Category Archives: flowers

view of the garden from the patio

Moving plants around in the garden.

If a plant is struggling to cope with the conditions in its allotted area it is better move it to somewhere it will thrive rather than just survive.  So I have moved a clematis over the to the far side of the garage wall where the roots will be in more shade but the plant itself will be in the sun for a good part of the day.  In its place is a more vigorous clematis which should cope with the conditions better but I will put something over the root area to protect the roots from getting too hot.  The periwinkle which was way too overgrown was removed as I have loads of periwinkle around the garden.  The blue centauria has now gone as I was sick of it being covered in mildew.  It is a shame as the bees loved it, but,   I will find something else for them to enjoy, although in the mean time I have put a colourful fern in its place.  The fern was originally over by the wall and although it did like it there  it was hidden from view by the foxgloves.  I have dotted some erigeron seedlings (left over from the plant sale) in various places that looked a bit bare.  Now then, the dark leaved hardy geranium is a conundrum – I have two planted about a foot apart and only one is mildewy and the other is just fine.  I think I will dig up the sick one and give it some TLC on the patio.   Both the red astrantia and the pink one are looking great just now as I dug them up from the garden and put them in pots on the patio where they are less likely to get damaged but the huge slugs.

Red astrantia in a copper pot
Red astrantia Gill Richardson group
red astrantia single flower
Red astrantia flower

There is still a lot of colour in the garden – the Japanese anemones are out in their full glory, as are the persicaria, purple cyclamen, fuchsia, and the phlox.  Still going are the heuchera, erigeron, gaura, oregano, sellinum and there are sporadic flowers still on the roses, hebe, viburnum, and low growing campanula.  The grass flowers of the miscanthus ‘Red chief’ are just coming out and they look great next to the deep purple of the acer palmatum dissectum.  In the pond the purple loosestrife is just going over and there are still some pink water-lily flowers, blue pickerel weed and some yellow monkey flowers.  The deep pink berries of the rowan are looking splendid and the deep purple – almost black berries of the elder will soon be picked off by the birds and squirrels.  The dark purple foliage of the cotinus, heuchera, elder and acer really stand out amongst the greens and golds of the other plants and for bright highlights there are the silvery leaves of the snow in summer and the wormwood.

Gaura with one white flower
Guara lindheimeri The bride
view of the garden from the patio
From the patio

Indoors there are still flowers on the stephanotis and a few of the sempervivums.  There is one indoor cyclamen which is in full flower while the others have yet to get going.  I have one little flower on one of the lithops which is exciting as I didn’t think I would get a flower so quickly.  I also found a couple of bright pink cactus berries this year on the Old lady cactus (Mamillaria hahniana).  Apparently the slugs like the berries – I took one berry off to photograph it and the next day it was almost all eaten.  The colour scheme indoors reflects the garden colours with the deep purple shades coming from the foliage of the sempervivum chocolate kiss and the aeonium voodoo.  The variegated leaves of the cheese plant, spider plants and mother-in-laws-tongue  bring some brightness and the echivera have a lovely pale silvery aqua colour with a soft pink tinge.  Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Dorothy Brown’ may look boring to some but I love the hairy green leaves tinged with brown.  Of course you can add more colour with your containers too. Upstairs during the summer I need to keep the blind closed to prevent the room overheating so only plants that do well in shade can cope so they are all the dark green foliage plants like Dracaena fragrans and Dypsis lutescens, the peace lily copes well too.  My air plants do get a day light as they wouldn’t cope at all in the deep shade.

stone plants with a little bud showing
Flower bud in a lithop
a lithop (stone plant) in flower from above
Lithop 1st flower
lithop (stone plant) flower from the side
Lithop flower side view
fluffy spiky cactus with a pink berry on top
Mamillaria hahniana (old lady cactus) with berry.
pink cactus berry - seed pod
Pink berry (seed pod) from Old lady cactus
green furry succulent with brown tinges on the leaves
Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Dorothy Brown’
green succulent plant in a colourful plants pot
Crassula ovata cutting in a bright colourful pot

Just now the tiny baby frogs are all around the garden so before doing any work in an area ii is best to just ruffle the vegetation before cutting or digging anything up.  They are so well camouflaged and so very tiny!

tiny baby from camouflaged on a rock by the pond.
Tiny baby frog on a rock.
Tiny baby frogs beside the pond.
Two tiny baby frogs by the pond.

And to finish August with a lovely butterfly.

