Garden Progress

Poppies!

This week, after a few showers of rain, the meadow has started to flower. I noticed one buttercup last week, then one daisy and, a couple of mornings ago, several poppies – we have poppies!! I was very excited.

I was beginning to wonder if we’d have any flowers this year. It was only a few weeks ago that I spent an afternoon on Google, with my meadow seed packet in hand, to see if any of the leaves growing in my meadow were actually the flowers on the packet. I was also intrigued to find out what the large leafy plant was, dotted around the meadow (you probably can see straight away, but I was focusing on my seed packet, ahem!)

Is that a sunflower in my meadow?
Is that a sunflower in my meadow?

Here are the results of my research.

It looks like I do have Autumn Hawkbit, only one is flowering (pic on the right) at the moment but there are others in bud. It looks very similar to a Dandelion but the leaves are more serrated and the flowers are smaller. I think we have Dandelion too, which will need to be removed, if I can reach them without trampling or disturbing the other plants.

There’s one tall plant all on it’s own, which could possibly be Betony? Hopefully it will flower very soon and I can say yes or no for definite.

Birdsfoot Trefoil
Birdsfoot Trefoil

I love Birdsfoot Trefoil when I see it in the wild but I can’t tell if I have any or not. Although it does flower from May to September, so I’ll be looking out for those little yellow flowers.

Corn Poppy
Corn Poppy

Yes, I have lots of Corn Poppy and they are making me very happy. The petals only seem to last a day but there are lots in bud so I should be smiling for a few weeks.

A Poppy!
A Poppy!
Cowslip
Cowslip

Cowslip is another plant I love and I nearly bought some of these for the woodland bed at the front (I may still do!). I have some leaves in the meadow that could be Cowslip but they could also be several other things. They’re spring flowering, so I have my fingers crossed for next year.

Lady's Bedstraw
Lady’s Bedstraw

Lady’s Bedstraw flowers around this time of year. We definitely haven’t got the flowers yet and I can’t see any of the leaves.

Lesser Knapweed
Lesser Knapweed

There are plenty of leaves that look similar to this, but lots of the other meadow flowers in the seed mix also have similar leaves. I can’t wait to have Lesser Knapweed flowering, maybe there’s time for one or two to appear?

It’s been a fabulous year for buttercups on the road sides and in the fields around here. They’ve been very tall and prolific, some fields completed filled with them. I’ve had one in my meadow, it was the first flower to make an appearance (besides the Ribwort – see further down), snuggling up against the apple tree trunk.

Meadow Vetchling
Meadow Vetchling

Again, I don’t know if this is showing in the meadow this year as I can’t distinguish the leaves. It flowers May to August so I don’t think we’ll see this and it’s not a plant I recognise. To me it looks like a taller version of Birdsfoot Trefoil, so this is another one I can’t wait to see.

Musk Mallow
Musk Mallow

How beautiful is this plant? Another one to look out for next year.

My absolute favourite flowers are Daisies, I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. I made sure Daisies were included in the seed mix before I bought it and I plan to add more if not enough come up next year. I have one! It’s been flowering for at least a week now. I’m willing a few more to flower before the autumn.

There is an abundance of Ribwort, it’s all over the meadow, the most successful of the seeds. It’s not the prettiest but the bees and butterflies love it.

There are lots of leaves that could be Sorrell but they could also be dock from disturbed dormant seed when we prepared the area for the meadow.

It looks like we have Wild Carrot coming through but as it’s a biennial, this beautiful tall, graceful flower will only get better as it establishes.

I have no idea if we have any Ragged Robin, Self Heal, White Campion or Yellow Rattle. Again, I have high hopes for next year. Seeing all these images I can let my imagination run wild (wild! Haha!) and visualise what it will look like; a mixture of white, yellow and mauve flowers of varying heights….just beautiful.

