Glorious Gazanias

When we were in the garden centre choosing some plants for our tubs the brightly coloured gazania plants caught our eye. They have settled in well and continue to produce new flowers. The daisy-type flowers open when the sun comes out and close up in the evening or on a dull day. The label that came with them tells me they will flower from spring to autumn so we are looking forward to some continuous colour.

Glorious Gazanias

Glorious Gazanias

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Runner beans survive blackfly infestation

A few weeks ago the new shoots on our runner beans were covered with blackfly. After consulting the wisdom of the Internet I sprayed the blackfly with a weak solution of washing up liquid. This seems to have slowed down the breading program of the little critters. Also, some ladybirds have appeared and seem to be making a meal of the blackfly. The runner beans have put on a lot of new growth and are cropping well. There are still a few blackfly around but I will leave the ladybirds to deal with them.

Yucca recovering after frost damage

My five foot yucca has survived winters unscathed for many years. However, the winter of 2010/2011 took its toll and left the plant with a mass of brown dead leaves. I started by trimming back the leaves but it then looked a sad mess. I decided the best approach was to saw it back to some low buds. As the picture shows, it is now sprouting well and hopefully will make a well shaped plant as the summer progresses.

A walk around Lake Bled, Slovenia

We took the local bus from Bohinj, Slovenia to Lake Bled. Then we took a gentle stroll around the lake, returning to the same point to catch the bus back. The lake surroundings are well groomed and an easy walk. There is also a small land train that circles the lake if you are feeling particularly lazy.

A small island in the middle of the lake is home to the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church. The church has 99 steps leading up to it. A local tradition at weddings is for the husband to carry his new bride up these steps. It is said that if he makes it the marriage will last.

Perched on a rock overlooking the lake is the iconic Bled Castle that houses a museum. We stopped at a lake side café below the castle to enjoy a slice of the local speciality vanilla-and-cream pastry called kremna rezina (“cream slice”).

Lake Bled, Slovenia.

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A walk up the Mostnica gorge, Slovenia

A beautiful walk near Lake Bohinj, Slovenia takes you up the Mostnica gorge to a waterfall. We were there in early July 2011. The walk starts at the alpine village of Stara Fuzina. At times you are walking high above the river as it races through deep cuttings in the rock. At other stages the path runs alongside the river where it widens out and flows over boulders. Along the river banks can be found exquisite wild orchids and other delicate wild flowers.

Mostnica gorge, Slovenia.

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Beautiful Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

We visited Lake Bohinj, Slovenia in early July 2011. The area is in the Triglav national park so remains relatively unspoiled. Lake Bohinj lies between Bohinj’s mountains, which rise from 1,600 to 2,000 meters, and is Slovenia`s largest glacial lake. It is 4.2 kilometers long, one kilometer wide, and forty-five meters deep.

One side of the lake is bounded by a road and the other side is bounded by a footpath. The first picture with the goat statue was taken from the road side and the others were taken from the footpath side.

Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

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Camellias blooming well

In spite of the hard winter our camellia shrubs have held on to their flower buds and are putting on a magnificent display. I guess it is a matter of timing as in much milder winters gone by a late frost has caused many of the buds to drop off. I have two camellia bushes against the garage wall and they provide a colourful sight from the kitchen window.

Camellia

Camellias

Is my compost bin a breeding ground for slugs?

We try to be as green as possible by recycling as much as we can. My large plastic compost bin is the method we use to recycle the fruit and vegetable waste. When I started composting I thought that it would be a wonderful source of compost for the garden. After using it for a couple of years I regard it as a magic bin. We keep feeding it with kitchen waste but the level seems to stay more or less the same.

I suspect that we are really feeding the local creepy crawly population. Since I am an idle gardener there is not a lot of garden waste goes in compared with kitchen waste, especially during the winter months.

I do remove a small amount of compost once a year to put on the vegitable patch. My worry is that it might be full of slugs eggs and the slugs will hatch out and go on a feeding fest.

Photograph looking into the bin.

During the summer the compost bin is definitely home to flies and slugs. Fortunately the lid is a good fit and they stay contained.

So my question is, am I keeping the slugs off the garden by keeping them well fed in the compost bin or am I breading a population of slugs that will eventually run wild and eat my runner bean plants?

When I was taking these photographs I moved some waste matter from the surface and was surprised to find a large amount of wiggly worms. I understand that this is a sign of a healthy compost bin. I know that people pay good money to purchase worms for composting but luckily for me these have appeared naturally. However, I do wonder what other creatures are lurking amongst the rotting waste.

A photo of the wiggly worms. Apologies if you are about to eat a meal.

The Great White Cherry and other spring flowers

When I opened the curtains this morning I was greeted by the beautiful sight of the cheery tree at the bottom of the garden. It was covered with white flowers set off to their magnificent best by a bright blue sky. It was a photo opportunity that could not be missed. It is Prunus Taihaku or Great White Cherry.

Prunus Taihaku or Great White Cherry

Whilst I was in the garden with my camera I snapped a few of the other spring flowers. I have tubs of Viola F1 Coconut Duet that were planted in the autumn and have been providing winter colour since then. In the past few weeks the blooms have multiplied and they are putting on a marvellous display. However, they are in danger of being overshadowed by the tulip plants that are now pushing their way through.

Viola F1 Coconut Duet

The Bergenia cordifolia is just starting to come into flower. My Bergenia plants originally came from my parent’s garden. My mother referred to them as Elephants luck but the usual common name is Elephant’s ears because of the large round leaves.

Bergenia cordifolia

Near the bottom of the garden is a delicate sprig of Chionodoxa. The bulbs came as part of a mixed bag that I planted in a tub a couple of years ago. When the bulbs finished flowering I planted them in a patch at the end of the garden.

Chionodoxa

My Camellias are just starting to flower. I have two bushes against the garage wall. There are lots of buds so there is the promise of a colourful show in the next couple of weeks. In some past years a late frost has caused many of the buds to drop of but hopefully that will not happen this year.

Camellia

Finally a miniature daffodil caught my eye. It is gallantly holding its own in a tub of relatively large tulip leaves. Its tiny trumpet is less than half an inch across but it is a welcome sight on a sunny spring day.

Miniature daffodil