Winter cheer by claire greener

In the grey of winter these other worldly looking flowers make your soul sing.   The colour and scent of the witch hazel at this time of year heralds spring and makes you hope of more good things in the garden.    Strangely,  these early months are becoming among my favourite in the garden, and the plants I am chosing at home are becoming more geared to bringing cheer and scent at this otherwise seemingly dormant, dark time of year.  

Hamamelis × intermedia 'Jelena' - a beautiful 'rust' coloured witch hazel shining out in the gloom.

Hamamelis × intermedia 'Jelena' - a beautiful 'rust' coloured witch hazel shining out in the gloom.

Hamamelis × intermedia 'Pallida' - probably the finest scent I've come across - and the yellow is a knock out punch

Autumn Colour by claire greener

Just as most things in the garden are dying back the witch hazel begins to shine,  along with a last effort from the sedums and the prunus incisa...  

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FIGS! by claire greener

So many, and so, so sweet.  Nothing from a shop comes close, but trying to get the kids to eat the unusual looking flesh is proving a challenge.  I think this year I may need to make fig jam...   There is so much other lovely stuff to eat coming along, runner beans, courgettes, maybe a multi-produce chutney is in order...?

July Poppy Genetics... by claire greener

I love the riddle of which Poppy will appear this year.  These started as blousy- pink, multi-ruffed petaled poppies from my Grandmother's seeds.  They came to me via my parent's garden and often revert to the original opium poppy original, purple and single petaled.   This one is one of this years';  a simple beauty with its ragged edges - I'm quite glad the pink has mostly receded away - I'm not sure poppy's should really be that blousy or saccharine...

June + July beauty by claire greener

An ambition of this London garden has been to squeeze in the old English roses, en masse, I remember from being a girl, and to somehow mitigate the lack of fragrance in city life.   These have been bountiful, and repeat flowering this year, and truly provided the face burying quantities of petals that I had dreamed of since childhood. 

Garden helpers - by claire greener

Plenty of seedlings + not enough space = remove a bit more lawn. 

A bit of garden restructuring to allow the artichoke, sweet peas and the angelica room to grow.  Playmobil emergency squad out in force to help with the work, and help upend the red ant's nest.

Finally Blooming by claire greener

The Claire Rose.   My Grandmother always grew one of these in my honour, and tried to give me cuttings which never took.  Now, with her gone I have one, which even though we do not share a name, reminds me of her and my Grandfather.  For the last few years it has not taken, and it has seemed as though it is planted in the wrong spot.  This year, the second summer since she died, it is in full glory and it is really a beauty.  It is beginning to climb, and its white blooms are set off beautifully by the Garrya elliptica next door.  

Didi + Bill's Rose

Didi + Bill's Rose

A new garden visitor for June by claire greener

Looks like more night time insect collection is required.   These are among the most spectacular caterpillars I have ever seen - they are currently defoliating our apple tree at a rate of knots...
so, they are as ferocious as they look! 

Rusty Tussock or Vapourer Moths

Rusty Tussock or Vapourer Moths

Pesky Rosemary Beetles by claire greener

I had to look these up as I'd not seen them before - they are rather beautiful with their stripes, and a treat for the kids to spot, but devastation...  my poor rosemary is not well - and it seems lavender and fennel are equally attractive.   The hunt is on.

The Royal Horticultural Society is trying to research which parts of the country they have reached - take part here:   rhs rosemary beetle research

March (+ April + seedheads forming in May) - Always a treat - the king of the fritillaries is with us. by claire greener

Ours is even managing to look majestic after a slug has tried to have a nibble.

Ours is even managing to look majestic after a slug has tried to have a nibble.

Fritillaria imperialis is not everyone's favourite, I think some might describe its scent as 'musky', it is definitely distinctive- but as bulbs go, it is not a flash in the pan.   So many disappoint.  You plan in autumn, thinking they will be lovely, dream of them through the winter only to find they are with you for a matter of days.   This Fritillaria lasts and brings great colour and structure to a still pretty bare border after winter.