mid-August 2018

I can finally do something in the garden as the heatwave has cooled down. I've been tidying some things and was going to prune back these dried stems of the poppy when I realised the new flower is growing from the dried stems. We shouldn't be too much in a rush to clear things away. (catnip at the front, honesty to the left, sea holly behind, nasturtium on the right)

late red poppy

I continue to notice Japanese knotweed locally

Japanese knotweed

surprise viola springing from a pot


For the last couple of years I've been doing pots for my neighbour round the corner. One pot had agastache, another had a hollyhock. I removed those and replaced them as they died back. Now agastache and a hollyhock is growing between the paving stones.


A neighbour nearby has a whole row of mint along the edge of their front garden and right now while it's in bloom it looks amazing. That hoverfly is enjoying it as well.


After seeing that fab mint, I pulled mine out from the crowd of pots while I was tidying up a bit and looked carefully and it has buds. Looking forward to some flowers.


I've seen gipsywort before but this example yesterday along the canal was so fresh and new I just had to photograph it again.


The weather has been so extreme so many plants are out of their natural rhythm. I don't know if the ivy should have buds right now or not but it seems quite early to me.

These are in my garden.

ivy buds

These are along the canal.

ivy buds

I love greater knapweed. Now that it's rained a bit, they are looking so much better than during the heatwave drought.

greater knapweed

greater knapweed

The comfrey has come back as well now that it's not so hot and dry. And the bees are enjoying it.

comfrey bee

comfrey bee

August 2018

Difficult growing conditions have meant some plants have not bloomed and won't be blooming at all this year and some have bloomed incredibly early. My Chinese Lanterns are a disaster. The first orange lantern weeks ago, months early. I did try to grow some in pots and as I watered my pots, they have done well, unlike the ones in the ground, which I can't share a photo of as they are so heart-breaking.

chinese lanterns pot-grown

also in a pot, some self-seeded borage with lots of buds



I wasn't sure how the morning glory would cope with this shady corner of my neighbour's patio but it's been fine. Not as shady as I thought. (Scarecrow on the chair under the table)

morning glory

the toad lily has lots of flowers but they're small; I'm afraid I'm underwhelmed

toad lily

beginning of July the toad lily didn't even have any buds, I guess the hot weather really accelerated things

The globe thistles bloomed early and are already past their best. In previous years, August was their prime time.

the lupin has only bloomed because I've been watering it - a lot


but all the watering has helped the slugs, they've started on this hosta which I've been keeping out of their reach recently - but they've found it

slug-eaten hosta

and they went for the hyssop seedlings which had been doing so well, I just see a slug trail

slug-eaten hyssop

even though it's so small, this nepeta has buds, some plants react to difficulties by blooming - to ensure seed production and long-term continuation (prickly sow thistle on the right)

nepeta prickly sow thistle

I have no idea why this poppy is so small (in a 9-cm pot) and so much later than the others (nipplewort or smooth sow thistle seedlings in there as well)

the heat has helped the cleomes which have some prominent buds

a couple days later, the flowers have started to bloom

cleome flowers

the ever reliable Japanese anemone, appear totally unaffected by the heatwave

japanese anemone

a self-seeded calendula


a few days later, the first bud has opened


I love green alkanet and have it all over the garden in the spring but it's totally unnecessary to have any in pots. My agapanthus didn't bloom this year, whether because of the weather or being crowded out by the green alkanet, I don't know. It's time to remove all the green alkanet from pots. I'll start on that when the heatwave ends, in theory tonight (August 7th).

pot with green alkanet

end of July 2018

It's been a very difficult time in the garden and wider environment. It's hot and dry. So hot and dry I don't even want to think about it. I refuse to waste water watering the entire garden and have only been watering pots and the recently planted rhubarb and a few others recently put in the ground. I only planted the wild bergamot in the ground recently after growing them from seed sown last summer. I could not even begin to get that larger pot in the ground until it rains and softens the rock-hard ground. If this weather continues, these are the kind of plants I will need to concentrate on.

