Showing posts from July, 2015

Summer Gardening... Keeping it Going in Harder Times

It feels like I'm keeping a load of plates spinning in the air owing to lots of family woes (boo hoo) and a longer-than-usual holiday (hurrah) occupying most of my time. My garden and allotment are in danger of suffering badly; thank goodness I've found the following help to keep things going...

In the garden
We've been away a lot and there's not always a friendly neighbour around for watering duties. After all, it's holiday time for them too, so instead I've...

Concentrated on bigger pots - a few years ago I counted the pots in my garden and was shocked to find I had 130. Most of them were teeny tiny ones filled with annuals, which I'm gradually replacing with much bigger pots filled with mainly perennials. I'm enjoying the reduced workload (all that repotting!), plus I've found bigger pots usually need less watering.Grouped my pots together - they create their own little microclimate, which in turn cuts down the need for watering.Moved my pots int…

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: A Bit of a Mouthful

Acer palmatum var. dissectum Dissectum Atropurpureum Group is a bit of a mouthful, so it's good to see it's a synonym now for the slightly snappier Acer palmatum 'Dissectum Atropurpureum'.

Whatever its name, it's still one of my favourite plants.

Singing in the Rain... Again

The garden's enjoyed the rain we've had over the past few days and I took advantage of a brief lull over lunchtime yesterday to grab a few photos. Raindrops have a great way of accentuating the form of flowers and vegetation, and some plants like Alchemilla mollis and lupins are positively made for the vagaries of our English weather.

An overcast day means there's even lighting to play with and no need to get up so early as there's a good light to be found in the middle of the day. This kind of weather is great for blooms with richer colours, or for yellows and whites to add highlights to the gloom. However, early morning or evening may be still be preferable on breezier days as the wind usually calms down at those times.

I used to moan about garden visits in the rain, but a trip to the Bloedel Reserve a few years ago opened my eyes to the possibilities of wet days. I've found they help me home in on tiny details which I might otherwise have missed. The same happe…

Another Visitor to the Plot

As well as the welcome garden visitors I blogged about on Monday, I also spotted this unusual looking ladybird on my Knautia 'Red Ensign'. I thought it might be the dreaded harlequin ladybird, but was reassured to find a similar looking one in a downloadable ID guide; our native 2 spot ladybird also has a reversed red on black form.

However, Dave Kilbey on Twitter told me:

@Malvernmeet@KellyTunley@ChippenhamNow It is a harlequin (alas). Form conspicua. They can be quite variable in size. — Dave Kilbey (@kilbey252) July 13, 2015 He went on to say:
@Malvernmeet@KellyTunley@ChippenhamNow if you like your ladybirds we have an app to help ID and record them - — Dave Kilbey (@kilbey252) July 13, 2015 The App is available for both android and iPhone versions and there's also an online form available for your observations if you don't have a smartphone. The Harlequin Ladybird Survey website is also a mine of useful information, as is its sister, the

GBBD: Sultry

Victoria once remarked my garden is very purple. Today's view is quite different. This is Monarda 'Fireball', which is a more mildew resistant form of  bergamot from what I've seen so far. I particularly like how its blooms add a fiery air to the garden, especially at dusk. I planted 3 9cm pots last year which have grown to form a satisfyingly large clump this summer. Bees love it and a brush past the foliage releases a wonderful scent. It's definitely one of my summer favourites.

However, if you stay on the spot, then look in the opposite direction and take another photograph...

... you'll see Victoria was right. My garden's going through its switch from its spring purple garments to a sultry summer clothing of reds shot through with some yellow. I gave my clematis obelisks a severe haircut in February and they've rewarded me with oodles of blooms. I must have missed some of the shoots though, as C 'Elsa Spath' has decided to have a wander arou…

Of Garden Visitors and Butterfly Counts

The hot weather's bought all kinds of new visitors to the garden lately. The most notable I've managed to photograph is this Scarlet Tiger moth. It looks a little the worse for wear which leads me to wonder whether it's an over wintered specimen. A wonderful Hummingbird Hawk moth did zoom by just moments after I'd taken the above photo. It was far too quick for me though!

Getting an ID for my new friend allowed me to spend some delightful time on Butterfly Conservation's website, where they have lots of information to help visitors identify common day flying moths seen in the garden.

As a thank you for the information, I'll be taking part in their annual Great Butterfly Count which starts on Friday (17th July to 9th August 2015). It just takes 15 minutes of sitting in the garden, and noting which species visit during that time. It's the perfect excuse to kick back and relax for a while, and there's a handy ID chart or phone App if you need some help to…

Floral Friday

It's Floral Friday today, designated by World Vision to raise awareness and funding for their work in Cambodia to help keep families together.

If the embedded video doesn't work, try this link instead.

What are you wearing today? I'm wearing my sunflower shorts - they don't come out very often!

Plant Profiles: Roses

My Kew Gardens rose has really taken off since I introduced you to her in 2012. I first met her at Easton Walled Gardens, where Michael Marriott* from David Austin Roses gave a fascinating talk and I was lucky enough to bring her home as a gift.

This is my perfect rose. It's thornless, so I can look after her without gloves; it has a simpler flower, which reflects the forms of the white rugosa roses planted around our estate; it's relatively tall at around 5 feet; it's disease free (so far); it repeat flowers in profusion, and with a delicious scent. What's not to like?

The one drawback I've found so far, is its tendency to act as a magnet for aphids, as do all roses. Happily, I've noticed the ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies soon move in to hoover them up - I can go from absolutely encrusted stems to the all clear in the space of a few days.

As you can see a white rose really helps to brighten the gloom at dusk. It looks like it's waving to my Philadel…

How Advertising Works in Chippenham #37

Design your latest range of seasonal clothingMake sure you have all the advertising material you needLet customers know what's in store before they've even got thereWait for a blogger with a camera to notice you've forgotten there are workmen aroundEt voila! I giggled when I saw this Saturday. I'm not sure how many customers will take advantage of the new 'service' available.

Canoodling with the Calendula

The Plant Heritage tent at RHS Hampton Court is always one of my favourites as it's a fascinating place which offers the chance to learn from the experts.

It was a delight to talk to the Bristol Zoo representatives about the first Dispersed National Plant Collection aka The Bristol Community Plant Collection. According to the exhibit's useful fact sheet, Calendula encompasses 12 species with around 24 accepted botanical taxa. As you can see, they can be quitedifferent looking plants; I've grown too used to seeing the cultivated form to appreciate the diversity on offer.

Most National Plant Collections are usually seen in one location, but instead this one is found all over the city of Bristol. Each flower on the map in the photo shows the different locations involved in the project. They include schools, community groups, gardening clubs, allotment sites, a day care centre and some over 50s residential accommodation. The ages involved range from 2 to 99.

When the zoo'…

GBMD: There is a Garden

Stonework, tile and planting detail from the Turkish Paradise Garden I also featured yesterday. I was trying to recall Thomas Campion's poem when I saw the garden. Thank goodness for the power of Google when I got home, so I could feature it on this month's Muse Day :)