Sunday, 23 May 2010

Garden watching updates

Gosh… there is so much to watch in the garden at the moment. Plants are growing by the day with the very warm weather we’ve been having. Newly fledged Blackbirds are appearing wandering around the borders and… perhaps you might like to pour yourself a cuppa :-)

Time has rather run away from me for blogging of late. Little time has been spent in the garden either. Anyway, I really can’t complain as it has managed quite nicely without me. It has been a joy to stroll around. This truely is my favourite time of the year.

Many thanks to all who joined in with posts and comments during the Tulip fest. I really didn't intend it to run an extra week. It was brilliant to see so many varieties. How stunning many are. Since then, a few tulips have popped into flower in my garden. Not sure about the one in the border in the montage below but it has been enjoying the sunshine.


Clicking on photos in this posting will enlarge them.


My broom has come fully into flower now and planted roughly in the middle of my back garden its scent is spreading beautifully. Nearby, the first of the vibrant orange Geum flowers have been opening. They do make me smile. In another area woodland strawberries have just a few flowers… much less than usual.

Also a bit less than usual is the number of eggs laid by the nesting Blue tit in our Camera Nestbox. Once again, I really am not complaining. Usually we see eight eggs laid but fingers crossed a brood of six could all survive. The photo below was taken yesterday as she was curious about the lawnmower and strimming noises from neighbour’s gardens.



Incubation is well underway now and perhaps in a week’s time we will see the chicks hatch. The real excitement will begin! More regular nestbox updates will appear then. As I’ve mentioned, I have had PC probs and a video drive out of action. I have captured some video and snapshots which I’ll sort into one posting soon.

We have two cameras in this nestbox so different views will be seen. The larger photo was taken from the original camera in this nestbox. This one has been recently reconnected in the last few days. It only works with daylight. The entrance is on the right.

The montage photos below were taken with an extra IR camera we added so we could get a night view. The colour isn’t as good during the day but is okay. Most of the photos and video taken so far have been with this view. The entrance is on the left with this camera view. Spot the last image where the male comes in with a tasty bite. Lol… I’ve video of what happens next ;-)




Moving on to plants in flower taken on the 15th of May for Bloom Day and I have added a few longer shots too to show roughly where they appear in my garden. I know I myself like to see these shots in other blogs. To see other May Bloom Day posts head over to Carol's... another cuppa may be required :-D

A Bamboo adds height, movement and structure between my lawn and hedge. However, walking through the arch where bird feeders hang and there is a hidden spot behind it.

There's enough room for a large pot with a weeping pear and a compost bin plus access for trimming the hedge. Below we have the bird’s eye view (as they arrive at the feeders) of the Clematis ‘Constance’ in flower.




The close-up montage shows the delicate flower of Constance and the buds of a rhododendron successfully about to open after its move last autumn from my new wildlife pond area.

Wood Anemones have travelled with this rhododendron which is a bonus too. You can see how it thrives in the shade beneath the rhododendron in the longer view from the lawn side of the Bamboo.




A week on and this rhododendron was laden with its large blooms and another rhododendron nearby with very few buds had also opened too. Now, a few days on again and these blooms are going through more colour changes. It really is amazing what a few sunny days makes to plants.

We’ve been short on rainfall of late. Having moved a few plants around and sowing sow seed directly on the ground it has been necessary to do some watering. During the early hours of this morning we had a very heavy downpour and these areas would definitely benefited from it as the ground was already damp.

Evaporation of water in ponds is also a problem in times of warm weather especially small ones like my little rock based pond. Add that to a run back when the pump was running and the rocky back wall had to be dismantled… again.



On and off in the last two weeks I’ve tried different arrangements of the rocks. I won’t rebuild it completely until I’m certain all looks okay. However, even when I think it’s near the slightest back tilt as the rocks build up and I could be back to square one. Perhaps adding a piece of liner could be the answer.

My main problem here is that I’m trying to incorporate a small running reservoir that will act as a bird bath with a firm enough step beside it so hedgehogs could safely drink from there too. As for sound, I want to hear a deep gentle burbling noise. Oh yes... I also want to see the running water from my window… yep… I want it all ;-)

Golden leaves of a Carex grass light up this semi shaded area behind my pond which gets early morning and some evening sun. Japanese Anemones grow well here and I’ve recently added a few new young plants with pink flowers to the white ones already there.




