Monday, 31 August 2015

EOMV – August in London

It’s the last week of the summer and over here in Britain we have Bank Holiday week-end and a Carnival to celebrate what was supposed to be a glorious summer now about to end. Well, here in London we have had an amazing June and first half of July, but August has been a month of contrasts as big as they come. A week ago we had what’s called a ‘Spanish Plume’, really hot air coming up from the continent and giving us a nice week-end of summer weather. I had 34 degrees C on the Saturday and 29 C on the Sunday in my garden. On the Monday the Spanish Plume had gone to pastures new and the temperature was a measly 16 degrees. Cold! All that was a week ago, this week-end is the big carnival do in Notting Hill, people are scantily dressed and dependant on warm, sunny weather. I have been to the Notting Hill Carnival a few times many years ago, these days I prefer my own garden for colour and drama! Sorry to say the weather was typical British Summer for all party goers this week-end, cold and cloudy yesterday, cold and raining pretty much all day today.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

How to tackle Red Lily Beetles

Today’s post is mainly going to be about a topic I have had questions about many times, how to tackle Red Lily Beetles. I absolutely adore lilies and can’t get enough of them, and when I moved house earlier this year I lifted as many bulbs I could find and ended up with 164 lilies in pots – the rest I left to the new tenant, probably nearly 100 of various size. Over the years I have tackled a lot of pest and diseases in my garden, some more frustrating than other, but lily beetles are not really a big problem to me despite the fact that I live in London where the problem with lily beetles is very common.

Friday, 31 July 2015

EOMV – July - blowing hot and cold

July 2015 has been a month of contrast in my garden in terms of the weather. From extreme hot weather in the beginning to seriously cold towards the end of the month. Well, it’s not as if we have had any snow, but it actually dipped just below 10 degrees C one night and that’s rather cold for July in London. Spare a thought for those further north though, who had temperatures down towards zero that night. Brrr! And a week ago we had 24 hours with rain. Yay!! That was really good for parched gardens around here, would have liked to have a few more days like that, but according to most forecasts there won’t be a drop of rain the next 10 days. I am back to watering every evening.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

GBBD - 2 months in my new garden

I don’t really know where the last 2 months have gone, in any case they have gone very quickly! Since moving house I have tried to keep up with all the things that comes with switching address, and despite only moving 2.3 miles down the road, it is an astonishing amount of work involved. Add to that all the things this house has thrown at me since moving in – currently I have no working shower as the pump isn't working properly and I am waiting for a plumber/electrician to fix it, last week the sewer was blocked for the whole street and Thames Water had to come out in the evening and unblock it. What will be next....I just want a shower and a hair wash. Soon.

The relentless heat we have had has given way for cooler days, a much more comfortable 23-25 degrees C. I don’t mind a few more but well over 30 C makes me too lazy and I have too much to do so I am happy with this. And we have finally had some rain! Not exactly a day of rain, more like a few short drizzly showers and with what’s here called ‘spitting’ in between. Not really enough to water the plants properly, but enough to make you wet if you stay outside for long enough. But after the prolonged period of dry weather and having to water my plants every evening I take any kind of rain, no matter how short lived. The next 10 day’s weather forecast doesn’t promise us one drop of rain so it’s back to watering every evening from now on.

I have been busy in what’s going to be my Shade Garden. Trying to clear this area has been top priority, but my goodness what a job it has been – and I am not finished yet. This is from last week when I removed paving slabs that have been leaning up against the fence for ages, possibly since this side garden was made about 14 years ago. You should have seen some of the spiders that turned up when I started moving these slabs – best not have a fear of spiders when taking on work like this!

May I present you to my new garden helper! This robin has been flying around me the last 10 days, I am quite sure it is the same bird every day. It is not scared of me at all, every time I lift something or dig up something, he/she is there straight away looking if I have unearthed something edible. At times the bird is flying so close to me that all I can hear is a SWUSH! around my ears before it lands right in front of me, taking no notice of me at all.

And a few days ago I decided to try digging up the cordyline that was growing in the bed here in the Shade Garden. The only way I can dig anywhere in this garden is by using water so I hacked away a tiny trench and lay down the hose on a small trickle and let the water work it’s magic. Every hour I went to dig out what was wet and after 6 hours I got as far as you can see here. It was time to use spade, fork and brute force.