wild bergamot

the morning glory flowers are here and there on the patio

morning glory

this sunflower was from free seeds with a seed order, only 1 germinated and grew but for free - I'm happy


close-up of the sunflower, which just opened this afternoon since I took the photo above this morning


the next day, a bee has found the sunflower

sunflower with bee

I wish I could say the cats are enjoying the catnip but it's been so hot and they seem so uncomfortable they've only had a bit of it. At least the bees are enjoying it.

nepeta cataria

it was hit and miss with the slugs but I did manage to achieve 10 catnip plants from seeds (sown in May)

nepeta cataria

this was a catnip plant I had grown from seed in a previous year - and it survived

nepeta cataria

finally a lupin flower spike, after repotting this a few weeks ago

lupin flower spike

a few days later the flower are opening, revealing my favourite colour

I've never grown toad lily before so looking forward to seeing the resulting flowers from these buds.

toad lily buds

10 days later the first flower is open

I saw this beetroot in a neighbour's vegetable plot in their front garden.

beetroot flowers

I could see the similarity with the sea beet I saw on Hayling Island recently.

sea beet

As well as the sea beet above, I saw a few other plants on Hayling last week, thistle

thistle on beach

horned poppy and thistle

thistle horned poppy

a certain amount of woolliness

thistle beach

sea holly

sea holly



wild carrot

wild carrot

wild carrot

echium vulgare

echium vulgare sand dunes

the spent echium was all furry

echium vulgare spent flowers

also saw sea purslane, golden samphire, rock samphire and sea kale, see South Downs and Coast

the artichokes in the front garden are amazing - magnificent purple flowers beloved by bees and growing without any rain, I planted them originally in my garden, bought a very small plant for my neighbour 2 doors down (far right in the pic) and they self-seeded themselves next door, the garden in between

artichokes front garden

Wildflower garden at the Crick Institute

Sadly, not everything can stay undeveloped so it's good when a new development has a decent wildflower area, as the new Crick Institute does, not far from St Pancras Old Church and the canal. Those are bees on the globe thistles. This area has full sun so the globe thistles are in bloom, mine aren't quite yet.

Crick Institute wildflower garden

there were dusky cranesbill

dusky cranesbill Crick Institute

close-up of some of the globe thistles

globe thistles with bees



I didn't know this euphorbia before, google tells me euphorbia griffithii.

euphorbia griffithii

I don't know if it's attractive to bees. I didn't see any around it. But then I'm seeing a lot fewer bees.

euphorbia griffithii

contrast that with this epic fail at Gasholders

green space gasholders

they've put in flowerbeds - in a very controlled way

great burnet

great burnet and yellow yarrow ?

great burnet

but it hasn't stopped them from using weedkiller nearby

weedkiller Regent's Canal St Pancras

thank goodness red valerian can still self-seed by St Pancras Lock

red valerian St Pancras lock

just to the left of the lock, my most frequent non-plant photographic subject, the Post Office Tower, in the distance (railway line out of St Pancras just beyond the canal, new Somers Town pedestrian bridge to the left)

and further along the canal there are some wildflowers that haven't been chemically treated or controlled

purple loosestrife

purple loosestrife


great hairy willowherb

great hairy willowherb

great hairy willowherb

wild buckwheat, not sure how "wild" it is, I've had it in my garden from bird seed

wild buckwheat

large drifts of common orache and

common orache

fat hen

fat hen

huge teasels

teasel Regent's Canal

bees on the lesser burdock

lesser burdock bee

This large-leaved plant is at the edge of the canal, I'm not sure but I think it's white butterbur (petasites albus or maybe the other butterbur, winter heliotrope petasites fragrans). I guess flowers would be definitive but not sure when they'd appear. Must note specifically where it is, in case the leaves die back, so I know where to look for flowers.

