Year by year in the garden

2018 January. Plants in my garden.

Azalea’s evergreen and deciduous

Peony’s tree and normal

Clematis 6 varieties














Acer 9 Varieties

Ornamental grasses



cherry tree’s








A lot has changed in the garden over the past year or two it has evolved into  what i like to think of as a country garden. My garden has different aspects depending on where the sun  and wind reaches, the garden is not large by any means and has three  fenced boundries but no fencing can be seen. In the area where the the sun does not reach very often except in the height of summer when it gets the beautiful morning sun the small creepers have naturalized themselves which to me is delightful and i always have something  to carefully take up and make into kusamono or accent plants and i have a very different kinds of moss, which is vey useful for my bonsai there is no shortage of this in the winter months.   There is also quite a few acer’s in this area as due to the large clematis and bamboo which completly covers and very much higher than the fencing, therefore protecting the plants on this side  from the wind and the hot midday sun in summer.

Acers are  now a firm favorite in my garden a lot of different variaties and all at various ages and size from sticks to my largest which dominates alone in the center bed, they excite me in spring when they start to bud  the colours of the of the brand new fresh leaves  a while later, the growth througout the summer and then onto autumn when the colour changes are stunning then slowly but surley they loose their leaves one by one.  The same of course for my Bonsai acers The Arakawa, Kiyohime, Shishigashira,  Palmatum Bloodgood, Shaina, Dissectums and the field maples. Once the leaves have gone  i can see the shape of the trees and what prunning is needed in the spring.

Azalea’s are another one of my passsions in my humble garden i have eight of these glorious plants  three of which are 30 yrs old and each year in spring they never fail to impress. This year i have pruned some of them now are they are completely round and look fabulous can’t wait for the spring to see what they look like in flower.

I still have the problem of the neigbours contantly tearing at my magnificant clematis which runs on the boundry between the two gardens it does not overhang on their side maybe a few leaves and sprouts every now and then after all its a plant! and i do keep it in check ,however they do insist on ripping not cutting every tendril they can reach just for the shear hell of it, on the patio outside just by my patio doors the clematis is high and on a purpose built structure for privacy and to hide the solid brick extension wall they put up  which cut out my eveing sun all together, when i am out so they think!  he climbs out of their bedroom window on to the extention  roof and proceeds to cut my clematis  on the top which i may add is not on his side and he can’t see it unless he looks down from his window. So thats my rant over nothing i can do what he does not realize is that the more he cuts it the more it will grow i find solice in the fact that it must be annoying him more than me and he ahs his work cut out. Anyway enough of that  back to my garden.

Last winter the wind and storms brought down the rose arch which you have to walk through to get into the garden, on the arch i grew ivy to secure it there are red climing roses and a honey suckle, as it happened because if the ivy  and honeysuckle one side of the arch was still secure so i managed to save the plants and after a severe trim and i mended the arch. On reflection as the spring and summer went the plants came on leaps and bounds it seems it ‘s just what they needed so out of something bad always comes something good. the red rose has not stopped flowing and it looked amazing.

I cant finish this without mentioning my frogs an affectionate term, they are are not mine they just live in my garden and i look after them and i enjoy them they eat most of the slugs and snails and splash around in the pond and this year was a bumper crop for baby ones, catching a glimpse of them when im gardening and  when  sitting in the garden on balmy evenings in the summerwatching the bats and huge moths the frogs  appeared on the patio in numbers  which was a specticle in itself.

Oh i do love the summer, the plants like the spring and autumn.


My Bonsai ‘healthy and happy’

I consider myself a good seasoned gardener i am knowledgable which has been learned over many many years.

I have had bonsai trees for many years and really when i think back i just left them alone to grow i tended then very little and i checked them for repotting i never fed them! and they grew into very handsome plants. most i have grown some i have purchased.

Last year i joined a bonsai group there knowledge was amazing i learned things that i had never thought about when caring for my trees. I studied and read all i could  from books and on the world wide web,  i went to bonsai workshops, i was overwhelmed with all this new knowledge. Had i been doing it all wrong? -but my trees were healthy and happy ! i had been using the wrong soil, i had not fed them, i had not wired them- but my trees were healthy and happy! i never put thought into the pots i used just bonsai pots i liked, or what was the front or back of the tree or was the pot to small or to big, but my trees were healthy and happy! and to me they looked good. I repotted when i thought it was needed irregardless of the time of year and never lost a tree!

