exquisite pincushions

time for those exquisite pincushion flowers

scabious blue cushion


scabious Blue Cushion

scabious blue cushion

my first (possibly only one for this summer) sunflower with a bee

sunflower with bee

the bees are also liking the nasturtiums

nasturtiam with bee

nasturtium with bee

an update on the violas, it's hard to believe that only a few weeks ago these were tiny unexpected self-seeders which given space have grown and bloomed

this is another self-seeded viola, in the front garden


two weeks later and the suspected milk thistle does indeed look like milk thistle with that new distinctive leaf, I also put that piece of acanthus in this pot and possibly a centaurea montana to the left

milk thistle

I did plant the milk thistle seeds which I was able to remove from a dried seed head and the germination has been excellent, I'm intrigued that the milk thistle I had a few years ago never seemed to self-seed

a week into August

a week after the views below, this is the sunnier side of the patio, I'm finding that the honeysuckle is allowing slugs access to my seedlings so I've taken to moving the pots to the other table each night

close-up of the violas: chicky chicks on the right, next to it a self-seeder, to the left another couple of seedings I found in a pot of something else and replanted them in their own pot

viola chicky chicks


last year or the year before, I had a plant that really needed dividing - they make it look so easy on tv but it's not - I divided it into a few pieces which I planted but I found this on top of the soil the other day so planted it up in a pot to see if that revived it, I'm not even sure if this is the right way up, as with so many things just have to wait and see what happens

a view further along the left side of the garden in the sun

a couple sea hollies to the left, globe thistles to the right, scabious barocca in the middle and another scabious in the blue and white pot, I struggled to grow sea holly from seed so bought 3 plants from the garden centre, only 2 have bloomed

close-up of the globe thistles, the bees are loving them, here's 3 on one flower

globe thistle with bees

I must be going mad! the bergamot seeds have turned out as this:


oenothera versicolour? this entire seed tray is full of the small plants

I got so many plants from the one packet of seeds I was able to fill up the trough next door

what perfect garden views

one of the best garden views: violas in Victorian terracotta pots, some of my recently sown nasturtiums doing well and a cat!

close-up of one of the violas above which along with the other two viola/pansy in the front row self-seeded


and that tiny one to the right, Viola Chicky Chicks

Victor comes, from his home round the corner, every day now

why even try to grow sunflowers when you have hollyhocks and artichokes making a spectacular view, the sunflowers are in the bottom right of this pic, being dwarfed by the taller plants - and they need watering! hollyhocks and artichokes cope quite well with little water, facing north

facing south

when those tall plants are looking good, the sunflowers are drooping, why struggle with them?, you can get caught up with how tall they are and see Monty Don is growing some on GW, it's great to come to terms with what works and what doesn't in your garden

a great view is the number of germinated seeds of these knautia melton pastels, every pot but one has at least one tiny seedling

knautia melton pastels

I have noticed some of the plants in the front with red leaves, I'm curious what causes it and if there's anything I can do about it, this is a self-seeded honesty, I have lots of those in the back with green leaves

looking under these red leaves are green leaves on the same plants so I'm even more intrigued

red leaves of honesty

this large thistle-like plant has appeared in this pot below, I think it might be chickory which I grew from seed a few years ago and only got 1 plant from the seeds, I compared a leaf here with thistles I have next door but it doesn't match so I think this is chickory, a seed must have been dormant in this pot, when I first grew it it reminded me of a giant dandelion, to the right a foxglove


a better view of the pot


another plant destroyed by slugs, I rescued a piece of this acanthus and put it in a pot


studying these seedlings they appear to be the same sort, going left to right in size, the only thing I can think of right now is milk thistle which I had in the garden so it makes sense that it might have self-seeded but the leaves aren't quite right yet, will wait and see

milk thistle seedlings

as the milk thistles appear to self-seed I decided to collect some of the seeds and try to grow them myself, below the dried seedhead and to the right a couple of the seeds

milk thistle

this self-seeded agastache is doing great in the gap between the paving slabs

garden highlights at the end of July

I just love pansies/violas, here is an update on the viola chicky chicks with various colours of flowers appearing, that's a self-seeded verbena bonariensis at the back, I find violas/pansies some of the easier seeds to grow

viola chicky chicks

I bought these agapanthus in bloom a few years ago, I had a pot full of agapanthus plants grown from bulbs which never bloomed so I planted them in the garden as I didn't want to waste a pot and they still haven't bloomed, so for me buying  agapanthus in bloom has been a guarantee they will bloom in the future


