Things to consider

My son announced yesterday that he wanted to make a model alien from this Project X Alien Adventures book.

Here are the things we need to make the model – I don’t have them all

Obviously, I don’t have pipe cleaners.  Or sticky eyes.  I’ll buy some the next time I am in Cass Art.

There are a couple of things that I need to add to my shopping list – pretty much all plants.  The slugs have now eaten all my petunias, most of the pelargoniums (bit of a surprise, that), the flowers (but not the plants themselves) of some alpine plant I’d put in there and all the bugle.  The Greek oregano that I’d planted elsewhere is much reduced.  However, they have also started eating the bastard creeping yellow buttercup.  Which is a hideous weed – it is super invasive and is basically my nemesis.  On balance, I think I prefer slugs to the buttercup weed.

The question is, what can I put in the flowerbed, given that the slugs have eaten everything but thyme?  I absolutely love heather but my husband really wants small plants in that bed so they don’t clash with the box hedge.  I’ve seen heather up Headon Warren that comes up to my waist so that’s out (I have no idea how you would prune heather).  I would just bung some more lavender in there but my husband has got a bit sick of the endless lavender (to be fair, it is one of the only things the slugs won’t eat, apart from winter flowering heliotrope).

Perhaps sedum?  More sea holly?

Argh! It’s a hot potato

It isn’t really, it is an old fiver.  I was given one in change on Friday (the last day that these remained legal tender) so had a real need to spend it.

I remember when these were new. I am old

In the end, I bought a gin & tonic on the train down to the Isle of Wight ferry terminal.  The man didn’t want to take it but then changed his mind.  Unfortunately, this meant that when I got to the IoW, I had to decline my husband’s offer to let me drive home as by then I’d had two gin & tonics (I always have one on the ferry while my son has a chocolate milk).  In fact, the ferry was so rocky that my son and I both felt rather nauseous (his due to chocolate milk) and had to go up on the windy upper deck.

I don’t really have a conclusion to this post.  Except that my Mum has now told me that I could always take the fiver to the bank, even after Friday.  I hadn’t realised this.

Wildflower patch

The wildflower patch is starting to look rather nice.  I had been getting a bit nervy, partly because this is the first year that I haven’t sown any wildflower seed or planted foxgloves in this patch.  However, there appear to be quite a few things there.  Plus when I took these photos, I saw a male orange tip.

Forget me not
Red helleborine?

Although the plant above looks like red helleborine (from the picture in my book), it is described as “rare, protected by law” so it might not be.  The book does say that it grows in woods and shady places which sort of covers my wildflower patch so it is possible I suppose.

Rose garden

Yesterday, I had a morning pulling weeds out of the rose garden – my hands are scratched to buggery, even though I wore gloves most of the time.

Some of the weeds I kept – in particular there was a load of deadnettle that bees seem to like so I left that.  However, all the grass, stinging nettles and some weed that I’ve only ever seen in the IoW but which gets everywhere came up.  I filled a builder’s sack with it all.

Afterwards, I put wood chips down in the gaps.  The lavender plants are, on the whole, doing very well (and all but one are enormous) but they will do better without a load of goosegrass and grass clinging to them.  A couple already have (small) bracts coming up.

One thing that has done well is a thyme plant.  As the rose garden is walled and sunny, I assume that it is a bit more sheltered than the rest of the garden.  Usually thyme dies here but this is looking super.

Thyme in the rose garden

The roses have buds but also, sadly, aphids.  I hate using chemicals but I might have to.  Unless we get a plague of ladybirds.

More rose garden
Yet more rose garden

The lower garden

I don’t write about the lower garden but it is looking rather nice.  In particular, the acers have lots of leaves this year – far more than last year.

The lower garden
Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’
Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’
Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’

The purple acer is the largest, while the dissectum ( the one at the front) is quite small.  The dissectum is meant to eventually grow to 2m tall but I don’t think that will happen for quite a few years (perhaps 50?).  Acers are quite slow growing.

I have a couple of other things in there as well.  The violets that I had thought would be dead for sure are still going and, surprisingly, haven’t been eaten by slugs.

Sweet violets

The dutch honeysuckle, which I could have sworn was dead, is now looking terrific.  Not in flower but it isn’t meant to flower until quite late in the summer.  There’s a really horrible grass growing right in front of it but I haven’t quite got the will to do anything about it just yet.  It’s growing right next to a pipe so digging it out will be tricky.  Plus my husband says that he doesn’t mind it (it’s only me who hates grass).

Dutch honeysuckle

For planting later in the year

This week, I got round to sowing my foxglove seeds in some compost.  I used ordinary compost this time, rather than seed compost (out of laziness – the ordinary compost bag was already open).  If it doesn’t work, I’ll know that was a bad idea.

In the past I have waited until October to plant the foxglove seedlings out (because the packet told me so) but the result was sort of pale and leggy so I think that I’ll do it in August instead this year.

Seed trays in my cold frame

Having had balmy days and warmish nights, we are having a slightly cold patch (I think it got down to 3C last night).  However, the cold frame is right by a building so I hope will still be warm enough.

In flower early

I have a few plants which are in flower early – it must be the complete lack of rain that has convinced them that it is summer.  However, the bees are happy enough.

Euphorbia – this is a bit of a monster but rather eye catching
French lavender – I bought this from a garden centre so it being just about to flower may only be due to having been in a greenhouse
Foxgloves in the lower garden – not quite in flower
Tiarella – this looks quite pretty next to this acer