Slow painting

Sunday 17 June 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2012

And a very soggy Bloom Day it was too.  It has rained steadily here since Friday morning - the rain is still coming down as I write on Sunday morning.  Yesterday I squelched out into the garden to take these photos.  The camera makes it look brighter than it was.  It really has been a case of Darkness at Noon.

Above and below, a sadly nameless foxglove.  I only bought it a few weeks ago at Decora in Elgin, but such is the pace of life at the moment that my good intentions to write the variety in my garden book came to nothing.

Below, everything that is green is lush and vibrant.  A bit too lush for Scottish tastes.  The growth is sappy, and that's a problem in high winds.  The fern on the left is self-seeded from a now defunct fern I had in a pot.  It's relishing its freedom, but is getting a bit out of hand.  The alchemilla in the foreground loves the wet weather and is putting on a show of rain-drop diamonds.  At the right, the spears of crocosmia are the forerunners of its red flowers in late July.

My oriental poppies are monstrous this year.  They have responded to my attempts to dig them out in the autumn by putting out huge growth and massive flowers.  And I thought I'd cleared every last scrap of root...

Below, a Swedish flag-themed pairing of geranium Johnson's Blue and a yellow potentilla.

Beaten down by the rain:

This was meant to be a homage to my Albertine rose, which is rambling far and wide this year.  The blooms are not getting a chance to flourish in the wet conditions.  In trying to capture this bloom sheltering under my dwarf plum tree I seem to have concentrated more on the wonderful fact of a decent-sized plum.  We have had a total of 2 plums from the tree, but this year it has put on a spurt.

Last year we took out a scruffy conifer hedge, put up a windbreak fence, and widened the suburban strip of a border slightly. (The garden is city-centre tiny, so there's not much room to play with.)  I ordered plants from Crocus - they're happily establishing in the rain, but there are very few blooms yet.  A delicate exception is this Aquilegia stellata 'Ruby Port'.  I know the name because I can look up my Crocus order online...

To finish, the frothy exuberance of my Hydrangea petiolaris.  The bees love this, but it's been so wet that they haven't been flying.  The powerful upward shoot to the left is a Clematis Jackmanii, which I leave to its own devices apart from a chop back in February each year.

More gardens from around the world, some with sunshine, are at Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Benign neglect

Benign neglect, of this blog and the allotment, sums up my approach at the moment.  It's been a busy family time, including university student son leaving today to spend the summer volunteering in Nepal.  The weather hasn't helped either.  The cold and rain of May have continued into June.  Temperatures are grim - a maximum of 13 degrees C (55 F) tomorrow, before falling to 9 degrees (50 F) for the rest of the week.  The shots above and below were taken on a rare sunny afternoon a couple of weeks ago.  The onions and shallots are continuing to do well, if a bit weedier between the rows when we had a quick foray to the plot recently.  The potatoes are coming along strongly, and we've now earthed them up.

Below, my first attempt at transplanted lettuce rather than sowing direct into the soil.  Last year my direct sowings failed completely, but these cos are coming along nicely.

I caught Gardeners' World on Friday for the first time in ages.  At the end of the programme Monty Don spoke about his shooting onions, caused by the weather veering from hot and dry in May to cold and wet in June.  The thought did pass through my mind, 'at least we won't have that problem, since we've only had the cold and wet sort'.  But no - my garlic is starting to shoot.  Perhaps it's been a case of the weather veering from very cold and wet to cold and wet.  Anyway, I followed Monty's advice and lopped off the flower bud, so we'll see what it ends up like.

The first time too for broad beans.  I have a particular fondness for broad beans - not so much for the beans themselves, which are not top of my list, but for their flowers.  They have such a beautiful perfume - if it was bottled I would buy it in preference to any major perfume brand.

I realise now that my affinity for broad beans came from of all things a description in a book by Rosemary Sutcliff, 'The Lantern Bearers', which was a great childhood favourite of mine and which I continue to reread.  Set in the time when the Roman legions abandoned Britain, there's a passage where the Roman hero has escaped from thralldom in a Saxon camp and is fleeing from the part of England occupied by the Saxon invaders.  He finds sanctuary with a monk who has also fled the Saxons.

"Yesterday's rain was gone, and the still-wet forest was full of a crystal green light.  In the cleared plot before the huts, the man in the brown tunic was peacefully hoeing between his bean-rows...the beans were just coming into flower, black and white among the grey-green leaves, and the scent of them was like honey and almonds, strong and sweet after the rain."

I had always thought that bees pushed their way inside the flower trumpets, and in fact this is what Rosemary Sutcliff described: " The little amber bees were droning among the bean-blossom, and at that moment one fell out of a flower, the pollen baskets on her legs full and yellow.  She landed sizzling on her back on a flat leaf, righted herself, and made for another flower."

But down among the beans while weeding between the rows I noticed the the bees making for a tiny hole on the top of the flower, near where it joins the stalk.  A momentary lapse in Rosemary Sutcliff's usual attention to detail!

Below, evidence of some dasterdly deed among the beans.  My heart sank when I saw the feathers inside the cage - my fear is that a bird will find its way inside and be unable to get out again.  But in this case there was no corpse, so I assume there had been an arial fight of some sort above the cage.