Thursday, 15 August 2013

Plants still in Pots

After planting Hydrangea serrata 'Waterfall' in the garden last year and watching it sulk, I dug it up and stuck it in a large pot, thinking it might not be everything I had hoped for when I bought it. Perhaps it knew it was under threat, as this summer it has put out some truly pretty flowers. If I can find the right place this time, it's going to be a keeper after all.

I also had a rose cutting that spent last year quietly growing in a dim corner and clothing itself in small, neat, immaculate foliage. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember what it was or where I'd got it. This year, it bloomed with exquisite little pink flowers and I recognised it immediately.

It's called 'Immensée' these days, but I knew it as 'Grouse', one of a series of groundcover roses all with English bird names. As far as I know, I had the only plant in BC, which I had planted in the gravel outside the front gate of our former farm. When we drove by the old place a couple of years ago, it was thriving still, and I snitched a cutting so that I could have it again myself. I have no idea where I can put it in the garden, but I think it might do very well trailing from a larger pot, at least for the time being. One of its parents is 'The Fairy', a compact little plant, but the other is a huge rambler. Considering that plus its official name, it might soon overwhelm even a large pot. We'll see.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Looking Like a Garden

Plants that I bought two years ago when I was starting this garden are showing their maturity this year. As they came into bloom in July, a number of them actually filled the space I'd allotted to them. Although there's still quite a bit of bare earth, it's hardly visible from some angles.

Of course, the annual poppies are a great space-filler, but a few of the shrubs and perennials are doing well too, like white Hydrangea quercifolia 'Sikes' Dwarf' and purple-leafed Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'.

In the background are the purple flowers of a Monarda that I think might be 'Donnerwolke'. The hot pink is Phlox 'Starfire'. From a distance it's hard to see its leaves, which are as dark as those of the Eupatorium. In the mid-ground there is a single stem of Lilium regale, which deserves a close-up.

And so does 'Beni-Gaku', still my favourite hydrangea.

The whole plant of 'Beni-Gaku' is lovely at this time of year as the colour of the older flowers begins to deepen to a soft brick red, matching the tones of the leaves, while the younger flowers continue to be a mix of lipstick-pink, white and blue.

In the background is a young tree hydrangea, Hydrangea aspera sbsp. sargentiana, which will eventually tower over everything else.

After two and a half years of patience, my long-awaited lavender hedge along the front sidewalk has finally become a reality.

 It's amazing how many people pause to enjoy it. One day I spied two little girls running their hands along the row and then through their hair. Too cute.
This area is a challenge because the roots of the street trees suck all the moisture out of the ground. At the same time, their canopy casts shade over it for part of the day, while the rest of the time it is in morning or strong afternoon sun. In winter, the sun is so low that the shadow of the house puts it in all-day shade. The lavender has coped well, although I notice it's a little less vigorous right underneath the closest tree.
Since I took the photo above, the flowers have died and I've clipped the bushes back hard.

This is the first of two clips it will get. The second one will be after it has leafed out with new growth, when I'll tidy it a bit more to even out the line.

I've tried various plants behind it, the most successful being my two compact little daphnes, Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance', either side of the path to the steps.  (They are not dramatic plants to look at, but walk by and the perfume stops you in your tracks)...

...and two thistle relatives: Echinops 'Taplow Blue' and Eryngium giganteum (Miss Wilmott's Ghost), see my post of  August 7, 2012 for photos. I got around to photos a bit too late this year. Even so, I rather like the bumblebee on the dying heads of 'Taplow Blue'.

All these plants prefer poor, dry soil.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy', which seems able to cope with just about any conditions, is doing well just behind the daphnes.

The pink flower in front is a verbascum, also content with its location. It may not last because it breaks my rule of "no untidy plants". In its favour, it's been blooming for months with the help of some deadheading along the way.

The bed of thyme near the back door that Michael planted with several different varieties has filled in nicely this year. I've put our rusty metal kookaburra, a gift from cousin Sal, in there to provide a little extra interest.

Also at the back, our new pergola is now fairly well covered in runner beans.

The beans are a temporary measure until I can get the more permanent vines I want.They hide the new house next door, and especially its large outside air conditioner/heat exchanger which is very close to our fence. Unfortunately, the screen doesn't do anything for the noise of this object, so we are looking into various sound-proofing options. The owners claim they don't hear the noise (!), so any solution will have to be on our side.

In the middle of the back garden Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde' is doing a fine job once again in our rusty urn.

I'm increasingly fond of this unusual version of mosquito grass. You can see why it has its common name with all its little "mosquitoes" flying at the top of those airy stems. In the species, these are dark grey-brown and look more like their namesakes – a good reason to prefer 'Blonde' even if its way of catching the light wasn't enough.