Saturday, 30 June 2012

Flaming June!

I attacked the large Laurel a few days ago.  It sprawled a bit when we bought the place and its dark interior made a great den for the kids.  They enjoyed jumping about on one thick springy branch until one day it snapped. Over the years it rooted itself and grew into a separate shrub. It was taking over ...well, this week I reclaimed my garden.
Today it was the Lilac's turn.  It had to go because it had gradually fallen over.  Last year I had to saw off a few feet as it was leaning right over a path.  The weight of the flowers this year was too much for the weaken roots.  So I now have two bare patches.  Lovely!  They both look unattractive at the moment but that's part of the fun.  Do I want to fill them with plants?  Reorganise our seating arrangements?  Change the direction of a path?  I haven't decided yet. 

 One of the climbing roses has reached the top of the rose arch but the other side got less sun.  It was the Lilac blocking the light so that was another reason for chopping it down.

The best bloom in the garden right now is this pink peony.  There are nine or ten flowers growing next to blue cornflowers and white and pink foxgloves.  A cheerful, pretty border.

The Oriental Poppies have finished but the large frilly poppies have taken over.  It's such a shame they drop their petals so quickly. 

April to June has been the wettest second year quarter since records began.  This Thursday was a memorable day ... I went paddling down the lane in my wellies there was SO much water.  Other people couldn't enjoy it like I did as they got flooded out.

Visit Helen at The Patient Gardener for more end of the month gardens.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Bee's Knees

Common Carder Bee
Small holes have appeared in the path behind the greenhouse and small bees keep disappearing into them.  We obviously have a nest there.  Last year we had a nest in the compost bin.  Everytime I went near it an angry buzzing filled the air and two or three bees came out to stare at me maliciously.  That was a bit intimidating but they don't sting unless they feel threatened so I used the other compost bin.

The nests start in Spring with the queen bee laying her first batch of eggs which hatched into her worker bees. In July she will produce eggs that will turn into males and new queen bees.  These will leave the colony and mate meaning there will be fertile queen bees to survive the winter by hibernating and begin the cycle again. 
White tailed Bumble Bee
Bumble Bees live in colonies of 50 - 200 bees while Honey bee colonies are around 60,000.
Bees have to visit about two million flowers to make one jar of honey! They were really busy in our garden today. I was chopping back the Laurel bush and didn't take much notice of the buzzing noise at first but one individual was particulary loud as it worked its way round the Foxgloves.  That's when I realised how many different types were visiting the borders.  In just thirty minutes we had White tailed Bumble Bee; Red tailed Bumble Bee; Common Carder Bee; Garden Bee and Honey Bee. 

Honey bee
This one has worked so hard it has damaged its wings.

Honey Bee
The Bee's Knees
They have special sacks to store pollen on their knees.
In my last post I decided the Foxgloves were going to be dug up ... the bees seem to like them more than I do so I won't dispose of them I'll just move them then we'll all be happy.
The Verbascum is still definitely on my hit list .... but the caterpillars have got there first!  This is a Mullein caterpillar.  It will eat my plant then turn into a pupa and stay underground for five years before turning into a moth that looks just like a brown leaf.

This Buff Ermine Moth was another garden visitor.  I had to rescue it as it was under attack from a party of ants.
Buff Ermine Moth

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

High Points

I have been away from the garden for a while ... big mistake!  The tall plants have taken over.

The Oriental Poppies are falling about the place now but they are still adding colour; Red Hot Pokers and Foxgloves are dominating the view from the kitchen window.  I think I will be digging up the Foxgloves this year ... they are an attractive plant but I  think of them as weeds for some reason! They will have to go!
Another plant to dig out is the Verbascum.  I really must read the plant descriptions more carefully!  The tiny seedlings I planted in March have grown into monsters!  Huge silvery leaves have covered the soil and massive spikes have appeared.  Two clumps near the pond look okay but the ones in the middle of the borders are doomed!
The Delphiniums have done well.  They were grown from seeds last year.  I really like the blue ones but there are more flowers on the white and pink variety. 

