Saturday, 29 September 2007

CONTENTS - September 2007

My blog contains a mixture of posts on garden plants, visiting birds and wildlife. I have resisted the temptation to write separate blogs. However, I fully understand that new readers to my blog may browse and miss posts that may be of interest. If you are browsing I hope the lists below will help given a full flavour of what has gone on in my gardenwatch during this month. All posts include photos and some also include short videos.

PLANTS:

  • Clematis, Miss Bateman - September 28, 2007
  • Small border planted with silver theme - September 26, 2007
  • Plants in flower during the middle of the month - Sept 16, 2007
  • Pond, clean out of duck weed - Sept 13, 2007
  • Tree bark - September 11, 2007
  • Ornamental grasses - September 7, 2007


  • BIRDS:
  • House Sparrow - September 28, 2007
  • Coal Tit - September 14, 2007


  • WILDLIFE:
  • Butterfly, Painted Lady and Bumblebee - September 23, 2007
  • Butterflies, Peacock and Painted Lady (video) - September 19, 2007
  • Hedgehog, eating (video)- September 12, 2007
  • Hedgehog, eating - September 3, 2007
  • Hedgehog, eating peanuts (video) - September 3, 2007


  • Friday, 28 September 2007

    Mr House Sparrow

    Last Sunday I was out with my camera trying to catch some photos of my visiting birds and captured the painted lady butterfly and bee and was so thrilled with these shots that I completely forgot I had some photos of House Sparrows until now.

    How like a parrot I now remember thinking this male house sparrow looked. How comical it looked too, with a mouthful of sunflower hearts, as it was startled by the mechanical snapping sounds of my camera quite close to it! Looking through my photos I have now come to the conclusion that this very ordinary common little bird has quite an endearing character. I have always taken its visits to my garden for granted – how lucky we are to see it.

    The photos above were taken in my garden on September 23rd 2007.

    Miss Bateman

    In my last post I mentioned the clematis ‘Miss Bateman’ that grows up my willow stained arch at my back door. I didn’t show it in my photo montages as it wasn’t in flower at the moment. However, tonight as I browsed my photos I came across photos of it in flower at the end of May. You can easily see why I like this flower in the photos below - isn’t she lovely………

    The photos above, in the montage, were taken in my garden on May 26th 2007. The single photo was taken in my garden on 10th June 2007.

    Wednesday, 26 September 2007

    Small border - big on interest

    I have a small garden but within it I try to add as much interest as I can. I have a few small trees and heavily planted borders with foliage plants to create a garden that you can walk through rather than see it all at once. I have small paths of grass, paving and gravel going in different directions throughout the garden. I also have three structures to walk through – a pergola, a corner walkway and an arch. I have deliberately sited these structures to connect areas to give them a bigger sense of scale. This post is about the smallest border in my garden.

    My ‘Silver’ border is in my back garden which doesn’t get full sun – not growing conditions that you would normally expect to see silver plants. However I don’t always follow the rule of right plant, right place! I like to experiment with plants and if it doesn’t work, well, I’ve had fun trying.

    How small? Well this border has a 6ft x 3ft open trellis along its length. It is 4ft at its widest thinning to 2ft. It really is tiny. Without the trellis it looks nothing. Add an arch next to the trellis connecting to the corner of the house wall and instantly this area, even without plants, has interest already. Walking round this border takes you on a journey even in this tiny area.

    Going through the arch you walk through a small area of gravel on to concrete. The concrete backs the 6ft length of trellis. Walking round the trellis takes you on to a grass path with a mature clipped Griselina on your right with a bird table and feeder. From here you can look down the length of my ‘L’ shaped garden. Turn left and you are walking on another grass path along the front edge with golden grasses and Japanese Anemones spilling over the other grass edge behind you. Finally you step onto paving with a gravel mulch on either side and behind you is my small domed Acer tree. This is a tiny border but as there are other areas of interest surrounding it you are drawn into the space.

    Limiting a colour pallet can add interest to any area but when the area is small I feel it works particularly well. Why silver in this area – simple I love silver foliage plants and they are a great contrast to the many shades of green in my back garden. I also look out on this area from my kitchen window. Oh and yes and the main reason – this year we celebrated our Silver Anniversary in July.

