Category Archives: blue

Blue poppies and tiny coffins

botanic gardenThis morning we looked out the window at blue skies and decided to go to the Royal Botanic Garden while the weather held.  We walked over to the North Bridge and picked up the bus, with a bit of help from the kilt-clad man at the door of the Balmoral Hotel.  When the ticket taker told us the blue poppies were in bloom, that was all I needed to hear. They have a reputation for being extremely difficult to grow, and because they come from Nepal or China or somewhere I did not expect ever to see them.  They were amazing, so blue and so many of them. blue poppiesThey were even more enchanting close up.blue poppies 2

I’m not actually sure that I like that shade of blue, but no matter- we saw them in abundance and that was enough.  (Note that I have since seen them at Kildrummy Gardens among others, so they must not be so rare on this side of the Atlantic.)

As usual, I was struck by the perfect edging and the low-cut grass with tiny daisies, quintessentially British to my American eye.  In addition, we saw the glass houses with lots of begonias and orchids. I could become a begonia collector without too much difficulty… begoniabegonia2begonia3A few more images that took my fancy:

These beautiful water lilieswater lilies

A monkey puzzle tree, just like in books!monkey puzzle

And a Seussian primula.  I wish I could grow these, but they prefer more water than Virginia usually provides.primula

Had a sandwich lunch outside at the cafe with three of my favorite things,  lunch

and walked to the bus stop.  A very nice young woman with her young daughter helped us to find the right stop to get off at the National Museum of Scotland.  

Here, fading just a bit, we wanted to see the early people (Neolithics), the Lewis chessmen, and the strange coffins of dolls found on Arthur’s seat in the nineteenth century and never fully explained.  We saw them all.  The Neolithic stuff was organized by topic so was a bit hard to follow, but we looked for items found on Orkney and found quite a bit.  Here, for example, is a comb from the Brough of Birsay, combthough the majority of items were made of stone.  Those who are interested can find more images of objects here by searching for Orkney.  The Lewis chessmen were as charming as ever, and the strange little coffins  were just as mysterious as ever (though you can find details on what we do know in this article).  coffins A quick tea and cake in the cafe and back home again.  Dinner was next door at Badger, named in honor of the Wind in the WIllows because Kenneth Grahame was born next door at our B&B  and they are both capitalizing on this fact.  It was nice to come downstairs and just have dinner next door – game pie for me (watch out for pieces of shot!) and cheese plate for dessert – while surrounded by charming badger memorabilia.  badgerThen home to pack in prep for leaving tomorrow.

Spring sowing

Poppies, both buttercream and the classic WWI variety, were a great success, sowed in late February and blooming in mid- to late May.red poppies

buttercream poppiesMeanwhile, as you can see from the fallen petals above, the columbines self-sowed with great vigor.  You would hardly know that the great culling of 2016 had ever taken place!  Here’s the sunny garden, still chock full of blue columbines (plus the purple allium ‘Sensation,’ I think).blue columbines I am continuing to pull them out once they’ve seeded, so I’m probably not making much progress…  I do try to shake the interesting colored ones, like this white one, in hopes that they’ll spread and grow next year.white columbine

Additional seeds are sugar snap ‘Anna,’ doing very well this year after a slow start (I sowed them in February but they didn’t do anything for about a month); zinnias and cosmos; and some vines for the trellises.  They’re up but not doing much yet.

Spring Bulb Recap…

…which is a nice way of saying that I have neglected this blog in favor of the faster blip of Instagram posts.  The original purpose of the blog was to document my garden so that I could learn from my mistakes and notice changes.  Of course, over time I’ve included travels and quilting, but in the original spirit of things, here’s a whirlwind tour of what happened this spring.

When Your Plan Actually Works

The ‘Tête‑à‑tête’ daffodils did just what they were supposed to: add color to the early spring garden in front.  As a bonus, they bloomed with the grape hyacinths, great color combo.  These were perfect and I may get more to add under the maple tree next year.  tete-a-tetes

I love the English bluebells with the pale yellow daffodil ‘Sun Disc.”  Every few years they actually bloom together the way they are supposed to, and this was one of the years.bluebells and daffodils

When You Had No Plan and It Still Works

These pink tulips (French single late from WFF?) beautifully echoed the pale pink viburnum ‘Judd.’  I did not realize I was doing this but will take all the credit for it anyway.  Will they bloom at the same time next year?  We’ll see.

