In a Vase on Monday: Gold Star

Having planned to pick stems of muscari for today’s vase, both title and prop were still missing but, as so often happens, it all fell into place. Joining the muscari were stems of unnamed pulmonaria, adding a different shade of blue, and then foliage for contrast – foliage of Pittosporum ‘Gold Star’ and tadah! a prop! A sheet of sticky gold stars left from a Christmas project…

Finding a vase was the hardest part, as the stems needed to be pulled together into a posy to get the best effect and emphasise the complementary contrast between the blue and green, requiring a fairly narrow (but not too narrow)-necked vase. The stems literally had to be ‘shoved’ into the white Caithness Glass vase and water trickled into it.

You will be interested to hear that last week’s hellebores are looking just as fresh as they were when they were picked, unlike most hellebores, perhaps the result of the thickened stems that each carry several blooms. If this is the same for all ericsmithii hellebores then, along with their multitude of blooms, they have even more to recommend them. Sadly, I am sure I have read somewhere that the actual plants are more short-lived than other hellebores, although I am not aware of anyone who has actually experienced this.

If you would like to join in with IAVOM today or any other Monday, then please do so by finding material in your garden or foraged nearby and pop it in a vase and post it with links to and from this post. You might also want to put the date 16th April in your diary, when we will be holding another virtual meet-up of blogging friends.

Posted in early spring, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 19 Comments

An Anniversary, a Plan and a Treat

An anniversary: would you believe I began Rambling in the Garden 11 years ago today? No, me neither! What a great experience it has been, what a lot I have learned and what a wonderful group of people I have met and can consider friends. Thank you all for your friendship and as always thanks to Friend R, who introduced me to WordPress and blogging in the first place.

A plan: following the successful virtual meet-up of some of us last November, I am proposing a follow-up on Sunday 16th April, time to be arranged. Look out for further details in due course.

A treat: February visitors to our garden missed out on seeing hellebores at their peak, and they have been absolutely glorious! However, you are lucky and have the treat of being able to watch the following video which will give you a flavour of them – rather than accompany it with music, you have the original birdsong instead, sadly with occasional heavy breathing thrown in…


Posted in early spring, garden blogs, Gardening, Gardens | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Six on Saturday: What’s New?

I am struggling to get the refrain ‘What’s New, Pussycat’ (oh-o-o-o) out of my head since I decided to pick out some newly flowering blooms for today’s post, which is linking as usual to Jim’s Six on Saturday meme. Sadly, the only new gift from the local pussy cats is piles of cat poo around the garden, and the less said about that the better.

So what is new? Well, after a couple of very pleasant spring afternoons with warmth apparent in the sunshine and temperatures up to 17°C, buds on Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’ (above) are finally opening, no doubt another example of later flowering due to December and January’s cold spells. Strangely, however, I have today spotted the first tulip bud (below)! Having stocked up on end-of-season tulips, I hope I have kept details of what they were!

Pulmonaria have been flowering for a few weeks, although the named varieties seem to have been a little later than the generic ones. Below we have the true blue ‘Blue Ensign’, pretty pink ‘Pretty in Pink’ and the delightfully named ‘Shrimps on the Barbie’:

To complete the six is the first fritillary in the woodland. I forget how quickly they follow on from snowdrops, so was surprised when foliage and buds began appearing a month ago. Recent warmth and moisture have given them a boost and this is just the first of many, numbers boosted by a combination of self-seeding and adding extra bulbs every year. The yellow label is one of my extra large snowdrop labels, which will be removed as the snowdrops begin to die back, leaving just the more discreet smaller black ones.

Posted in early spring, Gardening, Gardens, woodland | Tagged | 16 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: The Sun Rises

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 9 Comments

In a Vase in Monday: Pirouette

I have shared this hellebore, H ‘Piroutte’, before, almost bemoaning the unnecessary quantity of blooms. I still stand by my assessment, but readily admit it makes for a striking plant, quickly clumping up to boost the number of blooms still further. Yesterday, I decided to reduce their number by cutting some for a vase; however, the reason behind its monstrous flower power is down largely to each stem bearing a number of blooms, and today’s vase only required two of them.