    However, on a more practical note I thought it could give a real lift to this area. The previous trellis had been there some time and was rotten. As that was getting replaced it gave me the opportunity to consider a new colour for the wood stain. That was an easy choice as my camera Nestbox was already stained a colour that would be perfect – I chose a willow green.

    I also painted the tired dull dark brown arch the same and this area had the appearance of being tripled in size. I was thrilled with how it looked. I had a twin seat with connecting table in another part of the garden – it too was given the willow green stain and placed under the kitchen window where it faced the smallest edge of the new border. This area expanded in scale once more - excellent!

    The first photo above was taken today and shows how this small border fits in with the rest of my garden. The second photo is the view from my kitchen window taken early morning just four days later. I have chosen to add this photo as this area has changed once again. If you you look closely at the Acer tree on the left you will see its leaves are beginning to turn to shades of orange and yellow. This tree is great to look out on particularly at this time of year!

    I also chose to dot this willow colour out into the garden by planting a weeping willow tree in a large pot and painting the bird table and another Nestbox on an ivy pole of my pergola the same willow colour. I also added a hanging basket with silver plants to my arch which hangs over the narrowest end of the border. You can see how my basket looks for autumn/winter. An insect theatre above the hanging basket – again stained willow added yet another dimension of interest. So what about the plants?

    Tricky - I wanted to grow plants that would knit together in contrasting silver-green foliage which wouldn’t get full sun and if they had a flower it had to be small. The exception there was the trellis where the flower on clematis ‘Silver Moon’ was so delicate I didn’t mind it being larger. In all honesty I chose that one for the name too. It is going to be a great back drop and looks greyer alongside the willow colour of the trellis. The photos below show my selection of plants for this border. I also have the clematis ‘Miss Bateman’ growing up the trellis of the arch and the beautiful rose ‘Silver Anniversary’ in the border but both have passed flowering.


    Newly planted borders should really have plenty of space for the plants to grow. However I like to have the ground completely covered so decided to add two bedding plants to help fill this area for the summer. My friends would never really associate me with bedding but occasionally I add it. My hanging basket had bright summer colours with greys but one colour caught my eye - a strong cerise pink.

    I originally choose to connect the bottom space with the colours of my summer hanging basket. I bought plug plants – a cerise impatiens which I grew on in my greenhouse. They looked great in my September Bloom Day post but two days later, after a cold night, they looked a very sorry sight. I had also added the silver foliage plant cineraria – I have never been sure I like this but as my main plants, seen above, were small I thought I would add it to the mix for the short term. It could have lasted into winter but I yesterday when I cleaned up this border in preparing for planting bulbs I pulled the lot out! Oops - I can be quite ruthless.

    Now with the cineraria and impatiens gone my eye is now drawn to the other plants once again. I lifted a small low growing rosette plant, celmisia, from another part of the garden which will look great when it spreads out. The border was now ready to plant some bulbs.

    I am awful at growing bulbs – there I’ve said it! I suspect I mostly get the depth wrong. It perhaps starts out okay but maybe I’ll add mulches etc and then the depth changes. I also disturb bulbs when I weed by hand. I have tried an experiment for this year. I really would love to see a zing of deep coloured tulips here to give it a lift in the spring. I am quite happy to add a little colour but it has to work with the silver-greens. I planted a mix of ‘Queen of Night’ (28), ‘Antracite’ (28) and ‘Paul Scherer’ (24). They came in nicely labelled bags sold as a selection set. However I opened all bags and mixed them up in a basin before planting to give a more natural planting. It will be a surprise to see how they come up! I think they will look stunning here especially with the willow colour of the trellis.

    My experiment was to plant some bulbs in small aquatic plant basket/pots and cover them up. You can see this in the photo below. I also planted in the pockets around these pots and hopefully that will protect them – from my hand fork! I am looking forward to seeing this area now next Spring. I am also delighted that, for once, I have planted my bulbs in time!!

    This small area now has lots of interest and in the short term I am looking forward to sedum ‘rose carpet’, growing in my hanging basket, coming into flower. I hope to see butterflies and bees coming to it too and then perhaps they will find there way into my Insect Theatre box hanging above! Now that would be interesting to see.