I was trying to photograph the butterfly, bottom right, but it hasn't come out very clearly but the sea holly to the left and the scabious to the right make a nice view of the back garden

moving to the front garden, black knapweed


artichokes making a spectacular show, as usual, in the front gardens, in the background are some thistles in bloom

artichoke plants

next door even more spectacular, especially considering the small "wild flower" plant it was sold as

artichoke plant

a group of self-seeded honesty, must be good conditions for them here, a pink flower of one just visible to the right

honesty seedlings

an unknown plant from the free perennial seeds given away with purchase of other seeds a few years ago, it's taken some time to get to this point

Socks in the sun

my experiments with Strulch are over, doesn't stop slugs but after they've eaten all my plants, it makes a nice comfy cat bed, this is Victor, a neighbour's cat

lupin damage

lupin damage

lupin damage

end of June/ beginning of July

The hollyhocks next door are looking magnificent. I think the garden next door (which I look after) has finally recovered from two lots of destructive building works in 2013 and 2010.


allium sphaerocephalon

Allium sphaerocephalon

planting the hostas in pots has been a great success, only 1 has slug damage and that was the one with the foxglove which I think they got up to get to the hosta, huge leaves and 2 flower spikes on this one

hosta buds

hosta bud

the purple colour of this salvia amistad is exquisite

salvia amistad

the teasels have just bloomed, this one has a bee just visible bottom left

teasel flower with bee

I tried to grow poppies for the centenary of the start of World War 1. It's been a complete failure. I was surprised to see this one actually growing in this pot. Of the thousands of seeds I broadcast I had about 2 plants.


the first water lily of the year, I can see a couple of other buds

water lily

these viola chicky chicks have been very fast to bloom, I see a foxglove self-seeding at the front there and what looks like verbena bonariensis at the back

viola chicky chicks

one of my unknown plants is mint (I noticed that unmistakeable smell yesterday)


I picked a leaf from another mint I have to compare, now to find what kind of mint

mint leaves

I'm still having trouble with slugs, for some reason they attacked the pot of cornflowers on the right and left the pot on the left alone


some of the nasturtium (Phoenix) seedlings a week after the pic below, 21 out of 25 seeds in the packet germinated, quite a good result

nasturtium phoenix seedlings

these are the kinds of seed I love: the nasturtium in the terracotta pots, almost every pot has at least 1 germinated seed (out of 2 seeds I planted) and the bergamot which has germinated and grown very well, whereas the delphiniums in the black plastic pots under the nasturtiums have no seeds germinated at all

I seem to have massive success with seeds or very little, the bergamot seeds are doing too well - I have too many so have to do the painful task of thinning them out, I did try planting some of the seedlings I thinned out in the pots top right, I'll see how they do


garden updates middle of May

I just have to show that foxglove again. I've never had such a large one - it has 4 stems on it

foxglove with 4 stems

Polly Pocket, with a foxglove in bloom on the right and some enormous hosta leaves

vipers bugloss, I love this purple flower, sold as small "wildflower" plants at the garden centre so less expensive

knautia Melton Pastels, I love these pinchushion flowers, so do the bees

knautia melton pastels

some new blooms

this salvia has recently bloomed in the front garden, there's also a purple aquilegia to the left and some green alkanet in the background and a chinese lantern to the right


I never know where my best foxgloves (example below on the right) will be until they bloom as I have them self-seeding all over the garden


my milk thistles have managed to bloom, in spite of their tastiness to slugs

milk thistle

all my pots have nigella and snapdragons which have self-seeded (a lot also have pansies), there's actually an ivy-leaved geranium back there which was the original occupant of this pot

more pansies, not sure if these are Tasty Pansy or Pansy Tea Party but one or the other either self-seeded or plants coming back from last year


viper's bugloss (echium vulgare), I love these blue/purple flowers

vipers bugloss

as well as the viper's bugloss the "purple" pot has nepeta in bloom and sea holly (tall stem in the foreground) not in bloom yet

