Category: garden

The Tulips 2018

For as many years as I can remember, certainly the last ten, I’ve endeavoured to have a stunning display of tulips in our garden. I have always loved these flowers and they are my favourite….. in April and May at least! We have done quite a decent display this year, possibly inspired by my Tulip Day last year.

Every day for the past four weeks (the season has been short because of the weather, cold then hot) I have ventured outside and within moments had a smile on my face as I see the tulips for the first time that day. Some may not be very perennial but it’s always worth buying more for the amount of pure joy they bring me.

The main display came from four pots. I planted in the same bulbs twos so there would be symmetry on either side of that path.

The top two photos as well as the next two show the evolution of the display in one of the pots.

Early morning sunshine. And it captures another couple of clumps of tulips that Gav planted in the borders. These have come back well for a about two years now.

Practicing with my macro lens….

I adore the darker tulips and this one is Black Parrot.

And this one is Queen of Night.

Totally blown out shot with sun flare but I still like the photo and I’m beginning to quite like this blowsy Antraciet variety too.

More from the pots.

Another fav. Dolls Minuet planted in a pot this year.

And finally another macro photo of an emerging La Belle Epoch. Such amazing detail on those petals!

Truly, truly in love with these flowers.

This is the Year – Garden Thoughts

Last year Gav kept telling me ‘this is the year’….. He meant that 2017 was the year our garden would finished. He did his absolute best I must admit and was out there working many, many, many more hours than I was. And it is almost there. Almost tidy, almost done.

But you know what? A garden is never really ‘done’. That is the beauty of it. What I mean by done is that it is how you want it at that particular moment in time.

Last year I found it harder than usual to do the routine things. The weeding and tidying. I was wondering what the reason might have been for this…..

Was it the weather that makes it hard work?

Was it that I want to garden in the mornings but I’m (was!) at work?

Was it that I have shifted in my love and rather than have a herbaceous border I want grow annuals?

Is it the fact that basically I’m lazy….. hmm probably!

It’s not that I don’t love a herbaceous border I do, oh I do but the weeding! Have I mentioned the weeding??It kills me and now I have trouble kneeling it makes it even harder work. We have pernicious grass that wends its way through the soil and tangles in the roots of the perennials…..

Over the last couple of years we have both worked hard towards getting the middle border in better shape with a view that border being the only truly herbaceous one, although not truly because it does have a couple of shrubs in it too!

And the other borders are moving more to shrubs and bulbs.

The plan this year then is to get all the greenhouse shelving finished. Gav will be working on that in March when he has a week off. He also wants to finish the garden at the front of the house. I’m going to dig all the plants out of what we call the ‘bump’ bed and weed it throughly a couple of times then plant it back up with a few little shrubs.

I’ll give the middle border a good weed too (insert forced smiling emoji) and move a few plants about a bit and also try to get the living fence into some kind of shape. And of course we will be growing veg and flowers.

It is an ebb and flow that I should be used to by now after all I’ve been gardening for over 20 years…..eek!

Hopefully I’ll be back to chat about those flowers soon, I just need to make my mind up on what to order.

Let’s Start the Year Right! With Snow

Technically this delightful day was last year but I’m using poetic licence here.

If you’ve been here a while you’ll know I adore snow. We don’t get much in Leeds s when it comes it is a treat.

This flurry arrived four days after Christmas Day which was bad timing on the weather front but I loved it all the same and the beauty was that I had no idea snow was forecast so when I peeked out of the curtains it was a total surprise!

I donned the wellies and Buddy and I set off for the best morning walk and when we’d been home a while and I had ventured out into the garden for some photos and to clear a spot for the bird feeding area it started to snow again and carried on for a couple of hours.

The flakes at one point were giant. It was a perfect hour or so as I watched it get a little deeper.

I went back out after it stopped and built a teeny snowman.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything to make his face.

My niece let me know that they were going to the park sledging so I tagged along to try to get a few photos.

Snow is very tricky to photograph especially if the day is overcast and misty! It throws the exposure out because it tricks the sensors into thinking the image is going to be overexposed. I thought I’d got my setting right but when I looked at them back home I needed to up the exposure quite a bit more.

They had fun though while I tried to get a shot. My sister and brother-in-law in the picture above. Then H joined in and they raced….

