Wordless Wednesday: Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureomaculatum’

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Still got the Blues…

…and I’m not talking about the weather here.

Spring has arrived but as for the good weather….well we are still waiting. I am wondering if I will be able to remove the snow plough from our tractor before Easter….I very much doubt it!

Nope instead I’m talking about the colour blue. Some of the most striking plants in the garden come with the colour blue.

“Blue is the only color which maintains its own character in all its tones… it will always stay blue; whereas yellow is blackened in its shades, and fades away when lightened; red when darkened becomes brown, and diluted with white is no longer red, but another color – pink.” –Raoul Dufy

Blue is considered a cool colour and it’s effect can be calming, soothing and harmonious  in a garden, as well as aiding intuition. For me, it fits in well with most colour schemes in the garden, especially working well with orange (I don’t believe I just said that).

Blue flowers can vary from pale blue through to the deep blues, including many of our garden favourites: Iris, Delphinium, Agapanthus, Allium and Echinops; but for me the one that has the most striking of all the blue flowers is the small but striking…..Gentiana, some say the queen of all the alpines.

Gentiana verna

It may be small but it has a large genus with over several hundred species, it is truly beautiful, but some can be a little troublesome to grow.

Gentiana angustifolia

The next plant is one of my all time favourites, definitely in my top five ….

Salvia guarantica ‘Blue Enigma’

Salvia guarantica ‘Blue Enigma’ can grow to 1.5 metres in height and flowers all through the summer right till the end of the autumn. It is a must have perennial.

Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’

This one is a beautiful tall upright perennial, that would look good in any herbaceous border, it is dead easy to grow as well.

Allium caeruleum

Allium caeruleum is a scented bulbous herbaceous perennial, growing to a height of approximately 80cm, flowering in early summer.

Delphinium ‘Guardian Blue’

Now we can’t forget about Delphiniums, several to choose from here but one in particular is a right little beauty and that is Delphinium ‘Guardian Blue’. Flowering in June/July this blue/purple Delphinium is a wonderful addition to any border.

Lobelia ‘Cambridge Blue’

As for the annuals, you can’t beat Lobelia. Many blues to choose from here but I had to put in ‘Cambridge Blue’.

So there you have it, plenty of blue flowering plants you can add to your garden and I didn’t even mention the ‘Blue Spruces’ and ‘Blue bamboos’ you can get.  Although I couldn’t go without adding some sort of musical connection. I very nearly turned this into a ‘Rock Garden’ post, with a Blues connection of course.

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Rosa ‘Blue for You’

So this is a beautiful Floribunda Rose that will flower from May right through till September.

A Status Quo song and album released in 1976.

And…….

Wordless Wednesday: Garrya elliptica

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The Cornelian Cherry.

Cornus mas (Dogwood), one of the most stunning of all winter flowering shrubs. For me, this plant certainly has the X Factor, we are very lucky to have several in the gardens at Trinity and thankfully….no Louis Walsh’s.

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It is a large shrub or small deciduous tree, that has the most beautiful small yellow flowers from February through to March. The flowers are borne on the bare branches and glow like little yellow stars, against the gloom of any dull February/March day.

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The older specimens we have in the garden, have a wonderful gnarly look about them when not in leaf, throw in the sprays of the delicate yellow flower later in the winter and you have a true winner.

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The old wood of this shrub/tree is very dense and has been used for making tool handles. Cornus mas has also been used from the seventh century BC by the Greeks to make spears and bows, their craftsmen considered it far superior to any other wood.

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A cracking plant when not in leaf but also….still a true winner when in leaf. The green oval leaves turn a beautiful red/purple colour in the autumn. It produces small red edible berries that ripen in the late summer.

So there you have it, a must have plant if you have a big enough garden, if not….there is always Bonsai.

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Carry on Gardening!

If you haven’t read the post ‘Do Gardeners Hibernate’, it might be best that you read that one first as this one may make a little more sense having read it …. not that any of my posts make any sense.

Now officially, spring starts on the 20th March and us gardeners are ready and waiting for the starting pistol to fire and start off the gardening season. Although, there is always that risk it will go off prematurely (and I do mean the starting pistol) because as we all know, March can go either way. We come flying out of the blocks at the first warm sunny day, announcing that winter is over, only to have it come flying right back at us.

“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.”  ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

All around us, parts of the garden are beginning to wake …. including some of us gardeners.

As you would have read in ‘Do Gardeners Hibernate’, for the past few months us gardeners have been in hibernation, after handing our gardens over to those busy little elves. We are now ready to take charge of the gardens once again, so the elves can go back and put their feet up for a few months before they have to come back in the winter.

Before we send them on their way, we could get them to give us a hand in the garden (it will be only us who can see them, so our little secret won’t get out). Also, if the weather did turn again for the worst and it got too cold for us gardeners to do anything, we could give it back to the elves while we bugger off and have a kip.

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colours, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.”  ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

As we know with March it can either be: too windy, too cold, too wet, or too warm; it can rain, sleet, or snow or as with last year it can be very dry … even though the rest of the year made up for it! So we don’t want to lose the elves help completely …. not just yet anyway. We still may get the odd day/week where we can do very little …. or so what some may think.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”  ~Anne Bradstreet

Now lets not get too silly with this because just as with the winter, there is always plenty of things to do. Things really do start to get interesting at this time of year. I often think of March as the start of the seed sowing season. Obviously there are a few early ones sown in Jan/Feb; with the vegetables we have, Artichokes, Beans, Cabbage etc and a few of the annuals, but it is March into April when the fun really begins.

Now for the large areas of green stuff that has given me many a sleepless night. March, depending on the weather conditions can be a busy month for the lawn and along with April, these can be the most important months for lawn care. With the right programme/decisions for the lawns in these two months, you stand a good chance on keeping on top of the lawn for the rest of the year. March is often the month to give a lawn it’s first cut, we have already given most of our lawns there first cut in February, I only recommend you tip the lawn in the early part of the season. Other jobs for the lawn: selective weed killers, soluble iron, aeration, scarifying, fertilising, seed/turfing, top dress and keep an eye out for those fungal problems. With all the rain we had last year, I noticed more fungal problems in the lawns …. than any other year. Some say you should leave the scarifying until April, but if those weather conditions are right, sod it and go for the early one. With the warmer nights and the spring ferty applied, the new shoots will soon come through; you can always keep it too a light scarify if you are not sure.

There are many other jobs we can start doing this month, including: Lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials; plant summer-flowering bulbs; finish planting any perennials; pruning; cut back Cornus and Salix  grown that are grown for their colourful winter stems and if it is really warm …. open them vents on the glasshouse.

As we head further into March, I think we can safely send them elves on their way. We will still get frosty nights and cold raw days when the wind cuts right through you, but I feel we are away from the worst of the cold weather …. famous last words.

There is one elf that may hang around, a rather tall elf at 6’4, always wears a hat, has been known to be a tadd naughty and listens to a lot of heavy metal music…..

There is/was another more famous elf I thought I could give a mention too in this post, a true heavy metal elf …. mention? I meant ear-worm….

All the pictures are not mine …. and were pinched off the internet.