Wednesday with words – Flowers in the snow

Today more of the snow has disappeared but remains is hard crusty ice!  The peas and broad beans remain completely buried under their blanket of snow; the Pak Choi under its cover of fleece looks fine.  More snow is forecast during the night followed by rain and a rise in temperature so hopefully these will be the last of the images of my snowy garden ( I do hope I’m not talking too soon).  All the images were taken yesterday 27th February. Continue reading

and then it started to snow!

After some mild, wet days today was bitingly cold and at about 4.30 it began to snow.

The following images were taken at 5pm when it was almost dark but I just wanted to share the initial magic, I’m hoping it will all be gone by tomorrow.

Looking down from the bedroom window

Looking down from the bedroom window

20130117_9999_6 blogLooking out from the sitting room window.

I didn’t want to go out and spoil the virgin snow with my footsteps, if the snow does remain, I’ll venture out tomorrow.

2012 End of Year review

A view of Lake Bolsena on a cold crisp January day

A view of Lake Bolsena at the end of a cold crisp January day

December has sped past as it always will, with the busy time running up to Christmas.  The garden has changed with the effects of frosty mornings, cold nights and more rain.  And so another year comes to an end!  Why is it that they flash by so quickly?  Soon it will be time to begin sowing seeds – the beginning of a new season.

As I did last year I thought I would share with you the images that I used as my screensavers through the year.  Sometimes I change the image almost as soon as I take a new batch of photos; other times a favourite image will stay for weeks.

I notice how often I use the formal beds at the front of the house; I think I find the formality restful; not all the images are of the garden, the surrounding countryside also figures often.

Seed heads and berries bring life to the garden

January Seed heads and berries bring life to the garden

In Febuary we had snow

In Febuary we had snow

February: We were snowed in for a few days but the views outside were lovely

February: We were snowed-in for a few days but the views outside were lovely

To me March is YELLOW

To me March is YELLOW

March, Euphorbia add acid colour

March, Euphorbia add acid colour

March, Californian Poppies open their sunny faces to the sun

March, Californian Poppies open their sunny faces to the sun

April brings Poppies that carpet the countryside, my favourite wild flower

April brings Poppies that carpet the countryside, my favourite wild flower. I smile every time I see them!

April brings new bright leaves to the trees and tulips

April also brings new bright leaves to the trees and tulips

April, tulips and Photinia and new growth on Rosa Westerland all have the same warm colour

April, tulips and Photinia and new growth on Rosa Westerland all have the same warm colour

April, before the storm

April, before the storm

April, looking accroess to the large island

April, looking accross to the large island

April, the slope was very colourful

April, the slope was very colourful

May, a profusion of Californian poppies

May, the slope with a profusion of Californian poppies

May, Rosa Rimaso

May, Rosa Rimosa on the perpola

May, Irises

May, Irises and Cistus with olives in the background

June, Penesetun villosa already doing a great job

June, Penesetun villosa already doing a great job

June, ever present butterflies on the lavender

June, ever present butterflies on the lavender

June, the formal beds

June, the formal beds

June, not just butterflies feel on the lavender

June, not just butterflies feel on the lavender

June, the surrounding fields are at their abundant best

June, the surrounding fields are at their abundant best

July, more butterflies, here the false swallowtail

July, more butterflies, here the false swallowtail

July, of course many bees visit too!

July, of course many bees visit too!

September, the formal beds crisply clipped

September, the formal beds crisply clipped

September, Asters are the stars of the show

September, Asters are the stars of the show

September, Penesetum villosa still reflecting the evening light

September, Penesetum villosa still reflecting the evening light

October, Aster 'Monte Casino with Knautia

October, Aster ‘Monte Casino with Knautia

October, wonderful sunsets areone of the joys of autumn

October, wonderful sunsets are one of the joys of autumn

October The Perovskia was late to show its beauty this year because of the drought

October The Perovskia was late to show its beauty this year because of the drought

