The Slope on Thursday 13th March

The cold wind from the NNE has been blowing for more than a week, until yesterday that is, when suddenly after a cold windy beginning to the morning (an frost on the solar panel at 7 am) at about 11 am the wind dropped and it felt more like spring, and the forecast for the next week or so is more of the same!  During the day it feels like spring and each day there is something new to discover flowering. Continue reading

The Slope on Thursday 16th January

Monday was a reasonable day, Tuesday it rained heavily from half way through the night until about 2pm, Wednesday was gloriously sunny all day followed by a cold night and today, Thursday, it’s grey and tomorrow it is forecast to be grey in the morning with rain in the afternoon.  So nothing to become bored with!  Everyone keeps telling me that much colder temperatures are predicted to arrive soon.  Some very cold weather is always good.  Continue reading

The Slope on Thursday 14th November

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.

Continue reading

GBBD – More hangers-on than new blooms

Not much has been happening in the garden, hence no posts.  But there are a few blooms out there.  Not much new except I found this Anemone coronaria de Caen; I planted these bulbs without much hope of success as I’ve tried them before and none have ever grown.  Maybe all the rain in the autumn encouraged them to grow, anyway this one is about to open its bud, the colour is supposed to be deep pink but from the colour I can see, I don’t think that will be true.

Anemone coronaria de Caen

Anemone coronaria de Caen

Several roses have buds and even open flowers; Rosa Stanwell perpetual is showing that it is truly perpetual as long as it has enough water.

Rosa Stanwell perpetual

Rosa Stanwell perpetual

Rosa Clair Martin

Rosa Clair Martin

R. China pink

R. China pink

The weather has been changeable. Rain, mild temperatures, we were even able to have lunch on the terrace on Saturday, but cold temperatures are forecast for the end of this week (minus 6°C is promised so I must turn off the water going to taps around the garden and open the taps so they aren’t damaged (last year I missed one and the whole tap sort of exploded).

More in keeping with the season are Teucrium fruticosa, Prostrate rosemary and the beautiful Iris unguicularis.

Teucrium, a winter stallwart

Teucrium, a winter stallwart

Rosemary flowers for most of the winter

Rosemary flowers for most of the winter


Iris unguicularia

Pretty violas, in a pot I can see from the kitchen window, show their smiling faces and always make me smile.

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Viburnum tinus has a few buds just beginning to open and Eleagnus is still attracting and insects that are in the garden with its strong perfume.

A few plants are just plain confused, Ceanothus and Osteospernum shouldn’t be flowering now, nor should this Salvia!

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Salvia, side ways, sorry!


Even a Hemerocallis is doing its best to open its untimely bloom

Even a Hemerocallis is doing its best to open its untimely bloom

A very happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, January 2013, to all my fellow bloggers.  Thanks to Carol for hosting; why not check out  at May Dreams for other posts to bring a little sunshine into our lives.

GBFD December – Foliage says it all

At this season of the year flowers are few and far between; those that are in the garden are usually small, with an intense perfume to attract the very few pollinating insects that brave the cold air.  So it is foliage that fulfils the function of colour, form and texture.

Last year I posted about how we can learn about the structure of our gardens by taking photographs in black and white (or rather turning our colour images to black and white by editing our images – very easy to do).  This is useful in summer too when the colour of our favourite blooms blind us to the lack of form and structure and maybe trick us into thinking that our planting is more successful than perhaps it truly is.  In winter when often the colours turn to sepia of their own accord we are more aware of problem areas.

The slope in the early morning

The slope in the early morning

Above the slope, still mostly in shadow has lots of new fresh green from self-seeded Californian poppies and ‘cresto di gallo’ (a wild daisy-flowered plant I allow to grow as its new growth provides adds great taste to salads) and the darker foliage of prostrate Rosemary.

In black and white it looks quite different

In black and white it looks quite different

In black and white I can see the need for some foliage with larger leaves; but this is a very small area and large leaves are provided close-by in the form of Verbascum, but something I will think about when adding something new to this planting.  But there is a good mix of solid and more airy forms.

In the early morning when the garden was white with frost I enjoyed the large ice crystals that covered so much foliage.

Large crystals of ice have decorate the leaves of thyme

Large crystals of ice have decorate the leaves of thyme

The Frost highlights the difference in form of these leaves

The Frost highlights the difference in form of these leaves

The frost has attached itself to the protective hairs on the thyme foliage making it look like a cactus

The frost has attached itself to the protective hairs on the thyme foliage making it look like a cactus

Phlomis foliage edged in white by the frost

Phlomis foliage edged in white by the frost

Even the gravel is frosty, the formal beds looking west

Even the gravel is frosty, the formal beds looking west

In the large island Cerinthe, with the light shining through the foliage, contrasts with the frosty white leaves in other parts of the garden.

