Thursday, 18 July 2019

Plant memories: Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau' and Cat-Merlyn

This is Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau', also known as 'Grass-Merlyn'.
The grass is still looking green now, but in late summer
it will turn golden, hence it's specific name is Goldtau

Merlyn was our previous cat, a wonderful cheeky bugger who has a penchant for eating my ornamental grasses, and this one in particular. When he sadly died, it seemed fitting to bury him with this grass.

The 'Grass-Merlyn' is a take on a friend who used to tell his child who loved our cat, stories of 'The Adventures of Cat-Merlyn'. So Cat-Merlyn was a nickname, and therefore he, resting with his favourite plant to chew on, he became Grass-Merlyn.


The plant was looking so good with it's new flowers this morning. It made me happy that I have this very special memory of a most wonderful cat companion.

Cat-Merlyn, who decided to have a snooze mid-harvest. Coz cat.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

New veg beds - aka finally making a decision on the final layout of my kitchen garden

The kitchen garden?

Not an inspiring photograph, is it? I mean, yes, you can see my slowly developing Forest Garden Border around the edges (the blueberries are nearly ready!), and some raised beds with garlic. But the lawn dominates. However, not for much longer.

I've always intended that this area of the garden would become my kitchen garden, as it gets the most sun all year around. I just hadn't been able to make a decision about the design layout. I've played around with a number of layouts over the last few months, and I've finally came to one that I both liked, and that I felt maximised the use of the space. And here's the plan:

Base map: showing the shape of the design clearly

I view it as a geometrically-shaped flower.

The design has been very carefully measured a few times, and I'm certain that it will work. And I must thank Andrea, my gardener, who helped me with the final measuring out and design tweeks.

 Final design with all the careful measurements

Once again, I'm going with straight lines. That's because straight lines are so much cheaper to build. I plan on adding some plants, such as creeping Thyme, along the paths, as well as some other low growing herbs and ornamental plants, which over time will help break up the lines.

The beds will be made sleepers again and will also be two levels high. As I've mentioned before, I have acid soil, so I need to build the soil level up with alkaline/neutral compost if I want to grow vegetables. For the paths, we will be putting down a permeable membrane, and will then add purple shale on top. I've used this method in the past and I know it works well and looks good. 

The obelisk sitting in the middle of another raised bed during last winter.

I'll be moving my Obelisk from it's temporary position (above) to the centre kitchen garden bed, which will add some height and year round interest. And of course, it will be good for growing climbing french beans and peas, with cut flowers, including sweet peas, on alternate years.

The landscapers will be here next week! And I've just ordered the nearly 5 tonnes of compost to fill the beds. So it's all go for my new kitchen garden borders.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Wisteria border: before and after

A year ago, this is what the Wisteria border looked like.

What Wisteria border you ask?

Well, this is now.

It's always good to take before and after photos. You often get caught up in what work you still want to do in your garden, so it's good to be able to take stock to see how far you've come.

It's hard to point out where the actual Wisteria is, as it's still a young plant. Hopefully this time next year I'll be able to show you.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes grow on Hardneck Garlic. Most people (at least in the UK), tend to grow Softneck Garlic, which don't produce scapes (unless stressed). If you aren't sure what type of garlic you are growing, you'll know if it starts producing a scape, which is around late May and early June in the UK.

1. A garlic scape just developing.

2. The scape has further developed and is leaning over.

3. The scape has now turned into a hook.

You want to snap off the garlic scape as soon as you notice it. This is because the plant will put all it's energy into developing the scape, at the expense of the bulbs in the ground. The scapes turn into flowers that produce 'bulbils', tiny bulbs, which are interesting per se, but not if you want to actually harvest some garlic bulbs!

4. Snap the scape off at this point.

5. The scape section left of the plant may still grow a little more, but will then stop, viz:

6. Don't waste the garlic scapes, as they can be eaten!

A lot of people make Garlic Scape Pesto (think normal pesto but with garlic scapes included). However, I tend to just chop it up and add it into whatever I'm cooking at the time, such as omelettes or a curry. You can add it into any dish you might add garlic to. The Garlic Farm have a good list of suggestions if you want further inspiration. The scapes have a milder flavour compared to the bulbs.

