Thursday, 26 May 2011

Plant progress

Out in the front yard, a couple of little vignettes are giving us pleasure right now.

One is Salix nakamura var. yezoalpina (sorry, but it doesn't have a common name). What I like about this little willow is that it looks like a bonsai, but in fact this is how it grows naturally - no human intervention required. I also like its ability to be decorative in all seasons. In fall, when its leaves turn yellow, and in winter when the shape of the bare branches is most visible, I will be photographing it again.

On the other side of the front path is a clump of 'Queen of Night' tulips with a single taller white one for contrast.

It looks better from other angles, but for a photo this is the only perspective with a  background against which the black tulips are visible.
I actually planted these bulbs here to mark and protect a tiny variegated dogwood, so that I didn't accidentally step on it before it leafed out. Its slightly curly leaves are just visible now through the tulip foliage.

Continuing progress outside

The backyard paving is now complete. Even with so few plantings, the space is beginning to look like a garden.

Next year I'll hope to have more than a cluster of tulips in bloom.

A little demolition

A relatively useless kitchen cupboard built into the wall beside the chimney is going to be replaced with a cabinet and open shelves. In preparation for this, Michael tore it out and also removed plaster from the chimney itself to expose the bricks.

An early wallpaper is still on the back wall,

as well as remnants of a stick-on paper in what I'd guess to be a '60s pattern.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The shady corner

Back in my post of October 31st, 2010 I recorded planting  Enkianthus perulatus, and photographed its vibrant fall colours. It has now decked itself in spring green and a sprinkling of little white bells adorns its branches.

They look a bit like the clusters of bloom on the common Pieris, but viewed in close up are more delicate, less waxy.

An even closer image shows that ants like these flowers too. I didn't realize they were there until I looked closely at the photograph. Now I'm wondering if they are the pollinators of choice for this plant; the opening does not seem large enough for a bee, and it blooms too early for butterflies and moths.

Underneath, Beesia alternifolia is making a fine show. It appears to have doubled in size compared with my October photograph.This must truly be one of the best new foliage plants to become available, both for elegant leaf shape and subtle colouring.

Just in front of it, I've  planted a deep purple hellebore. I do hope that in future years it will hold those flowers higher above the fresh foliage.

 On the other side of the front yard, I planted a batch of 'Queen of Night' tulips, which are also in flower. There's nothing else in their vicinity yet except some emerging phlox foliage in the background, so they look a bit orphaned. By next year I hope they'll have more companions.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Meanwhile, in the Backyard...

...the pear tree is in full bloom. We had almost no fruit last year, but if these blossoms are any indication, this year will compensate.  I just hope the few sunny days we've had have given bees an opportunity to pollinate it.

Looking at it from the house reveals the progress of Michael's paving project.

He has almost completed it, but rain and gloom yet again mean I haven't taken any more pictures.

Willows settle in

We have acquired a few rocks to give some definition to the front yard, and spent some days shoving them around to achieve a configuration that pleased both of us.

 That done, my two alpine willows finally had a home. Salix nakamurana var. yezolpina (quite a mouthful for a smallish plant) already looks natural against this background. The rock highlights its fuzzy catkins and the fleecy edges to its young leaves.

Earlier in the year, when it was just breaking into leaf, it looked even more woolly:

Salix helvetica is still quite tiny,

but has a few catkins putting on a brave show this year.

I'm pleased with how well the flecks of red in the rock complement the flowers - an unexpected bonus.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Spring tulips

This cool, wet weather has gone on so long that I was beginning to think my tulips would never open. One warm sunny day was all it took.

Here's my pot of orange 'Ballerina' tulips paired with purple 'Queen of Night'. (The result is more gaudy than I had anticipated: I thought the grape hyacinths - the small blue flowers with the lighter blue topknots - would have finished blooming by the time the tulips opened.

Tulipa turkestanica, also in a pot, is an airy and delicate contrast.

'Spring Green' went directly into the garden. I hope it will look better in future years when it is not alone in a patch of bare earth.

Postscript: Overnight the weather changed back to rain. Today all these flowers are tightly closed.

Another colourful house

Last September I put up some photos of houses to demonstrate that ours is not your run-of-the-mill, bland neighbourhood.
Here's one more.