Monday, 25 June 2007

Siskin male and who?

Like the rest of the UK we haven’t exactly had the sunniest of June’s. Surprisingly though, during the wet and windy days the bird feeders in my garden get very busy.

Siskins have not been seen in my garden since they left when a male was seen with the finch disease on March 21st - when I slowed up on filling my feeders. You can see a video of this on here. I was delighted to see their return last week and I have tried to capture one with my camera. So, in the rain I spotted a siskin male on a feeder in a tree. I couldn’t properly see what the bird was with it so I stretched out an open window and took the photograph above. The male is seen on the bottom bar.

Siskin juvenile or female? I would now like to ask the help of the people I have met online that are knowledgeable on birds. Writing this diary/blog has enabled me to meet quite a few and I joined a bird forum to ask questions when I have been unsure. I will post the photo above to the forum later tonight - only because I am thrilled that it could be a Siskin juvenile. I have seen the female siskin in my garden this year already which you can see in videos here.

We have seen many young being fed by parents in my garden this year and what a treat this has been – dunnocks, chaffinches, greenfinches, house sparrows, blackbirds and starlings. I have to say though, that these are the ones I have spotted – I wonder if there have been others? When I was out cutting the grass the other night I noticed part of a bird’s egg shell (just before the mower went over it) that was a deep turquoise blue colour with black spots – did this belong to a song thrush. The song thrush is a regular visitor to my garden now and no longer runs away when I go out to work in the garden. Along with the blackbird and robin it keeps a close eye on what I do when I am working in the garden!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Garden Links, Inspiration & New Friends

The other night I was looking through one of my Garden Links after posting my Bloom Day post. One garden link led to another and then WOW I was looking at a post that had me speechless! I have to add here that I am not often lost for words as those who know me would agree.

I scrolled up and down looking at the fantastic range of photos, made a comment and then was compelled to send an email. I have emailed all my links and in a short time have come to see many as friends. There is wonderful growing community of ‘Gardening Bloggers’ with a wide range of gardens, plants and experience. I only have a few Garden Links and add new ones when I am drawn to them in some way – that’s just the way I do it but everyone is different. I thought it would be nice to introduce my links and I have no doubt they will all inspire others too!

Gotta Garden with its Daylily photographs is what had me speechless. I have kindly been given permission to show the three pictures above which are: Main picture, Patterns in Time; Top right, Laughing Skies and Bottom right, Spacecoast Eye Declare. Thank-you once again, Gotta Garden. If you follow the link you will see, not surprisingly, I had great difficulty in deciding which ones to use. ‘Patterns in time’ had sunshine lighting it and that is why I choose that one. ‘Laughing Skies’ instantly became one of my favourites and ‘Spacecoast Eye Declare’ actually reminded of the Auricula Primula which is often shown in garden show displays here in the UK. This garden is in Stafford, Virginia, USA and has 600 Daylilies and many other plants too. I think it is fantastic when a gardener has a passion for one particular plant and shares that enthusiasm. Gotta Garden - I am now considering buying a Daylilies to grow in posts and I am certain you have inspired many others to grow them too. Well done!

Our Little Corner of Paradise with its wonderful wildlife plantings and ponds I discovered through the comments left on other blogs by ‘Wildlife Gardener’. I enjoy reading through the comments on posts of other blogs – conversation really is at the heart of blogs. This garden caught my interest with its photographs of a wonderful garden for wildlife and the interesting stories that accompanied them. However, it was the additional blog of paintings that drew me to add this one as a link– I had a drawing hand once upon a time and would love to paint watercolours of the plants in my garden too. ‘Wildlife Gardener’ likes to remain anonymous which I completely respect and has a garden somewhere in Scotland. I have absolutely no doubt that if you are interested in gardening for wildlife and would like to have a pond you will find inspiration with a visit to this garden. Wildlife Gardener has also appreciated birds for many years and as I am new to them myself I find her comments very supportive. Gardeners are kind people aren’t they?

