Monday, 15 February 2016

GBBD in London, February -16

Last time I wrote a post was 2 weeks ago, I wrote about the stormy season here in Britain and that we are not really that affected here in the south east. Looks like I spoke too soon....every now and then we get a storm that hits us right in the face, and Imogene was a storm like that. Last Saturday I had water streaming in through the ceiling light in my living room from water coming in through the roof and loft. Water and electricity doesn’t really go well together....and there were too high winds for the council to get a man on the roof to fix the leak so it was Wednesday morning before my roof was fixed. Oh well, at least my garden is fine, never mind my living room floor!! The only problem I had in my garden was that my solar light tree tried to take off like a rocket a couple of times because the soil is so wet and loose so the short anchor stakes provided was not enough to keep it in place. In the end I had to find some longer stakes to anchor the light with and now it will take a triple hurricane for the solar light to launch should it want to emigrate somewhere else.

I filmed the short movie below in the evening on Saturday the 6th February when the storm had just started. Little did I know how much more I had to come....later in the evening and night I was too busy mopping up water from my laminate living room floor in an attempt to save it so more filming was not exactly on my mind!




But now all that is over and forgotten, we have calm and stable weather and what we here in London call COLD weather, which is almost freezing - it still hasn’t dipped below zero C but it might for a few hours tonight according to the forecast. My lemon tree has gone back into the shed but will be let out again by the end of the week when we will be back to normal 10-12 C during the day and 5-8 C at night. No snow on the horizon though and I guess we won’t see snow this year either. This is how February goes here!

The first bumblebee queens have been foraging in my garden for weeks, it is so nice to see them and it makes the long spring seem shorter when nature is awake around me.

The aphids never really went to bed properly, but started to get more numbered about a month ago. The ladybirds made their presence a few weeks ago, knowing there would be food. Funny how everything is so well timed!

As for my timing – I am afraid I am sorely behind with my original plan of getting everything planted before end of April. That’s not going to happen. But I have finally made a garden plan which is helping with the work. I must admit it was MUCH easier to make the plan in my previous garden – which was just a rectangular shape. Here in my new garden the wraparound shape has proved a headache to draw – but it is quite accurate now. I don’t use any design program, I haven’t found any that I like and I have downloaded and tested a few including Shoot which gets good review. But I get so frustrated with all the limitations with gardening design programs so I am still looking for a program that can design any shape and feature I want where I want them, plus add plants and keep lists of what I have in my garden. A tall order I know – and if it is free too I would be very happy! In the mean time I use my trusty Adobe Fireworks and draw everything freehand, or as boxes or shapes I can then change or manipulate. That’s how I made my previous garden drawing and it worked fine – but it is quite slow and perhaps not as elegant as many of the design programs can do. But I get to keep my hair and nails intact whilst working – some of the ‘user-friendly’ design programs are nail-biting, hair pulling frustrating!! Or should that have been nail-bitingly, hair pullingly frustrating....?? There are times when the English grammar is way over my head (and Word grammar checker is frustratingly quiet!!) - and I just choose to write something easier....like ‘too difficult’. But I must admit I liked the phrase nail-bitingly, hair pullingly frustrating. I am sure someone with English as their native language will be able to correct me! Anyway, some of the beds have got a name so it’s easier to refer to and all the main parts of the hard landscaping is in place. The garden is almost level, just a slight slope that you hardly notice.

I have added my drawing to my GARDEN DESIGN Tab and there is also a separate drawing which shows the sun aspects in the garden. In my previous garden that bit was also very straight forward, my garden was west-facing. Here in my new garden the house and garden is on an angle making it more awkward and I have to get used to where I have more or less shade. I have one complete shade area and one complete sunny area, but all the other bits are more difficult still. I have also updated MY GARDEN tab, but the plant list and wish list will have to wait for now.

OK, on to today’s photos. They were taken in cold, overcast weather so I hope all the flowers will brighten up for the lack of sun.

I am still cutting the Virginia creeper off the wall, soon I hope to get some more roses in the ground here.

I am playing around with what to plant where.

My Alstroemeria 'Dandy Candy' is flowering again, despite the chilly weather. Soon this one will get some siblings, I have ordered some beautiful new alstroemerias and can’t wait to get them!

