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Every gardener longs for Spring, and then for the glorious, florious summer. However, this particular gardener of the flâneur persuasion happens to be rather looking forward to autumn…

Not, mind you, that I’m not enjoying the first real summer in Denmark since 2010! I do not mean to sound like an ingrate; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the sun, the heat, the fact that shorts have – for the first time in my adult life – become part of my city attire. (Up to this year I’ve stubbornly refused to wear shorts within metropolitan areas, sweating away in jeans and chinos until I was well outside the city boundaries. I suspect it’s all about body issues; I never felt I had nice-looking – or even presentable – legs…)

So why do I long for autumn? Well, it’s quite simple, really… When it’s this hot and dry, all plans about moving plants or putting in new plants must be on hold, since a newly planted plant would die within days.

And my garden is full of plants that are NOT in the right place – and of places in need of new plants… Mostly I need to start planning for summer-long blooms, i.e. a succession of flowers from May through September. (So really it’s summer plus a month on either end…) This will be tricky as plants seem to bloom a fortnight or more later here in my garden than they do back in Copenhagen, only 50km / 30M further South; I suspect the damp clay soil has something to do with that, as it heats up less quickly than the mythological “fine tilth” of the Copenhagen parks…

Anyway, one of the places where the flowers bloom happily and at the right time is around The Puddles, but…

Hemerocallis 'Frans Hals'While I do rather love the ‘Frans Hals’ daylily, I do find that it sits uncomfortably with the pale mauve or lavender of the hosta flowers behind it, and I really need to change that. The trouble is, I suspect I will end up moving both plants, so I need to work out where each should go.

The hosta flowers fit in nicely with the other colours of The Puddles; mainly blues and purples of various shades with some yellow thrown in for contrast, but I’ve planted them between Puddles 2 and 3, and there’s just not enough room for them; they overhang the puddles as they were meant to, but perhaps rather too much… I think I need something slightly lower – or something slightly more upright – so The Puddles won’t be hidden away completely.

In other less-planned – and less planted – areas, the Lawn bed has shown me a surprising combination that I love to bits; a bunch of gladiloli that I bought as being “red” – hoping that would mean a true red – have turned our to be coral-red, and they are looking very nice with the orange of the nasturtiums sown around the feet of the ‘rhapsody in blue’ roses (that have not bloomed this year due to deer attacks and possibly also their move to the new bed – they will be fenced by next spring, I promise you!).

20130729-205642.jpgAll right, so there are some pink lavatera behind that really shouldn’t be there – and some bright blue lobelias that I won’t repeat next year as they just didn’t WANT to act as a ground cover), but if you look away from all that I rather like the hot colours and could imagine a blue/purple rose or four would look smashing alongside it all.

There are also some dark-leaved heuchera ‘Purple Palace’ that stand out, and I think they could happily be replaced with a red or orange crocosmia. They have the sort of upright and showy habit that means that you can dispense with glads and still have the same effect, only with an earlier and longer-lasting bloom. (And without having to lift the corms in winter…)

Apart from the “aesthetic moves”, there are obviously also some plants that need to be moved for their own benefit, rather than mine; The roses the Flâmeur Husband got for his birthday last year are looking rather sad, so they will go into the lawn bed somewhere – or maybe in the extension of the lawn bed, rather? – and the blue iris germanica needs to be lifted and divided, which will give me some much.needed extra plants for all my beds. Same goes for the sedum ‘herbstfreude’ between puddles 1 and 2, the hemerocallis ‘fulva’ and perhaps also the perennial sweet peas. (Though to be honest, one of the reason for dividing the sweet peas is just to get extra plants to give away to a friend who wants more flowers in her allotment garden.)

I’ll leave you with one example of a plant that I moved – and who has literally flourished in its new spot: The white rose that was standing against the kitchen wall and who is now the star of the lawn bed.

20130729-205702.jpgI have no idea what rose this is, but it’s tall and lanky – which is ideal for a mixed bed where I hope to have perennials growing under the roses eventually. (Also, the height puts her out of the deer’s way, as well as it puts her right into my line of vision when I’m having my morning coffee on the sofa while the garden is still in a grey twilight.)

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Do we have a vampire in the garden?

battle wounds

Nay, it is merely one of the roses – Rhapsody in Blue – that fiercely attacks anybody coming anywhere near it! Including – as you might have guessed – this innocent gardener who merely wanted to weed the flower bed where these roses are located. *sigh*

However, that same flower bed has other, more docile yet still tenacious, inhabitants:

Tulips

Tulips

When they first emerged, the tulips quickly looked destined to serve only as a snack for the deer – which was expected, really – but after the deer ate them all down to 4 inches they seem to have had their fill of tulips, as they have since left them alone.

This means that at least the majority of the 100 tulip bulbs I planted this spring have decided to flower. Yes, I did write “this spring“… I bought the bulbs in autumn, thinking I ought to have time enough to plant them, but then one thing led to another and before I knew it the frost arrived early and the ground became like concrete, so my poor tulip bulbs were left in their sack on the terrace, fully exposed to the freezing temperatures.

