I can’t believe it is the end of May already. A slew of visitors for most of the month mean I have been an utterly dreadful blogger, neither posting nor visiting. Sorry, but there has been some gardening, in between the chatting, eating, walking, and general enjoyment of this wonderful location. Despite the weather, which has been so cold I begin to despair of getting any tomatoes, let alone peppers or chillies. But wrapped up appropriately this makes for a wonderful way to enjoy the sea and admire the thrift growing on the cliffs:

kayak on the beach

Even if enjoying the beach has required rather more layers than one would hope for on a late May Bank Holiday weekend:

Braving the beach

We are teetering on the brink of buying a cheap waterproof camera so that we can take photographs when on the beach without fearing spray or sand, and even better, so that I can take photographs of the fabulous flowers bedecking the cliffs at the moment. But in the mean time, it is the end of the month which means I am joining Helen’s meme and recording where I have got to with my front garden.

Did I mention that weather has been a tad cold? Well my Spring border has been rather battered. One evening I was sat over dinner waving my hands enthusiastically at my wonderful Epimedium perralderianums, extoling the virtues of the beautiful foliage and pretty nodding pale yellow flowers. Next thing I know we have been battered by cold northerlies and suddenly the epimediums look like this:

epimedium perralderianum with scorched leaves

It had been quite dry in the preceding week, and although I had watered, the poor things hadn’t really had much chance to establish well, and boy does it show. I have no idea whether they will recover, but they are not the only casualty, the dwarf cherry copped it too, and it had been growing away really strongly.

salt-burned cherry

I know I wanted to use browns in the garden to echo the colour of the rocks etc., but I had coppery sedges in mind, not this. Thank goodness for the very vigorous Spanish bluebells, if not for them the Spring corner would be a very miserable sight right now.

Spring corner lacking spring

It isn’t all bad though, there is a distinct lack of slugs, and the hostas are perfect – and very happy indeed. As am I,about them, at least. I had hoped the gritty surface from the remains of the gravel mulch would proffer them some protection, but I honestly didn’t expect to see them so pristine, so I am going to enjoy them while I can!

Perfect hosta leaves

hosta and bluebells

Inbetween bouts of cleaning and bed changing, not to mention cooking of bread etc., I managed to order some plants which, with a wonderful bit of timing, arrived in a two day pause between visitors. So yes, I rather over did it for those two days, but some of these plants are making me positively wriggle with delight.

I am concentrating on planting the larger shrubs and perennials that will hopefully form the backbone of the two long borders nearest the house. For the fence border I was after plants that would provide an evergreen foil to the spindle and cotinus. I am aiming for a palette of blue (of course), bronze, pale yellow and white along here, with accents of acid green, so although the lovely Karen (An Artist’s Garden) has promised me some seedlings of Anemanthele lessoniana I succumbed to impatience and bought one so that I could start getting to know it. It was love at first sight.

anemanthele lessoniana

It is planted at the rather bare base of the spindle, along with a plant I have been lusting after for years, Euphorbia charachia ssp. wulfenii. I am excited about the contrast between the rather stiff blue-tinged euphorbia and the wafting grass, but of course at the moment it all looks rather pathetic. Not least because for once in my life I am attempting not to cram new plants so closely together that they have to be moved just one year on. I am hoping to have to wait for at least two! And I will find things to fill the gaps other than weeds…

anemanthele and euphorbia

Further along the fence border is an inherited photinia, Photinia davidiana ‘Palette’. It is semi-evergreen, which given the past winter and what was supposed to be Spring, means it is very bare, but the new leaves are a wonderful pinky-coppery colour.

new foliage of photinia davidiana palette-

Given that it is clearly not going to be reliably evergreen for me, I wanted something to anchor it, something architectural, as it is a rather delicate shrub. I was going to get a purple leaved phormium, but then I fell in love with one called ‘Alison Blackman’ which looked as if it might have exactly the right colours in its leaves to complement the gentle variegation of the photinia, as well as contrasting well with the cotinus on the other side. I was a bit nervous as I had only seen it in photographs, and it wasn’t the cheapest of plants, but I needn’t have worried. I know it won’t be to everybody’s taste, but it makes me smile, so there!

