GBFD: Bordering on the Splendid

img_8220This probably doesn’t look very splendid to you, but it was the best adjective I could come up come up with and it looks pretty splendid to me every time I walk past this end of the shrub border so I thought I would feature on this month’s Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, the meme kindly hosted by Christina.

The shrub border did not exist two years ago, so that in itself is makes the progress of this bed pretty splendid. The three cornus in the left half and the ornamental quince Chaenomeles ‘Madame Butterfly’ were transferred from pots early on, followed by the moving of the Fuchsia magellanica from another bed shortly after. Here is this section of the bed in October 2014:

captureI dithered about cutting the cornus back the following spring and selectively cut just a few stems and was still reluctant to give them a more comprehensive chop this year. I needn’t have worried as the top photo shows how much they have benefitted, throwing up a veritable small forest of new coloured stems, making for three shapely shrubs.

Behind the cornus are rugosa roses ‘Agnes’ and ‘Alba’, planted in November 2014, their bright green foliage now making more of an impact this year and also providing their first few blooms but no hips as yet. In front of these shrubs are the Primula ‘Harlow Carr’ grown from seed and still surprisingly leafy despite the dry summer, Viola odorata ‘Magenta Red’ and Pulmonaria ‘Victorian Brooch’, the latter not such the perfect clump it was earlier in the year, all added in spring 2015. The tall grass is Miscanthus ‘Ferner Osten’, and like all the taller grasses added in autumn last year excites me every time I go past, especially as most of them have thrown up a flower stem for the first time as well. You can just see the fluffy heads of Pennisetum villosum peeping through the cornus foliage too. The bright green grass in the bottom right is a carex whose label has been subsumed within the expanding clump and needs to be rescued. The yellow fruits of Malus ‘Golden Hornet’ are also just visible on the right.

I have mentioned many times how much I have come to appreciate the benefits of foliage since blogging, both through interaction with other bloggers and their blogs, but also with observing my own garden more closely, and this is illustrated especially by the pleasure I get from walking past the shrub border several times a day and especially this end of it. Observing the shape and form of the shrubs and the different shades of the leaves and stems has been a real joy, and this pleasure will continue throughout the different seasons whether blooms are present or not. To me, it paints a splendid picture.

Thank you, Christina, for giving us the chance to highlight our foliage each month – do visit her blog to see more.

Posted in Garden Bloggers Foliage day, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, shrubs | 6 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: a Delicate Touch


Image | Posted on by | Tagged | 3 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Nice With Rice

img_8210With such a big bunch of blooms today I thought it might be a struggle to find a suitable vase for them, but this vintage pottery Kleen Ware canister from the 1950s fitted the bill perfectly, and was accompanied by other contemporary kitchenalia in a similar colour.

Shunning the brightest blooms, there was more than enough material in a range of pink shades, mostly from the cutting beds. The starting point were 3 stems each of Dahlias ‘Karma Fuchsiniana’ and ‘Karma Naomi’, with my two solitary flowering stems of zinnia – one from ‘Sprite Mixed’ and the other ‘Luminosa’. Perhaps now these are plucked the buds on the side shoots will get a move on and provide more of these blooms that lots of bloggers are raving about this summer! Mind you, I can rave about Antirrhinum ‘Admiral’s Purple’ and Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ instead which have been flowering for nearly 3 months. Cosmos ‘Purity’ was later to begin flowering but this is my best year so far for cosmos and I am well pleased with them all, other than ‘Xanthos’ (not used today) which flowered well but was an insipid colour and will not be grown again.

img_8212What else was included? Amaranthus caudatus in both red and ‘green’ versions, the latter slightly stunted this year, Aster ‘Milady’, a pink grown-from-seed Dahlia ‘Figaro’ and  Ammi visnaga, the latter also slightly stunted and barely used in vases because the stems are so short. Not from the cutting beds were flowering stems of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ and a stem of a fuchsia from one of the big pots on the paved area, plucked on impulse on the way back to the house with my booty.

I don’t often have such a bountiful vase and am therefore appreciating the denseness of colour in this one. Not that a vase (or other receptacle) has to be crammed this full to bring pleasure, so why don’t you join us in picking either a few stems or a big bunch of material from your garden or forage them locally and pop them into a vase to bring you pleasure during the week? Even a solitary stem would be acceptable. If you post a picture on your blog and provide links to and from this post we can all share in that pleasure too – see you soon!


Posted in cutting beds, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 52 Comments

Going Just a Bit Potty

img_8183In anticipation of next year’s opening for the NGS, one of the other tasks jotted down in my notebook (or probably only just jotted down in my head so far) is beginning to prepare for a plant stall, as the money raised from such a sale can sometimes exceed the proceeds from admission to the garden, whilst the sale of tea and cakes will always make a sizeable contribution too. As I like a semblance of organisation in my crowded greenhouses and random groupings of plants-in-waiting I have invested in a bulk buy of square pots from the same eBay source as my seed tray cells; these work out at only a few pence per pot, an almost negligible sum, although I have been advised to retain a percentage of the proceeds to cover costs. It has been most helpful to talk to other bloggers who have opened their gardens under the same scheme in this respect.

