Posted in gardener's jottings

Countdown in June

A summer’s sun is worth the having” ~ French Proverb

As soon as washout May turned the corner, the sun’s shone down on June…so far. Being away next week for a little while, I’m now anxious about drought, though a neighbour will pop in to water – I hope before the plants take their last gasp.

And this is the final full month for me and my plants in this small gravelled courtyard. It has been a delightful spot to garden in, for the past 18 months. In such an intimate space I’ve come to fully appreciate the plants, whilst Covid lockdown gave me the time and impetus to catalogue them too.

Some plants are still nameless and hence ex-catalogue, and seeking to ID them from the internet. is not the most reliable source. A London gardener who gave me a giant hosta thought it might be ‘Big Daddy’ but the leaves are not blue-green enough whilst the flowers are supposed to be white rather than lilac. I am currently betting on “Empress Wu”

Producing a massive, semi upright mound of medium green foliage. The leaves are slightly corrugated with a thick substance, very pale lavender flowers produced from late June to mid July.” ~ New Forest Hostas

Most of the plants will be travelling with me to Derbyshire. The more colourful ones, including Lewisia and my favourite Salvias, will go in my daughter’s garden, adjacent to me, so I can still visit them! Some like my current selection of Nemesias are too garish for the planned Japanese themed garden and being frost tender will have to be protected against the Derbyshire winter. I will have a small glasshouse for them but since they are short-lived it hardly matters.

I don’t want to leave the garden bare for the next occupant and have planted up the three big pots which belong here. This includes clematis ‘Rouge Cardinal’ – just starting to flower now so I still have time to enjoy it.

Before leaving, I also have the satisfaction of having restored an old, resident climbing rose back to full glory. It produced no flowers last year but now with pruning and feeding it is busting out all over in single white flowers. The aphids are also appreciating this show! Garlic spray is some help but mostly this tough rose seems to be impervious to the predation.

Astronomically speaking, it isn’t summer yet but I’ve added some of this month’s blooms to the summer flower portrait gallery. After all, next June’s Japanese style garden, will be a very different palette.


Take a scrolling stroll through the potted garden in June

Posted in gardener's jottings

Some Movement in May

The month of May, And the spring comes slowly up this way ~ Coleridge

After one of the coldest Aprils, this month is loaded with sunny expectation but so far, has mostly chucked buckets of rain in strong, chilly winds. Still it’s early days and I am soon heading South for a welcome 2-week break, although am loath to leave the garden with its attendant needs unmet. The obvious downside of plants in pots is just how much and how frequently they need to be watered, even after rainy days.

Leafing Japanese mountain hydrangea ‘kiyosumi’

It also means I shall miss the stages of plant growth which are unfolding at a fast-forward time-lapse rate. For this reason I have been out with my camera when I can, to capture some plant portraits for the Spring Gallery. Really I should take the tripod for crisp clear images though I do favour a touch of soft blur!

Acer ‘Seiryu’ – April 2020

This is usually the time of year when I can admire my three Acers trees the most. They are some of the last trees to leaf and I enjoy them as much now as in the Autumn. The two larger ones, Acer ‘Trompenburg‘ and ‘Seiryu‘ have already been moved over to the new garden but I have kept back the diminuitive ‘Ukigumo‘ to go when I do. With its white and yellow-green variegation tinged pink in Spring, the translated name of ‘floating clouds’ is most apt.

With age, I have come to like the simpler flowers more and more and after throwing a few woodlands seeds into a large blue pot last year have had the enjoyment this Spring of some tall and honest Lunaria plants. One alas was pole-axed by vine weevil larvae. I had reused some compost in their pot but saw no sign of those dreaded maggoty grubs at the time.

It is entirely possible to reuse old compost: the books tell you not to, but they are assuming you have money to spare/a car/easy access to a garden centre. Certainly, if the plant died from disease or soil pests such as vine weevil, then the compost is best sent elsewhere. But if it just looks very tired, use it as mulch.” ~ Alys Fowler’s Gardening Column. The Guardian

Looking to the few flowering tulips I am again confirmed in my dislike of double blooms. Since the demure ‘Lady Jane‘ has gone over, some pink peony style tulips have come to the fore and every time I look at them, I can almost taste candyfloss ice cream! Suitably named ‘Angelique‘ they romp around displaying all their frilly underwear. Most unseemly – but they were a gift I must be grateful for. It’s doubtful that they will (be allowed to) emerge next Spring!

Two early perennials which do give pleasure are Corydalis ‘purple leaf‘ and Ajuga. They remind me how much I am drawn to blue flowers and in the new garden I will focus as much on palette as plants. Thus blue/purples contrasted with some yellows/oranges or white are in my plan though overall I am aiming for the understated colours of a Japanese garden, dominated by green.

Almost by accident over the years I’ve chosen shrubs bearing the japonica or nipponica ending as well as iconic Japanese plants like hydrangea and hosta so when I move home they will all find themselves in something resembling their original environs – eventually, after a great deal of transformation!


Take a scrolling stroll through the potted garden in May