Phormium Alison Blackman

The fence border needs deepening and a lot more plants, but I am beginning to really like how it is coming together – scorched leaves not withstanding.

On the other side of the garden I am aiming for white, blue, silver and purple. I want a rather wafty feeling, lots of movement, and have planted a ribbon of the ubiquitous but lovely Verbena bonariensis towards the back with Ammi majus to fill in for the perennial Selinum tenuifolium which I am hoping to grow from seed over the winter. I have added a small block of another plant that has been on my lust list wishlist for several years, Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’, and am hoping that together they will help loosen up the rather stiff pair of hydrangeas that sit at the end of the baby escallonia hedge. I am still slightly ambivalent about the hydrangeas, but they definitely get to stay this year, I need some stature given how much of the rest of the planting is brand new and tiny. However, one can have too much waftiness, and given that I already have a purple elder with deeply dissected leaves and a tamarisk, I wanted something silvery but evergreen (!) as a contrast, to tie in with the pittosporum I posted about back in March. I fell for Euphorbia characias ‘White Swan’, thinking that it would balance the ‘wulfenii’ on the other side of the garden, but Plantify, who I bought the latest plants from, contacted me to say that they couldn’t get hold of it. The very charming lady that phoned suggested I try another euphorbia with pale flowers and creamy-margined leaves called ‘Blue’ saying that it was very similar but had in her opinion, a better, more upright and full, habit. She sent me a photograph and I was happy to give it a whirl. It is really pretty, so I am glad I took her advice. It is always hard buying plants you don’t know on line, but nowadays it is my only option, so finding companies like Plantify who provide well-packaged and healthy plants at a reasonable price is a great boon. They even delayed my order slightly because the first phormium they sourced for me was too tatty for them to feel happy about sending it out. They source British grown plants from nurseries all over the UK, and I have been happy with the plants and the service so far – and I have no tie in to them, I am just happy to recommend them. Anyway, back to that euphorbia.

euphorbia glauca blue

euphorbia glauca blue flowers

Like the fence border the new plants are barely visible, and the border needs deepening.

wall border

very small shrubs

It would also help if the strimmer I keep trying to buy actually arrived – the first I ordered got lost en route, and although I got a delivery date for the second it didn’t turn up and then I got a refund! No explanation, no apology, just a refund. I really, really need a strimmer…

We have a break from visitors for a while, and hopefully I can do some more work on the garden, although I also have work to do, a bathroom to plan, a kitchen to start ripping out, and I really want to read some blogs occasionally, not to mention go out in the kayak when it is sunny and sow some French beans in the kitchen garden. But I have more plants waiting in the wings, ready to be placed and planted…

Good things to come

Ah well, hopefully it won’t be another month before I visit your blog, or post again, but thank you Helen (The Patient Gardener) for hosting such a useful meme.

52 thoughts on “End of Month View May 2013

  1. You have been busy!!
    I know what you mean about hydrangeas. We inherited a couple which were wrongly positioned in a terraced garden and had completely outgrown it. They were a real pig to get out (requiring a winch) but miraculously both have survived. They are tough as old boots. In a larger bed, where they are viewed from a distance, they will do a job I think.
    Your garden is looking lovely in spite of the weather. Shame about the epimediums though. I hope they recover.

    1. I am a little gutted about the epimediums, but you are right about the hyrdrangeas, the lacecap I moved to the back of the Spring (hah!) border is thriving despite the salt spray and short drought. I still hope that sufficient waftiness will allow me to keep the mophead hydrangeas as a nod to seaside gardens everywhere.