The last flower in the seed mix is Yarrow. We have a big clump of Yarrow, but not in the meadow. Our neighbour asked if we’d like some Yarrow about 6 weeks ago. Of course I said yes! It arrived in a bin liner at the bottom of the drive and I just plonked it in the soil in the raised bed at the back of the meadow (an area we’ve not decided what to do with yet – vegetables, a pond, sunflowers????) and it just settled in without any care or attention. It has tiny circular yellow flowers which are a joy to study up close and a favourite of the ladybirds.

Yarrow Flowers
Yarrow Flowers

Lastly, the imposter. The random plants that seem to be thriving in the meadow. They look nothing like any of the plants above. It was Roger who said, “They look like sunflowers to me.” Of course they are, duh! Kindly sowed by the birds.

Garden Progress

MIA Catch Up 2 – Bluebells and Crocosmia

The front garden was always going to be a surprise over the summer as I guessed there would be plants appearing between the shrubs. I don’t think I was ready for the rate of growth and outright abundance that arrived!

When we moved in mid December the front garden was in a bit of a sorry state and needed a good tidying up.

Part of Front Garden
Shrub and Herb Garden part 2

I soon got to the cutting back and weeding, which left it looking a bit bare. This exposed the picket fence between us and next door. Unfortunately it was falling apart and as it was our boundary, it needed replacing.

As if I was heard by the German shopping gods, the next time we went to buy our weekly groceries, Aldi had picket fence for sale! You don’t get a second chance, so the first weekend in May was spent painting picket fence before replacing the old one.

 

I knew there was plenty of Crocosmia as I’d had to clear away the remains of last year, but I hadn’t realised quite how much if it there was. In May it started to sprout up everywhere, between the stones and through the heather. It had the company and competition of unforeseen Spanish Bluebells. I was a bit sad to see these as I’d planted native bluebells in the small bed at the bottom of the drive but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that it’ll be an impossible task to remove all the Spanish Bluebell bulbs and that nearly every other front garden along the road has them too.

 

I have to admit they are beautiful, not as delicate or as deep a purple as the native ones and they cheered me up every morning as I went down the steps to work.

The task of digging out both the Crocosmia and Bluebell bulbs was quite a mammoth one. I wanted to leave a patch of Crocosmia and dig our as much of rest as I could. Once the the Bluebells finished flowering, I also dug out as many of these as I could. There are many left that I couldn’t reach, which will return next Spring. You need much longer and stronger fingers than I have to persuade the bulbs out of the recesses between the stones.

This is the front garden after the Crocosmia cull.

Crocosmia under control, Bluebells not yet
Crocosmia under control, Bluebells not yet

It’s mid July now, the Cocosmia has just started flowering and I’m still finding stray ones poking through the other plants and shrubs.

Once I’d cleared and weeded I planted two Lavender and one Rosemary bush – just before we had the scaffolding put up.

 

I wasn’t thinking ahead! The poor Rosemary did her very best to survive being trampled by the builders but eventually gave up and died. There is still a bare patch in her memory, which is a good thing as now Roger is rebuilding the steps outside the front door (I’ll post pics in an update, once it’s finished) so anything planted there would still have to have survived being trampled and covered in cement dust.

The Lavender at the back is thriving, the Lavender at the front didn’t cope with the hot dry weeks we’ve had. Perhaps I should’ve remembered to water it!

Lavender in July
Lavender in July

I will be adding more Lavenders to this tier. The smell was gorgeous as I weeded around this one at the weekend. And, of course, the bees and butterflies love it.

So what have I been doing in the front garden since May?

Mostly battling it out with the Bindweed.

I knew it would be a problem when I first started on this garden as the weed suppressing membrane is rotting and underneath are bindweed roots, which I’ve pulled out by the bucketful. It’s such a shame it winds it’s way through the plants and strangles them as I like to see it in flower in the wild – those big beautiful white trumpets.