Well, it seems these tulips are fully hardy, because without counting I’d estimate a success rate of around 95%. It was a mixed bag with yellow, orange and red tulips – according to the website I bought them from – but so far it seems they’re just yellow and red, giving a rather stark contrast, rather than the more mellow colour scheme I had hoped for. Still, tulips are wonderful in all colours and all combinations, and perhaps the orange variety is just a bit slower than the yellow and red ones. Who knows, who cares. It’s pretty!

Mirabelle

Speaking of pretty… The mirabelle plum tree is looking spectacular – as it does every spring. The picture doesn’t do it justice with its cloud of white flowers taking centre stage in the garden. The cherry plum next to it – and the cherry plum in the lawn – are both more modest in their pink bloom, though the one in the lawn would normally be a match for the white mirabelle blossoms except that we cut it back rather severely last year, so it only has a small number of new branches on which to sport flowers. Both bear fruits that are rather tasteless and dull, but they are pretty and hardy and I absolutely love them!

Dianthus

Now back to the lawn bed where I’ve also planted some red semi-double dianthus. I couldn’t quite get my camera to capture the dark, velvety crimson of the petals, but they are truly lovely. There’s no guarantee they will be able to survive a winter in our moist clay soil, but at least they will look pretty this year and might return next year. I think of them as an extravagance, really, having paid DKK 20 (roughly 2£ or 4$) for each little plant, but then I guess I AM a bit frugal and shouldn’t really knock myself about the head over spending 6£ on pretty flowers.

(Not, mind you, that I don’t spend money on flowers without feeling guilty, but normally they are either larger or cheaper than these dianthus. Like the ‘Peace’ rose I picked up for 6£ yesterday, along with 3 fuchsias at 1£ each. They too will go into the lawn bed…)

Thyme Citrus 'Aureus'

Last week I also picked up this little sweetheart; Thymus Citrus ‘Aureus’; a lemon-scented thyme with variegated leaves. So many times when you buy a pot of thyme it turns out to be dozens of tiny plants in a pot that needs to be separated and planted separately in order to stand a chance of survival, but this is actually just one plant that just happens to be very bushy and pretty. I’m afraid, though, that I shall wear it out, because I keep running my fingers through it to enjoy that lovely lemony scent.

nesting box

The last picture in this entry will have to be a plain old nesting box. It was here when we bought the house 3 years ago, and the starlings seem to like it, because again this year we have starlings nesting. It’s in the large birch trees down by the road, so it’s in full view from the sofa and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the starlings flutter to and from the nesting box with all sorts of nesting materials in their beaks. Now, though, there’s less activity as it seems the nest has been built, the eggs have been laid and we are now just waiting for the hatching…

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crocus

Spring finally arrived in Denmark last weekend, and today I arrived in the Flâneur Garden to have a lovely and relaxing weekend here that may or may not include hard physical labour. We shall see about that, all depending on whether the chain saw will work or not. (The chain saw is, by the way, not for the crocuses – or should that be ‘crocii’? – but for the piles of fir logs cluttering the lawn after the Flâneur Husband and one of his friends took down three trees before Easter.)

Crocus

Oh, look, there’s another crocus! The top one was in The Evening Border on the North-West side of the covered terrace, but this one was growing under the hazel bushes. I have no idea how these bulbs came to either of these places, but I’m just glad to see some colour in the garden after all the snow and ice.

I also found a small host of pale mauve crocuses growing under the rather misplaced brambles by the entrance to the courtyard. They really ought to be moved this weekend while I still notice them so next year they can flower in a slightly more prominent position.

Tulips

One flower that isn’t blooming yet but hopefully will is the tulip. Or rather, the tulips. I didn’t get the bulbs in the ground in the autumn as you’re supposed to, so they spent the winter on a garden chair on the covered terrace – ensuring they definitely got more frost than if they’d been 4″ in the ground – but apparently the bulbs I bought were not aware that they should have spent the winter underground, as they seem perfectly happy to grow after I finally got them into the lawn bed 4 weeks ago. I guess some times plants don’t realise – or care – that the gardener is a bit negligent or caught out by early winter.

Puddles in need of clean-up

Things are also growing in The Puddles. It’s amazing how much algae will appear with only a week of spring weather! The tiny solar-powered pumps that normally provide some modicum of movement in the water were taken out before the onslaught of winter, but it seems it’s time to put them back in as soon as I’ve pulled out all the brown leaves and algae – after all, leaf mulch is excellent for beds, borders and whatnot, but not so great for puddles.

Please note, though, that there is also something green growing between The Puddles! The sedum ‘herbstfreude’ are looking very promising, and I almost feel guilty already that I’ll probably be giving them the Chelsea chop in about a month and a half… (Last year the mature plants grew too tall and flopped over into the adjacent puddles, which is clearly not a great look, whereas the new cuttings grew to only half the height and stayed out of the waters.)

