A walk around the garden May 2018 – Iris paradise.

As I mentioned in my post on Monday; on my return from Amsterdam to see the tulips my own garden had exploded into full growth mode.

When I left tulips were still looking amazing and there were buds forming on the bearded Iris.  Now all the tulips are just a memory and the Irises are in their full glory. Continue reading

GBFD – Spring Sings, March 2014

There is a definite feeling of spring in the air; it isn’t that the temperatures are higher than before; it is the light levels that sign out that winter is over and spring is here!

There are new blooms opening almost every day now, but it isn’t the principle reason that the garden is telling me it is spring; new shoots, new foliage and changes in colour of foliage plus that hard to describe ‘fullness’ even of evergreen plants announce that though there is still time for some cold weather (last year we had a very cold spring even into May) there is now no stopping the relentless urge for plants to grow, flower and reproduce themselves. Continue reading

GBBD – Spring has arrived

So the first Bloomday of spring is here!  Even though our winter here in Italy has been mercifully mild (maybe too mild, I saw a locust the other day – not a good sign) it is still a good feeling to know that spring is here and soon there will be no fear of very cold nights doing any damage to new crops planted outside. Continue reading

GBBD – April – the sun shines and the flowers bloom

The sun shone for 3 days during the last week and so many flowers began to bloom I have been walking around the garden open mouthed at how quickly everything is growing.  The Quince tree went from bare branches to a few leaves, to full foliage plus blossom in about 4 days.

Today I will let the images speak for themselves and try to post about individual treasures over the next couple of weeks.

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I apologise for the lack of spaces between the images but uploading them together was my only option.

What I can tell you is that I am walking around with the biggest smile on my face with the joy that spring has at last arrived.  I hope it will arrive soon with you or if you’re drifting into autumn (which can I know be like a second spring in hot climates I hope you are enjoying the season.  Happy GBBD to you all.

Visit Carol MayDreansGardens for more Bl0om day insights.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2012 New Beginnings

Almost everything is now dressed in its new fresh foliage for spring.  Even evergreens like Box are covered with bright green leaves, a reminder to me that they should ideally be pruned into shape now so that they still have some time, before the really hot weather and their summer dormancy, to grow.  This is the first time they have put on so much new growth; a good friend has a theory that the sharp cold weather we had in February has shocked some shrubs into producing for new foliage and more flowers this year.

April is the month when the most change happens most quickly in the garden.  Despite there being a large number of flowers now it is still the foliage that does the biggest job in making the garden look full and lush.

Looking between the circular rose bed and small island to the formal beds and to the right the back boundary border.

I think of spring as being green, but many plants produce bronze or other coloured leaves before they turn green.  This, as in autumn, is a defensive mechanism to protect the tender new leaves from the strong sun and maybe also the startling changes in temperature that often occur in spring.

I love the delicate colour of the walnut tree leaves, it is probably its most attractive just as its leaves unfurl.

When we moved here a good percentage of the boundary hedge was composed of Photinia, it is a shrub that I used to dismiss as being rather boring.  It is widely used here, as once established it is very tolerant of summer drought.  It also doesn’t mind the strong winds, either cold winter Tramontana or hot summer from the not so distant sea.  The foliage in spring reflects the colour of my favourite tulips ‘Brown Sugar’ and the new foliage growth of Rosa Westerland.  It also gave a interesting contrast when there were a large number of white tulips in the formal beds.  When their flowers open they are an attraction to the bees who love the strange perfume (I’m not so sure I like it).

New growth of R. Westerland with Photinia in the background

I happened on a post the other day written by The sproutling writes all about how she loves roses for their foliage more than their flowers!

Hostas are spiralling out of the ground, their new leaves pushing through the soil where a few days before I had wondered if they had survived the winter as there was nothing at all to see.

Hostas are just amazing the way they push their leaves through the soil and then unfurl. There are more Hostas on the slide-show

The silver-leaved plants sparkle in the sun and they are creating some lovely combination with purple sedum, Rosa Rubrifolia and Cotinus.  Dark Heuchera contrasts with Festuca glauca.

Heuchera obsidion with Festuca glauca

Purple sedum with Artemisia pontica

Here are some images that illustrate what happens to when a silver-leaved plant gets wet.  The hairs on the leaves get wet and don’t reflect light in the same way; result the leaf appears green.

When dry they look like this - silvery

When wet, they appear green

With macro, you can see why.

Actually the leaves ARE green and appear silver because of the hairs not the other way around as I described above.

Please click on the image below of Rosa rubrifolia to see the rest of the foliage in My Hesperides Garden today.

Did you spot the wasp making its nest in the middle of the Lavender?

All are most welcome to join in GBFD, just leave a comment and a link to your post (or wordpress will do it for you).  Happy Gardening!

GBFD Emerging from the snow

For a couple of weeks there hasn’t been much foliage visible in My Hesperides Garden; snow buried everything but now green is emerging from white and colour returns to the garden.

