Springing Into a Vase on Monday

IMG_4288I have been watching, fascinated, as flower spikes begin to appear from the recently emerged green spikes of the Tête-a-Tête – surely they aren’t usually quite so early? Checking back on the blog shows that it was well into March last year and as late as April the year before after the harder winter, which just shows the variation. Many of the spikes have visible flower buds and one or two even have the teeny-tiniest hint of yellow, so I took a chance and snipped several of them late on Saturday afternoon – by the following morning some were already fully open so this vase should just get better and better. It intrigues me that the buds point upwards until the flowers start to open and then they bend over. Once picked, the stems were placed in a chicken shaped egg cup, this green one being chosen out of my (you’ve guessed it!) large collection!

IMG_4285Meteorologically we are now in ‘spring’ but, although we have enjoyed some pleasant sunshine and mild temperatures off and on in the last couple of weeks, psychologically I don’t think IMG_4286of spring till after the equinox or even until we change the clocks at the end of March. However, as a nod to the gradual burgeoning of fresh growth in the garden and the appearance of an increasing number of early spring blooms and in particular these Tête-a-Tête I have included some ‘spring’ props, a vintage egg whisk and egg lifter.

Although some young Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’ foliage was picked it didn’t really seem necessary as the narcissi are attractive enough on their own. I really like the freshness and simplicity of this vase and watching the buds open over the next few days will bring me great joy. The miniature size of the display is really appealing too – and it’s good to use more of my dusty collection! If you would like to join in and find something in your garden or nearby that you can bring inside and place in a vase or container on a Monday please do – I hope it brings you as much pleasure as I know this little fellow will. It would be great to share your findings so please leave a link to and from this post to enable us to do so – or just enjoy your pleasures privately!

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Posted in Being Creative, bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , | 47 Comments

End of Month View: Getting Ready to March

February always seems to be over in a rush, those few less days somehow making a big difference, and now it’s time for a quick monthly overview, kindly hosted by Helen at Patient Gardener. I have found it a great way of keeping a regular photographic record of the garden as a whole and often check back on previous year’s EOMV posts to compare times of flowering. It has also illustrated that there is always something going on, something to be quietly or enthusiastically excited about – currently the onset of more spring blooms to join the earlier snowdrop specials, and the native snowdrops coming towards their peak.

From the back of the house the view across the paved area also encompasses the flotsam and jetsam arising from work on the raised bed for the snowdrop specials – block paviors, rope edges and sections of the little picket fence which had been at the back of the border. In the tubs, tulips are pushing their way through and new foliage is unfolding on the roses.

IMG_4268To the right of this area, the streamside grass and the shrub border are resplendent in Crocus  tommasinianus, mostly ‘Barr’s Purple’, the milder temperatures of the last couple of days really bringing them forward. Seeing them in profusion like this I realise how attractive they look next to the grasses in the shrub border, making me change my mind about moving them all to the streamside.

IMG_4269The woodland is displaying several clumps of primrose with lots of bluebell foliage showing too but no sign of wood anemones yet:

IMG_4270Bill’s chimney in the bothy gives a good view over the main borders.These and the blue & white borders are the last areas of the garden that need forking over and compost added to them and hopefully this can be achieved this week now the raised bed is completed.

IMG_4271The view standing in front of the main borders, with all the hosta pots in the foreground – I wonder if hosta is on the slugs’ menu this year?

IMG_4272The recently purchased clematis were planted out yesterday, most of them in the clematis colonnade. There are definite gaps in the hardy geraniums at their feet, something to be remedied later in the year:

IMG_4274The woodland edge border is moving towards its period of spring abundance, with the common snowdrops all opening up and the hellebores starting to make a statement. Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’ is still in full flower in the foreground of the last photo and on the left in this one:

IMG_4273The same border from the other end:

IMG_4275The left and right bold borders with various new shoots emerging. Although I have already reduced the size of clumps of crocosmia I have read advice since then which suggests dismantling the clumps altogether to rejuvenate them, so they may be re-tackled in due course.

IMG_4277IMG_4276Leaving the greenhouse, fruit cage and cutting beds for other posts, we move on to the blue & white borders also with various new shoots emerging:

IMG_4278Like the pots on the paved area there is plenty of evidence of fresh foliage emerging on the roses in the rose garden, and the availability of bags of slate chippings again at JTF meant I could get the areas next to the ‘bus shelter’ here tidied up:

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Back towards the house is the special snowdrop bed, already featured this week, and the hedge border with a few Crocus ‘Snow Bunting’ in flower:

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And that’s it for February 2015. To see how the various sections of the garden fit together don’t forget that there is a map (under The Garden tab above) to help you get your bearings – and thanks once again to Helen for hosting the meme. Do look at her blog for links to other bloggers’ gardens and what is happening in them today.

Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | 26 Comments

Not Time for Beds Yet

cuttingbedsI noticed Julie of Peonies and Posies has posted a February update on her cutting beds today – I would like to do the same but to be honest they are very much the same as at the end of January. The only difference is that the corner bed now has tulips coming through as well as allium – these tulips are ones that were grown in pots last year, so may or may not have built up enough reserves to flower again but there was nothing to lose by replanting them. This bed has the poorest soil of the four beds here, containing some second rate topsoil, probably the only occasion we have bought in topsoil – and as you can see it’s still quite pebbly, despite removing bucketloads of them over the years.

IMG_4267Waiting in the wings, though, I do have more trays of hardy annuals to add those planted out in late autumn – poppy, centaurea and Sweet William – and I can be assured of early flowers on these, particularly when you see buds already showing colour, like this Sweet William. These three were the earliest sown of the hardy annuals and their success is a huge encouragement to me; researching what else can be sown in late summer now becomes a must.

Unlike the cutting beds, the special snowdrop border has been a hive of activity all week, the new raised bed being filled on Saturday and the snowdrops replanted in their old spots over the course of the week. After a lot of thought I decided to keep them in lattice pots but moved up to a slightly larger 11 x 11 x 11 cm size; even more thought (my brain has had busy time!) saw the new snowdrops purchased this year planted out too, after a short period in pots in the greenhouse. I have every intention of keeping them well watered and fed while they are still in leaf, then maintaining the watering in dry spells if necessary. It makes such a difference having them raised up like this – it’s far easier to admire them in close up and the lack of slope to the bed means less soil being washed onto the path when it rains. One unexpected aspect is that the troughs which nestled into the shape of the bed don’t look right now the bed is higher and seem to detract from the insets – so are in want of new home…!

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Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, cutting beds, garden structure, Gardening, Gardens | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: a Pair of Tiffany Lampshades

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In a vase on Monday: Heads and Tails

IMG_4246My how I dithered this morning – and even found myself thinking about the vase contents when I woke during the night, not something I make a habit of, fortunately! All week I had been considering the little group of Iris reticulata ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ which were growing in a pot in the greenhouse and just coming into flower – but only 4 of the 5 bulbs had come through, odd numbers are always best and I didn’t want to cut these as they look so pretty in the pot. The alternative would have been to add extra material to the pot itself – but there again there were Iris reticulata in my vase a couple of weeks back…

Katharine.HodgkinHowever, the neat button-like seedheads from Inula magnifica have been waiting patiently on the parent plant for the opportunity to appear in a vase, as have a clutch of rose hips stems from ‘Parkdirector Riggers’ which were cut when the roses were pruned early in January and had survived untouched in a neat pile near where they originated, so my thoughts were also revolving around a title with  the words ‘Heads’ in it. When ‘Heads and Tails’ suggested itself whilst I methodically swum up and down on my Monday morning swim, I wondered whether there would be catkins on the twisted hazel, Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ – once home I was able to establish that there were, so we were in business!

heads and tailsIMG_4257Choosing a container can be difficult when there is a lot of choice, but because the first two contenders didn’t need water and the twiggy hazel would be able to survive dry at least for several days I finally chose this vintage ‘frog’ or florist’s cage which I bought when we were at the Lincoln antique fair in December. It wasn’t labelled but to me its purpose was fairly obvious and it was aesthetically pleasing enough to be used on its own with a dry arrangement, but of course it would also fit inside a wide necked vase. It has a neat domed shape and when photographed on the kitchen table in front of me whilst writing this post the light cast pleasing shadows of the contents on the table.

IMG_4245The main photograph was shot outside to take advantage of today’s bright start, but perhaps the muted colours are a little lost against the brickwork, the lack of foliage on the stems meaning there was not enough contrast with the lines of the wall and path – a plain fabric background might have been better. Heads and tails props were easy, with the addition of Victorian and George V pennies from another of the Golfer’s collections. Some of these ‘collections’ may well be gathering dust but they have come in jolly useful on Monday mornings!