May Dreams Gardens is where you will find Carol who came up with the idea of posting photos of flowering plants on a particular day of the month. She organises Garden Bloggers Bloom Day and other days too. Carol posts almost every day about her garden and sometimes of her sister’s too. She grows vegetables as well as flowers and her posts are varied and always interesting. She occasionally asks for suggestions too - encouraging the whole community idea. My reason for adding Carol is different yet again – this time it was the reason behind the title. Carol dreams of the days in May when the garden starts again and as my most favourite month is May too how could I not add her to my list! Carol was my third link. May Dreams Gardens is in Indiana, USA and Carol has many gardening friends and clearly enjoys reaching out for more. Gardeners are friendly people too, aren’t they?

Bliss has the most comments I have seen, so far, on any gardening blog! I wonder if a count has been done on how many times the word blissful is used in them all. It is Yolanda at Bliss that makes Bliss with her very inspiring posts on her garden and occasionally other stuff she just fancies writing about! She has many cats which add much interest – I am not a cat person myself but there seems to be many gardeners who are. What drew me to this blog then? Well, I have to say it was the plants! I loved looking at how Yolanda used them, many were similar to my own, and she clearly loves to experiment with them and so do I. She also has a very inspiring kitchen garden and although I only have some tomatoes, beans and potatoes in pots I still enjoy reading about what she grows. I could say so much about this Blog - I particularly like the thought and detail Yolanda puts into every single post - for example she shows the salad vegetables, she picks from her garden, on a plate set at a table with cutlery etc ready to eat. I like to read the quotes she adds at the end of every post – I have seen this on others too. Yolanda also takes the reader through any projects in her garden with before, during and after photos as she did with her shed makeover - her inspiration just keeps on coming! Bliss is in the Noord Brabant region of the Netherlands and I enjoy exchanging chat about the birds in our gardens as much as the plants – gardeners do like to chat don’t they?

Today in the Garden was my first garden link – I came across this garden in Northern California, USA through my searches for private gardens. We shared the same blogger template and again similar tastes in plants and I found it fascinating to see them growing in a garden so far away from mine. Lisa is an artist and gardener and I loved looking through her work in her other blogs - when she mentioned dabbling with PhotoShop a connection was made and it was then that I decided I would only add links in that way. I loved her use of colour. Again, Lisa has variety in her posts but if you scroll through them you will see that roses are a passion for her. I have to admit I was little tentative when I approached Lisa to exchange links but I thought it was worth a try. I was thrilled when she mailed me back so quickly and when she complimented me on my blog I was delighted. At that time most of my posts were of my visiting birds and although I had feedback from birding sites I wasn’t sure I had enough posts on my plants to approach the gardeners. Gardeners like to share too so I need not have worried.

Following the links on other blogs and sites is a great way of meeting new friends and finding inspiration and I would definitely recommend it! The list above reflects the order I added my links and not any particular preference. I would like to thank all my gardening friends for their comments and links and wish you all Happy Gardening.

Please note that the photographs shown above were taken by Gotta Garden.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Garden Bloom Day June 2007

Very disappointingly rain and winds on the 15th of June meant that I was unable to take part in Garden Bloom Day this month. Carol at May Dreams Gardens however, who has organised this day, will be happy I have posted late rather than not at all. So below I have posted photographs of flowering plants in my Scottish garden on May 17th. I looked through the posts submitted by other gardeners in the comments of her post on the 15th and it is wonderful to see what is flower in ‘real’ gardens in other parts of the world. Again, Carol I have to congratulate you on such a great idea!

My front garden is where I started taking photos and at the moment the violet blues of the Nepata ‘Walkers Low’ is giving a wonderful contrast to the many tones of pink. Below in the top set of pictures you will also see my penstemon ‘etna’ taken from cutting two years ago, top right and bottom right the cerise pink of the dianthus 'devon glow' planted below my rose.

In the second set of photos you can see the beautiful scented head of my only rose Cardinal de Richelieu, a beautifully scented thornless one, and an alpine aster. I wonder if anyone knows the name of my aster that I have had in my gardens forever?

