In a Vase on Monday: Time to Push Up the Daisies?

Whilst clearing the contents of the cutting beds, I have sometimes hesitated, holding back the secateurs and erring on the side of caution and leaving some of the annuals a little longer; calendula have fallen into this category although really they are way, way past their best. Sadly, having saved seed last year, they have melded into a ubiquitous yellow from cross-pollination, although there has been an occasional hint of the distinguishing features of Indian Prince and Snow Princess. I shall be buying fresh seed for next year!

It made sense, I thought, to put them out of their misery and cut the remaining flowers for a Monday vase, allowing me then to cull the plants themselves. Once cut, there weren’t really enough for anything other than a small posy, so I added some yellow single unnamed dahlias and a few barely open buds of Dahlia ‘David Howard’, as well as some self-seeded nasturtium from one of the bold borders. On the cusp foliage of Heuchera ‘Kassandra’ provided autumnal support, along with a handful of fallen leaves from Amelanchier lamarkii.

One of the less obvious joys of the autumn season is the culling of spent plant material, piling it onto the compost heap and knowing in a year or so it will become a valuable resource for the garden, enough to mulch every border with some left to bag up and use to enrich conditions for specific plants. The 2021 heap is currently piled high above its retaining slats but will quickly drop back as the composting process begins, and a quick peek at the 2020 heap shows a gloriously dark and crumbly mix ready and waiting to be used.

The phrase ‘pushing up daisies’ refers to something being dead and buried; composting my daisies, however, and all the other spent plant material in the garden, instead brings new life and enrichment from what was once dead, just another of Mother Nature’s tricks.

Is there anything avoiding the compost heap in your garden that you could pop in a vase and share with us today? If so, please leave the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in Autumn, composting, cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 14 Comments

Six on Saturday: Snip Snip Snip

There has been a lot of snipping going on around here recently, with cutting back, down or out beginning in the borders during the week but,  more excitingly, our neighbours on the hedge side had workers in the garden today working on the hedge. When the Golfer began cutting our side some weeks ago they told him of their plans, which involved reducing the height of the hedge by about 18″, sometime ‘in October’. In many places the hedge is just too wide for the Golfer to reduce it himself, so this was welcome news, especially as for many years there has been little in the way of maintenance on their side. October was fast disappearing so we were relieved when their workers turned up today.

It has made such a difference, especially to light levels in part of our kitchen, and our old friend the Rambling Rector (above) has had a bit of a makeover too as much of the deadwood reaching into their garden has been cut out. It also meant that the remaining stems that couldn’t be accessed and tied into the rose arbour when the rose was cut back after flowering could now be pulled down to join the rest, facilitated by the scaffolding, and further deadwood cut out.

While the Golfer communed with the Rector, I took Madame Alfred Carriere, clambering above the bus shelter, in hand. I usually cut her back quite severely at this time of year and she always seems to reward me with her blooms, but having watched Monty Don prune his on Gardeners’ World on television last night I decided I could be more severe still…and know who to blame if this proves to be a mistake, which is unlikely!

Even though there was some residual colour in the ‘rainbow border’, I wanted to ensure the bed was ready for the appearance of the snowdrops in the winter months, so removed the summer annuals earlier in the week, leaving the border looking very empty after more than five months of colour:

Removing what was essentially ground cover exposed not only residual snippets of holly from the Golfer’s recent hedge cutting, previously hidden amongst the foliage, but also some tatty hellebore leaves and a number of pots of snowdrops which have pushed themseves above soil level and will need to be repositioned. The hellebore foliage will be trimmed in a few weeks time, a task which I now see the benefit of, as it allows the blooms to be viewed clearly, as well as reducing disease.

Talking about snowdrops, whch we increasingly will do in the coming months, I checked on the progress of some of my early flowering ones and – whohoo! – we have visible (but, sadly, out of focus) progress, from Foursome (left) and Cambridge (right)…

Not all annuals are being taken out yet, and these Busy Lizzies will carry on being busy until temperatures really drop – what a star plant, and how I missed them when they were not available due to mildew intolerance! Meanwhile, another job for the Golfer is replacing the seat of the rustic bench behind them, which has outlived its useful life.

Finally, cut back earlier in the year when they were severely affected by aphids, these two pots of greenhouse fantasy chrysanthemums have just been moved back under cover again today, where they will no doubt be revisited by the aphids’ progeny, but at least they are not as tall and lanky as they were the previous year…and there are some blooms on the way to grace a few vases in due course:

That’s my snippy six for Jon the Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme – why don’t you visit hs blog too and see what other bloggers are featuring today?

Posted in annuals, container & basket plants, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, pruning, Six on Saturday | 30 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Strawberry Hill

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, roses, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 6 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Airy Fairy

No doubt I have used this title before in a previous post, but it suited the lighter and more delicate stems of the contents of this Monday’s vase, a contrast to the chunkier and more dominant dahlias and zinnias that have filled many late summer and early autumn vases.