Armed with all this new knowledge i ordered various potting mediums from reputable bonsai companies, bonsai food, wire  and various pots. I was  now eager to to put all this  knowledge into practice.

Spring    slowly but surley, i repotted my trees into designed potting medium trimmed roots  wired shaped fed pruned and watered according to the age old rules of bonsai, and waited, would this make my trees even better would they be stunning i wondered well i waited  and watched. -but my trees were not healthy or happy, i lost 4 trees i have two sick ones what have i done wrong? well nothing according to the experts all the same i am at a loss for a reasonable explanation. i have not given up hope after all one needs patience when growing bonsai  so now i am looking forward to next spring to see if my treasured trees recover.

Summer Battle

Well it is September 2014,

It seems i have battled for most of the summer with slugs, snails, lily beetle, earwigs, ants, scale insects,  squirrels, cats, and the dreaded vine weavil. I don’t use any pestisides in the garden as i have frogs  and toads and a lot of visiting bees and beneficial insects such as ladybirds etc. I bought some diatomaceous earth, food grade to deal with some of the pests anyway this works very well if it does not rain as to be effective it needs to be dry, i also tried a solution of borax and sugar  for the ants this also worked  for a while. There have been so many slugs and snails this year far too many for the frog population so i been lending a hand  picking them off on a regular basis.

The worst has been the devastating  vine weavil and the grubs the plump c-shaped white legless grubs have light brown heads and are up to 10mm (about 3/8in) long. They are likely to be found among the roots.  They have destroyed my grapevine and wistera which were growing beautifully and a lot of annuals. I have not tried the insecticide liquid drench yet but i will have to sooner or later.

Where is the sun

June 2014 and we have not had much sun the odd day here and there. The Lilly plants seem to be getting taller and taller but buds are not opening yet.
There has been an abundance of bees in the trees feeding on lilac and elder flowers and of course the climbing hydrangeas flowers also many mating ladybirds.
The new grapevine needs the sun.

The May Garden

Well it’s May, and the garden is looking good, now that”s usually hard for me say because for me it’s  never quite good enough! My Bonsai are leaving out wonerfully, there are lot’s of tadpoles some with back legs, The decking project is ust about finished, all the lillies are up not in flower yet and i didn’t loose any to the squirrels this year, the Azaleas are in full bloom and stunning.

The sick Azalea i told you about is slowly coming back to health however it wont be this season, now there’s a story! after finding soft scale i had to take drastic action ( details are in past posts) I washed it with a mix of neem oil and horticultural soap, then over a period of weeks  i hosed it and sprayed it and hosed it and sprayed it then i read somewhere that non bio clothes wash liquid mixed with water would do jst as well so i tried it ( a lot cheaper than neem) it did the job beautifully all the black came of the leaves and the branches and the plant was trying so hard to come into flower and i had to keep cutting them off to give it a rest, i am talking thousands of flowers not just one or two. I persivered  and now i have lots of new growth which looks free from pests. i also purchased Diamatacious earth  to help bugs naturally i will post some photo’s then and now.

Lots  and lots of bees in the garden today despite the cat trying to catch them and of course the very large Clematis montana looking fabulous


In my garden I have 8 Azalea’s which are all approx 25 years old they are and always have been stunning each spring. However one or two I have noticed black sooty mould on stems and leaves , on closer inspection on the underside of the small leaves with a magnifying glass to my horror they have soft scale ( coccus hesperidium) I sat at my computer for hours reading about what can be done to help my plants naturally of course as I don’t use pesticides. So I think horticultural oil and neem oil which is going to be somewhat difficult due to the thousands of small leaves and the task of reaching each one is going to prove impossible and bering in mind it is in bud at the moment. It makes me so sad to think I might loose these magnificent plants due to a pest!

A mystery indeed

Having had a pond full of frog spawn, alas it as now vanished ! it could have been the very cold night we had last week, the pond is covered so it’s not land preditors i dont have newts, any idea’s would be welcomed.

White Strawberries

Well i never expected that frost this morning here in the northwest however the sun was with to warm the garden up quickly.

Yesterday i planted up my white strawberries, i purchased a parent plant last year and from this  i got lots of runners before the autumn, i now have a dozen. we shall see how they fair compared to the red.