In smokey grey pots at my front door I have Christophii Alliums which are looking great at the moment shown in the main picture in top set of photos below and a clematis rouge cardinal growing through a simple metal spiral obelisk, top right.

This year I fancied a few dots of very strong orange so growing in gravel I have an osteospermum ‘dark florence’. The next photo shows the orange flowers of runner beans, again in a smokey grey pot with a taller metal spiral obelisk. The yellow flowers are top right, tomatoes and bottom right mini cucumber both growing in my greenhouse. However, I am trying growing some tomatoes outside too in pots in my front garden which gets the most sun.

Bees are always seen in my front garden at this time of year especially on my Nepata, catmint, and on the thistle shaped flowers of my cirsium as you can see in the main picture below. The top right picture shows the scale of the flowers to stem on the cirsium and the stipa growing in front of it floating around in the wind with its giant golden oat flowers.

I love the movement of the grasses in my garden especially when flowers grow up and through them. I also like the strong acid greens of the euphorbia flower, shown right bottom which is a wonderful contrast to the deep reds growing in my front garden.

Through my garden gate into my back garden the first thing that my eye is immediately drawn to is my flowering white wisteria growing over my pergola, shown in the main picture and top left. This is the best year of flowers I have ever had and I have been absolutely thrilled with it – yes it is scented too! If you would like to see more pictures of my wisteria click here .

The picture bottom right is a lupin ‘snow white’ which I decided to show with the wisteria as it made me think of an upside down wisteria flower! I have quite a lot of white in my garden at the moment, dotted about in my mostly green foliage back garden celimsia and saxifrage is shown in the second picture below – again favourites with the bees.

Another favourite flower in my garden at this time of year growing through my golden grasses are the blue and violet colours of the meconopsis flower, shown in the main picture below. Again I have some more photos if you would like to see them click here . However they are prone to loosing petals with strong winds and rain so they are best growth in more sheltered positions.

Top right below, shows the flowers of my choiysia just hanging on - it will soon be over but they have given a good show for the last month. So too, bottom right, has my orange geum – I perhaps should cut them down now.

Hanging baskets can add a bit of extra colour and height to a garden and are mostly associated with hot summer days. Most who have known my garden over the years it will be very surprised to see so many bright colours in it at the moment as I have always loved my predominately green garden.

However my garden has evolved many, many times over the years and for a change this year I though I would set aside a small bed and add some bedding in the form of deep cerise pink busy lizzies, impatiens shown bottom right. I have also added some cineraria for silver foliage colour and a few other silver green foliage plants – I just love all the varied shades of greens mixed with the different textures and shapes of the leaves. Above this bed hangs a colourful hanging basket, main photo below, which will pick out the colours in the bed – the bees love this too.

During the early part of the year I have had another hanging basket filled with little violas, shown below top right which has given a good show for months – it is probably past its best and I really should consider what I will replace it with – a clematis perhaps?

The colour pink has always contrasted well with the greens of my foliage plants. The cranes bill geranium, below main photo, is a favourite for both me and the bees again. I love the deep colours too especially in the clematis niobe, shown below bottom left – the colours are deeper when it gets less direct sunshine. But this deep colour is seen in the, surprise, surprise, foliage in my garden too.

The top left picture below, shows the tiny clusters of flowers growing from a purple leaved heuchera. I’ve probably chatted on a bit too long now so the last pictures I will just list. I have thoroughly enjoyed preparing this post – it will be great to look back on at the end of the year too.

Below, main picture, aquilegia. Top right, wild flower, pink campion and bottom right white campion.

Middle, picture above, main photo allium. Top left, herbs, thyme and bottom left chives.

Last, picture above, buds about to open, main photo hosta flower. Top left iris and finally bottom left trollis.

Happy gardening – whatever the weather!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Heating on!

