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.

hollyhocks

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.

poppy

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)

mint

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

cornflowers

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

bergamot

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

salvia

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

foxglove

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

pansies

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!

ceanothus

tiny beautiful viola flower

viola

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

iris

Scrophularia grandiflora

slug destruction, not helped by Strulch

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

before

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

lupins

after

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

before

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

after

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.

cerinthe

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

comfrey

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

iris

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

hosta

hosta

hosta

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.

hostas

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.

hosta

I love those purple shoots.

hosta

hosta3

hosta

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.

hosta

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

hosta

hosta6

hosta

pansies and violas

I think these are my desert island flowers. So simple but so beautiful and exuberant.

violas

close-up of the violas

violas

pansies

and a close-up of the National Velvet red tulips in the background of the first pic

National Velvet red tulips

I didn't notice the buds until today when the shrub is suddenly in bloom.

lilac

the entire shrub with all the flowers, and to think this was slow to flower, it's caught up!

lilac

Socks in the garden

Socks out in the back garden on a sunny day this week

This pic of Socks shows some of the most numerous plants I have in the garden: green alkanet (with the small blue flowers) - I love it, the iris foetidissima behind the table, the snowberry to the right of that which is proving somewhat invasive and aquilegia to the right which may be easier to see in the pic above. Also more visible in the pic above is a raspberry.

the comfrey has buds almost ready to open

this was one of my unknown seedlings but now looks quite like a hardy geranium

Moving to the front garden, some Little Beauty tulips in bloom

little beauty tulip

little beauty tulip

experiments with Strulch mineralised straw mulch and bees on muscari

the bees have been going mad for the muscari

bee on muscari

bee on muscari

the bees are also loving the snakeshead fritilaries, they go right up into the flower and seemed to be there for ages, there must be a lot of nectar and pollen in there

snakeshead fritilary

below, nigella and pansy have been self-seeding in the cracks between paving stones on the patio next door

I heard about mineralised straw mulch on Gardeners' Question Time a few weeks ago and decided I must try it. By googling I found there was one called Strulch that was available at a nursery in Sandridge, near St Albans, Carpenters Nursery.

3 milk thistles surrounded by Strulch

I bought these milk thistles recently and already the slugs had attacked them so thought surrounding them with Strulch would be the first test. I still don't understand how a thistle could be so attractive to slugs, but it is.

milk thistle with Strulch

two lupins surrounded by Strulch

I grew the one on the left from seed and had been keeping it in a pot to keep it away from the slugs. The one on the right I bought at the nursery with the Strulch.

lupins with Strulch

another auricula in bloom, a more attractive colour, lots of farination

auricula

and another auricula

violas

anemone

the next 3 pics might not look like much but I'm happy to have 3 hostas coming up this spring - planting them in pots have prevented the slugs from making a meal of them

garden beginning of April

Front Garden

Nothing says spring like a pink hyacinth in full bloom and the tulips in bud and ready to burst into flower.

pink hyacinth

in the same pot, a small exquisite viola

viola

snake's head fritillary

snakeshead fritilary

snakeshead fritilary

I bought two packs of the snake's head fritillary bulbs and put 1 pack in each pot below. Unfortunately I'm not sure which was in each but judging by the questionable quality of other Taylor bulbs I presume that is the pot of only 3  (on the right below) growing out of 10 or 12 that were in the pack. I assume the pot on the left with 10 or 12 bulbs growing is the one from Sainsburys.

snakeshead fritillary

some cheerful pink anemones, an impulse buy at the garden centre recently, one of my many outstanding garden tasks are to dig in those pieces of edging

anemone

Back Garden

the green alkanet bloomed today for the first time this spring

green alkanet

the bergenia's been in bloom for a while, Polly Pocket on the table

This is the first auricula in bloom and also the first one I've identified to cull. What a boring colour. If I had more room I would be inclined to keep it but with very limited space I have to keep the colours I love only.

auricula

I dug up all the bluebells from this flowerbed last summer. They are not erradicated that easily! All those bulb sprouts below are bluebells I missed.

I was weeding my flower bed near the pond (below), a pre-formed one so it's not very big, when I stood up to removed the pile of weeds and look in the pond hopefully for frogspawn (I've never had any) I was horrified to see a giant worm, about a foot long, slither over the muddy part (to the right of my trowel sticking up from the soil) and into the pond. I've never seen anything like it.

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