ju1i3's blog

Identifying Bluebells

In February and March, some plants may be unclear whether they are bluebells or hyacinths, especially if you're not completely mad for hyacinths like me and know them very well. I do find bluebells annoying in my garden as they take up more space than they give in flowers and I'd like to grow something else. I want my Chinese lanterns to spread rather than any bluebells. I have tried to dig up the bluebells but it's difficult as they are very deep and difficult to dig up. Also, digging that flowerbed disturbs the Chinese lanterns which spread via their roots. 

These are hyacinths, in bloom and in bud, in March.

hyacinths

The hyacinth leaves are wide,upright and shaped around the hyacinth buds / flowers.

hyacinths

hyacinthhyacinths

Below, in front of the vinca are bluebells, thinner leaves than the hyacinths and not upright but sloping over and with a ridge down the back of the leaves.

bluebells

more bluebells

bluebells

another bluebell

bluebells

and another

bluebells

Daffodils are around at this time as well. They are distinctive with greyish-green leaves. I think any daffodils I have in the ground are old and not blooming. The bluebells are there on the left with brighter green leaves.

more daffodils on the right, bluebells on the left

few of each below

I am going to try to dig up a few more bluebells if I can but if I can't I'll just cut off the leaves and prevent them from blooming. Eventually the bulbs will weaken and die. I'm sure they're all hybrids of native and foreign bluebells (and were in the garden when I moved in), see also  Bluebells. and bluebells in the Weed guide.

muscari, hyacinths and bergenia

I don't have many daffodils but in a pot at this time of year they are so cheerful and shout SPRING and a nice contrast to those fat rich purple hyacinths.

daffodils, hyacinths

there are some borage in bloom there as well

hyacinths and borage

beautiful big hyacinths but why has one of the three bulbs not grown?

hyacinths

The weather has pushed the muscari to bloom early.

muscari

I had a few leftover hyacinth bulbs from forcing so planted them in pots outside. They are in bloom and huge, as expected.

hyacinths

hyacinths

hyacinths

The previously forced hyacinths I planted outside last year (and previous years) are also in bloom but quite small and sparse.

previously forced hyacinths

previously forced hyacinth

previously forced hyacinth

previously forced hyacinths

previously forced hyacinths

previously forced hyacinths on the left, bergenia on the right

previously forced hyacinths and bergenia

vinca and bergenia on the shady side of the front garden

bergenia and vinca

In both my front and back gardens I have foxgloves and green alkanet self-seeding everywhere - and now knautia as well. This pot was supposed to have lupins as the slugs are so voracious and I was trying to keep the lupins  away from the slugs but I have lots and lots of foxgloves! Slugs don't eat them.

pot with lupins foxgloves knautia

pot with foxgloves

Observing Weeds

I try to leave things exactly the way they are when I take a plant photo. If there's rubbish, that's the environment in which it is growing. Cigarette butts are also useful for showing scale.

I saw this monkey flower along Regent's Canal near me in northwest London. It was something I didn't recognise but the leaves are quite unique. An exotic garden escapee.

monkey flower

-update- a couple weeks later

monkeyflower

and in the wider environment

monkeyflower environment

It obviously grew last year. I never noticed it but imagine any flowers would have been quickly picked as the numbers walking the towpath are quite large. 

monkey flower

-update- couple weeks later

monkeyflower canal

monkeyflower

A couple weeks later I saw another monkeyflower.

monkeyflower

and its wider environment

monkeyflower

it's a tough environment for plants, amazing any survive at all, the monkey flower is at the base of the wall on the right

regent's canal towpath

further along the canal the alexanders are blooming

alexanders flower

alexanders flowers

I've been observing a lot of initial basal rosettes and hope to identify and document all those I see. There have been a lot of hedge mustard and shepherd's purse especially and it's easy to confuse the two. That initial rosette of leaves is not observable on the shepherd's purse by the time it blooms.