Red admiral butterfly on a rose leaf
Red admiral butterfly.

Mid July, flower combinations that work.

You often hear that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but within the garden there are certain plant combinations that work better than other.  I happen to think that if there are too many different textures, colours and shapes all together then you can lose the overall effect, they all battle for your attention.  I usually have a picture in my head of what the overall effect should look like when I pace my plants together and sometimes things workout the way I had imagined them and sometimes they don’t.  For example I planted a purple leaved cotinus behind a pink climbing rose and a white astrantia: the flowers of the astrantia have a pinky/purple colouration in the centre when young  and the zephirine drouhin rose is a nice pink and these should look great against the purple leaves of the cotinus.  The dog had other plans and crashed around behind the cotinus and broke a few branches and it is still only about 30cm high.  The rose doesn’t appear to like that spot and is struggling.  I will replace the rose with a honey suckle to grow up the arch instead as it has purple tinges to it’s leaves but has vibrant flowers which should look good against the cotinus (once it does get going).

The pale pink climbing rose Generous gardener looks good against the purple leaved Sambucus nigra ‘Black lace’ and picks up the pink of the flowers too, but I will have to make a decision soon of how high I want the sambucus to grow as I don’t want a huge tree.

Generous gardener and Sambucus nigra

The relaxed habit of the moss roses go well with the rather straggly foxgloves in the woodland stumpery, and the purples look good together.  The purple of the moss roses fades to almost lilac as the rose goes over.

Moss rose William Lobb with foxgloves.

The dark purple of the Munstead wood rose is picked up in the verbascums (possibly Raspberry ripple) behind it.

Rose ‘Munstead wood’ against Verbascum ‘Raspberry ripple’.

By the patio I have a pink combination that works well.  I did have a struggle to get the Cistus parviflorus to thrive as the rather heavy wood pigeons kept trashing it.  That area is quite heavy clay that holds the water well and these all thrive there now.  The rose Gertrude Jekyll is still quite young but I do like the way that even though they are all pink flowers – all the pinks work together as the flower shapes are different,  and each plant has a very different habit  and leaf shape, so it keeps the combo interesting.

Gertrude Jekyll, pink astilbe and Cistus parviflorus combo.

Beside the ramp into the back garden is a shady,  damp corner.  The front of the corner gets a bit of sun and the cowslips enjoy that area.  Being yellow they add a bit of colour in what could be rather a dull area.  They go well with the ferns.

Primula sikkimensis with Osmunda regalis ‘Purpurascens’ and other fern.

As you wander around the garden your eye should travel easily along as the colours repeat themselves on the way.  I have dots of deep purple in every bed, pinks, and blues with highlight plants with white or yellow or gold.  It doesn’t matter if the colours are in the foliage or the flowers or even the containers or background.

Colours working together around the garden.

It goes without saying really that this applies to the pond too.

Purple Lythrum salicaria with Thalictrum flavium Glaucum yellow.

I just had to show a few other photos of plants that caught my eye this month.

I planted this fern (Dryopteris erythrosa ‘Brilliance’ or Japanese Rosy Buckler fern) a couple of years ago but the shrub along side it grew right over it so I moved it last year.  It has taken a while to get going but I just love the vibrant copper colour it brings to the shady woodland area. It really shows up against the predominantly green background but goes well with the purple/bronze  shade of the heuchera in the front.

Dryopteris erythrosa ‘Brilliance’ (Japanese Rosy Buckler fern)

In the conservatory it is the flower spike of the Sempervivum Mint marvel with the white flowers with reddish/purple centres  that stands out amongst the pinky/peach colour of the other sempervivums.

Sempervivum ‘Mint marvel’ flower spike.
White and reddish/purple flowers of Sempervivum ‘Mint marvel’

Wildlife I have spotted in the garden (and managed to get a photograph of) in the last couple of weeks include: a seven spot (?) ladybird larva, a mottled grass hopper (Myrmeleotettix maculatus) and a few meadow brown butterflies (Maniola Jurtina).  The photographs are not great (taken quickly with my phone) and I have yet to see a meadow brown on an actual plant – I only see them when they have come into the conservatory).

Seven-spot ladybird larvae (Coccinella septempunctata)
Myrmeleotettix maculatus
Maniola jurtina (female I think)

Now it is back to rain, rain, and more rain so not much gardening happening just now.

What is flowering in June for the pollinators?

