In a Vase on Monday: A Serendipitous Accident

I was checking the garden over on Friday, picking up stray twigs strewn around courtesy of Storm Ciara the previous weekend, when I ‘found’ another hellebore, H ‘Double Ellen White’, hiding behind a fern in the woodland edge border. Realising that if I had only found it by chance, our visitors would be very unlikely to see it, so moving it somewhere more prominent made sense. Although relatively small with just a single flower stem, the root system was bigger than one might have expected (perhaps explaining why it takes a few years for a small plant to reach flowering size), so it was not quite the simple task I anticipated. However, I also hadn’t anticipated how easily the stem could snap – which this did, despite gentle handling on my part.

Knowing I would be busy on Sunday when I usually prepare Monday’s vase offering, the opportunity of something good coming out of the accident was grasped immediately (because no amount of sticking plasters would stick the plant together again), and the stem was popped into one of my many ink pots and photographed straight away – well no, I did replant the stemless plant first! As is so often the case the stem had collapsed by the following morning so it was deadheaded and the main bloom and two tiny buds floated in a little ramekin, where they still look fresh and happy.

In the garden, the first Tête-à-têtes have been opening and I suspect you may see some of them on IAVOM here next week. In the meantime, what is bringing you pleasure in your garden that you can bear to cut (or – heaven forbid!- accidentally damage) or that Storm Dennis has presented you with? Please feel free to share it with us on IAVOM.

 

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Six on Saturday: Ready for Visitors (including Dennis)

As some of you will know, we are opening the garden for the National Garden Scheme tomorrow, the first time we have opened in February. It has been a pleasure to be able to share the garden with a wider audience in June for the last three years, and we wanted to share the joys of our winter treasures too. Having prepared a checklist of things to look out for that might be flowering, I was surprised to find this amounted to around 40 different species, with several different snowdrops, hellebores and witch hazels giving a further boost to numbers. Some may just be in bud and others past their best, but this will inevitably vary from year to year – this year the snowdrops are at their peak, the hellebores almost so, but the witch hazels are almost over due to the mild winter, with other species on a similar spectrum. As well as these, there are the foliage plants and other evergreens that provide a permanent structure to the garden.

We were congratulated a week ago for not having chosen last weekend to open, thus avoiding storm Ciara, and had been monitoring the weather forecast as it changed from day-to-day, when out of the blue (and there have been some lovely days this week with startlingly blue skies) we are informed of a new and equally unwelcome visitor: Dennis. Due to visit today and tomorrow, he promised to bring high winds and plenty of rain with him. There has been some rain today, but not a lot, and some windy gusts but we are fairly sheltered here, especially when winds are from the south and south west as they are now. We would only have cancelled the opening if we were covered in snow, so the weather tomorrow and its effect on visitor numbers are out of our control (although we have had a few phonecalls and emails to check if we are still opening) – but everything in our control is ready and waiting for whoever turns up…

The pop-up café, normally the ‘back sitting room’ except on Thursdays when it Grannie’s Nursery, is emptied of its usual furniture and kitted out appropriately:

Plates and cups are other paraphernalia have come down from the loft in readiness:

Information labels for the plant stall have been printed and laminated, ready to be popped into the pots tomorrow. For this February opening it is mostly bulbs for sale, with a few larger plants that are surplus to requirements.

I am very thorough with my notices, and there are several waiting to be hammered into place tomorrow, giving information about various parts of the garden, particularly the ’empty’ beds. This and other last-minute tasks are all that is left to do (with getting the cakes out of the freezer first thing in the morning a priority); meanwhile, the garden is looking tidy and presentable after its recent wash and brush up and doing what comes naturally, bobbing about and looking pretty. Roll on tomorrow evening!

Jon The Propagator hosts this Six on Saturday meme, so please visit his blog to see his and others’ Sixes and to share your own.

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Wordless Wednesday: Three Colours

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In a Vase on Monday: Calming Ciara With Zen

The UK has been having a battering from Storm Ciara, with high winds and, at times, torrential rain, causing all sorts of damage and localised flash flooding (and worse, I hear later, having written the post on Sunday). Our garden is relatively sheltered, unless the wind comes from the north, and damage has fortunately been minimal, involving the loss of twiggy growth from some trees and a couple of artefacts blown from their moorings. We are fortunate, I know – not just because we have escaped anything major, but also, as several people have already said to me, that it was not yesterday that we were opening the garden!

Unlike some, I like hearing the wind, especially in the trees, and there is something magnificent about the power of this force of nature – but hearing it from inside the warmth and comfort of the house is one thing, having to be out in it is another, even in the relative security of a vehicle, and that force then feels anything but benign. As my vase is prepared on a Sunday, there was a point when I thought a pot of crocus or iris might have to act as a stand-in, but the torrential rain didn’t last long and the afternoon dried up as the 40 and 50mph gusts weakened, so not only was I able to cut the planned material but also to photograph it outside.

Flowers at this time of year are precious and some I am reluctant to cut, but the bright pink blooms of Japanese apricot Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’ had just begun opening and there were at least a couple of wayward sprigs that wouldn’t be missed so it was an easy decision. Suiting a minimal arrangement, I had my tiny blue rectangular ikebana vase in mind for them, but even that seemed too big so instead I took the black cap of an aerosol spray and cut it down to a little over an inch in height and popped a metal pin frog inside, adding a little moss once the stems were inserted to hide the gubbins inside.

