The Golfer Gets Excited…

IMG_4744… not because we have driven through a snowstorm, nor due to the imposing scenery or the presence of gorse in bloom on every verge and hillside meaning that kissing is very much in season, but because he has seen his first eagle of the trip. No gardens on the way for me though, more’s the pity, and even a potential forest walk was aborted due to the blizzard, but there will be a croft garden or two to visit later in the week – and perhaps the chance of some Stornoway black pudding…

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In a vase on Monday: One in a Thousand

thousandToday is my 1000th post, and in the absence not only of me from home but of 1000 different vases instead you can see a small selection of the vases I do have, mostly acquired since the start of the In a Vase meme. I have briefly toyed with the idea of challenging myself to use a different vase each week but every Monday finds me having to choose a vase to match the contents which can be a challenge in itself, so I will make do with showing many of them for the first time today. Each contains the same sprigs of wallflower and leucojum and is photographed in the same location. The scale, however, may be deceptive as the stems were progressively cut shorter to suit, the tallest vase being around 6″ (15cm) tall and the smallest about 1½” (4cm).

I may not be at home but the meme continues in my absence! Please post comments as usual with links to and from your own Monday vases and I will try and read them when possible but may not be able to comment – you, however, can visit other people’s blogs and check out their vases as normal.

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We Have the Blues…

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… the grey blue of the slate that lies at the heart of the island where my Mum lives and where we are for a few days before heading further north, the scraps of blue (only enough to make a handkerchief or two for a sailor) between the clouds of the sky, the greeny blue of the ever present sea and the sunnier sky blue of the tiny speck that is the hull of a lone yachtsman sailing on it, and the lavender blue of this unexpected little periwinkle. Seeing the blues – yes, feeling the blues – no :)

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Cutting Beds: From Battle Plan to Art Installation

battle.plans1Some of us garden bloggers have been developing beds specifically for cutting and it has been really usefully sharing knowledge and experiences. To help us, Julie of Peonies and Posies is hosting a meme around the last Friday of the month for us to post a monthly update, so do check out her blog to see her own extensive cutting beds and links to others.

I took the risk of planting out some of my hardy annuals at the end of March and apart from April being such a dry month it seems to have been a good decision and they have coped with a couple of light frosts. Above we have sunflower ‘Earth Walker’, protected by cut down plastic bottles to leave a jagged edge at the top to deter slugs, a trick suggested by Wellywoman in her book – there has been some minor nibbling of a few leaves but the stems are completely undamaged and I think they will survive all but a major onslaught so I can recommend this tactic. On the right is sweet pea ‘Purple Pimpernel’, sown in the autumn from seed collected from last year’s plants and now happily shooting up the support. Ammi visnaga, centaurea, bupleurium and cerinthe are also fairly settled in the cutting beds and elsewhere in the garden. The cutting beds are also home to a few dwarf aquilegia until I know what colour they are, ranunculus, Anemone coronaria, tulip and allium, and some of last year’s sweet Williams.

IMG_4689IMG_4691IMG_4692IMG_4693With going away, I briefly wondered about planting out other young plants beforehand, but despite many sturdy little plants there was nothing that sufficiently developed to make the risk worthwhile, and I decided watering would be easier for my neighbour if things were together in the same place. I certainly look forward to being able to plant out many more seedlings on my return, like these Cosmos ‘Antiquity’, molucella and rudbeckia:

battle.plan2As there has been no heat in the greenhouses since February and seedlings have coped with temperatures just above freezing, a battle plan was drawn up, the greenhouses both emptied, and all trays and pots laid out side by side on the cutting beds. Would there be enough space? Yes, there was, although eight trays of the youngest seedlings were passed over the fence to my neighbour for closer attention and gentler watering.

Cutting beds-001Some rain is forecast for this weekend and beyond that is anyone’s guess, but it will be easy enough for our neighbour to water all of this bounty over the fence by using a hose. Up to now I have used rainwater on all but the youngest seedlings but again I want to make the task simple. It has been warm and dry for several days and these beds get the sun for much of the late morning and afternoon, so shading was going to be imperative. Ebay solved this issue as I was able to buy shading fabric by the metre, although slightly misjudged the length needed and had to cobble together the finishing touch by dismantling a cloche that used this same type of fabric.