November brings sudden storms and dramatic skies

November brings sudden storms and dramatic skies

November, Iris

November, Iris unguiclaris

November, Miscanthus

November, Miscanthus

November, more sunsets

November, more sunsets

November and the sky is on fire

November and the sky is on fire

December brought and early winter, with frost every morning for 10 days or so

December brought and early winter, with frost every morning for 10 days or so

December, the formal beds from above

December, the formal beds from above

December, frost on alreadysilver foliage

December, frost on already silver foliage

December the light turns the Euphorbia and Argave blue

December the light turns the Euphorbia and Argave blue

December, Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum, Seedheads

December, Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum, Seedheads

To each of you who regularly leave comments and I count very firmly as my gardening friends and to those who read quietly but leave on trace of their presence I wish you all a Very Happy Gardening New Year! Christina

Is it snow?

This week has seen a big change in the weather.  No more kidding myself that it is spring or autumn, winter has arrived.  It is early for it to be so cold here in Lazio

On Monday I drove to Rome, I chose the road that goes over the Cimini hills (mountains) they aren’t that high so it rather depends where you come from whether you consider them mountains or hills, the highest point on the road is 850 m.  It was cold but also beautifully sunny, as I was driving I saw in the distance the snow tipped peak of Monte Amiata, but that’s higher than the Cimini and way off in Tuscany so I didn’t change my mind about my route.  Mistake!  As I climbed the trees began to be sprinkled with white.  Was it frost?  Then it became clear, the trees were coated in a thick layer of snow; it was amazingly beautiful and I regret not taking any photographs, but I thought the road was too dangerous to stop.  Cars coming in the opposite direction were driving very slowly and as I neared the highest point (860 m) there was a group of Carabinieri, stopping the traffic, saying the road was closed due to ice!  So I retraced my steps and took a lower road to arrive at my destination an hour late on a journey that should have taken 50 minutes!

Then yesterday, Wednesday when the forecast said it would be sunny, it first rained and then hailed, huge pieces of ice some about the size if a marble, others smaller – and it was so cold that many remained on the ground for two days!

Hail stones on the window cill

Hail stones on the window cill

Hailstones on the terrace

Hailstones on the terrace

Hail in the garden

Hail in the garden

White fields of hail stones

White fields of hail stones

Today garden is white with frost, the clipped Lavender looking lovely outlined in white; but some intervention is needed; the lemons and limes that I had already moved from the north east side of the house to the west side to avoid the cold north wind (Tramontana) now need to be moved into the greenhouse, so a little rearranging is also called for there.

Lavender in the formal garden white with frost

Lavender in the formal garden white with frost

2012.02.15 GBBD What a difference a year makes!

In 2011’s February Bloomday I was full of hope talking about spring being just around the corner with bulbs flowering and tulips shoots coming through. I boasted that I was ahead on work especially weeding and I remember enjoying seeing all the signs of life to come, well what a difference a year makes! My Hesperides garden is still covered in snow, now icy and hard. It thaws a little each day but it is difficult to imagine that very much is really growing. Luckily I used a lot of mulch in the last year so hopefully weeding won’t be too much of an issue.

As you may have seen in January’s GBBD post there were still many roses blooming and everything had new shoots, I was panicking about when I was going to prune the roses as they didn’t seem to be having a dormant period. Luckily I pruned the Wisteria on the pergola at the front of the house; the white ones on the side are still waiting. Many of the roses still have foliage, turned red to protect the plants; as soon as we have a few warmer days I will prune all the roses and move one that I want to add to the new planting I made in autumn. The garden needs the moisture that the melting snow will provide; we’ve had very little rain since the deluge in September. The ground water levels need to be high before the long drought of summer.

The crab apple gives some colour

The Nandino is cheerful

and hope from the buds on Viburnum tinus

The snow has high-lighted how many birds now live in the garden; when we moved here, there were few plants to help feed the birds during winter, now there are more hedges for the birds to nest in and many seeds and fruits for them to eat. In the snow I saw the impression of wing beats of the Little owl where it had taken some small bird or perhaps a mouse, I left a few pomegranates on the tree and the fruit has been pecked clean; although I’ve seen birds on the crab apples they don’t seem to be actually eating them as the tree is still full of tempting, cherry red fruit. I do see the birds clinging to the grasses and so I imagine that they eat grass seeds. I leave most seed-heads during the winter for their interesting forms and also to the birds. This is the first 15th of the month when there have been no flowers for a Bloomday post; so now I understand why Carol dreams of May! I’m dreaming too this month so if you want to see some terrific blooms from around the world visit Carol at Maydreamsgarden.  Carol has more blooms than me this month so this might her fell happier.

