At last – End of the Month View, May 2012

Oh, all right, I know it’s more of a ‘start the month view’, but I only managed to take the pictures at the end of the month, not get the time to write the actual post. Work, not celebrations. Work.

And there’s been plenty of work in the garden too, not least in the veg plot

where everything is suddenly beginning to go zoom. I will be digging potatoes soon, and the broad beans are doing well, very well; some of the pods are about 10cm long. There are a lot of them – or there were until this jubilee weekend and the rain and wind. The shallots in the foreground have been slow to get going, and the garlic (which is behind the bird bath) isn’t bulking up at all. We need a bit more warmth, please.

But the plus side is the meadow. It has gone from looking like a slightly overgrown lawn to a full-blown meadow almost overnight. The ‘bad hair day’ stage lasted – oh, about five hours.

There are a lot of daisies this year, and they are just beginning to open. It does look as though it is going to be a excellent year for the wild flowers in the garden; perhaps I should start a ‘wildflower Wednesday’ routine. Except it might get a bit samey after I post a lot of pictures of hawkweed, I suppose…

That’s not the real problem, though. Down in the middle garden I am battling with bracken. It comes over from the wildy bit next door up in the meadow as well, but somehow it doesn’t seem to hide as well there as it does here – I can’t think how. The middle garden is cultivated, for heaven’s sake.

It sneaks in along the far edge. One minute nothing; the next day there’s a six-foot monster. I rip them up and sling them back whence they came.

Ahem. Not many changes here, but I have extended the bed around the sundial and used it as a tulip dump, which will be a riot of either colour or disappointment next spring; we shall see. In the meanwhile it’s going to have some sunflowers (short, bronze and the person who gave them to me can’t recall their name) and striped calendulas in it (they’ll be striped if they come true from seed, that is). I’ve also been given another clematis, which is crawling its way up  the arch – rubramarginata. There’s one triumph here: my white dicentra has decided that it was actually alive these past three years, and that it might as well flower to prove it.

It’s a good year for dicentras. Presumably it will now vanish for another few.

The bottom garden has seen the most change, with the creation of  a large new bed which I am beginning to fill up. I’ve been adding cosmos, Nicotiana Tinkerbell – thanks, Karen – N. sylvestris and N. suaveolens to the perennials, as well as some achilleas which I suspect may not flower this year, but that’s OK. There are also a lot of cerinthes which have been out for a few weeks and are looking very healthy.

I just hope the poor babes are holding their own in the gales and rain. I daren’t go and look. I am quite pleased with myself for one thing here, though: veg have not crept in. I thought they might, but I’ve managed not to slip any in (well, there is a globe artichoke, but they’re spectacularly decorative, and it wouldn’t fit anywhere else). I still have the bean frame and the bed in front of the greenhouse down here anyway, so it’s not exactly veg free.

From the terrace – ho, ho, the small slate area in front of one side of the house – the bottom garden looks rather lush and generous.

It’s a shame about what you see when you get closer. Weeds, mostly. Weeds and valerian.

A lot of people round here wage war with valerian – I remember deliberately planting it in my London garden, which caused much amusement – though the only one I can seem to grow is the standard red form, and I rather fancy some white. But that’s quibbling. I like a little valerian, and so do the bees.

See? Lovely. Even if I do spend an inordinate amount of time chopping off the seeding heads to try and prevent it from coming up in the lower walls, the greenhouse, the compost heap, the meadow, the top walls, the hedge bottoms, the pigsty, the road side of the walls…

And my irises are out, so I’m a happy bunny. Hm. An almost happy bunny. I’ve got a lot of blind ones this year, and something has been snacking on a few of those which have come through. However, I’ve already dead-headed over twenty blooms and there are still a lot more to go, so I’m not exactly out of irises. I’m lucky; I know some people who have completely blind beds with not a sign of a flower spike.

And some of my new additions are blooming too. I hadn’t thought that they’d join in until next year, so that’s an unexpected treat.

And this even goes well with my existing irises, better than I had hoped… Oh, sorry. This is Afternoon Delight, which I bought from Wootons.

I think I’m in love.

Thanks to Helen, The Patient Gardener, for hosting this meme. Why not pop over and see what other people have been doing?


18 Comments Add yours

  1. paulinemulligan says:

    Lovely to see the photos of the different parts of your garden and that your meadow is progressing nicely. Interesting to read about the problems with the iris, was wondering why half of mine had come up blind, mind you, their rhizomes were covered with forget me nots so that could have something to do with it, maybe not enough sun on the roots.

    1. kate says:

      Ah ha – another iris problem… I’m not so sure about the forget-me-nots (I can’t bring myself to blame them, rather, as they’re so cute if a bit of a pest) because I was once told it was sun the previous season, baking the tubers in the – hey, maybe we have an answer – ‘summer’. I don’t know about you, but we didn’t have much of one last year. We had rain.