And out it came, the whole cordyline root, my goodness it was heavy!

And before I could finish taking a photo of it, the robin was there, landing right there on the root. Don’t you agree it has a rather triumphing pose?

Photo session on the root over, the robin proceeded to look for goodies I might have unearthed. Both my spade and fork got a good picking and it seems they both had edible stuff.

Final pose of the day, yes, I am sure he is posing for me. Seriously - looking right at me, not scared at all every time I lift up the camera. I don’t have a zoom lens, I am sitting less than 1m away taking these photos. And this must be a ‘he’, posing like that?!

They say people with cats should not attract birds to their gardens because the cats will chase them.

Not much risk of that in my garden. This is what my cat is doing most of the time whilst out in the garden. And if he isn’t outside sleeping he is sleeping inside instead. Chasing birds is not one of his pastimes, I guess he has learned from experience they will fly away long before he gets to them. Pretty laidback cat, not really bothered. He is allowed though, getting to that age where sleeping, eating and cuddles are the only things important in life. He will be 14 years old in November.

Back to my shade garden and tidying up. Here is a week’s worth of garden waste, ready for the council to come and collect it for their green waste composting service. Thank goodness they do this for free, I would had to pay someone to come once a week to drive the bags away for me if this service had not existed. So far I have filled 29 bags.

But not everything I find in the garden can end up as compost, the green bags are for green waste, these black bags are for rubbish collection. I have found an astonishing amount of rubbish in this garden!

All the pruning and cutting and collecting rubbish has worn out my super-strong garden gloves. I can’t believe I managed to wear away the leather. New gloves are already bought from Amazon.

Oh, and look what I found when digging out the cordyline under the ceanothus! I don’t know what it is, do you? Some sort of fungi, but what? It’s got an umbilical cord and is still attached wherever that might be, I haven’t cut it off yet. Just a shame I didn’t stumble on a load of truffles – but I am unfortunately quite sure it is not a truffle. Wrong type of tree, wrong pH for truffles and....ehm, it doesn’t look like any truffle I have seen anyway, not that I have SEEN many, but I have seen them on TV.

OK, so this was the Shade Garden a few weeks ago, and I have tidied up, cut back, dug up and even started on trimming the ceanothus’ – but that’s a long term project, it is hard work and I have to just do a bit now and then.

And here is the shade garden today. Not ready for planting yet, but looking a lot better already. The shrubs at the end are also coming out, but I don’t think I can do them myself. Getting that small cordyline out was my first shrub out of the ground, it was seriously hard work and getting the rest out will have to be by someone stronger and fitter than me.

But enough about the work, let me show you some flowers, after all it is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and I have lots of plants in flower this month despite all of the plants being in pots and most of them not really enjoying the potted life. Turning around from The Shade Garden, The Hot Garden has been awfully hot for a couple of weeks, so hot that Rosa ‘Ingrid Bergman’ found it too hot and had to move out, she could not stand the heat and her roses turned crispy! I have placed her in the main garden where she is much happier. It has been a learning curve having a much sunnier garden than I had before.

But the daylilies are really enjoying the sun here, and ‘Sammy Russel’ and ‘Burning Daylight’ is a nice combination.

Down on the ground I have a softer colour palette, mostly in pinks. Here are some of my many daylilies – ‘David Kirchhoff’ and ‘Moonlit Masquerade’. Some of my daylilies are enormous, growing in far too small containers and desperate to get back in the ground – others are tiny and have yet to flower for the first time. My plan is to have all the pink and cream  shaded growing in the back garden in a bed in the middle of the garden, together with roses in pink shades. I am not sure where all the yellow, orange and burnt red daylilies are going yet!

This is from left top: ‘Nanuq’ and ‘Dan Mahony’, ‘Double Coffee’ and ‘Crimson Pirate’.

My angels are growing quickly, they need bigger pots – all the angle pelargoniums are a different variety and my plan is to take cuttings of them for next year. I just need a few more hours in the day!

The heuceras have got a temporary space here on the edge of the wall, I just love the different colours of the leaves and would really like many more. When they finally get planted they will all grow bigger than this.

