Alternative Tuesday View

Some fellow garden bloggers choose to post a the view from one point in their garden every week on a Tuesday, not a meme I usually participate in and I would certainly not be posting a picture from this spot every week if I did! However, I am more than happy to be showing this picture of the gable wall of our extension because I have just completed repainting it, not that anyone other than the Golfer and myself would know as it is exactly the same shade of pink as before – well, perhaps it does look a bit fresher and there are a few evidential splashes of paint on the ground and a few less wisteria flower buds. Clambering up and down the scaffolding made for good exercise but the job was certainly much easier once my feet were back on the ground and I was not having to paint between/around/behind wisteria stems – and at least this priority wall has now been completed leaving the others to be done at our leisure, whatever that is.

A much more interesting and attractive Tuesday view might be of the clematis colonnade which is really beginning to make an impact, especially at this time of year. With 2 or 3 clematis on each post in theory there could be clematis in bloom for most months of the year, and it is the C alpina which are the early stars. There are buds on all eight of them, but those on the south facing side are more forward than the others. The highlight is ‘Constance’ on the second pillar from the right, but she is the old woman of the group at 7 or 8 whereas the others were planted a mere three years ago. On the far left ‘Pamela Jackman is a mass of buds, not yet open, whilst the paler Rosy Pagoda on the right requires a closer look to appreciate her attributes. Joining them for good measure is Clematis cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’ which, like ‘Freckles’, flowers when it chooses which is pretty much any time. All-in-all a most pleasurable stop on my daily rambles.

Lower picture, clockwise from top left: Jingle Bells, Constance, Rosy Pagoda, Pamela Jackman

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Ina Vase on Monday: Flying the Flag

There is no patriotic intent in today’s post, but the colour of the blooms instantly reminded me of the Union Jack flag and it just so happened I had these tiny flags purloined from celebrations of some royal event, probably the wedding of William and Kate in 2011. This was in my still-working, pre-blogging and definitely pre-IAVOM days so there were no thoughts in my mind at the time about using the flags as a prop, but the fact that I kept them clearly says something about my mild (?) squirreling habits.

The red, white and blooms that shouted “Pick me!” this week were some stylish species tulips, Tulipa praestans, Narcissi ‘Erlicheer’ and a hyacinth spike from a bulb replanted in the garden after indoor forcing one year. I had all but given up replanting these previously forced bulbs to avoid the danger of the garden being overrun by recycled hyacinths but having seen this and a lovely group of the beetroot red ‘Woodstock’ variety flowering this year I may well restart the habit.

The blooms demanded a simple, slim and shortish vase, and this deep heather glass vase wasn’t quite the right colour but otherwise fitted the bill. Reluctant to restrict the vase to these bright beauties however, I created a second equally bright and patriotic looking vase using white and blue Anemone blanda and the first few blooms of some of the red Anemone coronaria that were used for Younger Daughter’s wedding last year. Now that buds are forming, I was pleased also to see that at least one of the blue ‘Mr Fokker’ anemones has survived for another year – hurrah! The smaller blooms were popped into a slightly larger version of the miniature jug that holds the flags, both probably tradesman’s samples of nearby Bretby Pottery.

I have given away posies of Anenome blanda to a couple of friends in recent weeks who tell me they have lasted a week, and the A coronaria ‘Sylphide’ from last week’s vase lasted a whole week too, along with the bergenia stem, so that’s useful to know. Sharing this sort of information has proved really useful amongst IAVOM fans, which is why we look forward to sharing each other’s vases every week. Do consider joining us this week if you haven’t already done so – see what you can find in your garden or forage locally to pop in a vase or other container and share it with us by leaving links to and from this post. Thinking ‘out of the box’ is always encouraged!


Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , | 61 Comments

Gatherings of Gardeners

Kate of Barn House Garden talked recently about receiving the promotional material required for opening her garden under the rebranded National Garden Scheme; on Sunday, The Golfer and I attended the Staffordshire, Birmingham and West Midlands ‘county’ lunch (although technically we live in Warwickshire, right on the boundary with Staffordshire… and Derbyshire, oh and Leicestershire too!) where we picked up our promotional bits and pieces – and had an extremely nice lunch as well! It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet other gardeners and lovely that many of them made a point of chatting to us because this was to be our first time – thus a great chance to pick people’s brains and get advice on all sorts of issues related to opening our garden for the NGS. The Chief Executive of the NGS, George Plumptre, was in attendance to talk about the funds raised (£3.5 million in 2016, a HUGE amount, and interestingly the NGS is the major benefactor of all the charities supported) and present long service towels for 10 years of  opening, and forks for 30 years. The fork, I think, will be beyond our grasp…

