Welcome to my gardening blog

flowerpot for a pillow

 

I hope I can share a little of what I've learned - and there is so much more to learn.

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Victor using a flowerpot for a pillow

December 2018

My scabious Perfection Blue is finally in bloom. I sowed the seeds earlier this year in March, only 5 plants from a packet of seeds but I love scabious and the colour is gorgeous. I hope they will be blooming next Spring / Summer and years after.

scabiosa Perfection Blue

these viola Chicky Chicks I also grew from seed (sown in August) which I collected from the original Chicky Chicks I grew from seed last summer

viola Chicky Chicks

Borage vs Green Alkanet

In this bleak November weather, I enjoyed seeing a few things in bloom recently, including borage and green alkanet. I wanted to further compare the two as they can be so similar. The bees love both. I'm not sure the temperature range of each but I do know that green alkanet is often one of the first flowers in Spring providing food for bees and it dies back in time for other flowers to take over.

Borage

borage

Green Alknaet

green alkanet

Leaves

both hairy, slightly stinging, textured

borage (left) is rounded at the end, green alkanet (right) lanceolate pointed at the end and sometimes has blisters

borage and green alkanet leaf comparison

sometimes the borage leaves are more lanceolate

borage

Stems

borage leaves grow from the (often thick) stem

borage

green alkanet (on the right) leaves growing on stems from the base, at least initially

borage and green alkanet

older green alkanet with flowering stems

green alkanet

Flowers

borage, tight clusters of flowers (see buds to the left above), green alkanet sparser flowers (see below)

green alkanet flowers and buds

Prevalence of Borage and Green Alkanet

Green alkanet self-seeds widely and takes a while to get established before blooming. Borage self-seeds quite closely and takes less time to flower. So my garden is full of green alkanet small plants but not many borage. Top left, below, green alkanet small plants; bottom right below borage.

borage and green alkanet

Similar Leaves

Foxglove has a tight rosette initially. The leaves are very textured but very soft unlike the borage and green alkanet.

foxglove rosette

Honesty (Lunaria annua) has heart-shaped similarly textured leaves, green alkanet (with blishters on the leaves to the right)

honesty and green alkanet

end of Oct 2018

I like to keep an eye on any Japanese knotweed I see  - how fast it grows, does it get invasive, is it flowering? I went over to Regent's Park to check on one I saw last winter, which wasn't flowering at that time but it was flowering today. My first photos of Japanese knotweed flowers and buds.

japanese knotweed flowers

It was only when updating my blog here, I see the photos above and below are so similar. Not sure which is better.

japanese knotweed flowers

spray of buds there on the left

japanese knotweed

japanese knotweed buds

japanese knotweed

japanese knotweed

Another example I saw in someone's front garden. They cut it down and I saw the other day it grew back - more stems than before.

japanese knotweed

I love identifying everything I see. I love photos like this where I can fit in lots of different plants. It's clickable to a larger view but still not large enough to see everything so I've enlarged each quadrant. In the centre milk thistle, right tansy yellow flowers, left borage blue flowers, see following quadrant photos for other plants. Smooth sow thistle throughout.

milk thistle and other plants

top left, mallow top left, green alkanet large leaves

top right, flat nipplewort rosette in middle,

bottom left, salad burnet,

bottom right, green alkanet, deadnettle, salad burnet

October 2018

I noticed yesterday the sheen on the foxglove leaves and how beautiful they looked next to the campanula. Totally unplanned - both self-seeded there.

foxglove campanula

The weather has been so nice this week, I've spent a lot of time in the garden. It's given me a chance to tidy up and organise my broken terracotta pots. I love them and want to keep them so I'm going to have another go at gluing them. Previous attempts did not give good results but I am determined to try again this winter / next spring. Any unbroken ones I am putting in the cellar to avoid further breakages. This involves repotting some things temporarily into plastic but I want to preserve the vintage terracotta pots I have left.

broken terracotta pots

This has been stressful and despressing. The hollyhocks didn't do well this year which I had assumed was due to the drought and heatwave but when I collected some seed to grow more plants to ensure next year's flowers I've found severe infestation of hollyhock weevil (Apion longirostre / Rhopalapion longirostre). The holes in the seeds are because of them.

hollyhock weevil

hollyhock weevil close-up

hollyhock weevil

hollyhock seeds with holes from hollyhock weevils

hollyhock seeds with hollyhock weevil seeds

I don't need to go to the South Downs to see lots of Old Man's Beard. I saw this locally in Kentish Town. It was enormous. This tall bit of fluffy seedheads was at one end and along its expanse there were all stages of the flowers.

