Wordless Wednesay: The Return of the Native

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, snowdrops, winter interest, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , | 1 Comment

In a Vase on Monday: Home is Where the Heart Is

Today’s vase was inspired by the heart-shaped pebble found when I was bagging up the cobbles previously used around the base of the roses on the paved area to deter weeds, but recently lifted and washed. Notwithstanding its unusual shape, it is extraordinarily tactile, with the indentation perfect for curling a finger into when held closely in the hand. Recent consolidation of ‘stuff’ in the house reminded me of the existence of this Carlton Walking Ware Valentine hearts mug*, produced I think in 1986, and roped into service as a vase:

What to fill the mug with? I started with stems of Japanese flowering apricot Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’, still not quite open, and snipped a handful of stems of evergreen grass Carex ‘Everillo’ to accompany them before deciding on stems of Cornus sericea to support the emerging pinkness of the apricot. It wasn’t till I brought the snippings inside that I realised how well the pink and redness picked out the colour on the mug. There was no way the grass was going to stand up by itself, so glass pebbles were used to hold the stems in place.

The evergreen grass looks good in the vase and is perhaps underutilised for this purpose – definitely a resource to turn to again. Is there any in your garden that could be snipped for a vase today? With or without an evergreen grass, please share any vase you are able to create by leaving links in the usual way.

* in hindsight perhaps I could have saved the vase for mid-February…

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, grasses, In a Vase on Monday, winter interest | Tagged | 24 Comments

Six on Saturday: All Systems Go?

It’s probably another 6 months until the garden is looking anything like it does in the lovely picture painted for me by lovely Elder Daughter, but now that I have had it framed I can hang it on the wall as a constant reminder of joys to come (and of the painter too, of course).

In the meantime, now that the Golfer is recovering from a very nasty chest infection, we have agreed not to cancel our planned garden opening in February after all, something that had been looking increasingly likely. With an opening date just three weeks away on February 13th we now need to ‘get a wiggle on’ (what an odd expression that is!) to be ready for any visitors. We first trialled opening in February two years ago, the weekend of Storm Dennis, weather which will have deterred all but the most intrepid visitor, and last year’s opening was cancelled because of Covid, so this year is an unknown quantity.

Although there is technically plenty of winter interest in the garden, the seasons play havoc with what might be flowering at any particular time – at the moment the named snowdrops are still mostly just emerging with the natives further behind, hellebores are budding up but weeks away from full flower and the witch hazels are mostly at their peak, so any visitors will have to take pot luck on what they might see. There is, however, at least one stray early crocus:

There are usually blooms on Clematis armandii in February, but I am not sure if ours is on the way out as half of it has dropped its leaves completely, and there are apparently dead stems amongst the other half too. I have a feeling that they can be susceptible to cold winds – is that right? As yet I am unsure whether or not to cut out all the dried stems…

I can’t do much to hurry along what’s growing in the garden, but there are a million and one jobs I can do, so I’m pleased to have finished sorting out the planting stakes and supports which are stored in the bothy when not in use. The supports hanging on the fence need some sort of protective cover and if I can rig up covers for the two tall obelisks they don’t need to remain in the bothy where they are currently reclining against other supports in a distinctly louche fashion:

Not necessary for our garden opening but very much part of my January routine is the start of seed sowing proper, first out of the blocks being cornflower, emerging two days after sowing and now on its way from the house to the greenhouse. This year I am trying out a shorter variety, Centaurea ‘Polka Dot’:

Seasonal stalwarts which will not let us down are the cornus, and despite even more severe pruning than usual the three varieties are strutting their stuff in their usual inimitable way – go cornus!

Joining with Jon the Propagator in his popular Six on Saturday meme

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, open gardens, Six on Saturday, winter interest | 28 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: the Waiting Game

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, houseplants, plants in pots, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , | 5 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Delicates, and Another

Today’s delicate vase began with some sprigs of winter jasmine Jasminum nudiflorum creeping under the bottom of the fence from a neighbour’s garden, and a search for more delicates brought winter honeysuckle Lonicera standishii ‘Budapest’ and a dainty leaved ivy to join it. The leaves of the honeysuckle, far from being delicate, were snipped off before the stems were placed into a little Aynsley vase in the Wild Tudor pattern decorated, one assumes, with wildflowers that would have been around in Tudor times, like viola and cornflower. The total height of the arrangement is no more than 8″ or 20 cm and it was accompanied by a scrap of vintage lace which looks as if it will have been handmade (astonishing when you look at the detail).

In the warmth of the house I can detect the fragrance from both honeysuckle and jasmine, one of the joys of bringing blooms inside – and so many winter flowering blooms have a fragrance. Perhaps you have some yourself you might like to share with us today on IAVOM – or any interesting foliage or stems, which we have all learned can look equally good in a vase?