The excitement and anticipation of opening has been with me since we were first accepted for the scheme, way back in July last year, not diminishing even throughout the winter months as I continued to do as much in advance as possible, whether it be planning the logistics or preparing non perishable things like plant information labels. The lunch, however, and the fact that it is now only 3 months till the openings not surprisingly heightens the excitement, but also brings an awareness of how much there is still to do before then! The garden is doing its best by doing what it does best – growing! – whilst I am assisting by continuing to cram the greenhouse with seedling and making up (in a disciplined way of course) for not buying plants last year. A large order from Claire Austin has been planted up in the last couple of weeks, whilst this week my order of dahlias, lilies and some herbaceous plants arrived from Peter Nyssen as well as clematis from Thorncroft for the obelisks in the shrub border and a couple of posts. The clematis have to be hardened off for a week or two but all of the others have been dealt with almost immediately to give them the best chance of settling in as quickly as possible.

There will be no more bulk purchases of plants this year, but when not trying to keep on top of pricking out and potting on there are numerous other tasks to prevent me from idly twiddling my thumbs. Having had an email from Mason Bees UK to say that our cocoons were being dispatched, some last minute painting of their home was required, before it could be erected in the garden. New advice on how to install it meant a last minute bit of construction by the Golfer so the nesting tubes could be angled downwards to help drainage and for the release box to be attached underneath, but it is up now and the cocoons are currently incubating prior to (hopefully) hatching. I shall write about these bees more at a later date, but in the meantime do look at the website or see Jen of Duver Diary’s series of posts about her mason bees last year. I am very grateful to Jen for introducing me to the Mason Bee Guardianship scheme, which should be an interesting and worthwhile experience.

Painting has extended beyond the bee’s home to our own, with the garden opening encouraging a long overdue painting of our exterior woodwork and, when the weather permits, the very much larger task of the walls although the gable of the extension is a priority and needs to be done before the wisteria trained across it begins budding up – which means SOON! In the meantime, and before the required scaffolding is set up, I am getting on with other minor improvements, such as those that followed the edging of the heuchera bed with tiles – this job begot (with off cuts) the tile infill shown here which in turn begot the current work in progress, a further infill from off cuts of the first offcuts! This will take the form of a ‘starburst’ at the base of the recycled metal tree, which I don’t think has ever been shown on the blog before – made from a rainwater hopper, downpipe and various other iron artefacts from our local salvage yard.

Is there a collective noun for a group of gardeners? There doesn’t seem to be anything ‘official’ and although ‘spade’ or ‘plantation’ have been suggested neither of these seems appropriate and thus I referred in the title to ‘gatherings’ of gardeners. Last Sunday I attended a gathering of local NGS gardeners but I am taking up the suggestion of some fellow garden bloggers and offering to organise an informal get together in London around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show in May, perhaps the Sunday or Monday (21st or 22nd) before it starts. Would anyone be interested in this? Do let me know, as it would still be worthwhile even for only a handful of us.

Posted in art in the garden, garden blogs, Gardening, Gardens, projects | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day: the Carpet Shop

On the 22nd of every month Christina of My Hesperides Garden encourages us to look at the foliage in our garden rather than focussing on the flowers which we tend to do without thinking. Since joining in with this meme I have looked at foliage in a completely different way and can now appreciate it in its own right. This month, alongside the spring blooms foliage is re-emerging, our old favourites waking up after their winter nap, the warmer days bringing rapid progress, especially when accompanied by not-yet-April showers.

Along with fresh foliage on the roses and the recognisable leaves of astrantia, aconitum and aquilegia, it is the stylish and lush carpets in varying shades of green that I have noticed today, like the snowdrops and Geranium × monacense var. anglicum in the woodland edge border, shown above, and again with the added shape and texture of epimedium below:

In the woodland itself, although it seems as if the primroses are there 12 months of the year, there is indeed a time when their foliage does disappear, and now their spreading clumps are joined by wood anemones, the leaves having pushed their way above ground and unfurled in no time at all, before being quickly followed by the blooms. A bark path winds through the woodland and the far side of this path is also a green carpet, but this time of bluebells and wild garlic which I didn’t think to photograph.

