Category Archives: Andover

What’s Flowering Now: Poppies

There are two kinds of poppies flowering right now in the garage garden.  One is a bright orange perennial poppy, (papaver oritentale).*

Orange poppy

Papaver Orientale

It’s a great big drama queen. No matter how much you water it on dry days, it will enventually flop out in all directions.  New leaves will then appear from the centre of the plant.

The leaves on this one are furry and spiky-looking, like this:

Fuzzy poppy leaves.

Fuzzy leaves and bud.

It’s a prolific self-seeder (You may see this developing as a theme with plants in this garden.)  The two orange poppies came from seedlings that sprouted in my own garden. The furry leaves make them easy to identify when they are still very small and easy to transplant. Free plants! Hooray!

Here’s one taken about a week ago when the protective case around one of the flowers hadn’t quite come off yet.

Poppy sporting a fuzzy beret.

Poppy sporting a fuzzy beret.

The other type of poppy in the garden is an annual, papaver somniferum (a.k.a. the opium poppy, but this isn’t one you can actually extract narcotics from).

These make the perennials look like lazyarses. They grow to about 3 feet tall in a year, and stand bolt upright, no lolling about over your garden.

I didn’t actually plant any this year, but a couple of my friendly mystery gardeners scatted a good handful of seeds last year, and some of those plants self-seeded. (See what I mean?)

There are pale pink, dark pink and cerise ones:

Papaver somniferous in 3 shades of pink.

Papaver somniferum in 3 shades of pink.

The leaves for these are  more blue-green and smooth, with a ruffled appearance. Again, they are easy to spot as seedlings

Papaver somniferous leaves.

Papaver somniferum leaves.

There are none of our native red poppies, Papaver rhoeas, in the garden at the moment. Maybe next year.

Here’s a snap showing of all the poppies playing nicely together.

All the poppies.

All the poppies.

And I’ll leave you with one showing the whole garden in the sunshine. Remember what it looked like when we started two years ago?

Wide shot of garage garden.

Come by and smell the flowers!

*While I was checking up on my poppy names, I found they come in some crazy varieties. Try googling “blackcurrant fizz poppy” or “white ruffles poppy”.



What’s Flowering Now: Aquilegias

Aquilegias are fantastically hard-working plants, and perfect for the garage garden.  They’re hardy perennials, they’re vigorous self-seeders, they’ll grow just about anywhere and they come in a whole sweestshop range of colours (although purple is the most common for wild ones).  We’ve got dark red, pale yellow, pale pink, and purple.  Plant a few one year, they’ll come back the next and you’ll have a whole flowerbed full of their children. They can be a bit too successful, but you can always thin them out and give them away!

All the aquilegias.

All the aquilegias.

A few of the plants in the garden were seedlings from special varieties I bought for my own garden:  Ruby Port and Yellow Queen. (Warning: spending time on the spectacular crocus website can seriously damage your bank balance.) Others turned up by themselves.

The Ruby Port shows its glorious deep colour best in sunshine.

Ruby Port aquilegia.

Ruby Port aquilegia.

The name Aquilegia comes from the Latin for eagle (aquila) because the flowers are supposed to look like eagle claws. You can see this with the trailing curved spikes on the Yellow Queen. This one glows in the garden on grey days.

Yellow Queen aquilegia.

Yellow Queen aquilegia.

Their common name name is Granny’s Bonnet, which makes a lot more sense when you look at the wild purple ones.

They have fountains of pretty foliage too. Their leaves are very recognisable, handy for when you want to harvest some seedlings for replanting!

Aquilegia leaves.

Aquilegia leaves.

If  you’ve got a dark or difficulr corner of the garden, why not try a few? Pop past the garage garden to catch them in their fully glory in the next couple of weeks.

So many aquilegias.

So many aquilegias.

Easter Update

I haven’t had much time to devote to the guerrilla garden lately, so it was wonderful to have help and inspiration from my partner in gardening crime and the lovely Lord and Lady Plott. It’s amazing what four people can get done in an hour!

We took out the dog poo and rubbish, weeded it and planted the donations from the Plotts, and some cut price wallflowers from Homebase. While we were all wandering about in the shop in search of bargain rescue plants, one of the assistants came around handing out free boxes of ranunculus (with a polite request for a small donation to the charity box). Apparently they were having a clear out of the plants that they couldn’t sell.  Nothing like free flowers to make my day. Thank you, Homebase!

On the plot, the aquilegias that went in last year have made themselves at home and spread themselves around. The big geranium has had lots of children.  A few borage plants have also popped up and even a handful of stray onions, which must have come in with some earth from my own garden. No sign of the bronze fennel, but it may yet make a reappearance.

A fellow gardener stoppped by for a chat and passed on a tip that cheap perennials are for sale at the hospital on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Wherever you get your plants, your inspiration and your help, have a wonderful Easter break. And hey, at least the rain’s good for the garden.

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As If by Magic A Heuchera Appeared

Things are coming on nicely over at the garage garden.  I’ve added dahlias, coreopsis, morning glory, sweet peas and something else that I lost the label for, all generously donated by the wonderful Plotts.  (They’ve recently risked life and limb, or at least braved standing in London traffic, to start their own guerrilla garden.)

I’ve also planted some white lobelia left over from a recent present purchase that I thought would look nice tumbling over the edge of the garden, and a spare bronze fennel which is having a great big sulk about being moved.

A lovely mystery gardener has planted a heuchera – I’m guessing “Coral Bells” from the striking colour of the flowers.  Thank you! There’s another plant too, which I think is a recent addition but I can’t identify.

There are a gazillion seedlings springing up – mostly weeds, I think, but I recognise a few of the annual poppies and have left them in place.

It’s so nice to look back at the picture of what the garden was like before we started a year ago, and to look at it now. I am really proud of what we’ve created, and I am so grateful to all my co-gardeners who have been by and planted, weeded, and watered, and to all the passers-by who have offered encouragement. You are all blooming marvellous!

Here’s a bumper crop of pics, some of them taken on my proper Canon DSLR, so if you look at the original there’s lots of detail in the zoom view.

Garage Garden – July

Here’s some photos of the garage garden taken near the end of July.

A huge thank you to the mystery gardener who came by after all the rain and did a fantastic job on the weeding!

As you can see, the mystery plants at the back turned out to have glorious bright pink flowers. The lucky placing of orange nasturtiums and calendula next to them makes for an eye-popping colour combo that brings a smile to my face every time I go past.

The scented seed mix has flowered with nemesia in various colours, and some pretty pink and white flowers that I don’t know, and we’ve got oriental poppies flowering all over the place.

There are some wild flowers in there too, but I like it that way. What do you think?

Big Up Words Festival

The Big Up Words Festival is happening in Andover from the 29th September to October 6th with events for poets, playwrights, writers and readers.

Various workshops will run over the course of the festival. If you have books to sell, you can hire a table at the bookfair.

For full details check the website.

Garage Garden – June 1st

Pictures taken today of the garage garden.  New plants:

  • 2 pink geraniums
  • alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle)
  • polemonium “Bressingham Purple” (Jacob’s ladder)
  • an iris with very unusual colouring – anybody know what it’s called?
  • nasturtiums