July 2018

the morning glory is producting new flowers every day, exquisite colour

morning glory

new morning glory bud

morning glory bud

this SylvaC pot had various self-seeders a month ago, since then the deadnettle has died as there are cracks in the pot and it dried out, I put the verbena bonariensis in another pot

SylvaC pot with self-seeders

the foxglove was dry enough I could ease it through the crack and I repotted it in this pot, I'll see how it does


in spite of the slug holes in the leaves, the Big Daddy hosta is blooming

big daddy hosta flower

the garden is dry dry dry, I'm watering the pots but I can't water the entire garden

dry garden with ginger cat

The 5 pots of scabiosa Perfection Blue seedlings have been a magnet for self-seeders, I guess because they're getting watered, this pot has a nasturtium, a verbascum, a green alkanet and a violet? I'll look at them carefully today. -update- also snapdragon and viola self-seeding in these pots

scabiosa Perfection Blue

willow? seedling in the pot on the left, deadnettle, foxglove, verbascum, agastache in the next 2 pots in the middle and surprisingly nothing else but the scabiosa seedling in the pot on the right

scabiosa perfection blue seedlings

Victor seeking some shade in the garden, echium Blue Bedder on the right, sea holly on the left

Victor ginger cat garden

I've put 4 of the largest cleomes in that black pot on the left (up on the table to avoid slugs) and put each of the nepeta cataria in a large pot. That one was partly eaten by a cat (visitor Jeffrey) and Polly Pocket also ate a few leaves..

nepeta cataria and cleome spinosa

mid-Summer 2018

I am so happy to have sea holly - that I haven't spent a lot on in the garden centre. Slugs have eaten those from last year as soon as they started coming up this year - but I collected and planted seeds from them last year and now this year, they are blooming. Not as exuberant as those from the garden centre last year but they're getting established, have the challenge of growing in pots and coping with drought (which they'd be able to cope with after getting established). The stems are starting to turn purple, in that fantastic electric way they have of doing so.

sea holly

close-up of one of the flowers starting to turn purple

sea holly

I am intrigued with these new forget-me-nots. They have appeared in these "garden in a pot"s   I tend to have with things that have self-seeded, this example with stachys byzantina, ox-eye daisy, hollyhock and this tiny-flowered forget-me-not, much smaller than my usual forget-me-nots which have all finished now for this year.

garden in a pot

these are my usual forget-me-nots flowering back in April, the flowers are enormous compared to the one above, I'm wondering if common or wood forget-me-not??


close-up of some of my usual forget-me-nots


close-up of the recent tiny-flowered plant, field forget-me-not??

tiny forget-me-not

close-up of the flowers

tiny forget-me-not flowers

I love buds, sometimes more than the flowers. These phlox buds are great. I got 3 small plants but the slugs got 2 of them so this is my only one left.

phlox buds

the blue of these cornflowers is exquisite




red admiral butterfly on the echium blue bedder

echium with red admiral butterfly

all purple / blue flowers today, here's a chicory I saw the other day in Allen Gardens, east London, one of my favourite flowers


I don't know why some morning glories flower so quickly when they are so small. Most are still growing and no flowers yet.

morning glory

the flower seems to be glowing

morning glory

flower bud of my Big Daddy hosta

hosta flower bud

I can't believe it can still flower with this kind of damage - and the Japanese anemone is untouched

hosta and japanese anemone

I am still surprised when I get flowers from seeds I planted. I shouldn't be but it's so often hit and miss. Black Swan poppies and echium Blue Bedder. The poppies only last a short time so in just the last few days I have 3 seed heads without petals. The terracotta pot on the right on the bricks has an echium vulgare which I put next to the echium Blue Bedder to compare the flowers, difference in size but otherwise extremely similar.

black swan poppies and echium Blue Bedder

the bees are loving the poppies

black swan poppy with bee

I have one largish red poppy plant after sowing seeds the last few years. One of the more difficult plants to grow from seed.

red field corn poppies

the bees are loving the poppies, and the tomato flowers but so far haven't managed to get a photo of one on a tomato flower

red poppy with bee

View from my stairs down to the garden, flowers: cornflowers, delphiniums, verbena bonariensis, foxglove, knautia, scabious, corn cockle, tomatoes, poppies, honeysuckle, nepeta; buds: globe thistle; still awaiting buds: lupin and monarda.