      (My little RHS Iris handbook is no use – it’s really more for exhibition growers, which heaven knows I am not. Hrumpfhiaw*&ubec. I shall blame last year’s dodgy weather anyway.)

  2. Dobby says:

    My garden is full of daisies this year. Lawn, flower beds, path. Glad to hear it is not just me. Your garden looks lovely. Your ‘tulip dump’ will no doubt end up an extravaganza. Lets hope it stops raining tomorrow. My garden needed the rain, but I think it has had enough for now!

    1. kate says:

      Agree with you on the rain front; I’m hoping for a break so I can get the rest of my baby seedlings out. And I need to plant up my roadside pots, they’re a disgrace. Oh – full of tulips. Must move them (don’t expect they’ll come back, though).

  3. Christina says:

    It’s great that your meadow is beginning to do what you hoped; your lovely Iris looks very similar to my I. Rustic Jewel – there are so many and often several with different names look very alike. But whatever the name it is a real stunner. Christina

    1. kate says:

      The meadow gets better every year – a great advertisement for not interfering too much (and much less mowing – hooray). I do get lost with iris nomenclature – it often seems as through different breeders come up with very similar things. There are fashions in irises just as in anything else, of course, but I’ve got a real old one about to break too ‘Braithwaite’. Deep velvet-purple falls. Hopefully.

  4. Lyn says:

    Red Valerian is lovely and I planted it on purpose too. I agree that the white is more difficult. The new bed sounds like it will be good. Funny that you couldn’t keep it veg-free. Maybe you need Vegies Anonymous? The gardens are looking very pretty even if there are some weeds.

    1. kate says:

      Veggies anonymous is a great idea! I think the globe artichoke will add to the overall architecture of the bed though (oh, all right, I couldn’t find anywhere else to put it, but it will look good for the three years it’s there until I have to move it)…

      I must try collecting white valerian seed properly this year and have another go at getting it. It irritates me beyond belief that I have friends who rip it out – it’s not fair!

  5. hillwards says:

    It’s all looking lovely. Beautiful irises, and I do like your new bed. I have cerinthe starting to flower in our new bed too!

    I planted both red and white forms of Centranthus ruber last year, which are both blooming happily. It made me laugh when my MIL showed her sister around our garden the other week when they were passing, and I heard my aunt-in-law say “Oh they have that weed here too!”. My MIL hastily assured her that I’d planted it intentionally. Oops. Well I like it… though it has already produced lots of lusty offspring and is leaning haphazardly into the neighbouring field now.

    1. kate says:

      It was looking lovely. Now it’s looking like a hurricane’s hit it, as indeed it has/is doing right now. The trees are lashing about, the rain is horizontal and what I can see of the sea looks worrying. Blimey and strewth, and has anyone got a boat?

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s planted valerian, but I’m really envious of your success with white! I’ve been eyeing up a particular patch growing wild near me, and it looked so promising. By now it will be in Scotland. Hmm.

  6. elizabethm says:

    I love valerian too and I planted it as well! Bees and butterflies adore it and it does pull up fine if you get it small.
    Your irises are beautiful. I had blind irises down one of the bed and best blooms ever up the other – same aspect and same rather thin stony soil. No idea what happened there.

    1. kate says:

      Another one with blind irises. It must, must be environmental. Parts of my bed are really good, and parts – well, zilch. Mind you, that should be parts of my bed were really good. I daren’t look at how they are faring in this storm…

  7. Kate I too planted valerian but it didn’t like my hebridean garden, your meadow is lovely my oxeyed daisies and hawkweed are only in bud here probably due to all the cold east and north winds we keep getting, yours is the second blog I read this morning with irises doing well mine are blind except for one which is still in bud,
    dispite the wind and rain your garden looks good with lots of blooms, Frances

    1. kate says:

      I’m amazed valerian didn’t work for you – ours seems to cope with most weather conditions, even including Hurricane Stupid which is blowing at the moment.

      I think there are lots of people with blind irises this year… could be the lack of a real winter, perhaps? How cold did you get?

      1. sorry to hear about the hurricane damage Kate, I don’t like the east and north strong winds we are having as they are cold but hearing what is happening further south I have wondered if these east/north winds are our saving grace by pushing the south westerlies back,
        our last winter was very temperate and not very cold back to normal after the previous 2 cold winters, so do irises need cold that could be a problem here, I wondered if it was the current cold dry weather I know they like dry but imagine they like hot/warm sun to flower,
        I only tried the valerian once so I might give it another go, it grew well the first year came up the next spring then disappeared, it was before the rabbits found my garden so I can’t blame them,
        I hope your weather has calmed down and will start getting better, Frances

        1. kate says:

          By contrast, today has been calm and – shh – sunny, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ve had the end of the March weather now. Got to be…

          Mind you, you have made me look on the bright side – at least I haven’t got rabbits. Next Door’s Cat, yes, but not rabbits.

  8. Joan says:

    The colours in that iris are astonishing! Would make a great painting.

    1. kate says:

      Oh, it’s a gem… got a bit bashed by weather though…

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