    Finally, I would like to add that I had PC problems last weekend and lost almost three weeks of emails. Therefore I would like to apologise to anyone that has mailed me in this time if you have not had a reply.

    The photos above were taken in my garden on September 25th and 26th 2007.

    Sunday, 23 September 2007

    And there's more....

    Over the weekend we have been lucky enough to have had good sunny spells. Verbena Bonariensis has continued to be very popular with the butterflies, bees and other insects. I finally managed to get some clearer photos of the Painted Lady butterfly when she had company with a bee for a while.


    A light breeze was blowing the tall stems back and forward so it was quite a challenge to get either of them in the frame! I had no idea I had as much detail with the bee – that was a surprise.

    The photos above were taken in my garden on September 22nd 2007.

    Wednesday, 19 September 2007

    Painted Lady and Peacocks

    This afternoon I had some visitors in the garden that I have never noticed before. Since writing this gardenwatch blog I am paying much more attention to all my visiting wildlife.

    Butterfly identification is completely new to me – but I can now spot a small tortoiseshell quite easily now. I went out with my camera to photograph the birds this afternoon but noticed something in the distance on the flowers of my tall Verbena Bonariensis. I was very curious what it was but as I got closer I was able to see that it was quite a collection of butterflies on the same flowers – there was no need to share either as there were plenty of flowers to go round! I didn’t have a lot of time to spare so the photo subject was quickly changed from the birds to the butterflies.




    The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly can be seen bottom right in the photo above. I have caught that one with my camera before and it is probably the most common in my garden. There were quite a few visiting at the same time today.

    The Peacock butterfly can be seen in the main photo (with an unusual cut out of its wing) and top right above. You can easily see how it got its name. This butterfly is one of the six species in the BBC Springwatch Survey that people were asked to record their first sightings of this year. Together with frog spawn, the seven spotted ladybird, the red-tailed bumble bee, the hawthorn with flowers and the swift these records will help scientists to understand how spring is changing and what needs to be done to help wildlife thrive in the UK. However, today was the first time I had noticed the peacock butterfly in my garden. I was able to identify it by the peacock feather eyes in its wings. I don’t think for one minute it was its first visit – but I was thrilled to have seen it! There were at least two visiting today.

    The reference book was out for the next ID. I took photos which helped and I was thrilled to discover that it was another species of butterfly. I initially thought it was perhaps a younger tortoiseshell. I now had photos of a painted lady butterfly – but not just photos. After taking my first photos I quickly ran inside for my video camera. The video below shows a painted lady butterfly – there was only one visiting that I saw today. Note it has a tear in its wing. I would imagine they get tears and cuts in their wings by getting caught in tight spaces.


    Painted Lady butterfly in garden, video 0:23 with background music, try 480p quality.


    Finally as I began writing this post I looked out on our hedgehog feeding station. There I saw our hedgehog munching its way through the peanuts I put out for it. It’s great that we now have quite a wildlife community in the garden. But all is not completely well!

    Yesterday I had spotted a lot of feathers on the far end of the lawn near the hedge. I suspected cats although they don’t usually leave that kind of mess. Today as I walked in front of my CATWatch unit here I found another mass of small bird feathers. I moved once again in front of the unit and it showed that it was still working okay. My next thoughts were to contact the manufacturer – I took a photo. I went out for a few hours. On my return I saw an old visitor to my garden - the Sparrowhawk! It has been some time since I have seen it. I will now predict that after two visits in two days we will see it return. I know its nature but I have no intention, should I see it, of photographing a Sparrowhawk with its kill.


    The video and photos above were taken in my garden on September 19th 2007.

    Sunday, 16 September 2007

    Garden Bloom Day September 2007

    Yesterday was Bloom Day. Thanks to Carol, at May Dreams Gardens, garden bloggers throughout the world post on what is currently in flower in their gardens. It is a great way to see real gardens by simply browsing the comments list on Carols post. So let me introduce the stars of my September garden!

    Photos above from top: Japanese Anemone, Shasta Daisy, Calendula, Verbena Bonariensis and Impatiens.

