Wordless Wednesday: Just Deserts

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In a Vase on Monday: From Zero to Hero

A week or so ago it occurred to me that the Iris ensata next to the stream were flowering last year when we opened the garden informally: would it do the same this year? Within days several stems were apparent and then in no time at all – Wham! Pow! Kerplunk! – from zero to hero in no time at all!

There are two clumps, both with at least a dozen stems in various stages of bloom – which they certainly weren’t yesterday. Strange how I like these iris but not the bearded variety…I am conscious that I prefer the more horizontal shape of these blooms and there is certainly something about the falls and beards of the others that don’t appeal. I have added a clump of pink Iris ensata this year but they are slow establishing and certainly won’t be flowering this year.

The three stems needed no further embellishment and their long slim stems were popped into the tallest and slimmest vase I have, this slightly twisted glazed black number, the usual car boot purchase but a modern item as it still had its paper barcode label on the bottom.

I wonder if you too have some new delights in your garden that you could bear to cut and pop into a vase today? Or perhaps something you have foraged locally? Regular IAVOM-ers already know how much pleasure there is to be had from popping a few blooms or other material into a vase or jar or other receptacle, so if you haven’t joined us yet please do consider it today and leave links to and from this post so we can all share your pleasure.



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‘In a Vase on Friday…’

I couldn’t resist photographing and posting this – the completed collection of plant information labels for the forthcoming open days. Not that I have ever had as many different blooms as this in my Monday vase – I ran out of pea sticks so that means there are 50 different plant labels in this jug with about 20 more are needed. How I have managed to put together so many different plants to sell, I don’t know – and these are just the perennials! With dry weather forecast for at least the next week, today I have also been working out how best to display them and colour coding the labels to reflect different prices.

For those in the UK who aim to visit any  gardens opening for the National Garden Scheme this summer, did you know that as part of the NGS’s 90th birthday celebrations they are running a photography competition, with the chance to win a visit to Mary Berry’s garden?



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Choice June Blooms

I took a little time out of my to-do lists (three cakes made, pricing signs printed and laminated, garden photo board completed, tomatoes potted on, wayward stems tied in, etc, etc) to choose some pleasing June blooms to feature for Garden Bloggers’ Blooms Day. For the first time I am not going to link with May Dreams Gardens, which hosts the meme, but will continue to focus on what is flowering at around the same time each month as it is a useful record. There is so  much in bloom that I couldn’t possibly show you everything this month, but rest assured it is delightfully floriferous here at the moment!

Above is the pleasing colour combination of Geranium magnificum (originating from the garden my parents left in 1988 and well loved ever since) and Lychnis coronaria, grown from seed sent to me by Sandra of Wild Daffodil. They were sown early last year and although they were healthy plants by the end of the season this is the first time they have flowered – love that colour.

Below is an almost pristine clump of Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’, the dry weather so far keeping it that way and showing off the stark contrast of the bright green leaves with the pure white flowers:

I added several more Allium christophii to the garden in the autumn and I don’t know if other people have found this but the flower heads vary in size considerably – this one is the hugest of huge, although using my hand to put the size in perspective merely shows off how dry my skin is and doesn’t give a true indication – I would need about SIX hands to cup the full bloom probably!

This bloom is right in front of another star performer, Aconitum ‘Spark’s Variety’, bought as a small bare root plant from Peter Nyssen two years ago and flowering for the first time and making a grand statement in this bold border. To its left is a cephalaria grown from seed 3 or 4 years ago , now in bud and equally tall: both easily dwarf me, which I know is not difficult…

My last Peter Nyssen order included a number of Asiatic lilies which I have been growing in pots, keeping them in the fruit cage till today as they now all in full bud. It has been far easier to watch out for lily beetles when they are in pots and not surrounded by other foliage and if they flower successfully I shall add more next year. This is a deep burgundy, almost black ‘Mapira’:

‘Princess Kate’ has taken a few years to establish, but I don’t think I realised that this viticella clematis had such large flowers – these are amazing!

Sown at the end of August last year and now flowering is Papaver ‘Princess Victoria Louise’. These herbaceous poppies have been so easy to grow and I will look out for other varieties:

The garden is full of roses but ‘New Dawn’ has only just started flowering and as always I find myself surprised at the pretty pale shade of pink she is. Her blooms just add to the overall fragrance that hangs over the whole garden and which I hope will delight my visitors as much as they do me…

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Wordless Wednesday: Lists

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In a Vase on Monday: Sumer is Icumen in

Lhude sing, cuccu… although this little chap is clearly not a cuckoo but (I thought) a sparrow, bought recently as a pair from a charity shop and now sitting in the garden. The Golfer, however, thinks it is more likely to be a bluetit and as he has a greater knowledge on the subject I will bow to his opinion. So, it is a bluetit standing in for the cuckoo who sings loudly to welcome summer, as sung in a traditional medieval English round. My first dahlia flowers are also singing loudly to welcome the approach of summer and therefore form the basis of today’s vase.

