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.

In a vase on Monday – A freezing January 2019

The welcome to the New Year in Italy has involved snow, wind and freezing temperatures; not really auspicious for a vase of flowers picked from the garden to join with Cathy at Rambling in the garden. Continue reading

In a vase on Monday – Bounty!!

No, not the bounty you eat, but vases of tulips to enjoy.

Cathy at Rambling in the Garden has some gorgeous Iris today, I have too few of those to pick but I do have more tulips. Continue reading

In a vase on Monday – more tulip delights

I am not actually at home today but I know Cathy at Rambling in the Garden won’t mind my having prepared this vase earlier.

There were more tulips in the pot I forced in the greenhouse so I wanted to pick them and enjoy them before being away for a few days. Continue reading

In a vase on Monday – Grey or silver?

The weather for the last week has been horrible!  Cold, windy freezing at night and grey or hailing during the day.  This morning when I looked out of the window there was blue sky and sunshine.  It was surprising therefore when I discovered that 5 miles away in Viterbo it had snowed; and it had snowed enough to stop the buses running early in the morning and that the traffic had been chaos.

It being Monday it is time to join Cathy at Rambling in the garden for the weekly challenge of finding something from the garden to put in a vase.  Frankly I thought it would be more dried material this week, the garden has been bleak under the dark skies.  But of course the sun makes all the difference and I decided to search hard for some living material that might be a bit different to the usual evergreens I have been using. Continue reading

EOMV – Scorching August

Another month has passed and it’s time again to join Helen the Patient Gardener for the end of month view; thanks for hosting again Helen

On Sunday last we had a little rain, enough to wet the ground.  Night-time temperatures have dropped a little; being able to sleep at night has made me feel a little better.

If the cooler nights continue, but already last night was warmer than Sunday night, the plants will benefit from some dew.  Lower temperatures are also promised for next week (I have everything crossed!).

The August issue of my Italian gardening magazine communicates that there hasn’t been a June and July together this hot and this dry since records began (and now there is a scorching August to add into the statistics); local friends, who are assiduous at keeping records of max. and min. temperatures and measuring rainfall, tell me that there has been no measurable rain since May 28th!  Again this morning we had a 15 minute shower – not enough to do much good but, for me psychologically good as it brings a promise that we will get some proper rain soon.

The extreme conditions are making me reassess my thoughts on what drought really is.  I’m sure this sounds silly – a drought is a drought is a drought.  But actually it isn’t just about there being no rain; we rarely get any rain here from July through to the end of August.  What has made the difference this year is the higher temperatures, just a few degrees higher every day and less obviously higher night time temperatures, giving plants less time to recover.  Then there have been even more strong winds this year; this morning’s shower wet the ground but then the wind grew stronger and everything was dry again within half an hour (at the most).  As I write the wind is blowing continuously, I can hear it in the chimney; I’m listening to the leaves of the wisteria rustling.  This desiccation by the wind is not to be underestimated.

I’m looking with reawakened interest at the plants that are really thriving, not just surviving; I will use more of them as structural plants so that when this hot summer is repeated in the future there will be more plants that I don’t have to worry about.  I mentioned some in my post about foliage; the good ones are rosemary, Ceanothus, Teucrium, Myrtle and Euphorbia, although a couple of plants have died but they were probably a bit old.

Teucrium, thrives in the heat, you can prune it – maybe I will replace the dead box with this, not as long lasting but tough!

Cistus and Pholmis sufruticosa are alive but their foliage has curled to protect itself so that don’t look wonderful.

Then there were the surprises – plants I would have bet good money that they would be OK; Festuca glauca is a plant I’ve always considered very, drought tolerant but several have died and there is such a build-up of dead thatch on others that they either need replacing or digging up and dividing, discarding the dead stems and hoping that they will reform into their usual round shape.

these three Festuca glauca look dead to me

the alive one at the back is just on the edge of where the irrigation drip hose reaches

Nepeta is tough, just a couple of soakings with the hose and it is regrowing! I intend taking cutting and using more of this around the garden, I love its colour.

Most of the Sedums are growing well, although some are smaller this year.

I will use sedums as fillers around other plants, they needn’t be near irrigation drip hoses, I already took a lot of cutting earlier in the year, I’ll take even more next year

With irrigation (3 hours per week) the grasses look great

These grasses, Miscanthus and Pennisetum are on the edge of the circular rose bed, they are just receiving water through the soil, there is no direct irrigation to them but the roses receive 1 hour per night 3 times per week.

Once the trumpet vine is established it shouldn’t need any irrigation

In my free-draining soil Gaura needs just a little water, the amount in the soil near the irrigated roses is enough, to flower for months. In some soils they need no water at all.

There is a very obvious truth behind all the above.  If I want a garden full of flowers in July and August all I have to do is use masses of water!  I don’t want, or indeed feel it is right, to irrigate the whole garden so I must rethink some areas so that I am not forced to go around with a hose early morning or late at night trying to keep plants alive.  Where the irrigation is, the plants survive on the amount I give them, they won’t flower in a very hot year like this one has proved to be but they will persist to flower another year and I think I have to be content with that.

This abutilon was more damaged by the cold winter than the heat of summer but it does receive some irrigation

The Echinacea I grew from seed seems happy with just a little water

This double Hibiscus is still quite small, it was a cutting taken by a friend. Once established it is very tough and will survive with very little water

Asters need more water. I need to concentrate them in one or two areas where I’m prepapred to irrigate 3 times a week.

Sorry some of the images are a little fuzzy; the wind was blowing!

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.