The title here might suggest that I could be referring to heating my tiny greenhouse, but no, very few plants remain in there. This morning it was my house that needed the chill lifted – this is June and even in Scotland not something I would normally do. As I opened my curtains and looked out at the cold, grey and windy morning my thoughts turned to the birds looking for food at the feeders. No sooner was I inside and the feeders were well attended.

shown above, have been increasing in numbers once again and so too have the numbers of greenfinches. I expect they have all been busy with nesting too and now they are all returning to their usual feeding habits. It is lovely to see them all back again.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Evening stroll

It’s Friday night and I had planned a bit of light entertainment here – perhaps a film? Unfortunately time does not stretch as we’d like it too – maybe next week. However, our garden did have a little unexpected activity tonight – in the shape of a guinea pig having an evening stroll.

My teenage daughter, you could guess she was hosting the reindeer slipper, got two guinea pigs for her birthday. Tonight one, Dora, was very interested in the daisies in our lawn. Usually she goes out into an enclosed run but, hey, I thought we could let her loose and see what she did? She was drawn to the edge of the grass for some reason – how did she know it was there? Well, that is a question I have absolutely no answer for.

I stood, ready to catch Dora if she strolled too far – she was picking up considerable speed. It was the camera or the pig – as a parent I felt I should choose the pig. My assistant cameraman was unfamiliar with my camera, hence the red eye, but got the shot I asked for as you can see above. However, we do have another shot of Dora as you can see below and she really is quite a cutie.

Have a fun weekend- whatever you do!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Wisteria from bud to flower

Undoubtedly there was much anticipation and excitement over the last six weeks as we watched the progress in our Camera Nestbox. However, this is a gardenwatch blog and my intention has always been to record the progress of my plants too. I have a small garden stuffed with plants that I have grown from seed, taken cuttings of, divided, had presents of and bought. There are a few plants in my garden that I know will be of particular interest to other gardeners.

The wisteria is definitely one and the last six weeks has been exciting time for it too! Yes, I am serious here – like many others I have been closely watching this plant daily for any signs of flowering. I do the same every year - it really is a hard habit to break! However, this year it most definitely exceeded all my expectations.

Why won’t my wisteria flower? This is probably the most common question and there can be many reasons and I would not like to give anyone false hope by saying this is how to do it. However, what I will say is that this year my Wisteria has, for me, a serious wow factor! It has never looked so good – it is white and its fragrance smells divine. This is also the first year I have ever seen bees at it – and there have been a few.

How long did it take from bud to flower? The photo of the flower above was taken yesterday, June 6th, and the photo below of the first bud to open was taken on April 20th. My first flowers started to open on May 23rd but there are many flowers to open on the long racemes and it probably wasn’t until May 31st that it looked properly in flower. Each day more and more flowers are opening – let’s hope we get some more sunshine to bring the rest out! As you can probably guess, I am absolutely thrilled with my wisteria this year! Sorry, how long from bud to good flower – 41 days for my Scottish garden.

Did I do anything different this year? Well, yes I did. I had no idea if it would help but the expectation of a flower on this climbing plant is so great for all who grow it! I read that they shouldn’t dry out so this year once the buds started to appear I gave it a full watering can of water when it began to get dry. I also fed it with a High Potash feed, although not as regularly as I planned, which I mixed in my watering can. Can I be sure this is all it needed to get it to flower so well? I will stick my neck out here and say - yes!

Will I repeat this process next year? Oh Yes! But I am not finished for this year yet I plan to continue watering when it is dry – although I won’t keep it waterlogged. I also plan to carry on feeding throughout the flowering period and some time beyond to feed it up for next year’s flowers. I will prune the whippy new growth later in the summer and will show this when I do it.

To see more photos of my wisteria go shirls plantphotos

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Meconopsis Magic

My list of favourite flowers would definitely include the meconopsis – often known as the blue poppy. For me a large planting of them is simply breath taking. The shades of blue and violet colours in this simple four petal flower are quite magical – changing as you look at it from all sides. As the light streams through its petals throughout the day it reveals yet another colour combination. It has to be an artist’s dream – or nightmare!

So what kind of plant is it? Well, it is a perennial so it dies down completely at the end of the season. I find myself placing a short cane beside it as a marker so I know exactly where it is - this is one of the only plants in my garden I would never move!