I am thrilled to find lots of buds on all of my dahlias, promising much earlier flowers than last year when they were only just getting into their stride when struck down by frost. These sunny blooms, however, are from dahlias seed sown in February – Dandy, Figaro and Reggae Orange – accompanied by a large flowered bidens from the multiplugs bought for some of my hanging baskets. The green heads are some of the numerous side shoots of Inula magnifica, currently preparing itself to look every bit as magnificent as it did last year when it was one of the most talked about plants in the garden on my informal opening. A single spike of a now unnamed kniphofia, its label probably disposed of because the plant rarely ever appears and had thus been given up as lost, further emphasises the yellow and green theme; having found it again, however, I am tempted to give it the boot… Fresh green seedpods of a white flowered honesty provide the finishing touch and join the blooms in this tiny green and yellow glazed pot.

I am sure most northern hemisphere gardeners are also welcoming their own summer flowers; here I am also regularly picking sweet peas, some from a Mammoth Mix sown in October and the others, growing equally well, from February sown Heirloom Mix. What blooms are singing loudly in your garden, welcoming in summer (or late autumn on the other side of the world)? Do think about picking some of them and sharing them with us In a Vase on Monday.


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Lessons Learned

As you might have been aware from Wednesday’s wordless picture, the Golfer and I visited Chatsworth for Members’ Day of the inaugural RHS Flower Show. It was not a good start, as it took almost 4 hours (a 54 mile journey), the last couple of hours spent in mostly stationery traffic all but 2 miles away from the venue – heaven help any locals caught up in Show traffic! The previous day, Press Day, had been cut short at 1.00pm because of the wet and windy weather and marquees closed earlier for safety reasons, but with better weather forecast for Wednesday it was confirmed that the show would still open, with wellies advisable.

Following the traffic chaos on Wednesday, organisers swiftly announced additional measures with the aim of improving the situation: swifter access to the car parks, increased parking spaces and additional staff to enable faster parking on the grass, with more shuttle buses from the station. For those unable to make the venue on Wednesday because of traffic delays, refunds or alternatives have been offered, and hopefully most visitors will accept that weather conditions are outside the control of the RHS. With the general public admitted alongside members for the rest of the week, it will be interesting to see how well the site copes with the inevitable larger numbers.

So how was the show? Well, arriving at midday instead of before the opening time as had been planned was not a good start, and the majority of visitors were in the same position so naturally the site was heaving. I have not been to a major RHS show since Chelsea in the late 70s (!) but after my last visit to GW Live 6 or 7 years ago I all but vowed never to go a big garden show again, crowds restricting access to the show gardens, the marquees similarly packed and the outside stalls a very mixed bunch, including a large number of only vaguely relevant goods – and it was rather like that at Chatsworth too, albeit in very attractive surroundings.

Am I being controversial in saying this? We caught glimpses of some of the show gardens but in retrospect realise there were others we didn’t even get a peep at, not helped by the informal way they were arranged around the site. I am sure they were all delightful in their different ways, and there was a refreshing informality in some of those we did glimpse, but we have been spoilt with the BBC coverage of RHS shows in recent years where we get to see the gardens as complete entities, and from within, not just random sections between the crowds. I did, however, enjoy my glimpse of the Brewin Dolphin Garden, designed by Jo Thompson, outlined with flowing lines of reinforcing rods:

I did make a few purchases: merchandise from the NGS stand that I had neglected to order online as intended, miniature hostas from a golfing friend of the Golfer  and a nice rusty metal stem of cow parsley, two of which could have easily have been achieved without this visit. We readily spotted Carol Klein in one of the marquees in a wonderfully bright red coat but Jonathan Moseley could have been easily missed, standing discretely and unassumingly on his much talked about Palladian Bridge, the willow snake adorned with flowers and succulents designed to challenge perceptions of what constitutes a pretty arrangement and as a homage to the constantly developing gardens at Chatsworth.

I was pleased to have a tiny but this time adequate glimpse through the various peepholes of the presumably updated Antithesis of Sarcophagi, first seen at Chelsea in 2016 and now destined to remain at Chatsworth for a further 12 months. This huge cube of granite is described as ‘a world turned inside out; a garden inside a sculpture; desolation versus life; civilisation versus nature’. Through the peepholes are tantalising views of woodland plants wafting in the breeze and leaving us wanting more – such a clever idea, presumably involving mirrors.

So what I have learned, or been reminded of – again? That although it’s a lovely idea, visiting a ‘big’ garden show is sadly not as pleasurable an experience as one would like it to be – and I look forward to seeing a fuller and closer view of RHS Chatsworth on Gardeners’ World tonight.

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