The blooms seem to vary in colour, being a blend of pinks and off-whites, with bright yellow stamens surrounded by a green ruff, and give the impression of a posy made up of several stems. Joined by always-useful twisted hazel, the stems were cut fairly short and placed in a cheap purple glass vase which accentuates the pink tones of the blooms. Joining them is a mock artist’s articulated model, performing a very bad pirouette due to stiffness of his joints.

I don’t imagine the blooms will last long in the vase, but I shall enjoy looking at them at closer quarters whilst they do. If you would like to join us today in sharing a vase or jam jar of material found in your garden or foraged locally, please do so by leaving the usual links.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , | 35 Comments

Six on Saturday: No Room at the Inn

As I move towards the end of seed sowing for this time of the year, I am increasingly aware of the demands on space in the working greenhouse. So far, I have sown over 60 different seeds since January, with most plants destined for the cutting beds once at the planting out stage, and this is probably fairly typical for me. The greenhouse is made up of a basic 6 x 8 feet structure with another section added on to it by cutting down a second greenhouse, giving a combined size of nearly 6 x 14 feet – but, as most gardeners will say, it is never big enough.

The quarter seed trays are pricked out into 12 unit cell trays, which in turn will be potted on into 6 unit trays, the demand for space doubling at each stage – with less than half the seeds pricked out, the add-on section of the greenhouse is already at capacity…

The rest of the greenhouse currently accommodates not only a mix of cuttings and other overwintering perennials, but recent plug plant purchases too, not to mention all the dahlias, now returned from their winter holiday in the sitooterie, and delightfully healthy autumn sown larkspur and delphinium.

The stand holding the latter and some of the dahlias is tucked at the end of the greenhouse border, which itself is home to the early flowering ‘Winter Sunshine’ sweetpeas, now growing quickly up their supports and likely to start flowering by the end of April. Even the space behind these is having to be utilised for further pots. mostly lilies, I think.

In the absence of any further wriggle room, what is a girl to do? Well, she loaded up the wheelbarrow and made a number of journeys returning the dahlias to the sitooterie, placing them on large gravel trays now that watering has begun to encourage them into growth, and moved the larkspur, delphinium and the hardiest of the cuttings outside and covered them in netting cloches. With another cold spell largely behind us, they should be hardy enough to cope and, along with nigella and lagurus (moved outside a couple of weeks earlier), could probably be planted out fairly soon anyway.

There is now room to wriggle, for the time being at least, but the extra space created won’t last long and there will be a lot of juggling for the next few months until the reverse happens and the greenhouse very quickly empties again, leaving just tomatoes for much of the summer – all part of the gardening calendar!

I wonder if any other contributors to Jim’s Six on Saturday meme are having the same self-inflicted space issues in their greenhouse?


Posted in cutting beds, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, seasonal tasks, seed sowing, Six on Saturday | 34 Comments

Not Quite an End of Month View: Thwarted

Yesterday evening, I realised once again that another month had passed without so much as a by your leave, and there was no sign of a February EOMV. Determined to rectify this, I went out with my camera this morning but quickly found myself wondering if it was worth it: insubstantial light snow showers the day before had continued during the night and were now beginning to make an impact, with snow settling by the morning and starting to build up in snowman potential quantities.

Looking through the photographs now, they make not give the best impression of monthly progress in the garden. However, the seasonal structure is highlighted further by the largely monochrome tone, and there is a pleasing charm in the occasional contrast provided by a pink house, brick walls and greenhouses unsullied by snow, so I present them to you in this context, without commentary.

