05/06/2013

And it was all going so well.

After asserting my point that I don't 'do' red in the garden in my previous post, look what went and bloomed this week.



What a rogue! This was meant to be a delicate pink variety of the Poppy called Viktoria Luise, and it's red, BRIGHT red!  My heart truly sank when I saw it, as I nurtured 6 of these from tiny plugs, and they are now scattered throughout the garden after I planted them out in Spring. I was crossing my fingers that maybe this would be the only red one, but a bud from one of the others is showing a tiny glimpse of the petals beneath, and they're red too. Sigh. So, should they stay or should they go? What do you think?  I'm really undecided at the moment. They are gorgeous, but my garden is based on a palette of pink, white, purple and blue, with splashes of yellow. I fear a few red poppies on their own will look terribly out of place and spoil the peacefulness of the garden. The blooms are huge though, true saucer size, and after all my effort of growing them on, it will be a wrench to hoist them up. And this one does look rather nice against the yellow Lady Stratheden Geums. Decisions, decisions!





Another decision that had me pondering was the state of one of my Clematis Montana Freda's. One day, it was healthy and about to start flowering, the next, it looked like this.


At first, I thought a stem might have snapped or got damaged and therefore died, but looking at it closely, that wasn't the case, and two stems had actually withered up. I don't think it was Clematis wilt, as there was no blackening of the leaves, and Montana is meant to have a good resistance anyway, but it did seem strange. I decided against removing the whole plant, as one half still looked okay and instead I cut the two dead stems right back to the base. Thankfully, the remaining stem is doing really well a week on, and another stem has appeared at the base. So, fingers crossed, it might have been saved.

Now, I can hardly complain about the next garden event, because it had me captivated for a whole weekend, but there were some rather messy consequences to deal with after.


We were visited by a flock of starlings, with a vast amount of baby chicks. When I say vast, I'm talking in excess of a hundred. The noise they made was deafening, but I just couldn't stop watching them, especially when they descended on the garden, turning it into starling city! They really were everywhere...at the feeding pole, on the table, shed, fences, pots and around the ponds. Oh, and the washing line made a handy little perch too!






It was quite funny to see the slim adult birds feeding the huge pudgy chicks. The one above even dripped water into the chicks beak...awww.  It seems they were only here for a pitstop though, as they left for new pastures on Sunday evening, leaving me with rather a lot of, ahem, mess, to clear up! 

Since the weather has been just gorgeous over the last few days (I'm currently typing this at the patio table in 80 degree heat), the number of insects visiting the garden has increased too, especially the butterflies. Here are a few I've managed to photograph, mostly by chasing them around the garden all day like a lunatic!

The Peacock Butterfly.



Orange Tip Butterfly. Look at his head! I swear he turned around to pose for the photo!


And I'm not sure what species this butterfly is, maybe you know? It has light brown, plain wings on the underside, with one little white spot on each.




Common Blue.


And finally, a Large White.


24 comments:

  1. After all that effort I'd keep the poppies, after all they don't flower for long do they. I hope that your clematis is okay.
    There were lots of starlings at the allotments for a couple of days earlier in the week. Perhaps they were the same flock.
    Lucky you seeing those butterflies, as all I've seen so far this week has been a few whites. Your mystery one is a Comma, easy identified by the distinctive ragged-edged wings. Flighty xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh brilliant, thanks for identifying the butterfly Flighty. I've seen a few of them around so it's good to know what it is.

      That's one vote in favour of keeping the poppies :-)

      Delete
  2. Paula, how interesting! the hundreds of starlings in your garden. I guess there are no worms, aphid—č, beetles on your flowers and plants. This poppy is gorgeous, especially scarlet color.
    Happy gardening!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd like to think they'd eaten a few unwelcome bugs, Nadezda, but they seemed more interested in the mealworms that were on the birdtable.

      Two in favour of keeping the poppy!

      Delete
  3. Hi Paula...first, I have never seen these butterflies before and they are so beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing! I agree with you about your Clematis. Mine did exactly the same thing. My first thought was Clematis wilt, so after I recovered from my panic attack I checked the internet and it showed that wilt happens overnight and ALL leaves would be black. A large part of mine is still growing just like yours, so once it stops blooming, I'm going to cut it all to the ground. I think that Poppy is out of this world. It doesn't even look real...it looks like paper. Maybe if you decide to take them out, you could put them all in a pot somewhere. My gardener heart aches thinking you might throw them away!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, don't worry Christy, I would never throw the poppies away, I'm waaay too much of a plant hoarder to do that, lol! They would definitely be placed somewhere else if I decided to move them. There are actually two huge blooms on that plant now and I think they may be growing on me. Maybe, lol.

      How strange about our Clematis. I think it's the reason I put off buying any for a long time, because they seem to suffer with so many problems.