You can see that we don’t need much of a snowfall to get us out sledging round these parts!

And for the final run down the hill they persuaded me to have a go……

She was very happy about that…… me clearly not so much!

All in all though a fun few hours surrounded by that fabulous snow and a bit more practice with the big camera in those conditions. If only it snowed a bit more I might perfect it!

The perfect time in the garden

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It’s that time of year. The good time. The busy time. The potential is here time.

We have said hello and goodbye to lots of lovely Tulips. This one is Queen of Night.

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We have sown seed in the new greenhouse. Below is the very first seed that popped up. Sunflower Valentine.

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We have captured this cute boy over and over again.

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We have witnessed beautiful light on next doors rhubarb forcer.

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We have pondered the allotment patch.

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We have found a little ‘flower’ in amongst the Tulips.

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We have moved into this new space with makeshift benches.

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We have welcomed Robins.

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We have delighted in one of the favourites, Euphorbia griffithii ‘fireglow.’

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We have played with the macro lens.

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We have anticipated pears.

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We have smiled at the emergence of the Hostas.

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We have photographed.

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We have sat a while and reveled in this perfect time of year.

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Oh beautiful bees, which one are you?

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I don’t think it would come as much of a surprise to anyone that’s been here for a while that I love bees. They are a vital part of our garden and a vital part of our food production and I can’t sing the praises of encouraging them into your garden enough.

Last year I spent quite a lot of time trying to name species of bees that came into our garden. I didn’t make much progress.

This year armed with the macro lens I felt certain I would fare better. Hmm…

Not sure that I have. But on any sunny day you would find me out there with the camera trying to catch a bee or two. I even resorted to the tripod in the hopes of getting better shots. (You’ll be pleased to hear that the tripod didn’t make much difference – well that the story I’m going with anyway….)

I poured over the images and am finally ready to share what I think are six different bees. I say I think I have because it’s a complicated business. I used this website and a PDF found there to help with the process.

So although I am naming them as I go I am not 100% certain I’m correct! The delightful specimen at the start of this post is a Common Carder bee. This one below is also a common carder bee getting his fill of an Antirrhinum flower.

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Next we have a White-tailed bee on a Spiraea flower head. Look at all that pollen on his back legs!

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And another White-tailed.

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And an Red-tailed one. The Knautia plants in early summer are bee nectar bars.

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And a Honey bee.

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Here is a Tree bee on a Geranium flower.

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And finally an Early bee.

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Fairly sure about this one as I managed to capture his yellow hairy face. Below is the same bee where you can see his blunt buff coloured tail.

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I would recommend planting the Knautia and also for later in the season Helenium and Echinops.

It’s been a labour of love, this identifying business but a worth while and fun one and I’m sure I’ll carry on photographing and trying to identify more species next summer.

The Hawkmoth Caterpillar

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There are some little critters I like. (Foxes, squirrels, bees.)  And some little critters I do not like. (Spiders, wasps, wats – can’t even bring myself to write the correct word….)

This find falls into the like category although I got out the macro lens and a couple of shots do make me go ugh! So be warned.

I was weeding one of the small veg/flower beds ready for biennials and almost squished this fella.

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I looked him up and he’s a Hawkmoth Caterpillar and about 3 inches long. When disturbed they curve their body into a ‘U’ shape to make them look snake-like. I think it works a treat.

Here are his ‘legs’ clinging on to a stem. Can I say cute?

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But get ready for the not so cute….

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Eew!

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Pretty amazing though.

After a while he went back to position he was in when I found him.

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Just clinging on doing caterpillar stuff.

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He looks like a stick, no wonder I was about to squash him.

I stepped back a bit so you see the setting better.

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I actually found three of them all around this spot in the garden.

Nature just rocks it.

Thanks for letting me share the weird but wonderful stuff in our garden.

The Garden – a photo review of the summer so far

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I know it isn’t over yet but I had quite a few photos taken over the last three months that capture the light and some of the plants we have grown and allowed to self sow this year.

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A self-sown borage plant in amongst the potatoes.

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My very favourites catching that early June light.

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Beautiful foxgloves. The white were planted by us, the pink joined the party themselves.

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Shining star with a deep green backdrop. This is a Geum flower following the sun.