    The Japanese Anemone is my favourite flower at the moment. My garden is mostly foliage with many shades of green and textures so the contrast of intensity in flower colour shown above works well dotted around in small drifts.


    Photos above from top: Sea Holly, Nepata, Aster and Penstemon ‘etna’ are all found in my front garden with ornamental grasses and silver leaved Euphorbia.

    The main cast, shown above, would be nothing without the plants hiding in the background on the ground, climbing over trellis or lurking in the shadows. To see the supporting cast of my September garden click here .

    The photos above were taken in my garden on September 15th 2007.

    Friday, 14 September 2007

    Coal Tit photos

    Early this evening I was out with my camera to take photos of my garden flowers for Garden Bloom Day tomorrow. Rain is expected over the weekend. I was outside for a few spells and our visiting garden birds could clearly wait no longer to come to the feeders.








    The Coal Tit I have always thought of as a timid bird and I have tried for sometime to get photos of it. Finally tonight I caught it on camera and I am delighted to be able to share the photos above. I am sure you will agree that this is such a pretty little bird! We are very lucky to have it visiting our garden.

    The photos above were taken in my garden on September14th 2007.

    Thursday, 13 September 2007

    Gone Fishin'

    Sorry I couldn't resist the title. Ponds large and small can have duck weed as a problem. A chat with the owner of an aquatic nursery, last weekend, confirmed that I had this in my small pond. Duck weed is a tiny floating weed that in its thousands makes a light green carpet on the surface of the water as you will see in the photo below.


    The solution was as I thought too – a small fishing net! So, yesterday I went fishin' and scooped up most, but not all, of the duck weed as you can see in the photo below. I decided I would come back to it again today to scoop some more out as that would allow it time to settle to the edges once again. A warning here though if you think that sorts it completely– you only need to leave one tiny piece and the plant will once again it will multiply.

    So the chances of completely removing this from your pond are really slim. So it is more a case of control – regularly fishin' to remove it is not really all that time consuming or strenuous in a small pond. The duck weed itself does not do any harm to the water - in fact the aquatic nursery owner told me that actually did some good by taking nitrogen away.


    Emptying the pond ‘would that not work?’ I hear you ask. Well, for a while perhaps and so would washing the roots of any new aquatic plants to make sure you don’t add it yourself. However, it can also be brought in on the feet of water fowl, in the case of large ponds, or by garden birds visiting small ponds or water features. That’s where the common name ‘duck weed’ comes from. I have also had this problem in the past, many years ago, and I did try emptying my pond and I can say from experience I did not successfully succeed in removing it completely.

    My pond is small although my photos perhaps make it look more like a small water feature. In April 2006 I had a pond liner doubled up but the water levels kept dropping and when I discovered a tear I decided to rebuild it. I then used a moulded plastic kidney shaped pond, with shelves at the sides for placing plants in baskets. I had one in another part of the garden so decided to move it. I took a bit of time and patience to rebuild it but I love working with stone so I didn’t mind.

    My plan was to rebuild the area around the pond with hidden caves both under the surface and all along one side. I have always hoped frogs would hop into my pond so got quite a surprise to find a toad when I was emptying it! I don’t know who got the bigger fright! I put the toad in some of the old pond water in a bucket with a lot of rocks in and on top. I had no idea if it would stay there. I must have scooped it up with the water as I don’t remember catching it. I thoroughly enjoyed building my network of caves and the pond shelves were very useful in supporting some of the rocks in the water. I also built caves out of the water in the hope a wren would consider nesting there but I have only seen a field mouse passing in and out these caves so far.

    I placed two small pieces of wooden support poles across the width to act as a bridge for the birds to drink from and for the toad and any frogs to get out – I have enjoyed seeing the birds use this. The rocks I used are sandstone – I had them in other parts of the garden. Yes, I know perhaps not an ideal stone in the long term but by that time I will probably revamp the area anyway. What the sandstone in this area does give is beautiful mosses, as you will see in the remaining photos below.



