In a Vase on Monday: Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo

Eeny,meenyThere seemed to be a number of different flowers that hadn’t made it to a vase yet or were going strong and could do with cutting to prolong their flowering so I have been mentally dithering for a few days over what to include in a vase on Monday. However, bottling out of a decision and producing four separate vases has had the unexpected secondary benefit of uplifting the ‘underwhelmed’ impression of the garden that I wrote about yesterday, reminding me that there is still lots going on, but just not all in the same place!

IMG_2946The range of scale and shades of the available flowers suggested separate vases, and certainly there were no suitable bedfellows for the pink and white Cyclamen hederifolium of the first vase. Like Pauline at Lead Up the Garden Path mine are spreading at a very satisfying rate, and I couldn’t really say when or how many were planted in the first place. They looked so delightful in this green crocus vase that I went out and cut a few more to add to them. As the weather is still debating whether to brighten up or not the vases were taken straight outside and photographed around the stone trough and wall just outside the back door.

IMG_2947I had chosen four green vases to provide continuity, although the two green bottles were not really wide enough at the neck for the proposed content, and not photographing the vases together I realised in retrospect that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway -hey ho! The Tagetes ‘Paprika’, a favourite for the last two years, is late to flower having been re-sown due to the dodgy compost experience and the bushy plants meant that not all the sprigs that were cut could squeeze into the bottle along with the Hemerocallis ‘Mini Stella’ and Inula hookeri. The hemerocallis, a compact and well behaved variety, has also just begun flowering, unlike the inula which has been on the go for weeks.

IMG_2949Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ has been a real star  for a number of weeks and next year I must include this in the main herbaceous borders as well as the cutting beds  – the flowers vary slightly in shade and marking and it has been a joy to watch their progress. Collecting seed from them is another ‘must’! Anemone japonica ‘Honorine Jobert’ was an ideal companion although the way the flowers group together on separate stalks towards the end of a stem was not conducive to using them with the shorter individual stems of the cosmos and a wider necked vase would definitely have helped. Several petals were lost between cutting and placing too, but it may be that the flowers were not so much at their peak as I thought.

The ‘Ruby Eclipse’ sunflowers have varied in both the size of their heads and the length of their stems so I have been watching out for suitable cutting contenders – there were two today, so they were snipped and included in the fourth vase along with a trio of hips on the prickly stems of climbing rose ‘Parkdirektor Riggers':

IMG_2951I couldn’t choose a favourite from the four vases but have to confess that their varied presence brings me such joy as I look at them – four times more joyful than a single vase?! Well, perhaps not, but bringing something in from the garden every week has been a real pleasure, and the unexpected popularity of the meme has demonstrated just how much we can all benefit from doing so. If you would like to join in, just post your pickings with a link to this post, and leave a comment on this post too with a link to yours so we can see what has brought you pleasure in a vase on Monday.


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End of Month View: Underwhelmed and Overwhelmed

I feel a little bit of both the above about the garden at the moment – a touch underwhelmed about its appearance and lack of vibrancy and a tad overwhelmed about the amount of maintenance that suddenly seems to be required. Having become conscious about the longer term maintenance we have embarked on a reassessment of some of the trees in the garden, as mentioned in some recent posts and evident in some of today’s photographs – but perhaps much of the other maintenance is a seasonal requirement that is always necessary at this time of year as the garden begins its gradual slump towards hibernation. Posting photographs of the garden at the end of the month is a great way of recording differences from year to year, and I am grateful to Helen, the Patient Gardener, for hosting this meme. Don’t forget to look at the map of the garden if you need to check the layout of the garden as you look at the photos.

Firstly, directly behind the house the trees in the background appear to be still in full leaf but in fact have been shedding the odd leaf or two for a few weeks as a result of the dry summer. The ladder was necessary to reach the apex of the gable end and summer prune the wisteria, which  I did yesterday – but delaying the summer prune from midsummer’s day to the end of August for the first time had the undesired effect of allowing the tendrils to start wrapping themselves round the solar panels – not a good discovery to make.

EOMV.Aug14.1IMG_2926To the right is the streamside area with the reclaimed topsoil that forms a new bed which will be planned (sort of) over the winter. The 3 pillar fruit trees are still in situ up to their ankles in soil and will be moved later in the year. Two hazel trees and a holly have been removed from the hedgeline to the right, fortuitously providing a location for some species roses.

