Wordless Wednesday: One Drop or Two?

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In a Vase on Monday: Cut and Dried

I picked up a wispy silver birch branch from one of the Golfer’s newly swept paths during the week, intending to put it in our green waste bin but, looking at it more closely and admiring its shapeliness, decided there could be mileage in keeping it for a Monday vase. It was then I noticed the first signs of lichen on it, a sign of clean air I believe, further commending it – good to know we live in a relatively unpolluted area,

Also attracting my attention this week was a fine display of catkins on a young hazel growing in our neighbour’s hedge, a sprig of which has joined the silver birch in today’s vase, a twisted black ceramic glazed vase, yet another car boot bargain from my unnecessarily large collection of vases. Suddenly finding the dried heads of Allium ‘Summer Drummer’ which had been misplaced, I tried one of them in the vase but quickly rejected it for its lack of grace and finesse, choosing instead to place one head at the base of the vase. The dense tightness of the dried heads is one of the few things that recommend this variety to me – it is just SO tall, and gawky with it, flowering much later than other alliums and later too than the peak summer borders. producing heads completely out of proportion with their stature. The catkins had already shed much of their pollen on the worksurface where they were first placed, so the unloved allium head is the only prop today.

Fresh or dried, wild or cultivated, flower, fruit or vegetable, anything goes on IAVOM, whatever you can find in your garden or forage locally and plonk in a vase or other receptacle, or display on its own. To share it with the wider IAVOM community, just leave links to and from this post.

ps I am happy to announce that Benny’s little pink dots from last week’s IAVOM opened after a few days in the warmth of the house

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Six Cheers for the Golfer on Saturday!

Those of you who regularly ramble in the garden with me will know that we have been opening our garden for the National Garden Scheme for the last 3 years and this year are opening it in February for the first time, as well as our usual June openings. This early opening is approaching rapidly and numerous job lists have been scribbled and gradually crossed off. The Golfer, being a gopher rather than a gardener, has his own list of tasks that he can be entrusted with and The Cleaning and Sweeping of Paths is one of them; indeed, if previous years are anything to go by there should be a medal given for TC&SOP, and the Golfer should be an annual recipient of it. At the very least we can give him six cheers on Saturday for his outstanding service!

It always amazes me what a difference this task makes, accentuating the structure and definition of the garden and its borders, and perhaps even more so at this time of year when the structure and hard landscaping of the winter garden already stands out without the softening effect of spring and summer greenery. See for yourself the magic the Golfer has sprinkled over the garden from what I am now calling the Entrance Border above (temporarily called the Fig Border in recognition of the removal of the mature fig tree which allowed space for its creation), to the granite circle of the Blue &White Border near the bottom of the garden (below), and all the paths in between:

From the back of the house we are constantly reminded of his efforts on the Paved Area and the adjacent Streamside and Shrub Border:

The thoroughfare past the Main Borders towards the Woodland Edge has been thoroughly spruced up too, as has the path through the Rose Garden (and every other hard-surfaced path the Golfer could lay his knees on):

With four weeks to go until the open day, no leaf will dare blow onto these immaculate paths, nor any cat flick soil or chippings onto them – and the Gardener will have to be ultra-careful not to leave any evidence of her plantings or prunings or trimmings too! As I admire the Golfer’s handiwork, however, I am mindful of how lucky we are to have been able to lay paths like these around the garden, enabling ready access in all weathers, unlike those bloggers who currently struggle to ramble in their own gardens due the effects of continued rainfall and the resultant waterlogging and bogginess.

Six tidy paths and six cheers for the Golfer are my contribution to today’s Six on Saturday meme, hosted by Jon the Propagator.


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Wordless Wednesday: Noble AND Cute

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In a Vase on Monday: Twiggy Trio

Good morning and welcome to a mid-January In a Vase on Monday, for which I had already earmarked a damaged twig of witch hazel Hamamelis vernalis ‘Amethyst’, retrieving it from where it was hanging on by a mere thread of bark.