It was the blooms of Pelargonium ‘Copthorne’ in the Coop that took me in this particular direction but, having picked a range of other delicate stems the pelargonium suddenly seemed indelicate in comparison, and a single stem was retained only because it reflected the colours of Argyranthemum ‘Grandaisy Pink’, a pot of which was reblooming after being cut back a few weeks ago. Joining these two are Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ and ‘Red Dragon’, larkspur Consolida ‘Dark Blue’, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’, a single bud of Rosa ‘Susan Williams-Ellis, bunnytails grass Lagurus ovatus and some summer flowering jasmine that never flowers.

Plonked into a cheap glass vase, and accompanied by my Traditional Wood Wooden Classic Push Up Press Puppet Toy’, another airy fairy, the vase has more than just a suggestion of summer to it. Of its contents, only the larkspur has come from the cutting beds, the occupants of which are mostly well past their best, and I am working up to cutting everything down, instantly putting an end to some of summer’s memories. The garden, however, will continue producing blooms and foliage whatever the season, providing material for vases throughout the year.

Has your garden provided material for a vase today? If so and if you would like to share it with us, please leave links to and from this post in the usual way.

Posted in cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, greenhouse, herbaceous perennials, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 33 Comments

Six on Saturday: Time to Put Off Bulb Planting

My bulb order from Peter Nyssen arrived yesterday and, like many fellow bloggers, I can now begin to put off planting them…does anybody enjoy this particular gardening task, I wonder? Actually, I don’t mind the indoor planting, and there are several packs of bulbs destined for the Coop; even planting in outdoor tubs is OK, but it’s the ferreting about trying to plant bulbs amongst permanent plants in the border I don’t enjoy. By the way, if you think there is an excessive quantity of bulbs in the order, they aren’t all for me and there are five separate heaps in the above picture – although admittedly the biggest pile is mine!

Recent garden tasks have mostly involved deadheading and general border maintenance, with several new plants planted up and some older ones rearranged, and there is plenty more of this to be done as an alternative to bulb planting. Time and weather also permitted a small project this week, creating the raised planting area for a new rose (Gabriel Oak) that I referred to last Saturday, with just enough bricks and mortar mix found to complete the task. As is to be expected, the Golfer did a brilliant job of cutting and relaying the block paviers to fit around it.

In the course of border maintenance I wanted to move established Persicaria ‘High Society’ further back in its border, and eventually discovered why it was so difficult to lift – the root shown in the picture below was at least 18″ long and perhaps 2″ in diameter, and having been curved into a U shape, this was just part of it!

Having bought seeds of Cardiospermum halicacabum (‘Love in a Puff’) on impulse earlier this year, I find them distinctly underwhelming, growing no more than 24″ in height and so far only producing a single puffy seedpod, although it does contain two seeds rather than the usual single one. When ripe, the seeds are black and marked with a white heart, so I was too optimistic in peeling open this one.

Having frequently said I never have success with asters, I then found this little example minding its own business in one of the borders. It may only be a few inches high, and these two blooms may be the only flowers it has, but it’s still an aster (Aster ‘Azurit’ if you are interested)!

It has made good sense to plant as many roses as possible where they can be seen when glancing out of the kitchen windows; not only have I been able to enjoy the late flushes of Lady Emma Hamilton and the pink spots Rural England in the apple trees, but distinctive Munstead Wood continues to produce its near-perfect blooms for our delectation (the extra tall stem propped up by a stake also supporting crab apple ‘Golden Hornet’). Why not visit Six on Saturday’s host Jon the Propagator and see if he or other bloggers are also still enjoying some of their roses too?

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, herbaceous perennials, projects, roses, Six on Saturday | 11 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Lodgers

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In a Vase on Monday: Single But Happy

Many blooms in the garden are increasingly on borrowed time, partly in the knowledge that we could have frosts at any time (although this didn’t happen until early in November in the last two years) and partly because annuals have been doing their thing since June and have every right to feel exhausted.

Accordingly, I didn’t look any further than the cutting beds for today’s vase, choosing single dahlias ‘Twynings After Eight’ and ‘Happy Single Juliet’, aided and abetted by clary sage Salvia viridis in ‘white’ and ‘Pink Sundae’ versions, with a flowering stem of grass Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’. The increasingly tatty clary was cut back some weeks ago and has now rewarded me with fresh stems, a big asset to many vases and posies. Today’s vase is a mottled pink Caithness Glass example, a chip in the rim invisible to the casual observer.

The search for a suitable prop began and was proving fruitless until I chanced upon this little drawing by four year old The Tinker, probably done a few months ago on one of my Grannie Thursdays. The subject is certainly happy, no doubt due to a particularly effective brand of mascara…

We have learned over the years of IAVOM that we don’t need live blooms for our Monday vases and that there is a range of material we can pop into them whatever the season: what could be in yours today? Please share your vase or jamjar with the rest of us if you like, by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in annuals, cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 30 Comments

Six on Saturday: a Mixed and Damp Bag

I suggested in my end of month post that leaves on the trees had not yet started to turn, but today I notice that some of the witch hazels were indeed beginning to colour up – the one above is Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’. Sadly, none of them are sporting large numbers of flowers buds, unlike last year, no doubt due to the relative dryness of the year.

