Tuesday, 21 August 2012

August observations

We are three weeks into August already and 'Betty Corning' on the back fence is only just losing its flowers.

I took this photo two weeks ago, amazed that it was still blooming since it's been going strong for almost three months. It's not easy to photograph the whole vine as my automatic camera tends to focus anywhere but on the right spot. However, it's great for a close-up:

 This is a fragrant clematis which is one reason I chose it for a location by the back steps where we are always coming and going. I had not, however, expected it to have such a long flowering season.
 On the other side of the steps are two blueberry bushes and, on the right, the flowering currant I recently moved from lower in the garden to this prominent position, where I hope it will be more visible to any passing hummingbird.

Since the photo, the currant has objected to the midsummer move by turning brown, but I didn't want to move it in winter when it is preparing to flower. It's a tough plant and will survive.
The fence behind the bushes is host to another clematis, 'Huldine', which is just coming into flower as 'Betty' fades:

There are only two of these exquisite pearly-white flowers so far, but many buds yet to open.
 Two non-clinging species clematis have also been adding to the garden:

Clematis integrifolia


                                                                  Clematis recta

The former sprawls around the feet of 'Huldine', while the latter decorates one pillar of the back porch with a little discreet help from garden twine.
All of these clematis are herbaceous and can be tidied up at the end of the year by cutting down to a foot or so of hardly noticeable twigs.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Success with vegetables

Our new vegetable patch has begun to be productive, with green onions, peas, beans and broccoli all demanding to be harvested.

The raised beds are proving very successful.

 You can almost see that patch of corn at the back getting taller every day.

In fact, since I took these photos the beans have sprung up the fence and are waving above the top rail, and the lettuce-leaf basil has finally decided that it is hot enough to begin to grow. Only our second crop of lettuce has stalled in the heat and may have to be replanted when the temperature drops back to our normal cool.

The view from my desk into the back garden has changed in two years from this

to this:

Of course, there's still a lot to do. That patch of grass on the left has to be turned into more garden beds, and there is still quite a bit of brown earth elsewhere waiting for the right plants to cover it. However, brown earth itself is a great improvement over buttercups and other weeds that were providing much of the green in the early photo.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

More plants

It's hydrangea time. I'm becoming more addicted to hydrangeas since I discovered how many alternatives to coarse-leaved mopheads there are in the family. I have a young H. serrata hybrid called 'Waterfall' that has put out one bloom this year.

As it ages, the greenish-white petals are slowly becoming suffused with ice-blue. The leaves are rather coarse but they are a good sharp green that sets off the flowers very nicely. If it blooms more profusely next year, I think it will earn its place.

A close relative of 'Waterfall' is still in a pot, but it too has produced one flower. I'm not sure I like the colour...

because it's too lush a pink, especially for a plant called 'Purple Tiers'. I think I'll move it to a larger pot, add some aluminum sulphate to push it towards blue tones, and see what happens next year before giving it garden space.

My tree hydrangea that I hope will eventually dominate the northeast garden bed is, however, living up to expectations. I love the crisp look of the flowerheads...

 ...and the big velvet-textured leaves.

None of these new additions has supplanted 'Beni-gaku' as my favourite, and that's not surprising when its combination of beautiful foliage and delicate flowers is so exquisite.

Elsewhere, a couple of thistle relatives are looking dramatic in the dry part of the front garden. One is Eryngium giganteum aka Miss Wilmott's Ghost.

Miss Wilmott, a rich, eccentric Englishwoman, so liked this plant that she used to secretly scatter seed in other people's gardens. Its mysterious arrival following a visit from her led to its unusual nickname.

On the other side of the front path competition comes from Echinops ritro 'Taplow Blue'. Both plants have a metallic sheen that makes them almost pulsate in the summer sunshine.

What they both need is more companions to cover the bare earth at their feet. I'm still contemplating candidates for that job.
Meanwhile my lavender hedge in front of them has become a reality. I've just clipped off the dead flowers and, with the exception of a couple of plants under the canopy of the street maple, they've now grown together, just as I had hoped, to form a continuous line along the sidewalk.

 Slowly I am making progress.