The deep red thistle flowers of Cirsium are beginning to form. Soon it will grow tall through the obelisk that is used for feeding apples to the birds in the winter. In flower this will feed the bees.

The weeping pear had white blossom on the 15th with only a few silver green leaves. I did wonder if it could be a casualty of winter. Looking out my window tonight and it has many leaves now.

Meconopsis have thrived beside my pond long before the Anemones arrived. I’ve now added some young plants of mixed colours to the wonderful blue ones. I can’t wait to see what colours they will be.

Blue is already filling the small area in the border opposite. Brunnera Jack Frost is still flowering well. Birds disappear under its leaves in search of peanuts which are getting dropped from a feeder above. Great tits and a Jackdaw are the main birds spotted doing this with a clumsy footed Woodpigeon or two too.




The Great tits and Jackdaw also appear at the feeding area under my small domed Acer tree. The larger Jackdaw looks particularly out of scale there.

Originally tentative the Jackdaw is getting more comfortable around this area. Usually we don’t see any Great tits if we have nesting Blue tits in the garden but this year a pair is regularly visiting the garden which is nice to see.



Gosh… sorry I am chatting on a bit! It’s been a while… I’ll try and be quick. The tulip ‘Shirley’ was given to me as a present a few years ago and still sends up one flowering stem. There were only a few flowers on my broom on the 15th. Looks like a tulip with a virus here by the markings… I really should remove and destroy it.



A week on and ‘Shirley’ is fully open towering over ground cover plants at the side of my pergola. The centres of both it and a dark variety in another area really are quite eye catching… Shirley has attracted a bee there :-D





Walking under my pergola and up towards my arbour and a generous planting of pale yellow primrose catch my breath every time I walk by. So do the wonderfully glossy Asarum leaves growing beside them. This Asarum is slowly self seeding.



On the other side of my Pergola my Wisteria was showing clear flower buds on the 15th however I was thinking that not all buds looked like they would yield flowers.



Primroses have self seeded along my path. Alpine Lady’s Mantle and Heuchera on the other hand have been planted around the ground spike for my rotary drier. They camouflage it well. A single hyacinth survives my trowel to live another year.

A week on and it looks like I was right on the Wisteria. Perhaps the cold winter has had an impact on Wisteria flowers for this year… or perhaps with me stalling the second pruning as it was so cold had an impact. Shame… I will still have some flowers though :-)



Many garden designers talk about drawing the surrounding landscape into your garden view. For this posting celebrating blooms and views I’ll just borrow my neighbour’s flowering cherry tree hanging with wonderful pink blooms that towers over my hedge above my arch with bird feeders. This tree is very popular with birds visiting my garden.

I love to see tree shadows move around my garden like a clock hand. The bare area of soil in foreground below has a scattering of wild flowers and Californian poppy seeds. Today I noticed the new seedlings appear. The B&W camera nestbox on the pergola pillar didn’t get a completed nest so I guess that’s it for this year. Pity... I'll not be greedy though :-)



Coming back to flowering plants on the 15th and London Pride was close but not quite there. Tiny violets were out but Allium ‘Purple’ Sensation didn’t make it either.



Deep pink drumstick Primulas held on to a few final flowers as did the narcissi ‘Ice Follies’. Where back in the planted area of my lawn some fresh delicate narcissi had just come into bloom. Mm… what’s going on here beside the bulb area? Oh… I’ll keep this chat for another day. This area is still work in progress :-D




For many years I’ve had small yak hybrid rhododendrons in my garden. I have moved them around too as mentioned earlier. Below tells the story of the rhododendron that will flower (nice plump bud) and the one that won’t as I didn’t snap off the dead flower after flowering last year… oops.



This plant is growing at the back of my Gunnera border. BTW… no photos but my Gunnera did survive the very cold winter temps! Ah… but what about the pretty yellow/green bells above? Well... they really should not be!!

Seriously… this plant in flower is a bit of a miracle. Why? Let me show you…



Hanging my head in shame, I have to admit to lifting this plant from the new pond area last Autumn and it has been proud of the ground with roots exposed ever since then. I wasn’t sure if I would replant it in another area or send it to compost heaven… so I did neither.