IMG_4703 IMG_4704So there we have the completed plan of action, looking for all it is worth like one of those art installations where a building or  statue or geographical features is swathed in fabric in the name of Art. What will I come home to? Two empty greenhouses for a start…

Posted in cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse | 25 Comments

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day: Setting the Slug Banqueting Table

IMG_4710Christina at My Hesperides Garden encourages us to look at foliage in our gardens in a different way and post about it each month. After my series of foliage posts focussing on different aspects like pattern and colour I was intending to focus on ‘clumps’ this month, but everything is getting rather leafy now, unlike the more discernible clumps last month. Instead I am sharing some of the hosta foliage that is pushing itself out of the soil in various pots, the variable green spikes thrusting and unfurling themselves almost overnight. With such a wet spring, last year was a disaster for the hostas as slugs from far and wide munched lacy patterns in the foliage, so it is a relief that the plants can shrug off these attacks and have another go this year.

Above we have a pot with three miniature hosta – Lime Fizz, Cracker Crumb and Blue Mouse Ears, which without attention from slugs will grow into  tiny but perfectly formed adult hostas. There are two more miniatures in another pot but I will be on the lookout for more. Below are four hostas that came as part of a ‘pay postage & packing only’ offer from Gardeners World magazine, arriving surprisingly with large and healthy root systems and quickly sending up new leaves when potted up – so perfect, so complete, so untouched by Slug….

Slug.banquet1Above clockwise from top left are : White Feather, Francée, Pizzazz and Elegans – so perfect, so complete, so untouched by Slug….

Below, survivors from previous years (clockwise from top left) Orange Marmalade, Wide Brim, Halcyon and an elderly unknown, not as far advanced as the new additions:

slug.banquet2IMG_4706And not foliage but worthy of a mention is this cheeky chappie, whoever he is – some sort of a shield bug but with an unusual bronze tear-drop on his back. Our field guide to insects suggests he is a ‘squash bug’ Corizus marginatus, a common bug found chiefly on sorrel, dock, blackberry, groundsel, etc. Unfortunately not a slug predator, despite where I found him!

Big thanks to Christina for hosting this foliage meme – and do visit her blog to find links to the foliage in other people’s gardens.

Posted in Garden Bloggers Foliage day, Gardening, Gardens | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Lamarkable

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In a Vase on Monday: a Little Spring Garden

IMG_4683Another last minute change of plan brought about this little spring garden in a vase instead of the fiery theme I had in mind when I picked the tulips, a mix of ‘Beauty of Apeldoorn’ (‘yellow flushing mandarin red’) and Tulipa vvedenskyi ‘Henry Hudson’ (‘reddish orange, small yellow base’). The former were in a pot last year and replanted in a cutting bed and the latter are settled in the bold borders – they were to be accompanied by a stem of Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ and other similarly fiery additions, but seeking the right vase pointed me instead in the direction of the unusual kitsch container that is being shared with you today.

IMG_4688This unusual vase was found on eBay when I was searching for something else, probably a flower arranger’s frog, and snapped up for around £10 or so. I always envisaged using it for narcissi but unfortunately their stems were too thick for the holes in the insert, and even with the tulips I had to ensure leaf joints were fully removed from some of the stems before they would fit. As you can see, the central piece lifts out to allow the vase to be filled, and I suppose you could use a frog in the base as well if need be. To try and keep the stems straight I followed Wellywoman‘s tip in her book ‘The Cut Flower Patch’, wrapping the stems in newspaper, securing them with a rubber band and leaving them in water for a few hours before using them – although I did cut a few extra after the change of plan so they didn’t get this conditioning treatment!

IMG_4685Having acquired all sorts of new vases since this meme started it was good to be able to use one that hadn’t yet seen the light of day, so hurrah for the change of plan! I wonder what you will decide to pick from your garden today and what container they will appear in? Do share your choice with us, whether plonking or formally arranging – but more importantly just enjoy picking them and bringing them inside to give you pleasure during the week. If you are willing to share, please leave a link to this post from yours, and include a link back to your post in a comment on this one. Everyone who joins in always looks forward to Mondays now!

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Posted in Being Creative, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , | 68 Comments