Thanks to my wonderful physio Nicholas, I have been able to get back into the garden again to catch up on a lot of jobs.  Harry has been helping me to dead-head and move a couple of things, but I have been able to do a lot more now, although I will have to be careful how I move the heavy pots on the patio.  I haven’t taken many photographs so quite a few plants have gone over like the hebe, syringia,  rhododendron, aqueilegias and weigela.  They had been absolutely covered in bees, but now the deutzia and philadelphus are in full bloom along with the geraniums, foxgloves, cirsiums, clematis, catmint, centaura, candelabra primroses, heucheras, Lady’s mantle,  and astrantias, which are great for the bees and other pollinators.  The astrantia again have been a mixed bag where the slugs/snails are concerned.  The white ones don’t even have a nibble whereas the dark red one (Astrantia major ‘Gill Richardson Group’) is almost entirely eaten.  I am going to dig it up, put it in a pot on the patio and hope it survives.

white astrantia in shady corner
white astrantia in shade
astrantia on patio in the sun
slug/snail damaged red astrantia

In a corner of the stumpery where it gets a bit more sun than the rest of that area I have planted a few different plants to see which one likes it there the best.  The erigeron was good there last year, the little red mossy saxifrage are ok, and the dark leaved geranium is now happier than it has been in the last couple of years. I am still undecided.  The rogue foxglove will either come out once it has flowered or I will transplant it.

deciding which plants stay

The seedlings from the golf course trees get absolutely everywhere in the garden and you really have to weed them out when they are tiny.  I have to get right in amongst the plant to fish them out.  Once the roots get hold when they are in the middle of the plant they are much harder to remove.  The ferns especially are a nice moist spot for them to survive.

tree seedling nestled inside a fern

I am going to have to invest in some more plant supports for the bushy plants that hand over the edge of the path.  I love how they soften the edge but it often means that I have to roll over them with my wheelchair to get past.  I missed the boat again with the large Patty’s plum poppies and the keeled over in that very heavy rain we had just a day or so ago, and all the petals fell off.  The roses have just started blooming now so I should get some pics very soon.

bushy Lady’s mantle over the path

I am disappointed with a couple of plants that I bought for the pond a couple of years ago.  The dwarf bulrushes died, and the variegated yellow flag Iris not only didn’t flower last year but it failed to flower this year too, and is not variegated.  It looks like it might be the tall yellow flag iris which will be too vigorous for our pond.  Grrrrr!

this iris should have been the smaller variegated yellow iris

I do love sitting on the patio relaxing with a cuppa but I tend to just see all the things that I need to get on with.  U have hardly done anything in the front garden so it is a monument to weeds and the yellow irises are now past their best.  I had been rethinking the front garden and have not come up with any ideas yet.  I was going to take up a few more slabs but that was when I had a garden help and they were going to help keep the weeds under control.  I may just take up all the slabs and just have keep the border but add a couple of drought tolerant plants.  I just don’t know – something to think about while I sit on the patio in the sunshine.

view from the patio

Colour in the garden mid March.

 Again, I haven’t done much in the garden at all due to medial epicondilitis and biceps tendinitis in the right arm, triceps/deltoid pain, acromioclavicular joint pain in the left arm, and shoulder and neck pain from osteoarthritis. No fun at all, but now things are a little better I can start to move about more as long as I don’t overdo things.  I am  getting back out into the garden again to see what I have been missing.  The flowers that are going over now are: snowdrops, crocus and small iris (Katherine’s gold).  The witch hazel was looking great in January with it’s lovely deep orangey, spidery scented flowers but they have gone over now.   The indoor plants that are still in flower are the fabulous cyclamen (although they will soon be over so I will start to dry them out for their summer rest period), peace lily, and the trillium. The trillium ought to be in the stumpery area of the back garden but the slugs kept getting them so they are in a pot in the conservatory for now.  I took a few cuttings from a very old Easter cactus that I rescued from a friend and they have tiny buds on. I did find a couple of leaves on them which were stuck together and when I pulled them apart I found a small green caterpillar inside some woven silk threads. It could be a Tortrix moth (either Carnation tortrix – Cacoecimorpha pronubana, or the light brown apple tortrix moth – Epiphyas postvittana).  I don’t know if it was already on the plant when I got it or not.  I had thought the small eaten areas on the leaves had been slug damage.

