Sunday, 28 July 2013

bees and butterflies . what's in flower at the end of july . scarey storms

Oh boy  - have we had weather.  Not just any old weather.  But extremes of weather.  Pavements hot enough to fry an egg on one minute -   rumblings of thunder the next minute -  flashes of lightning and heavy, heavy rain.   And not all of it outdoors.  Yes folks - the house got flooded - oh joy!  Just what we needed.  Every bath towel  we possess was put to use mopping up.  We couldn't figure out where the water was coming from.  Somehow the rain got into the bathroom - ran down the pipes and into the kitchen below.  Major clear up today, carpets lifted to dry - rugs outside in the sun - towels hanging on the line, my shelf full of cookery books with soaking pages - oh my, what a job.  Everything back to normal now - thank goodness.

Now for something a bit more pleasant.  At last there is a bit more colour in the garden after the last couple of weeks of nothing to see. 
day lily


after the delphiniums had been cut down
I planted dahlias, pelargoniums and nicotiana to fill the flower bed
crocosmia lucifer


And after bemoaning the fact that I haven't seen many bees and butterflies in the garden - they have arrived at last.

The teasels have just started flowering and the bees are all over them going crazy, then going for a drink where the water collects at the bottom of the stem

These are Small White butterflies which were really attracted to the lavender.  There haven't been the usual Peacocks or Red Admirals but the Buddleia is just starting to flower so maybe they will turn up soon as I know they can't resist  it.

And finally the Sunflowers are flowering, I did have three giants planted, but one of the horses must have stretched over the fence and had a munch, 'cos all I have left is a stem.  Luckily it couldn't reach the other two.

Oh, and I have been watching  bees coming and going under the shed, they are black with gold bottoms, quite small - and then I saw a huge monster one, it must have been the queen, she was making quite a fuss flying round until finally landing and crawling in - I would love to know what's going on under there!

Friday, 19 July 2013

how fragrant is your garden?

During the summer I always cycle up to my plot early in the morning - nothing too professional about this - I'm no Victoria Pendleton - just a T-shirt and shorts and a pair of plimsolls - oh and a bucket to bring back any produce.  This morning as I pedalled through the village the church clock struck seven and I was stopped in my tracks by the fragrance eminating from the churchyard.  The blossom on the Linden trees was so beautiful it was almost overwhelming.  As I carried on my nose was in overdrive, sniffing and breathing in the fragrance of the gardens as I passed.

Back in my own garden I wandered round photographing my own fragrant flowers.  Each season of the year has a few plants that I wouldn't be without.  In summer there is Lavender.

the lilac petunia with purple veining always smells sweet
sweet peas - no fragrant garden should be without them
Philadelphus or Mock Orange
Rose - this one is Gertrude Jekyll
geraniums with scented leaves

honeysuckle - this one weaves through the ivy on the front of the house
Sweet William and Lilies are other favourites.  If someone gives me a bunch of flowers, the first thing I do is put my nose into them hoping for a lovely fragrance - sadly that isn't always the case.  But give me a bunch of sweet-smelling roses  or sweet peas and I'm a happy bunny.

Are there any other fragrant flowers that you have in your garden that you think I should include?

Friday, 12 July 2013

Why Do I Hate My July Garden . Gardening the Wrong Way Round and a Garden Visit

First of all, can I just ask if anyone else is experiencing problems with Blogger at the moment.  I have already drafted this post twice - it won't let me scroll up and down for a start.  Then when I inserted photos it wouldn't let me continue writing after - it has been a nightmare.  So I'll give it another try now and see what happens.

Although there is colour here and there in the garden, mainly from the containers - I hate the garden in July, always have.  The bright, fresh greens have gone and the plants and flopping and sprawling in the heat.  The early excitement of wondering what is going to flower next is over as I struggle to keep the garden looking half-decent.

But, on the bright side, the veg garden is overflowing with riotous colour wherever you look - mainly due to the fact that I sowed lots of wild flowers and annuals to attract all those creepy-crawly-buzzy creatures.
pot marigolds and campion edge the veg rows
flowers nestle round the cabbages and parsnips
the potato patch is full of poppies

sweet peas, sweet william and feverfew mingle with the weeds

the runner bean flowers add another spot of colour
the teasels that I planted for the goldfinches are now towering about everything
This picture is out of sequence (damn you Blogger)
showing the hens and ducks free-ranging at Rolleston

the white flowers of the celery that has gone to seed mingle with the peas and runner beans and feverfew

So you see it is really gardening the wrong way round - I have more colour and flowers in the veg garden because of my deliberate attempt to create a haven for wildlife than I do in the flower garden where I have been relying on perennials that haven't made it through the winter.  More thinking and planning to do for next year methinks.

