April 2012

April 2nd, 2012

Beetles and cherry trees

I’m designating April as beetle alert month; especially two that are currently the most destructive in my garden, the red lily beetle and the viburnum one. Both do loads of damage unless you get on their case early. The red lily beetle is unmistakable and aptly named; bright, bright scarlet. If you don’t eliminate them they will munch your lilies until they are soggy brown heaps. They will then will bonk their mates on your remaining lilies in front of your very eyes, reproduce, and then their offspring will also nosh the leaves. The larvae look really yukky, like bird droppings. So remove and dispose of pdq! Be careful, they are good at dropping to the floor and disappearing. The knack to getting the devils I find is to put your hand underneath and shake them gently into it.

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March 2012

March 29th, 2012

Armandii clematis today looking and smelling fab!

Peter took this today, such a pretty sight at the moment and a gorgeous smell too, especially in the evenings. Someone told me it is called armandii becuase it smells of almonds - sounds a bit of a likely story? And anyway, it smells more of nutmeg to me. Nutmegii doesn't sound as good, I'll admit.

Dead easy, this plant in a sheltered spot. Needs no pruning unless it gets out of hand, but it will want some strong support, especially when it gets to this size. Last year it fell down in a spring gale complete with a nest full of baby blackbirds. Not good.

This variety is called 'apple blossom' - there are white ones too.

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March 28th, 2012

The generosity of penstemons

A lovely day in the garden at Charnwood today potting on penstemon cuttings for the plant stall when we open on 6/7 May. These are such generous plants, they flower and flower all through the summer and into the autumn. One of the best is 'Firebird' - the colour of crushed raspberries. Also Blackbird (pictured) - gorgeous pink/purple flowers, quite tall for a penstemon at around 90cm, but absolutely beautiful. I have it with Rose' Tuscany Superb, a similar colour and a gorgeous, fragrant companion. There is a bird theme going on here you may have noticed, Raven is another good variety. They tend to be in the pink/purple colour scheme so fit well in most borders.

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March 24th, 2012

Getting your dahlias going

I've just spent a lovely morning in the garden shed potting on cuttings and putting large dahlia tubers overwintered in the greenhouse into pots to encourage them into growth before planting out in late May. I have kept the dahlias fairly dry and frost free over the winter, so they are looking fine and dandy now and ready to come to life.I chopped off all the slimy or mouldy looking bits before planting, if they are bit shrivelled they will probably be OK after a few waterings. I have two old favourites, Bishop of Llandaff (pictured) a really elegant plant with bronze, ferny leaves and gorgeous bright red flowers, and David Howard - taller, also with bronze leaves but with orange flowers. I've also popped some into pots to sell on our NGS open day on 6 and 7 May.

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March 24th, 2012

Snakeshead fritillaries by the pond at Charnwood

Our snakeshead fritillaries are just coming through, they look like little tufts of coarse grass or tiny tulips emerging at first so we are having to be careful not to tread on them. Peter planted 100 little bulbs in Autumn a few years back and they have steadily got themselves established and are gently increasing in number by self-seeding. They are such beautiful flowers, worth getting down on your hands and knees to appreciate properly. You will then see how aptly named they are!

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March 18th, 2012

Have a look at these gorgeous daffodils at 'Charnwood' today

After a welcome downpour the sun is now shining and the garden looks all perky again. I've just counted 13 varieties of daffodils out and more to come. Five of the best, smaller varieties are pictured, from the top left:

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March 11th, 2012

Peter in the pond

What a lovely day we are having in the garden today. This is such a good time to get the garden straight, especially for us as we are open to the public in 2 months time - check out 'Charnwood' in Nottinghamshire in the yellow book.

Peter donned waders and did a pond tidy. We got covered in bullrush seeds. Making a note to cut them down earlier next year!

Snakeshead fritillaries are coming through by the dozen, we are having to be careful where we tread. All kinds of daffodils now out or in bud, bees buzzing round the rosemary, birds nesting. Feels like spring is here.

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March 11th, 2012

My aeonium has flowered

Ooo-er! Has anyone seen the like? Might it die now?

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March 6th, 2012

Kate and Kevin's book is almost done - latest photoshoot..

Our book designer asked if me and Kevin could supply a photo of us for the book - panic set in. Both of us loathe having our photos taken. So we got together this afternoon and Peter got snapping away. Result above. What do you think? Need Rachel de Thame and Chris Beardshaw be worried?

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March 6th, 2012

Snowdrops - do we split and re-plant 'in the green'?

I've just spent a lovely day in the garden digging up big clumps of snowdrops and re-planting them in bare patches of soil to get a bigger, better show next year. I put a load among my hostas as I don't move them around often, they are late to come through and they don't seem to mind the intrusion.

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