Incredibly, with the coldest temps we have had in years and with plant losses throughout my garden it has flowered… in spite of my neglect. I really must find a spot to plant it now. Its will to live outweighs my indecision. It can stay! Its hardiness is without question now :-D



Taking a look at the longer view you can see it above my pond dig. It’s been a bit too hot to dig for the moment but once it gets cooler I’ll get out and back to it again soon. First, I need to get the other borders/beds tidied up and weeded before they run away from me :-D

To be honest, although I don’t like looking at this unfinished area I’d rather take my time and get it right. I do have some strong ideas on design here and I just need to work out if they will be practical or not. It is a big job that’s for sure.

Looking at the area of my back garden just through the gate always makes my smile. I love foliage and green in the garden. Being partially shaded light levls change throughout the day and once the Gunnera sends out its new leaves it is quite magical to me.

Hellebores are still just hanging on to flowers, fern fronds are uncurling by the day and Red Campion is growing fast. Golden hop and ivy weaves about the ground and up the trellis to join the wonderfully scented Jasmine. Ah… just smell it… Summer is on its way.





There is an incredible contrast in temperature and mood between my lush green partially shaded back garden and my gravel dressed, very hot and dry front garden. Just a gate divides the two. It feels like two quite different worlds. Euphorbia took a big hit with the winter in both my back and front gardens and most had to be lifted.

My faithful flowering Penstemons also took a hit but it wasn’t quite so severe. I pruned hard back all the dead stems and slowly some new growth has appeared on some of the plants but as they were going to leave a bare patch meantime and may not flower this year I pulled some out. I’ll take cuttings later in the year from one plant that looks like it will pull through.



A Skimmia from my back garden replaced a Euphorbia which seemed happy enough to flower in its new home.

The perennial wallflower Bowles’ Mauve had one casualty out of three plants at my front door. I have loved this plant so much that I bought another few for my front garden and I intend taking cuttings from my plants this year to spread it around even further.



Replacing the Penstemon plants in my front garden was easy and relatively financially painless. Last year I bought some bargain plants. I picked up pots of the sedum Rose Carpet that I have in hanging baskets at the front of my house. I thought I'd try it on the ground… so that filled a few gaps.

I had another sedum (not sure variety) that was in my back garden (not the best place for it) that I had divided. That made another four plants. A lavender growing in pot was also lost to the winter. Sedum ‘Carl’ wasn’t getting enough space next to the wallflowers so it was lifted and put in the pot then placed with the other sedums… job sorted!

So, there we have it a new look for the front garden in the aftermath of winter. One final touch that might add a little zest of colour for this year… I have no idea if this will work but my head tells me there should be a chance. I have scattered Californian poppy seeds in the gravel around my sedums and along the garden boundary. Will they grow… time will tell.

Bringing things right up to date and we have a montage of Alliums in my front garden. Bees are visiting the wallflower and in my back garden the first Meconopsis flower buds can be seen.



A clump of Bluebells are flowering in my front garden. The seem to like it there as do the pink ones. The bluebells and alliums growing on the other side of the fence in my back garden are a bit behind in growth.

More uncurling ferns catch my eye and an unexpected find of the cuckoo flower at a garden centre just made my day. I’ve added a few to the bulb area of my back lawn. No flowers for this year as they are already over but next year…



I could quite safely say you’ll never see a Woodpecker in my garden. My trees are nowhere mature or old enough to bring them in.

Yesterday though, my daughter and I popped up to SWT Reserve Loch of the Lowes for a visit and as per usual we saw them there. However, most of the visitors were much more interested in the live pics from the Osprey nest. The female laid three eggs and two chicks had just hatched. Great news there! You can read the latest on their blog here.

Finally, this has been a marathon posting. If you are still reading… thanks for bearing with me. I’m delighted, especially as I fully understand your garden awaits your attention too.

Before I send this on its way out in to blogland where it may never be seen again I would like to very quickly mention something for readers here in the UK.



The WWT is running a campaign at the moment. I’ll post on it later this week… I might have an interesting story or two with this. I’ll give you time to recover from this download first :-)

“As part of a long-term study, WWT needs volunteers of all ages to contribute to a survey into whether the presence - or absence - of wetlands in gardens, local parks, school grounds and allotments affects the range of animals found there.”

Sounds interesting. For more info check out the WWT website . I received an email about this asking me if I'd like to write a blog on this. Perhaps other UK Bloggers might like to promote/support this week's campaign too. It began on May 21st and runs until May 31st.

Meantime, I hope you’ve had a good weekend and I’d like to wish you a great week ahead :-D

13 comments:

lotusleaf said...

A very interesting post. I liked your rock based pool a lot. Thanks for sharing.