The white strawberry (Fragaria Vessca) is suppose to taste like pinapple, why is it white, well it’s lacking in a protein called Fra a1 this protein is needed to turn them red

Garden looking a bit better

I have still some painting to do  but on the whole the garden is looking fair for the time of year, if you are a gardener  you will know ‘its just never good enough’ or is that just me? Lots of perennials just showing and my beautiful peonies are just peeping through. I have done lots of under planting at the back by the fencing to deter the cat from using it as a toilet. The garden is very dry at the momment as we have had no real rain to speak of .

Bonsai Acer problem

On close inspection of a couple of my Acer bonsai tree’s today i noticed tiny black things surrounding swelling  leave nodes. I  am presuming these to be aphid eggs that have overwintered on the plants, as  i don’t use chemicals in the garden, what do i do to help my plant?

The internet was no help so i tried to remove them manualy with my finger nail but what i didnt want to do is knock any nodes off in the process, so after a cup of tea and some thought, i used a 1 inch soft paintbrush to brush of each individual node  such patience but it worked and  it will be worth it to see my beautiful leaves emerge unscathed.

If anyone can advise please leave a comment

Still more to do

If you have looked at the decking project photos , to the right of the pictures is another decking platform which runs along under the kitchen window. I am not taking this part up but it does need repairing as I have a bench here where I sit and contemplate and watch the birds each morning throughout the year with my cup of tea.
Below this platform is my miniature garden which I love, it had been naturalised over the years with various Moses and small ferns , miniature azaleas , saxifrages etc. my garden is small but I have different aspects and beds, no grass though I took that up a few years ago and replaced it with the path and various beds I have a paved area for family seating although some flags could be removed for more planting ( never enough Space for plants )

Can mini scorpions save the dying bee?

Adopt A Hive

A massive global decline in bee populations has given beekeepers and scientists cause for concern. A scientist from Hamburg says that the introduction of tiny book scorpions could keep bee populations alive.


Behind an unassuming grey door in a first-floor corridor of the Otto Hahn School in Hamburg, a student bee farm is hidden away. It’s a converted classroom, complete with a transparent beehive that lets pupils observe the insects’ behaviour. Assorted beekeeping equipment is stowed in every available space.

Around a dozen students come here regularly to work on research projects they’re doing as part of the national German science contest, the Young Researchers Competition. But, they’re not working on bees.

Instead, they examine book scorpions: small dark brown arachnids that are up to five millimetres long. They’re named for their large pincers, which jut out from their bodies and make them resemble scorpions.

The students want to find…

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Frogs 2014

FrogsFrogs are a passion of mine.I have a small pond in my garden which i built around 6 years ago, it only took one season for the frogs to find it and ever since i really look forward to spring and hearing them and of course watching them spawning, i cover the pond with some form of protection( you will see this in the photo’s) I do this because of preditory wildlife and cats of course. This year 2014 a few days ago on 10th March i counted approx 16 frogs possibly more that i could not see, how wonderful, so it got me to thinking maybe i will expand the pond.i will post some pic’s of the the frogs.


The decking project 2014

Thanks to all for reading my blog.

Well ! my camera broke this morning not sure is i can get it fixed or i need a new one it has been a faithfull camera over the years, so the photo’s in this post post are taken with my phone.  I have still got some painting and fixing to do and of course more planting and i have no doubt lots of pots will appear  as i can’t resist using every bit of space. i have re-laid the path with red stones.ImageImageImage            


Spring 2014 at Last

Well it’s been a wet but mild winter here in northwest England, we haven’t seen any snow the sledges shall be packed away until next year.
A lot of plants in the garden have survived including the geraniums although I will cut them in a month or so to promote new growth. I have battled with the cat (I have acquired ) this winter due to a lot of soil being exposed due to perennials dying down she thinks the whole garden is her toilet needless to say the garden looked like a building site as I had to protect my plants from being dug up, cats and treasured gardens don’t mix.
The squirrel population is growing, last season there was 1 now there are 4 I have protected my Lilly bed this year as last year all my Lilly bulbs were stolen !
As you might have read in previous posts the ‘decking project ‘ well it’s underway again the planter is finished using the recycled decking and planted up with evergreen ferns and unusual varieties of ivy as this spot gets no sun at all it’s looking good, I shall post some photos later, stay tuned !

Corn Lilly

The Ixia I have in my garden stared flowering in November and now in late January it is still in flower. On researching this plant which grows from corms it is suppose to flower in spring and summer ? I know it’s not that cold yet but I find this very strange. However I am not complaining they are indeed a beautiful pink flower to have in the garden in this dreary weather.

