A lovely day in the garden, so an ideal opportunity for getting my many plastic pots washed, graded, dried and even colour co-ordinated ready to store over winter in preparation for seeds and cuttings next spring. I always feel very satisfied once this job is done, although not a job I relish, as stooping over a bucket of soapy suds plays havoc on my back.
"This alchemists herb catches one single jewelled raindrop in every leaf and then exudes pearly tears along finely serrated edges long after the foam of lime-yellow flower has faded" - Val Bourne (Garden Writer).
I really love this plant, and today after frequent rain showers it was just the perfect time to take a photo of it. I have several little clumps dotted around where it has self seeded. If the plants look tired they can be cut right back and will soon be replaced with lovely new lime green foliage and when flowering has frothy yellow flowers, but do cut off when they go to seed if you don't want it all around your garden. They are known to like shade but mine do equally well in a sunny position.
Alchemilla mollis takes its name from the Arabic, meaning little magical one, due both to its reputation for having healing properties and because its leaves catch the morning dew. In the Middle Ages, the water collected from alchemilla leaves was believed to have magical properties.
I love hanging baskets but I am rather lazy when it comes to keeping them watered, so asarina (sometimes sold as lofos) is the perfect plant for me. This annual is really versatile, the first year I had them climbing, but for the last few years I have had them trailing out of hanging baskets, all you need is one plant for each basket as they really fill out, like surfinia does. Each flower is trumpet shaped and after flowering they develop a lovely seed head.
The plant flowers from June to October, they do need watering, but if you miss a day or two they will pick up again, although you may have to pick off a few crispy leaves here and there. I manage to over winter my plants under cover, they do die down but little shoots will appear again in spring ready to be planted out again after the last frosts, ready for the forthcoming summer.
On our recent visit to Jersey I was very keen to see more of our lovely native red squirrel, on our last trip I only saw one, but true to nature not a single one was to be seen during our whole break away. After telling myself I was not going to see one on this occasion, much to my surprise on our early morning run back to the airport I saw two in different locations, if you have never seen one they are much smaller than the grey squirrel and just like Squirrel Nutkin from the Beatrix Potter tales.
Unfortunately these endearing little creatures have found themselves on the UK endangered species list and without conservation could become extinct within the next 20 to 30 years. This is due to a combination of causes which include being under threat from the increasing numbers of the introduced American grey squirrel, the deadly squirrel pox virus carried by the grey and a loss of woodland habitat.
It is estimated that only 140,000 remain, compared to 2.5 million greys.
DOCTON MILL & GARDENS
If you are ever down Devon way take time to visit Docton Mill & Gardens which is situated in the Speke Valley, we visited in June and the garden was a delight, the day we visited the rain didn't let up but we didn't allow it to dampen our spirits. Highlights included magnificent herbaceous borders, a river walk with a superb bog garden, which incidently is described in Rosemary Verey’s book ‘Good Planting’ and a woodland walk, in fact every step you take from entering and exiting the garden you will come across something that will interest you.
Even if gardening isn’t really your thing you can still view the historic mill although it ceased working in 1910, simply because it ran out of business, its last big customer was Gifford the Baker, who is still in business today in nearby Hartland.
If all else fails there is a lovely tearoom which is situated in the house, they have a vast range of hot and cold food, our choice being warm scones, strawberry jam and lashings of clotted cream and a refreshing pot of tea, each! And, if you love dogs, you may see two Labradors mooching around the gardens too, and on exit there is a small plant sales area.
One final thing to mention, to get there you do have to drive down some pretty precarious country lanes, not really suitable for any nervous drivers out there.
I love everything about the summer, the sunshine, the long days and of course the lovely blooms which give so much colour to the garden, but at this time of year as the days get shorter and the garden is starting to look past its ultimate best, now is the time to start admiring what has been in your garden, and this is what you may discover.
I took these pictures just before dusk started to fall and I think you will appreciate that they really do capture the beauty of autumn. Notice too the spider's web, at this time of the year they are everywhere in the garden and more often than not you forget and get entangled in the sticky mess, not a pleasure if you are a bit sensitive to spiders like me!
1st picture is cephalaria gigantea (giant scabious) which has lovely pale yellow flowers, it needs a lot of space to grow into, mine is in a metre square plot and it has filled it, a lovely plant if you have the room.
2nd picture is aquilegia which I do love, but only plant it if you do, as it will self seed everywhere. I have many different varieties in my garden ranging from pale pink, dark purple and yellow.