Prostrate rosemary, even more prostrate than usual

Snow can damage evergreen plants; pushing down the branches; the box were splayed open.  I wanted to brush the snow away and take the weight off the stems but the branches were also very brittle in the freezing temperatures and I didn’t want it to be me to cause the damage.

The beautiful early foliage of Cerinthe is more obvious than its flowers

There are new leaves on the evergreen Eleagnus

The evergreen shrubs I planted are now beginning to give the structure I wanted to the planting.  In summer with herbaceous plants flowering they tend to fade into the background but in winter with, or without, the snow they add form, mass and height to the borders.  I like the solid form of this Eleagnus  – it has formed this shape naturally, I haven’t pruned it to make it solid.  If possible I choose plants that will grow into a beautiful shape naturally as I’m not keen on plants that have been pruned to death!

Today the 21st the sun is shining and the temperature has risen significantly, from hardly topping zero centigrade to today’s warm 10 or more in the sun degrees.

Euphorbia rigida is anything but rigid but coloured bracts are beginning to turn their faces to the sun and suddenly it feels that spring will be here soon.

Euphorbia rigida

Euphorbia misenites is growing already

Fresh new sedum foliage

There is new foliage emerging from under the dead stems of sedum, I will have to remove the old stems and I will lift and divide the plants that are very large to increase their numbers; I would like to mass-plant some Sedum onto the bank.

Libertii peligrins is at last bulking up

Green and glossy Acanthus leaves under the Mulberry

Now that the snow has nearly disappeared I have found some blooms that weren’t visible on GBBD but in February it isn’t the blooms that make the garden interesting or that tempt me outside on an icy morning it is the beauty of the foliage that attracts.  I admit that what pleases me most is that it is still light at 17.32 and will be for another half hour, and the beautifully marbled leaf of Huchera ‘Plum Pudding’

Huchera 'Plum Pudding'

What foliage is giving you pleasure at the moment?  Do leave a comment and link to your post on foliage this month.  It can be about just one plant or your whole garden, whatever you like.

Is it autumn or spring?

The weather continues to play tricks on the garden – the plants are confused; is it spring? Certainly the roses, Hemerocallis and Photinia think it is; even the Quercia ilix have put on considerable new growth in the last few weeks, the colour of the new foliage is very obvious.

A bright green halo of new growth on the holm oak

R. Rhapsody in Blue also smells wonderful when I pass

R. mutabilis

Rosa mutabilis hasn’t had as many flowers as this since spring.

Hemerocallis are full of flower

Hemerocallis are full of flower creating the same combination as in spring with R. Molineux – this is the rose that really does believe it is spring it has so many flowers and buds I can hardly believe how lovely it looks.

R. Molineux is pure yellow again, in summer it was apricot coloured

R. China rose is growing so well; I had decided to move it but it is now growing so well I don’t want to risk losing it, perhaps it would be better to take some cuttings and when I know I have a safety net I can risk moving the parent plant.

Cerinthe major purpurascens certainly thinks it is spring or at least not autumn as sometimes it does flower very early in the year when it is still winter.


On the other hand, the walnuts and fig  have now lost most of their leaves so they know that winter is not so far away.

autumn grasses, red new growth on the Photinia, no leaves on the walnut and fig, Perovskia flowering again

All the grasses are doing what is expected of them in autumn – that is looking wonderful with the low sunlight shining through them.

Miscanthus with Abutilon in the background

The strawberries are still providing a few tasty mouthfuls and the flowers promise more to come.

Rain has fallen this week, but more as April showers than the heavy rain of autumn (we have been lucky, you will have seen on the news the terrible floods that there have been in Liguria, Tuscany and in Torino); but the temperatures have remained very mild, still no need for central heating, so the question remains “Is it Spring or is it Autumn?”.


Spring is springing

Last week for GBBD there were quite a few flowers in the garden but apart from Arabis nothing was actually bursting with flower.  Even the Muscari that were all up somehow looked like they weren’t sure if they really wanted to be out yet, as these still look at the back of the house which in shade for a lot of the day during winter, are now standing tall.

Muscari in the shade, still very small

These in the triangular rose bed are much taller, I pruned back a pale pink Penstemon to be able to see them better.

Those under the olives I thought would be invisible because we haven’t cut the grass yet have grown taller than the grass.  I love these bulbs under the olives and would like to plant other things but because of the danger of fire we have to cut the wild flowers and grass back before summer so other things tend to get lost – I even love all the bright yellow dandelion type weeds.

There are more daffodils, but not as many as I would like

Clematis armandii had some flowers a week ago but is now completed cover.ed by starry white blooms so that you can hardly see the foliage. This is the view from the sitting room window.

Clematis armandii

I used to grow this in England but it was always ravaged by snails who seemed to think its stem and leaves were caviar.