More photo’s of decking project

As i explained in a previous post the patio decking had to be removed and i showed some pictures the  decking over the years( see previous post’s) below is the progress so far.



as you can see the flags are still there, they built the decking on top and they are in good condition i might keep these down.


The base boards you can see at the side of the picture i am going to make use of and build a long tall  planter the full length of the patio at the side under the clematis as it’s very shaded  i am going to plant various unusual Ferns and ivy’s i have been collecting them for a while now from various places such as The Tatton flower show and Harrogate.

As the flags are quite old now, in the respect of i can’t buy them anymore i will have to re-think the area where a few are missing,  more planting space! is a bonus.

November 2013

There is a definite frosty feel this morning in the garden, the sun is shining but it only reaches the top of the trees this time if year. The little robin comes to sing every morning and is getting quite brave it sits the edge of my bench while I drink my cup if tea.
This year I have made a plastic tunnel to house the Bonsai fully open at one end and a small space at the the other to let the air circulate just to give them some restbite from the wet , I have wrapped the pots with bubble wrap which I do every year for protection from the freeze and over the years it has proved successful and if course it’s keeps the temperature of the soil a degree warmer. The very big clematis is still in leaf in fact only a few plants have lost their leaves up to now.
The decking project is at a halt for now I suppose it will have to wait until spring to continue. Just sitting here looking around the garden the colours of the leaves are indeed beautiful and the odd flower here and there.

Autumn 2013

A calm dry autumn morning in the garden not too cold. Frogs croaking and leaves slowly falling, garden leaves coming into autumn colour. Robins visiting each morning.
Some of the larger acer’s are stunning this time of year, the copper beech bonsai has turned red, some roses are still blooming as are the pinks and the begonias. The large older azaleas have set their buds for spring. The new unusual ferns and Ivy’s I have been collecting for the new large raised planter on the patio ( yet to be built) are growing well.

The Decking 2013

The decking has to come up this year unfortunately, it’s been down 7 years and has suffered from woodworm although i managed to cure the problem a lot of the planks have rotted which was partly due to the new neigbours who built an extention and completely took away any sun from that area and from the living room, so the decking area became sheltered and when it rained it took days to dry out. But on the bright side the the sandstone flags are still underneath and it gives me a new project to look forward to, i do love re-designing. The pictures below are of the decking over the years.ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Summer no longer

The summer this year did not seem to last long ,all to soon we are in autumn. The garden this year although full it was not the best year for flowers and i never seem to have enough space for everything i want to grow again this year i had problems in the pots  due to the dreaded vine weavil  each year i empty and renew all the pots wether i want to or not because of this little blighter! These greedy grubs live in the soil, feed on plant roots – even burrowing into corms, tubers and rhizomes – and not surprisingly cause plants to wilt, keel over and even die. I will not use spray insecticides in the garden because of the wildlife so i will have to invest in a chemical to go in the watering can and water it in  This is the adult that eats the leaves

these are the grubs that do the damage

The pest i have aquired this year is earwigs now these do make a mess of the plants.


The Garden in June

Well, what a glorious week it’s been here in the north west, at last some good weather for the garden. I am really pleased with  the way everything is growing at last a wonderful country garden, full of bee’s and it’s hard to find a spot for something new so pots it is! The acer’s have done very well this year what  superb plants they are.  The tadploes are doing well, some have back legs and there are hundreds, the garden is so full i don’t often see the frogs now, unless i go out when it’s dark with a torch as they come onto the patio.  The green house which is not that big is full to capacity as usual i just can’t stop growing things this year i have a glut of tomato plants and aloe vera cuttings which i have found very easy to propagate needless to say now i have too many as usual. it’s strange the way each year some plants do better than others and the next year it changes again what didn’t do well last year is good this year and visa a versa, constant surprises all the time nature is indeed wonderful.                                                                                                                                                  

Garden Center’s

Bank holiday Monday, the  proverbial visits to garden centers far and wide in search of rare or unusual plants, disappointed yet again each one stocked with the same commercial stock even the small privately owned ones i remembered from a few years ago were now now on the same band waggon trays and trays of common plants, I missed going to the Harrogate spring show this year  due to unforeseen circumstance, so i will have to wait for the BBC gardeners world show in birmingham and of course Tatton  to fuel my desires. I did purchase an Acer  ‘Koto No Ito’  in translation means ‘Harp strings’ is a small, upright tree with very delicate leaves, but with a striking resemblance to willow from a distance, as the leaves are linear, and weeping in habit. Green in spring and summer and turning to a rich gold in autumn. It grows best in partial or dappled shade,  acid soil is best, with protection against wind to prevent leaf scorch. i am going to keep this one in a pot for now as it’s so delicate i will move it around the garden to protect it.