  2. I do love all those blues!
    Not much we can do about the weather. Spring was colder than usual here, but we did have adequate rain. But Summer is coming with intense heat and scanty rain. Thankfully we live out in the countryside with our own well water. I couldn’t pay water system prices for all the water my gardens will need.
    Thanks for your visit and comment on my blog.
    Have a great week-end!
    Lea’s Menagerie
    Mississippi, USA

    1. Hi Lea, the blues do sing out, don’t they, unlike the poor epimediums. Lovely to have your own well. I thought we would have plenty of rain here, it being Wales, but it frequently passes us by. I sometimes get in to trouble for being happy that it is raining, but I need full water butts!

  3. You seem to have a lovely copper sheen running through your garden in many of your plants. It really does highlight the greens. I know how it is with the garden chores taking over your time. I still have some chores to do, but the big ones have been completed.

    1. I envy you having completed the big chores, that half-finished fence stares out at me reproachfully every day, but I’d even rather lift turf, at least that lets me plant more plants!

  4. Real life gets in the way of blogging eh! :) having visitors around is so nice though and worthwhile occupation.

    It’s coming along nicely, although we’ve just had an officially colder than normal spring things will catch up soon and be in synch again. Happy planting in between visitors!

    1. It has been lovely having visitors, they were all fun to have here, and it is always good to get out and play in the boats and go for walks. But goodness the chores mount up while all that is happening! Still, 6 weeks visitor-free (at the moment) so no excuses other than my inability to time manage effectively. I used to mentor people about time management. Seems rather hilarious now!

  5. Strangely the hostas we planted directly in the garden are surviving slugs at the moment – it won’t last – but some of the ones in pots are nibbled. Maybe the slugs have learned that hostas are always in that position and they haven’t spotted the ones in new locations yet. Are snails and slugs that clever though?

    1. I refuse to believe that slugs and snails are at all intelligent, the notion is just too frightening Sue! I shall enjoy the pristine leaves for as long as I can, because even when they were in pots they always got munched. Hanging baskets worked well, but needed lots of watering.

  6. Janet you sound like you have been having a lovely though busy time, I often find since blogging about my garden there is more time to blog in winter as not much is happening in the garden so not much to blog about! and the reverse at this time of year, when I blogged about textile stuff it was even through the year,

    sorry about all your browing plants but know that well, my flowering currants have burnt leaves and most of the flowers were burnt at the bud stage, something I read and use sometimes is to put a large stone on the windward side of young plants, it gives them some protection and doesn’t need to be very big just six inches high will protect the root and first few of inches of the plant,

    I like your silver and blue theme, you have come a long way from when you started such a short time ago,
    thanks for the info about the RHS pruning book by Brickell & Joyce, I looked at it when I was in Inverness a few weeks ago and some others the book shop had, I bought it and think it will be very helpful, Frances

    1. Hi Frances, I know I am not alone in struggling to keep up with blogging at this time of year, and yes, it is ironic that it happens just when there is so much to talk about! Hope the pruning book is useful, I certainly find it invaluable, though I am also learning to sometimes just throw the book out and try something out too.

    1. Our most recent visitors were bil and sil who had just been to the Maldives to celebrate 20 years of marriage. They too the most amazing under water photos with their waterproof camera, including an octopus that looked like a bundle of string. The nearest I will get is photos of kelp when I go snorkelling!

  7. Hi Janet,

    Wow, has it really been that cold up your way? May’s been generally OK here.
    So sorry to see your Epimediums burnt so badly! Surprising as your garden seems generally quite sheltered.
    Loving your F-M-Ns :)
    I have a Pheasant’s tail grass seedling in a pot I could’ve sent you ;) didn’t realise you were coveting it! It’s been in there a few years now and could probably do with being planted if I’m honest…

    Hopefully the weather will get better for you and no need to wrap up on the beach anymore :D

    1. Hi Liz, it was down to 5C in the greenhouse again last night, no wonder the tomatoes are only just setting fruit! I think it was the northerlies that did for the epimediums, exposing the view has removed some of the shelter from that wind direction, and although I picked this particular epimedium because it is one of the toughest, it wasn’t yet established enough to cope.