 I am really taken with Irises at the moment.  I planted five tubers this spring and this one is the first to flower:
The others have sprouted leaves but no sign of buds yet.  After visiting the Doddington Hall Iris Garden I want to increase my collection so a visit to Seagate Irises in Lincolnshire is probably on the cards.
I am particularly pleased with the Lupins ... although the aphids have decided they are rather nice too!

I spent ages collecting Lupin seeds last year so I now have masses of small plants to give to friends or plant up the lane.
The large Frilly Poppies are opening this week too.  The dried seed heads are lovely. 

 The Hollyhocks have survived the rust attacks but there is only one purple flower so far. 
The climbing Roses smell beautiful.

I have lots of pottering and pruning to do over the next few weeks in order to catch up.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

LLanbedr, Wales

Dinas Campsite is a couple of miles from LLanbedr.  It is in a beautiful part of Wales.  We camped next to a small wood filled with Pied Flycatchers; Buzzards and Peregrins floated over us and the sheep woke everyone up each morning.  We were there with some friends - some of whom were ringing birds for the BTO.

We spent Wednesday morning in Coed Crafnant wood where approximately 70 nesting boxes were being checked.  The wood supported a very healthy bird population.  Most of the boxes held seven or eight Pied Flycatcher chicks but the very first box we opened had been occupied by a family of Great Tits and there was only one chick left inside.

It was ready to fledge but its foot had got caught up in some wool lining the nest so it was stuck in the box.  Its parents had abandoned it.  Paul carefully extricated it and clipped away the remaining wool.  At least it now had some chance of survival ... left in the box it would have suffered.

Some boxes had warm eggs, others contained chicks too tiny to ring while a couple more broods had to be left because the chicks were ready to fledge - taking them out of the nest at that point could make them fly off and endanger them. 

These Pied Flycatchers were ringed.

Andy and I left the ringers to continue their work and we went looking for Dipper (we found two juveniles) and Ring Ouzel  (an adult male gave us splendid views). 

This Redstart was nesting in the wall near the carpark as we set off to find Ring Ouzel.

We had a lovely few days.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Purple Patch

My garden is entering its Purple Patch.  The first flowers each year are white and yellows (snowdrops, daffodils and forsythia ...); then the reds appear (tulips, primulas, flowering raspsberry and japonica); now the purple blooms are opening.
The purple Aquilegia is EVERYWHERE!  I will have to do something about that once the flowers have died.  I really like the look of it all over the place but when I vistied Doddington  Hall this week and saw the way their Aquilegia was controlled I realised mine could look better.
Blue Geranium
Here is another plant I need to cut back.  Anyone need any blue geranium?  Free to a good home!  I moved one small clump to the kitchen border a few years ago - it obviously liked the location!

I love the delicate structure of this perennial cornflower.  Last year I scattered some cornflower seeds in one of the borders and got a magnificent display.  A number of seedlings have appeared in different parts of the garden this year - another welcome invader!
One of my favourites at the moment is Verbascum Phoeniceum.  A 99p packet of seeds last year has turned into beautiful tall spikes.


I haven't included the Lilac as it is just turning, or the Lavender or the Ceanothus or the purple Lupins .......


A Purple Patch is a period of notable success.  Queen Elizabeth I is supposed to have used the phrase first.  How many of these quotations do you recognise?
When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
He's lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race,
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Thro' richest purple to the view
Betray'd a golden gleam.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Doddington Hall - Iris Week

Doddington Hall is a family home built in 1595.  This week the Iris gardens are open for visitors.

This one was my favourite.  It is called Top Gun.  Our eldest son is training to be a fast-jet pilot so it seemed appropriate that I liked this one!

The ornamental gardens are beautiful and extensive but I enjoyed wandering round their vegetable garden too.  I can't wait for the first produce from my allotment ... this place was amazing.  The artichokes were huge, the rows of cabbages were weed-free, the rhubarb was ready to cook .... all destined for the lovely Farm Shop or the Restaurant.