I’m joining Helen the Patient Gardener for this month’s review of what’s happening in the garden this month.
Here in Italy May is the month when everything flowers! I remember the first time I saw a garden at this time of year I thought it looked fake (like at Chelsea flower show) with plants that would be flowering a month or so apart all flowering together. This is lovely but it does mean that everything is also over very quickly. Many plants go into summer hibernation if there is a drought and usually there is no rain from June until mid-August or even September.
For that reason I’ve been posting every day this month and even doing this there are many plants that haven’t appeared in a post. For June I don’t intend posting everyday but will try for a couple of posts a week.
This month I’d like to share with you a small area I’m developing within the upper drive border. Below is an image from above; the area starts at an Arbutus tree to the left and continues around to just in front of a holly bush.
Last autumn I decided to increase the variety plants with crimson flowers here. In winter I moved Rosa L.D. Braithwaite which was quite small and seems to have moved satisfactorily and has flowered. I purchased some Asters of different heights and forms and added those to the mix; I need an area that focuses on late summer- early autumn blooms. I also moved a Penstemon that my friend Linda from Garden in the West gave me in the form of some cuttings she carefully carried from her garden when she visited 2 years ago. The one that survived has made a good plant and is flowering freely now. I will take some more cuttings so I can increase the clump size.
A very hardy succulent type plant, which can become invasive, was also planted – I just broke off some pieces from those situated in the large island and planted them directly into the ground to form good ground cover. Lychnis coronaria is already scattered through the garden and I moved some of these to this border too, I like their small points of intense colour and the foliage is quite good too, even in winter.
The above bright crimson salvia was a cutting taken from a friend’s plant, I love the colour.
Achillea is also making a show, this will clump up quickly.
My intention is to plant some Barcelona tulips that I saw on Hillwards site, they look just the right colour, I also saw a smaller tulips of a similar colour on Julie’s post about her tulips of again a very similar colour so hopefully the wow factor will last from early spring through summer and into autumn.
To finish here’s some views of the garden that are particularly lovely at the moment and some views of the slope that I have been showing in these end of month views up until now.
Looking accross the slope.
Below is the first humming bird hawk moth I’ve ever managed to photograph, there are usually lots in the garden but they move so fast, I’ve never had n image any where near in focus.
This is a very late post but I wanted to participate if only for my own records, I find this meme, hosted by Helen, the Patient Gardener, one of the most useful meme’s of the month. It helps me see the progress in the garden and what still needs to be done to truly create my Hesperides garden.
From when I began work on the slope by the drive I have concentrated most of these posts on this area. It has filled out well and has surpassed by hopes for it to become one of my favourite parts of the garden. Almost everything is from self-seeded plants moved from other parts of the garden. It is not irrigated and in fact would be very difficult to do so because water just runs off the, in places, very steep slope.
Here are two images of how the area looked in October 2009.
For this post I want to show some images of how full of interesting foliage and colourful flowers the slope has become.
The lower area edges the drive and at the top becomes part of a border that sweeps round and into a path that forms the large and small islands. The part abutting this path I call the upper slope and will be showing this separately at some other time; the two areas are separated by windbreak planting of bush Quercia ilex, Arbutus and other shrubs which are included to protect the rest of the garden from the desiccating summer wind that blows in from the coast almost every afternoon.
I had thought in the end of May View, that the slope wouldn’t change very much so I would have to choose another area of the garden; I was wrong, Wild Verbascums blown into the garden from the surrounding fields have changed the way it looks altogether.
Another aspect I hadn’t taken into account was that plants I don’t count as being on the slope really, above the line of the Holm Oak bushes, have grown to such an extent that they have become the background to the slope – this is especially true of the large orange Knifophia, truly Red Hot Pokers!
In the foreground of the above image you can just see a Salvia Turkestanica which seeded from the huge one I had 2 years ago (I’m relieved this one is not so large as they are so awful to remove because of the ghastly smell –I noticed before it doesn’t start to smell until it has flowers, weird!
Other things I’d quickly like to share with you: the blue of the Perovskia!
If you would like to read more about what’s happening in other gardens all over the world visit Helen at The Patient Gardener. Once again a big thank you to Helen for hosting this meme for us.
From next month I’m thinking of writing about the progress of individual beds. Listing all the plants they contain and highlighting changes I’ve made and why (if there is a reason). If I do this I’ll begin with the Small Island, just because I’m so pleased with the way it looks this year
This morning I harvested all the garlic and the white onions that had bent over (on their own, I don’t believe you should bend them forcefully)
You may have noticed fennel growing by the edge of the drive, I harvest the flowers, dry them put them into jars and use this intensely flavoured condiment when cooking roast potatoes, sausage risotto or Porcini (ceps).
As I walking past the lavender I saw this strange looking bug, I don’t know what it is or if it does any damage, it was alone so I doubt it will do much damage anyway.
I haven’t been posting as much as I would like, but it is either actually get things done or write about doing them!
After several weeks of hot sunny weather yesterday afternoon we finally had a couple of hours of rain. The first hour was extremely heavy, monsoon-like battering down the plants, the second hour was just what every gardener wants – steady but not damaging rain that really penetrates the soil. Given that the temperature in the morning was about 27 ° C of even a little higher the result is that you can almost see the plants growing now. Today is humid, hot and there was another shower, although not really enough to do more than wet the surface.