    I love these mossy rocks around the pond and only this morning watched a Dunnock bounce around the rocks and take insects from it. This moss was also used by our Camera Nestbox Blue Tit female to build her nest. At the moment I love to see the beautiful natural patterns this moss is making as it grows on the sandstone. However, if you look closely at the photos below you will see the duckweed has clung to the moss too. So it is the duckweed or the moss. The moss wins hands down – now I will just have to live with fishing the duckweed out from time to time.

    What about the toad? Well, the pond change was made two years ago and at the time it remained in the bucket until I was able to return it into the pond later that day. I was able to do that as I had enough rain water collected to refill my pond. I also added some of the dirty water from the bucket as that gave the pond back the living organisms that were already living there. In February I cleaned the pond once more, removing dead leaves from the bottom as they were causing the surface to look oily. No sign of the toad then at all.

    Last night as I put food out for the hedgehog I looked across at the pond and saw how low the level had dropped as it does when we have dry spells. I filled my watering can a few times, this time direct from outside tape as it was only a top up, and without the rose power washed the logs to remove more of the duck weed. Then once again I got a fright as two legs pushed themselves from the edge beside the logs – our toad also got a power shower! Of course I have no idea if it is the same one or there has been a family of toads in my pond. I am just thrilled that my pond/pool has wildlife using it as it was built especially for it!

    The photos above were taken in my garden on September12th 2007.

    Wednesday, 12 September 2007

    Hedgehogs - noisy eaters?

    It is almost a month since we have had hedgehogs visiting our garden taking food from a dish I put out. I have read that the hedgehog was a noisy eater so last night I put out the video camera again to try and catch this on film. You will perhaps need to turn up the volume on your speakers to hear it. I will let you make up your own mind – it is difficult to tell as it makes a lot of noise moving the food to get to the peanuts. This was another eight minute visit – I wonder if they don’t like being out in the open for periods longer than this?


    Hungry Hedgehog, video 1:02 with background music, try 480p quality.

    No drinking tonight – did you notice? I thought it looked like the hedgehog was testing the water by smell. That I did find interesting as this water didn’t come out of my water butt that collects rain water – it came from the outside tap. Most nights they get rain water but last night my watering can had some water in it so I just used that. I will put rain water out tonight and see what happens. Perhaps the hedgehog simply just wasn’t thirsty but it was licking its lips as it left – definitely with a face that was saying ‘I’ll be back’!

    The video above was taken in my garden on September 11th 2007.

    Tuesday, 11 September 2007

    Tree bark

    I have deliberately let my last two posts run a bit longer - so now I have a bit of catching up to do! I will get back to some garden basics later but first I want to share a post that I came across when I was mailing garden bloggers about the ornamental grasses posting. The photos showing the beauty of tree bark caught my attention and I made a mental note to come back to comment on it. I love trees too and as a teenager spent many hours in open fields drawing large, very ordinary, trees.

    Abenteuer Garten is in Switzerland and Barbara’s recent post Bark tells of her love of trees and shows, you’ve guessed it, the bark of her trees. Why do I mention this? Well, recently I visited Branklyn Garden and guess what I photographed – yep tree bark! Let’s have another coincidence then. Barbara visited Scotland in May and enjoyed her visit at this very same garden and guess what she took back to Switzerland – very topically some black grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’). She found my blog through this grass and the meconopsis flower. It is great how the internet can connect like minded people isn’t it?

    Prunus Serrula, shown in the first three photos, I am sure you will agree has really stunning bark! You can see its ribbons hanging from the branches and when these are pulled it reveals fantastic new bark. This does not harm the tree at all – it just makes it look even better. These and the following two photos were taken in Branklyn Garden.





    Acer palmatum Sango Kaku, shown in the last photo, is from my garden in April and shows what lovely colour this tree bark brings to my small garden. It looks particularly beautiful with early morning and late evening sun on it. It also looks great with my visiting garden birds bouncing their way through its branches to get to the feeder. The bird shown in this photo is a great tit. For any new visitors you will find lots on my visiting garden birds with photos, video and my camera Nestbox – see my labels on the right column.

    The first five photos above were taken at Branklyn Garden on August 25th, 2007. The last photo was taken in my garden on April 5th, 2007.

    Friday, 7 September 2007

    Ornamental grasses - how many?

