salvia in the foreground and yellow Phlomis all under a Melia tree (I forgot to photograph the blossom on that); you may recognise that it was in amongst these Hemerocallis that Tulips are planted.  This proved a great combination as the Hemerocallis foliage started to really grow just when I needed to hide the ugly dying foliage of the tulips.  I had chosen tulips for planting here that would have toned in colour with the Hemerocallis had they flowered together.  It is a combination I’ll repeat in future years.

Walking around after my guests had gone photographing all that you see here I became even more aware of the fact that while I love many of the individual flowers either for their colour or perfume what really made me happy were the general views; seeing how the plants related to each other – their colours blending or contrasting, their foliage texture adding depth and the blurring of colours together not just in the images but also in reality because of the movement caused by the wind.  Please click on the image below to see all the flowers in My Hesperides Garden this May GBBD.

Happy GBBD to everyone and enjoy this very special time of year; visit Carol at Maydreams, AND IT IS MAY so she doesn’t have to dream any more, to nose around what’s flowering in other parts of the
world.  Thanks for hosting GBBD again, Carol and I hope this May is all you dreamt of during the long winter.

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Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.

End of month review – November

Well today certainly tells me winter is here.  This is the first day when it has been raining and COLD, 4° C but with the rain it feels much colder; I am not working in the garden today.

To continue the theme of most of my end of month reviews, I’ll describe the progress of planting the bank. This shows the slope back in December 2008, when I was marking out the beds and pathways.

You can see the existing cypresses, umbrella pine and an Arbutus I had planted in spring 2008

The upper part of the slope above the level of my shelter belt of 4 Quercus ilex, a Viburnum tinus and a large bush Arbutus to the cypress half way up the drive I will describe soon in my borders and areas of the garden section.

Below the shelter belt the slope is quite steep; I have been straining to keep my balance while planting which has caused my back to ache.  This emphasises how important it is to plant closely not allowing any space for weeds as weeding will always be a problem here.  I also don’t want to irrigate this part of the garden 1) because the water would tend to run off anyway and maybe cause erosion of the soil and 2) I want areas that demonstrate that it is possible to have flowers and colour in summer without irrigation.

Looking accross the slope at the shelter belt planting

Below the line of shelter belt shrubs, in autumn 2009, I planted a second line of more decorative shrubs including Oleander, Teucrium, Lagerstroemia, and a Cotinus. Also present are: Perovskia, Panicum Heavy Metal and P. Warrior and a Feijoa.

My decision has obviously made my choice of plants more restricted but I think mass planting of just a few species will look more appropriate here so my overall aim is a prairie style of planting. Some of the existing plants in other areas are obviously very happy in free-draining soil, so much so that they have self-seeded profusely – so my decision was made, use what I have and try to plant creatively.

The plants are therefore: planted everywhere to create a grassland, prairie feel, Stipa tenuissima; Verbena bonariensis to give see-through height, Gaura lindheimeri to give the impression of a thousand butterflies floating in the air. Some clumps of wild Iris moved from the tuffo bank, I planted high on the bank where they should be visible when they flower but be hidden by flowering plants growing taller than them when they have finished flowering.  Below a Persimmon, I transplanted Euphorbia (the original plants I had grown from seed), interplanted with tulips.  Through this matrix there are three streams of planting.

  1. Artemisia ponticum with grape hyacinths, Allium aflatuense and Schizachyrium scoparium.
  2. Cerinthe major purpurascens – I will leave them until they set seed, then remove them – they usually flower very early for me, sometimes as early as Christmas.
  3. Prostrate rosemary.

There were very few plants in the garden when we moved here but one which always surprises me by just how long it flowers is Solanum jasminoides album – I have taken some cuttings, if they are successful I will plant several as ground-cover making a foaming white stream near the boundary.

There seems to be a lot of bare soil

I hope to be able to show you how all this looks next year.

Thanks to Helen the Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month meme.

First Frost

We had our first frost of the winter on Saturday.  I didn’t take any photos, sorry.

It was very cold when I first went outside at about 8 am, but during the morning it warmed up so that it was a pleasure to be outside.  I planted a small area which has dissatisfied me for some time.  A very large Datura was planted here (spreading to about 3m x 3m); it looked interesting in the evenings when the white flowers opened, but they closed again and died as soon as the sun reached them in the morning.  In winter it died back completely leaving a very bare patch.  We see this area from the part of the terrace which is shady at lunch time and is protected from the west wind – so we often sit here.

The Datura in July 2008

I have for some time admired plantings of box, trimmed into balls forming ‘cloud’ effects.  This seems the ideal place in the garden for just such a planting – not too large (therefore not too expensive) and needing evergreen interest.

The new planting

Although this area is in full view of one part of the terrace it is behind a pomegranate tree and so not visible when walking up the path by the left hand border, I like this element of surprise.  I have planted strategically a Miscanthus gigantean which forms a back drop to the box and will form part of the picture of the planting I always enjoy in the LH border.  I also planted a Teucrium fruticans which I will prune into a large sphere (a cheaper option than a very large box.  I transplanted a couple of Thyme that needed to be transplanted from another part of the garden as they seem to grown naturally into a sphere; they can be removed when the box needs more space.  There is a rosemary planted close by and I have pruned that into a ball to add to the scheme.