Bindweed :(
Bindweed ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So now, almost weekly, I’m out there carefully pulling up the roots, feeling immensely satisfied when I can pull a long, long root up without it breaking, and disappointed when a root snaps. The problem is the stones. The bindweed is very clever and roots behind the stones where I can’t reach it, so all I can do is break it off as low as I can on the stem. For as long as I live in this house, I will be out there collecting bindweed.

I noticed clover leaves gradually appearing as I’ve been gardening in the front. I left them to see what would happen. Huge great clover flowers that are loved by the bees and butterflies is what happened. These will be staying and allowed to spread themselves around!

Glad I left the Clover
Glad I left the Clover

Since May, I’ve also planted three Thymes in the second from bottom tier. These have done so well, I brought five more at the weekend. This will be my Thyme Tier. I love how they smell and can’t resist brushing my hands over them.

Thyme Tier
Thyme Tier

Finally, in my absence from blogging, the Laburnum tree has flowered. It looked lovely for a very short period of time and has now returned to ugly hanging pods. I’m not at all sure I like this tree.

Laburnham
Laburnum

But, best of all, one of my Honeysuckles, that I planted in February, has one flower!

First flower on the Honeysuckle
First flower on the Honeysuckle
Garden Progress

Making a Start on the Back Garden

In a week or so, stone to match the front face of all our retaining walls is being delivered. Before then we need to make some preparations in the back garden. We had a good few hours trampling around in the muddy soil on the 8th April and I’ve done a few hours this morning. So…what are the plans?

At present the small retaining wall holding back the upper part of the back garden from the lower part has a front face made of large stacked logs.All the other retaining walls, front and back (the house is built on a very steep slope) are stone.

Logs in front of retaining wall
Logs in front of retaining wall

 

 

Back Garden - lower lawn
Lower lawn

Roger has removed some of logs and laid a foundation for the new stone wall. Once this is built, the space between the new wall and the remaining logs will be back filled with concrete. Heavy rain turns our back garden into a beautiful (and disturbing, at the same time!) large water feature, as it flows from the field at the back, through the drainage already set in the garden and walls, down the steps, around the back door and into the drains built into the driveway. Which means, it’s probably a good idea to add drainage pipes within the concrete as a precaution against any random fountains appearing in the top lawn!

Whilst this was going on, I decided to tackle the overgrown corner at the top left.

Top left corner of back garden
Top left corner of back garden – before

After some extreme pruning, I found a fern tucked up at the back, waiting for the right time to unfurl and some purple shoots, which I now believe is a peony.

After tidy up
After the extreme tidy up

Two weeks later, the peony is thriving.

Peony
Peony – 2 weeks after discovering the shoots

The sunshine this morning called me back into the garden. Once the stone wall has been completed we plan to hire a turf cutter to remove the top layer of grass/weeds/moss. The grassed areas are very uneven, as well as sloped, and a mole moved in a few days after we did. It can never be a manicured lawn.

I put forward my idea of a wildflower meadow on the lower lawn, seeding it after removing the current grass. It would only need strimming down once a year and would attract lots of bees and butterflies. My proposal was accepted…and developed.

We have now decided (although all plans are open to discussion and change!) to sow wildflower meadow seeds on the upper area and sow a low growing wildflower lawn on the lower area, which will only need mowing about every 3 weeks. Anyway, watch this space to see how we get on.

But, getting back to the point, what did I do this morning?

I trimmed back the neglected bushes along the fence and weeded all around them. They all looked a bit sad, so I’m hoping, now they can breathe, they will be much happier.

Very sad Camelia
Very sad Camelia
Today's hard work
After this morning’s hard work

I’m finishing with pictures of leaves appearing on the lovely apple tree (I will learn how to look after it), the beautiful magnolia next door and a glass of well deserved wine, in the sunshine, admiring the progress so far. Cheers!

Apple Tree
Leaves appearing on apple tree
Magnolia - next door
Magnolia in the garden next door
Cheers!
Cheers!