In a vase on Monday: Brian’s Dream Dahlias

Yes, he did indeed ply us with dahlias too, and my goodness haven’t we enjoyed appreciating these at close quarters! The quality and size of the blooms are just wonderful and the length and straightness of the stems show just what a semi-professional dahlia grower can do with their advanced knowledge and years of experience. I am in complete awe of their perfection!

Brian, the owner of the garden (see yesterday’s post), had worked in horticulture until he retired, including for a specialist dahlia/chrysanthemum company, and clearly loved his dahlias which were the mainstay of his garden. He was delighted to share this enthusiasm with an interested party and readily shared the names of all these dahlias and others I enquired about but without any means of recording them at the time I am afraid I haven’t got a proper record. My favourite was the glowing scarlet pompom or is it a ball? (I believe there is a technical difference in dahlia nomenclature!), which we were told is virtually the same as ‘Blyton Lady in Red’ which Brian also had but which he didn’t pick for us; both were just as stunning:

I recognised ‘David Howard’, a large decorative orange dahlia, but was gobsmacked by this almost luminous yellow one,  such a distinctive shade that you could imagine would really glow in the dark; I think I am correct in remembering this as ‘Glorie van Heemstede’:

The ‘Brian’s Dream’ of the title is a white dahlia with a hint of lilac and I am sure Brian said that both dahlias at the top of the picture below were that variety; certainly the lighter one is. SAdly, I didn’t think to ask him if it was one he bred himself… The beautiful violet one is possibly ‘Willo’s Violet’, another beauty. Hmmm, I am finding myself particularly enamoured by these pompom/ball dahlias…

One of the red dahlias had suffered a broken stem before we got back so was cut short and popped into a pretty little stoneware vase, whilst Mum’s small stock of vases was searched to find a vase and tall and sturdy enough to cope with the other top-heavy blooms. A tall ‘moss’ Caithness Glass vase was retrieved from the loft and to keep the contents distinctly different one of the two luminous blooms was given its own vase, a smaller one from the same maker. I didn’t want to experiment too much with the length of stems in the main vase I case I cut too much off too soon, but after photographs were taken I did cut another inch or two from the violet one which seems to balance the vase a little better.

I know there are many of you out there who will be getting pleasure from picking material  from their gardens and putting them in their own vases today. I have bent my own rules a little as these dahlias were not from my own garden but of course they are still in the spirit of the meme and not only are they bringing pleasure to my Mum, the Golfer and myself, but cutting them for us clearly gave Brian pleasure as well. Do share your own pickings with the rest of us too by writing about them on your blogs and leaving links to and from this post, as always.

I will probably not be able to reply to all your comments this time round and may not get to see all your Monday vases either, so apologies in advance if this proves to be the case – you know how diligent I normally am!

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Gardens With a View

Visiting my Mum for a few days we were pleased to find that this visit coincided with a ‘Garden Safari’ when visitors were invited tom pop in and view 11 gardens on the island, in aid of the ‘Seed for Life, Feed for Life’ charity, supporting farmers in Malawi. As the flyer said, it was an opportunity to find out what grows on the island and the challenges met by the growers. The greatest challenge is of course the weather, and accordingly it rained heavily on and off until about 3.30 when it felt safe to venture out and visit at least some of the gardens.

Much of the island is exposed to winds from the sea and together with the short growing season limits what can be grown, as does the shallow slate filled soil in the northern part. Crocosmia, hydrangea, leucanthemum and kniphofia are common flowers, but surprisingly so too is agapanthus in some parts. The south of the island is more sheltered, seems to have its own microclimate, and benefits also from half-decent soil, not surprisingly boasting several pretty gardens. What almost all gardens do have though, is A View, and for many this seems to be enough to compensate for the difficulties faced in creating a garden.

Nature has been taking over Mum’s garden in recent years, but compensates by giving her the view shown above, looking out towards Mull, with lovely sunsets when conditions allow; elsewhere, the sometimes wildness of the weather is rewarded by sightings of pods of dolphins from or yachts navigating between the islands when the wind is right for sailing:

At the south of the island colour was plentiful and we could easily have been almost anywhere in the UK, although there was always at least just a glimpse of the sea:

The fifth and last garden we were able to visit included two large beds of absolutely pristine dahlias, and with very few visitors on that rainy Saturday the owner came rushing out of his house when we arrived, delighted to show his beloved plot to some interested people. He delighted in my questions about his dahlias, plied us with tomatoes and French beans from his two greenhouses and pressed a further punnet of them into our hands as we left, clearly anxious to share his abundance. Perhaps he might offer to share some of his dahlias too, I wondered…


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Wordless Wednesday: A Real Princess

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August Blooms: Some In, Some Out

The last few days have seen me comprehensively overhauling two of the bold borders, removing crocosmia and hemerocallis, thinning out inula and moving taller plants to the back. Some of the hemerocallis and crocosmia will be potted up to sit out the winter but a lot of flowerless greenery is going into green waste so as not to risk them hibernating on the compost heap. The borders now look a little on the empty side but will soon be home to sensible and non-thuggish replacements. In the meantime there are plenty of blooms elsewhere in the garden, lots of persicaria for a start:

Persicaria ‘Rosea’

Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ with Nasturtium ‘Mahogany’, Inula hookerii, Crocosmia ‘Constance’ and C Canary Bird’, Clematis heracleifolia ‘New Love’

Persicaria ‘Jo & Guido’

Persicaria ‘Fat Domino’

Phlox ‘Lilac Eye Flame’ and teucrium

Clematis viticella ‘Mary Rose’

Cosmos ‘Purity’, ‘Click Cranberries’, Fizzy Rose Picotee’

‘Bishops Children’ dahlia, Dahlia ‘Karma Serena’, Aster ‘Lady Coral Dark Blue’

Dalhlia ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Happy Single Julia’

Aster ‘Star Violet’ and Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’, Zinna ‘Zahara Double Strawberry’

sunflowers and sweet peas

Rose ‘Munstead Wood’ and Sedum ‘Thunderhead’

Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’

Zinnia ‘ Summer Bouquet’ and Amaranthus viridis

Inula magnifica, still magnificent!

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In a Vase: Hello Ruby Monday

I have been drooling over these ruby coloured dahlias for a week or two, spiky ‘Nuit d’Été’ and decorative ‘Karma Naomi’, so it was a real pleasure to snip them for today’s vase and seek out other suitably ruby blooms to join them.

Naturally, the  dangly amaranthus lambs’ tails were a must – but not the champion 33″ long one – and several Cosmos ‘Click Cranberries’, found in the adjacent cutting beds; from a hanging basket came stems of a striking annual verbena (visible in the overhead view above) and from the shrub border a ruby stem and flowers of Sedum ‘Jose Aubergine’ and striking  blooms of Persicaria ‘Fat Domino’, one of several persicaria added to the garden two years ago and now really beginning to shine. Several vases were tried and rejected but this dark blue glass hyacinth vase seems to fit the bill well and the pink handstitched quilt used as a backdrop successfully complements the ruby blooms, the overall effect being one of richness of colour. The unusual inclusion of an onion as a prop came about because red onions are a rare purchase for me but were an ingredient in a weekend meal we were having; less strange is the beautiful multi faceted garnet, one of the natural formations of this particular crystal. Garnets are reputed to be energising and regenerating and useful to have in a crisis.

Please do join us in creating a Monday vase to bring you pleasure over the coming week, picking and plonking blooms from your garden, and share them with us by leaving links to and from this post.

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One Stone

Yesterday took us on a small trip which, like most of our trips, served more than one purpose, thus ‘killing two birds with one stone’; thinking about the idiom and not wishing to sound unkind to our feathered friends, I looked up its origins. It seems that it may date back  to Greek and Roman mythology and the story of Icarus and Daedalus, who constructed wings to escape from the Labyrinth in Crete. Daedalus is said to have obtained the feathers used to make the pair’s famous wings by killing two birds with a single stone. He may of course just have been bragging – but whether it is true or not I have abbreviated my title to the solitary stone.

The main purpose of the trip was to pick up the greenhouse which we had successfully bought from eBay for the pauperly sum of £17, requiring a 100 mile round trip to a Northamptonshire village to collect it. As is our habit, we ensured there was more than one purpose to the journey by including a trip to the gardens at Coton Manor which proved to be a most enjoyable diversion to this pretty property with its lovely borders and well-stocked nursery. Sadly I haven’t taken as many photos of the borders as I thought I had:

At the eBay vendor’s home, an hour and half saw the greenhouse dismantled and stacked in the car for the journey home; today the job of clearing and dismantling the existing small greenhouse (also an eBay purchase) and the process of modifying the newer bargain began. Having done the preliminary clearing and dismantling, I left the Golfer to it (cutting to fit, re-erecting, weatherproofing the join between the two greenhouses, etc) and got on with rehashing the borders. This is the sort of task that he excels at, easily recognising how to make things fit for purpose (with the occasional practical and design input from myself) and in a small space like a greenhouse too many cooks could easily spoil the broth…hmm, I wonder what the origins of that idiom are…?

Look out for the next instalment…

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Wordless Wednesday: Does Size Matter?

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