In flower now are: mahonia, hellebores (some lovely large clumps and some rather spindly specimens), large daffodils, tiny tete-a-tete narcissus, pink heather, yellow epimedium, winter honeysuckle, white periwinkle, rosemary, chionadoxa, primrose, erythronium snowflake, pulmonaria, the pink corydalis and a few grape hyacinths (that I keep forgetting are there). The hazel is monoecious which means they have male and female flowers on the same plant.  The male and female flowers of the tortured hazel look so different to each other – the male flowers are the lovely yellow catkins that dangle and are blown about in the wind so the pollen lands on the tiny red female flowers.  However they can’t be self pollinated, they must be pollinated by another hazel.  There are only a few flowers on the Pieris so maybe there has been some frost damage – we shall see if we get more later.

It was March 13th when we spotted the first frog spawn in the pond.  It was difficult to count the individual clump but I would guess that there are at least 5 clumps, so we have at least 5 female frogs about.  We did find a couple of dead frogs in the pond after winter but I have no idea what sex they were.

The crab apple that we planted last autumn has survived the winter and has tiny buds on so I am hopeful that we get some blossom when the weather warms up a little.  At the moment it is sunshine and showers with a drop in temperature due at the weekend.  We have put up blinds in the conservatory on the left side only as this is the direction that it gets the sun from.  We will wait and see if that is enough shading for the plants but we may have to get a couple on the ceiling too.  It is may favourite place to be in when the sun shines just now.

On a very sad note: Kate Dick, our Duddingston Kirk Garden Club president has passed away after a short illness.  She will be sadly missed by us all at the club.  RIP Kate.

witch hazel shrub Diane
Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’
witch hazel Diane orangey red spidery flowers
Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ flowers
Berberis flowers about to open
Berberis x lologensis ‘Apricot Queen’
winter honeysuckle flowers
Lonicera fragrantissima
Pieris white flowers
Pieris japonica ‘Forest flame’
corkskrew hazel yellow male katkins
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’
male yellow catkins and tiny red female flowers of hazel
Corylus male and female flowers
yellow primula flowers
Primula vulgaris
Hellebore white double flowers with purple spots
Hellebore double white with purple spots
single white flowers of hellebore
Hellebore single, white
single purple flowers on hellebore
Hellebore single, purple
single dark purple hellebore flowers
Hellebore single, dark purple
frilly pink double hellebore flowers
Hellebore  double, Picotee
erythronium white flowes
Erythronium ‘Snowflake’
frog spawn in garden pond
Frog spawn March 13th 2023
tortrix moth larva in silk threads on leaf
Tortrix moth larva on Easter cactus

In flower mid August

There are still plenty of flowers for the pollinators to make use of in mid August: cyclamen are beginning to flower just before their foliage comes up, persicaria, Japanese anemone, nepeta, erigeron, plox, selinum, potentilla, heuchera, tierella, geum, salvia, sweet peas, roses, verbena, lamium, wooly rock jasmine, some hellebores, some verbascum, honey suckle, fennel and oregano all still going.  Just going over now are the  purple loosestrife, pond lily and pickerel weed.  There are a few sporadic flowers on the astrantia and hardy geraniums and campanula.  Some shrubs and small trees think that autumn has come early and are colouring up and leaves are falling so it is time to get the pond net out to start clearing the fallen leaves off the surface.  The rhododendron still looks poorly. Everything needs a good drink but we are still just getting the odd small shower that is hardly getting very deep so I am still having to water certain plants.  The white phlox is looking great but the label says Phlox paniculata ‘ice cream’  but when I googled it they should be pinkish flowers or white flowers with pink centres.  This may have been wrongly labelled and could be ‘White admiral’ instead.

I have moved the succulents that were in the conservatory onto the bench now as we did have a start date for getting the conservatory fixed in August.  That has now changed  to September so I have just left them on the old bench for now.

The front garden is not looking great just now as the perriwinkle is all dried and brown and there is nothing in flower except the weeds.  The mahonia and epimediums are looking ok as is the hedge so there is still some greenery.  The Virginia creeper is doing well so it should colour up well in autumn.  I would like to get more lavender and a few other drought resistant flowering plants out in the front garden for next year.