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Evening light on Campanula.

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A helping hand.

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The first Dahlia flower from ‘Karma Choc.’ This plant is a stunner.

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First tomatoes.

And not forgetting this…..

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‘Bellus Buddii.’

Hope your summer is floriferous and warmer than ours!

Sunflower watch

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We are growing a new sunflower this year. Helianthus ‘helios flame.’ I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to sunflowers and didn’t fancy growing this bi-coloured variety but Gav wanted to try it so we did.

So far I must say I like it. It has produced blooms quite early for this garden which is good and it’s not too tall and the flowers are bright and cheery.

The first bloom began to unfurl on 4 July and I took a photo, the one above, using the macro lens. When I was looking at that picture I found that I’d already taken a picture of the same bud a few days earlier and I thought why not capture this bloom as it develops and then wains.

So here is the sunflower watch 2015.

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We had quite a warm day when it was unfurling because it went from the picture above to the one below in 24 hours! Pop and there it is.

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Lives up to its name.

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Here it is at a distance. Shining out all on its own.

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It is starting to wilt a little now as if it has had enough of this showing off. You can also see other buds are getting ready to flower too so that’s good.

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As the petals fade the centre seems to get bigger. We had lots of rain and I think that speeded up its demise but it did give a good week of floriferous wonder.

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This last photo was taken 3 August which I think is amazing. For almost a month I have had pleasure from this one little bloom.

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I’ve told Gav he did well picking this variety to grow and they will be added to my list for next year a lovely addition to my sunflower growing obsession.

The Garden – planting combinations

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If you are a gardener or a lover of plants I’m sure you have leafed through books or wandered around other gardens and thought how wonderful the planting combinations are that they have created.

Over the years I have been visiting gardens I’ve taken so many photos of colour and shape combinations thinking that I’ll look at them for inspiration when planting up a new area of the garden. But I never do. I forget. And that is a shame, to waste all that information.

So in the spirit of trying to learn and remember to look at all those photos I thought I’d share a few planting combinations from here in my own garden.

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This one I love for the contrast between the yellow/lime of the Alchemilla and the blue of the Campanula with the added interest in both leaf and colour of the Senecio.

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This combination was a total accident. We bought the creamy white Lavender recently and just sat it down on the patio right next to the hosta. The tiny purple flowers nestled within the flower spikes pick up perfectly on the traditional lavender flowers you can see in the background and the hosta pulls the two together. So pretty and cottage garden-y.

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In design terms you wouldn’t put two plants side by side with the same sorts of flower. These two, Sisyrinchium and Linaria have spikes of flowers so both similar in shape and form but I adore the delicate pink and the buttery yellow together. Sometimes you have to break the rules.

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Here is another total accident as the foxglove self seeded but I think the vibrant blue of the Delphinium and the pink of the Digitalis go together great with a subtle white tinge in each flower that ties them together.

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And finally more of a foliage group although the Spirea is flowering its socks of at the moment. Spirea, Cotinus coggygria  and Pieris japonica. Each leaf different and proving a contrast for the others.

What combinations do you love in your garden?

Bloom 2015 – garden update

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The summer is in full swing. I’d like to say it was wall to wall sunshine here in Leeds but alas that is not what we get, well not very often.

We have had a few good weeks and one great week where the temperatures were in the twenties for days. The plants seem to be growing regardless of sun.

The sweet peas have recovered from the fox incident. I have two rows of these situated along the edge of one side of the ‘allotment’ and am hopeful for lots of wonderful flowers.

Here is a photo I took a couple of weeks ago showing the patch of land we tend in the wood behind our garden.

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And here are the sweet peas the other day.

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I once again placed netting horizontally over the cutting patches as support and the plants are merrily growing up through.

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Really don’t know why I didn’t use netting years ago. I said the same last year and am sure I will next year too!

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Here are a few flowers I gathered yesterday.

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As well as these blooms we also have Scabious, Helianthus, Rudbekia and Dahlias growing away.

I also sowed Salvia, Larkspur and Malope but they were unsuccessful. I mostly put this down to the fact that we were away for three weeks and couldn’t tend to the seedlings.

I would like a few longer stemmed plants to harvest for bigger arrangements but all in all so far so good.