Viburnum and tulips

The yellow hostas and yellow ‘West Point’ are another striking combination for which I will also take )unwarranted) credit.westpoint2

Old Favorites Do Well

These are Tommy crocuses caught in just the right amount of sunshine.Tommies

And these are my favorite lily-flowered tulips, ‘West Point,’ that go on year after year.  I hope these do the same even though they’re in a pot.Westpoint

Echoing Ruth Krauss, daffodils are to give everybody enough.daffodils for cutting

Sometimes There’s a Mystery

The ipheion in the walkway bed seem to have petered out, so I ordered more.  Here is one, looking a bit different from the originals, in the bed by the sidewalk.  So I think it’s ipheion ‘Constellation of Blue Stars’ but maybe not?Ipheion maybe

For next year:  more anemone blanda, especially under the maple tree.  I also added more trout lilies and English bluebells under the oak tree, and that was a Good Thing.

The Great Culling of 2016

Years and years ago, Mom gave me some of her columbines, mostly blue, and they happily grew and self-seeded throughout the garden.  The bees love them (as you can see below), they provide a sea of blue in April and May, and they fill in lots of gaps.

Bees on the columbine

Bees on the columbine

But this year I looked around and realized that the columbines had taken over.  They were EVERYWHERE, leaving no room for what had been purposely planted and no room for any new plantings or annual seedlings.  Time for the great culling!

I learned quickly that although they have self-seeded, many must have come back every year, digging their fleshy roots even deeper into the ground.  Here’s just one pile of uprooted plants, sent to the compost pile (where they will doubtless self-seed again).columbines in compost

If you look closely, you can see how big some of those roots are.

I started in the sunny border, then moved on to the front side garden (underneath the bedroom windows) and finally turned to the walkway garden.  To see what a difference it makes, here is a before picture of the walkway garden:columbines before

All those upright stems are seedheads, ready to start the cycle over again.  But after the culling you see this:after columbines

I’ve planted three Juno hostas and you can actually see them now.  The calla lilies, which I got as a freeby with a bulb order years ago, have room to grow and might even bloom this year.  The bare ground I’ve sowed with zinnias in hopes that they will fill in and add some color.  A very satisfactory result.

Bloom Day March 2016

A drizzly morning is good for the garden and good for garden photos.  In bloom today, after a very warm week last week and just a bit of welcome rain this week, are:

grape hyacinths – modest little bulbs but I want to add more for a sea of blue.  I like the contrast with the red blossoms from the maple.IMG_20160315_093458

hellebore – one of the most satisfying of perennials, these come in several colors and postures

daffodils – the cutting garden is doing well (I’ve already cut several dozen in the last few days), and more are in bloom under the oak tree and outside the shed.  I need some in the front garden.DSC06825

chionodoxa – my plan for a sea of blue under the hydrangeas is slow to mature, but I’ll keep adding bulbs each yearDSC06826

speaking of blue, the blue anemones seem to  be the only ones to survive.  They do well in sun and are not showing at their best on this cloudy morning.  They would look great under the maple tree.  Next year?DSC06828

and finally, leucojum ‘Snowflake’ – this one is in the bed with Bishops weed, so I rooted out both the weed and some of the leucojum a year or two back.  It seems to be thriving again.  It makes a very sweet tiny bouquet that allows you to see the delicate green lines on each petal.DSC06820

And, of course, dandelions, myrtle and forsythia, all appreciated but too common to record.  Otherwise, plenty of buds are swelling – not just the maple but also the bottlebrush buckeye and the hydrangeas.

Wildflowers in the Dischma Valley

the middle valley of Davos

the middle valley of Davos

While staying in Gadenstattli, we drove down the mountain to hike along the Dischma Valley, one of the three valleys in Davos that run into the Engadin.  Beautiful Alpine wildflowers, fast-flowing waters, fir-covered slopes and even a mini-avalanche were some of the beauties we encountered.

The trail was easy, with the Dischma on one side and little streams rushing downhill on the other.

rushing stream

rushing stream

We did come across our own little avalanche, where snow had clearly tumbled down the mountainside and left debris behind.  We picked our way over it.

walking across the landslike - snow and debris

walking across the landslide – snow and debris

The views were spectacular yet again – the wide green valley and always the snow-covered mountains in the distance.DSC05697 IMG_20150527_124410(1)

We were happy hikers.  DSC05677 DSC05686

The wildflowers were spectacular – Mom would have loved it.  Judy did point out that at least I took photos rather than looking them up in a guidebook the way Mom had to – much quicker, though still a tad tedious for my fellow hikers.

The gem of them all were the gentians, a true Alpine species.  This is the bottle gentian.  DSC05656 Below is another variety.  Luckily I captioned it while I was still there and could remember!

gentiana verna L.

gentiana verna L.

DSC05653A lovely little purple number.

DSC05670Buttercups plus some pale cowslips, my faves.  I think this is primula veris.  I wish I could grow the candelabra variety, but my garden is too dry.

DSC05668Campanula rotundifolia, Swiss harebells

Petasites alba?