While I am out in the morning doing the watering I usually come across some bug or other.  I was watching a wasp trying to get a grip of a dried mealworm that had fallen from the bird food.  It had a real wrestle with it but gave up.  I try to look up the Latin names of the beasties I find but they can be hard to identify so I have no idea if they are what I think they are.

brown forest shield bug
Pentatoma rufipes (Forest shield bug)
small wasp trying to get a hold of 1/2 dried mealworm
wasp wrestling 1/2 dried mealworm
Tachina fera flies mating on selinum plant
Tachina fera flies mating on selinum
Athalia rosae turnip sawfly on miscanthus leaf
Athalia rosae (turnip sawfly)
trailing babies breath and unknown rose in pots
Babies breath and unknown  rose
Phlox paniculata White admiral perhaps
Phlox paniculata White admiral?
Honesty seed heads backlit
Honesty seed heads backlit
flowers in pots on the patio August 2022
Pots on the patio August 2022
Succulents on the old bench
Succulents on the old bench
View from the patio August 2022
From the patio August 2022

Excuse the photo of the view from the patio – yes it has the bottom of the bird feeder on it!  You can see how the deep shade creeps up the garden from the back due to the trees in the golf course.  By 16:00 most of the garden and part of the patio is in deep shade.  We used to be able to have BBQs in the afternoon in the summer sunshine, and have our dinner out on the patio at 18:30 but sadly not any more.  This year however, the shade has been a blessing in during the heat waves.

Mid July and still watering the garden.

 Yes we may be in Scotland but we have had very little rain for the last few months (despite the showers this morning).  I have had to water the garden and top up the pond every 2nd day or so.  Plus watering the patio, conservatory and house plants.  The good thing about being very dry is that the roses have lots of sunshine (but they do require a lot more water) and so have done particularly well so far.  I planted a new rose in a difficult area by the patio, Gertrude Jekyll, it is just a small plant just now so hopefully it will do well there as it is quite heavy soil and it should get enough sun.  There has been very little slug and snail damage apart from  a few plants that have been absolutely decimated.  I have Astrantia major Alba, shaggy and Rubra, but only the Rubra has been attacked by slugs (the huge Spanish slugs).  I have moved it’s position now a few times and it always comes under attack, even when in pots on the patio.   So I have now dug them up and planted something else in it’s place for the time being.  I am going to try a very dark variety called Astrantia Gill Richardson group which is on the patio just now but if it gets no damage there then I will try it out in the garden.   

Another plant to succumb to slug damage is one of the Selinum Wallichianums.  There are about six of these in various parts of the garden and only one has been damaged, even though it only about a foot away from another of the same.  I definitely know it is slug damage as I picked them off myself!  

The witch hazel Hamamelis inter Diane foliage is looking almost autumnal already but rather lovely especially if back lit by the sunshine.  The Verbascum  raspberry ripple that was divided last year is looking a bit bushier now.  The double purple hellebore that was moved earlier this year and sadly cut in half by mistake is actually flowering just now! The blue geranium with dark purple leaves has finnaly flowered.  It is Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter and when it was sold to me it had very little root system so I should probably not have planted it out as soon as I did.  That was a couple of years ago and it has hardly grown at all but it has flowered now.  And the sweet peas are doing rather well now that they can get a bit more sunshine as the next door neighbour’s large shrub has been cut back.  (We have no neighbour there yet as the house is still being worked on by the current owner who is a property developer.  Let’s hope whoever moves in will chop that blasted huge purple leafed bird cherry tree down that has taken over our left hand corner of the garden!)  I did find a ladybird that I am just not sure if it is the dreaded Harlequin ladybird or not.  The Harlequin ones are bad news for our own native ladybirds but it can be hard to identify them properly.

The front garden is looking very dry but I haven’t been watering it much at all.  The small diamond shaped bed in the middle only has tulips and iris in it and is rather boring.  It looks great when the yellow bearded iris are in flower but they only last a couple of weeks then it is boring for the rest of the year.  I have decided to get a small rowan tree (Sorbus vilmorinii) and maybe some lavender to plant there instead to give a bit more interest all year round.  But that job will have to wait a bit.  So here are a few more pics for now from the back garden.

Verbascum raspberry ripple, pale pink flower spires with purple fluffy centres
Verbascum raspberry ripple

Pale pink climbing rose Generous gardener
Generous gardener rose

deep reddy pruple rose Munstead wood
Munstead wood rose

Purple moss rose William Lobb
William Lobb moss rose

Pink rose Gertrude Jekyll
Gertrude Jekyll rose

purple leaves and blue flowers of Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter
Geranium pratense Midnight Reiter
double purple hellebore flowering in July
Double purple hellebore

witch hazel foliage in July Hamamelis inter Diane
Hamamelis inter Diane

slug damage on Astranta major rubra
Astrantia major rubra slug damage

healthy foliage of Selinum wallichianum
Selinum wallichianum healthy

slug damaged foliage on Selinum wallichianum
Selinum wallichianum slug damage

possibly a Harlquin ladybird
Harlequin ladybird possibly?

native ladybird
Ladybird native?

selection of sweetpeas in a bunch in a green glass vase
Sweet pea bunch

Mid April 2022 has been a mixed bag.