Apart from the cost of pots and compost the actual cost to me of making plants available for sale will also be negligible, other than in terms of time – but the enjoyment to be gained from the process negates the time element! As well as my usual (but slightly belated) autumn sowing for personal use, I aim to sow more perennials than I have previously done, with a view to selling spares – delphinium, poppy, lychnis, knautia so far – and thanks to Brian of Our Garden@19 for his recent seed contribution which will help in this venture.img_8146I have raised a few Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ from rooted cuttings before now (some rescued from vases), and have now cut some specifically for the plant table. Inspection of other persicarias showed no non-flowering stems suitable for cutting, apart from Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’ which I hope will root as easily as the Dragon. The Dragon stems shown here have now been potted up.

persicariaThere are also a few Dragons cut from the edge of the clump waiting to be properly potted up, along with self seeded Geum rivale, hellebore, echinops and fern. Lots of all these available!

img_8208Most exciting for me this autumn is my first attempt at potting up stem cuttings directly. A few cuttings taken of penstemon in August had started to root (confession: I kept teasing them out to take a look…) so with greater confidence cuttings were also taken of salvia, prostrate rosemary and Diascia personata,  and then, on reading a recent article, root cuttings of phlox. Not strictly root cuttings actually, as the roots I accessed came away with a little piece of stem, but I was able to divide them further whilst leaving some secondary root on each piece. For anyone else who hasn’t tried root or stem cutting do give it a go – I used to think I couldn’t be bothered, but am now an instant convert! Mustn’t count the chickens before they are hatched though, as they may not all root successfully …

img_8149 img_8148Already immersed in this exciting new process, I was therefore delighted to read Christina’s recent post and find a link to propagating sedums – so to complete the hat trick of new experiences there are now leaf cuttings to get excited about as well as the earlier stem and root cuttings!


Posted in Gardening, Gardens, propagation, seed sowing | Tagged , , | 32 Comments

Garden Bloggers Blooms Day: erm…Happy Halloween

img_8198On the 15th of every month, Carol of May Dreams Garden invites us to highlight some of the blooms we are enjoying in our gardens and for bloggers it is a useful tool to compare flowering times from year to year. Thank you to her for hosting and do check out the links on her blog to blooms in gardens around the words.

Although I have had the ‘Happy Halloween’ dahlia shown above for three seasons, it has never sprouted let alone produced a flower until now, and although I might not actually have chosen this pumpkin coloured bloom, I have to admit that it is an absolutely perfectly formed and aptly named flower. Dahlias are at their peak in my garden now and walking past my cutting beds, where several are in bloom, has been an absolute delight in recent weeks. Have a look at the slideshow below to see why they and other blooms give me such pleasure in the middle of September:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Summer is far from over!

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, cutting beds, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 16 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Anticipation


Image | Posted on by | Tagged | 2 Comments

World of Gardeners

I am sure it won’t just be me, but does anyone else suspect that Adam Frost and his new Lincolnshire garden will become the focus of Gardeners’ World in the near future? With Adam’s increasing presence on the programme and its spin-offs and his purchase of a country property with a large garden to plan and develop, my suspicions were aroused and a visit to Barnsdale today, the garden of previous presenter Geoff Hamilton from where the programme was often based until his untimely death in 1996, confirmed it in my own mind as both Alan Titchmarsh and Monty Don have presented it from their own gardens over the years. We shall see, but of course I could be wrong!

Barnsdale is probably my most visited garden, partly because it is relatively local – about and hour and a quarter’s easy rural driving – and also because of its scale, being subdivided into ’38 gardens’, many created by Geoff for the programme to show what can be done by the average gardener with a small garden. These days you can buy planting plans of most of the gardens from the shop and many of his schemes were included in his books such as ‘Geoff Hamilton’s Cottage Gardens’ and ‘Geoff Hamilton’s Paradise Gardens’ to inspire gardeners to recreate them in part or entirety. I especially enjoy the do-it-yourself ethos that runs through much of the garden – and this is where the design for our obelisks came from:

obelisksAs the Golfer has just said on seeing this photograph, his do look better, but possibly only because Barnsdale’s need a fresh coat of paint!

It is three years since my last visit to Barnsdale but I have not yet tired of revisiting and there will always be new inspiration. I learned today that these huge zinnias were Zinnia ‘Dahlia Flowered’ and that they were sown in mid April and not pinched out as they can sulk at the slightest disturbance:

img_8169and what the name of this frilly dahlia, rather bizarrely bought as an end of season bargain corm from Wilkinsons, was:

dahliaI have also come up with a couple of new schemes to enhance our own garden, nothing major though, ‘just’ a small project and a different planting idea. They will be noted down in my notebook of things to do before our NGS opening and crossed out at some stage before then! I should carry this book with me at all times as thoughts or inspiration can pop into my head at any time and I am not yet in the habit of writing them down straight away.

We nearly missed the replanted Winter Garden, completed to mark the 20 years since Geoff died; it was pleasing to see that much of this was planted with donated plants, all labelled with the donor as well as the species. In front of the border was this intriguing rustic table and chairs, surrounded with by an arc of varied heuchera:


Elsewhere I enjoyed revisiting the more familiar parts of the garden, some shown here:

img_8151img_8164img_8172img_8155img_8176img_8178img_8161It was a baking hot day, with temperatures reaching the 80s by the time we left after lunch, but not without visiting the plant nursery as the Golfer (with no prompting whatsoever from me, I can assure you) said he wanted to buy me a plant or plants as a present, this being our 20th wedding anniversary – presents were excluded from my embargo but I still was very restrained, having learned from more than eight months of abstemiousness, and came away with just a new sedum, a salvia and a grass at approximately £1 for each year we have been together!


Posted in Gardens, Visiting gardens & days out | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments