In a Vase on Monday: Over and Out

Today’s vase is quite alien compared to any I have produced before but that’s purely down to the content: a bearded iris.

I am not against irises altogether, having others which have been included in vases over the years, but I am by no means a fan of the bearded iris. Too tall? Too clumsy? Too sprawly? Too bearded? I can’t quite pin the reason down and admit they do look striking in large clumps but they are just not for me and although I was pleased to a (very) small degree that this one has chosen to send up a flowering spike for only the second time, I nevertheless took notice of the space it took up in one of my bold borders and decided that it was ‘over and out’ for this lost label specimen. I had hoped that digging it out would reveal the label but sadly it did not, although memory recalls it having something to do with its darkness and/or blueness. There are now 4 bearded iris to sell on the Open Garden days…

Joining the over and out iris in the vaguely ikebana style vase are ivy offcuts from some of the general tidying that has been taking place around the garden. The dish is an amethyst Caithness Glass bonbon dish (bought new and well before Monday vase days as a pretty piece of Caithness Glass), with a stainless steel pin holder or ‘frog’ to hold the stems in place. The prop is a reproduction vintage radio which seemed vaguely appropriate for the ‘over and out’ title, the phrase originating alongside the birth of radio.

Not surprisingly this is the last time you will see a bearded iris in one of my vases, so if you like them yourself enjoy this one while you can! Perhaps you will even have one in your own vase today – or maybe it is something else that you have plucked from your garden to pop in a vase. Please share it with the rest of us by leaving the usual links so we can check them out on your blog; I myself am in London meeting Christina (My Hesperides Garden) and Julie (London Cottage Garden) so will be catching up as and when I can.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Mission Accomplished (well, nearly)

The last piece of the summer pot jigsaw is about to be put in place with the long-awaited arrival of these ‘summer patio planters’ in Aldi today; having bought these for the last 3 years I knew what good value they are and for how long they perform, so a special journey saw 4 snapped up which in due course will be replanted into the lead effect planters on the paved area. These will join the usual range of baskets and pots to bring added colour to the garden over the next few months…

Baskets at the front of the house with three shades of petunias:

New for this year, also at the front, tubs of New Guinea impatiens and more lobelia (repeated in urns in the rose garden which I have forgotten to photograph):

The pelargoniums which replaced those ‘frosty’ violas:

Four cones (the old wicker ones now replaced by these long-lasting and realistic versions in recycled plastic) each with a single plug comprising 3 different plants (bidens, verbena and I think, calibrachoa):

And various pots with seed sown dwarf cosmos and added lobelia:

The above picture was clearly taken before the Golfer swept through with his (new?) broom on his way to once again transforming all the paths in the garden, as it is now pristine and clear of moss and weeds – well done to the Golfer for this painstaking work!

The majority of the pots and baskets have utilised plug plants, some bought from our local garden centre as tiny plugs early in February and grown on but the bulk bought by mail order. Much as I enjoy growing things from seed I just would not have had the room to raise all of these this way and have no qualms about buying them as plugs – the disadvantage is often not knowing when they are going to arrive, but at least mail order companies are usually able to defer a delivery if you expect to be away for any length of time. I shall now be kept busy keeping on top of watering if we have another dry spell!


Posted in annuals, container & basket plants, Gardening, Gardens | 3 Comments

The Time Has Come…

…to oust these violas, the pretty ‘Cool Wave Frost’ (the photo makes them look more blue than the lilac mix that they are) variety that I have grown from seed for the last 3 or 4 years. They germinate so readily, are so reliable and flower for ages so these will be replanted elsewhere to add a bit of colour for a few more months at least. For the second year running the tulips that are also planted in the pots have failed to materialise – well, the leaves have appeared but that is clearly all they are going to manage. It may not be coincidence that I replaced the pots two years ago so perhaps the pots are too small to cope with the tulips as well; next year perhaps I will dispense with the tulips as the violas have performed admirably enough on their own. Once the violas are out, they will be replaced with overwintered pelargoniums which have been champing at the bit to get into bigger pots.

After a day of very welcome rain yesterday (not quite an inch) which meant catching up on indoor jobs instead, it was also time to start clearing the streamside grass , now that the bulbs have had a decent number of weeks to catch their breath. This cut is always done with hand shears, and leaves the grass in a bit of a mess for a few weeks but it will quickly perk up. The ferns on the bank were also trimmed back, so now you can actually see the stream again.

Whilst trimming the ferns, it was a pleasant surprise to find flower stems appearing on the dwarf rheum (centre of the picture), R kialense – not seen those for a long time!

Now that potting on and planting out is up to date, I plan to progressively work through the garden weeding, staking and removing overhanging stems. After yesterday’s rain, it may well be a full scale battle against the weeds but with many borders stuffed to the gunnels a few weeds won’t be very noticeable and I am not going to lose any sleep over it.