My new Rhodonedrom ‘Bo Peep’ is flowering for the first time. I had to leave my two big, mature rhododendrons in my previous garden, they were too old and big to take with me and I didn’t have anywhere to put them. And after having been here for a while I am glad I didn’t take them with me as I don’t think I can grow rhodos in the ground here for now, all acid loving plants will need to be in containers for now with the clay soil I have.

Out in the front I have an area that strictly speaking isn’t mine, it is tended to by the council, they cut the ‘grass’ once a month, but most of the grass are bulbs that smell like garlic when walked on. I don’t think they will flower at any point since they are so often mowed but they spread into my front garden too even though I haven’t seen them in flower. I was thinking of making a little bed along the fence and plant 2 autumn flowering raspberry plants there. I don’t think I will ask for permission, I would probably get a no – better just do it and tend to the raspberries and offer to dig them up afterwards if anyone makes too much of a fuss! Not exactly my way of doing things but in this instance I will stretch the rules a bit, this little area is not really anyone’s land and I am adding value to it :-)

But back to the garlic smelling weeds, I assume they are Allium triquetrum, or three-cornered leek, if anyone has a better suggestion please let me know. More importantly, how do I get rid of them apart from digging them up? I did dig up several clumps in my own front garden last summer, but they are back stronger and bigger again, in the same place! According to Wikipedia, “All parts of the plant, from the bulb to the flowers, are edible fresh, for example in pesto or cooked, with a subtle flavour like leek or spring onion.” Considering how many of the cats in the area that use that little grass area as their toilet I don’t think I will be eating any of the plants! I can’t see me sitting on the ground digging up all of them so perhaps I will need to just live with them, but they are a bit too close to my own garden!

I have finally cleared the area next to my back gate, the 5 roots of the shrubs that were here are still left in the ground but here I am planning for the magnolia to eventually be planted. A bit small space but that’s all there is on offer I am afraid!

Let’s dive into today’s flowers. The cyclamens are at their best right now and thrive in the cold weather. Red tones....

....and pink and white tones.

I have daffodils in flower that I have inherited, but all the the new daffodils are rather late. That’s my fault I am afraid – for not getting them planted until late December! Better late than never, they are emerging now :-)

I might have overfilled some of the containers slightly, can’t wait to see them all in flower soon :-)

I am playing around with the pots in the Woodland Area, almost there now. Can you see the faint blue tint on the two majestic Ceanothus trees? They look really nice now that I have cut and pruned and tided them up over the winter.

The blue tint is because the first flowers have already opened, a beautiful display that will continue to end of May.

And under the ceanothus’ there are lots of plants in flower – you just have to come a bit closer.

Helleborus hybridus 'Picotee' to the left, Helleborus hybridus 'White Lady' top and Helleborus niger bottom.

Helleborus hybridus – not sure if it is a named variety.

The primulas are flowering after a severe slug attack, all these are Primula vulgaris of various type.

This is from the Lilac Bed, filled with spring bulbs now starting to flower.

Crocus Tomasinianus, lovely colours but a squirrel delicatessen....

This is the Rose Bed, where various types of snowdrops have been flowering for weeks.

Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus woronowii.

I started pruning my roses in late December and did most of them during January. The new growth has come quite far on most of the bushes so it was not a day to soon. This is Rosa 'Scepter'd Isle'. Can’t wait for the roses to appear again, this period from cutting down the roses till they flower again in early May is always a long wait

While waiting for the flowers to appear there’s always camellias, ‘Takanini’ has this amazing flowering habit where it throws out one, two or three flowers at the time from late October to late May – and amazingly long flowering season!

And soon I will get to see the first flowers on one of my new camellias, Camellia japonica 'Amabel Lansdell'. Exciting!

Some inherited daffodils, soon they will be joined by lots and lots more – possibly more interesting too :-)

A plant that I still find interesting and fascinating is the mouse plant - Arisarum proboscideum. The little flowers with the very long tails looking like mice are normally covered by the foliage. I have uncovered them here to show you. This plant is best in pots and containers a bit off the ground so people can dive in and look for the mice – on the ground you just don’t see them very well.

I wish I could post some smell to go with this photo, the scent of Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna is absolutely heavenly! I brought two large pots with me from my old garden and I will plant one next to my backdoor.