The greenhouse is here and was erected amazingly efficiently in just 4 hours, almost more quickly than the time it took to build the foundations.  I think it looks like its always been here, the way it sits between the olives.

I have already planted 4 tomatoes (pacchino) and some lettuces – they all doubled in size during the 3 days I was away.  I also transplanted 3 of the tomatoes into pots from their modules so that hopefully they will be larger established plants by the time I can plant them outside towards the middle/end of next month.   I have also sown seeds; some basil, parsley, courgettes (all old seed so may not grow) and Swiss Chard Bright Lights (I can’t buy these here as plug plants so I buy the seed in the UK when I’m there); they should grow well here as normal green chard is very popular.

The very first seeds I sowed were Knautia Macedonia sent to me by Janet at Plantalicious.

Strawberry bed

I planted 30 strawberry plants (bare rooted) on 9th March; you can hardly see them in the photo as they were quite small.  Now the leaves are growing well and they stand above the nasty black plastic.

Where you can see the black irrigation pipes I’ve now sown some dwarf beans.

Garden Bloggers Bloomday, March 2011

This month the garden is really coming back to life.  Not just individual flowers are blooming but areas of the garden are beginning to form ‘pictures’.

Large Island bed

Euphorbia myrsinites


Euphorbia rigida

The first ‘stream’ to flower on the slope was prostrate rosemary

Prostrate Rosemary

and now the Muscari planted here are beginning to look as I imagined they would.

A stream of Muscari

Looking down from the top of the slope

Daffodils begin late here, I think that is because they need a period of cold to prompt them into growth and that doesn’t happen until December or January in this part of Italy.  In fact these tulips were open even before the daffodils!  They are the sign that spring really is here (this morning it was 10° at 6.30 whereas last week the temperature was hovering around zero at that time of the morning and for much of the morning.

Daffodils by the drive

There are a couple of surprise plants flowering all be it just a couple of flowers; this tiny, flowered Geranium began flowering last week – it is spreading very slowly under Rosa Tradescant, and a prostrate Ceonothus that I want to propagate to have as more excellent ground cover on the slope.

Ceaonothus repans

Another plant I didn’t expect to be flowering was this Buddleia Silver Anniversary

nor this little succulent bravely searched for the sun today with its tiny crimson petals

Viburnum tinus

Viburnum tinus is just beginning to open its tight pale pink buds – this is another plant that behaves entirely differently in Italy to the UK.  I always considered it a great value plant; flowering from October to spring, evergreen foliage always looking good and some nice black berries in summer if you’re lucky – here, though it flowers in March for about one month then the dead flowers and the foliage look horrendous for about 2 months and although it is evergreen it doesn’t exactly fill the heart with joy during the winter. Let me know how this plant grows in your garden in your part of the world.

Long flowering Lonicera fragrantissima is still perfuming the air right by the drive where it welcomes us home as we get out of the car.  I think it will be over by next month’s Bloomday, as it isn’t a beautiful plant during summer I will try to think of a suitable small scrambler to flower over it during the summer months, sadly not clematis as they need too much water – maybe some kind of annual would be interesting.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Clematis armandii began flowering with a few tentative blooms a couple of weeks, now many of the buds are open; last weekend in the high winds the tendrils looked like they were tenaciously hanging on for grim death to the supporting wires today they are happily opening more buds.

Periwinkle adds a blue note to the bottom of the bay hedge.

Arabis spreads its white flowers like a flurry of snow under the pomegranate towards Box balls.

Seed grown Arabis

Teucrium continues to bloom and grow.  This is a plant that does very well and is useful as it is lovely and airy if left to grow unchecked or will become a strong form if tightly pruned into a ball or I’ve  also seen it beautifully grown as a serpentine hedge (now where could I plant one of those?).

Teucrium fruticans

This morning the sun is slowly breaking through the cloud and I need to finish cutting back and tying in the Raspberries – yes, I know I’m very late doing this but better late than never.

Thanks as usual to Carol at Maydreams garden for hosting GBBD for March, take a look at what’s flowering in gardens all over the world by visting her.

Signs of Spring

Today has been bitterly cold again; too cold to work outside but I di walk around the garden very quickly and discovered that things are beginning to happen.

1st flower of Clematis armandii

Clematis armandii has opened its first flower, this was low down, and probably getting some protection from the pillar and Rosa Clair Martin that is growing strongly, pushing out new shoots. It was planted in autumn 2009 and is now beginning to inch its way across netting on the pergola around the house.

Muscari under the olives and in beds around the garden are now flowering, not just the odd one or two brave individuals as it was on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Rather satisfyingly, buds on Wisteria profuse are enlarging after the plants were pruned in January; they now promise flowers, when I’m not sure, either the end of March or beginning of April?

I love Wisteria and dream of when the whole pergola will be covered and dripping with flowers.

I think that it is this ‘promise’ of things to come that make me love gardening so much, without the buds and shoots it would feel so much like it was still the middle of winter rather than the beginning of spring.