Dicentra  formosa 'Bacchanal'  is doing well in the pot, I split it in 3 in early spring and the main plant has grown a lot this summer.

The most action is happening in my front garden at the moment – or mainly outside my front garden to be honest. Most of my 164 lilies are in flower or just about to flower. Only Lilium regale and a red Asiatic one is finished. I made an order to H. W. Hyde for lily bulbs last autumn, before I had any idea I was going to move house. When the bulbs arrived in February I planted them all in pots as I didn’t know for sure back then whether I would get the bungalow I had been offered or not. I am glad I got them all with me, some of these new lilies are really exquisite and will get just better, bigger and taller over the next few years.

‘Triumphator’ is one of the new ones, with enormously big flowers and a nice scent.

‘Friso’ is one I had from before, this is 3rd year and being a Goliath lily it can eventually become 2.5m tall.

‘Guardia’ is also new, really gorgeous flowers, with a nice, fruity scent.

‘Maytime’ and ‘Prescott’ are also new, both will grow much bigger over the next few years.

‘Lankon’ is probably the most spectacular of the new lilies, just look at the inside pattern!

But ‘Blueberry Crush’ is the one I have waited for to open. When this lily grow up to be an adult in 3-4 years’ time it will have up to 25-30 flowers on each stalk – and I have 3 bulbs. With a flower size much bigger than my hand and a heavenly, fruity lily scent I can’t ask for anything more :-)

I have other, more familiar plants from my old garden in flower too, Dahlia 'Mary Eveline' is now living in 3 large pots and the first flower has opened.

Rosa 'Susan Williams-Ellis' is out here at the front, she is bigger and better than last year. I have learned to accept that David Austin roses do take a few more years to grow into their maturity than other roses – but they are worth the wait.

On the inside of the fence is Penstemon Pensham 'Amelia Jayne' – and my first attempt to grow canna lilies. 'Magic Pink' has only produced a lot of green leaves so far but I am hoping these two plants will reward me with flowers eventually.

'Amelia Jayne' has beautiful flowers and she needs a space in the ground soon – like a lot of my plants!

Let’s take look in the back garden too, here is the central part with the most sun-hungry plants. One thing has changed here in the middle, the plumtree has gone! Well, not exactly gone, but I have cut most of it down, only the stump is left as you can see in this photo. What’s left will have to be dug out, not a job I will be able to do so I am adding it to a growing list for someone to come and help me with.

Alstroemeria 'Dandy Candy' is a real trooper, last year it flowered until Christmas. I will get a few more when this part of the garden is eventually sorted.

And here is a plant I bought last year, finally I get to see it in flower - Lewisia cotyledon. I have two, but the second has not flowered yet. I plan to make a miniature garden with my Sempervivum collection and these two will hopefully get a space there.

My boots have got some flowers temporarily, they are still filled with spring bulbs from last winter, but I have placed these Pelargonium 'Appleblossom’ in them for now, still in pots.

I am so happy I finally bought these, they are just gorgeous.

And now to some of the plants I have inherited with the new garden. To the left is a lacecap hydrangea and to the right is a Hibiscus syriacus.

I must admit I like mophead hydrangeas better, but this one has a pretty colour.

I have wanted a Hibiscus syriacus for ages but could not find a space for one in my previous garden – then I came here and found a mature one growing. What a coincidence! I am now eagerly waiting for the first flowers to open as I have no idea what colour they are or if they are single or double. Hard to tell from the buds :-)

My temporary vegetable garden is growing like mad. To the far right I have placed Rosa 'Wildeve' and it is doing amazingly well in that tiny container after having been dug up from my old garden. This is a rose that can tolerate quite a lot of shade and on the end here it is doing better than some of my other roses in much bigger containers.

The flowers on 'Wildeve' is pale pink at this stage and slightly peachy when fully opened.

Clematis 'Mon Amour'  has also ended up here, after having been moved from The Hot Garden, the rain has slightly washed out the deep blue colour but it is still doing well in the pot.

And I have tomatoes. LOTS of tomatoes. Last year my tomato growing got off to a shaky start as the plug plants didn’t arrive until July. This year I got them when I was supposed to in April and it won’t be long until I can start to harvest these cherry tomatoes.