Where does it like to grow? It seems they can be a little fussy. I have referred to a book and it suggests they need a lot of pampering. I must be honest here and say I generally don’t take the pampering route with my plants. However the clump of meconopsis planting that first my caught my breath was in a garden, Branklyn Garden in Perth. This planting was clearly successful so that is the route I took. I have planted mine so they get morning sunshine and with shade in the middle of the day. The soil stays damp in this area as at this time of year as there are grasses, ferns, hostas and my small Acer tree. The foliage can get a little shabby at the bottom of the plant but as I have mine growing up through a golden leaved grass it is not really seen. I have three plants, I lost one as I disturbed it when I moved one of my grasses – I must have damaged the crown. They can also be prone to rot if the soil is waterlogged in the winter, but by then my grasses the other plants have died down in this area and that should help. So, it likes a partial shady or woodland setting with a mulch to keep it damp in the growing season and enough light and air in the winter to keep it dry then.

When does it flower? As you will see above, it is in flower now in June through to July. One stem can hold a few flowers but they don’t necessarily all open at the same time. In my small clump they may only have one or two flowers, they start to lose petals and another few flowers come out. I love even how they look before they open – like a beautiful delicate tissue. I am happy with my succession of a small number of striking flowers as I have lots of green foliage around my plants. However, if you have a larger open area you would probably need a much larger clump to give a good show – but I would suggest you don’t plant in an area that will be exposed to the wind.

Where can you buy them? Good nurseries will sell them and some garden centres too. I would say though, I bought mine in a sell-off at the end of a Garden Show a number of years ago so I was able to see mine in flower and chose the colours too. I actually don’t know their names now and they are of a type that doesn’t give seed. You can also buy seeds, I have tried that, but the plants were weaker and the flowers were smaller and not nearly as striking as the ones I bought. On checking my link to Branklyn Garden, mentioned above, I see that they exchange and sell seeds (UK only) so I might try one of their varieties. I also noticed they have seed for the red meconopsis that I have seen in this garden too - now I would like to grow them! What a delight the meconopsis is to look out to from my window. They just beg to be admired - and they certainly are!

To see more photos go to shirls plantphotos

The photos, shown above, were taken in my garden on June 5th 2007.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Bring a smile

I began this gardenwatch blog/diary as a way of showing pictures of the robin and other garden birds to my friend in Australia by taking short videos in my garden. Recently I have captured some shots with my still camera but my postings were focused on our Nestbox. Tonight I would like to share these photos with anyone else that misses the pretty little British/European Robin.

It is now morning in Australia and I am hoping these pictures will bring a smile and brighten up my friend's day! They were all taken in my garden in May 2007.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Great expectations

This morning I am going to the Gardening Scotland Show at Ingliston. I took photos from my own garden yesterday as you can see below although there are many more I could include – perhaps I will supplement this Blog with a photo one.

The first two plants above were bought at Gardening Scotland – the Meconopsis from a sell-off on the last day of the show a few years ago and the heuchera was one of a few new varieties I bought last year. I wonder what will catch my attention today?

Ornamental grasses I expect will be popular again this year – I wonder though what plants will be planted with them. You will see above my Stipa Gigantea with Cirsium through it – this is the biggest display of heads I have ever had. Soon the drumstick Allium will be in the foreground.

I do like to see all the planting combinations - I expect there will be wild areas with wild flowers this year and lots of foliage plants.

There will be garden Structures and Sculptures but my search for an Arbour is over. There will be climbers too – my wisteria is nearly in full flower as you can see. I have a very large number of flowers this year.

I wonder what will be the most popular purchases in carrier bags this year? Clematis is always a favourite as are the alliums now.

I must go now and as I live across the River Forth I am about to travel across the Forth Road bridge and expect I will get caught with queues as there are road repairs on the bridge. If you are travelling by train you may cross the Forth Rail Bridge I captured these photos above yesterday as I passed through South Queensferry. I must dash now – we have a picnic packed and are ready to go!