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, Uncategorized

MIA Catch Up 3 – THE Meadow!

It’s been 8 weeks since I seeded the meadow.

It’s making steady progress, in patches. Despite my careful measuring out of the seed and the area itself, some parts are very dense and there are patches that are bare.

I wrote about the preparation in May Madness, Mayhem and Wildflower Meadows.May Madness, Mayhem and Wildflower Meadows.

Stepping stones laid
Stepping stones to the raised bed at the end of the garden

I’ve been giving it a helping hand whilst the weather has been so dry and hot as it gets full sun for most of the day. I watered it every other evening and cut down to every third. I know, natural wildflower meadows have to survive no matter what, but I was late seeding this meadow and I’m encouraging a few flowers to appear before autumn.

It will have to survive as nature intended now though as a hosepipe ban will be enforced in just over a week.

The Jackdaws have had no respect for the fledgling meadow. They learnt how to balance on the bird feeder quite a while ago. Their technique is to take turns in flying at it, bashing their beaks into the openings for as long as they can hold on whilst the others grab the seed that has fallen. The squabbling and scrabbling that ensues means bare, trampled patches under the feeder.

It also means we have a few random sunflowers throughout the meadow! I spent ages on the internet carefully looking up the flowers listed on the wildflower meadow seed packet, to see what these tall, fast growing flowers were (I’ll put the pictures of my research up on my next post). Nothing matched! I was puzzled. Then Roger said, “They look like sunflowers to me”. Of course!!!

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

Anyway…progress pictures…at 5 weeks after seeding…

Meadow, top right - 5 weeks after seeding
Meadow, top right – 5 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow, under the apple tree - 5 weeks from seed
Close up meadow, under the apple tree – 5 weeks from seed

 

Meadow, left side - 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, left side – 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, top left - 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, top left – 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, along the path - 5 weeks from seed
Meadow, along the path – 5 weeks from seed

The weekend just gone was the 8 week seeding anniversary…there’s plenty of Ribwort, one buttercup and some poppies about to pop..

First buttercup - 8 weeks after seeding
First buttercup – 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, left side - 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, left side – 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow - 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow – 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow by a pathing stone - 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow by a pathing stone – 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, bottom left - 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, bottom left – 8 weeks after seeding
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!

 

Garden Progress

First Planting!

Last week I placed my first plant order for my garden. Some woodland plants, inspired by a walk through local villages and seeing the snowdrops and crocus in front gardens. I returned home, determined to have my own woodland garden.

Box of plants
Exciting arrival

With my intention to attract wildlife, I searched the internet for a wild flower supplier. Naturescape caught my eye and I’d soon placed an order. They arrived on Friday, perfect for a weekend planting!

Wild Honeysuckle

Snowdrops

Bluebells

Wood Anemone

Wild Cyclamen

Snakeshead Fritillary

I soon found out what the hedge was at the foot of this raised bed, a hawthorn. It made it’s mark on my arms as I trimmed it back into shape! I’m looking forward to the tiny buds bursting into life and seeing the berries towards the end of the year.

I’m not sure what the tree is (I’ve added a pic at the bottom of this page). It has bean-like seed pods, of which there are many still attached, but even more were all over the drive and path. Sweeping these up filled much of the green bin. I’m hoping this tree is a beauty so that cleaning up after it is worth it.

There weren’t many weeds to be dug up, and not many roots hiding below the surface. I know this might not be the case once the earth has warmed up a bit. What did need to be removed were various sized stones, pieces of wall stone and old mortar. The raised retaining wall around this bed needs a little bit of work where some of the capstones have become loose or completely detached. I was surprised at how much difference forking over the soil and removing the debris made. Now, I was ready to start planting!

Just planted snowdrops
Just planted snowdrops

 

I eagerly began with the Snowdrops, at the lowest front corner. The bulbs are “in the green”, meaning they have just flowered and still have foliage. The instructions said “plant 10cm deep and 10cm apart”.

I don’t think I’ll see any flowers this year but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for next year, and a stunning drift of them in a couple of years.

 

 

Wild Honeysuckle
Wild Honeysuckle

I then calmed down my excitement to actually think about where I should plant the rest of my box contents. I needed to start at the back and work forwards to avoid trampling on freshly planted bulbs. I had two Wild Honeysuckle which were to grow and spread across the boundary fence.

There were plenty of roots when I gently lifted them from their pots, so I have hopes of a fair amount of growth in the next few months and a few beautiful fragrant flowers to greet me as I enter my driveway in the summer.