And I am happy to report that the apple tree is doing well, the aphid problem has sorted itself out, nature took care of everything and there is hardly an aphid to see, just lots of apples. I didn’t get a June drop so I have dutifully picked off a whole bucked full of apples so all the branches I can reach has only two apples on each truss. There are many more branches with too many apples further up that I can’t reach but I am no good on ladders anymore so they will just have to stay as they are.

I got a plant delivery in the post today from Jessica at Rusty Duck, these are Saxifraga stolonifera babies and I am so grateful she sent me them, they will be a great addition to my Shade Garden once it is ready to be planted.

And finally, just have to show you my first ever Agapanthus flower, I bought two plants last autumn and they have two buds each. This is Agapanthus 'Navy Blue' two days ago and today - and it is amazing to see how the whole flower is packed inside the bud just waiting to pop out.

Sorry, this became a very long post, but there is just so much going on in my garden these days and I haven’t got time to sit down and write every other day. Instead I am making a longer summary when I post. Next time will be on the 31st July for the End of Month View, hopefully with a movie too. But I am posting photos now and then on my Facebook page so anyone who would like to keep track on what’s going on are welcome to send me a friend request on

Please visit our host Carol at May Dreams Gardens for many more July gardens.
Until next time, take care.

Still not got the shower fixed, but the electrician called this evening – turns out this is an electrician thing not a plumber issue. He said I could still use the shower, just be careful it didn’t flood the floor so have to take a break now and then when using it so the shower tray doesn’t get too full. He will come on Thursday to change a part on my brand new pump that should have worked perfectly....Just had a shower and a hair wash, lovely after 4 days :-)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

EOMV – June, the joys of a new garden #2

It is hot in London, it’s been nice weather for some time but now it’s really stepping up a gear. With 30-35 degrees C in my garden and no substantial rain for months I am struggling to keep all my potted plants alive, all 700 of them. Well there were nearly 700 to begin with, I am afraid some have died due to vine weevils, some have died due to lack of water and some have actually got too much water and drowned. I can’t possibly go around and stick my finger into each and every pot before applying water to check if it needs water or not, I just hose them down and hope for the best - every evening. It is a relentless work and I am determined to get as many as possible through the summer. But a few more will probably die.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The joys of a new garden, #1

When I moved into my new house 6 weeks ago I could not wait to get started on my new garden and I must admit that unpacking my stuff and getting my house sorted has been a slow process as my garden is calling for me to come out every spare minute I have. It has been an exciting process to discover what I actually have inherited, but at this point it is a bit daunting too, with all the decisions I have to make. I have been blogging about my old garden for 4 ½ years and I have learned so much from all of you kind and experienced gardeners out there, and over the years I have been contributing in my small ways with my share of hints and tips and trial and errors too. Now I am calling on all of you gardeners to come with your helpful advice to some of the tasks, problems and decisions I am facing in my new garden, perhaps together we can come up with some solutions :-)

Monday, 15 June 2015

June flowers in my new garden

I can’t believe I have lived in my new house for over a month, time seems to fly and I have been so busy – and I still have boxes to unpack. Downsizing isn’t easy and I must admit I don’t really know where to put everything even though I have sold, given away and thrown away stuff already. In the garden I have been mostly pruning and tidying up. Every time I look under a new bush I find stuff, just old pieces of wood, broken plant pots and rubbish really so clearing the garden is going to be a long process. In the mean time I am watering my nearly 700 pots and hoping the plants will survive, the hot and windy weather we have had was hard, luckily it has cooled down a bit and now that we got low 20s C for a while it makes it easier with the watering. A good few days with rain would have helped but there is no rain in sight for the next 10 days and beyond.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

End of Month View - May

What a mad last couple of months I have had! When I was offered the bungalow back in February I realised it would take time to sort out everything and get a final approval for a swap, but I did of course not plan on dislocating my hip replacement in the middle of the whole process – neither did I think the house swap application would take such a long time as it actually did, and the nail-biting finish with a deadline approaching and a final yes from the council a day after the deadline was a bit more than I appreciated. But I am here, I have lived in my new house – and garden for almost 3 weeks – and I am hopefully NEVER going to move again!