Tag Archives: clematis

Oh, Dear! Never Mind!

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This just sums it up!

I must confess I have been struggling for inspiration both in gardening and blogging. I could blame a late holiday. I could blame six weeks of world class rugby for taking my interest. And I could blame decorating for taking my time. But that was many weeks ago. I don’t even think I can blame the usual Christmas panic. All is in hand for once. After deliberating this strange situation, I realise I must blame the weather. It has truly dampened my spirits – not to mention the garden.

I hate wind! More than any other weather episode! Apart from the arch, it has also blown down a fence panel and countless pots have been blown over and debris been scattered around the garden. Climbers have been torn from their supports. Everything is sodden. The garden is in a sorry state. And the truth of the matter is, that the newly decorated indoors is, just now, more appealing!😩

Don’t panic, though! This illness is acute, not chronic! And time is a healer!

Despite the minor destruction, there is still much of interest in the garden. My all important scent is still present, in the form of Mahonia japonica, Lonicera purpusii and Coronilla Citrina, with many more perfumed buds waiting in the wings – complete with new shoots! I’m already seeing signs of bulbs coming through, and hellebore flowers pushing their way through the damp soil. Festive red skimmia berries are so welcome! Even roses are still managing to bloom, as my last vase shows.

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This is when foliage plays its part. Especially grasses. They are not just for summer!

Hakonechloa macra

Hakonechloa macra

 

What a beautiful bright gold to brighten the gloom!

That said, I feel there is much room for improvement. Many of our shrubs are either overgrown, or underperforming. The domineering ash tree is, I’m sure, now having a detrimental effect. So a rethink is on the cards for the New year.

The tree must go, the surgeon has been appointed, and we are awaiting a date.
That will let in so much more light. I want to add loads of soil improver to the shrub borders, to improve the quality of the soil, probably quite malnourished. I want to look closely at the flower borders, and ruthlessly dispatch those that are not performing well. I’m well aware of the growing number of scented shrubs dotted around the garden, still in their original containers (if they haven’t been blown over!). I think I must follow my passion in redesigning these borders, shifting the emphasis towards these shrubs. Many, which are struggling planted on the shady side, may appreciate a move from the dark side. I must keep myself in check, though, and not be too hasty. Who knows what a difference a tree makes – or lack of it!

So, despite the grey skies and gloomy weather forecasts, there is much to look forward to next year. It’s quite exciting, really!

That’s what gardening does! 😀

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Scent in the Garden – September

imageThe last day of the month. Where has September gone? I must confess to being rather preoccupied this month, with no time to read or write. Even gardening took a back seat.

We created mayhem by ripping out built-in wardrobes and painting the floorboards in our bedroom. In the midst of this mess, we took a week’s holiday in, what I always used to consider, sunny Suffolk – a wet week that, thankfully, didn’t dampen our fun. And, of course, the rugby World Cup has started!

But enough about me! We have restored order and I have rediscovered my clothes, that have been buried for the past month. I am now able to change my shoes! So I can turn my attention back to the garden.

I’m afraid the scent in the garden this month hasn’t been overly exciting. Mainly stragglers and single blooms. One chocolate cosmos flower, and a single Jasmine bloom, still able to pack a perfumed punch.

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The sweet peas in the allotment are still flowering away, as are the night scented stocks in the pergola pots. That’s one thing about annuals – they do flower forever!

The Trachelospermun jasminoides is still going strong, too. It’s done so well.

Sadly, my Clethra “Hummingbird” is showing no sign of flowering this year. I moved it from its pot and planted it in the Scented shrub border, to fill a gap in the flowering period. I thought I was doing it a favour, but obviously not.  It is supposed to cope with shade. As for my Clematis rehderiana, which is romping away through the surrounding shrubs, it is still not blessing us with its lovely, lemon bells. I’m still waiting to experience its cowslip perfume.

However, another clematis, Clematis flammula, pictured at the top of its post, has not let us down, and is rewarding a sniff, with a hint of hawthorn. I’m just waiting now, for its partner, Lonicera “Belgica”, to join it.

There have been some new blooms this month, though.

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Caryopteris clandonensis, with its fluffy, clear blue blooms, is in flower. Mind you, it’s not the flowers, but the silvery leaves that are scented – like mint a bit, when they are rubbed. This poor little shrub seems unfazed by still being in its pot, awaiting a rethink of the border. I feel many of the shrubs are under performing and a revamp may have to be considered. I suspect removal of the problematic ash will be needed!

I digress!