An ash and a wild cherry have been cut down to their trunks at the far end of the woodland, already substantially improving the quality of light here and in the adjacent border, but producing a copious quantity of timber and leaf to deal with. The shredder, still under guarantee, is on strike so it is a slow job.

EOMV.Aug14.2The Golfer had just finished dealing with one batch of trimmings before the next photo was taken – he had moved all the potted hostas out of the way and this sunken area has been piled high with the smaller offcuts. There are odd spots of interest in the borders, but no cohesion whatsoever and a distinct lack of appearance of asters and performance of penstemons:

IMG_2929The clematis colonnade is devoid of flowering clematis other than a strand of Ernest Markham and there is only an occasional flower on the geranium at their feet. The sweet pea fence to the left has been pretty successful this year, with annual sweet peas this year supplementing their everlasting cousins.

IMG_2930The woodland edge border, viewed from both ends, has changed little over recent months, although the thalictrum in the right hand picture was removed later in the day, having finally been deemed just too tall:

EOMV.Aug14.3The revamped bold and bright borders, being neither bold nor bright, have been a disappointment:

EOMV.Aug14.4The fruit cage is undergoing changes this year, with some old bushes being replaced and the pillar fruit trees finding a new home here; today I have been tying in loganberry canes and generally beginning a tidy-up. The main greenhouse is chocabloc with tomatoes and peppers and currently a satisfying place to visit as it amply displays the fruits of my labour:

EOMV.Aug14.5The cutting beds have been the subject of a learning curve but are producing some flowers for admiring and cutting, and there is still room for crops like squash which is finally climbing up the purpose made support instead of sprawling along the path:

EOMV.Aug14.6The blue & white borders have worked hard but are now having a break – I am especially pleased how well the two ‘Snow Goose’ roses are establishing against the wall, already requiring me to extend the wiring framework for them.

EOMV.Aug14.8I gave the lavender in the rose garden a light trim today, quite pleased with how well the plants have filled out to underplant the roses. Meanwhile the roses, despite being past their best, have generally performed well this year and no doubt deserve a break – I wonder if I should feed them more than I do?

IMG_2942Back down near the house, the species snowdrop border quietly lies in waiting with some other attempts at green and white interest in the interim, and Annabelle is a star in the hedge border.

EOMV.Aug14.7IMG_2937Elsewhere there are some pots which have done well despite a lack of watering, but generally the garden seems to have run out of steam a little earlier than some years – or does it always feel like this at the end of August? Well, at least I have the excitement of a large new planting area to plan – and the joy of watching new seedlings emerge! Then next year it all begins again….!



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Capturing the Moment

IMG_2918I carefully unwound and untangled this strand of Clematis montana ‘Marjorie’ from witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Spanish Spider’ as soon as the photo was taken, just one dangle too far from the old apple tree Marjorie is growing through. Despite her feminine name and pretty appearance she had a firm grip on the young Spanish Spider!

There were other moments to capture on this mild damp August day too: what a striking pair Anemone japonica ‘Honorine Jobert’ and Lonicera belgica made, lighting up the grey morning and begging to be included in a vase on Monday. Alas, the honeysuckle is a little too fickle and will in no way guarantee me  blooms for next week….


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Wordless Wednesday: Spot the Difference


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In a Vase on Monday: Shabby Chic

IMG_2907It’s Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK so, being without my usual Monday morning activities and, as it is raining, no visit to a Bank Holiday Monday car boot sale either, there is an earlier vase on Monday!

Roses were intended as a starting point today, as a number of them have suddenly produced what is definitely a ‘flush’ of new flowers, rather than an odd one or two. The IMG_2912‘Pink Perpetué’ climbing outside the front door were the last roses I saw yesterday so were still uppermost in my mind and were sporting a clutch of a dozen or so flowers in a single spray so they became the focus. I always think of them as slightly shabby as they catch the sun for much of the day and their colour tends to fade, giving the flowers a papery look – thus providing the ‘shabby chic’ title of today’s vase. They were joined in the vase with the following, in the order they were picked as I rambled down the garden and the reasons for their inclusion:

Clematis jouiniana ‘Praecox’ – shabby chic in colour and appearance
Heuchera  flower stems, slightly over but still with a pinky tone
Sweet Pea ‘Mollie Rilestone’ – old fashioned appearance and might encourage more blooms
Sedum ‘Stewed Rhubarb Mountain’ – definitely looked the part (isn’t it gorgeous?)
Rose ‘The Fairy’ – such a perfect spray of tiny frothy flowers, like a 1950s petticoat
Nigella seed pods – again, they just look the part
Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ – a vintage look, and cutting should give me more flowers.