The frogs spawned on 13th April on 26th April we have tadpoles, wow that was quick approx 13 days, last year was a lot longer i suppose it’s due to the cold weather lasting longer than normal there are quite alot i hope they survive.

The Acer

Japanese Maple, One of my favorite plants.These beautiful hardy plants with enhance any garden be it large, small or on a balcony or in the ground or a pot. They come in a large varity of colours and leaf shapes. On the whole they don’t do well in searing sun i try to shade mine with umbrella’s if it’s really hot in the summer months thankfully for the acer we don’t have many of those day’s here in the northwest and some suffer from strong wind,the leaves will curl and burn at the tips but they will recover. I plant mine in peat as my garden is mostly peat i do add sand and plenty of  gravel for drainage but they have grown well in compost in pots depending on species most dont need pruning but if you want to you can trim you plant to your desired shape just above a leaf node in the spring is an ideal time. The autumn colours are stunning just before they loose their leaves and of course they make wonderful Bonsai , The Acer Palmatum are very popular with Bonsai enthusiasts due to the beauty of their leaves, lovely spring, summer and autumn colors and they respond very well to Bonsai training. Japanese Maples are a hardy species and are classed as an outdoor Bonsai tree  and should be kept outdoors all year round.  They will withstand temperatures as low as – 10c (14f) but only for brief periods, if prolonged frosts and snow are expected then it is recommended that you protect your Bonsai tree by placing it in an unheated greenhouse or place some winter fleece over it, i leave my out but i do wrap the pots in bubble wrap and fleece as over the years i have lost many pots due to cracking in the cold weather, and this does work and possibly keeps the plant a few degrees warmer.

Spring at last

Well finally the garden is springing into life,big jobs this week has been the decking i have to decide to remove it or replace it as it has woodworm which is slowly but surley disintergrating each plank but for now i have cleaned it and preserved it in a green colour for a change, i love it when it’s all clean and tidy although it does not last long, the pots are all planted up and we have colour.
Having been in the garden for past 3 days i have seen lots of butterfly’s and bumble bee’s which do have a habit of flying into the greenhouse while i am in there and i have to rescue them as they don’t seem to be able to find the open window, but the sweetest thing is the bluetit who has been fighting it’s own reflection in my garden mirrors and making a terrible noise about it.
The greenhouse as usual is just not big enough! i cant resist planting seeds and cuttings and all of the cuttings from last summer have survived the winter and are growing well, i dont have heating in there but it is lined with bubble wrap. the cuttings i took from my sons Aloe are huge also the money plant cuttings just grow so easy. I am very pleased that the cuttings i took from the scented geraniums last year have survived the winter and are now nearly fully grown i will leave them untill the end of May before i put them in the garden just to be safe.
All my Azalea are in bud and they do make a fine show when they flower each one is approx 25 years old i will take a photo when they flower. i can do most things but one thing i have been unable to do is take cuttings from them, they never work!

Garden update

i have just bought a Tibetan `cherry  tree  the bark is just amazing, it will be a few years yet before  we see it of course and i as it’s in a pot at the moment i have  to decide where i am going to plant it in it’s final position.

All my Bonsai are doing well and survived the winter i must take some photo’s and post them

here. watch this space!

Prunus Serrula ‘Tibetica’ (Tibetan Cherry)


Species : Prunus Serrula Tibetica
Common Name(s) : Tibetan Cherry
Genus : Prunus
Seasons of Interest : Spring Interest
Tree Features : Bark,Coloured Bark,Peeling Bark
Growth Rate : Fast Growing
Mature Size : Small (under 10m)
Shape : Oval
Tree Type : Deciduous Broad Leaf
Tree uses : Small Gardens,Urban Sites,Garden,Parkland Trees

Hair and sqirrels

i did read that squirrels don’t like human hair  so i will be off to the hairdressers to collect some.

saw lots of bees today in the garden which is a good sign, fogs are still spawning, and at last we had some rain.The cactus in the green house is flowering again. i had to cut down one forest flame which was about 20 years old  due to disease and i could not take the chance of it speading.