      Delete
  4. Paula ! Those pictures are gorgeous !
    I understand how disappointed you must be with the wrong colour .. but that red is fantastic looking. I ordered Astrantia "Venice" for that drop dead red in a place I thought would be perfect .. turns out it is "silver" or even an advancing mystery colour.
    Our weather is ho hum with overcast skies and rain predicted for a few days .. great for the garden but we are not seeing the wonderful butterflies you are .. we have lots of birds though and Starlings are very common here .. they come and go like yours have. It is hilarious to see parents feed "kids" almost bigger than they are isn't it ! LOL
    I spent a long morning in the garden planting and puttering.
    I have my fingers crossed for your clematis .. I planted two new ones myself and it will take a few years I think to see gorgeous blooms from them but I am patient waiting for beauty to unfold eventually ? LOL
    Joy : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mornings in the garden spent planting and puttering are the best, aren't they Joy, although my morning always seems to extend into the afternoon and evening when the weather is nice. I'm quite tanned from being out there yesterday :-)

      I will try to be patient with my Clematis. I'm going to give them a good feed at the weekend and some tlc throughout the year. Hopefully they will perk up.

      Delete
  5. Definitely a comma - the white mark on the underside of the wings is like a comma shape - hence the name.

    AS for the poppies - I'd keep them but then I'm not anti-red.

    We have lots of young starlings at the moment - they even perch on the window sill and look in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that explains a lot Sue. I hadn't even noticed the mark looked like a comma. Isn't nature fascinating.

      Delete
  6. If you have plenty of green around your poppy, it shouldn't stand out quite so much, but it won't flower for very long anyway!
    Your clematis might have been caught by the wind, this happened to one of mine, one stem withered, the rest were fine. I just cut the stem away to 2 healthy buds, it will carry on from there.Hope this works for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, we did have a few days of really windy weather Pauline, so maybe that is what happened to mine too. The rest of the plant is still looking good, so fingers crossed.

      Delete
  7. Definitely keep the poppies, they're gorgeous. We've had lots of baby birds here too, but not as many as you by the sound of it. I love the photo of the little birdie on the washing line, so cute, and your butterfly photos are wonderful. I never seem able to snap a butterfly, they're too skittish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are really tough to photograph aren't they Jo. I did chase them around the garden for the best part of a day to get these ones.

      It looks like everyone thinks I should keep the poppies...hmmmm.

      Delete
  8. Oh you HAVE to keep the poppies, GORGEOUS they are. I'm a sucker for poppies, I even struggle to pull them from the paving stones.

    What a wonderful treat to see those starlings, I can imagine how entertaining they must have been.

    Fingers crossed for the clematis, and those butterfly pics are simply fab! Let's hope we keep the good weather, it's simply wonderful.xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The good weather seems to have vanished here this morning Snowbird, it's drizzly and chilly, but apparently meant to be 75 degrees at some point?!

      Delete
  9. Gorgeous photos, especially of the lovely butterflies. It's interesting to see what flowers they're settling on. I do love the Poppy, although I know it was an unwelcome surprise - that red is quite striking. And the Starlings are wonderful. It doesn't seem that long ago that we had lots here and this time of year was very noisy with the young pestering the parents. But we hardly get any now, which is very sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do seem to be in decline Wendy, that's why I was really pleased to them. They do make quite the noise though, especially first thing in the morning!

      Delete
  10. How lucky you were to play host for those starlings! Even if they left you with a bit of clear-up...as for the poppies, I love them, no matter what colour so you get a vote from me too to keep them. Perhaps move some of them in the autumn if you find too horrible colour clashes, but definitely keep! But I would get back to the company who sold them to you with a photo and tell them what they sent you, perhaps you get another batch the right colour free of charge :-)
    I hope you are loving the good weather as much as I am, long may it last! Take care, Helene.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, one of the other poppies has now come out Helene, and it's the beautiful coral pink that I signed up for, so I'm praying the others will be like this too and I'll only have one rogue red one. I think I could live with that, or, like you say, move it once it's finished flowering.

      Delete
  11. That happened to me - my friend bought me a pink oriental poppy that turned out bright orange - it stuck out like a sore thumb - I have moved it now as it just jarred with everything where it was.

    Clematis sometimes just gives up the ghost, although as you say, Montana is usually pretty hardy. Hope the rest of it survives.

    We had loads of baby starlings like that last year, not had many in the garden so far they obviously prefer your garden. Not seen any butterflies either - your pictures are lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read that Starlings were seriously declining in numbers, Elaine. Although you'd never know it here as there always seems to be a few families around. I've never seen as many as at the weekend before though. I hope they return to your garden soon.

      Delete
  12. Leave the poppies and just roll with it. :o) It's a little surprise from Mother Nature. You can always move them in the fall to a different spot.
    100 starlings? WOW! It would have been amazing to see such a spectacle. Your clematis should recover. I've had that happen, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The poppies still there, I think I'm learning to live with it ;-)

      Delete

Your comment will appear after moderation.

Thank you so much for your visit and for taking the time to comment. Please leave a link to your blog if you have one, as I'd like to visit you back.