shepherd's purse

back in my garden the ivy berries are huge, looking like bunches of grapes

ivy berries

after total failures both attempting to grow monkshood from seed and buying some small plants in the "wildflower" range from the garden centre (which never came back the next year), I bought 2 full-size plants last year as an impulse purchase from a garden centre (I try not to buy full size plants) and they've actually survived the winter and are growing, amazing

monkshood new shoots

A World of Weeds in Two Planters

The lack of weeds / wildflowers recently has been so depressing with new building developments and weedkiller limiting their numbers, so finding these planters full of weeds (outside Warren St / UCLH on Euston Rd) has been a real treat. I've been down there a few times and noticed new things each time. A previous recent blog entry featured a Study in Nipplewort which I saw in this planter.  I'll go back in a couple days to check on some, especially the swine cress buds.

looking west, the other planter is across the road

looking east to the other planter

weed trough outside UCLH

The most interesting thing I've seen is swine cress which I'd never seen before. Why I'd see so much of it here and none anywhere else, I don't know. Certainly the neglect of these planters has been beneficial for the weeds and I'm pleased.

swine cress

these are the fattest buds I've seen on the swine cress so will go back in a couple days

swine cress buds

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress buds

swine cress

smooth sow thistle, to the right small rosettes of swine cress, nipplewort, hairy bittercress, groundsel, petty spurge

another smooth sow thistle

smooth sow thistle

compare the smooth sow thistle leaves above with the hedge mustard below which has very textured grey-ish green leaves, both have similar rosettes of lobed leaves

hedge mustard

close-up of one of the hedge mustard leaves

hedge mustard leaf

ribwort plantain, few shoots of petty spurge

ribwort plantain

mouse-ear chickweed

mouse-ear chickweed

mouse-ear chickweed

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress starts with a low rosette of leaves and then a taller flowering stem emerges as below

hairy bittercress

prickly sow thistle surrounded by swine cress, hairy bittercress to the left

prickly sow thistle

common knotgrass

common field-speedwell

common field-speedwell

common field-speedwell flower bud close-up

common field speedwell

nipplewort

nipplewort

dandelion

dandelion

mallow

mallow

herb robert

herb robert

groundsel

groundsel

a little further north from the intersection with the planters (in view of the Post Office Tower) is this weed which I've been trying to identify, wild lettuce? prickly lettuce?

the cold weather has been tough on it but it's still alive and green

it's soft and not prickly at all even though the leaves have this edge

Weed Therapy

(adapted from Bird Therapy as seen on Winterwatch 2019)

1. Learn
2. Be Active
3. Connect
4. Give
5. Take Notice

I will also add, 6. Be Patient. It can take months of observing a plant and seeing how it develops and blooms before being able to identify it.

only while at my pc did I notice those tiny buds in the centre, thinking this is swine cress (a new weed - to me), waiting (impatiently but trying for patiently) for further development

weed rosette

Geranium Molle, early rosette. I didn't notice those square stems next to it. Think that's the smooth sow thistle I was photographing but concentrating on the buds not the stems. Never realized they were so square at the bottom.

geranium molle

Not sure on this but thinking mayweed?

possibly mayweed

A Study in Nipplewort

I happened to walk past a planter on Euston Rd that had a lot of weeds, including nipplewort, in all stages of its development so thought it would be interesting to have a look at it.

initial nipplewort rosette

nipplewort initial rosette

second rosette with additional leaves

nipplewort rosette

3rd nipplewort rosette, thick with leaves

nipplewort rosette

4th photo with the nipplewort as a small plant with larger leaves rather than just a low rosette

nipplewort small plant

5th photo with longer thinner leaves at the top of the nipplewort plant and flower buds (not to be confused with the smooth sow thistle behind inc its darker leaf on the left)

nipplewort

6th photo with a taller nipplewort plant and a number of flower buds, clear longer thinner leaves

nipplewort

7th photo with the first nipplewort flower in bloom and additional buds, The differently shaped leaves going up the plant are clearly visible.

nipplewort

 final 8th photo of the nipplewort with a number of flowers and a number of buds

nipplewort

December 2018

Dec 9th, the weather has been mild and the snapdragons are continuing to bloom.

scabious Perfection Blue snapdragons

the scabious Perfection Blue is looking better every day

scabiosa Perfection Blue

the delphinium buds haven't opened but they haven't completely wilted either, salvia Amistad behind still has a few flowers

delphinium salvia amistad

I've tried to grow catnip (Nepeta cataria) indoors but the seedlings are struggling. I've had to give up and put them outside.

catnip seedlings indoors

Beginning of December, 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

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - ju1i3's blog