It may be an illusion, but this witch hazel looks a completely different specimen since it was moved towards the end of last year; I have few qualms about moving plants in my garden, regardless of their size, and this one had been in place outside the kitchen windows since I bought it as nobbut a twig nearly 6 years ago. It is much more than a twig now as you can see from the photos below, showing its new location at the revamped end of the woodland edge border, part of a trio of witch hazels – Amethyst on the right, Arnold’s Promise on the left and Rochester in the middle. I think it is having something solid in the background that gives it more of an impact, its paler colours being lost without this, and I am really pleased with the overall effect of this grouping.

Joining the fragrant witch hazel twig is a snippet from Benny, my affectionate name for Japanese apricot Prunus mume ‘Beni-Chidori’, a new addition bought early last year after admiring the winter gardens at Anglesey Abbey and Cambridge University Botanical Gardens as well as that of dear blogging friend Chloris. It arrived with a handful of flowers, almost over, but this year is smothered with little pink dots which should be open in time for our mid-February visitors. I may be imagining it, but it looks as if the little pink dots are swelling since I cut the twig and placed it in its pot; when they open, whether on this twig or on the tree, the flowers are meant to be highly fragrant, so to stay with this theme, the final member of the trio is Sarcococca confusa – how can such tiny flowers pump out such a powerful fragrance?

Placed in three mismatched stone inkwells, the trio of fragrant twigs are joined by a group of three tiny glazed pots from my miniatures shelf.

Winter blooms are something to treasure and I am delighted to be able to share these with you today. Have you been able to find any blooms, foliage or twigs or something else you feel would fit the IAVOM bill in your garden or elsewhere today? If so, please share the joy with us by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

ps the rose buds did not open so last week’s vase looks exactly the same as it did seven days ago, but the buds are now papery relics of their earlier freshness. Ah well….!

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Six on Saturday: Coming Along Nicely

With our February garden opening only 5 weeks away, there is a long ‘to-do’ list on display – or two to be exact, as the Golfer has one of his own, jobs I can entrust him to do that don’t require much  (if any) garden knowledge. Most of them are not very big jobs in themselves (although in future years I promise faithfully not to start any new project between November and February…perhaps), but there is a lot of them and some are weather dependent. There certainly seem to be more tasks that need to be done before a February opening than our usual June ones, but in truth they are mostly standard winter maintenance things but with a shorter timescale to do them in; anyhow, the lists are getting shorter and there are fewer new additions, so we must be winning!

Alongside the tasks, there is the constant monitoring of what is likely to be flowering in the middle of February, and I am pleased to say that I can be confident of the hellebores making a fine display as they are already coming along nicely. Joining the special snowdrops (which should also be at their peak then) in their bed, are Hellebore ‘Harvington Double White’ (above) and H ‘White Spotted Lady’ and H ‘Harvington Double Lime’ below. These are the most established of my hellebores, and each make a sizeable clump.

You can see that I have trimmed the leaves from these ones, and indeed most of my hellebores, a practice I never thought I would take on board but now accept how much more easily the flowers can be seen when they are semi-naked. I am a little reluctant to remove the gorgeous marbled leaves from H x ericsmithii ‘Winter Moonbeam’ and H (Rodney Davey Marbled Group) ‘Anna’s Red’ (below) and will do so selectively.

These hellebores have both quickly made really sturdy plants and form clumps that look attractive virtually all year round – and just look at those stems on Anna’s Red! I have been led into temptation this week by a fellow blogger (was it you?), when they showed another hellebore from the Rodney Davey Marbled Group,  ‘Cheryl’s Shine’, which I just HAD to have (OK, and two more of its cousins…); they should be arriving on Monday and will join my continually increasing collection of hellebores.

What a joy they are in the early months of the year, in a huge range of shades from pink to white to red to yellow, double or single, spotted, frilled – I love them all, but today I am sharing just six of them (below, H Harvington Double Pink Speckled’) for Jon’s Six on Saturday meme. Pop over to his blog to see what other sixes are being shared today.

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Wordless Wednesday: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

Hamamelis ‘Ruby Glow’

Hamamelis ‘Harry’

Hamamelis ‘Rochester’

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Winter, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 1 Comment