I love veronica. The fancy cultivars are nice but don't last. The bog standard ones at least come back every year. The bees will visit but not when there are exciting things like poppies.

veronica flower spikes

harlequin ladybird I noticed yesterday (22-6-2018)

harlequin ladybird

nice acanthus spinosis flower this year, none last year because of slug damage

acanthus spinosis

Sadly no iris flowers this year. They were choked by green alkanet and too dry. The weather has been terrible. Drought in my garden unless I water it and I'm only watering my pots. I can't water the entire garden.


the daisies and forget-me-not are finished in the compost pile garden, now teasel, morning glory and the blackberry hanging basket (I have no place to hang it)

compost pile garden

Trailing Bellflower

Two things happened recently, I saw this trailing bellflower on a church wall in a village in the Surrey Hills on the way home from the South Downs and I realised just how much the trailing bellflower is self-seeding in my garden and round the corner. It seems to have taken off in my garden much more extensively in the last year or two. It's such a picturesque effect of it trailing on walls and in the garden, I thought it's finally time to take notice (which for me is taking photos and blogging about it). I used to call it campanula without knowing which one but on researching it I think it is Campanula poscharskyana, commonly called trailing bellflower.

trailing bellflower

the buds are beautiful as well

trailing bellflower buds

a large clump is growing by my pond in a half barrel in my garden

trailing bellflower

from the other side shows how extensive it is

trailing bellflower

and it's growing from this wall on one side

trailing bellflower

it's all along the back wall of my garden, although difficult to capture the magical effect of it with my camera

trailing bellflower

round the corner, it's outside 2 of the houses

trailing bellflower

and even in the street

trailing bellflower

I also saw it at the dump a couple days ago

trailing bellflower

looking at some other plants in my garden, somehow a delphinium has survived the slugs and is blooming, black viola in the background, just self-seeded in that pot


a week later the delphinium buds have opened, also in the background a small echium vulgare, which self-seeded, behind the black viola


and I realise there are actually 2 different delphiniums, slightly different


a bee is enjoying the echium Blue Bedder

bee on echium Blue Bedder

June 2018

Victor decided to use a brick for a pillow today. Nepeta (catnip) to the left, scabious to the right.

cat brick for pillow

I'm having some difficulty with the sea holly. I am growing them in a trough to keep the slugs off them and because of lack of room in the garden to plant them in the ground. I guess I'm not doing something right as the flower stems at the top are collapsing. I guess my watering regimen is all wrong - too much water after not watering and them drying out? At least a couple of times watering has perked them up but lately I see the stems are permanently damaged so cut those off. I need to let the trough dry out a bit now after over-watering I think. And from what I'm reading online, I should have put in more drainage. 

sea holly wilting flower stems

red poppies still going strong, a week after the pic further below

red corn field poppies

3 zantedeschia flowers so far this year, last year I had masses but I think other plants are crowding them out


last year the green alkanet crowded out the fox and cubs but this year I made a small area free of it for them and I've been rewarded by the fox and cubs flowering

fox and cubs

I didn't plant anything in this SylvaC pot but these plants found their own way there: deadnettle, forget-me-not, foxglove, verbena bonariensis - basically my typical selection of self-seeders, just suprised no green alkanet

self-seeders SylvaC pot

the foxglove looks perfect in the crack to the left of the salamander - as a decoration - but it can't grow and flower there

self-seeders SylvaC pot

the pots I planted for my neighbour round the corner are looking good - and the hollyhock has self-seeded between the paving stones - they are amazing plants - even in that position, fat buds ready to bloom

a few days later the hollyhocks are in bloom

hollyhock in pavement

I pruned the honeysuckle and it responded by bursting into flower. The smell, in the evening especially, is amazing.


I have a new hardy geranium in the back garden. I think it was one of those perennial specials last summer, like buy 5 for the price of 4. It's settled in and is blooming well this spring.

hardy geranium

hardy geranium

one from the front garden is blooming as well

hardy geranium

also in the front garden, the poppies are still blooming

red poppies

the first lesser knapweed

lesser knapweed

in the back garden, the slugs love this acanthus (spinosis, I think) but somehow it's blooming this year, last year it didn't bloom as it was so badly eaten

acanthus spinosis

I've tried to grow monkshood from seed a few times without success so when I saw these plants at a garden centre, I decided to buy them as it was the only way I was going to have monkshood in my garden.


