Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wild in the Alps

For a certain big birthday celebrated earlier this year - we were kindly offered a chalet in the Alps for a few days holiday - as well as a fabulous break it was a bit of a busman's holiday!

The weather was lovely, the sun shinning, and very hot, whilst the air felt crisp and clean - none of the drizzly damp stuff we are used to here.  After a short drive we arrived at the bottom of a valley in the National Parc de la Vanoise.  Rather than me dribbling on, here are some pictures of the things we saw. 

Some beautiful butterflies to start with ....

Yet to identify this one... any suggestions welcome

High Brown Fritillary

The Scarce Copper

Dappled White Butterfly

So many of our clients request wild flower meadows and we both try to explain how difficult that is in our county of rich farmland.  The Olympics showed off beautiful carpets of wild flowers and over recent years The Chelsea Flower Show has offered more examples of the same, so the demand continues.

We have tried several products on the markets, such as wildflower mats and packs of specialist seeds, all with fairly dismal results.  I now understand even better why these products are so limited.  See blog next week for pics and the answer to wild flower meadows!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Hemerocallis heartbreak!!

Check out your garden for the nasty gall midge that can attack your day lilies.  Today we had a horrible day going round all the hemerocallis in the garden, of which there are over 30, cutting all the buds off!  Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and be brave!  Last year we only cut off what seemed to be the infected buds, but it appears you have to be much more ruthless.

According to one article I read it took a gardener over three years of doing this to banish the pest!  Next year we will try spraying Provado in March and April to banish the bug.

Gall midge is a small fly that lays eggs on the developing flower buds.  The larvae inside the buds causes abnormal bud development and infested buds fail to open.  These buds are shorter and much fatter than normal daylily flower buds.  It affects the earlier varieties of Hemerocallis more as they are forming in the egg laying season.  It is worth trying the spray provado ultimate bug killer when the flower spikes are emerging.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Our beautiful English Rose

After my last blog about snakes (which it seems some of you are not so enamoured!) I thought I would show off some of England's best.....


Brother Cadfael (A real Stalwart - flowers until Dec)

Rosa Hansa

Paul's Himalyan Musk (Heavenly scent)

Graham Thomas (keeps on and on flowering)

Rose Ispahan (Smells divine)

Max Graff  (Eye catching)

Penelope Rose  (Whole shrub completely covered in blooms)

Rosa Rugosa

Nevada (One of the first to flower)

Gertrude Jekyll

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The slippery garden slope!

 Most days we set out to work with a rough idea of what the day has in store for us - but just sometimes – we are totally unprepared!

I thought I saw a snake at the castle two weeks ago whilst showing our NGS county organiser round the garden.  We were just rambling down some steps and into a shaded area when movement on the ground caught my eye – I was so shocked I jumped out of my skin so unfortunately didn’t take a very good picture (I though it might be an adder!).  you can just see it under the Alchemilla leaf.

 Today we were pruning roses back from a small cottage situated at the end of a long track next to a lake, so, right off the beaten track.  We had been told there were snakes in the area but didn’t take much notice as the cottage was under restoration and full of noisy workman.

After finishing our task we walked along the side of the lake, I went down the bank to study an unusual flower on the waterline and found more than I bargained for!  Sunbathing on top of a stump was a lovely dark coloured snake.  Martin kept watch while I ran to the car for the good camera and bingo – not a bad shot ..

Martin had been spraying some nettles off earlier in the week and thought he had spotted one at the other end of the lake – so off we went.  We found two more coiled up next to each other –  very carefully I crept up on them to get the perfect shot and promptly trod on another one!  I was guilty of letting out a very girly squeal!  I always thought our English snakes were rather small and insignificant – not any more. 

We must have seen more than 15 snakes all sunbathing on the side of a bank.  The young are no bigger than a pencil, the older ones have a girth the size of a 10p piece!

How fantastic is that!