 It has been pretty cold and wet for the first half of April but has now started to dry out and get a little warmer.  Some of the plants are earlier, some are later, and some haven’t come back at all!

I planted smallish yellow tulips Budlight a few years ago, and as they are a species tulip I thought that they would come back each year, but there is  no sign of them at all this year.  There are two larger yellow tulips which were planted as a clump of about 7 years ago (can’t remember what they are called) and only two have come back this year. All very disappointing. 

The tulips Mystic Van Eijk are a little early this year but are looking good in the raised bed.

tulips mystic van eijk with purple heliobore behind it
Tulips Mystic Van Eijk

Most of the narcissi have come up, all except the 10 Segovia that I planted a few years ago in the stumpery.  Only three came up this year, and two of them have been eaten so that only a few inches of stem are left. Tete-aTete came up earliest, Pontresina are looking good right now, and Pipit are just coming out now.  There was a nice display of narcissi Ataea pontifica in the right hand border but now they are getting decimated by snails or slugs.  The white spirea Bridal wreath is looking good just now, as is the
foliage of the pieris Japonica Forest flame in the right hand corner of
the garden.  The berberis is flowering away merrily.  The hellebore
below it however looks rather tatty.  Going over now is the pink Corydalis, in the middle bed, which is spreading like mad.  I keep taking clumps out and giving them away.  The yellow marsh marigolds in the pond really brighten up that area.  The purple hellebores are still doing well, whereas the white ones and paler ones have gone over sooner.

Narcissi Actaea Poeticus flowers eaten
Narcissi Actaea Poeticus eaten by snails/slugs
the back right hand corner of the garden with flowering spirea and foliage of pieris
Back right hand corner
the right hand border of the garden with berberis and narcissi
Right hand border

the garden and pond in April 2022
 Right hand side of garden and pond April 2022

pink corydalis solida
Corydalis solida


Debs brought round lots of yellow erythroniums and planted them in a few areas of the stumpery (which is on the left side of the garden) and they are doing well despite being nibbled.

yellow Erythronium in the stumpery
Erythronium yellow

the stumpery in April 2022
Stumpery April 2022

The smaller white erythronium Snowflake have gone over now but the marble foliage still looks good. Also in the stumpery is the pasque flower which  is very pretty, and I love it’s fluffy foliage.  It is very slowly making a couple of clumps.  In flower at the back of the stumpery is purple honesty, brunnera and pulmonaria.  There are a few catkins on the tortured witchhazel,  and some tiny perfumed white flowers on the osmanthus right up in the back corner of the stumpery which you can’t see here.  I had planted a winter flowering honeysuckle beside the osmanthus and although it did flower a little, I thought it might have put on a better show.

pale purple pasque flower with furry foliage
Pale purple Pasque flower

On the patio there are narcissi Pontressina in flower and in a blue pot there is a lovely pink heather: erica Westwood with a small struggling hellebore in a pot beside it.

Erica westwood in a blue pot next to struggling hellebore
Erica Westwood

What I would like to do, within the next week, with the area in front of the patio, is to dig up a clump of the red astilbe  and maybe put in the red rose that was actually dug out because it had such large prickles, and also to move the cornus a little to make room for the lovely rose Gertrude Jekyll.  We were afraid that our new dog would come a cropper to the huge rose prickles but I am sure we can make sure he doesn’t go near it now that he has been with us for a couple of years and is now used to the garden.    The conservatory is still to be fixed so we are still waiting for the builders to come up with a date for that work.  Otherwise it is mostly watering any newly planted seedlings, putting in plant supports,  dead-heading spent flowers, and disposing of slugs.

March 2022 on a cold but sunny Edinburgh day.

 We have had some wet, windy, gloriously sunny and warm days in March, but are now back to very chilly weather and it is trying to snow/hail/sleat in between sunny spells.  No wonder the frogs left it a little later this year to spawn.  In 2019 and 2020 the first spawn in our pond was spotted  in February (in 2020 it was as early as the 5th) but this year the first spawn was on the 18th March.  We can now count about 7 clumps of spawn which means there are at least 7 female frogs around the pond.  We haven’t seen any newt spawn yet.

