It’s cooled off this week, after last week’s mini heatwave, and has been a bit wet. I took a few snaps in the back garden before reporting on my seedling progress. My ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’ is just coming into flower now which is always a highlight. Behind it you can see my bleeding heart flowering away, and the rosemary.
A bright splash of colour is provided by a yellow wallflower which is just as well as the forsythia was a bit short-lived this year. It came into flower late because of the “Beast from the East” cold snap in March, and then went over quite quickly with all the rain. I have pruned it quite harshly this week so it looks even worse now.
There are bluebells and bergenia flowering on the shady side of the garden. But my bluebells can never compare to the wild ones that carpet our local woods and were at their peak last weekend.
So a germination update: since last week three beans, three cucumbers, two butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and two smoke trees (Cotinus coggygria) have germinated. Yesterday I pricked out 14 Korean mint (Agastache rugosa) and four cranesbill geraniums (mixed unknown varieties). Today I have sown some more tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and purple cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’) as I have not had any luck with the first batch. The wild cow parsley is flowering right now so I don’t think I have much chance of having flowering plants this year.
Just as one geranium (a pink Geranium macrorrhizum) finishes another begins to flower (‘Johnson’s Blue’). I’ve cut back all the finished flower stalks of the pink one so I might be lucky and get a second flush out of it. The pink crosswort (Phuopsis stylosa) is also starting to bloom and has grown back massively since I gave it quite a severe prune in April.
After quite a dry April we have been having more rain, but also lots of sun, so everything is growing very fast. I had to mow the lawn twice in the last week! My paulownia are huge. The sweet peas that I sowed indoors last autumn are starting to flower and smell gorgeous. They and my ‘Maigold’ rose are filling that corner of my garden with scent.
Some of my climbing french beans have started flowering and I’m worried that it’s too early. I thought they would grow a bit more first, I hope I haven’t overfed them or made some other rookie error. The second sowing of beans are currently in the porch hardening off, I should be able to plant them out by the end of the week. The kale that I sowed has germinated very successfully and I’ve thinned them a little. I should probably thin more but I didn’t want to reduce my options too much in case of some kind of catastrophe.
Today I planted out 15 Verbena bonariensis in the back garden, more than half of them are in the lawn. All part of my effort to go full jungle. Mowing is going to be trickier but then that’s all the more reason to reduce the lawn even further. I’m thinking of dotting around some ornamental grasses, so it would still be grass – who can complain!
My Ceanothus ‘Puget Blue’ and Clematis montana are in full flower now, a bit earlier than last year I think. The ceanothus is absolutely buzzing with bees, the hum is quite amazing. I feel very proud to be providing lots of food for the bees.
My pink Balkan cranesbill (Geranium macrorrhizum) is also flowering, not prolifically but better than it’s ever been.
I’m very pleased with how colourful my ‘full shade’ bed is with bergenias and bluebells, illustrating that you don’t need direct sunlight as long as you put the right plant in the right place.
I mostly favour flowers which fall in the colour spectrum from blue and pink but a bit of yellow can make a nice contrast and it’s particularly appreciated at this time of year when there are still plenty of gloomy, grey days. In my full shade corner my bergenia are starting to flower. The white Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’ are ahead, with the pink Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’ still in tight buds. The little, pale pink Bergenia ‘Baby Doll’ have not put up any flower stalks yet. Behind is my Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ which has opened up frothy white flowers after displaying pretty, little, dark pink buds that almost look like berries all winter. The leaves have been looking a bit chlorotic; I didn’t realise that skimmia prefer acidic soil so it has been struggling to absorb iron. I’ve been trying to rectify this by feeding with iron-rich seaweed extract and increasing the acidity of the soil with ericaceous compost. Behind the skimmia you can see my forsythia which is still going strong. On the other side of the garden, some yellow wallflower are starting to flower. They were from a ‘wildlife’ seed mix, or something like that, so I have no idea what variety they are. I’ve been doing a bit of mulching this morning, with an all-purpose compost, and I love how black and healthy it makes the beds look.
My geraniums have been leafing up and it’s always such a pleasure to be gardening near them and smell that gorgeous scent when brushing against them. This one is ‘Johnson’s Blue’. Another in the same bed is a pink one, I can’t remember the variety but it should be called Lazarus because for a couple of years I thought it was dead. All that was left of it was a tiny bit of rhizome but it has now come back to life and looking very leafy!