It may appear that I'm a bit off the normal subjects for today's post but I decided to do this as one of my ideals for 2012 is to concentrate on the good things of life - and not dwell on the so called bad. Today, therefore, is about the flowers in my Cornish garden from April to November.
The photos are my own with notes I made about each month. But don't get any ideas that I'm an expert gardener because I'm not. I refuse, for example, to learn Latin names of plants and my only aim is to keep our garden tidy and to have some colour.
So here we go.
Spring in April, here in Cornwall - that's the south west tip of England - the bottom left hand corner. This time of year makes me think of daffodils (above) and primroses (below) and it's been a good year for them.
The primroses especially have been in abundance and have all been big clusters full of flowers. I read that it's also going to be a good year for bluebells in Cornwall, the conditions seemingly have been just right for them.
Plenty of primulas (below) and also the mauve flowers in the second pic below. I don't know what these are called. They are in our front garden and people are always asking me what they are as they look so nice. I suppose I really ought to find out!
Besides flowers gardens all have some sort of wild life. In ours it's mainly birds and squirrels.
This month, April, we've seen Robins on a regular basis. They usually nest low down in one of our compact fir trees. Last year the nest was blown to the ground in a storm and the little ones were all lost.
This year all seems to be going well. Besides the Robins we've had Great Tits in abundance, Blackbirds, Sparrows, Magpies, Crows, Ring Neck Pigeons and a few others besides. I'm mostly too slow at getting the camera. It's easier with flowers as they just wait for you!
We regularly get a squirrel in the garden. I think it's mostly the same one. In the winter we put out some hazel nuts and he buried them all round the garden two at a time - and yes, my camcorder battery was flat at the time.
The azaleas shown were all given to my wife for various Mothers' Days over the years. The best shrub is the one above. It must be about eight years old and every year it is completely covered in flowers.
The others aren't so prolific. Perhaps I've planted them in the wrong places or the soil is wrong or maybe it's just because they are different varieties.
The Camellia flower above is from what we always call Toby's Bush. Toby was a wonderful border collie dog we had in the family for 15 years. When he died we buried him and bought the Camellia to plant over his grave. Though he's been gone for several years he's still sort of with us.
The Japanese Cherry Tree (above) loses it's bark each year and we bought this to mark the new millenium in 2000.
Below are some succulent thingies that we brought back from a visit to the Scilly Isles. They are everywhere on the islands and grow quite tall. They aren't too good in frosts and bad weather so we have to bring them inside in winter.
As you can see from the above photo I'm not obsessive in my garden. Okay so up pops a dandelion or two but so what, I quite like the colour.
I remember not liking them as a young child though as my mother told me that if I picked any I would wet the bed! I was, however, allowed to pick the seed heads - to tell the time. The number of puffs it takes to get rid of all of the seeds is the time (supposedly). Parents tell their kids some daft stuff at times.
Perhaps I shouldn't admit this but my wife is a bit of a garden thief. Well not really, but she is forever asking others for cuttings or picking up wild seeds. This is one of the reasons why I don't know what a lot of our plants are called. She pops her cuttings in the ground near our water butt and then moves them if they take or grow, Trouble is she never labels them.
As you can see (right) she has grown some Honesty (Lunaria - just looked it up). These were wild seeds she collected on a walk last year.
Honesty is mostly grown for their silvery seed pods which can be used in winter bouquets or decorations. That's why we have some - I'm told.
I wrote in April that it was going to be a good year for bluebells and sure enough it has. The photos I have taken aren't from my garden but are at Kings Wood a couple of miles from where I live in Cornwall.
Kings Wood is under the juristiction of the Woodland Trust and Ancient Tree Forum. This is what they write about this lovely wooded area:
"King's Wood (SX0049) is near London Apprentice (yes, this is a real place name!) and located on the steep hillside of the Pentewan Valley. This woodland is registered as being semi-natural ancient woodland and dates back more than 400 years, though today some areas were replanted in the 1960s with conifers are quite noticeable. Otherwise oak, ash, sweet chestnut and beech dominate the broad-leaved areas. Bluebells cover the slopes in spring, and a good variety of butterflies including the holly blue are common in the summer."
It's now May and new flowers are beginning to show in my Cornish garden. Like the first geranium to flower, photo above. It's 'just' a common or garden (well it would be!) variety but I love the vivid red colour. It contrasts to the more delicate pink clematis climber trundling up and over the fence in the picture below.
I like to see a mass of flowers, even simple ones, like those below which smother a stone wall I built.
I live in a valley and opposite my house is a bank of trees with a small river. This time of year it's amazing how one minute the trees seem to be without their leaves and the next it's a mass of green.
I look on the 'other side of the road' as being like an extension to my garden. It's full of birds and squirrels and an owl hoots at night when we are heading off to bed.
Other plants are also making themselves known. Like the dahlia for instance.
The one in the photo below is poking through nicely. I've left this dahlia in the same position for five years, it seems to be able to withstand the winter cold. Every year it grows tall with big pink blooms.
We have put some coffee grouts around the shoots as we read that this keeps away the slugs and snails. Not sure if it's is true, as we haven't tried this before, but time will tell.
I guess you can't have May without the May flower. This always reminds me of the English saying 'cast not a clout till May is out.' The meaning is that you shouldn't cast off a clout (an old word for clothing) until the end of May. In other words you should keep wearing those sweaters even if it's sunny.