Petasites alba?

This is a wild and groovy flower.

DSC05675Another little beauty.

DSC05693This is a familiar flower that I just can’t place at the moment.

DSC05699Stone wall, ferns, and white wildflowers.

anemones

anemones

IMG_20150527_145638(2)Shockingly, Silla said we could pick the wildflowers, so we did.  Some, especially the yellow anemones, she took back to place on her mother’s grave in the Waldfriedhof, a post-World War I cemetery that is also a national monument.DSC05702This beautiful cemetery was heavily planted with huge, serene larches.DSC05701A truly beautiful place.

We also took some flowers back to Gadenstattli to decorate the table.  DSC05703(1)A beautiful hike with my dear sisters.

where we could go, and where we will go

where we could go, and where we will go

Majorelle Gardens

DSC02377

This blog is returning to its roots for just a moment to focus on an actual garden, Majorelle Garden in Marrakech.  Designed by artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s, it has been a public garden since 1947. It was purchased and restored by Yves Saint Laurent in 1980, and his ashes were scattered here when he died in 2008.  See more in this post by another visitor.

monument to St. Laurent

One room featured his annual “Love” prints from the sixties up until his death – very much of their time.

St. Laurent's annual LOVE posterThis garden is most famous for the color known as Majorelle Blue.  I decided my only souvenir would be a can of paint, but I didn’t see any in the gift shop, which mainly features designs by Saint-Laurent.  It’s apparently a difficult color to find – the closest approximation is either a cobalt blue or ultramarine.  Here are some examples from the garden, where you can see how perfectly the blue sets off the plants.purple, yellow, blue DSC02361pots in a rowTo my eye, this garden is all about color and form.  Lots of palms and cactus, plus some Mediterranean flowering plants.  Take a look.  Here are a few palms, plus a wild and crazy yucca.DSC02348 palmDSC02367 yucca gone crazy

Next up, a gorgeously perfect succulent (I should know what kind but I don’t.).DSC02363

Then some flowering plants:  clivia, something I can’t identify, kalenchoe, the flowers of a palm tree, bougainvillea.CliviaDSC02349 kalenchoe DSC02366DSC02372

But it’s not just the species, it’s how they are put together, using water, color, form, light.

aqua, yellow, orangeblue pool more colors DSC02342DSC02334DSC02368

Best of all is the Majorelle blue in this iconic image.I want to live here

And I will leave you with these blue shadows.

blue

Blues

Spring colors always seem to come in waves.  Late May brings blue spikes – baptisia, amsonia, columbine and sage,

blue spikes more blue spikes even more blue spikestradescantia and my new little clematis integrifolia, ‘Blue  Boy.”DSC00964

 

DSC01010

Notes for next year

Early spring is a great time to think about next year.  The snowdrops blooming under the hellebores in front were charming:  definitely order and plant more around hellebores next fall.

The tommy crocuses really came into their own this year.  They love the sun and open up beautifully on a bright winter day.  This February photo doesn’t really do their color justice.Tommy crocusesIt would be good to plant more on the far (street) side of the maple tree this fall.

Seeing the brilliant blue of the ordinary grape hyacinth in someone else’s garden reminded me of how lovely they can be, especially en masse.  These are some strays near the oak tree.underrated grape hyacinths

On a related note, the chionodoxa in the back corner is really starting to look like a sea of blue, especially from a hazy distance.  This is not a great photo (click through) but will remind me where to plant them next fall.  They’d look great under the viburnums, too.sea of blue

The hellebores have been so lovely this year, and the walkway garden so puny that it occurs to me to move and plant some hellebores along there, especially in the middle where it’s pretty shady.  I think they are just the right scale for this small space.DSC00907

Finally, the oak tree garden is, as always, a delight.  The ever-growing sea of winter aconite has turned into fringed leaves by now.  As the daffodils start to bloom on the other side of the tree, it’s a reminder that this side could use some, too.left side needs daffodilsMaybe some little ones to show prettily among the aconite foliage.

Progress on the sunny border

It’s planted out with everything I had planned, and then a few more.  The latest additions are a few plants from WFF:  a tiny little Asclepias incarnata Cinderella that is barely worth the price (though I have high hopes for its future); an Achillea filipendulina Gold Plate that should add some dancing yellow color near the edge of the border; and an Echinops ritro ruthenicus (known to most of us as globe thistle) with its jagged leaves and architectural height.  Here’s someone else’s  picture of it.

Here’s a look a the border today:  still pretty puny but everything is growing and thriving.  The grass at the bottom of the picture is pennisetum (fountain grass).  The butterfly bush from my neighbor anchors the top.  I still have high hopes for a late summer mass of tall flowering plants in shades of blue, yellow and pink.