Anemone blanda in the hedge border makes a white flecked carpet, but without the delicate appeal of their more rural cousins; they are quicker to establish too, growing from corms rather than the ‘little bits of twig’ of wood anemones:

The borders are looking less patchy and empty as they fill up with foliage. I especially like the glaucous grey green of some foliage, like the tulip and allium shown below next to aquilegia and Papaver orientale. Perhaps this is why I love to paint my garden woodwork in the similar grey green ‘Wild Thyme’ shade…

The textures in the following carpet are more varied and the greens are brighter, with the foliage of alstroemeria, campanula, muscari and wallflower and a glimpse of aconitum and aquilegia:

Those of us who are currently experiencing the rising tide of spring in our gardens will have been exclaiming daily about new growth as well as the early spring blooms, realising as we do so that the patchy ground of our relatively bare borders will become a carpet of many colours within a shorter space of time than we remember from one year to the next. We are still surprised when spring follows winter, in time followed by summer and then autumn – as gardeners, anticipation is one of our pleasures even when the timing is uncertain, and today’s range of green carpets made the prospect of a bounteous summer seem ever more likely.

Thank you to Christina for hosting the meme and do visit her blog to see the different textures and colours of the foliage in her garden

Posted in Garden Bloggers Foliage day, Gardening, Gardens | 25 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: What on Earth is This?

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In a Vase on…erm, Sunday: Five Years a Blogger

I am taking the liberty of posting my Monday vase a day early – because today it is five years since I began blogging and combining the occasion with the first showing of this lovely vase has been my plan since Christmas when I received it from talented Elder Daughter. She painted it at one of those paint-it-yourself pottery places that have sprung up and the thought that clearly went into the design and application brought tears to my eyes (in a way no other present has ever done) when I opened the completely unexpected gift  – just how much more personalised could a gift be? And isn’t it beautiful?

Today the vase holds some pretty pink pleasurable preludes of spring, notably the Anemone coronaria ‘Sylphide’ which I have failed to grow to flowering stage up to now and therefore thrilled to have achieved this year. Started off in pots in the greenhouse in October and November they suddenly began producing buds and were duly cossetted last week in the hope there would be some open blooms today, which there are – hurrah! Equally sudden in producing blooms is the fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, culled from the woodland and adjacent path edges and opening from tight bud to full snakeshead glory within an hour or two of being brought inside. Reducing potential hellebore flop, slightly ‘over’ hellebore blooms were added as in this state they tend to hold their own for more than just a few days. Completing the pretty pinks are Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’ and the strikingly bright Bergenia ‘Abendglut’. The square profile of the vase with its gradually splayed sides allows the blooms to gently and attractively loll over the edges.

Like most of our garden blogging community I had little concept of where my tentative entry into blogging five years ago would take me, either figuratively or geographically. It has enriched my life in unmeasurable ways through contact with other bloggers, increasing my knowledge and gardening skills and forging on-line supportive friendships with a diverse bunch of people. Geographically it has taken me up and down the UK from the Outer Hebrides to Gloucestershire to meet other bloggers and there has been a similar and generous two-way flow of plants and seeds around the UK and beyond. For me, there is a joy to be found in the actual writing too, the ‘long form’ of social media as Loree of Danger Garden put it when she talked her 8th blogging anniversary last week. Although I deliberately reduced the frequency of posts after the first two years as my immersion in blogging world (and simultaneously in my garden) deepened, it still satisfies an inner ‘need’ to write, sometimes in poetic form as regular readers will know. So hurrah! for blogging, and garden blogging in particular 🙂

In a Vase on Monday, now into its fourth year and an integral fixture of the week for many of us, has been an unexpectedly successful feature of this blog and despite an anniversary of its own every November it seemed a fitting tribute to the personalised gift from Elder Daughter to combine this blogging anniversary with IAVOM just for today. Even without a blogging anniversary, you can still share the occasion and seek out material from your own garden or foraged nearby and pop it in a vase to bring you joy during the week, creating your own IAVOM post with links to and from this one so that we can share in your pleasure.

Finally, a big thank you to all readers of this blog, whether regularly, weekly or just occasionally. Thank you for enriching my life with your comments, support and friendship – long may it continue.



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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: March Flypast

We are all but half way through March already, and as the days fly past they drag the garden (willingly, I trust) towards a full-blown spring. Every day there are new blooms to discover, or new shoots of green appearing, and the seedlings in the greenhouse grow stronger and bigger every day with the increased warmth and light. Although this is how it is almost every spring, certainly in the UK, it does not stop those of us who love our gardens being filled with awe and wonder as spring unfurls each and every year. Snowdrops are all but over, hellebores are at their peak and it is another glorious day here today, as the sky in one of the following photographs suggests. March blooms are too numerous to mention individually, so please enjoy the slideshow of highlights if it works for you, which sadly it does not seem to do for everyone.

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Thank you to Carol of May Dreams Gardens who hosts this monthly meme.

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 25 Comments