 

The Bluebells went in front of one of the honeysuckle and behind a small shrub with strange, but lovely, curly red/green leaves (pic at the bottom of the page). Again, these were “in the green”, so there might not be any flowers this year. Like the Snowdrops, they were planted “10cm deep, 10cm apart”.

Just planted Snakeshead Fritillary
Just planted Snakeshead Fritillar

In front of the other honeysuckle, I planted the Snakeshead Fritillary, another “in the green” bulb. I’ve been fascinated with these beautiful flowers since I first saw them a couple of years ago. I can barely believe I’m growing them in my own garden.

The strange squashed round tubers (a thickened underground stem, like a potato) of Wild Cyclamen went in front of the Snakeshead Fritillary. The instructions said “plant very shallow with shoots uppermost”. Most didn’t have shoots, so I took a guess by comparing with the ones that did. Let’s hope they’re the right way up and I get some leaves and flowers.

As advised, I soaked the twig like rhizomes (continually growing horizontal underground stems) of the Wood Anemone before planting them along the front side of the bed in front of the little Pieris Japonica. If you’re wondering how I know the name of this shrub it’s because it still has a label on it!

There’s a couple of gaps. I love hellebores and might just buy a plant or two from a garden centre. Or I might just scatter some forget me not seeds around in a month or two. Or maybe add some Oxlips or…

All that’s needed now is a bit of patience whilst the plants, hopefully, get used to their new home and become established.

Woodland garden - before and after
Woodland garden – before and after
Woodland Garden Plan
New plants added to the plan
Mystery Tree
Any ideas what this tree is?
Mystery shrub
What is the name of this shrub?
Mystery shrub 2
I’ve seen this before, but can’t remember the name
Garden Progress

Front Garden Plan

It’s taken two muddy measures in the rain, lots of viewing through various windows and a few false starts getting it down on paper, but at last, I have a front garden plan (back garden plan is still in progress).

Front Garden Plan
Front garden Feb 17

This is how it is February 2017 (although I’ve added leaves to some of the shrubs that don’t have them at the moment!) and there’s probably some plants yet to wake up and show themselves.

I was hoping to get out there this weekend, do a bit of weeding and tidying, and to get up close to the plants I can’t identify. But, this morning was driving sleet and freezing cold. Instead, I’ve had a delightful few hours with some watercolour pencils, keeping warm in the conservatory listening to the rain and letting my imagination run wild.

A bit of research on the internet and I’ve come up with some preliminary planting plans.

On a lunchtime walk this week, I saw so many signs of spring in the front gardens I passed. Lots of snowdrops, primroses, crocuses, leaf buds and catkins. I’m lucky enough not to suffer from winter blues (I do suffer from motorbike adventures withdrawal though!!) but my spirits are still lifted and I can’t help smiling when I see spring is on the way. I made up my mind to get some of these things into my own garden.

So, the small bed at the bottom of the drive is to become a woodland garden; Snowdrops, Wood Anemone, Snakeshead Fritillary, Bluebells, Wild Honeysuckle and Wild Cyclamen. And yes, I have placed my order! With Naturescape, a wildflower specialist. Some of the plants will be in the green, so this won’t be their best year in my garden but I’m hoping the woodland garden will improve over the years. I might scatter some forget-me-not seeds in a few months, to help fill in the gaps.

 

I’ve noticed a few small birds flitting in and out of the hedge, which has a few berry remains and birds like berries! This has made me consider making the bed to the right at the bottom of the drive, a bird garden. I can hang some feeders in the tree and put up a bird table and a bird bath. As birds like the seeds from thistles and I’m a thistle lover too, I’m going to try and grow some here. It might not get quite enough sun, but I’ll see how it goes.

 

The main bed in the front garden is tiered and runs from the front of the house alongside the steps to the drive. It already has quite a few established shrubs, some very pretty white and purple heather, as well as lots of Crocosmia (which needs a good cutting down to allow the new shoots through). Next door successfully grow Lavender and Rosemary in their corresponding bed, two of my favourite perennial herbs, so I’m assuming that the front garden is as well drained as the back, despite the water that makes it’s way down from the fields at the back. I’ve already purchased two potted Lavender and one Rosemary. They’re waiting for their new home on the steps in the back garden. I’m gradually going to pick up pots of other herbs such as Mint, Sage, Thyme and Chives to fill any spaces.

 

As I don’t know what the hedge, two trees and most of the plants are, I will be posting close up photos with the hope that you can enlighten me. Any comments on my plans are also very welcome.