Tag Archive | Rhododendron

June in the Garden

June flew by, with a real mixture of weather, and not as much gardening as should have been done. We have a new gate now at the end of the garden to prevent stray cows wandering in and destroying the lawn with their deep footprints.

 

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The new path that we strimmed through the meadow over the winter is looking established now, and gives a lovely view from the near garden. Now to put a bench at the end to give a reason to walk along it!

 

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We have also had our first crops for the potager – a decent couple of handfuls of tasty radishes before the slugs worked out where they were. Later sowings have unfortunately been completely eaten. We will be employing some anti-slug measures!

 

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Our mange-touts have been a great success, however, untouched by pests they have cropped heavily, and the pods are so crisp and tasty, and last for weeks in the fridge. We have also enjoyed a few baby new potatoes which managed to develop before the slugs ate all the top growth.

 

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I uncovered a small dwarf rhododendron on the overgrown bank by the house last year, which hadn’t flowered. With a bit of space around it for a year, it has thrived, and treated me to a few flowers this year.

 

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I am collecting varieties of Cistus, rock rose, as they seem to do well on my stony bank. This one, C. purpureus, was the first I planted, and has been smothered for weeks this year.

 

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My bearded irises got completely eaten by slugs, but I have had more success with sibirica irises, and this lovely Iris ‘Silver Edge’ flowered well.

 

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We also had the usual huge flowers of the oriental poppy. They are so spectacular, but the colour is a bit strident. Maybe I should move them to somewhere where the colour clashes less, and replace them with something softer…

 

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July is proving to be just as variable weather-wise as June, so I am waiting for a dry day to get out and take some July photos. Fingers crossed!

 

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Plants in cages

The problem with sharing your garden with a host of wildlife is that quite a lot of it is intent on eating all my plants!

 

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Rabbits seem to like to have a nibble at anything new, and if they like it, they will eat the lot. But plants that have been sampled one year (and survived) seem to be less likely to be nibbled the next. Maybe it is the rich lush tasty foliage that the plants grow while in the nursery greenhouses that they like, and the tougher, garden-grown leaves are less appealing.

The solution therefore seem to be to protect anything remotely juicy for at least its first season. I have a couple of old hanging baskets that are ideal for this.

 

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These Tanacetum ‘Robinson’s Red’ should give a display of big daisies in the summer, but only if the rabbits leave them alone. If they get nibbled more, then I will upgrade the protection to the next stage…

 

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This Rhododendron ‘Blue Tit’ is not supposed to be attractive to rabbits or deer, but the last little rhododendron that I planted in this spot was eaten to the ground! So I am taking no chances with this one, and it has a cage of chicken wire, with a few wires criss-crossing the top to deter deer. It shouldn’t outgrow this cage for a couple of years, by which time it should be less tasty.

For bigger shrubs, I am having to build bigger cages.

 

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I treated myself to a lovely Magnolia ‘Susan’, and do not want it eaten, as it wasn’t cheap. So it has a 5 ft cage of deer netting to protect it for a few years. The netting needs to be at least 5 foot, and preferably 6ft, as the deer we have are not just little muntjac, or medium sized roe deer. No, we get the big ones, the red deer.

 

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They have not been seen in the garden quite as often this year as last year, and I think our increasing activity levels in the garden puts them off. But after 4 days away last week, we returned to find three sitting in the middle of the lawn.

The ultimate solution, which we are using to keep them off the veggies and fruit, is a Big Fence…

 

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They aren’t going to get into there! We haven’t managed to get all of the potager dug yet this year, but as we get a section cleared of the grass and roots and stones, we sow seeds. And we now have radishes, beets, mangetout, spinach and leeks all sprouting. It is very exciting!

 

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Trees are yet another problem. We have standard tree guards around some small native trees and shrubs, but as soon as they poke their heads above the guards, then they run the risk of being eaten.

 

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This little rowan had nice tall shoots before the deers’ visit last week, and now it has been eaten down to the guard. So we need a better solution, which might be to make cages like the shrub cages. It does make planting trees very costly.

My next challenge is to find a solution to slugs. We don’t use pellets, and hand-picking takes too long. I have tried some barrier methods with varying success, but currently I am just avoiding buying certain plants, such as hostas (obviously), delphiniums, lupins, and aubrieta.

Gardening here is a bit of a battle!

 

The garden in May

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I have just come back from a long weekend away, and we have had a mixture of warm and wet weather, and the changes in the garden are remarkable. The big beech trees by the driveway are now in leaf, as are most of the other trees.

 

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Everything looks green and lush! The flowers (and weeds)  in the main border are shooting up.

 

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The Pieris has finished flowering and is now covered in shiny new red leaves.

 

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A tangled mass of dead stems has turned into a lovely Clematis montana

 

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My Lithodora are in flower, in such a vivid shade of blue!

 

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There are hardly any tulips in the garden, but these red ones are rather nice

 

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I planted an Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride ‘, only a couple of weeks ago, and all the buds are now open, making it a column of white blossom. Eventually it will for a large, arching shrub, and will be stunning!

 

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While tidying around my seed trays in the cold frame, I found not one, but two species of amphibian! There were two small frogs, and also four baby palmate newts. Aren’t they lovely!

 

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There isn’t really many damp places for these guys, and it is getting very warm here now, so I decided to create a mini pool for them. We have a brick built barbecue, which we may or may not use, and next to it is a little cave for a gas bottle to sit. I have placed a large plant saucer there with a heap of stones both inside and out, and will keep it filled with water. Hopefully it will give them a damp place for hot days.

 

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The most exciting thing in the garden is that the rhododendrons are starting to flower! I seem to have a mix of colours, and will show you all the different flowers once they all open, but this is a glimpse for now.

 

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Around the garden

We are still waiting to see our new garden in sunlight, but at least we had a dry afternoon. Friends visited, and we all had a wander around the estate. We have a bottle bank…

 

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We have some interesting neighbours…

 

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With the help of our friends we managed to identify some of the plants. Those in leaf and flower I can usually work out, but winter twigs can be a bit of a challenge. We have a stunning Christmas tree, but I am resisting the temptation to deck it out with lights and baubles!

 

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Next to it is one of my favourite conifers, Cedrus deodara, with its soft, drooping branches

 

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A small camellia is covered in fat buds, promising a beautiful display soon. But in what colour, I wonder?

 

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Some plants were in flower, out of season, either early or late, including this lovely pink azalea which is presumably early.

 

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This Abelia grandiflora has a long flowering season, so is presumably still flowering from the summer?

 

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We also have several nice rhododendron specimens, all of which will be a surprise when they flower. I just hope they aren’t all the same variety!

 

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