      The FMNs have been a joy, did you say something about burying the whole seeding plant to get them to come up again in a place of your choosing? That is the next task as they start to go over. And hey, if you still want a home for your Pheasant’s Tail I will certainly be able to give it one, is it still small enough to try posting?

      1. Hi Janet,

        I think you’re doing well to have Tomatoes setting fruit at this time of year tbh. Just trying to think back to previous years and my toms and I’m pretty sure they set fruit later than this. But they are always grown outdoors…

        Still hoping your Epimediums survive! They may look bad, but just like my Hellebores which looked pretty much dead – they may surprise you and develop some growth! Hope you’ve had nice weather this weekend; here as been fine and it set to be nice for the next week or so.

        You shouldn’t really need to bury the F-M-Ns tbh, they clearly already like your soil so they will likely set seed – they probably already have begun to sprout under the larger plants. I have seedlings already growing now in my borders ready for next year.
        The Pheasant’s tail grass is in a small pot – the ones you get hanging basket type plants in. It’s relatively tall, but the blades will easily bend. I’ll try to remember to take a photo so you can see.

  8. Your poor plants in all that wind, it was wicked wasn’t it while it lasted, pretty windy today too now I come to think about it. Your epimedium should be ok. it should sprout again if you cut it back, they seem to be quite tough. You have made an amazing difference to your front garden, really in no time at all, you deserve a rest in between your visitors and gardening!

    1. Hi Pauline, I noticed yesterday that even the very long established plum in the front garden has browned leaves from the wind, it was wicked – and I can barely see out of some of the windows at the front for the salt spray! I am hopeful about the epimediums, though I haven’t cut them back yet in the hope that the bits of green in some of the leaves will help the plants establish quicker. Alas, no sign of much resting, we have Great Works indoors to organise which I fear is going to get in the way of the gardening too.

  9. Hi Janet, really annoying that your Epimediums have been damaged like this. Considering how far north we are, I am more inclined to think salt spray rather than the cold is the culprit. So much to do outdoors its not so easy to fit in much time for blogging stuff. Love the phormium, everyone should have a bit of variegation.

    1. Hi Alistair, I am certain it is more the salt than anything, and I think if they had been established longer they would have been OK anyway, but now it is a case of waiting to see if they will shrug off the damage and put on new growth. Glad you like the phormium, I love it, I find the striping rather elegant.

  10. has it been too cold even for slugs Janet? like you, am pleased with the lush hostas. Had not realised that horny goat aka epimediums were as susceptible as that. Hope everything picks up soon – we’ve 5 days of summer on the way so time enough for the dingy perhaps.Your life is certainly full and varied which is a good sign regardless of the brown patches!

    1. Hi Laura, I am certainly never bored here, the challenge is managing time and energy. The much talked about summer seems to be avoiding us so far today, cool and overcast, in fact it was down to 5C in the greenhouse again last night, but hopefully it will be sunny this afternoon by which time I aim to have earned a paddle in the kayak at least! The browning on the leaves is widespread out the front, and just shows how sheltered the garden had become before I hacked back the shrubbery to reveal the view. Finishing the fence will help, but once the epimediums have established they should cope fine too.

  11. Such a pity about the Epimediums but I reckon they will come back next year. Maybe they need a more sheltered location.
    Your location sounds and looks wonderful
    Thanks for joining in again this month

    1. Hi Helen, I am peering at the epimediums most days, looking for signs of new growth – I think at least some of them will recover, but it is a lesson in why I need to get the fence finished, even if it isn’t the most exciting of jobs, the extra shelter from the salt-laden winds will be a boon to new plantings.

  12. You’ve certainly been kept busy with visitors Janet, you will be relishing some quiet time I think!
    Your Epimediums have certainly taken a battering! I like the colour of your Phormium – it looks good against the colour of your fence. A great choice I think!
    I have a very similar Euphorbia called White Swan. It’s the only one that survived last year’s dreadful wet but doesn’t seem like it’s going to flower this year! I’ve noticed a distinct lack of slug activity so far this year too. I don’t think my hostas have looked so good!