Final photo is of Chaenomeles ‘Crimson and Gold’, this amazing plant has lived all its life in a smallish container and yet flowers 2-3 times a year.

That was some of the plants I have in flower right now, I can’t show you all of them or else you would be sitting here until tomorrow! It is busy times in my garden, next update will be at the end of the month with End of Month View where I will have another garden movie for you.

I am linking today’s post to Carol at May Dreams Gardens, please visit her for many more Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day posts.
Until next time, take care.

39 comments:

  1. You have such a variety of lovely blooms in your beautiful garden. Happy Bloom Day!

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    1. Thanks Dorothy, and Happy Bloom Day to you too!

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  2. Ooooo, Crocuses and Daffodils ... and so much more! Sorry to hear about the storm damage. I can't imagine having rain coming in through the ceiling. Yikes! You are so organized, Helene, and your garden already looks incredible!

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    1. Thanks Beth, they say ‘tidy mind – tidy house’, I suppose I have extended it to my garden and I like it organised and tidy :-) The roof is fixed and the electrician has been back and sorted out the ceiling light in the living room. I just need to buy a new lamp shade as it was damaged beyond rescue by the water. I hope your spring will be early and mild this year!

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  3. I hope the damage is gone now. Overhere in Holland the weather is the same. One storm after the other is coming over. My little garden is more like a swamp at the moment. I can't walk in my garden. And the weather is dark every day and makes it almost impossible to do take a nice photo. I wanted to start pruning my roses because there is already a lot of new green and the temperatures were mild for this time of the year. But now frost is forecasted so I have to wait. Your heleborus are stunning. In my garden the first blooms were already there at christmas. I hope we get some better weather soon.
    I wish you a beautiful week ahead.

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    1. Thanks Marijke, I have had some very nice days in the garden this week, I hope you have had the same weather – cold but with nice sunshine. I can do cold, that’s just a matter of putting on enough clothes, what I can’t deal with is rain, I just get too cold and when working in the garden I need to sit down so when it’s raining it will be wet everywhere and nowhere to sit. Hopefully ww will all have nice warm spring weather soon!

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  4. You have quite a few plants in flower for the month of February and it looks like spring is right around the corner for you. We have had several storms as well and are presently covered in snow with evenings in the single digits, but the temperatures are finally headed back up. I enjoyed looking at your garden plan and will look forward to seeing it develop. Happy Bloom Day!

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    1. 1st March is when spring starts here in London officially, but to be honest it is hard to say when spring actually starts here, it is a slow process that starts long before Christmas usually so it depends on what you define as spring. I am looking forward to warmer weather. Happy GBBD!

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  5. Love your Alstroemeria and Camellia, their blooming is very pretty Helene. I'm so sorry you suffered because of storm, dear. What a treat to watch spring in your garden, nice crocuses, primulas, hellebore.

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, roof and ceiling is fixed now, a bit stressful but all good now. I am enjoying the nice, crisp weather we have right now and have got work done in the garden this week. Have a great week-end!

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  6. Wow... beautiful, especially the primulas and cyclamens! But I still miss your fuchsia...

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    1. And I miss the too Endah, but I can’t get any new ones until next summer, so another year to wait! In the meantime I do have my miniatures, but right now they haven’t got any leaves so are not so interesting. Soon I will show them again :-)

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  7. Hei Helene!
    Stormer er aldri hyggelig å få, og de som treffer England kommer nesten alltid til Norge etterpå ;)
    Vi får håpe på roligere vær fremover! Så mye fint du har i hagen din, og helleborus og camellia er mine davoritter i dag.
    Jeg nyter bildene dine, og de gir bud om at om et par måneder kan jeg se de samme blomstene her :)

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    1. Hei Marit, ja jeg regner med at de fleste stormene har kommet til dere også, i hvert fall til Vestlandet. Vi er ganske beskyttet her i South-East, så denne stormen var litt uvanlig. Men nå bærer det med store skritt mot 1. Mars som er første vårdag her. Er alltid like morsomt å sammenligne hage med søsteren min på denne tiden av året, hun bor i Gausdal og har gjerne snø opp til andre etasjen i februar :-)
      Ha en god helg!

