Category Archives: Nature

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.

A Walk on the Wild(ish) Side

The swans at Rooksbury Mill have a new cygnet:

Two white swans guarding their fluffy new cygnet.

Swans guarding their new cygnet.

And look who I spotted on the way back:

Hedgehog peeping out between leaves.

Hedgehog hiding.

Garage Guerilla Garden – Days 8 – 10

Day 8

I’ve added some self-seeded poppies that have been sitting in pots waiting for a home. I wasn’t quite careful enough in digging them out and lost a bit of root from each. They’re sulking. I’ll keep watering them and hope they recover.

Poppies wilting a bit.

Poppies not thrilled about being transplanted.








This little plant is a pulsatilla pratensis. I bought it from the nursery collective’s stall at the Friday market in Andover. They always have a great selection of plants at very reasonable prices, and they’re at the market every week.

pulsatilla pratensis

Pulsatilla pratensis. Love the fluffy purple centre.








Day 10

Friends visited and donated a generous amount of plants from their garden: geraniums, alstroemeria, tiny succulents, hellebores, and “bunny ears” (none of us know the proper name for those). I found some more aquilegias to add. We all got busy with the trowels to get the plants in, and my other half constructed a little rampart around the garden to stop all the water running off. It’s starting to look a bit more populated.  We’ve also planted seeds for red sunflowers and a mixed batch of scented plants.

Plot has a few more plants.

The plot with latest additions.








More plants are always welcome!

Lonely Guerilla Garden Needs Friends

Let’s make a garden! I’ve done my first ever bit of guerilla gardening. This plot has been dug over, forked, rubbish picked, raked  and had chicken poo sprinkled on it.

guerilla garden plot

Lonely plants need some friends.

All it needs now is some plants. I’ve put a few in but they definitely need some friends. Want to come and play and plant things?

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Down by the Rooksbury Mill Lakes

These photos were taken at the Rooksbury Mill Lakes nature reserve, a lovely spot for a walk. It’s always full of birdsong. You can find information on  other local nature reserves here and information on local walks and cycle rides here. If you’re interested in getting involved in conservation,  visit the TARCA website for details.

Fuzzy yellow catkins.

Bright fuzzy catkins.

Slightly out of focus heron

Heron watching warily.