Scent was also provided by a new shrub I bought – Cestrum parqui. Not the most pleasant perfume from the leaves during the day, but the perfume when night falls, is lovely and heady! Its flowers are tiny lime green tubes, but they were short lived by the time I bought it, so I wasn’t able to get a photo. It can be tender so needs to be protected during cold spells, so is awaiting a container. Hopefully, I will be able to appreciate it for longer next year.

It looks like some of my roses may join in soon, with a second flush of blooms, namely “Brave Heart” and “Alec’s Red”

"Braveheart"

“Braveheart”

"Alec's Red"

“Alec’s Red”


And that’s it! I wonder what next month will hold?

How does your garden smell? Do share with us! It would be lovely if you could join in. I love seeing scented plants!

Thanks to Wellywoman and Backlane notebook for starting this off!

I will end with an apology – for being late again, but better late than never!
And for this being a rushed post. You see, I’m off now to Cardiff to the World Cup! 😀

Come In and Have a Catchup!

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I’m sure we’ve all been lapping up this late summer weather. I certainly have! I’ve been “busy” walking round the “Estate”, appreciating and taking stock. There’s not too much of great urgency to do – just “pottering” – so it’s a good time of year, at the end of the summer, when things are settling down for the winter nap, to review the good and bad points, and take notes for next year.

The “Grass garden” this year, has had an explosion of growth and colour, but I fear that the grasses may be getting a bit crowded out, in the process. So that has been earmarked for a bit of readjustment next spring. I don’t want to tackle that now. I want to be able to appreciate the grasses and seed heads, in all their winter beauty.

The day’s task, however, were my two Fothergillas, that had recently been moved. They seem to be struggling. Fothergilla major is obviously in a far too dry and shady position, while its smaller, blue-leaved cousin is positively sulking. So out went the Viburnum opulus, with such a viburnum beetle problem, that its leaves were like cobwebs by summertime. No flowers, means no fruit and, as for autumn colour? Well, you need leaves for that! The Fothergilla was more deserving of its more open position. So we shall see how it fares, with a bit more sun and water. No more droopy leaves!
The truculent Fothergilla major “Blue Mist” is a much smaller specimen, growing only to 2-3 ft high, with beautiful glaucous leaves. They both have lovely scented bottle brush flowers in springtime. The solution? I have another lovely scented shrub growing in a pot, Clethra alnifolia “Hummingbird”. My thinking is that, as it grows taller than the Fothergilla, it may be better suited to its inclusion in the Scented shrub border, where it would fill a gap in the flowering calendar. The Fothergilla could then be rehoused in the, now vacant, blue glazed pot, which would set of this plant’s lovely blue foliage beautifully. It would also allow it to be grown in the ericaceous compost it prefers. So it would have to snap out of its sulk, now that it’s been pandered to!

Fothergilla major "Blue Mist"

Fothergilla major “Blue Mist”

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Looks better already!

I also planted up one of my latest acquisitions – Daphne x Napolitana “Meon”, a dwarf variety for a small gap in the scented shrub border, again with the plan of flowering at this “in-between” period between summer and autumn’s fragrant flowers. At a final height of only 18 inches, with tiny rose-pink flowers, it may be small in stature, but not in perfume. The other purchase, the Caryopteris, with its lovely aromatic glaucous leaves, and dark indigo blue flowers, is destined for the front garden, as it will need more sun, but as yet, it’s final position is undecided. That will need to wait for a bit longer.

Caryopteris x clandonensis "Dark Knight"

Caryopteris x clandonensis “Dark Knight”

That was the some total of the day’s “tweaking”. The rest of the day was spent appreciating, so let me share with you!

If you took notice of the archway, (at the start of the post) you can see it’s smothered in two different climbers – Clematis flammula and Lonicera belgica. I’ve been watching patiently for the clematis to start flowering, hoping it would coincide with the honeysuckle’s second flush. And it has come off! Just!

Clematis flammula

Clematis flammula

This is a very vigorous group 3 clematis, which means it flowers on new wood, so is easy to prune, by cutting hard back to about a foot from the ground, and it will make all this growth, in one season. It’s smothered in tiny white, starry flowers at this time, that smell of hawthorn. In fact, the arch, for a split second, can become a time tunnel, transporting you back in time to early summer!

Lonicera belgica

Lonicera belgica

This has to be one of the best summer scents in the garden! Lonicera belgica may be “commonplace” in our gardens, but its gorgeous scent, and unusual flowers with their lovely colouring, makes it seem exotic in my eyes. Sadly for us, its main flush of flowering early in the summer, amounts to nothing. The buds can cover the climber, but as they open they wither and die off. I believe it to be an infestation problem rather than cultural, as it’s second flush at this time is magnificent! I haven’t yet identified the culprit, but it’s found every one of the four plants we have in various places in the garden. Never mind, we can enjoy it now!