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  8. Ceanothus already! Brilliant.
    I have toyed with garden design packages too but never found one I really liked, well not in my budget range anyway. I shall just continue with my more informal approach of 'bung it in wherever'.. it seems to work. Mostly.

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    1. I must admit that I am partly making a garden design drawing to have somewhere to make a record of what I have planted where – not to design what I am going to do in the future. My memory is not exactly brilliant and I have to rely on making notes for everything. Scrap papers have a tendency to go walk-abouts or end up under something else so having a record on the computer makes things so much easier. I just want to avoid planting up a bed more than once. (I have done that in the past!)

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  9. Afraid I could not draw a plan to save my life! Quite frankly I don't really think a gardener of your quality really needs one. you know exactly what you are going to do!
    That wretched garlic is quite a problem. In grass perhaps you can live with it otherwise repeated forking out is needed.Put the fork in vertically, give a little wriggle to loosen the weed and tug. I tworks on my sandy soil!

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    1. As I said to Jessica, my garden design plan is not really to plan a design for the future – it’s for me to keep a record of what I have already done so I don’t forget what I have planted where, and more importantly so I don’t start digging up a bed I have already planted!

      As for the garlic weed….I was hoping there would be something I could use without having to dig them up. There is no way I could do all that digging, they are very deep and in in my heavy clay soil that’s too much digging. And the council would probably not be very happy with me either as digging out all that would probably ruin the little grass that is left. I will just have to live with it I guess!

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  10. Oh my that was a storm...heavy rain and flooding. Glad things were fixed and no real damage especially to the garden. Nice to see all the blooms and great plans. I still need to draw mine, but I have to measure my beds. I have never had a written garden plan...hard to believe.

    Well here's hoping you can get out and get your garden planted. Thanks for all the beautiful bloom pictures.

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    1. Thanks Donna, my garden plan helps me to remember what I planted where – scrap pieces of paper tends to get lost! I don’t really plan so much what to do next – that just happens, the garden evolve with the plants I have, the plants I can get hold of, other things I happen to buy, get offered or sometimes get for free – and it’s all a very fluid process not at all set in stone. I have NO IDEA what my new garden will look like one year from now, I just break it down to small projects and finish each before getting on to the next. This is how I did my previous one, and how I work here too. If I sat down and made a decision about every little detail, where every plant would go and everything to do I would go NUTS. I like to plan, but I also like the freedom to look at each small part of the garden as a separate project. So my garden plan is for afterwards, so that I can remember what I have done (my memory is pretty rubbish!).

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  11. I bet you are excited to have a plan at this point. Like your previous garden I am sure this one will be just as lovely, especially once all the potted plants have found their home.
    It is a pleasure to see what is growing and flowering in your garden at this time of year as I am still in temperatures below 0 with a dusting of snow cover. I want that Chaenomeles - what a beauty!

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    1. Like I said to Donna, my garden plan is more like a garden diagram than a plan for future projects. I don’t really know what my garden will look like when it is finished – although when is a garden ever finished! I have started to plant now, and my magnolia has finally got its roots in the ground. That Chaenomeles has been growing in a large pot for over 10 years, it should be monster size but it has ended up almost like a Bonsai :-)

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  12. Yikes, what a storm! I hope the leak caused no terrible damage inside and I'm glad your garden was relatively unscathed. I'm very impressed by the garden plan you prepared without use of a canned software program. And if, "nail bitingly" and hair pullingly" aren't proper English expressions, they should be so I say go with it! Your garden, as usual, is beautiful, even the portion of it still in pots. As the weather improves, I'm sure your progress will pick up speed.

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    1. The storm was bad, but all damage is now fixed and we have calm weather and what over here in London is classified as ‘Very Cold’ – which means almost freezing. My alstroemerias and lemon tree has taken a few days inside the shed, but the rest is fine outside. I don’t think we will actually get frost but it is close. I have started to plant, as long as it is not raining I can get a bit done. A few pots every day makes progress eventually :-)

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  13. How wonderful to have so much blooming! I love that ceanothus. I'm glad you came through the storm ok, aside from that pesky leak.