In the large island Cerinthe, with the light shining through the foliage, contrasts with the frosty white leaves in other parts of the garden.

Despite ten days of sub-zero temperatures at night most plants are still looking very green and happy.  All the Hemerocallis foliage has turned a deep yellow and has wilted onto the ground to form heaps that to me look like writhing snakes (I’ve no idea why it seems like that to me, we don’t have any yellow snakes as far as I know).

Collapsed Hemerocallis foliage adding a splash of yellow

Collapsed Hemerocallis foliage adding a splash of yellow

I know it is a busy time for everyone but I would enjoy seeing what foliage you have in your garden at the moment that is giving you pleasure.  Just leave a link to your post when you comment, and thank you for joining in this meme to celebrate foliage during the past year.

I would like to wish you all a very Peaceful, Happy Christmas and that the New Year will bring you good health and serenity in your garden.

September GBFD – Getting the garden back

September has brought with it some refreshing rain, cooler temperatures and regrowth of foliage.

I was surprised just how many plants underwent summer dormancy this year; the high temperatures, hot wind and no rain meant that even many of my drought tolerant plants looked miserable, well to tell the truth many looked dead!  But the plants were being sensible retreating beneath the soil, or leaving brown crusty leaves above to protect and presumably reduce the temperature actually hitting the plant.

Now it seems more like spring, with new foliage pushing through the soil.  I am appreciating this growth even more than in spring because this is proof that the plants aren’t dead, so reassuring that they mayflower now, if the weather doesn’t become too cold too quickly or that they have time to build some strength before winter and another period of dormancy.

Re-emerging thyme

Bit by bit this thyme lost all signs of green until I was almost convinced it was dead, it all looked like the part on the right in the image above; now, slowly, slowly new growth is pushing through the dead, maybe I should give it a ‘haircut’ to allow more of the green foliage space to grow.

After pruning the lavender in the formal beds I was dismayed that so much seemed dead; while it was flowering all appeared well, the usual huge number of bees, butterflies and other pollinators all testified that the flowers contained the usual pollen and nectar; but after pruning there was a lot of dead wood, I did give it some water but the hedge is long and so it didn’t receive very much and hey – lavender doesn’t need irrigation!  Now most of the old wood is shooting, if you look closely you can see tiny new leaves appearing, some are doing even better with lots of new foliage covering the plants; I think one or two bushes maybe dead but they were planted quite closely so I think those adjacent will knit together to reform the hedge.

Spot the new growth

Looking down onto the upper drive border you can see there is now more green than brown. Stipa tenuissima needs a bit of a comb but the new growth is there.

I have removed most of the Festuca around the garden; even those that aren’t dead are too full of thatch which is impossible to remove.  I have some small plants that are potted up seedlings and the plants that have more living material can be pulled apart to yield some new specimens.

This year it has been easier to get started with the autumn clean-up because so much of the foliage had stopped growing.  Seeing the Iris foliage cut and looking clean and fresh really makes me feel I am getting the garden back.

Iris foliage standing to attention

This year all the foliage of the Hemerocallis died back; I enjoyed pulling away the dead leaves and seeing tiny green shoots; within a week they have grown back, I think they may even flower again!  In the background the Nepeta has also grown back quickly after trimming away all the dead flowers and foliage.

As you come in the gate at the bottom of the drive, the prostrate Rosemary always look happy, they are even beginning to flower!  That is even earlier than usual, every time I pass there is a waft of bees and butterflies in the air.

New buds and foliage, Rosa Clair Martin

Many of the roses are putting on delicately coloured new growth, this is what feels like spring, best of all there are buds and flowers as well.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing what foliage is giving you pleasure now that autumn is here in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern.  Please just add a link to your post with your comment.  Thank you in advance I really appreciate you joining in this meme.

GBFD – Hotter Still!

This is my 200th post, I wish it were a more positive one – but it is giving you a true vision of how the heat is effecting My Hesperides Garden.

A week ago rain was forecast and I was just a little hopeful that the temperatures would begin to fall.  Mid-August is when often the weather breaks; but not this year!  This last week has been hotter than ever with news broadcasts recommending that the elderly stay indoors or visit air-conditioned shopping centres to keep cool!  More elderly people die in Italy during hot summers than in winter.  By eight in the morning it is almost too hot to stay in the garden and in the afternoon it is still really too hot to work even at six pm.  The plus side to this is obviously that we can have dinner outside and watching the sun going down and begin to breathe again.  This is an exceptionally hot year; records are being broken but I sincerely hope that the furnace that is August this year won’t be repeated for some years to come.