There was one lone flower, a very confused Santolina, my one 'bloom' this month

Don’t forget Garden Blogger’s Foliage day on the 22nd of each month; what’s looking good for you foliage wise?

Snow, snow and more snow

Italy has been is chaos for the last week.  Snow has fallen in huge quantities over much of the country including Rome and the South where it is more unusual for there to be very much snow.  To say it caught everyone unawares is an understatement.  The schools in Rome have been closed for the last week and all public offices were closed for 3 days, and not a great deal better in Viterbo.

It began snowing on Friday 3rd February.  Here the flakes were small and icy and the wind was so strong that it wasn’t beautiful at all with deep drifts where the wind dumped the snow and poor icy-stemmed plants being bent horizontal by the North –North East wind that was said to be coming from Siberia.

wind carved ice sculpture

The wind created these interesting curves around the lemon pots

The lane to our house was cleared by a friendly farmer on Sunday afternoon but the wind covered it with snow again so that it was very difficult to get out.  The NG struggled to the station on Monday morning only to find that there were no trains.  I didn’t get out of the house until Thursday; by which time I was feeling quite stir crazy.

Friday seems to be the day for snow and last Friday (10th February) we awoke to already deep snow – it continued all day and continued until just after midnight.  This snow, with less wind was beautiful, deep and crisp and even making the garden a magical place.  We haven’t had anywhere near as much snow as this since we moved to Italy in 2003; in fact I don’t remember seeing this much snow except when in the mountains to ski.

Formal beds on Friday 10th February

same view on Saturday 11th Feb.

In the above image you can’t see the lavender hedges at all; they are entirely enveloped in snow; today (Sunday) I removed the snow from the box cubes because the snow was breaking the shapes open and I worried that some stems would be broken.

View along back border to the mulberry tree

The town is more organised this week and yesterday evening a tractor with a snow shovel came to clear the road and the lane to our house, we had to clear the 100 metres of drive ourselves this morning.  We are now hoping that the wind doesn’t deposit too much of the surrounding snow back onto the lane.

View accross the garden to the Umbrella pine that I've shown many times before but never before covered with snow

Inside the greenhouse things are rather different.  It is protected from the cold winds by Leylandii and Olives, so much so that the automatic roof lights have been opening and inside I have been forced to water everything.  I was very worried about doing this as if the night temperatures drop very low the plants will suffer but they were actually wilting so I had no choice.  An update on the peppers that I left to grow during the winter, I am astounded even with temperatures that have only crept a little over zero for the last 10 days the peppers are ripening, slowly yes, but they are ripening.  I harvested some during the week when vegetables outside were buried.  They even tasted very good!

More peppers ripe together than in summer

There are also lettuces that take longer to bolt in the cold so we may even manage to eat them all.  In the pot you might recognise carrot leaves, I’ve never had success growing them outside so followed an idea from an Italian gardening magazine and I’m trying them in a large pot.

Lemon also continue to ripen

In the garden the only colour is from fruits and berries, the bright red of the crab apples attracts the birds but they don’t actually eat them, I’m not sure why.

 

December GBBD, there are still roses

I am finding it impossible to believe that it is time for December GBBD.  As you will see from the slideshow of what’s flowering today in My Hesperides Garden, the range of blooms would lead you to believe that is was late May.  So Carol at Maydreams who hosts this great meme would be happy in my garden today.  Please visit her to see what’s blooming around the world today; don’t forget it’s nearly midsummer in the southern hemisphere, so forget the winter blues and visit these summer gardens.

Rosa Clair Matin has been flowering profusely since May

Almost all the roses have some blooms, they had more before the rain on Monday but hey, it’s December.  Other plants I wouldn’t expect to see blooming now (would I really expect anything?) is Lavender, the Philadelphus, and the orange Abutilon – this seems to have more flowers than at any time during this year.

