A walk around the spring garden, but what’s missing?

Regular follows of my posts may wonder why I haven’t been posting every day to show you the development of my treasured wisteria.  Usually it is in full flower by the end of March and here we are in the middle of April and still I haven’t shared any images with you. Continue reading

April 22nd 2016 Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day

Welcome to Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day for April; I hope you will join me in exploring the virtues of good foliage planting in the garden this month.

I have been wondering what foliage I would feature in today’s post; looking through my images there wasn’t one that didn’t have some colour from flowers and although I have often written about the key part foliage plays in supporting the flowering plants that isn’t what I want to focus on today. Continue reading

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.

GBBD June – Looking for shade

Another GBBD has arrived; each seems to arrive so quickly now that there is so much activity in the garden.  Thanks to Carol at Maydreams for hosting this meme.  Pay her a visit to see what’s blooming in early summer or early winter (depending on which hemisphere) around the world today.

At last it’s hot, well today it is hot but the weather has been anything but consistent, rain, wind, cool nights, more wind and yet more wind that has been late May and up to now in June.  But the days are hot enough that when I want to sit outside during the day I am so grateful that the wisteria is filling out and the front terrace is in dappled shade.  A bonus is that the wisteria is flowering again profusely; I always think that the first flowers of spring are larger, but no, this year there are long racemes of delicately perfumed blooms hanging down under the canopy of shade giving foliage.

I tied in some of the new growth and pruned out tendriles that I didn’t want yesterday

The colours in the garden are heating-up; from pinks and purples to oranges, yellows and crimson.  I spoke about the gold of the small island a couple of days ago but gold and burnt orange aren’t restricted to that bed, they creep into the most surprising places, especially the Californian poppies which seed themselves charmingly into all the right places.

Just like the sun, yellow and gold!

The Salvia behind this is almost the same colour.

Tall, Hemerocallis

But there are so many blooms demanding my attention, click on the image below to see all the blooms in My Hesperides Garden today, they’re not all orange!

Looking accross the upper drive bed to the large island

Peonies at Easter

On Sunday I went to visit the local specialist in peonies.  There are fields and fields of peonies that they not only sell as plants but in a range of cosmetics.  As it looks as if something has eaten the buds on mine I’ll share these with you instead.

Click on the photo below to see a vast array.

The Roses Begin, in a small way

The weekend offered, again some glorious weather, although unseasonably hot.  The tulips will not last very long this year; already T. Brown Sugar and Negrita are losing their petals.  I wanted to share the joy the tulips give me so I invited lots of friends to come to visit the garden.  Gardeners and not all enjoyed the show.  Fringed, Parrots, and even Lilly shaped are pretty much unknown so I was repeatedly asked if “this one” was also a tulip.  Some were surprised that they didn’t need watering during the summer and others unbelieving when I said that watering in summer actually stops them flowering for a second year.  It is the third year for the white flowers in the formals beds and I think they actually look better this year than in the past, so I am back to toying with the idea of planting more in the other 2 beds this autumn.  Maybe I could plant T. Swans Wings to add a little variation – Fringed varieties usually repeat well.

Looking down from my bedroom window

Above: looking out accross the garden from the terrace.

When we were looking for houses to buy we saw one that had an ancient wisteria on a pergola over the terrace; we were both so bowled over we nearly bought the house even though the house so terrible and probably needed to be pulled down.  But it meant that when we found this house putting in a terrace and building a pergola were very high on the list of priorities.  The pergola was finished in autumn 2008 and even before the builders had left I had planted wisteria on two sides of the house.  I have to admit that the  four white ones have never done so well, being planted on the north east side of the house.  This year they seemed full of bud, but yet again I am disappointed, the birds have pecked out almost every single bud, see more about this here.

This is what is left of the long racemes

Wisteria prolific planted on the pillars facing south have also been damaged, first by the birds and now by the huge black carpenter bees that scatter the petals to the ground, frenzied by the perfume of the flowers

Walking along the terrace the perfume is so strong I think we would find it impossible to sit here for very long; but sadly this show will also be over all too quickly, leaving the delicious shade we also desire as the foliage fills out and later smaller, less intensely perfumed flowers, that are hidden amongst the leaves.

