Friday, 27 May 2016

A bit of colour

Just to keep posts going, the main rockery is starting to look more colourful.


Maybe lucky I didn't paint that wall purple, would have clashed!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

This should make a few people happy

Everyone has at last one plant that in the garden that always gets attention.  You know the one that every visitor comments and lusts after.  I keep meaning to suggest everyone do a post on their attention hogging plants. Maybe I'll get around to it this year.

One of the plants that always gets comments is aloe purple flush.


The colour is amazing, apart from the purple, the leaves have a red edge which glows in the sun.

Friends routinely ask if I have any spares, sadly it didn't seem to be a big off-setter. To add to the problems I have never seen this plant anywhere else or been able to find anything about it.  I am guessing the name is wrong.

Last year I took the plunge and split the one offset, you can see the post here. At the same time I added some blood, fish and bone to the potting mix. The growth rate wasn't much different but they went offset mad.

So today as part of the yearly potting up, the purple flush was next.  The mother still looks great.


But what to do with this lot?


I have been getting stricter on pups and binning them instead of keeping everything.  I noticed that they were either put to the side to plant later and ignored, or potted up and left somewhere to struggle on.  I really don't need multiples of every plant.  However I could just hear the cries from friends so here there are all potted up.


Most had good roots already, which is a relief.  The two in the shared pot don't have roots yet, but I am sure there will be people who will know how to cope with that. the one in the round small round pot is a bit of fun,


I don't think it is going to last the summer in there.

This will be the first of many plants that get split over the next couple of weeks, many of them seem to be on peoples wish list.  Something tells me I am going to be very popular this summer.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Update on the Sedeveria letizia

I have posted about this little plants a few times before, mainly here.  At this time of year is has not only turned a good red colour but is starting to flower. For the last couple of years there has been one planted in the main rockery as a bit of a test.


It is looking really good.  A few rotted leaves, but all the heads are good.  The flowers are a little behind the main potted pant which has been in the greenhouse. Given our cold spring that is no surprise.  The colour is though, I thought this was purely down to lack of water, but obviously it is general stress.

As for the main plant.


I gave it a little too much water and the red has faded as it's now happy. Time will tell if it survives being cut up for another year.  It does however need to be re-potted. I had hoped to find a really nice hand made pot by now, but will re-pot it into one of the normal pots for the time being.

The purple background is a bit of a test. Remember in a previous post, mention of painting the patio wall. This is one of the colours being considered. Bright, but really sets the plants off. Sadly the OH is not so keen. She is however out during the day this Saturday.

Monday, 16 May 2016

How can you hate cherry blossom?

Next doors cherry tree has been mentioned several time since we moved. My family do not understand why it is such a problem; it only blocks the sun for the first hour or two of the day and then it flowers. Surely that is a good thing.

Well I give you exhibit 1:


Not convinced yet?

Exhibit 2:


Exhibit 3:


Do you get the picture? Not my lovely tidy, spotless rockery.

It is much worse than previous year, normally I manage to wait until the blossom is all down and then go around and clean up. This year I was a bit worried about the amount of rain and problems with the fungus returning.

So what do you do?  Get the vacuum cleaner out of course. I am not sure who was more surprised my OH or the little girl next door who asked why I was vacuuming the plants.

It's not perfect but at least the worst is out of the centre of the main plants.


Thankfully it's now almost over, a couple more days and all the blossom will be off the tree and I can do a final clean up. At that point I remove as much as possible off the gravel and hope the rest degrades quickly.

Next year I will have to net the area for a couple of weeks.

I am not looking forward to cleaning this one up!


In the mean time I am hoping the people here will be more understanding of why I dislike (insert much stronger words) this tree.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

So the front garden: part 1.

This has taken up most of my time whenever it has been dry this spring. I last posted about it back in August last year, the post can be found here. At that point the right hand side was all levelled and the gravel was down.


At that point I optimistically ended that post with the sentence "Still lots to do, but it feels like the main bit is done". How wrong, but I'll come back to that.

The idea for the front is less spiky with a blue, white and silver theme. We will stick to this fairly rigorously with the one exception of the odd splash of orange. So stop reading now if you offended by flowers.

In November a sunny afternoon was spent planting around 300 bulbs into the gravel. It should have been a simple task, but having taken care when laying the gravel there were two layers of weed membrane under it. Each location a bulb was to be planted required moving the gravel, cutting a hole, digging out the hole, refilling with better compost and then moving gravel back.  Very repetitive and sadly the garden looked no different at all after all the work.  The bulbs were selected to give flowers from beginning of March until roughly the end of July.