Philadelphus

Papery Abutilon adding some unseasonal orange to the garden

Looking back at last December, there were quite a lot of roses then too and one Lavender plant had flowers, but a different variety than the one flowering now.  But I also posted images of frost covered foliage in early December 2010 and we haven’t had any yet this year although snow is forecast for next Monday!  With this in mind I moved the pots of lemons, limes and oranges into the greenhouse which suddenly feels very small (what will I do when the citrus all grow?).  I picked the limes before moving them, they are losing their green colour, I think they are over ripe; I’m surprised there are 18 limes, I’m going to juice them freezing some juice for Thai recipes and I may drink the rest, I like lime juice.

I should have taken the photographs yesterday as it was a calm sunny day, but I like to be honest and take the photos on the day I’m actually writing the post and today was cloudy, dull and worse for the photographs it was very windy.  I apologise now that some images are not focused as well as they should be.  Please click on the image below to see everything that is blooming today.

View towards the circular bed

Despite the numerous flowers in the garden to be really honest what I’m enjoying most is the structure of the garden and the foliage; don’t forget to join me on 22nd December for GBFD (Garden Bloggers Foliage Day) – forget the presents, forget the Mince pies and the shopping, get out into the garden and see what foliage is performing for you.

If you’re new to GBFD you can hopefully be inspired to write a post yourself by viewing last month’s post here.

Update from my Hesperides Garden

A belated very Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope 2011 will bring all gardeners just what they need in terms of flower display and vegetable production.

I’ve been unable to post as I computer stopped working almost immediately we returned in the New Year.  Then as usual with a new computer I’ve had issues with various programs not working – most importantly my ability to upload photos to the computer just hasn’t worked.  Today I have managed to upload some photos I took for bloomday but it has to be said that the ‘progress’ of the new system meant it took about 3 times as long as normal.

Lonicera fragrantissima smells wonderful

We had an amazing beginning to January, with temperatures as high as the mid 20s Centigrade (last weekend I was able to work outside all day and was actually felt too hot for some of the time.  It was also hot enough to eat lunch outside on Sunday and I had to wear sunglasses all day!  It has been a real bonus to have about 10 days of perfect gardening weather- I finished planting all the bulbs, except for some Regal Lilly I bought to go in pots.  My great achievement was to prune the Wisteria on the pergola around the house.  It was important to get the structure growing strongly so that we will have shade all around the house in summer.  Now I am waiting excitedly to see how well it will flower this spring.

Prostrate Rosemary is full of flower

In the vegetable garden I’ve managed to clear all the beds of last year’s crops and plant garlic and shallots.  After I’d planted the garlic I read that it shouldn’t be planted at the new moon and it was exactly the new moon that day!  The book said that they would all push up…… and that’s what they have done though they are shooting so all may not be lost.  I keep pushing them back down but they just pop up again.

A few more Muscari are flowering

After our glorious sunny days the weather has now returned to winter with some snow falling on Friday and Saturday – not very much actually here but the hills we can see from the house ae still covered with a sprinkling of snow.  The temperatures are hovering around zero and the wind is blowing from the NE (Greciale) I think this is the coldest wind we have though the locals all think the Tramontana (from the north) is the coldest.

All the Teucrium are flowering - they are such reliable plants

The Viburnum I planted this autumn is flowering well and I am enjoying having these fragrant plants that attract bees on warm days

All these plants were flowering on 15th January and most will hopefully continue even with the return of the cold weather, I’ve seen tulip and daffodil shoots which fill me anticipation; and new green shoots on the Box cubes in the formal garden at the front of the house.

Amazing difference in colour of the new growth on the Box

Brave Arabis, that I grew from seed, cover the ground under the Pomegranate

Buds on Viburnum tinus about to open

Viburnum tinus is a plant that just doesn’t grow as well here as it does in the UK.  The flowers don’t open until February or March and then when the flowers finish the shrub looks like its dying for a month or so until the new growth takes over.

Thr plant I am enjoying the most in the garden this month is Nandino – it has beautiful pink tinged foliage and red berries.

Nandino