Wordless Wednesday: Here be Dragons



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In a Vase on Monday: Cutting Edge Technology

IMG_2602In truth, the only technology involved was the mechanics of the secateurs as today’s textural treats were snipped from the cutting beds!

IMG_2598Having been determined to stick to contributions purely from these beds today, I ignored the call of those lofty lilies which will have to wait their turn and risk having strutted their stuff too early if they want a turn in a Monday vase. As only token cuttings have been made so far it was about time they achieved their true purpose, so we have: orlaya, Ammi majus flowers and seedheads, Briza maxima, poppy seedheads, nigella flowers and seedheads and Dianthus ‘Green Trick’. I had intended to include Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ but there were only 3 partially open flowers, all on quite short stems, and they quickly drooped although will no doubt perk up later – but the vase certainly looks better without them.

IMG_2600The Ammi majus flowers also look less happy when cut although the seedheads stand up for themselves, but the orlaya adds both texture and movement as does the briza and look set to be great additions to future vases. The nigella flower with its feathery sepals demands to be touched and its seedhead is no less desirable, and whilst the dianthus is equally tactile the one head and small apology for a head at the front of the vase from the three plants I had from Sarah Raven shows they are not yet very productive. The seedheads of Papaver ‘Black Peony’ are another story of mixed success – lovely dark flowers, although not as double and ruffled and peony like as the seed packet suggested, but each flower has lasted barely a day and there was never more than one open at a time so they will never be contenders for a vase in this form, more’s the pity. Still, the seedheads are pretty!

Ideally I would have liked a smaller vase for today as the stems were fairly short, but having decided it needed a solid colour this was the smallest green vase that would hold this quantity of stems. Realising it also required a non-busy background to set off the different shapes the photos were taken in our downstairs spare bedroom, where the discreet blue pattern on the wallpaper could have taken a blue instead of green vase, but I wasn’t going to change it at that stage.

Quite a ‘plonked’ vase today, but I particularly like the tactile quality – and it was completely different from last week’s which I was able to enjoy for several days, particularly with the hemerocallis opening up a new bud every day and the crocosmia, even when the petals dropped, maintaining its stature all week like a heavily lacquered hairdo. Who knows what next week will bring – or what other contributors will have in their vases today? If you would like to join in, post your vases or containers of self-picked material (keep an open mind) and link it to this post, with a link from this post back to yours so we can see what will be giving you pleasure this week.




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Missing the Cut: Neither Use nor Ornament

IMG_2595IMG_2593Well, OK it’s pretty when you look at it close up, but when it’s up THERE (about 8 feet) and I’m down HERE (about 5 feet) AND it’s in the middle of a wide border AND there’s about 8 feet of stem and beetle nibbled leaves between those satin pink flowers and ground level one must surely wonder what the purpose of these ‘tree lilies’ are…. Even the lily beetles have balked at scaling its full height and I certainly couldn’t tackle any of them if they did make it to the top – not safely, anyway! They demand more in the support stakes too, outgrowing the tallest stakes we have, hence this 40º or so list.

At least, I thought, they could appear in a vase on a Monday, or indeed as individual flowers in several vases – now that WOULD make a statement, both useful AND ornamental. This was not to be, however, as all the heat and sunshine we have been experiencing has chivvied them up and now the buds are opening in a sudden flurry and I have already mentally planned next week’s vase whilst the following week will be a vase-away-from-home on Monday….

Neither use nor ornament, like I said.

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Fruitful Thinking?

IMG_2588With the bench replacement complete, my rambles have involved keeping half an eye open for other things that need doing – like trees being lopped – and photographing for GBBD drew my attention to the incongruity of the young boughs of plum ‘Czar’ which are conflicting with the adjacent floriferescence (if there isn’t such a word then there should be!) of Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. The plum, on a dwarf rootstock, was planted at the same time as Annabelle was moved, but the latter exceeded all expectations and is a veritable river of white across this hedge border. The plum was there to supplement the negligible crop of the old plum trees in the hedge, and to replace another small plum that was planted too close to the stream. Now this new tree seems to be in the wrong location too – but where else could it go?

IMG_2590Whilst picking raspberries, loganberries and redcurrants in the fruit cage I have also been considering the other occupants of the cage, in particular the gooseberries and whitecurrant – like the loganberries and the redcurrant they were in the garden when we first came so at well over 18 years they can’t owe us much! The gooseberries have failed to provide a crop for a few years now, falling victim to sawfly and then mildew this year, and new plants were nearly bought for this season but instead they were given another chance, clearly unmerited. Would new, resistant, thornless gooseberries be a better bet? And every year I wonder what to do with the whitecurrants (which are not very sweet and have huge unpalatable pips), tending to use their juice only for a boost to other jellies or jams (which I make far less of these days anyway).

