Sunday, 17 July 2011


Another plant that I am having to learn a bit about is clematis. There are lots in this garden and they keep popping up in places where I haven't noticed them before. My main worry has been when to prune them and so I've been trying to learn which pruning groups they belong to. The group ones don't need pruning so I will forget about those for now.

The big showy types seem to be in group two. This one is something similar to 'Nelly Moser' and flowered quite early.

Then there is 'Josephine' my absolute favourite. 

These are the ones that you prune lightly in February from the top down to a pair of healthy buds. However these also seem to be the ones that are all straggly and have a lot of dead wood so I am tempted to follow the RHS advice that says that you can hard prune them every 3-4 years by cutting them right back to 1-3ft from the base.

Then there are the group threes which seem fairly indestructible. These are the ones you cut back hard every February. I have one that has appeared scrambling up through a shrub that I have yet to photograph and this one that is so vigorous I'm wondering whether I can just divide it in the spring when it starts putting up its many shoots as it is outgrowing its space.

I also have this one that I'm not sure which group it goes into.

I'm fairly sure the flowers were all on new growth from this year but it did flower quite early so I'm a bit confused. It looks a bit like 'Jackmanii' and apparently you can treat those either as group two or three depending on how you want them to grow. I guess if I wanted it to scramble up through the tree I could leave it or if I wanted it to stay covering the trunk I will have to prune it quite hard. 

I'm presuming that anything that flowers from now on is going to be a group three. I still have one that has buds but no flowers yet. I also have to keep my eye out for any more that pop up! My next step is to try to propagate some. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Wow, the weather has been way too nice to stay inside and blog. In truth, I have been really busy with the kids but I've found time to do a bit of gardening too.
My roses have blackspot which I wasn't too worried about but some of them seem to be really badly affected and have lost most of their leaves so I have decided to spray them. I don't really like using chemicals and spraying roses seems a bit futile to me as the blackspot always comes back but I'm hoping that if I spray them hard this year that they might recover enough to make it to next year in better shape. Then I will sort the men from the boys and get rid of all the sickly roses and replace them with something stronger.
One that I am going to take cuttings of is this climber.

It is the cleverest rose I have ever met in that its flowers change colour. The buds are red and yellow, they then turn peachy as they open. The older flowers are a deep pink. You end up with a plant covered in different coloured flowers. Very cool. I actually thought there was something wrong with it at first but my friends over at Gardeners Corner tell me it is called Masquerade!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Mystery plants

As I've said before I am a novice gardener and there are a quite a few plants in the garden that I don't have a clue about so I'm going to see if anyone can identify them for me.
This is the first mystery. It looks familiar but I'm not sure I've ever known what its called.

This I suspect is a weed but it is quite pretty. I would like to pull up a large clump of it but thought I had better check what it was first!

Any help would be much appreciated!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Astrantia Fashion

This is my Astrantia major 'Rubra'. I bought it in a sale at the end of last summer when everyone seemed to have astrantia and I didn't want to be left out. Plants definitely seem to go in and out of fashion. Maybe its Chelsea I don't know or maybe its just that once you recognise a plant you see it everywhere. Anyway to me astrantia, particularly the red ones seem to be very in vogue.
This one has had a bit of a journey. It had finished flowering when I bought it so I planted it out and forgot to water it. I thought it must have died but it managed to put up a few shoots just in time for me to realise what it was and dig it up before we moved house. It then made the journey from Somerset to Cheshire without going missing (lots of our other pots where either emptied out by removal men or just disappeared altogether!) and is now very happily flowering in a pot on the patio.
Of course I have since discovered that we have lots of astrantia here. There are lots of white ones all around the pond. Ah well, I will enjoy mine while it flowers then plant it with its friends where hopefully it will self seed and mix in nicely.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Roses Galore

I'm not really a huge fan of roses. I find them slightly intimidating, all that pruning and feeding, blackspot and powdery mildew to worry about. They are also expensive so I have never bought one. However, this garden is full of them and its hard not to be impressed. I am of course still worried. Most of them seem to be Hybrid Teas or Floribundas (I only know that because some of them still have their labels) with the odd climber. I arrived a little too late to prune them properly so I just removed all the dead bits, fed them and tied them in where necessary. I will just have to see how they do this year and keep my eye on my favourites. I was thinking of taking some cuttings of the good ones later on in the year.

