In (lieu of) a Vase on Monday: Opportunities Gained and Lost

IMG_7226-001Enjoying the occasion rather than looking for photo opportunities meant that this is the only photo, and a rather belated one at that, of the wedding flowers in action on Saturday – too late to remedy the situation by the time I realised! When I have access to other photos perhaps I can post an update?

All went well, apart from showers immediately after the service which restricted photos and a few minor issues which we shall keep to ourselves but which didn’t detract from the Bride’s Big Day. It was a lovely day all round and the Happy Couple are clearly besotted with each other. Thank you so much to my blogging friends for all the best wishes expressed for both Younger Daughter and myself on the occasion, and especially to Anna of Green Tapestry who sent an e-card the day before when I was deep in the throes of flower preparation. Your kind thoughts were both encouraging and supportive – and very much appreciated. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, learned such a lot from it, and would do it again if asked. So, this is how it went:

IMG_7171Firstly, on Thursday I brought down the folding picnic table from the loft and laid out labelled containers for all the different elements, along with approximate cutting lists. To wrap the stems of the bride and bridesmaids’ posies I plaited together red, white and blue embroidery thread – far more effective and practical than any ribbon would be.

IMG_7170IMG_7172Florist’s foam was recycled and cut to fit the Poppet’s basket (sourced through eBay), surrounded by a plastic liner and holes punched into the foam with a wooden kebab skewer to take the muscari that were to fill the basket. By counting the holes I knew before cutting began that as many as 60 heads of muscari were needed!

Cutting began in earnest on Friday morning, starting in true IOVOM foraging style, with periwinkle growing amongst car park planting at the centre where I have my regular swims. I was just leaving the car park with my wet swimming stuff and periwinkle haul when the bright red leaves of Photinia caught my eye and I stopped to snip some of those too. I had asked about the periwinkle earlier in the week but the Photinia was technically an ill-gotten gain and I will mention it out of courtesy when I am next there, not they will be in the least bit bothered!

With unavoidable distractions it was lunchtime before everything was picked and production could begin…

IMG_7180… and with further distractions it was into the evening before everything was prepared:

IMG_7181The buttonholes were similar to those practised earlier, but included red anemone buds for the Groom and his three Best Men and blue buds for Groom’s father and Bride’s father and stepfather, all with a sprig of photinia for added redness. Sadly the red buds were slightly too immature to open fully and indeed it was the anemones in all the buttonholes and posies that were the first to flag in a warm room without water.

IMG_7186The red, white and blue required for the two grown up bridesmaids’ posies came from red anemones, wild garlic and blubells with the same foliage as used previously – uncinia, luzula, pittisporum, honeysuckle and peony all such a great asset – and the posies were wrapped with their 6os ‘mod’ coloured ties on the morning of the wedding itself.

IMG_7183I was pleased to be able to include all three colours of anemone in Younger Daughter’s posy, alongside Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’ (with its wonderful fragrance) and a single sprig of white sweet pea, all grown specifically for the wedding, and which were joined by foraged periwinkle with its pretty foliage, bluebells and three ‘Uncle Tom’ tulips which were just coming into flower for their second season. Foliage was as in the bridesmaids’ posies but with the addition of glossy red Photinia sprigs.


Over the next few days the clear-up will begin with pots of anemones planted out and others displaced from the cutting beds, along with the narcissi and an excessive quantity of muscari, to leave room for the summer and autumn residents. In the medium term, however, there will be a bias towards red, white and blue in my vases firstly with the anemones and then, once they get their act together, the sweet peas and tulips specifically grown for the wedding. What colours will be in your vases today, I wonder? I certainly look forward to seeing a different colour palette in many of them, but please share them with us, whatever the colour, by leaving the usual links.

IMG_7185-001* you can read the Wedding Sonnet here, or by clicking on the ‘In the Kitchen’ tab above


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End of Month View: a Brief Respite

With the midday wedding of Younger Daughter yesterday there was plenty of time (flowers having been prepared the day before) beforehand for a gentle stroll around the garden to take photos for April’s End of Month View. This meme is hosted by Helen the Patient Gardener and gives bloggers the chance to showcase or just keep a record of their gardens or certain parts of them at the end of every month. Do have a look at her blog to see her own post and links to many others. Thanks for hosting, Helen.

The day started sunny and bright (hence the shadows in some of the shots) but I knew there would be no opportunity other than first thing, so firstly we have the areas directly behind the house, the paved area and streamside/shrub border:

IMG_7187IMG_7188The shrub border from the other end, and then the woodland. A straggly red rhododendron is just coming into flower towards the bottom left:

IMG_7189 IMG_7239The main borders from the Bothy folly, and the same borders from behind the sheds:

IMG_7191 IMG_7192The clematis colonnade, now with colour on every post from Clematis alpina although not obvious on this photo:

IMG_7193The woodland edge border from both directions:



The three bold borders:

IMG_7196 IMG_7197 IMG_7198A quick peak inside the fruit cage, as the bushes and young trees build themselves up for their fruiting season. Mange tout peas have just been sown in the veg bed on the right.

IMG_7200The blue & white borders with their pleasing curves, accentuated all the more as the foliage fills out:

IMG_7201The rose garden, with lots of buds-in-waiting on the roses which have been underplanted with linaria grown from seed:

IMG_7202Back towards the house, the special snowdrop border is still white and green, but largely due to the Thalia narcissi along with the back and white scilla planted amongst the snowdrop foliage and spent flowers of green and white hellebores. Everytime I look out of the kitchen windows at this bed, I am reminded of just how successful raising the level by means of the brick edging has been.