So many of my Monday vase props seem to be spontaneous and serendipitous, and today was no exception – a tiny Zen garden, a gift from Elder Daughter some years ago and certainly pre-dating this blog and IAVOM so I am surprised I have not used it before. A mere 4 x 3″ in size, it was the ideal partner for Benny not only in terms of its Japanese origins but also as the perfect calming antidote to the storminess of Ciara from which the bloom was plucked.

It would not surprise me if UK Monday vases were small in number today, but I know how much they mean to a lot of people and I am sure every effort will be made to post at least something, even if it is just salvaging some storm-damaged plant and popping it into a jam jar. Do share what you can, when you can, by leaving the usual links.

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Six on Saturday: Promising a Rose Garden

I noticed Dorris is celebrating the promises in her garden today and, coincidentally, so I am I – not strictly true I suppose, as this time of year, especially in milder winters, our gardens invariably bring much joy as countless signs of new growth appears in leaf or bud or twig, promising so much more in due course and not least the end of winter. Here, I am focussing on roses, not least because it makes for a good title (for those who remember the Lynn Anderson song).

New rose foliage often appears far earlier than one might expect, even when temperatures are quite cold, although severe frosts may well nip its advance in the bud. In the UK we have had (so far) a fairly mild winter and there have been only a handful of frosts in our garden, with no temperatures below -2°C so, like many other plants, the roses are grabbing the opportunity to make a start and prepare for their big performance in June and beyond. I love the freshness of all new foliage which, untroubled yet by slugs and other nuisances, looks so neat and pristine, and the serrations on new rose foliage look particularly clean-cut, as you can see on today’s photos.

‘The Pilgrim’ had a quiet year last year, recovering from a major move, but is girding his loins for a comeback:

On the nearby obelisk, also settling in after its arrival last year, is small-headed and floriferous climbing rose ‘Warm Welcome’, which of course everyone visiting our garden will receive (not the rose, I hasten to add, but the welcome!):

I especially love the pink edges and hint-of-a-tint in its new foliage, a feature which Lady Emma Hamilton retains throughout her growth, complementing her gorgeous apricot blooms later in the year:

Unlike the elderly ‘Rambling Rector’ whose previous flowering stems are cut off soon after flowering, rambling rose ‘Rural England’ doesn’t get much more than a gentle trim and tidy up, which she hasn’t had yet and thus looks remarkable green and leafy – we noticed the odd few flowers some time into October or even November, way up in the apple tree where she had sent a shoot, so she has barely had time to sit down and have five minutes to herself before she was off again…hmm, reminds me of someone…!

Underneath the clematis colonnade, patio rose ‘Regensberg’ is flush with new growth and you can see how the early colouring of the edges is gradually lost as the leaves develop more fully – and aren’t they shiny?! This and the other 3 varieties here were new last year and the intention is that each grouping of six will grow together and fill the beds with a homogenous clump of rose:

My sixth rose is not celebrating new growth, but last year’s – I love to see ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’ (top picture), either in full flower or resplendent in hips as it is now, towering above the wall and silhouetted against a glorious blue sky. What a trouble free rose this is – never deadheaded and just requiring removal of wayward stems and cutting back to a couple of buds once the hips are past their best. I usually do that sometime in February, but will wait till after next Sunday’s opening so that any visitors can enjoy this same sight, blue sky sadly not guaranteed!

That’s my Six, and now I am off to see what this meme’s host Jon the Propagator is sharing today.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Her Finest Gown

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Ina Vase on Monday: In the Queue for Green

I turned to shrubs for In a Vase on Monday today, starting with a sprig of Skimmia japonica ‘Kew Green’ with its greenish flowers which helpfully pollinate the nearby ‘Kew White’ and enable the latter to give birth to a clutch of shiny white berries in due course.  The rich dark green leaves contrast with the smaller and brighter crinkly leaves of Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Gold Star’ and also with the thinner leaves of Sarcococca humilis with their amusingly turned up tips, like pert noses or Persian slippers. And yes, these two tiny sprigs of sarcococca still fill the kitchen with fragrance!

Props are some wax crayons in four shades of green, a surprisingly large percentage of the pack of 16. The crayons were purchased for the use of The Troops when they arrive for Grannie Day but in hindsight they have been relegated to supervised use at the kitchen table after deciding the wallpaper in the room they are corralled in might be at risk of impromptu artwork. At the tender ages of 2 and 1 they are not yet exhibiting any early signs of talent in art…

A North American blogger commented this week that it was good to see some green to tide them over whilst their own garden was covered in snow. This is something we perhaps take for granted in the UK in this day and age (although I do remember the months of snow and ice in my childhood Edinburgh in 1962/63), where snowfall for most of us would generally last only a few days – and this winter so far we have had NONE! Here, we can enjoy green throughout the year and as I mentioned on Friday the green is suddenly looking greener as the sun slowly gains in intensity; I am happy therefore to divvy up some of it today, as we get in the queue (Kew/queue…) for our own share of green when it becomes available in our part of the world. Have you got some to share today, or any other colour even? Pop it in a vase and leave the usual links to and from this post if you like.

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