    1. Hi Angie, I am really enjoying the phormium against the fence, but there again the black is a perfect foil for all plants. ‘White Swan’ was the one I ordered originally, but wasn’t available. Hope you get a surprise and it flowers for you, so many things are late thanks to the cold Spring.

  13. Lost in admiration for your slug-free hostas. Slugs move in mysterious ways – one that was completely ignored last year has already been eaten and their usual favourite (the so-called slug-resistant Frances Williams) has been ignored. I checked out Plantify and you have bought me to the end of several weeks of searching for irises that were still available for delivery so thank you!

    1. Hi Claire, glad Plantify look as if they can satisfy your iris cravings! I bunged the hostas in the ground because I felt that, after 4 years in pots, they deserved a chance, but I didn’t really expect them to thrive as they seem to be. Mind you, as you illustrate, it could be a completely different story next year…

  14. With birthday money I purchased a waterproof camera case last summer. I am now able to take my good camera on some of my kayaking trips with less worry. I am still very careful about when and where I pull it out. bit it has been one of my best investments.

    1. Hi Les, given the wonderful photos you take of your trips, I am glad you did that! I am pretty sure we will get a cheap waterproof camera, as it will let us take photos on the beach and cliffs too without worrying overly much about water, sand etc. We have dry sacs for the kayaks.

  15. Crumbs – I’m exhausted just from reading your post, you’ve been so busy – you must be shattered!

    Delighted to hear your salad days are here, even if those cruel winds have turned some of your other cherished planting brown.

    1. I am indeed shattered, but the current sunny weather makes lying in a hammock planning the gardening I am going to do once I have energy again a positive pleasure, and I can’t see the weeds either, just the sky!

  16. A most enjoyable post with plenty of good photos. It certainly makes a change to see some pristine hostas!
    Seeing what the month was like for you, what with visitors and poor weather, I think that you’ve done really well.
    Let’s hope that this month sees some sunshine and warmth for all of us. Flighty xx

    1. Hi Flighty, I am enjoying the current run of sunny weather, though the rain butts are getting empty faster than I would like! Hopefully the sweetcorn and courgettes will lap it all up and deliver excellent harvests…

  17. May did sound a busy month for you! I’m glad you’ve a break coming up, and that you spent some time lying on the beach (even thought it looked cold!) I’m sorry to hear your spring border suffered in the weather. Spanish bluebells have given some welcome colour to areas of my garden, too (where it was lacking) and I agree about Hydrangeas; I wouldn’t touch them for years but I’m converted to them now (in a small way!), and even ended up planting my first one a couple of years ago.

    1. Hi Wendy, the photo was actually of my bil and sil, and since they left the weather has warmed up considerably! An evening kayak in just a T shirt was OK yesterday. Perfect. Hope your new hydrangea thrives.

  18. Well perhaps it was a good time for visitors since the garden weather was not cooperating. We had hot weather followed by cold, followed by hot and so on and so on……but the garden is growing here and so are my weeds….I really am liking the fence border as well…here’s to better weather for gardening!

    1. Hi Donna, funny how it is that the weeds always seem to thrive even when the weather is confusing our garden plants! I am looking forward to getting to the next stage of the fence border, much turf lifting and soil improvement required.

  19. It has been a busy month indeed, so hard to fit in work and house-chores and gardening and visiting and being visited… as well as keeping up with posts. Glad that you have found time to relax on the beach with a good book and a great view (bliss).
    Love your clouds of forget-me-nots and pristine hosta. Ours are looking distinctly nibbled around the edges already.

