Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A Plan that Worked

One of the problems with bulbs is that, once they have flowered, you can cut down the flowering stems but you have to leave the untidy foliage to feed the bulb for next year's bloom. My plan was to have a perennial emerge and hide this foliage, but the timing had to be right so that it didn't smother the bulbs too soon or leave the dying leaves exposed for too long.
This year I've had great success with tulip 'Spring Green' and globe thistle (Echinops ritro).
Here's 'Spring Green' in full flower, the same image as a couple of posts ago.


The globe thistle is visible in the middle of the clump. 
As the flowers faded, the thistle was just rising above them.


A few days later when I removed the spent stems, the thistle had expanded enough to neatly cover what was left.


In a month or so, it will produce its own flowers, lovely steely-blue balls on long stems. I'll post a picture when it happens.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Another Spring Beauty

I knew that I wanted clematis on the wall in the back garden, but I hadn't realized how well they would show up against its dark, textured surface. Now I'm glad I resisted a brief urge to paint the concrete.This is 'Willy', a delicate Clematis alpina hybrid rescued from a friend's doomed garden.


The diagonal brown cane is part of a (very) rustic lattice to help it climb the wall. Last year, after a rough transplant at the wrong time of year, it hardly bloomed. This year it is making good headway through an adjoining hydrangea although I am encouraging it to opt for the wall instead. The alpina group are among the earliest clematis to bloom; most of my other acquisitions won't flower for another couple of months.





Friday, 4 May 2012

Spring Garden

The weather is typically springlike, alternating warm sunny days with cold rainy ones, mostly the latter unfortunately. I've had little chance to get out in the garden and plant new purchases, but at least I've been able to take a few photos of last year's acquisitions that are giving us pleasure.
The catkins on my dwarf willows are particularly pretty. Here's Salix nakamurana var. yezoalpina:



...and the grey foliage and red catkins on the Swiss willow, Salix helvetica:


Also in the front garden, my Enkianthus perulatus has grown considerably since last year...


...as has Beesia calthifolia just behind it.


In the same bed I've planted a new Heuchera called 'Venus', which has wonderful caffe latte leaves.


Also in front of the house are some of my favourite tulips, like tall, fiery 'Ballerina'...


...and tiny species tulip T. chrysantha, which I hope will naturalize in this area.


In the back garden, another tulip, 'Spring Green' is giving quite a display.


We've recently added a couple of chairs to this area, nice old worn cedar adirondacks that our neighbours were discarding. They look quite decorative under the flowering pear.



There's still a lot of bare earth, but some perennials haven't yet emerged. I planted the flowering currant on the left hoping it would attract hummingbirds, who are drawn north from Mexico as its blooms open.


So far no luck, but I will move it during its dormant period to the new area we've made closer to the back lane, where it will be more prominent.

Other little treasures flowering in the back yard include wood anemones,


double white primrose 'Dawn Ansell',


 and a Japanese painted fern just emerging from winter sleep.


Michael's bowl of sempervivums that I gave him for his birthday last year is also flourishing. I ordered named varieties from a grower in Ontario and, although he has technically stopped doing mail order, he very kindly agreed to send me a selection. Thank you, Jack!