Big Butterfly Count

A Red Admiral butterfly kept me company whist I sat outside enjoying the sunshine and my mid morning coffee today. The beautiful creature fluttered from plant to plant seeking nectar to drink and occasionally rested on the lawn enjoying the sunshine just like me I guess. The butterfly above is a Peacock and the Red Admiral is below on the top left of the square picture.

There are many more butterflies visible now that the weather has improved and Buddlejas are in full bloom. You can see why they love them so much, each flower head is made up of hundreds of tiny tubular nectar filler blooms.

Which reminds me… it’s the BIG BUTTERFLY COUNT this month so I’ll be finding time to spend 15 minutes in the garden concentrating on counting our butterfly visitors. It’s lovely to take a few minutes to notice just how many butterflies pass through our garden and to spot the different varieties. It’s great fun for small children too.

Are there any butterflies in your garden today?
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting and Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂

The Garden at Dalemain

We visit the Lake District a LOT… we’re less than an hour away so it’s very easy to drive to. We enjoy weekend jaunts to visit beautiful places we have’t seen before and of course we love relaxed lunches in welcoming county pubs! Even so there are some areas we haven’t explored yet and there are gems to uncover.

Last weekend we visited Dalemain. It’s name means manor in the valley and it really is a mansion house in a dramatic Lakeland setting. It’s a family home so only part of the house is open to the public but it’s so interesting to see that the house has a Georgian facade with parts of the house dating back four centuries or more. My husband can spend hours looking at architecture and pouring over old documents, admiring furniture and interesting collections… so whilst he was doing that I had a good look around the garden.

There are five acres open to the public including a woodland walk but it was the gardens closest to the house that caught my attention. In particular I loved the Knot Garden with Box topiary and a fresh white planting scheme.

There’s a long high wall backing the garden, festooned with roses and clematis at this time of year, it’s very attractive.

And of course set into that wall is a garden door. Not just any garden door… Oh No! This is a super duper double door which allows access for all the essential garden machinery that Dalemain could need. How pretty is this?

Dalemain is an RHS Partner Garden so entry is free if you are RHS members. There’s a Medieval Hall tearoom and a shop selling award winning Marmalade too. If you love wildlife you’ll be impressed by the gardens full of wild birds, bees and butterflies. There’s Deer in the parkland and you may be lucky enough to get a great view of them as we did. The old gamekeeper feeds them so they browse quite close to his cottage. This is one just a few feet away was keeping a beady eye on us!

On 20th August Dalemain is hosting the Cumbria Classic Car Show. So there really is something for everyone.
Dalemain is open Sunday -Thursday until October 26th this year. Please see their website for opening times.

I’ll leave you with one last look at that gorgeous garden door and a beautiful rose.
I’m joining in with Norms Thursday Doors today. Everyone is welcome to join in or simply pop along for a read.

Have you seen any colour themed gardens recently? I’d love to hear your recommendations for lovely gardens to visit.

Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂


Papaver nudicaule Champagne Bubbles

Summer is the time to sow Iceland Poppies and here are my favourites right now. I love this new variety Papaver nudicaule ‘Champagne Bubbles’. They really are the most beautiful flowers to grow from seed. Poppy seeds are so tiny it’s hard to believe that such beautiful blooms are produced in just a few months. I was completely blown away by the large colourful flowers when I took these photos in April in my greenhouse. They have gorgeous open papery blooms which open like crumpled silk. Flowers are all shades of orange, pink, yellow, red and white. They are extremely hardy and will tolerate cold winters. Flowers are produced in late spring and early summer before the rest of the garden really gets going. I’m always looking for some early plants for my garden and these fit the bill beautifully. If you’re looking for some colour in your garden in spring and early summer too then Iceland Poppies may be just the thing for you.

Iceland Poppies grow to just 45cm tall x 30cm spread  (18 inches x 12 inches) so they are perfect for containers and brilliant planted in drifts at the front of the border. They make a lovely cut flower too!

How to Grow Iceland Poppies

Sow seeds in summer at 13-18°C for planting out in autumn. You don’t need any fancy equipment… a north facing windowsill in your home will do. Iceland Poppy seeds are tiny so do not cover them with compost or leave them in a dark place because they need light to germinate. It’s also important to remember to water seed trays from below to prevent the tiny poppy seeds being washed away.

Let the seedlings develop… they will take 14-21 days to germinate at 15°C. Allow them to grow until they are large enough to handle then carefully then pot up into large modules or 9cm pots to grow on. Plant well established young plants into their flowering position from the end of August to the end of September. Allow sufficient space (30cm) for the poppy plants to grow and develop. Throughout the long autumn season Papaver nudicaule produces a good root system and forms large rosettes of lovely pale blue/green foliage ready for bursting into flower in late spring.

What if I want Taller and Earlier Plants?

Iceland Poppies are extremely hardy and will survive outside… they ARE originally from Iceland after all! However if you are growing flowers for sale and want extra early blooms you may prefer to grow them like commercial flower farmers and grow them undercover in a polytunnel or greenhouse over winter. Poppies grown like this flower earlier and have longer stems than those grown outside.

Papaver nudicaule ‘Champagne Bubbles’ is actually a short lived perennial. Treating them as Biennials and sowing in summer gives your poppies the longest time to grow and develop. This is the method I use so that I’ll have the biggest healthiest plants by next spring. They can also be treated as annuals and sown in March for planting out 8 to 10 weeks later when the soil has warmed up in May. From a spring sowing Iceland Poppies take approx 14 to16 weeks from seed to flower. If you’d like plenty of Iceland Poppies you can sow twice, once this summer and again next year in spring.

Growing Conditions Required

Papaver nudicaule will grow in most garden situations ranging from full sun to shade. These Iceland Poppies can survive cold winters but they don’t perform well if it’s baking hot in summer or if the ground is waterlogged in winter. The perfect spot has some dappled shade and some sunshine. They prefer moist but well drained soil.

Flower Production

Treated as a biennial,  Papaver nudicaule flowers from April until July (or even longer) the year after sowing. It’s worth growing plenty because their early flowers are very welcome. If you are growing flowers for cutting blooms are produced for a good three months or more. Pick in the cool of the early morning or evening when the buds are just starting to break open. Ideally buds should just show a sliver of colour. Iceland Poppies are productive plants so harvest frequently to keep the blooms coming. Sear stem ends in boiling water for 10 seconds to prolong vase life and place immediately in fresh clean water. They should then last 5 to 7 days as a cut flower.

If you want a good show of early blooms and lots of flowers for cutting then I recommend planting lots of Iceland Poppies together in drifts. In my shop Iceland Poppy seeds are available in individual colours:

  • Pink
  • WhiteBoth very tasteful and great for wedding flowers! As you know I love bright colours so the mixed packets of seeds in bright warm shades plus white flowers is my choice again this year.

Are you planning to grow Iceland Poppies for next spring? Which are your favourite colours?