The Garden at Crows' Nest

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Uninvited guests

I've had a lot of luck with random plants accidentally sowing themselves in the garden, both front and back - one of the highlights in the front right now (and one of the few plants not to be entirely swamped by the rampant lavender) is this snapdragon, which appeared out of nowhere last year and is looking even better now. Apart from the ubiquitous perennial cornflowers and the yellow corydalis, there are also some love-in-a-mists which have grown up under the palm tree, one of the few plants that can actually survive in that soil (photo a bit blurry, alas).

The funniest visitor, though, has turned up underneath the bird table, and is liable to be pulled up very shortly before I get arrested... what do they put in that birdseed??

Blooming marvellous

Bit behind with this (mainly due to a holiday followed by a missing camera charger, which has now turned up) - so here's a quick look at the state of the garden as it is now, plus a few of the flowers that have come out over the last couple of months...

The clematis - supposedly it's a "multi blue" but lacks the multi-ness, so I suspect it may have been mislabelled.

The mossy saxifrage is doing pretty well in the wall - this pic is from May, and since then it's produced loads more flowers, in fact it's doing rather better than its siblings which were planted in the proper flower beds!

This aquilegia was one of the bare-root ones that I planted in the front, and the only one to have successfully flowered (the soil quality is awful, I think the palm tree just hoovers up all the nutrients). This flower was absolutely lovely for a few days until the bastard squirrels decided to bite the stalk off. Gah!

In the pots in the back, there are currently some magnificent orange lilies and a purple anemone (I planted several anemone bulbs but only this one has flowered so far); the sweetpeas are also starting to come out and are really beautiful.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Things start to bloom

Lots more colour in the garden now. All the violas are putting on a fantastic show, and quite a few of the other plants I've put in (like these pinks) are also blooming nicely. You might notice a few more plants in around the pond now too - I've added a Spiraea Japonica and a New Zealand Tea Tree, as well as the gypsophila that have now turned up (the asters are also in, but as bare-root plants there's not much to see just yet).

The first of the perennial cornflowers has also bloomed (at last - thank you, squirrels), it's a tragedy how many buds those blasted rodents have eaten. Also, a couple of random aquilegias seem to have turned up in the log garden, must have seeded themselves from next door or something.

Lastly, the first of the hedge plants has started to flower - it's just the spindle, whose flowers are tiny and green, but good to see the hedge settling in well enough to start flowering.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Bit of a tidy up

Ah, doesn't it look all nice and clean? All I need now is for that pesky clematis to cover the first trellis and hide the bins... not much new to report, other than a general sweep up and minor reorganisation; some plants have got a bit bigger, some are new (but too small to see really), some have been chewed by snails... things are generally good though.

Apart from the squirrel-damage, the front garden is also perking up and there are some actual flowers out there too now (well, a few, anyway) - the first of the meadow flowers has also started blooming, though it's not really impressive enough to bother photographing. The lilies and liatris are doing really well and even the hedge is starting to look less like a row of sticks. The pieris flowers have mostly faded now but it's sprouting some fantastic red leaves at the top, it's a great little plant.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

State of play at Easter

The three remaining tulips. There should have been about 8, and I wanted to hold off photographing them until the perennial cornflowers were out as they looked very good together last year, but the squirrels have been busy biting the tulip heads off and have also massacred the cornflowers, so this may be all the show we get this year. Little bastards.

I've now got a few more plants in the back garden - most of my Van Meuwens order has turned up now, and I've picked up a few more here and there from Homebase, the farmers' market, etc. There are 3 Asiatic Lilies in the big tub, plus some violas in the smaller pots; in the big flower bed there are three fuschias, a dianthus and an aquilegia.

There are also a few bulbs in the pots - some crocosmia Lucifer and some anemones, but no sign of any of them emerging yet.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Introducing the front garden

OK, it looks like a bit of a mess, but that's kind of the idea. This isn't the best angle to view it from, but I had to step back quite a bit to get the full height of the palm tree in.
The tree, along with the bigger yellowy-green euonymus to the left, were the only plants that we inherited from the previous owners - the rest of the front garden was entirely paved over. One of the first jobs I did after moving in was to pull up most of the slabs - luckily they hadn't been put down particularly securely so the main hassle was just wheeling them down the hill, then back up the other side to dump them in the skip behind the house. We only had the skip for a weekend, though, so the few leftover slabs got piled up along the left side, making the raised bank. It's still not entirely stable and the soil still tends to vanish after a while, but I'm hoping that all the shrubs I planted there will eventually hold it all in place with their roots.

Under the tree, there are a few tulips and perennial cornflowers, plus a little conifer that we had in the garden in Brighton, making a nice bit of colour before the actual flowers come out. This whole front flowerbed area is infested with Lords & Ladies (as well as dandelions, willowherb and other persistent weeds) so I'm hoping to get some ground-cover down this year to keep that under control.

The left-hand beds mainly have lavender in, with some shrubs (including the pieris, pictured, one of the only flowers out at the moment) at the back and some heathers at the front, all of which went in last year and seem to be doing pretty well. By the window there are a lot of lilies and liatris which are just starting to sprout, as well as some mysterious other bulbs that only seem to produce long, tubular leaves. I planted all of these last year, and have completely forgotten what the Mystery Bulbs are supposed to be - I vaguely recall they may have been irises, but without any flowers to show for it, it's possible that they're just onions or something.

Along the right is what will, eventually, be a hedge; at the moment it's just a bunch of sticks. Starting at the house and moving forwards, it goes Dogwood-Hawthorn-Spindle-Hawthorn-Honeysuckle-Hawthorn-Guelder Rose-Hawthorn-Hazel-Hawthorn-Blackthorn-Potentilla Fruticosa. Entirely unimpressive at the moment but should be better once they get proper leaves on.

The patchy grassy bit in the middle is actually the world's smallest meadow, which is sown with various wildflower seeds as well as all the birdseed that's fallen off the bird table and been missed by the squirrels. Should look better once they all start growing a bit.

Introducing the back garden

Again, it would have been much better if I'd thought to start this blog when the garden was still just a boring mass of paving slabs, but tis too late now.

Rather unfortunately, the greenery-hating previous owners had done a proper job with the back garden paving, so pulling up the slabs was not an option. We only managed to take one of them up (just below the stone wall on the left, containing silver birch sapling) and that took an entire day with a road-breaking drill, so doing the whole garden was not an option. Instead, I bought a load of limestone blocks and built some raised beds, which doesn't look too bad.

Along the fence to the left are a few wild roses (dogrose and sweetbriar) that should start scrambling through the trellis once it gets a bit warmer; there are also a couple of winter jasmine plants, a honeysuckle, a (very small) star jasmine), a clematis (Multi Blue) and a climbing hydrangea. Hopefully they won't all die again when the winter comes round - the back garden is on the north side and parts of it are completely in the shade for much of the year.

On the back wall I've put a few raspberry plants in, but the eventual aim is to have a Passionflower vine growing over that trellis. The big plant you can see on the back wall is a Buddleia, which had seeded itself in a tiny paving crack - it's nice for the butterflies so I've kept it. The box on the wall is a ladybird house (so far no ladybirds though).

In the darkest, shadiest corner of the garden there's a mini log garden, as recommended by my "Attracting Wildlife To Your Garden" book. The idea is to let some logs rot away in a corner, to provide a home for beetles and the like. The only difficulty here is keeping the less-wild wildlife away from the sticks, as a certain brown predator loves to steal them to play with...