This is a climber called 'Golden Showers' - who thinks up these names?

This wins the prize for the biggest flowers

And this one the prize for brightest colour

This one has lots of big blooms on one bush. It's a very girly pink and reminds me of my Grandma. She would have loved it.

This is probably my favourite. It's a climber and its such an amazing purple colour. It was the first to bloom despite being hidden behind an overgrown shrub. It has a lovely scent too.
I like this romantic, soft focus picture of this yellow rose. It is a lovely neat bush that has lots of blooms.

There are lots of buds everywhere so lots more roses to look forward too. Now all I have to do is figure out what a sucker looks like and how to remove it!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sunshine and showers

Well the garden needed it I'm sure but the rain has been getting on my nerves. Is it stopping is it starting? Coat on, coat off...
Anyway it was nice to see the sun for a while this afternoon and I managed to get some edging and weeding done. Where do they all come from? Alan was right about the edging too. Makes the whole garden look better instantly. I need to buy some long handled shears though the short ones made life unnecessarily difficult!
I also managed to get the potatoes planted. They are just in bags on the patio. I planted Maris Piper which seems a bit mad because they are what you'd buy in the shops but I thought I'd try a little experiment. OH, who does a lot of the cooking, always turns his nose up at my homegrown spuds but always goes on about buying Maris Piper for roast potatoes. So this year he'll have not a leg to stand on and will eat them with much praising of my horticultural skills. Or I might just sneak them into the cupboard and see if he can tell the difference!
In the sunny spells the bees and myself have been enjoying the Nectaroscordum siculum, a very ugly name for a lovely flower if you ask me. Sicilian honey garlic isn't much better but easier to say I suppose. I'm so pleased to have these here. We had them in another garden 3 houses ago and I loved them then. The colours are so delicate and I love the way they unfurl from their buds.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The wart in my garden

This weekend we have done a bit of decking. Or more correctly, OH has put down some decking while I supervised and helpfully pointed out any imperfections ;-) I've been a bit grumpy about the decking. The stuff itself is fine, nothing fancy just a rectangle of decking in the corner of the patio. My problem is that the reason for its existence is to provide a level platform for OH's Lay-Z-Spa. This a great grey blow up hot tub and is easily the ugliest thing I've seen a garden for some time. I also have concerns about how much water and electricity it will use but I am outnumbered. The kids love it and OH talked me into it before I had a chance to think about it.
So we now have this great monstrosity blocking most of the view of the garden from the patio. The only thing I can think to do is plant up lots of containers and try to pretty up the rest of the patio to soften the blow a bit. Maybe its not all bad. It's a good excuse to plant up lots of tubs with very pretty things and I must admit it was quite nice in that hot weather, after a hard days weeding and the kids had gone to bed, to sit in it with a glass of wine and watch the bats.
BTW, we bought it in Homebase on the Easter weekend when they had them for half price.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

New to me garden

We have just moved and taken over a farmhouse with a reasonable sized garden.

The thing about a new garden is that it is just so exciting because you never know what is going to appear next. I suppose it helps that I'm not sure what anything is until it flowers and then I often have to look it up in a book. I also keep discovering hidden treasures. I was weeding the other day and came across the most gorgeous purple rose hidden behind a huge shrub. In the front a clematis suddenly burst to life from under a load of periwinkle and produced the most amazing flowers.

Surprise clematis - I'd love to know what it is?
There are lots of shrubs and 3 main mixed herbaceous borders. There is an overgrown pond with a willow tree hanging over it, a fair amount of lawn, a patio and a rose garden that I thought was small until I weeded it, whereupon it trebled in size ;-) There are lots of roses everywhere and clematis too. Sadly no vegetable patch but last year I grew all my veg in containers and so this year I am going to try a raised bed and see how I get on. We haven't built this yet. There is also a rough copse type area where I would like to keep some chickens but it will need fencing and this will have to wait at least until we have finished unpacking!
So lots to do. We are tenants here so we won't be spending lots of money on the garden or doing any major work. The borders all have some quite large gaps so I hope to be able to propagate some plants to fill these in. Other than that I will be learning as much as I can from this garden. Restoring rather than altering it.