We have lived in our present home since 1998 and as we have a small wooded area in our garden, over the years I have always thought it strange that a squirrel had never discovered it, well not until now that is. I am in two minds about our little visitor, you could say he is just a rat with a bushy tail, but I look at him and think how cute he is and we have already christened him 'Secret Squirrel', but on the other hand is he going to reek havoc around the garden big time once I start to plant bulbs, already he has been having fun turfing compost out from my troughs and I am convinced on the quiet he has been eating the fat balls from my starling, not squirrel proof feeder.
I have struggled to get a good picture of him, I tried again today but he wasn’t having any of it and leapt over my compost bins, onto the fence, then the shed, bolted up one side of the roof (we do live in a bungalow) and flew off the other side, they can literally fly. This picture was taken the other day and he is nibbling on a monkey nut which I suspect he has picked up from a neighbour's garden.
Many years ago my mum had a resident squirrel which used to come up to her patio doors, never let himself in, but for his troubles would be rewarded with the occasional chocolate biscuit of all things, he did look cute though, first twirling the biscuit around in his paws and then so neatly nibbling all around the edge. Then after all the encouragement she had given to it, would then expect sympathy from me when he uprooted all her pots to bury his finds.
This time of year can be good in the garden for us, although this time of the year can be especially good in the garden for birds, as a gourmet menu awaits them; the more discerning residents will choose the red berries first, then onto the orange ones and then the yellow, if they are really peckish!
I couldn’t resist posting a couple more photos of two more lovely frogs recently seen in my garden, it should be the last ones you see for this year as in a month or two they will be going into hibernation before it gets too cold for them. If the weather is favourable by around February time they should start to re-emerge, this is when they will go in search of water and will start spawning immediately.
Q. Why are frogs so happy?
A. They eat whatever bugs them.
I first took notice of this plant when I saw Alan T using it on one of his gardening programmes, I loved the way it acted as a screen but that you could also see through it as well. Since introducing it into my garden, originally sowing by seed and potting on to make my own plants, I have developed a love/hate relationship with it; I love it because it encourages lots of butterflies, bees and even the hummingbird hawk moth, I hate it because it is prone to self seeding itself all around the garden giving me a lot of extra work pulling up seedlings from every crack in the paving!
… not ready, nearly ready, definitely ready, for eating!
These strawberries are from plants which my dad gave to me shortly after we moved here, not the original ones, as every two or three years I start off new plants from the runners, it is very easy to do. I use lovely old terracotta pots for this purpose, and just hide them amidst the foliage until the time comes when I can cut the little runners free. The strawberries hardly ever make it to the kitchen as I just eat them as I go around the garden, but I do have to find them quickly, more often than not I find that the woodlice have beaten me to it!
ROSES - Grace
These beautiful roses were given to me yesterday by John's mum, this isn't the first lovely bunch I have had from her I hasten to add. There is nothing like fresh flowers to cheer you and your home up, although I never really treat myself to them, as I am always of the mind that it is best to spend the money on a plant for the garden, for everlong enjoyment!
The sun came out today and so did the butterflies; this lovely comma was fluttering to and fro from flower to flower, but was in no mood to pose, and as I couldn’t spend hours on end chasing butterflies around the garden, this was the best picture I could get.Commas love feeding off nettle plants, so if you have a ‘wild’ space in your garden, where a weed or two wouldn’t really matter, don’t pull them up, leave them there for the butterflies.
The Comma is presently a relatively common butterfly but up until the 1940's it was only regularly seen on the Welsh borders.
COREOPSIS - Always cheerful
This variety Grandiflora Mayfield Giant makes a lovely addition to any cottage style garden or in a prairie style garden mixed with tall grasses; if regularly deadheaded it will happily produce lots of sunshine yellow flowers from mid to late summer. Multiply this plant around your garden by taking cuttings, they are really easy to do. I have found coreopsis to be drought tolerant so they are perfect for any dry areas of your garden.
BEATRIX POTTER AND HILL TOP
A trip to Hill Top is a must see for anyone visiting the Lake District. Beatrix Potter wrote many of her famous children's stories in this little 17th century stone house. Characters such as Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here, and the books contain many pictures based on the house and garden.
There is a good example of traditional cottage garden, containing mainly old-fashioned flowers such as honeysuckle, foxgloves, sweet cicely, lupins, peonies, lavender and philadelphus. Roses grow ground the front door. Fruit still plays an important role in the garden - strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries and rhubarb.
Beatrix Potter bought Hill Top in 1905 with the royalties from her first few books, written at her parents home in London, but inspired by her annual holiday visits to the Lake District, when she died in 1943, she left Hill Top to the National Trust.
Today, with much joy, I noticed a second flush on this clematis. I noticed this variety, Veronica's Choice, by chance in a local garden centre shortly after I lost my lovely mum to cancer five years ago. I believe I was meant to discover it, as her name was Veronica; when it is in flower I always think of her.