old man's beard

seedheads and new flowers

old man's beard

close-up of the buds and flowers

old man's beard

finished flowers before the fluffy tails have formed, very shiny

old man's beard spent flowers

then those distinctive seedheads

old man's beard seedheads

close-up of the seedheads

old man's beard

Black and blue salvia is blooming after having come back from slug destruction and the late delphinium was doing well until last Saturday (Oct 6th)'s severe rain which broke it off and brought down a trellis at the end of the garden.

black and blue salvia delphinium

Periodically I like to take all the sweepings from the patio and put them in a pot and see what I get. Not sure the exact date I started this but by 30-9-2018 after 2 or 3 weeks I can a number of seedlings: tomato, poppy and those larger ones I can't remember right now.

after another week with that longer leaf I can see the larger seedlings are cornflower, now I see deadnettle and something I'm not sure about along with those poppies

the blackcurrant sage produces flowers intermittently

blackcurrant sage

blackcurrant sage

cyclamen coum

cyclamen coum

Autumn 2018

The cats are unpredictable with the catnip. They'll ignore it for weeks and then one day pretty much destroy a plant, eating it and sitting in it.

cat in catnip

I'm not very good about digging up plants and moving them but I really have to move the globe thistles from this flowerbed as they are huge and take over so nothing else can grow really. I want to plant the self-seeded centaurea montana from that pot to join any other existing ones in the flowerbed but I fear the globe thistles crowded them out.

globe thistles

I had previously moved the globe thistles before but before I knew it there were still globe thistles in the flowerbed, whether the old ones or new self-seeded ones. To the left of the previously moved globe thistles below there's room against the fence for more so that's where they are going.

globe thistles

I managed to dig tthem up easily enough but their tap roots are broken off. Not sure how they'll like being transplanted.

globe thistles

globe thistles

I planted them in their new position to the left of the other globe thistles. It's been extremely dry so I hope they'll establish ok. Must remember to water them every day.

globe thistles

In front of those transplanted globe thistles, I've put my scabious plants. I was surprised to find yesterday that one had a flower stem and a bud. Later in the day it was bent over as I hadn't realised how dry the pot was. The garden is incredibly dry again. I watered everything, including the scabious plants and they revived.

scabious perfection blue

The pot above and the 4 below are the 5 scabious Perfection Blue I grew from seed this year. The description said blooms first year and it didn't seem as if that would happen but weather permitting I think I'll have at least one in bloom this autumn. Plant far left below looks like it might flower as well. Other 3 don't have those distinctive lobed leaves in the centre. In fact, one far right is being crowded out by a verbascum that self-seeded there, not sure the scabious will even survive. Should probably try to separate them but thought at this point I might kill one or both.

scabious perfection blue

Lesser knapweed is another plant, like the globe thistles, which is too successful. It took over this pot.

lesser knapweed

after pruning back the lesser knapweed spent stems, I can't see if there are any centaurea montana left, there certainly were some at one time

lesser knapweed

The honesty was fantastic earlier this year and growing them myself from seed, as I did last year rather than relying on the self-seeding, ensured early and large plants. I do find it difficult to pull up and discard seedlings but must thin out these honesty seedlings - much too densely planted.

honesty seedlings

I just did it quickly and determinedly. Of course, I had to repot some of the largest seedlings I pulled up.

honesty seedlings thinned out

I'm planting up some troughs with alliums for my daughter-in-law. I haven't grown allium flavum before so didn't know they came with some stem attached. Also allium azureum in the trough. I can't resist comparing different companies so two troughs with the same bulbs just different suppliers. Trough 1.

allium flavum and azureum

allium flavum and azureum trough 2

allium flavum and azureum

I went to the garden centre to get a few more bulbs for my bulb forcing and couldn't resist one of these. I've never grown them before but thought I'd give it a chance.

scilla hyacinthoides

this naughty squirrel has been digging up my seedlings, even though I'm feeding him lots of peanuts

grey squirrel

squirrel

squirrel with peanut

these cheeky slugs ate my seedlings and then laid their eggs in the nice moist pot where they were growing

slug eggs

here are the two love birds

slugs

late flowers for bees

I went to RSPB Fowlmere the other day and saw some of the late wildflowers in bloom. One of the best was this Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica) just blooming and providing the bees with nectar and pollen after so many other flowers have finished. I'm not sure if those yellow bits are pollen baskets or parts of the flower.

bee on irish ivy

Irish ivy with bee

irish ivy with bee

I think those are pollen baskets either side but not absolutely certain.

irish ivy with bee

the ivy shrub is huge and covered with flowers - and lots of bees

irish ivy

I love purple flowers and self-heal is one of my favourite. I'm attempting to grow some from seed, not sure the slugs are going to let me.

self-heal

I also love thistles. I'm not sure what one this is. I'm most familiar with spear and creeping but I don't think it's one of those. I will research it.

thistle flower close-up

it wasn't that tall, unlike most other thistles I've seen, maybe 30 cm?