Come spring and things started to show, the crocuses were first. Very pretty but the planting didn't really work.


The blue crocus were next. They were slightly more blue that this photo.


The irises worked better in the gravel.


They looked good with the rocks.


What is it they say about best laid plans. Either the mild winter, or being their first year but instead of flowering over an extended period everything decided to flower at the same time.  The tulips:


Then the anemones as well, which are now finished but shouldn't have even started yet.  I can't complain though as they gave quite a display.






Sadly the only think that did not come up the size expected was the eremurus. The three rocks in in the above photo at to stop me walking on the tiny little plant. It is going to be a few years until that one flowers.

While this lot were flowering away, we got started on the other side. It seems that while succulents go to sleep over the winter lots of local plants do not and come spring the left hand side of the garden had to be sprayed, dug and levelled once again. I've lost count of the number of times I have dug this garden, succulent gardening is a lot less work.

Finally we were able to set out the beds.


More gravel and laying out the first set of plants.


More digging as lots of manure is dug in. Finally some plants can actually be planted.


I was beginning to find out how big the garden was, the number of plants was racking up, it was good when there were plants available form the back.  Remember the yucca dug up from the back (you can see the post here). They turned out to be two plants not a twin head.  Splitting them was easy once all the soil was shaken off and in the new bed they look much bigger.


As the dog will not be loose in the front we are able to plant I few plants I wouldn't risk in the back, like juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'


It feels like the central bed is coming together. It will be a few years before the plants fill out, no doubt a few plants will be moved during that time.

The other two beds are filling up very slowly. Not only does it take time to find interesting plants that flower at different times, and fit the colour scheme, but it is expensive and is having to be spred out. The garden doesn't looks great yet, it is a bit disjointed. As more plants are repeated in various different locations the garden as a whole will hopefully pull together. Time will tell if it will work, not being succulents is all a bit of an adventure for me.

Then finally this weekend I got to start adding the succulents and alpines to the gravel sections. They are going in slowly and I'll do separate post on that once I have finished it. In the mean time here is a taster as we can't have a post with so few succulents.


It felt a lot more within my comfort zone working in the gravel section. I'm going to try out a few different ideas there is not enough space for in the back. Assuming the rain stops, I'll get to finish this and can post the results.

So a very different post to normal, but hopefully the work will be worth it. Maybe this time it really is safe to say the worst is over, at least in terms of the physical stuff, lots of plant finding still to come.

Monday, 9 May 2016

No space is wasted.

One of the things I love about plants in the rockeries is the way they grow to fill any available space.  Given space they just offset until they are overflowing.


The echeveria elegans stream turned into a raging torrent.


Echeverias seem to do that, not knowing when the space is full, bursting out of the available space.


The alpines are more subtle, a stealth attack.


Once they have a foot hold, tumbling over to continue their take over.


Others sneaking along in a slow advance, sending out the next line of troops to get another foot hold.


The agaves just occupy the space.


Whatever the tactics, these cramped spaces have produced some of my favourite plants in the rockery.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Could it finally be here?

This weeks has finally started to feel like the winter is behind us and it is safe to start putting some of the pots outside. Our winters lately have been so strange I have lost track if this is early or late, just need to keep an eye on those surprise late frosts.

Many of the agaves have pups, some have gone a little mad, this agave lophantha variegata pot is full of pups one of which has decided to grow in a very strange way.


I seem to remember that it is the tri or quad colour form, which is slightly nicer than the usual variegated ones. Some re-potting due I think.

The two largest planters are full echeveria agavoides forms, this one has red edge and ebony plus romeo and sirius.


The ebony is darkening up nicely, while those in the ebony bowl have some way to go.  The biggest is now my biggest echeveria.


They are probably going to have to be split, the mis-labelled one which is actually red edge can be moved at the same time. I may put my seed grown sport into a pot on its own, leaving only 3 plants in that pot.

The vertical planting is starting to fill up, the agave glow family are all together this year.



They may just be ok in those pots for one more year.

Ultimately the bamboo and other shade plants will fill this section and the posts will go back to be purely architectural, but for now they make idea places to display more of the succulents.

It is good to have the plants outside again, there are still a lot to go, and I am going to have to find a new spot for the bigger pots as I want to plant the section they occupied last year. That issue can wait, for the time being I'll concentrate on slowly hardening the plants off and trying to avoid burning any.