IMG_7203And lastly, a sneak preview of what is to come in next month’s EOMV post at the end of May – the wisteria is in bud and should be at its full potential by then:




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Wordless Wednesday: Turf Wars

This gallery contains 6 photos.

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Just Can’t Get Enough…

IMG_7166… of the whole production line process of sowing, pricking out, potting on and planting out – even the washing out of trays and cells as soon as they are emptied! And just how many times a day can you observe a tray of seedlings…? Several, I can assure you! Knowing I am towards the end of this year’s early flurry of sowing I have found myself making second sowings of some things – just because I can – to keep the process going… I don’t think the miracle of what can emerge from a tiny seed will ever cease to enthrall me – nor the rate of growth as temperatures and light levels rise. Each year increases my knowledge, both from my own experience and from sharing experiences with other bloggers.

So what do I feel have learned so far this year, or increased my awareness of? Certainly the following:

  • to plant out summer or autumn sown annuals or biennials before the winter to save space in the greenhouse the following year; second sowings can always be made to top up or replace failures
  • that pricking out and potting on really do make a difference to the quality of the final plant and hence…
  • that bulk buying (I buy in 50s) cell trays makes the whole process so much easier (no faffing about to find appropriate pots), keeps the greenhouse staging more organised, makes watering easier and keeps the same plants together. I have bought in a further 50 12 cell and 6 cell trays this year because the supply ebbs and flows as seedlings move from their original quarter trays through the pricking out and potting on stages
  • vermiculite on the surface of trays makes watering easier as the compost doesn’t dry out as quickly

During April the 2015 sowings have been belatedly planted out, joined by outdoor sweet peas and this year’s sowing of linaria, osteospermum and orange Californian poppy; all except some of the sweet peas have been planted amongst the borders rather than the cutting beds which will be filled up  with other seedlings and dahlias in due course. It’s hard to believe that in only a month or two these borders and beds will be filling up and filling out with greenery and blooms – lovely, lovely!

Aaaaah, just can’t get enough…:)

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In a Vase on Monday: In the Navy

IMG_7148OK, I admit it, I do have some bonkers ideas sometimes, but with four stems of early sweet peas of the variety ‘Navy’ which demanded the simplest of vases such as these test tubes and the stray postcard (HMS Leviathan) shown below which missed being sold with others on eBay a few years back, well you can see the way my mind was working…

IMG_7149It helps that I can say to the Golfer, “Please can you make me the hull of a battleship” and he will immediately go off and come back with the finished article barely 15 minutes later. The hull then just needed a quick lick of grey paint before I inserted the test tubes and masts and then the sweet peas, cut very much shorter.

The sweet peas are the first flowers from my Owl’s Acre Winter Sunshine seeds, sown on October 4th last year and planted out in the greenhouse at the end of January. They have grown into such strong plants and I have been eagerly watching their progress, including that of those sown a month later which I hoped would be in flower for next Saturday’s wedding. Of these four stems, the longest measured 17 inches and it was a shame to have to cut it so much shorter but at least this bodes well for future vases. They do have a fragrance too, although not as strong as some.

IMG_7147IMG_7151Although the variety was called ‘Navy’ the flowers are more of a deep purple even though these photographs suggest they are more blue than they actually are in real life. The pale turquoise background in the first picture, some spare dressmaking fabric, was meant to suggest the sea but in practice does not show the naval battleship off as well as it perhaps could have done.

Will I have need of a customised battleship ‘vase’ in the future? You never know…

I am thrilled to have sweet peas flowering in April, but have had to wait a week or so until there was more than one to pick and share with you in a Monday vase. What will be in your vase today, whether customised or not? I look forward to seeing what you have found in your garden or nearby to pop into it, so please share it with us by leaving the usual links.


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IMG_7144Earth orbits the sun
Moon orbits the earth, reflects
Our own connections

Earth orbits the sun, moon orbits the earth, reflects
Moon orbits the earth, reflects our own connections

Joining in with Ronovan’s haiku challenge (challenge words sun and moon) and Sandra at Wild Daffodil‘s 52 week photo challenge (challenge word reflection); thanks to both of them for hosting.

Posted in art in the garden, Gardens, haiku, Poetry | Tagged | 14 Comments

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day: Just Freshening Up

Around the 22nd of each month Christina of My Hesperides Garden encourages us to notice the foliage in our garden rather than the blooms, and indeed it was this meme that made me really begin to appreciate the benefits of foliage, something I had probably rather taken for granted up to then. Do take a look at her blog to see her foliage and follow links to foliage in other bloggers’ gardens.

Here in the UK Midlands where new growth is emerging every day, one of the most noticeable changes is a change in the trees – as if Nature is there with her paintbrush, freshening everything up with a new coat of paint, chosen from a selection of shades of green. By next month the garden will be closing in, shortening all the vistas and enveloping all who ramble through it in one big green hug – what’s not to like?

So here in the woodland we have field maple…

IMG_7134wild cherry…

IMG_7135and silver birch….

IMG_7136whilst elsewhere dormant leaf buds on all the witch hazels (including Hamamelis ‘Zuccariniana’ which has not flowered for two years) are opening up….

IMG_7132Fruiting trees provide the double whammy of leaves and swelling flower buds, like apple…

IMG_7127crab apples Golden Hornet, Royalty and Evereste…

IMG_7128 IMG_7129 IMG_7137damson Shropshire Prune…

IMG_7133and the ‘pink hawthorn’ that is smothered in flower buds for the first time ever, definitely something to look forward to…

IMG_7139Thank you Christina for hosting this meme – I have enjoyed checking up on my trees today!


Posted in Garden Bloggers Foliage day, Gardens | Tagged | 15 Comments