Some say though that the saying refers to the May flower as opposed to the month of May - which means you can usually wear less earlier!
A photo of my wife, Mrs. Perry, below. Well not quite but the white poppy below is also called Mrs. Perry and was bought for us three years ago by friends.
I like poppies, they remind me of sunshine. Though Mrs. Perry is white I also like the big orange variety. Not sure what they are called - probably poppies!
I am little concerned though as mixed in with all of the white Mrs. Perry poppies is one pink one. Does this mean she's been unfaithful with those flashy orange ones? I can see how she could have easily been tempted and led astray.
As can be seen above I tend to let plants and flowers all mingle in together, sometimes much to my wife's annoyance. She prefers distinction between plants and is very handy with the clippers if I give her half a chance!
I thought we'd lost the geranium below, as we left if out all winter and it looked very sorry for itself at the beginning of the year. It seems to have recovered - my wife reckons this is because I have left a bit of space for it to grow - huh!
We are over half way through June and there's been two problems: it's rained for most of the month so far (what's this about global warming!) and my wife has said I neglect one part of our garden.
I can't do much about the weather and as for the wife, well these are some of the colourful flowers in the area I neglect. Fortunately sometimes nature just takes care of things for me!
As for the tree on the right, that's a yew (I think/hope). They are what Robin Hood made his longbows out of, as did the Celtic and Teutonic warriors. There's lots of twang in them. Seemingly a yew spear was found in England dating back 50,000 years. My tree is only about 15 years old.
Another month and there is a quiet corner of the garden to enjoy:
The July flowers were going well and then came a torrential downpour followed by quite a wet spell here in Cornwall.
So some of the flowers were spoilt. The pink stocks lost many of their petals but lets look on the bright side. I took a photo of the stocks before the rain and that is followed by the red roses, lavender and the first pink dahlia.
In May I showed a photo of the first dahilia shoots sprouting out of the soil and now they are coming into flower - as long as the rain goes away and doesn't ruin them.
I'm showing off a bit here because I actually know the names of a couple of the flowers below! But only because I've kept the name tags on them. I had to walk round the garden to find them in the middle of writing this.
So we have Sorbaria followed by Campanula, the Dwarf Pink variety - but I guess you knew that. And then comes ... well another flower!
And I managed to take a photo of a blackbird, one of the bird visitors to our garden. Must see if I can catch a few more of the birds on camera.
They call this Global Warming?! July was a washout here in Cornwall and here we are in mid August nearly and it's still raining.
All of the rain has ruined many of the flowers. Lots of the dahlia have fallen, the stocks got blown down and so on. Such a shame but we can't control the weather.
Hopefully the sun will start to shine for the rest of August. Anyway, no good moaning so here are some more photos - this time August flowers.
The fuchsia below are a little wet from all of the rain I was grumbling about earlier.
The hydrangeas drooped a bit, with the constant rain, but haven't held up too badly.
And a couple of other flower photos. Caught a flying creature on the top one.
And some damp looking dahlia still flowering since mid July. The bigger first blooms have all gone now though.
I like to look at the positive side of life but I have to say that July and August was a washout here in Cornwall. It was just rain, rain, rain. Most disappointing.
September has been better, though I was away from home for a few weeks so the garden got a little neglected.
The rain washed away many flowers but there's still some colour. The Michaelmas Daisies are lovely. I've got some short ones and tall ones.
Sometimes odd things happen. I was about to click away with my camera when it decided not to co-operate with me any more. Must have been something I said! The strange thing was that it produced some colourful photos. The soil may have turned blue but I like the way the photo has turned out. Only problem is that I've had to invest in a new camera. Such is life.
The leaves are falling and there is a dfinite chill in the air as the days tick by in October. One of the strange things is that I have a few Spring flowers, like those on the right, flowering. Even a few primroses. It's certainly been an unusual year weatherwise.
The hydrangea flowers are now turning in colour to a rich maroon and a fuchsia bush is the best it's been all year with small delicate flowers.
As the flowers begin to fade it's good to see some of the shrubs and bushes showing off their leaves, which they will keep throughout Autumn and Winter.
I mentioned in April about how my wife had planted some Honesty / Lunaria seeds so that she could use the dried pods for decoration. Here's what they look like once dried.
November has been another month of rain, rain, rain which has virtually finished most of the flowers. Somehow, though, the Fuchsia bushes and plants seem to keep flowering despite the continuous downfall.
I see the camellia, Toby's Bush, has got buds. It looks quite healthy despite the leaves being a bit dirty.
And next to the Camellia is my Bug Box, which my son gave me on Father's Day. Hopefully a few insects will nest (if that's the right word) in the holes - a couple are filled with something or other. All helps the garden, the birds and so on.
Must admit my garden isn't at it's best at the moment but I'm busy working on it now, getting things ready for the winter. I've cut back my big pink dahlia. These particular dahlia are quite hardy and I leave them in the ground over winter while the other smaller dahlia I dig up, dry the tubers and store them ready for the Spring.
And below is some ivy! We had a large tree stump, from a tree we had to cut down, so I planted ivy around the base. This grew well and soon covered the stump making it quite a nice feature. After reaching the top the ivy is now heading south.
And that's it!
The good thing about a camera is that it makes you look at things more closely. You begin to realise that there are some magnificent creations in the world - even the simplest of flowers. There is an abundance of goodness if we choose to see it.
Much of this post was originally written for a lens I published on Squidoo A Year In My Cornish Garden