Monday, 1 August 2011

01.08. A grey squirrel

It was 32 degrees in my garden this afternoon, for someone like me who is always cold and wearing a cardigan all year round it was lovely! I even ditched my cardigan today :-) But I still haven’t worn a short sleeved shirt or jumper this year, so I don’t really know how hot it would have to be before I would swap my roll neck jumper for something lighter…anyway, we are promised more nice weather for a few more days so I am just enjoying it while we have it. I promised you more photos yesterday, and here are some from my garden taken over the week-end.

But before I show you the photos I got a short video for you. If you have been visiting my web-site regularly, you might remember the squirrel I have written about before? The one my cat loves? Not! Well, the squirrel is back, being a busy-body in my window boxes. Got no idea what he is looking for, and he is not hiding food, I have actually checked to see if he has left peanuts or coconut shells there, but I haven’t found any. Perhaps the squirrel is slightly forgetful, and THINKS he has left some food there at some point…I don’t know, but he keeps coming back regularly, and my cat is furious, obviously – and can’t understand why I won’t let him out to get that cheeky squirrel that has the audacity to site a few centimetres away from him...

Cute? OK, yes he is, even if he is grey! If you come from a different part of the world, like Norway for example, and have never seen grey squirrels….like I hadn’t when I first arrived in Britain, I can tell you that brown squirrels are a rarity here in the south of UK. You can find them in Scotland and in small pockets here and there in England and Wales, but they are getting outnumbered by the larger grey squirrels due to a virus the grey squirrel carries that kills the brown squirrel but doesn’t harm the grey one. To me, a squirrel should be brown, I don’t like the grey ones that much – and I think it is a great shame that the British government hasn’t done anything with this problem until recently, which is not in time to save the brown squirrel population in the south of the UK.

Well, let’s move on to my photos: the first one is of one of the first plants I bought for my garden; a Hydrangea. It is named Blue Wave, a funny name for a plant with bright pink flowers, but that is because it is meant to have blue flowers, if the soil and water conditions were correct; acidic enough. Since I have watered with a hose most of this spring and summer, the flowers are more towards pink. If the Hydrangea gets watered mainly by rainwater it will be anything between purple and blue. It is possible to add acid to the soil to get a lower Ph, but I have never bothered with that. The flowers will vary every year dependant of rain/hose watering, and I think it’s quite exciting to see what colour it comes out with every year.

The next picture is of quite a strange but amazing plant in my garden, strange because it is a winter flowering plant – in flower now! It is a Helleborus orientalis, and if you go back to my post from 24th February called ‘Enjoying my garden’ you will find a photo of exactly this plant. Back then it had maroon flowers, which is the normal colour for this particular Hellebore. But every now and then, this plant – not the other two I have, only this one – decides to flower a second time in the middle of summer! It doesn’t do it every year, but when it does, it produces pink flowers instead of maroon! I don’t know if this is quite normal behaviour for Hellebores, or if I have a rather unique one in my garden – whatever the case, I think it is quite special when it comes up with the pink flowers in the middle of July :-)

Next one is the ballerina in my garden, a Fuchsia called 'Bella Rosella'. I bought it in 2004 as an annual and expected it to die the following winter, but as with many non-hardy plants in my garden, it survived! It not only survived the long frost we had last winter, but I think the flowers it has this year are the largest ever. Perhaps a good frost is even beneficial to this type of fuchsia? After surviving 7 winters it can hardly be called an ‘annual’…

The last two photos are of one of my clematis called Clematis texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty’. And it is a real beauty, although it is a tricky one to grow as the leaves tend to get brown very easily. It is also easily attacked by mildew and aphids, and therefore requires regular spraying. But look at these flowers! I bought this clematis at Hampton Court Flower show in 2005, and asked specifically after a red clematis, pure red clematis. I even said I was making an all red flower bed and did not want anything toward purple or pink – it needed to be properly red, like postboks red. And the man who sold me this one swore the flowers would be red. Three months later, when it finally flowered, I was very disappointed to see that the flowers were more dark pink than red…

….but I haven’t thrown the clematis out! Instead I have changed the colour scheme in the bed, and as an alternative of an all red theme there are different variations of red and pink and white. A bit of history for you: Clematis is a genus of about 300 species within the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. They are mainly of Chinese and Japanese origin and have been popular among gardeners here since 1862. The wild Clematis species native to China made their way into Japanese gardens by the 17th century. Japanese garden selections were the first exotic clematises to reach European gardens, in the 18th century, long before the Chinese species were identified in their native haunts at the end of the 19th century.

That was tonight’s photos, more photos to come later in the week. Until then, enjoy the summer and I hope you have just as nice weather as I have :-) Take care.

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