So, if you notice these developing on your garlic, now you'll know what to do with them.

* * * * *
If you would like to know more about growing garlic, do check out my Spoonie Veg: Garlic post.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Purple reign

Purple. It's my favourite colour. And I love it's different shades, from lilac to aubergine, blue-purple, pink purple and deep purple. Here are some of the many purples reigning in my garden from Spring to early Summer.

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation', in the sun.

In a muted light.

Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee'

Lavandula stoechas 'Fathead'

Clematis alpina 'Pamela Jackman'

Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Blaue Glocke'

Ajuga reptans 'atropurpurea'

Tulipa 'Queen of Night'

Geranium nodosum 'Clos du Coudray'

Lavandula 'Regal Splendour'

Lavandula 'Regal Splendour', glowing in the sun. If you look very closely, you can see a bee butt!

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Allium schoenoprasum

A few viola's, starting with my favourite, Viola 'Jean Jeanie'

Viola 'Martin'

Viola 'Elaine Quin'

Viola tricolor

Viola riviniana 'Purpurea'


A self-seeded viola that I love, but for which I have no name. Possibly a sport of Viola tricolor.

Geranium 'Orion'

And the perennial favourite of humans and bees, Digitalis purpurea.

Long may purple reign!


Wednesday, 29 May 2019

#Florespondence: Camassia leichtlinii 'Caerulea'

For years I've been meaning to grow blue Camassia's and finally, voila!

As you can see, it's very attractive to bees and the purple-blue star-shaped flowers are very attractive.

I've planted the Camassia under the Quince tree, along with early flowering Crocus, Narcissus, blue Anemones, Primulas, and also with grass Stipa tenuissima. The idea is a succession of flowering bulbs from early to late Spring, then the grasses, which are evergreen, adding a wind-blown rustle the rest of the year.





The front garden, which is west-facing, means the Camassia capture the afternoon and early evening sun, even on cloudy days, as in the last photo. I'm pleased with the look, which I think should improve further as the Quince tree grows taller.

Friday, 24 May 2019

#Florespondence: Osmunda regalis 'Purpurascens'

It's quite possible that this, Osmunda regalis 'Purpurascens', also known as the 'royal fern', is my favourite fern. It's certainly regal. It's utterly enchanting, from the moment it sends up its fronds and begins to unfurl.









It's in a bed close to the dining room doors, so I have watched it develop morning by morning throughout Spring, whilst eating breakfast. Quite a show.

Yes, this is my favourite fern.


Tuesday, 14 May 2019

#Florespondence: Tulipa 'Ballerina' and 'Havran'

When I first got interested in gardening, about 18 years ago, I was lucky enough to come across the Christopher Lloyd book, Colour for Adventurous Gardeners. It brought together colours that you might not consider go together, and showed you that they could. It inspired me to ignore convention and experiment. When I was designing my current front garden, the theme of which is a 'hot' garden (hot colours), I thought I'd do some more playing around with colours.

One of my favourite tulips is the flaming orange, Tulipa 'Ballerina', which really flowers its socks off for around three weeks. I wanted to choose something to grow with it, and decided upon the beetroot red of Tulipa 'Havran'. This is the result.

With direct sun, and the petals fully out:
Orange Tulipa 'Ballerina' and beetroot red Tulipa 'Havran'

Under clouds, they revert to their fluted glasses look:

I think they look splendid in sunlight, and elegantly beautiful in muted light.
Tulipa 'Havran'

Tulipa 'Ballerina'

The tulips are going over now and are looking a little punch drunk. However, the colours, though fading, continue to make me smile.

I'm so happy with the colour combination, that I'm going to buy more of the same species to plant in this part of the front garden, to really fill it up for next year.