There are, however, a sprinkling of buds on potted nerines in the Coop, and in full bloom below is the standard Nerine bowdenii:

My two ‘fantasy chrysanthemums’ are also budding up, and having spent their summer outside will shortly need to join the nerines in the Coop. They suffered a major aphid infestation earlier in the year and were cut right back, and although re-growing to a more acceptable (in my mind) height I still cannot warm to them in any way – although the flowers, when they do finally bloom, are a pretty novelty. It barely seems worth their effort after all those months with nothing but their relatively unattractive greenery…

Some readers will have noticed a new purchase of clematis (just a few!). I have learned that this is the best time for buying them because earlier in the seaason so many varieties are out of stock. I wanted to buy spring flowering clematis earlier this year to replace some that had failed when the colonnade was revamped a few years ago, but the choice was poor, and on the advice of Thorncroft Clematis, my current chosen supplier, waited till now to try again. Three of the new arrivals are destined for the colonnade, one for the stump of the oak tree where a cheap purchase proved to be a mistake, and one (C rehderiana) has already joined two of its kind in the entrance walkway:

Whilst talking about clematis, I was astonished to see the rootball of the clematis released from the timber planter that hugged one of the downpipes at the back of the house in readiness for planting a new rose; despite the size of the rootball it hadn’t flowered other than in its first summer, but will be rehomed where hopefully it wil make up for lost time.

Further work on the rose planting has been delayed not just because of the dampness of the weather and the other commitments taking up my time but also because I found the route of the soakaway we installed when we built the extension…

Fortunately I do have some spare bricks and a bag of mortar mix, so when time permits my bricklaying skills will be recalled to raise the planting area a little:

I have to confess to feeling uncomfortable spending so little time in the garden – if it wasn’t for weekend visitors I would certainly be out in the rain today catching up on a stack of seasonal tasks, and although the bricklaying would have to wait there are plenty of clematis to plant! The tagline of the blog is ‘nurturing my soul’ and recently I have been aware that the sheer need to be outside and active in the garden is very much a physical thing…my soul is hungry, which sounds very much like the title of a poem, so watch this space!

I wonder if others have more active sixes this Saturday or if, like me, they have to be content with just looking rather than doing – check out our host Jon the Propagator’s blog and see.


Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday | 12 Comments

End of Another Month

Every month it’s the same, it no sooner starts than it finishes – or that’s how it seems, as September has certainly gone in the merest blink of an eye. Weather-wise it has been a mild month of sunny periods and the occasional light shower. Overnight temperatures are dropping, but the lowest was only 6°C, and daytime has often seen temperatures in the 20s with a short spell over 30°C. The showers have been welcome, refreshing a very dry garden and bringing 50mm of rain. Still giving colour to the garden are several roses, persicaria, sedum and more, with pots of Busy Lizzies and also the dahlias and annuals in the cutting beds. No real sign of leaf fall yet, but as temperatures start to drop things will change quite quickly.

Rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ has been a real stunner in the latter part of this season, dominating the view from the back of the house (above), but there are a number of roses still flowering in the adjacent shrub border shown below from both directions, although not with as much jubilation as Lady Em:

The woodland is beginning to house more than just early spring treasures now, with arum and Cyclamen hederifolium now adding colour, and a number of new ferns and other woodland plants:

From the bothy at the far end you can look down over the main borders, still leafy and with a smattering of blooms; also shown is the same area from ground level and the adjacent clematis colonnade and bronze heuchera bed:

From there we head through the woodland edge border, viewing it from both ends, before reaching the ‘bold borders’, which I think need to be renamed the ‘Anything Goes’ borders, as however hard I try they are still predominantly pink and purple, with only the occasional splash of something brighter or bolder:

Through the gate to the working greenhouse and cutting beds, the former with a good number of tomatoes still to be picked and plenty of life in the dahlias and some of the annuals still, although I seem to have missed photographing the latter!

Past the blue & white borders to the rose garden, then under the clematis colonnade and through the main herbaceous beds, before heading back to the house past the rainbow border:

Finally, let’s go down the side of the house to have a look in the Coop where there are some nerines beginning to flower and then on to the very overgrown Coop Corner, where the fairly new pink pussy willow dominates the bed and demands some as yet unplanned attention.

The still photos only give you a snapshot  of the garden, and will mean more to me as a monthly record than to anyone else. However, if you would like a more rounded picture why not watch the additional video, which may seem a little more hurried than some months as it was raining. You should be able to watch it below or by clicking on this link , depending on your device.



Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | 13 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: the Waiting Game

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | 2 Comments