    Today was bright, sunny and a little windy – not exactly the conditions for a post with photographs of ornamental grasses! However, I always enjoy a challenge and this is exactly the direction I hope this post will take. Through comments chat with another garden blogger, Layanee in Northwestern Rhode Island USA, we have both agreed that it would be fun to share a post on ornamental grasses. It would be interesting to see the variety of grasses we have between us – but why stop there?

    How many ornamental grasses do you have? We would like to invite other garden bloggers to join us with a post on ornamental grasses anytime over this weekend. In order that we can all see this range of grasses please leave a comment on either this post or on Layanee’s at Ledge and Gardens – it doesn’t matter which. Layanee’s post will be up Saturday/Sunday. If you are reading this post after Sunday don’t let this stop you adding your post - the more the merrier!

    Stipa gigantea starts off my list. These giant golden oat-like flowers have been lighting up the sky for a few months now. I love the way the sunlight brings them to life. The height of these flowers can only be appreciated by looking at the zoomed out photo below. Note the top of a grass, in the right foreground – this grass stands almost taller than me at 5ft 6in!


    Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ is the next tallest grass in my garden shown beside the Stipa above. I have a quite a few clumps now in my garden but this one is the most mature. I have successfully lifted and divided this plant at the end of the year when the stems have died. These stems can look quite beautiful with the frosts but when the strong winds hit them they tend to break up and can be quite untidy.

    The photos below show the striped marking and a flower of this grass – it only seems to flower when it is mature.


    Stipa arundinacea? Show gardens at Gardening Shows sometimes sell off their plants at the end of the show. I have bought a few plants this way over the years. Not all show gardens do this but a bell will ring at 4pm on the last day of the show and great excitement follows as everyone tries to get the attention of the garden owner. It is often better to negotiate a price before hand and some gardens work a raffle ticket system for reserved plants. I have bought a few grasses like this but I didn’t get labels so I don’t have the names of a couple. If anyone can help me out here that would be great - could this be Stipa arundinacea in the photos below?

    The first picture below has my grass as it appeared in the show garden. It appeared quite upright in habit. However, it should be noted that some grasses can bulk up and then spread, over and through other plants, as you can see in the second photo showing how the plant is now two years on growing in my garden.


    Miscanthus sinensis ‘Klein Fontaine’ is in both my back and front garden. Funnily enough this grass reminds me of a fishing rod for some reason. As my front garden gets much more sunshine, and can get quite hot, many plants are ahead in growth than those in my shadier, cooler back garden.

    The photos below show this grass in two stages of flower. The first photo shows it in my back garden with its beautiful arching deep pink flower and the second photo show this changing to fluffy white seed heads growing through Verbena bonariensis.


    Stipa tenuissima,
    shown below, began growing in my front garden but after a revamp of planting last year it was ousted completely. However, I have kept one piece tucked in a shady area in my back garden where it is happily in flower unaware, that for the moment, it is out of favour with me. It does seed itself quite freely so I can bring it back at any time. I am known for quick changes in planting schemes – but hey that’s the fun of it!


    Carex buchananii is a grass that I have had for many years – again a grass that self seeds freely. This is probably one of the first grasses I ever bought. I go hot and cold on this one also but as it does not die down over winter it has value in the garden. Planted in a border it can get a bit unruly with its skirt just looking messy. However in a pot it looks quite different as you can see in the photo below in my back garden alongside my hedge. Its colour isn’t quite as bright when the sun isn’t shining through it but that is one of the true values of grasses – they can change in colour with different light levels.


    Another grass in pot, shown above, but completely unknown this time. I bought it at a show at least five years ago – this one was a specimen on a stand that I persuaded the owner to part with and I got a bargain too! It was pretty much the size it is now growing in a large plastic pot. I remember now that my arm was out of use at the time and my friend very kindly offered to carry my large, heavy purchase to the car for me! This one is can self seed too and I have a few plants elsewhere in the garden. If you look closely you can see a bronze fennel that I grew in my garden a few years ago which has self seeded in this pot. This plant has looked wonderful here especially in the evening sun but it I am now thinking it is perhaps past its best and it is time for a change.