I can't believe all these plants self-seeding in the cracks of the patio next door: nigella, violas, forget-me-nots

and ceanothus!


tiny beautiful viola flower


a view of the back garden

another view of the back garden showing the yellow rose right at the back, sadly it has no scent, unlike the dark pink one flowering so prolifically at the moment at the front

the beautiful fat round chive flower buds

chive lower buds

later when the flowers are beginning to bloom, the bees are loving them

chive flowers

the irises in the back garden and an aquilegia in the foreground


Scrophularia grandiflora

slug destruction, not helped by Strulch

I planted these lupins, mulched with Strulch, with high hopes.


although the lupin on the left has already been seriously damaged I thought the pink on the right was ok



I found a slug on the flower, having worked its way up the stem destroying all in its path.

lupins with slug damage

on the positive side, the cats are loving the catnip (nepeta) which is in pots, I don't know if the slugs like it or not, will have to test it


I had this tray of seedlings on the patio and the slugs got to them. I was wondering if the ones with the seed leaves eaten could recover.

calendula seedlings


I took them off the ground and removed the slugs underneath the pots and the ones with the seed leaves eaten did recover and continued growing.

calendula seedlings

A delphinium surrounded by Strulch, completely stripped by slugs, looks like a skeleton. I think I have to call the Strulch a failure. I thought maybe they got to the lupins via surrounding plants but that is not the case here.

delphinium surrounded with Strulch

I should probably just stick to plants that the slugs don't bother like this cerinthe which is gorgeous, or leave vulnerable plants in pots.


in the hottest weather the calla lilies bloom

calla lily

the bees are loving the chive flowers

chive flowers

the pot at the bottom has all purple flowers: nepeta, viper's bugloss, sea holly, the last two are not in bloom yet, the pot at the top has nepeta

purple flowers

back garden

Comfrey in the back garden

comfrey flowers


I have lots of green alkanet - the bees are loving it! and the comfrey

green alkanet

milk thistle with Strulch at the base - and no slug damage

strulch protecting milk thistle

lupins surrounded by Strulch at the base but too many plants around them to gain access to the lupins but at least they aren't completely destroyed

-update 15-5-2015-

it rained a lot yesterday and the snails seemed able to slosh around the mulch and attack the back lupin stem which had a flower spike developing, I removed some of the snails but I'm sure more came, I think it's completely destroyed now but will check it today

lupins with Strulch

iris in the front garden


Lots of honesty this year (pink flower below with those distinctive seed pods) surrounded by green alkanet.

the hostas are growing like mad, this first one is amazing, I'll have to find the labels with each variety




the hosta below is the most damaged by slugs, it is also completely overwhelmed by the foxglove on top of it which I want to allow to flower first before removing it, the hosta will still be there and able to be the star of that pot

hosta and foxglove

on the other side of the garden opposite the hostas, I have a few centaurea montana which I love, there's the globe thistles starting and of course some pansies and nigella

Moving around to the left I have 3 pots with nepeta which the cats are loving - and me too, I love those purple flowers; one of those nepeta pots I also have viper's bugloss and sea holly so it can be an all-purple pot. I bought the viper's bugloss and sea holly as small "wildflower" plants at the garden centre so they weren't too expensive. I have tried them both with seed in past years. I got one plant from the viper's bugloss and nothing from the sea holly so maybe plants are the way to go.


Since putting the hostas in pots and using the Strulch (mineralised straw mulch) I have very little slug damage. It is early days yet but so far so good.


I love those purple shoots.




This one does have some slug damage, even the foxglove (not normally bothered by slugs) in the same pot has some. I did find a tiny snail amongst the hosta leaves. Will keep a close watch.


the next two plastic pots have unknown hostas which my neighbour left in my care when she moved





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