I would like to share with you the views from my windows, this will give you an idea of which bed I’m talking about in future posts and as some of the windows are quite high it is a bit like looking at a plan of the garden. I am slowly trying to write details of each bed which will appear in Borders and areas within the garden, this will help me see the progress and changes that have occurred and remind me of all the plants in each bed. I actually took these photographs a month ago and a lot has already changed, the roses flowered, were wonderful and have now more of less finished their first flowering; they have been dead headed and I need to feed them so they will flower again. The only rose that is still looking amazing is R. Sally Holmes.
Above you can see the drive, with to the right of the picture the olives with just grass and wild flowers under them. The upper drive bed joins the Slope (you can’t see that from the windows but you can see progress there on my End of Month Views) and continues, wrapping around the Large Island, The Circular Rose Bed and the Small Island eventually becoming the Back Border which in turn joins the Left Hand Border.
I laid out the island shapes using hose pipe to help decide on the most pleasing shapes – this did involve a lot of going up and down my very steep stairs so quite a healthy exercise.
It is now becoming difficult to walk between the lavender hedges of the formal garden as they have grown so much and are about to flower.
And finally the vegetable garden.
I hope that this helps to understand the layout of the garden. The property is 3,000 square metres including the house, the olives and a portion outside the fence which I will be writing about in future end of month views.
So much has flowered this month it has been impossible not to walk around the garden without finding another plant that has begun to flower.
Our hot dry weather has continued for the whole month; and even when I can see rain falling only a few kilometres away nothing has fallen on My Hesperides Garden! The ground was already dry as this winter there was hardly any rain at all. A year ago it was very different (then we’d had almost a whole year of rain except of course for July and August when it rarely rains in Lazio).
By the beginning of May all the tulips were finished, a very short show this year but enjoyable all the same. Then in very quick succession Irises, Allium and then of course, May means roses.
Last Monday I was a judge at an International Rose competition and I have to say that it made me realise how many bad roses enter into the market without having any additional value than the thousands that already exist. We were judging roses that had been in commerce for less than 5 years and apart from perhaps one or at most two of those being evaluated I don’t think they merited inclusion ion any garden. It certainly made me appreciate my own roses even more and made me happy with my choices.
For the first time some of the Eremurus I planted 2 years ago have flowered. Either they liked the cold this winter or the lack of rain – I like them but think they are probably too fussy for me to purchase more, maybe they will spread by themselves, I hope so.
Now on to the slope, the part of the garden I usually concentrate on for the EoMR. Here is the slope when I first planted Stipa, Gaura and Verbena bonarienis last November.
Everything has grown much more than I could have hoped and it is looking how imagined it would look in a couple of years’ time. The effect of a meadow or prairie is strong especially with Stipa tenuissima blowing in the wind.
As always there are some happy accidents, I found some loose bulbs at the bottom of the box and thought they were allium so added them to the ‘stream’ flowing down the slope but I was wrong they were Gladioli byzantinus – I love the contrast in colour with the Cerinthe and large grey leaves of Verbascum.
The Gaura is also beginning to flower, a few plants didn’t survive ants mining under them, but there are enough and I have more I can add if necessary.
What do I need to do to improve the planting? I’m very satisfied already and I don’t want to add too many different plant species to the mix. I’ve already planted the cuttings of Solanum jasminoides album I took last autumn and they are growing, I’m longing for the mass of frothy white flowers that will flow from the top of the bank to the bottom in future years. At the moment I think I need to just wait and see what happens. The Cerinthe are looking well past their best, but I’ll leave them to set seed and hope they plant themselves in an interesting way; the same for the poppies, both Californian and European. If the Stipa get s too big I’ll just pull it out and allow seedlings to grow where they choose.
Just to finish a couple of views across the garden and a rose that grows wonderfully in hot climates but doesn’t like damp, cool weather so isn’t often grown in the UK. R. Sally Holmes, I have three in the garden that were cuttings from a friend 4 years ago.
Thank you Helen at Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month View this month. Visit her to see what others are planning and doing in their gardens this month.
The bank is filling out. There is an issue with weeds unfortunately; and because it is so steep when I tense myself not to fall while I’ll pulling out weeds I damage my back. There have been some moments in the last week when I was bent almost double like a very, very old woman!
Some Gaura are looking a little wilted; it has been a very hot month with very little rain. As I write it is raining very gently just perfect for soaking slowly into the soil. When it rains hard the water just runs off the slope and very little is absorbed.
Finally the Panicums showed signs of new growth so I have been able to lift, divide and replant them. Some have found homes in other beds too, where I needed grasses that didn’t require water. I have spaced them differently too so that I will add some other perennials between them to add to the prairie effect. There are lots more Gaura self-seeded in the rose bed and also into the gravel paths so I will move some of these.
I would also like to add tulips here in the autumn although the thought of planting them is rather daunting.
I hope you can see my method of planting; creating a depression around the plant to hold water while it establishes – this is the method I use for all my plants; trees and shrubs have a large depression(we call it a vase here) around them that might remain for up to one year. It allows me to give a lot of water at one time, then nothing for a while to encourage the roots to search deeper for water.
To one side where there is a Solarnum jasminoides I have planted some rooted cuttings I took last autumn.
I underrate this plant (it was the only flowering plant in the garden when we bought the property), it has just begun to flower this year and last year it was continuously in flower until December. I am hoping for a frothy white mass tumbling down the bank.
This week the alliums my friend planted for me last autumn have opened their buds and are making a striking contrast with Californian poppies that I scattered the seeds of when planting everything else.
A big thank you to Helen, the Patient Gardener, for hosting the end of month review. Visit her to see what’s happening in other gardens. Reviewing the garden, or at least part of it every month really helps to focus the mind about what is working and what needs to be done.
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