7 clumps of frog spawn 18th March 2022
Frog spawn 18/03/22

Some areas of the garden are looking better than others right now.  The stumpery is looking fine as some the spring bulbs are coming through such as the narcissi and chinadoxa,  some of the primroses, anemones, pulmonaria, hellebores, vinca and erythroniums are in flower now.  Although some of the narcissi have gone over, there are others still to come out.  Some of the tulips are just ready to open.  A couple of shrubs that have scented flowers: the mahonia out the front, and the lonicera fragrantisima and osmanthus burkwoodii out the back are flowering well.  There have been quite a few bees and butterflies out in the warmer days taking advantage of these flowers.

I found this dark edged bee fly ( Bombylius major) sitting on a tulip leaf as it was watching a wasp very closely.  I have just read about it, and have found out that the bee fly will follow wasps and single bees to their nest, they will then gather some sandy soil with their feet, and flick this, along with their eggs, near the entrance to the wasp/bee nest.  The larva will attach itself to a wasp/bee and it will be taken into the nest where it will then find a wasp/bee larva to feed on.  After which it will turn into a pupa, hatch and fly away undetected.

wasp and bee fly on a tulip leave
Bombylius major (dark edged bee fly)

I will need to put the pot of Iris Katharine’s gold in a better place for next year.  It is one of the earliest flowering plants in the garden and I had the pot under the garden bench just to protect it from some of the heavy rain.  By the time I remembered it was there it was almost finished flowering.

Iris Katharine's gold in a pot
Iris Katharine’s gold

 There are lots of jobs still to do:  over the wall is now rather overgown and needs a good sorting out.  The vinca major is now acting like a climber and is growing up the fence and smothering the hydrangea petiolaris.  It actually looks ok but it needs cutting back.  There are ferns and lots of few-flowered-leek popping up everywhere so they will need to come out.  The ivy needs to be kept in check.  I am going to be quite ruthless now and any plant not earning it’s keep must go.  I have started getting rid of some of the plain brunnera in the stumpery.  It does look ok when it is in flower but it is rather plain and I wish I had planted the Jack frost version instead.  I had let a few hellebore seedlings grow a few years ago but I don’t actually like the colour of the flower so it has gone now to another home.  I don’t bin these but they go to other peoples gardens, or the local park takes any plants that would do well in the park.  I also put them in the plant sale at the Duddingston Kirk Garden Club plant sale (which this year will be held on Saturday 30 April 10:30 – 12:00).

CVinca major growing up and over hydrange petiolaris
Overgrown vinca major all over hydrangea petiolaris

Here is the view from the patio.  You can just see in the background one of the large ash trees has had a huge bough snap off during the strong winds.  The entire tree is pretty dead and I think most of the ash trees in that golf course are going to have to come out.  That is good news for us as we may get more sunshine into the garden.  What with all the shade from the trees and all the recent rain, the ‘sunny’ border hasn’t been able to dry off very well.  I have lost the nepeta again this year which were in the ‘sunny’ border.  I will just hae to keep taking cuttings each year.

view of the garden from the patio
View from the patio

This is how the stumpery is looking right now.  I love the dappled shade in this woodland area, and spring and early summer is the best time of year here before the tree canopy develops allowing less sunshine to get through. The whole garden will soon have plenty of colour.

The stumpery in March 2022
Stumpery in March 2022

Review your garden.

As I trundle around the garden every morning search for slugs and snails I tend to do a mini review of what is doing well, what needs tweaking, dead-headed, weeded, staked etc.  Now and again though I do a bigger review of certain areas that just don’t work for me.  Some plants may have outgrown their space.  Some I just don’t like how they have grown ie their shape or colour or their relationship with the plants next to them.  I am trying to be ruthless so am having to make the decision whether or not to keep the aster I planted (rather too close to the path), or move it further back, or do away with it altogether.  It isn’t a plant that I love but it is a good do-er.  I think I will wait until it has gone over and then find a replacement – one that I do love.  The area near the patio where the soil can get quite wet and is rather clay-like is still annoying me.  A thorn-less rose like Zephirine Drouhin might do well there, but then maybe a couple of dogwoods would thrive in those conditions?  Is there room for both dogwoods and a rose?    Another area of uncertainty is the central bed where the large tree heath is growing just a bit too large.  You can see from the photo that it wasn’t pruned right after flowering this year (you can see the old white blooms have gone brown) and I would like to cut it down in size to allow the other plants a bit more room.  How far down should I prune it?  I don’t want to take it right down to the base so maybe just take a 1/3 off?  That would mean I wouldn’t get any flowers next year but I can live with that.  We are still waiting for the house next door to be sold (been a few years now) and both the front and back gardens will be in a right state.  The garden wall is needing fixed as the previous owner removed the buttress on their side and has started to fall over at the back.  I haven’t been able to sort that area out and plant up as we don’t want any builders walking all over it.  Major pain in the backside!  Hey ho.