    Carex morrowii ‘Fishers Form’ is a very versatile grass. Another favourite here - this one would be in my top five. I began with one plant many, many years ago bought at a garden show and I have divided it again and again! This is another grass that looks good in a pot and in fact that is where I grew it first. I have even grown it in a hanging basket. At the moment I am growing it as ground cover and as it is completely evergreen this works very well – especially in the winter months. It has a low growing and compact habit and has already flowered this year. At the moment I am growing it through sandstone rocks around my ‘tiny’ pond and in shady spots under small trees.

    The photos below show it growing under my small Pine tree and around my pond. I couldn’t see my garden without this plant.


    Carex ‘evergold’, not sure which variety I’ve got, is one of these plants I am always drawn to as specimen plants - often in pots at garden shows. I have chosen to grow it over the sandstone edge along a grass path near my pond – I thought it would look good there. However, sometimes when you buy plants at shows they haven’t long been potted up and as a result if you move them around, when choosing your planting spot, the rootball of the plant can be disturbed and you could loose the plant completely. That is what happened to the plant in the photo below – but hey it’s fighting back! Maybe, if I leave it alone it will grow up to be a beauty just like the ones I always admire at shows.


    Carex elata ‘Aurea’, or as I have always known it ‘Bowles Golden’, is in the list of first grasses I grew many years ago. This plant again doesn’t like to be disturbed after planting. But once its spread gets too big it has to take its chances – as I do more than disturb it! I take my spade and chop it down to size. I move bits to other parts of the garden. However, I have to put out a warning here – it isn’t always successful! However after two years, if you leave the plant alone, it can come back again. It is then a delight to see it start again with fresh yellow-green growth.

    The photos below show it as a young plant under planting a sickly Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ that a cold winter damaged a few years ago and below that edging and spilling over my lawn behind my pond. This plant would suit the damp edges of a large natural pond. It is always lifts this area that only gets the sun in the morning. I like to plant yellow-green foliage plants in places like that.


    Molinia caerulea 'Variegata’ is always the grass in my garden that I forget about. It dies down before winter and during the next year others catch my eye long before it does. But suddenly, like magic, I notice it and ever single time I say to myself ‘Wow, I forgot about you!’ This plant is perhaps late of the blocks where I grow it, out of full sun, but more than makes up for it with its fine variegated leaves and delicate flowers.

    You can see in the photo below that the flower has a hint of pink - set off further by the Physcocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ growing behind it. Yes, another old favourite.


    Uncinia uncinata ‘rubra’ is evergreen – but not! The rubra in the name tells you that it is red and depending on the light conditions where it grows it can look almost a different plant. In darker, shady areas in can look almost a chocolate red but in full sun it is quite an orange red. This plant will divide well but again can be slow to establish once disturbed. I have been dividing this plant a lot over the last two years to increase its ground cover as it gives good colour throughout the dull winter days - another long time favourite.

    The photos below show this plant as a new plant and as a more established clump. It is now beginning to show signs of flowering. I will collect seeds of this one as I would like many more clumps of this! I have to point out here that this plant does need dividing when the clump becomes to large as then it breaks open in the middle.


    Gone but not forgotten I’d like to add to my list a few grasses that I have grown in the past and for one reason or another they are no longer with me. The grey blue Festuca glauca ‘Silver Sea’, the vibrant yellow/green Deschampsia Tatra Gold the bronze Carex Flagellifera (although I might still have that one) and finally the Japanese Blood grass Imperata ‘Red Baron’ all have given interest in my garden over the years. Although grasses have become fashionable now I have enjoyed them in my garden for many years.

    Finally, I would like to add perennial to my list – why I hear you ask? Well, Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ is widely known as ‘the black grass’, shown below, because it looks like an ornamental grass. It is another plant that I am trying to increase my stock of. Division does work but I want to master growing it from the berries it has after flowering! I love this plant in my garden and it is very popular at the garden centres here in the UK.

    I am finally finished my list and now very much look forward to seeing other posts on ornamental grasses – it is fantastic that through the internet we can share an interest in one particular plant group!

    The photos above were all taken in my garden, around noon, on September 7th 2007.