iris foetidissima and hydrangea petiolaris

I was surprised to see this iris flower today. It self-seeded and I hadn't even noticed the plant until it bloomed. But what a boring flower. It's brown! These iris foetidissima have a way of blending into the background and being completely unnoticed - until the seed pods burst open to reveal bright orange seeds. Their other redeeming quality is that they'll grow and bloom anywhere, sun or shade; tough as old boots.

iris foetidissima

This hydrangea is also pretty tough and doing well in semi-shade.

hydrangea petiolaris

daisy, salvia, comfrey, vetch, etc

I planted these daisies from seed, what seems like ages ago. The recent hot weather has finally spurred them into bloom.



These are my first salvia blooms.


The comfrey is in bloom now.


These tufted vetch seemed to appear suddenly from nowhere. I did have seeds ages ago but I have no recollection of where I planted them and when but I often reuse pots after planting seeds if nothing appears so these have obviously been dormant somewhere until the conditions were right for them to grow.

tufted vetch

It's funny how the ceanothus on the right has one lone bloom on it, compared with the one on the left covered in blossoms.

"work in progress"

Watching Goldie on the Chelsea Flower Show program, I loved his phrase "work in progress" referring to our gardens. How true. We're always working on things in the garden which is never complete, it's always a work in progress.

This is my first allium schubertii this year. I guess it gets more sun in this position than the others on the other side of the garden.

allium schuberti

Another first, my first foxglove in bloom this year.


This hersperis matronalis (aka sweet rocket as well as other names) took me by surprise this spring. I planted seeds in the past but forgot about them. Suddenly there's a whole patch of them in the garden next door. I also discovered a tufted vetch there. I planted those seeds ages ago and never saw anything of them. I must have planted something else in the pot and eventually the vetch grew.

hesperis matronalis

My neighbour's ceanothous (right in the pic below, covered with purple flowers) is great to see from my back door.

back garden

another frog and the latest blooms

Another (larger) frog has appeared in my pond. I haven't seen the other frog for a few weeks and suddenly this one was there the other day. I love having the frogs. My one regret is that my grandmother isn't able to share this with me. She was so interested in my efforts to attract them to my garden pond.

frog in pond

The single comfrey plant I have (from an entire packet of seeds) is unexpectedly blooming. It was at the back of the garden out of the way, looking a lot like green alkanet, and suddenly the other day I saw it had different flowers and realized it was comfrey. I was inspired to plant this after hearing Bunny Guiness talk on GQT about how great the flowers were for bees as they lasted well into the autumn when little else was in bloom.

comfrey buds

The angelica is an amazing plant. It has more flowers and has grown even taller.

angelica flowers



The lower stems are red. The plant was so massive I had to prune it.

red angelica stems

The Orange Favourite tulips are still looking great.

Orange Favourite tulips

Orange Favourite tulip

Orange Favourite tulip

This lilac has been very slow to get going but now it's blooming like mad. This pic also shows two aquilegia (to the right of the lilac) which are the tallest aquilegia I've ever seen, some foxgloves and a bit of the ceanothous to the left.


Orange Favourite tulips, angelica and green alkanet

This pot of Orange Favourite tulips is in my back garden. The tulips in my front garden bloomed and finished before these even started.

Orange Favourite tulips

This angelica is huge. I was annoyed that I only got 1 or 2 plants from an entire packet of seeds but at this size in a small garden I don't need more than 1 or 2.


Green alkanet seems to have taken over the garden. It's beautiful and I love it but I think it's time to thin it a bit. The bees are loving it.

green alkanet

green alkanet

green alkanet

urban gardening

Trough for a balcony

flower trough

I took advantage of the sunny weather yesterday, during a welcome break from the rain, to plant up some pots. This is my budget trough for the balcony. I'm not sure how much weight the balcony can take so I used a plastic trough to be lighter.  I got this one from freecycle. I planted thyme and rosemary I bought on special at the supermarket. The small seedlings are cerinthe I grew from seed I collected last summer and larger seedlings on the right are agastache (I think) that I planted last summer. I put some shells I had at the back. They said on GW last year not to grow edibles near a busy road but I decided the amount of toxins in the small amount of herbs that would be eaten is not worth worrying about.


I had a second thyme and thought I'd see how it does in this pot. It would be nice to have it growing in the garden all the time. I found I had a lot of unused shells so I put them around the plant.

