Saturday, 14 June 2014

Up Front

I tend to focus on my back garden as that's the sunny side and the side I look out at most often from inside the house. However, the street side is looking much more filled in this year too. My lavender hedge has flourished and is right against the sidewalk now, full of buds that will open in the next couple of weeks. Behind it, the red peonies I moved from the back garden have settled in nicely.

The house makes a good backdrop for a tree hydrangea just coming into bud and, on the far right, the lovely grey foliage and small pink flowers of Rosa glauca.

Because it's so shady, most of this corner relies on foliage for effect, so even small flowers have a significant impact.

On the other side of the front steps, also in considerable shade, the leaves of Heuchera 'Marmalade' outshine its small cream flowers. Their red stems complement the flowers of Dicentra 'Valentine' in the background.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Everything in the Garden's Lovely

Everyone I've spoken to agrees: this spring has seen just the right combination of sunshine and rain to encourage plants to do their best. Gardens are brimming with enthusiastic
flowers and foliage.
Peonies have been magnificent, and 'Festiva Maxima' has filled my garden with the fragrance of its big white blooms splashed with crimson.

My unknown reds have been spectacular too,

while the pinks, having waited respectfully for the others to finish, are now producing a succession of ruffled flowers.

More pink and red shows up in 'Rosa Mundi', one of my favourite Old Garden Roses.

Another rose, 'Ghislaine de FĂ©ligonde' is weighed down by so many trusses of flowers that it's bursting through the back fence and trailing into the lower garden.

 Back in May it was already promising this profusion with a huge number of buds in each spray.

Even the shadiest corners of the garden are flickering with more subtle colour.

 I love the contrasting black stems and grass-green leaves of Hydrangea nigra in the foreground,

and farther back the starry white flowers of Gillenia trifoliata against the chocolate foliage of Actaea 'Hillside Black Beauty'.

Just peeking in to the left side of the main photo are the yellow flowers of Aquilegia longissimum, which look to me like small yellow squid navigating through their ocean of air.

Since it's a species, I'm hoping to collect some seeds to share with my gardening friends.

Another shady specimen that is pleasing me is a dwarf rhododendron. I've always delighted in being somewhat anti-rhododendron in this rhododendron-mad part of the world, but 'Little Vixen', a gift from my friend Dana, has such wonderful foliage, I can't help but love it. From above, it appears to have quite ordinary crisp green leaves, but the indumentum (that fuzzy stuff on the undersides) is a striking velvety plum colour. The only way to appreciate it is to have it as close to eye-level as possible so I've plunked it in the middle of a birdbath (which wasn't very attractive anyway and is now the perfect pedestal.)

I can't help noticing how many birds and bees have been attracted to the garden this year with so much bounty to offer in nectar and pollen. Both a visiting hummingbird and all the bees are particularly attracted to Nectaroscordum siculum, an onion relative with pale striped flowers.

The bees are also keen on a very pretty crimson and silver clover I've acquired.

Scrambling through oakleaf hydrangea 'Sikes' Dwarf', Clematis 'Durandii' uses the bright foliage of the hydrangea as a backdrop for its intensely blue flowers. 'Durandii' is one of the non-clinging types of clematis, needing some kind of twiggy partner for its stems to flop onto. It will be gone before the hydrangea's own white flowers open.

What all of this means is that the first part of the garden that I tackled is now looking pretty filled in. Such gaps as there are tend to be along the edges and I plan to seek out more low-growing but well-behaved little plants to fill these in. Overall, however, I'm pleased at how the garden is maturing.

Monday, 2 June 2014

April Flowers

We have just returned from four weeks in England and the change in the garden during that month has been amazing.
Before we left, in the last week of April, I was photographing the spring bloomers like my favourite tulip 'Spring Green'.

I like it so much not only for its crisp green and cream stripes, but also for its longevity. Other tulips I've planted last two to three years at most, but 'Spring Green' just keeps coming back as strong as ever every spring.

Muscari latifolium is another bi-coloured bulb that was blooming in April.

Like all the grape hyacinths, this one will seed itself around as long as I leave the seed pods alone. I'm hoping for a swathe of these under our old plum tree in a few years.
The same is my plan for a little wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa 'Allenii'. Of course I bought it for its name, but it's a pretty little ground cover for a shady spot.

Hostas were breaking ground by April and 'American Halo' was lighting up another dark corner.

Slugs are less attracted to its thick blue and cream leaves than to some of the other, more fragile hostas. Unfortunately since I took this photo, it's been hidden behind perennials that were scarcely visible a month ago. When it's dormant this winter, I'll move it further forward in the bed.

Finally, the day before we left,  Paeonia obovata 'Alba' opened two lovely flowers among its milk-chocolate-coloured leaves.

When I fell in love with this plant, it was quite expensive to purchase one ready to flower. I had to be content with a very young specimen that came with a warning it would take three years to reach blooming size. Part of the pleasure of gardening for me is anticipation, so I was prepared to wait. It's been worth it!

Next up: the garden at the end of May