Something I grew from collected seed last year that did work is chinese lanterns. They are flowering - very subdued white flowers - but it means there'll be lanterns in the fall.

chinese lanterns flowers

I seem to have spectacular success with seeds or total failure. The lesser knapweed were a success and they've self-seeded like mad.

lesser knapweed

The globe thistles have been a huge success. They've taken over! They've blocked the sea holly planted to the left but the sea holly in the trough in front seem to be doing well.

globe thistle

The globe thistles are also taking over this flowerbed. I moved some that had self-seeded here last year and they're back!

globe thistle

At least these iris foetdissima are out of the way at the back of the garden. They bloom, even in the shade.

iris foetdissima

I planted some next door and they're blooming as well.

iris foetdissima

mid-May 2018

My first scabious of the season. That centaurea montana in the background is pictured below.


one of my largest centaurea montana flowers ever

centaurea montana

My auricula theater didn't really happen this year. My patio was in disarray as a ladder had to be put up to repair the roof. I did buy 4 new auriculas last year; this is the best one (Blue Yodder), maybe even the only new one to bloom (one had died). I must admit I wasn't really able to keep track of them all. I am going to try to get it ready next year in time. (deadnettle self-seeded in the pot).


my chives are looking amazing

chive flowers

after my spectacular honesty flowers, lots of "coins", why it's called the money plant (I didn't notice the snail while I was taking the pic)

honesty coins lunaria

I have a red corn poppy - finally. I tried so many packets of seeds with only a couple pathetic flowers resulting so when I saw these at the garden centre in the inexpensive "wildflower" range I bought a few and they are looking great, tall, lots of buds and actually blooming.

red corn poppy

red corn poppy

I gathered together some of the forget-me-nots that have self-seeded in pots. I wanted to keep them until they finish flowering (they die back then) but wanted to free up the pots. I didn't want to throw them all in the compost pile, why not grow them ON the compost pile.

forget-me-nots compost pile

I added some ox-eye daisy

ox-eye daisy on compost pile

that magic time when a ceanothus is covered with flowers, lilac next to it has few flowers after a prune last year but the rosa rugosa next to it has lots of flowers quietly blooming every year with zero attention, it was there when I moved here 15 years ago

ceanothus rosa rugosa

close-up of one of the rosa rugosa flowers

rosa rugosa

a pink aquilegia self-seeded there

ceanothus pink aquilegia

I heard mention of  'dog violet' recently and realised I didn't know what that meant so googled it. Dog violet doesn't have a scent so it's not viola odorata which I assumed all violets were. I noticed these next door and picked one - no scent. So these are dog violets. I don't know how they differ physically, must research.

dog violet

a carpet of bellis perennis in a neighbour's front garden I thought looked so nice

bellis perennis carpet

knautia macedonica, one of my more successful growing from seed attempts, I planted these in a neighbour's derelict pots and they are doing great with little attention even watering, why all one shade of pink? they're supposed to be varying shades, one quite dark almost red

knautia macedonica

I saw this Bee Friendly Trust planter at a Highbury and Islington overground platform. (was there a plant in that gap that someone has taken?).

bee friendly trust planter highbury and islington

May 2018

one of my favourite flowers, always very happy to see the first centaurea montana in bloom, truly the start of the season

centaurea montana

difficult for my camera to capture that intense blue colour of the common field speedwell I'm seeing so much of, and loving, right now

common field speedwell

common field speedwell

it's difficult to notice the long leaves amongst the green alkanet (with the blue flowers) but I think that's my first comfrey of the year


I guess I started my seeds and corms a bit late so I don't have much new yet, thank goodness for the honesty, green alkanet and forget-me-nots, and previous years' chives. Some of my seedlings have been devastated by slugs, some are looking promising, see my Seeds page for more info. Growing from seed does take a long time so there is that temptation for instant colour from the garden centre.


3 days later lots of the chive flowers opening, hope there'll be lots of bees there soon

chive flowers

a bee enjoying the green alkanet currently covering my back garden; I did see a different type of bee around this time so I think it's time to research what kind of bees I have in the garden

green alkanet with bee

self-seeded viola, not quite open yet

self-seeded viola




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