Right - on to the garden visit.  My friend and I visited another NGS Open Garden at Rolleston Hall yesterday. The weather was fantastico, a bit too hot really for wandering round - we gardeners suffer for our art!
It is a privately owned home (a very wealthy family from the look of it) so the garden was only open for one day.  The grounds were very spacious with acres of lawns looking down onto a lake and woodland.

This was the view from the back of the house

A wonderful lake that was so inviting in the heat - I could quite easily have gone in for a bit of wild swimming

The garden was walled and very loosely planted - if there were any gaps the gardener filled them with broad beans and potatoes - it looked charming. 

The greenhouse was immense and looked brand new it was full of every sort of pelargonium you can think of - but too hot to linger in to take photos.

There wasn't an inch of ground to spare anywhere and the Ladies Mantle did a fine job of sprawling over the paths and giving a sense of continuity.

The delphiniums were at their best giving height - but even in this garden there wasn't an awful lot of colour other than the towers of sweet peas (see top right)

When we had had the obligatory cup of tea we chatted to the Head Gardener who was at the gate taking the money.  She said that they had had nearly 300 visitors in all, which is pretty good at £4 a head.  I asked why there was no water feature in the garden and her face dropped.  Darn it she said (or words to that effect) I checked the fountain yesterday to check it was working then forgot to switch it on this morning.  I can understand it - there must be loads of preparation before opening a garden like this - she even roped her husband in to help with the weeding.

It was a lovely garden and all those we chatted to said how much they had enjoyed it.

Do you get dissatisfied like me at certain times of the year
when your plans don't quite work out as you had
There's always next year I suppose.

Sorry about the state of this post I have just looked at the preview and even the size of the font is wrong - I wish Blogger would get their problems sorted - if there are any errors it is because it wouldn't let me go back and correct them - hopefully next week  everything will return back to normal.  Moan over.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Friday Flowers . Holiday Reminiscing and a Surprise Meeting with a Naturist!

Well, I am well and truly back from my holiday - I have been occupied with the mountains of laundry that we seem to get through whilst away and then on our return had to tackle the jungle that had become our garden.  I couldn't believe how everything had grown in our absence weeds and all.

The sweet peas in the cutting garden had started to bloom whilst we were away and are now in full swing - I have been picking them every day, beautiful long stems at the moment and the claret colour seems to dominate - every time I pass them in the house I get a whiff of their lovely fragrance - it is just a shame that they don't last longer in the vase.

feverfew and ground elder
sweet william from the cutting patch

Greenfinch rose

I can never remember the name of this rose with its floppy blowsy blooms
There must have been some strong winds whilst we were away as a lot of the delphiniums are flattened and the lawn was full of leaves - I have been working hard to get everything back to rights but there is still a way to go yet.

the containers have filled out and are flowering away beautifully

The weather during our holiday was a bit changeable but we managed to get a couple of really lovely days where I changed from a couch potato to Olympic hiker with very sore feet.

the tide line was full of razor shells that crunched and crackled as
you walked
One day we walked through Holkham woods and stopped at both the bird hides for a spot of bird-watching, after a couple of peaceful hours looking through binoculars, we headed through the dunes for a picnic on the beach.  Unfortunately we didn't know that part of Holkham beach was segregated for naturists and as we stood looking for a good spot to settle down with our picnic up popped a hairy little naked hobbit of a man - DON'T LOOK ETHEL - TOO LATE - I'D SEEN ENOUGH TO PUT ME OFF MY LUNCH!!!!!!!!!!  Why couldn't it have been a bronzed Adonis with rippling muscles and a tight little bottom.  Just my luck.

Holkham woods
Field of wild lupins
So - now it's back to normality - still trying to foil the crows attempts to steal the fat balls, and coming back to a huge plumbers bill as our hot water system conked out just before we were due to leave for our hols - there's always something - you can't have the pleasure without the pain - as they say.  Hey ho.

Hope you are all enjoying this spell of fine weather - have a good weekend.  See you soon!