Finally, having spent hours (literally) going round in circles whilst chasing a Delay Repay claim for compensation for a delayed train journey involving multiple train operators, I had to smile at these tracks outside the back door…

Posted in early spring, End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens, snow | 16 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Cadbury’s Purple

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, early spring, Gardening, Gardens, winter interest, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 9 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Oriental

With a Chinese water buffalo and blooms of Japanese apricot Prunus mume ‘Beni Chidori’ I have had to make do with the more generic ”Oriental’ title, rather banal by the standards I set myself, but it will have to do. I am not sure what I have in the way of potential Japanese props anyway, although I could have gone down the line of a more ikebana style vase or created a quick origami bird to go with the prunus. Hmm…an origami prop is definitely one to remember for the future…

The prunus has been absolutely glorious this year, its colour and fragrance a real asset to the late winter or early spring garden. I bought it as a half-standard tree four years ago and intended to prune it annually to keep it relatively compact, but I forgot last year and it has taken advantage of my forgetfulness – research is now needed on how best to tame its exuberance, but for the moment we can enjoy the impact of it having been let off the leash…

The vase is my tall and twisted black vase, the height needed to accommodate the length of the stems (the tallest was about 60cm with blooms the full length, some of which had to be plucked off, and the stem trimmed). Sadly, I remembered after I added water to it there is usually a damp patch left on the surface it stands on when in use, although there are no obvious cracks. The buffalo came from my grandmother – she and my grandfather and great-grandparents before them were missionaries in China.

If you would like to join in with IAVOM by popping material from your garden or foraged nearby then please do so by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in early spring, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Winter, winter interest | Tagged | 44 Comments

Six on Saturday: Down to the Nitty Gritty

With our February garden opening and a visit to my Mum out of the way, there has finally been an opportunity to catch up on outstanding ‘winter’ tasks, many of which had been postponed due to the ground being frozen for a number of weeks. Today, I made a start on dividing some of the very thick carpet of snowdrops, a job I usually manage before they begin flowering, very rough and readily digging up some of the most dense clumps, pulling them apart and replanting them where there are visible gaps. Pleasingly, the gaps are becoming fewer and farther between, even in those areas planted up more recently than the main woodland edge border, which had its first snowdrops around twenty years ago.

There is still more division to do, but the priority today was to finish emptying the 2021 compost heap, a task usually achieved before Christmas – but finally completed…hurrah! For some reason, however, the quality didn’t seem as good as usual, very dry perhaps – and gritty too…I must have disposed of more grit-covered pots of spent compost than I sometimes do! With an extra two months more disposal of vegetative matter, the 2022 heap will take even longer to empty when its turn comes!

In contrast to this slow and physical task, cutting back all the Group 3 clematis was a cinch – but making sure I didn’t miss any of them (there are quite a few!) was quite a challenge. Following guidance from Thorncroft Clematis, my go-to specialist supplier, I tidy them up in the autumn by cutting them back to around shoulder height, before cutting them right back about now, so this was a timely rather than outstanding task – as was a good feed, a new regime started last year which I think gave a noticeable boost to their performance.

Cutting back grasses in the small grass border was an easy task too, although the Stipa tenuissima still need a visit to their hairdresser to have their tresses combed through and detangled. I have heard that dog combs are good for this task…

Next to the grass border, climbing rose Parkdirektor Riggers has also received attention. I prune the rest of the climbing roses in the autumn and the shrub roses early in January, but this one gets left as late as possible because of the hips – although not usually as late as March! Structurally, it is not the most attractive rose and hard pruning doesn’t add to its beauty, but it makes up for it in terms of performance, flowering throughout summer and needing no attention whatsoever.

On the other side of the wall in the above picture are some trays of autumn sown Lagurus ovatus and nigella which I have decided to risk moving out of the greenhouse to save space (which is increasingly going to be at a premium), especially as I want to bring in the overwintering dahlias from the sitooterie and start watering them. With some colder nights forecast for this week, I have covered them with a netting cloche but would hope that as hardy annuals they will be tough enough to plant out soon anyway.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse and not hindered by weather or other circumstances, my ongoing seed sowing is now joined by ongoing pricking out, doubling the use of space in one fell swoop – and my goodness, how I love this whole process! Sowing begins early in January and continues into April, with so much promise in every single seed, and all the annuals are generally planted out by the end of May or early June, with autumn sowing beginning only a few months later.

Perhaps other Six on Saturday contributors have been sowing seeds too – you could go across to our host Jim’s blog and take a look.

Posted in composting, Gardens, pruning, seasonal tasks, seed sowing, Six on Saturday, snowdrops | 19 Comments