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    1. Thanks, all is well now, everything fixed and repaired. But I have realised that even though I live in a modern house, this house is in much more disrepair so I will have to be more vigilant for the future. I used to live in a Victorian house in a good state, now I live in house built in 1979 in not so good state.

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  14. Hi Helene, when gardens are still a bit bare, it looks so wide. Regarding the garlic-smelling plant, i just planted a few stem of the garlic vine that i will plant up the trellis made to be an arch.

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    1. My garden looks a bit bare now, but come back in July and it will be filled – and next summer it will have matured and hopefully look more like my previous garden, filled to the rafters!

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  15. Your garden is very similar shape to ours.
    Maybe the garlic smelling weed doesn't allow it because the council keep cutting it back. Maybe you could take over the grassy area and add that to your garden too. :-) You still have plenty of pots to plant out don't you?

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    1. Yes, I have thought of just expropriating that grassy area, no one is using it anyway and it is next to my property so would not be natural for anyone else to even walk there. I have thought of planting autumn raspberries there along the fence. But I need to deal with the garlic weed, I don’t fancy sitting and dig up all those bulbs!

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  16. Oh no! That is too bad about your water problems! Those can be such a pain to deal with. I'm impressed you managed to put together such a nice garden plan. I have never bothered, as I know it would be hair pulling frustrating for me too! You have some gorgeous blooms. Love those cyclamen and that Chaenomeles!

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    1. I wish there was a design program that would do everything I wanted but I haven’t found one yet, using Fireworks is easy enough for me, I know it well and have used it for many years – but it is not a garden design program so it doesn’t have the nice link to plant data bases etc.

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  17. Expected to see those chairs take off in your storm Helene, very disappointing about the water coming in. I get the impression that you take most stuff in your stride. What about Alstroemeria, flowering in February, never seen the likes. Considering English is your second language I can assure you, you have nothing to fear. (farvel for nå)

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    1. Those chairs of mine weighs a ton, it would take almost a hurricane to move them! But there have been times when I have laid them flat just to be on the safe side, I wouldn’t like them to fly into a rosebush or something similar - because they weigh so much they would do a lot of damage. But most of the time they stand still! As for my Alstroemeria, it flowered last year in February too so I am not so chuffed about it, more surprised about all the lilies already well up of the ground.

      I see you have been on Google translate? It can be really useful at times, and at times the complete opposite. Google insist that all my plants and bulbs are planted in bathtubs in my garden – because I have them in tubs and containers, and consistently translates tub into the Norwegian word for bathtub :-)
      I don’t say goodbye the same way as Google chose, I will use the less formal and less old fashion way and say: ‘Ha det bra’! – which is complete untranslatable directly! (Although when testing out both in Google translate, Google had no idea of the subtle differences!)

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    2. That is so funny, mind you plants in a bathtub may look spectacular.

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  18. The Ceanothus look wonderful. Your garden is developing beautifully, and even though so many plants still need to get into the ground, there are many beauties to admire and enjoy. You are so organized!

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    1. Thanks, I try to be organised in the middle of everything, but to be honest, I just go out every day and say to myself “Right! What would I like to do today, what can I manage to do today, and what needs doing most?”
      And then I try to do a bit of all of it. That’s all there is to my ‘organised’ gardening.

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  19. Sorry about your roof problems Helene, just what you didn't need! As far as your garden design is concerned I would think you know more than enough to go with your gut rather than your head. I am sure it will work out either way.

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    1. The roof is fixed Rick, one of the nice things about being a council tenant, I don’t have to pay for repairs like this, I just call the workmen and they turn up :-)

      As for my garden design – I have written a bit about it above, but yes, it involves both gut and head and a lot of it just evolves as I go along, based on what I have and what I get hold of in terms of plants and materials. My budget for my new garden is….almost zero – beg, borrow and steal springs to mind! Swapping plants has given me some new plants and got rid of duplicates that I had no space for anyway. I hope to do more plant swapping later in the spring and depending on what I can get hold of, my garden design might take a whole new turn. Nothing set in stone yet! I have many ideas though, one of them is to create a Japanese inspired bed on the side where I have complete shade, and I will draw on your many great posts when I get to that stage, at the moment it is just an empty bed. This is also where the highest content of clay is in my garden so I am prepared for growing everything in sunken containers and pots for years to come!

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