thistle

thistle buds

lesser burdock, not a thistle but very thistle-like

lesser burdock

lesser burdock

there was lots of lesser burdock at Fowlmere, in all stages of growth from new buds to completely dry plants with hooked dried seed heads

I love cattails, don't often have a chance to see them up close.

cattail

I have been calling this Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) but checking it, I think it's more correctly hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum). But I would quite like to know and understand the differences between them. Certainly lots of it at Fowlmere, at all stages, mostly fluffy spent flowerheads but also buds and flowers. Firstly, buds.

hemp-agrimony

close-up of the buds with some just starting to open

hemp-agrimony

close-up of the flowers fully open

flowers in full bloom and some starting to wilt

hemp-agrimony

dry fluffy seed heads

hemp-agrimony seed heads

I'm putting this in the "unknowns" section of the Plant Identification page as this will need some research to establish exactly what it is.

umbellifer

garden next door

so many plants have self-seeded between the paving slabs but the most amazing is the passionflower

passionflower

the trunk (and it is a trunk not a stem) is thick, like a tree

passionflower trunk

surprisingly, there's and old man's beard self-seeded by the passionflower and climbing up it

old man's beard

it looks good but didn't bloom this year

old man's beard

the cats are a big component of this garden (as well as my garden), here's Victor

in front of Victor, cleome flowers, verbena bonariensis and honesty brown dry seedpods to the right, white verbascum flowers in the front

cleome

Jeffrey surrounded by plants, clockwise from Jeffrey's back, green alkanet, plastic pot with an eaten (by Jeffrey) catnip, terracotta pot with an uneaten catnip, nepeta faassenii, clover, knautia macedonia, ox-eye daisy pot, more green alkanet, pot with snapdragon and ox-eye daisy

that agastache has had great flowers this summer

close-up of that ivy-leaved toadflax

ivy-leaved toadflax

huge knautia macedonia Melton Pastels, foxglove in the pot to the left, green alkanet above, aquilegia below, spreading honeysuckle? to the right, I think

knautia macedonia

verbena bonariensis

verbena bonariensis

Bear, just as I was trying to take this photo, Bear's mum, Stitch was on the wall so both would have been in the shot but she jumped down before I snapped

early September 2018

It rained the other day so the ground wasn't totally rock hard so I made the effort to plant out some of the plants that are ready: chicory, wild bergamot, calamint and scabious. Anything in a pot needs watering so whatever I can get in the ground I'm trying to.

3 chicory plants planted out, 2nd wild bergamot on the left behind planted out, the one on the right I had previously planted in the ground. Not sure what to do with the pot of ox-eye daisies on the left behind. They took over that pot. Eventually, next Spring, they'll probably took great. Then I can move them for best effect.

chicory and wild bergamot

the small scabious plants behind the bricks self-seeded in  pots, ready to plant them out, and make sure the bricks were in place along the path

scabious

it wasn't long before Victor used them as a pillow

scabious for a pillow

the calamint was in a pot for ages but every pot needs watering so trying to get everything I can in the ground

calamint

My late delphinium has opened fully and the bees are loving it. I can see pollen baskets on the bees.

bee on delphinium

The whole slug thing has gotten so discouraging, the only place left to move anything is inside or on the stairs to the garden. There's another small delphinium that I rescued from slug destruction by keeping it inside for a while. Now it's on the stairs, along with that Black and Blue salvia which has buds after I also had it inside for a while. I can't keep the whole garden on the stairs. 

stairs to garden

new flush of greater knapweed flowers looking great - and not bothered by slugs

greater knapweed

borage also is pretty tough

borage

Maybe it's crazy to even attempt plants like delphiniums and lupins - or hostas! when plants like Japanese anemone can grow and thrive completely untouched? Maybe I should just stick with plants like that. 

japanese anemone and hosta

something special on the shelf amidst the passionflower and morning glory

September 2018

I can't believe the summer is coming to an end already. It seemed like there'd be plenty of time for sowing seeds and growing things but it's almost Autumn.

After it rained, after the drought and heatwave a few weeks ago, some plants came back to life including this delphinium which has a second flower spike. Behind it is the sunflower which has some new small flowers off the main stem.

delphinium

another delphinium has come back from slug damage and now has buds

delphinium buds

the new batch of borage is blooming and attracting bees, although I only seem to have a few in my garden

bee on borage

some of the sea holly flowers dried up and died but new ones have bloomed

sea holly

snapdragons have self-seeded, above a pink one on the right and below a white and lighter pink and a calendula

snapdragons and calendula

a pink water lily in bloom and 1 bud that's either going to open or is finishing, I can't tell which

water lily

I haven't seen a yellow water lily in bloom this summer so far but I see there's a bud

yellow water lily bud

the morning glory has a good flush of flowers today and the passionflower has intermittent blooms

morning glory

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