There are still a few plants which are flowering sporadically and some that come into bloom fully at this time of year so the insects can still enjoy a feed. The Japanese anemones, cyclamen and persicarias are looking great just now.  A couple of heathers are about to bloom.  A few of the hellebores are in flower, so too are the nepeta, mint, oregano, aster, coreopsis, viburnum, weigela, geum, knapweed, prunella, deadnettle, roses, parahebe, and even a few flowers still on the geraniums and foxgloves.  The apples are looking good.  They are not really keepers so I always have a bit of a glut at this time of year so I make apple sauce, apple pies and crumbles, stewed apples to freeze, eat some and give some away to pals.  Today however I will just be weeding and browsing my bulb catalogues.

ajuga coming through saxifage
Ajuga coming through a saxifrage
Large aster bulging over path
Tree heath
Persicaria amplex ‘Blackfield’
Some pots on the patio in front of weigela

Jobs to do in July

There is always something to be done in the garden these days.  The never ending dead-heading and weeding, the chopping down and cutting back, re-positioning unhappy plants, potting on, sowing seeds and buying more plants.  This last week I have been pruning (with some help from Harry) the deutzia, philadelphus and weigela, which have all finished flowering now.  In the raised garden I have cut back some geraniums and dug some out that had outgrown their space.  The violas had spread far too much too so they were hoiked out.  Most of the foxgloves have finished flowering now and I have pulled a lot out but will save the seed from a couple to sprinkle where I would like the next lot to come up.  I am thinking of just getting rid of all of the nettles along the side wall now as I had originally grown them for wildlife, and I have not seen a single nibble on them over the last six years so I think it is time for them to go – a  job for Harry as I can’t reach them.

In the conservatory the cactus had five lovely big flower buds at first but the weight of two were too much and they fell off.  I put them in a vase so I could still appreciate their wonderful scent.  They only last a day or so which is such a shame.

plants, flowers,
5 cactus buds ready to open
plants, flowers,
only 3 flowers left on cactus
plants, flowers,
2 cactus flowers in a vase
plants, flowers,
cactus flower side view

At the moment I am loving the combination of the Heuchera ‘Rachel’ coming up beside the Spirea Japonica ‘White gold’.  The spirea buds have a pink tinge to them which go so well with the pink flowers of the heuchera.

plants, flowers,
Spirea Japonica’ White gold’ and Heuchera ‘Rachel’
The moss roses are looking good just now too.  Harry thought that they were covered in greenfly but it is just the kind of furry, mossy look that they have.  I have found that if they get chopped quite low then they don’t get such a straggly look.  They tend to behave more like a shrub rose.  The other roses are doing ok but the ‘Munstead wood’ has some rust on it.
Moss rose ‘William Lobb’
I treated myself to some air plants during lockdown.  Harry had given me some Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) at Christmas which I split into two clumps and I have kept thinking about some of the other Tillandsias that might go well with them.  I am keeping them upstairs which means that I had to get a grow light for them.  The trouble with upstairs is that I need all the blinds and doors shut to keep out the summer sun, which means that any plants I have would have to cope with very low levels of light.  The grow light I did buy has a few settings and I have chosen to use the pink light for 9 hours per day and see if they like that.  I don’t actually like the look of this black light in front of the plants so I may try to find a way of clipping it to the side of the shelf but the lead is quite short.
plants, airplants,
Collection of Tillandsias and couple of ferns
plants, airplants,
collection of Tillandsias and couple of ferns with pink grow light
And lastly, here is a photo of a moth pupa I found nestled in the corner of a door in the conservatory.  I did keep it until it hatched but alas I did not get a photo of the moth.  It looked kind of khaki coloured and I looked through some moth charts but couldn’t identify it.
Moth pupa