The long period of hot and dry weather brought a necessary modification to the Mason Bee’s home: having followed the advice to tilt the tube downwards to prevent rainwater entering, we found that the cardboard inner tubes began to slide out as the plastic outer tube expanded in the heat! A couple of temporary wedges have returned the tube to a horizontal position and the whole support will be revamped over winter when the bees are not in residence, giving the tube an overhanging roof instead. In the meantime, it is pleasing to see that after the early weeks when only a few cocoons had hatched, most of them seem to have done so now.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, mason bees | Tagged | 11 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Living up to its Name

Image | Posted on by | Tagged | 4 Comments

Garden Bloggers’ Blooms Day: Permission to Cast a Clout

I have been casting clouts around the garden for a number of weeks but, whether or not there is any credence in the old saying, the more common white hawthorn has been in bloom for some time too. Our pink hawthorn, now it has started flowering after a slow start, is always rather later than the white version but is certainly in full bloom now, the day after the GBBD meme hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens. As with any meme of this type it is a good way of keeping a record of the garden, so thanks go to Carol for facilitating it.

The hawthorn is certainly not the only thing in full bloom in our UK Midland garden today: the main herbaceous borders are now producing colour amidst their fresh greenness, courtesy particularly of aquilegia and alliums…

In the bold borders the extra allium I added are strutting their stuff too, alongside the first of the geums (top, Mrs Bradshaw; below, Totally Tangerine):

There was a distinct fragrance of roses on the air when I rambled around the garden today; every day more and more buds are showing colour as they build up to their prime flowering period (clockwise from top left: Guinée, Madame Alfred Carrière, Crown Princess Margareta, Zépherin Drouhin):

In the shrub border the rugosa roses, now in their third full year, are beginning to make  more of an impact (from left: Hansa, Alba, Agnes)

Easily overlooked are the subtle blooms of heuchera in a variety of delicate shades, but perhaps more obvious when grouped together like this:

Erysimum ‘Caribbean Island’ has been flowering non-stop for 2 or 3 weeks and at an unbelievable density; sadly I understand it is only a short-lived perennial, perhaps wearing itself out with its superhuman flowering effort:

The alpina clematis are all but over and most later flowered ones are just gearing themselves up for their turn, but my only montana, C montana ‘Grandiflora’ is doing a job of climbing into the hedge and contrasts well with our neighbour’s unwelcome laburnum. We have trimmed off as many overhanging branches as we can, but we still get hundreds of distinctive seedlings popping up in our own garden…grrr!

Finally, a progress report on the wisteria; this variety, Wisteria floribunda ‘Multijuga’, has really long racemes so the process of opening is a gradual one but observed with anticipation every day from the first swollen bud:

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 19 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: a Habit of Decades

The freshness and prettiness of this vase still takes me by surprise as I observe it whilst writing – there is something about the pink of the sweet peas offset by the white and greens that gives the impression of a new and youthful innocence; odd really, as half of the vase is recycled from last week.

The ornithogalum just seemed to get better and better, almost usurping the tulip as the star of the vase, and within a few days I had vowed to buy more of these bulbs as they looked most attractive and almost orchid-like in their appearance – not that I bought this one, which just appeared from nowhere one year, pehaps hitching a ride with the nearby crocus bulbs. Not recognising it at first, it was suggested by some that ornithogalum can become invasive and I briefly considered removing it but am glad now that I didn’t. Saved with it from last week’s vase is Astrantia ‘Buckland’, also still fresh as a daisy; joining these survivors is a small bunch of Winter Sunshine sweet pea ‘Pink’ (such an original name!), Armeria ‘Ballerina White’ (more like Ballerina Hint of Pink), a’Lilliput Lovely’ aquilegia from Touchwood seeds (sadly not of the anticipated Lilliputian proportions) in the most delectable ‘coconut ice’ shades and delicate looking grass Luzula nivea, all tucked up together in pale pink car boot vase purchase.

Scrunched up foil may be an odd prop for a Monday vase, but recycling has been an inbuilt habit of mine for many decades (work it out…), ever since we were encouraged at school to collect used foil ‘for the guide dogs’ in the 60s. The concept of recycling was unknown back then and it didn’t occur to us at the time to question what the guide dogs needed the foil for, but we worked out that it somehow meant the school could provide new guide dogs for blind people and I think over the years we supplied two of them, thanks to our milk bottle tops and a teacher who lived next door to a fish and chip shop. The habit has stuck with me though, and even the smallest scrap of foil is saved or tucked into a pocket if acquired when not at home, and the recent wider recycling opportunities have been welcomed with open arms and embraced wholeheartedly.

Each week brings greater choice of blooms in our UK gardens and those North American gardens emerging from winter, whilst southern hemisphere offerings are becoming more autumnal. Wherever you are, please consider finding something in your garden to plonk in a vase or jar today to bring you pleasure during the week – and to bring the rest of us pleasure as well if you share it with us by leaving the usual links.

Next week when you are posting your Monday vases I shall be in London meeting up with Christina (My Hesperides Garden) and Sandra (Wild Daffodil) so will have to defer the pleasure of reading and replying to comments and seeing your vases – the pleasure of meeting up with these blogging friends for the first time, however, is equally anticipated! If anybody else is able to join us please do get in touch and we can pass on details.



Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Recycling | Tagged , | 71 Comments


The green smell
That follows
Weeks without;
Fresh foliage,
Fresher still.
First sweet peas
And something
Carried on the breeze;
Tomato plants
Warming in
The greenhouse;
Rich fruitiness,
Close encounter
With an early rose;
Confused aroma of
Bruised garlic leaves
And spent bluebells;
Of wisteria’s
Dangling fragrance.
Bottle them all
In a crystal vial:
Parfum de Jardin en Mai.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Poetry, Spring | Tagged | 12 Comments