Shrubs near the pavement

My front garden being right on a busy pavement in London I found that passing pedestrians pulled off (and even cut) every single flower (and thick wooden stems) from the star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) I had planted to shield the unplesant view of my rubbish and recycling bins. I decided it had to be moved or else it wouldn't survive and I'd never have any flowers from it to enjoy.

Trachelospermum jasminoides

I planted a couple of buddlejas in its place. They had self-seeded in the back garden so were free and being quite a common plant (often considered a weed) I don't think passersby will be desperate to take pieces of it and even if they do it grows quickly or I hope it does as it's looking a bit pathetic so far.


orange tulips and pots for a balcony

I love parrot tulips. The flowers are amazing. I think these are Professor Rontgen but I also planted Orange Favourite so I'm not absolutely certain. I must try to label plants (and seeds better). Every year I have seedlings that I don't know what they are.

tulip Professor Rontgen

tulip Professor Rontgen

tulip Professor Rontgen

I decided not to buy many seeds (or plants) this year both to save money and because after having too many seeds in previous years I wanted a break from feeling pressured to plant them, and inevitably ending up with too many seedlings, so for the pots for my balcony I decided to plant them up with sunflowers I grew from last year's collected seed. I have no idea how these will work in pots on a balcony - certainly not a traditional choice - but I will give them a try. I also couldn't find the coleus seeds I wanted to plant in them and couldn't decide on an alternative - and the sunflower seeds were just there. I'm also using plastic pots which are lighter than clay as I don't want too much weight on the balcony. I put some styrofoam pieces in the bottom before filling with compost to reduce the weight further. Photos with them in situ to follow.

balcony pots with sunflowers

I also have a trough to plant up. I'm going to use some miscellaneous plants I have kicking around. Again, an untraditional choice but completely free. Photos to follow.

I'd never collected much seed before until the end of last summer when I collected seed from the sunflowers, snapdragons, hollyhocks, cerinthe and alliums. I was pleased to have seedlings from the first 4, including cerinthe below and sunflowers above. The snapdragons are tiny yet (photo to follow). The alliums I don't think will bloom in 1 year so no hurry with those.

cerinthe seedlings

Tulip Little Princess and crushed shell mulch for slug protection

I bought a pack of 10 of these Little Princess Tulips and I think I got 2 flowers? One looked nice, if washed out, forced in the truffle bottle (see garden withindoors) and this one somehow survived the squirrels who ate all the other crocus and tulips I planted in the back garden. I think this is a lovely little tulip, similar to acuminta in colouring but much less expensive.

tulip little princess


My tulips are incredibly early this year with the warm weather. These look like the Professor Rontgen and Silver Parrot tulips I planted in previous years although last year I also planted Orange Favourite and Estella Rynveld which I guess the pot below must be one of them. 

The pot of tulips below is in the back garden (which doesn't get nearly as much sun as the front garden).  They are far behind the ones in the front garden that are in bloom. 

I want to avoid slug pellets this year as I now have a frog in the garden. I loved the look of the crushed shell mulch since I first saw it so I'm going to try it to protect my lupins. I planted so many late last summer and they germinated well but the slugs decimated them. I have 4 left so I hope I can nurture them with some tlc and extra vigilance with the slugs. I've also had a bit of a clear out in this flowerbed removing all the bluebells. I remove some every year but obviously not enough as they were still taking over. I do the same with the ground elder and I don't have much of that but still a few shoots every year.

lupins with crushed shell mulch

This is typical of what happens in my garden. I potted up a piece of bergenia rhizome and a poppy and foxglove have self-seeded themselves along with it.

violets in this warm weather

It's hard to capture the abundance of violets in this bunch with this image but I have never seen a clump with so many flowers. I often have some violets spring up about the garden but never with so many flowers. I assume it's the warm weather that has brought them out.


I have so many vinca flowers this spring, also down to the warm weather? It's such of nice contrast of a sea of green interspersed with purple flowers.


Finding plants at the garden centre so expensive and often lacking the health to survive into their second year I took this one out of the skip. After being planted it in the garden, it soon revived. This was definitely my best "buy".


early early tulips

I have never seen these tulips in bloom so early. This weather is crazy. The ceanothous is also about to burst into bloom.

orange tulips


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