    1. Hi Sara, sorry about your hostas, mine are still whole, which is a shock, since I was certain I would be digging them up in disgust just as I always did in my last garden! Gorgeous weather at the moment, so much so that digging needs to be a morning or evening activity, hope you are enjoying your garden too. My meal planning is currently all based on being as quick and easy as possible to allow me time to loll in the hammock or do a little weeding out the front once a breeze sets in. Magical.

      1. My hostas are looking a bit less tatty than last year, when I almost ripped them out – but there are definitely signs of munching. Everything around them has grown so lush and overlapping that it’s gastropod heaven, and they’re hard to defend against! It generally all looks pretty good though.

        We like to have a quick tea too on a sunny evening, and spend as much time outside as possible. Last night, my husband was replacing the carburettor on the lawnmower and giving the lawns a much needed cut (huzzah it fixed the mower’s problems), while I was weeding the borders and moving things on in the greenhouse till gone 9. A perfect way to end a long day. I’m looking forward to getting out again this evening.

  20. The forget-me-nots bring the sea into your garden. At least you have the whole beach to yourself when the weather is not so good. I like the muted colours of Alison Blackman, it certainly can’t be called wafty.

    1. Hi b-a-g, I am loving the blues in the garden and am determined to keep the theme going through the year. And one of the wonderful things about living on the quietest part of a quiet Island is that even when the weather is perfect and the schools are out, it never gets busy. You are right about Alison, nothing wafty about her…

  21. But at least you didn’t have to tell us that your garden had disappeared into a crack that appeared in the ground after the earthquake! I assume you must have felt it on Anglesey? You have been so busy with your visitors and have clearly relished being allowed out again to catch up on your garden – so much going on, and what a shame about the epimediums but I suppose you are gradually learning which plants will feel the brunt of the . Good to have you posting again!

    1. Hi Cathy, glad to be back (ish). Actually we slept through the earthquake and looking at the maps I think we would have missed it even had we been awake, we are too far away! That’s the second time I have missed one, last time someone I was working with actually fell out of bed.

      As to the epimediums, one is already showing new growth, so my fingers are firmly crossed, from my reading once they are established they will be fine, but new plantings can struggle with the salt-laden winds.

  22. I was slightly worried about the first photo of your EOMV post Janet – it has a certain hint of Reggie Perrin about it! You must not castigate yourself – you are certainly not a bad blogger – far from it! Sorry to read about the leaf scorching – must be one of the downsides of living near to the sea but there must be so many more pluses than minuses. Love the look of your new phormium. Have fun planting all your other new plants :)

    1. Hi Anna, thank you for making me giggle! The kayaks are great fun, even when we are really tired they are perfect for just bobbing around in, perfect for catching up with one another. Planting new things is so much fun, isn’t it, you seem to be enjoying your new border too, I am just gathering myself for a fresh onslaught to widen the borders and get more plants in the ground, they are needing too much watering at the moment. Not that I am complaining about finally having some summer!

  23. Sounds like you’ve been busy. I know what you mean about struggling to find time to blog. I miss it when I don’t but I could do with a few extra hours at the moment. The wind has been causing havoc for me too. I’m growing ornamental hops and they haven’t like the wing at all. It’s so sad to see scorched foliage. I’m just hoping they’ll grow through it. Plantify sound good. I’ll have to look them up. Hope you get the chance in this lovely weather to do some more gardening.

    1. Hi WW, I am strangely comforted by the sight of the scorched foliage on the hawthorn growing in the hedgerow just below our house. Is that weird?! The weather has been glorious, too hot for energetic gardening in the middle of the day. The only thing I would change is to add some gentle rain over night, just to fill up the water butts.

  24. I expect living by the sea brings all sorts of different challenges for the keen gardener – but it wouldn’t do just to keep your head down in the borders, at least having visitors gives you a bit of a break from garden planning – I wonder how different your garden will look this time next year.

    1. Hi Elaine, I agree, vital to keep popping up and smelling, if not the roses, then the sea air, and preferably from the beach or a kayak bobbing in the bay! Besides, this glorious weather might be it for a while, so I am enjoying it and our surroundings as much as I can.

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