Southern Lady said...

Wow! You have a lot going on. I love your pictures and the bird nest is my favorite! I don't think I have nearly as much to blog about! Thanks for all of the pictures. Carla

Rosie@leavesnbloom said...

Shirl you have certainly been very busy.

I like your Shirley tulip very much. The last of my tulips came into flower last week and thankfully that dreadful downpour we all had on Sunday morning didn't destroy their blooms.

So much has started blooming since 15th its hard to keep up with it all!

I'm so looking forward to seeing the little brood in your nesting box after they have hatched.

I'm going to participate in the Wetlands survey and thanks to your link. I've put up a picture link to the website on my sidebar. It will be a great excuse to sit in the garden and do nothing but watch.

Have a lovely week and I hope you get some pleasant temperatures for working out in your new pond area - the weekend ones were quite draining. :) Rosie

Patsi 'Garden Endeavors' said...

Not sure which thing I like the most...
Ooh...have the same little tulips.
The wheelbarrow full of flowers is perfect.
Of course love the Blue Tit.
Never heard of Skimmia before BUT believe it or not just bought one 2 days ago.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

drinks for hedgehogs!!!

how sweet is that?

Liz said...

Hi Shirl,

Well, I have myself a cuppa and a oat bar to munch on whilst reading your blog! :)

There’s so much to catch up on… so many lovely flowers to marvel at during May, when everything still has that wonderful vibrant green hue and we can sit, safe in the knowledge that we still have a good couple of months or more before Autumn…

I love ‘constance’, very nice colour and your deep purple/black tulips are gorgeous!

Sadly my American Wisteria has only just begun to grow, so I’m not expecting any flowers this year. It’s only young – bought last year and I imagine the winter knocked it hard. I’m just thrilled to see it’s survived at all!

Your garden looks packed full, a state I hope to achieve with each year…

shirl said...

Hi there lotusleaf,thanks for stopping by :-D

I do enjoy my little rock pool. There is hardly any surface water as so many rocks lie beneath. We have seen a frog there. At the moment I am adding oxygenating plants to get the water clear :-)

shirl said...

Hi there Carla, lol too much to keep up with at the moment! Lots at different stages out in the garden and inside the house. Today I must reacquaint myself with housework ;-)

As for the bird nest pics you are in for a treat with the videos… I am delighted to be able to share them :-D

shirl said...

Hi again Rosie, lol definitely lots going on hence the unfinished projects. Have spent a lot of time driving and haven’t managed to take advantage of the dry weather for garden works.

Shirley has kept giving just one flower each year. Don’t want to disturb it by planting others around it. I agree the growth in plants is amazing just now. My cirsium has headed for the sky and soon the bees will be visiting it.

The nestbox family is fascinating to watch and everything there looks busy at the moment with what looks like plenty of food coming in. Dry days help there. When it rains food is not as easy to come by. Very quickly the story can change.

Great to hear you’re keen to take part with the WWT survey. I need to get something sorted there too. Lol… sitting doing nothing but watching … Mm… guilty there at the moment ;-)

Thanks, I hope your week has gone well… have a great weekend. Yes, dry and cool weather for the pond dig will be good. I’m planning a small stone dyke too… need it cool for that!!

shirl said...

Hi again Patsi, thanks for stopping by. Liked the wheelbarrow too. I had been collecting plants from my back garden in it and was just heading out to the front to plant them.

That is a coincidence on the skimmia. Mine has never really blossomed in my back garden. I’m thinking it is enjoying its new location… for the moment ;-)

shirl said...

Hi there Lisa and Robb, thanks for stopping by. Lol… summer refreshments ;-)

shirl said...

Hi again Liz, lol… I’m picturing the scene :-D

The garden does run off by itself in May doesn’t it? A great month though! This is the second year for Constance and I am very pleased with it. I love this type of flower.

Congrats on growing a wisteria. There is something quite special about this plant. Wishing you many flowers when it decides its time to display them.

Lol… definitely a packed garden but it feels like a builder’s yard at the moment. Oh… for more hours. Mm… perhaps I need a personal organiser for time management. Mm… maybe I just need to step away from the computer ;-)

Juliet said...

Just catching up with your blog, Shirl, & I love the photos in this post, especially the unfurling ferns and the first montage. I am not a fan of the usual cup-shaped tulips, I'm afraid, but I do like those little orange ones. Do you know what they're called?