Clethra alnifolia "Humminbird"

Clethra alnifolia “Humminbird”

The recently transplanted Clethra is a lovely shrub, not often seen, I believe. This variety is a more compact variety than the species, growing to 3-4 ft. and it has the advantage of coping well with our shady conditions. More importantly, it flowers at a time when few other scented shrubs are in flower. It’s also known as the “Sweet pepper bush” and has sweetly scented bottle brush flowers, during August. It has gone over now, but its autumn golden yellow colouring is just starting.

I must say, that what our scented shrubs lack flower wise, at this time of year, is made up for with some magnificent autumn colouring.

If the Clethra was unknown to you, what about this?

Zenobia pulverulenta "Blue Skies"

Zenobia pulverulenta “Blue Skies”

What a mouthful that is! This is a beautiful shrub, with pure white new stems and glaucous, oval leaves. If you look closely, you should make out the small bell-shaped, pure white flowers, that look like lily-of-the-valley. They don’t smell like them though, having instead, an aniseed perfume. It is actually an ericaceous shrub, semi-evergreen, that grows to about 5-6ft. but is happy in a pot. And this blue glazed pot, I think, is perfect!

Well, I think that’s it for now. It’s now time to switch our attentions to the beauty of autumn, that lies round the corner.

Spring sunshine and promises of things to come.

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It’s amazing what a bit of warm, sunshine can do, not just to our spirits but also to the garden!

I was walking round “The Estate” yesterday, and suddenly, all had become “spring-like”. The crocuses and daffs from the last few weeks were being overtaken by so many other new buds and flowers. Signs of life and promise were bursting forth everywhere.

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The crocuses we planted first, are really spreading out now and creating impact. However, are now starting to look past their best for this year.

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The forsythia, which we inherited when we moved in, has stayed even although it doesn’t “fit” my scented border theme, purely because I didn’t fancy trying to dig it out! Instead, I’m keeping it well pruned to keep it from dominating, and using it as a host for a scented climber. I’m trying to establish a Clematis rehderiana through it. This one has pretty, lemon bell-shaped flowers, with a scent of cowslips. But the forsythia’s cheeriness does earn it it’s keep, at this time of year! Here it is, starting to do its thing.

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These new shoots of another scented clematis, this time Clematis flammula, definitely show the promise of things to come! This, despite being cut back hard in Feb, will smother its arch by the end of summer. Its shower of white starry flowers, billow forth providing a spectacular display. And yet the scent is quite delicate – a soft, almond scent.

Hellebore "Ashwood hybrid"

Hellebore “Ashwood hybrid”

Hellebore "Ashwood hybrid"

Hellebore “Ashwood hybrid”

Two of my Ashwood hybrid hellebores are going great guns at the moment. These are in my two small “black & white” beds. You can’t tell here, as is the nature of hellebores, but the white ones have wonderful purple/black speckling inside the flowers.

Prunus incisa "Kojo-no-mai"

Prunus incisa “Kojo-no-mai”

And my beautiful Cherry! I love it’s quirky stems, and delicate, soft pink flowers. I was determined to have some Cherry blossom in my garden – no scent granted, but another lovely, harbinger of spring. As I was running out of border space, I opted for a dwarf variety to grow in a pot. What a choice – it’s been a thing of beauty ever since. This year I’m planning to treat it to a new, bigger pot!

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These unnamed primulas and dwarf narcissi, are remnants of a previous Mother’s Day present – a potted plant display that my son bought me two years ago. Once the display went over, I planted them out. And haven’t they done well! They sit nicely at the end of “The long garden path”, nestled around our statue in the “woodland” area.

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My tulip shoots are coming through too. I wanted to grow some in a spare pot I had and fell in love with a recommendation of Sarah Raven’s – “La Belle Époque”. It’s described as a double tulip, mainly pink, with coffee colouring at the base of the petals and with flashes of crimson and green. The picture looks nicer than the description sounds – trust me! I’m looking forward to seeing it flower.

Woodland in spring

Woodland in spring

And to round it all off, a shot of our “Woodland” garden, which I revamped last autumn, by adding some more shrubs for autumn interest at the expense of some poorly performing perennials. It’s coming on!

All this, and the sounds of spring too! The bees were buzzing round the new blooms, and the birds, now busy, we’re twittering away. And eating out in the garden for the first time this year. Roll on summer! (Hope I haven’t jinxed us now!)