So there is today’s vase, a double whammy really because I still showed the irises – perhaps something in the garden will take me by surprise during the week so I can be more decisive again next Monday. Christina was certainly excited about her vase this week, and for good reason, as you will see if you check it out. You don’t need to be excited about your vase though, as the meme just encourages you to find something in your own garden or foraged nearby and bring it inside for your own pleasure – as all contributors have found out it can be an addictive and habit-changing process, but above all it has indeed brought us huge amounts of pleasure, increased by sharing vases with our blogging friends. Do join us, by including links to and from this post – you won’t regret it :)

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Posted in Being Creative, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day: Textures

IMG_4231This is the third month I have focussed on one particular aspect of foliage for GBFD, hosted by our good friend Christina at My Hesperides Garden. This month’s chosen focus was ‘texture’, but today was one of those days that started out frosty and clear but although temperatures rose a few degrees it just got chillier and damper as the day wore on, the sort of weather  that it is hard to warm up from once you have been exposed to it. Pleased I had braved the slightly improved elements of yesterday afternoon to fill the new raised bed, I remained inside as long as possible and finally began to make a dress I had bought fabric for a year ago, venturing outside only to take foliage photos and thus not giving the task as much attention as I might have done had it been warmer and drier.

Although not strictly foliage, the green addition of moss in the garden on paths and walls and on trees such as the prostrate salix shown above is very welcome with its velvet or, as in this case, furry texture. I bought this in a 3″ pot and it grew happily in the rockery for about 14 years until it was ousted it because it now spanned about 4 feet although only a few inches above the ground (a bit like a stepover apple in terms of shape). It was temporarily replanted in front of the cornus in the new shrub border till I can decide if there is a better location for it.

Also soft and velvety are stachys (this one is S byzantina ‘Big Ears’) and the underside of  hardy annual centaurea C cyanus ‘Black Ball’, one of my autumn sowings, although the latter has more of a brushed cotton rather than velvet feel to it:

GBFD.Feb15.2Fatsia japonica and rhododendron have leathery leaves, as do mature hellebores, but young hellebore foliage feels more like glossy paper (look at those gorgeous jewel like shades on the latter!):

IMG_4242GBFD.Feb15.3Grasses are very individual in their textures, with Luzula nivea‘s softer and hairy leaves, Uncina rubra‘s sharp edges and hooked seed heads later in the year and the tactile strands of Stipa tenuissima that beg you to run your hands through them:

GBFD.Feb15.4Primrose and comfrey leaves have a crêpey texture to them although the larger leaved and more herbaceous comfrey always feel quite bristly to the touch:

GBFD.Feb15.1Closer inspection of or touching leaves may show details you wouldn’t notice in passing like the ribbed feel of this Asplenium scolopendrium arising from the spores on the underside of the leaves, or the hairs on the reverse of geums:

GBFD.Feb15.5It’s an interesting exercise to carry out and I am grateful to Christina for hosting the foliage day that instigated this investigation – do visit her blog to view more foliage posts, and have a look in your own garden for different textures but choose a more amenable day to do so! Completing my textured collection today is the ubiquitous ivy – always glossy, even when it isn’t raining:

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Posted in Garden Bloggers Foliage day, Gardening, Gardens | Tagged | 30 Comments

Coming Along Nicely

IMG_4222The crocus in the streamside grass area always take me by surprise because until they start showing purple spears they just look like…well…grass. From the number of purple spears visible they are definitely multiplying nicely and will open up and look a real picture on the next sunny day that has any real warmth in it. They are also popping up on the other side of the path, now the shrub border, and will be systematically eased out and replanted in the grass. Similar adjustments need to be made in the extension to the bold border, where snowdrops are appearing in both singles and clumps, having been overlooked when this new area was dug over. They will be moved back into the woodland edge border where I divide clumps on a regular basis, almost always while they are still in flower, whisking them out and straight back into a new hole.

coming.alongIMG_4223As well as snowdrops and crocuses there is new life in the Tête-a-Tête narcissi planted under the apple trees and in the streamside grass, many quite close too flowering, which seems much earlier than some years – I am sure they are usually several weeks behind the former two, but if I check back in the blog I might find it’s nothing like that at all! The ones in the little raised bed outside the front door are even more advanced, getting the benefit of any morning sun because of the easterly aspect.

IMG_4220IMG_4225Also coming along nicely is the raised bed for the special snowdrops, as I was able to take advantage of warmer and sunnier days on Tuesday and Wednesday to get the brickwork completed. Still undecided about a row of bricks at the back of the border, this changed once I realised I had already built a brick edging here some years ago, now partially covered by ferns and ivy, but which would give a good solid base to another course. As there were bricks left over from the main construction this afterthought was quickly added  today, another dry day, just requiring a few more bricks to complete the task. In yesterday’s more inclement weather some of the non-snowdrop occupants were temporarily removed from the border, but the snowdrops will be removed, the soil dug and the raised bed filled in small sections at a time, disturbing the preciouses as little as possible. Hopefully this will be completed over the weekend, weather permitting of course!

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, garden structure, Gardens, projects | Tagged | 32 Comments