Even without my delicate and fragrant vase I would have had another vase to admire today, courtesy of 4 year old The Tinker. Once picked up from school on Grannie Thursdays, she generally asks to do some colouring, and having now eschewed colouring books she likes to be independently creative. I caught her inspecting a (past its best) vase of flowers next to her on the table, but when she announced a little later that she was going to draw some flowers I hadn’t associated it with the vase – until I saw the end result. In fact, this one was not the original, which she wanted to take home for Mummy, but a second one she kindly agreed to draw for her proud Grannie. Proud Grannie now has it displayed on her fridge, and hangs onto the hope that another generation will carry on her love of gardening and flowers…


Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Winter, winter interest | Tagged , | 42 Comments

Six Sights on Saturday, Not All of Them Pretty

I haven’t joined in with Jon the Propagator’s Six on Saturday since before Christmas, probably due to a combination of inadequate material to post about, short days, inclement weather and the amount of time I have to sit in front of a laptop and write a post, but I have made it today, with a real mixed bag, which these posts often are.

The presence of naturalised snowdrops in the woodland edge border is becoming increasingly evident as they push their way above the ground (above), albeit a number of weeks away from flowering. I would hazard a guess that this is more typical timing, as is the case with the species where there are still only a handful in bloom, Faringdon Double being only the second of them to open fully. I noticed today how many of the emerging clumps here have got a definite list to the left, presumably straining towards any available sunshine which has been in fairly short supply of late:

One of my recent tasks has been to collect up all the stray stakes and plant supports that litter the borders and put them back in the Bothy, a task now delayed because I have decided to tidy the bothy up first, putting up more hooks to ensure all the supports are accessible when needed:

We have had some very chilly days recently with temperatures staying barely above freezing, accompanied yesterday and this morning by fog. Some tasks, particularly those that don’t involve soil, are more easily than others when it’s very cold, and rose pruning seems to come into this category. The climbing roses were all pruned towards the end of last year, but I managed to get stuck in and prune all the shrub roses on a bitterly cold day at the start of the year. I think my pruning has improved in recent years, although some bushes still end up looking more shapely than others – Rosa ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ is one of my better examples:

In the absence of inspiration for something arty to do with the silver birch stems, I was pleased to come across these wooden wind chimes in the loft (which had been undergoing a massive clearout recently), and which I thought had been disposed of. As a perhaps temporary measure, they look acceptable strung up from hooks screwed into the top of the stumps, but once I hear their insistent clack clack again on a windy day I might change my mind!

Finally, and definitely not a pretty sight, here are the soggy and browning flowers of Hellebore ‘Anja Oudolf’, still the only hellebore with open blooms, but suffering badly from the cold and frost in a way I have not witnessed before:

Posted in art in the garden, Gardening, Gardens, pruning, Winter, winter interest | 34 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Seed Sorting

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, seed sowing, Wordless Wednesday | 26 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Spotty

Suddenly it is Monday again and here we have a spotty vase for IAVOM.

Inspired by the yellow spotty laurel Aucuba japonica and accompanied by my yellow spotty jug and a yellow spotty dice, the vase also includes ‘forced’ stems of pink pussy willow Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ and, for a splash of colour, hips from climbing rose ‘Parkdirektor Riggers’. I read recently that there are male and female varieties of laurel, which I hadn’t realised; mine has the occasional berry, so is presumably female. The willow was cut several weeks ago and sprouted leaves before the catkins finally appeared, but they were worth waiting for and surprised me further when I lifted them from their holding vase to use for IAVOM, as the stems have all rooted!

I know that willow roots easily, but it certainly never crossed my mind that these stems would root, and I shall pot them up when this vase has done its duty and create more pink pussies for others tempted by their cuteness!

It has been a useful exercise featuring more foliage in recent vases, proving yet again that blooms are not essential. Perhaps you can find some to pop into a vase or jamjar yourself and join us for IAVOM?

Posted in foliage, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Winter | Tagged | 45 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Winter Sunshine

Posted in Gardens, Winter, winter interest, Wordless Wednesday | 3 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: It’s a Stick Up…oops, No it Isn’t!

One of my friends bought me a quirky little vase for Christmas; made out of opaque white silicon and with a flat back, it sticks to smooth surfaces. “You will either love it or hate it,” she said, and although my reaction was more of a ‘like’ rather than ‘love’, I was certainly looking forward to giving it a try.

Keeping the contents fairly simple, I chose two sprigs of Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ (as always, cut from low growing or crisscrossing stems) and one of Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’, placed the dampened vase on the cleaned and cleared (of various fridge magnets and important odds and ends) side of the fridge, filled it with water and added the stems…oops!

Even assistance from the Golfer, holding the vase in place till the last minute, was not enough to stop the vase peeling off the fridge within seconds, and after two or three attempts I admitted defeat and photographed it without water, for which it obligingly stayed in place a little longer. Thanks Friend, I enjoyed receiving the quirky present but sadly it failed** to live up to its expectations…

A quick alternative vase was selected to host the stems for the rest of their viable life, the white Caithness Glass vase chosen to contrast with the dark-leaved pittosporum. Natural daylight gave better results than the original photo, but does the vase look better sitting on the wall, or nestled among the greenery of the sarcococca?

Have you some stems or sprigs of greenery or other foliage to pop into a vase today, along with any winter flowering blooms or stray summer remnants? If so, please consider sharing them with us on IAVOM by leaving the usual links.

**Friend contacted me after reading this post to tell me hers has remained attached in situ for a week, so I am just going to have to try again! It seems

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Winter, winter interest | Tagged | 24 Comments