The garden is looking full of growth and probably more colourful than I’ve ever seen, I must admit that my breath is taken away sometimes when I turn a corner or catch sight of something from a different angle.

Crab apple in foreground

Both the crab apples are full of blossom this year, I’m pretty sure that this is due to the cold winter; apples need cold during the winter months to flower well.  Last year after a wet but mild winter there were hardly any flowers and of course, very little fruit.

Happy accident with bright Californian poppies and scarlet tulips.

Last year the first roses were flowering at the end of March, this year despite it being so hot for much of the last month the first rose didn’t bloom until Sunday 10th April.

The first rose - Stanwell Perpetual

Followed today by this delicate looking, but actually very tough rose. Grown by a friend as a cutting I’m not 100% sure of its name, maybe china pink (but that’s surely a tulip!)

To finish something I think will make you smile or maybe cringe!

Would you buy these?

Yesterday I went to my seed and plug plant provider, more about this soon.  It could only happen here in Italy where the countryside is scoured for tasty leaves to add to a salad, but would you really want to BUY dandelion seeds?????????????

&©Copyright 2011
All rights reserved.
Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.

Evening Light

The other day Helen the Patient Gardener wrote about realizing she had chosen a huge amount plants with white flowers; I commented that maybe she had subconsciously known that she would mainly see her garden when she arrived home from work and that white flowers add something very special to the garden as the light fails. White becomes luminous.

This evening I arrived home just before that moment; but with a Campari and the new issue of my Italian gardening magazine (yes, it arrived on the 8th of the month!) I sat enjoying the last rays of the sun and watched as most flowers lost their colour to the dusk, but White Dream Tulips in the central beds shone as if each had a light bulb inside it.  Other white flowers also glowed: Choisya ternate, Convolvulus cneorum, a crab apple that didn’t flower at all last year is covered with delicate blooms that promise a good amount of fruit in the autumn (NO, I’m not wishing away spring and summer!) and in the background of one of the images I spotted the first flowers of Viburnum mariesii, that also didn’t seem to flower last year, but maybe I missed it.  It has grown enormously in the 3 years since I planted.  I love the form of its layered branches and the beautiful pleated leaves as they open, it was a present from my mother in law and I think of her whenever I look at this part of the garden, under the white mulberry, as she very generously bought all the plants for this difficult dry, shady situation.

Formal beds with Tulip White Dream, you can just see the Choisya

Convolvulus cneorum

Crab Apple

Viburnum mariesii is top right in the image

On Wordless Wednesday I posted about Tulip Brown Sugar, sadly with the very hot weather we’ve been having and the gale force winds it is already going over, but a lovely discovery is that it also dies beautifully – always an added bonus in a flower.

Tulip Brown Sugar

I hope you are able to enjoy your garden at dusk and I hope you have at least a few white blooms to illuminate the garden.

&copyCopyright 2011
All rights reserved.
Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.

The tulips have begun – yeah!!!!!!!!!

I love tulips.  I spend all winter just waiting to see how my choices will look.

With last week’s weather being more like summer than spring (yesterday it was too hot to work in the middle of the day) – the tulips are all flowering together.  Single earlies and single lates all together so I know I don’t usually just post images but please just indulge me in this.

T. Double Dazzle, they do too!

T. West Point

T. Dordogne

T. Parrot type Rococo

T. Peach Blossom - they are very short but amazing

T.White Swan

T. Brown Sugar - good enough to eat

.....and looking in the other direction

T. White Dream in the formal beds

And then of course there is the Wisteria, my other favourite flower.  I have been watching the buds get fatter and fatter.  But the bisrds have done this to two plants (plus all the 4 white wisteria):

This is how the others look:

and like this:

Finally I saw a butterfly feeding on Viburnum Carlessii; from a distance I thought it was a Peacock, then close too I wasn’t so sure, the colours weren’t as vivid as is usual, then on third thoughts I do think its a peacock but one that has over-wintered as an adult and is very much the worse for wear.  what do you think?

&copyCopyright 2011
All rights reserved.
Content created by Christina for
My Hesperides Garden.