In the parts of the garden planted with drought tolerant plants I have been shocked to see plants suffering and possibly dying!  Just how many plants I’ll lose is difficult to tell just yet; maybe I won’t know until next spring the exact number of plants that have succumbed to the record temperatures and the lack of any real precipitation for many months.

I admit to being deceived earlier in the year April and May were not as hot as some other years although there was little rain.  I resolved not to begin irrigating until it was really necessary – MISTAKE!  Early June was also not excessively hot but the 15th June the temperatures suddenly rose and with the heat also came strong desiccating winds – worst scenario for a garden and worse still I was away in Prague that weekend.  When I returned and saw the garden on Tuesday morning I realised that the ground was already dried out and that many plants were struggling, the struggling has continued to now.

What plants have thrived in this heat and parched summer?  Not many have thrived!  Euphorbia myrsinites doesn’t mind how dry or hot it is, and most of my other Euphorbias are doing well too, especially E. rigida.

You can see how shrunken the foliage is on this Phomis fruticosa

I had imagined that all silver leaved plants would at least tolerate the heat but some look pretty sad.  Senecio maritima and S. cineraria aren’t dying but their foliage is curled to protect them even more from the sun’s rays, this is also true of Artemisia varieties.

Curled leaves even on a Senicio.

This usually beautiful spreading thyme seems to be 85% dead

Foliage of Solanum jasminoides also shows how leaves curl to protect itself from too much sun. It isn’t wasting energy by flowering either

Ceanothus repans certainly copes in these conditions and gives a lovely dark green mound at the corner of the drive.

Ceanothus repans looks good

Festuca glauca was another plant that I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about (it is a signature plant in my garden), but the larger plants are looking very untidy and with more dead thatch than I’ve ever seen in previous years.  I am hoping that if I lift and divide them the new plants will establish for next summer, I also have some small plants that were self-seedlings that can be planted as replacements for any that are truly dead.

Surprisingly Lonicera fragrantissima hasn’t lost any of its leaves, I have given it some water during the summer but only when a nearby crab apple is stressed and I water that.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Viburnum tinus is usually considered a tough plant for almost any conditions; it is the wind that has caused most damage to this shrub, the side that receives the afternoon wind from the west is completely scorched, and I doubt that the branches on this side will recover.

Viburnum tinus has been very damaged by the hot wind

Even the lavender hedge around the formal beds has patches that I’m hoping aren’t dead.  It has been pruned so that light and air can reach into the bushes; again this will be a wait and see scenario; it will be a huge problem if some plants have died completely leaving ugly gaps.

To finish a few other images (good and bad) of My Hesperides Garden today.

These box balls are likely to be my more expensive loss!

I love how prostrate rosemary clings to the wall. It thrives in the heat

I don’t think these Hemerocallis are dead but they are really suffering.

The large island is planted with drought tolerant plants but it doesn’t look great at the moment

Wisteria on the pillars is lush and full of flower, but it gets some irrigation as the roses planted close to them receive water, which even reaches the lavender hedge close to the terrace

All the images were taken at around 8.30 in the morning, you can see how strong the glare of the sun is, even at that time.

A Cotinus is happy, the purple leaved versions are less content

View accross the garden from the Large Island

I hope you will want to share some of your foliage on this Garden Bloggers Foliage day, just leave a comment with the link, thank you.  I’m looking forward to some lush foliage from the UK and spring offerings from the southern hemisphere.

May feast 1

There is something new and beautiful in the garden each day now.  I want to try to disciplinemyself to a post a day to share all the blooms that are adding to the overall beauty of My Hesperides Garden in May.

Today I chose Eschscholzia.

I don’t usually have a great success with seeds that need to be scattered in the ground where they are to flower but the packets (given to me by some good friends from the US) specifically stated that this was the best method.  So in Autumn 2010 I scattered the seed – and yes, success. I therefore wanted to try some other varieties and Donica from Reno kindly brought me some different varieties, some of which were sown last autumn.  There are the results.

E. californica from the Thai silk group

again from the Thai silk series

The foliage merges with the foliage of Euphorbia pontica, you can hardy see the difference.

In this series some colours are much stronger than others

The classic Californian poppy, strong vivid orange

But these too produce slight variations, all of which tone beautifully together.

Some are markedly darker almost red, especially in bud.

Some have yellow edges

As I had enjoyed them so much last year; I took seed heads from some for the plants and scattered them on any bare soil I found on the slope.  They have filled all the available soil and make me smile every time I see them.  Their simple flowers combine well with many other plant species creating different and interesting combinations throughout the borders.

with wild Irises, prostrate rosemary and stipa tenuissima

with thyme and euphorbia

contrasting with Phlomis sufruticosa

One even found its way next to Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diabolo