In that area – and anywhere else in the garden that I have them – the irises and day lilies are also looking very good. Oh, ye trusty oldy cottage garden perennials; you never let me down! And in The Ambitious Border there are tiny red peony shoots, and the roses of course seem to just YEARN for warmer temperatures so their budding leaves can unfold.

Speaking of roses… I had a small “accident” on my way from the city to the summer house today. I had some waiting time between arriving in the town of Frederikssund by train and leaving by bus, so I did some rather flâneur’ish shopping in a supermarket – a bottle of wine and a box of candles is surely all the sustenance one needs, right? – and then before I knew it I had added a few plants to the basket. One was a “Sutter’s Gold” rose, but there was also a red currant and 10 plugs each of blue lobelias and purple petunias. All are destined for the lawn bed, except for the petunias which will most likely go in pots in The Courtyard. The red currant will fit in nicely with the black currant and the gooseberry that’s already in one end of the bed, and the “Sutter’s Gold” rose will be a nice complimentary contrast to the “Blue Rhapsody” roses in the other end. And the lobelias will help cover some ground so it won’t be too weedy, at least I hope so.

So there. Things have finally thawed in this neck of the woods and spring has fully arrived. Who’d have thunk it just two weeks ago, eh?`

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Some people claim that tulips are garish, vulgar flowers (I know; they are philistines the lot of them!), but that HAS to be out of ignorance. Not only are there lots of delicately shaped lily tulips, and of course the botanical tulips with their spear-like petals, but there are also tulips like this:

Potted tulips, with flâneur index finger for scale

I DARE anybody to call these tiny flowers garish or vulgar… They were in one of the pots in the courtyard when we bought this place, and since they would just disappear in the garden proper I’ve left them there, but I absolutely adore them.

Normally I’m a size-queen when it comes to flowers; the bigger the better! But sometimes a small, delicate flower just steals my heart like this tulip has done. I’ve seen snowdrops larger than this flower! (Heck, I’ve seen snowflakes larger than this flower!)

They’re right now in a pot with some strange, perennial weed-like plant (that has lovely yellow flowers in summer), so I’m considering moving the tulips to a pot of their own once the bloom is spent; they are so easily overlooked, yet I think they deserve special notice, both because they are pretty in themselves and because the prove just how different a tulip can be from a tulip, so to say.

You can get large, double, multi-coloured tulips if you want to, but if that’s not your style then don’t forget that tulips are so much more than that. If you look around, there’s bound to be a tulip you’ll love…

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Squirrel


imageMy phone camera is more than capable of taking a decent shot of a cute little squirrel foraging by the side of a path in the cemetery opposite my apartment.

However, it struggles when the cute little squirrel is scared into a tree by a passing bicycle:image

Anyway, these pictures were taken this morning when the sun hadn’t risen sufficiently to reach more than the tree tops of the cemetery.

image

Now, though, the temperature is around 25 degrees Celsius (77F) and the sun is shining from a clear blue sky. And…The Danish Meteorological Institute defines a “summer day” as a day when the temperature passes 25 degrees, so apparently we have summer in October.

-That, I believe, is sufficient reason to go downstairs to the café on the ground floor and have a spot of lunch by a table on the pavement, no?

Tomorrow I will go up to the garden and see how it fares, and I’ve taken Monday off work so I will have time not only to look, but also to do some actual gardening! The bulbs will go into the ground, there might be some moving about of perennials and there will definitely be some weeding and tidying up.

But now it’s time for lunch.

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I haven’t had much time for the garden this summer, what with an apartment to redecorate and a move to plan, as well as a busy schedule at work. And I miss the garden…

So last week I got a bit impulsive and decided to treat myself to a little dream of spring. Nothing too extravagant, but I ordered 500 crocus bulbs and 250 tulip bulbs from a Dutch website.

There’s absolutely no grand plan for this purchase, other than trying to get some spring colour in the garden. Both crocus and tulips are mixed colours, so they will go a bit all over the place. The crocuses will probably end up in the lawn and the tulips will be scattered in random groups through the borders.

They’re brash, they’re slightly gaudy and they’re in no way stylish, but they’re lovely all the same. A French woman I once knew adored tulips for what she referred to as their beauté bète; their stupid beauty. Now, some tulips are – to me at least – refined and elegant, but the ones I’ve ordered really aren’t. They are fun and cheerful, though, and I can’t imagine they won’t make me smile when they appear next spring.

And isn’t that a great reason to buy 750 bulbs?

All right, so my crocus lawn won’t look like this. At all. But never the less it’s the source of inspiration; to have at least a section of the lawn suddenly turn into a flower bed each spring for a few weeks before the lawn mower is dragged out from hibernation. There will be no pattern, and the colour scheme will be more random with the yellow crocus contrasting with the blues and whites, but still.

(And the planting will be less concentrated since I “only” have 500 crocus bulbs. For a dense planting like the picture above, I guess 500 bulbs would only cover just over a square meter…)

It will, though, be back-breaking work to get 750 bulbs in the ground.

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