IMG_2591By this time I was beginning to put 2+2 together and almost making 4, wondering whether the fruit cage was tall enough to contain Czar (must check the height on Pixie root stock)…. And why stop there? Perhaps it was worth also moving the three columnar fruit trees (greengage, pear and cherry) that are in the streamside grass and make grass cutting difficult…. Also less than two years old it wouldn’t hurt to move them if the fruit cage was rearranged to include them too…. Even as I write this post I look at the picture of the latter three and visualise an additional border here instead, a primula border perhaps…..? Such is the way a rambling gardener’s mind works!


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Wordless Wednesday: Spent Up


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Garden Bloggers Blooms Day: All Right for Some

IMG_2573There may be a bit of a floral lull in the garden in July, but nectar loving creatures are still finding what they need, as the above butterfly on Inula hookeri (last week’s Wordless Wednesday’s Citrus Swirl) shows.

The majority of the roses may be past their best but are beginning to throw up a few new blooms, always welcome, and around the garden there are splashes of colour, particularly in the bold borders where the above inula combines with sweet pea ‘Winston Churchill’ and Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ to make a statement, as does its taller cousin Inula magnifica with the equally magnificent Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’:

CaptureAlso in the bold borders is this unknown hemerocallis (left) – perhaps I will find a label when all the foliage has died down. Any ideas, anybody? Equally bold but in the cutting beds is this dwarf sunflower ‘Topolino’ and French Marigold ‘La Bamba’ (the latter growing next to Briza maxima), both 99p trial packets. The sunflowers are looking promising but the marigold although attractive needs a bigger clump to make an impact:

GBBD.July14.1The current stars of the cutting beds despite not yet being cut are Ammi majus and Orlaya grandiflora, both being grown for a Which? Gardening trial – and after taking the picture of this echinops in the blue & white border I noticed some orlaya planted flowering there too:

GBBD.July14.2The main herbaceous borders are dense with foliage but blooms are getting sparser although I am enjoying this bed with Penstemon ‘Just Jayne’, Veronica spicata ‘Barcarolle’ and stalwart astrantia:

IMG_2566Pots provide additional colour, with the big galvanised tank now crammed with fuchsia and petunia and other bits and building up to a grand display, and four containers with fuchsia, petunia, impatiens and verbena – all planted up essentially with Aldi supermarket bargains:

GBBD.July14.3Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting this monthly blooms meme – do follow the link to her blog to find out what is blooming elsewhere in the world on the 15th of July. As always there are other delights I have kept to myself this month, but I must just show you that another bud has indeed opened on the hemerocallis in yesterday’s vase, the orange petals blending brilliantly with the crocosmia flowers and persicaria foliage and reflected in the amber of the hyacinth glass:



Posted in container & basket plants, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Fire in the Belly

IMG_2560Eager as I am to fill another vase, Mondays sometimes don’t come round fast enough and Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ has been devilishly waiting to take his place as the star in today’s vase, mirroring his starring role in one of the bold borders. I can forgive him his ready ability to spread, such is the impact he has whether in bud, flower or seedhead.

IMG_2558There are numerous other fiery contenders to fill our bellies with, but choosing to keep the height of the crocosmia automatically restricted the choice and a newly opened bud appearing on Hemerocallis fulva yesterday was the deciding factor in the end. Picking mid morning, even with temperatures rising and the sun shining, there are no buds open yet today but let’s be optimistic. Even without opening, the buds will add a certain stylishness and a minimal vase was suggesting itself by now – so what about foliage? Did it need foliage, and was there anything appropriate? Russett or something similar probably  – and heading back towards the house past the woodland edge border I felt the warm breath of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ and the choice was made for me both by colour and association.

IMG_2559Having already roamed the house last night assessing vases and containers suitable for a fiery theme without any satisfactory conclusion, after this morning’s pickings another quick search suggested an amber hyacinth glass which fitted the bill. The leaves were stripped from the crocosmia and the stems cut to achieve a reasonable balance, then a quick plonk and slight adjustment and the vase was done. Today’s location was around the gas powered (chimneys having being removed by the last resident) woodburner effect stove in our living room.

Phew! Managed to keep it simple and unfussy and minimal – hard to do at this time of year!

It is great fun seeing the different material people find to fill their vases on a Monday and we are learning a lot from each other as the weeks go by. If you would like to join in, just fill a container with material from your garden or nearby and post on your blog as usual, leaving a link to this blog and a include a comment on this post with a link back to yours so we can be inspired by your pickings too. It has been a delight to have a vase of our own pickings in the house week after week and is definitely a habit to be recommended!



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