I suppose a vintage china teapot would have made a good receptacle if I had one, but shabby chic nevertheless still strives for classiness so a car boot Edinburgh Crystal vase IMG_2913was chosen and the flowers crammed into it – a roomier vessel would have produced a completely different result, but whether or not it would have been an improvement is anybody’s guess. The Pink Perpetué were shedding petals from the moment they were picked, particularly as they required a bit of a shake to rid them of resident earwigs – but the petals made a good prop. Also, the damp morning meant poor light inside and necessitated outdoor pictures but the soft rain added additional ambience to the overall effect.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t detect any scent from the roses but the two sweet pea stems are already pumping out their fragrance and justifying being cut and brought into the house. Smell is only one of our senses though, and bringing material into the house from our gardens (as well as the choosing and picking processes themselves) can trigger all sorts of associations using many of our senses – including that perhaps undefinable ‘sixth sense’. Monday mornings have become a voyage of discovery – a journey that those of us posting a vase on Monday can thoroughly recommend, whether on a weekly or less frequent basis. If you would like to join us, post your vase of pickings and link it to and from this post so we can share in your pleasures.


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Late Summer Lament


The garden stalls and stutters,
The seasons’ successes and failures
Merging as one
As the garden
Ebbs and flows
With the tides of the year,
Money and effort expended
Towards uncertain futures,
Towards our age-wearied end.
Beyond the garden, however,
Beyond the focussed obsession,
Beyond success or failure,
The world keeps turning
And with it, unchecked,
Grow seeds of
War, Atrocity,
Hunger, Fear and Disease
In a fertile garden where
Falls on stony ground.

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Garden Bloggers Foliage day: a Different Tack

Thanks to Christina for hosting this monthly meme, which encourages us to notice the foliage in our gardens as well as the blooms and appreciate that foliage is the glue which helps to stick our gardens together. I hope she will forgive me for taking a slightly different approach today!

IMG_2891I set out with camera in hand to record examples of foliage this afternoon but was not drawn to the patterns and textures and colours this time but more to the excess of it – something that has become increasingly noticeable in our years here as the garden becomes shadier and shadier. Conscious that we may not be as agile in the future I am keen that potential problems are nipped in the bud or, more accurately, lopped in the trunk, and when we left for our two sleeps in Surrey the wild cherry I had planted at the far end of the woodland in 2000 was on its way out, making access to the ash (planted at the same time) easier, as it will meet the same fate. Immediately, the borders to the right of the cherry regained some of the light they have been lacking – RESULT! Unfortunately the shredder, just over a year old, refused to co-operate and there are still two piles of leaves and branches blocking my rambles.

GBFD.Aug14Down by the greenhouses and cutting beds the mile-a-minute vine continues to encroach over next door’s fence at a rate of two miles a minute and needs to be cut back for the umpteenth time this year – but the upside is that when this neighbour watered the tomatoes while we were away in Glasgow he realised just how much of a nuisance it was and intends to do something about it – hurrah!

IMG_2894On a happier note, foliage of the nearby squash shows how well the plants are growing, now beginning to cling to the upright support they were given to keep them from running rampant along the ground – AND there are finally flower buds on Ammi visnaga atop the luxuriant feathery foliage that I have been admiring for weeks:

GBFD.Aug14.2I have a foliage dilemma, however, on the later sown sweet peas which are trained up the dead Viburnum – lots of foliage, but NO FLOWERS! Did I pinch them out? I know I did on the earlier sown ones but I really can’t remember whether these were similarly nipped….

IMG_2888I have already swept up some fallen leaves form the paths and I guess this will becoming a regular task by the time September’s GBFD comes around as autumn really stakes a claim on the proceedings. In the meantime, to make up for the lack of more interesting foliage in the rest of the post I thought I would finish by including this pleasing combination of unknown pulmonaria with our favourite persicaria, ‘Red Dragon':



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