Wordless Wednesday: Fine and Dandy

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Reliable October Bloomers

Checking back on October Blooms Day last year, it is clear that the most reliable October bloomers are dahlias, salvias, persicaria, cosmos and sedum with a few near perfect roses in the mix too. Above, from left to right and top to bottom are dahlias Twynings After Eight, Cafe au Lait, Happy Single Juliet, unknown, Duet, Bishop of Leicester, Happy Halloween, Snowball and a lovely scarlet cactus dahlia grown from seed. All are still going strong, eking out as much existence as they can before the first frosts.

A few roses are bringing pleasure: Sweet Dreams, Madame Alfred Carriere, Blush Noisette, Crown Princess Margarita, The Pilgrim…

In the bold borders Persicaria ‘Blackfield’ looks striking next to Verbena ‘Lollipop’, with Nasturtium ‘Mahogany’ sprawling below them:

Above these are this year’s surprising star, Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Glow’, bought as a £2.99 for 3 bonus with something else, and thriving like no other perennial rudbeckia has ever done in this garden:

Annual rudbeckias like Irish Eyes are a more expected success:

Some astrantias are having a second flush, like ‘Star of Beauty’ and ‘Buckland’:

Salvia ‘Neon’ (left) brushes off winter, has flowered since June and has wonderfully blackcurrant scented leaves (Persicaria ‘Jo and Guido’ behind it), whereas ‘Amistad’ (right) is less winter hardy and started flowering later but is still a wonderful asset. Both are readily propagated by cuttings.

There is no stopping comos:

And sedum are at their best (here, S ‘Thunderhead’):

It’s hard to believe that we are more than half way through October – I wonder how many of these blooms will still be starring in November? Chloris of The Blooming Garden celebrates the stars of her garden every month and encourages us to do the same so please check out her blog in due course  and see what’s happening there and elsewhere. Thanks Chloris for giving us this opportunity!

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In a Vase on Monday: Art Nouveau

Today’s vase is  tribute to the dahlia it contains: ‘Art Nouveau’. With an estimated height of only 35cms this was the only dahlia to be planted out in one of the borders where sadly it hasn’t done very well and has suffered more slug damage than any of those in the cutting beds and adjacent pots. It certainly deserves better than that, and it would be a delight to have had more than just the handful of frilly pink blooms that have been produced this season – although the frilly pink blooms have at least been even more delightful than the ‘lilac, underside of petal red-purple’ that the Peter Nyssen catalogue described them as being.

The single stem of dahlias is joined by a similarly single stem of hardy Fuchsia magellanica, fuchsias being a common motif in the Art Nouveau period and featured, or so I thought, on the Royal Brierley Crystal vase that I was considering using because of its style. The vase was a gift from colleagues when I ceased the market research work I did whilst my children were small and I had always considered the motifs to be fuchsias, but today I was less sure and chose a different vase instead. In retrospect, on checking it out, they are indeed the stylised fuchsias of that period.

My alternative choice was one of the Caithness Glass ‘Ebony’ vases that live on the mantlepiece in our living room; these were all bought in the 90s from the factory shop in Oban on visits to my Mum. Photographs were taken on the stove below the mantlepiece (top) and with the complete collection of vases (bottom). The vases look like pottery but are indeed glass and I am very fond of them – despite having bought them for their aesthetic quality I really should remember to use them more often on a Monday!

It’s always interesting to see both  blooms and vases in your posts every week so pop out into your gardens or forage around locally and find something to display in your home or workplace to bring you pleasure during the week – then link to and from this post so we can all have a look as well.

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Musings and Abusings

The rose garden continues to be abused and with all the posts removed the roses followed suit today, before being bundled up to take to a Golfing Friend of the Golfer who has links with a school project n our local town. This same friend made a bulk purchase of plants left over from our open garden to give to the same cause and it is helpful to have a worthy outlet for spare plants – in the circumstances I certainly have no qualms about getting rid of 8 climbing roses! What will they be replaced with? You will need to wait and see, but in the meantime I am astonished at how light and spacious the area appears, and much bigger too. Hopefully this impression will remain with the proposed scheme.

Elsewhere, the pergola replacement is all but completed and is looking good, unlike the area at its base and the adjacent paved area. Some of the big pots are having to be moved around to improve access and a number of slabs also require rearrangement, rather like a big jigsaw puzzle with an inevitable missing piece. Tucked between a slab and one of the big pots was an astonishingly large self-seeded cerinthe – how it got there I have no idea as they have never been grown in this part of the garden. And why do self-seeded plants always grow so well and in the most inaccessible places? My nurtured-from-seed cerinthe have never grown as big and bushy as this! Despite its relatively tiny root this one has been carefully teased out and replanted in one of the bold borders where perhaps it will overwinter as these mature ones often do.

The Big Pergola reveal will come in due course, with a final structural piece being fitted to complete it, but I am currently musing about the old sink which holds alpines and which was one of the things that needed to be moved. Moving it necessitated emptying the plants and the soil, but even so the sink is still bloomin’ heavy and needs to moved into potential locations before a decision can be made. Will it fit between these two end posts, I wonder? Only if Clematis ‘Freckles’ (already cut back to enable the pergola to be replaced) is removed, I fear…

One thing leads to another and, whilst freshly fallen leaves pile up on the paths, new projects continue to take priority when time allows, with musing leading to abusing, but hopefully all for the overall benefit of the garden. Another musing, still a long way from a decision  is – SHOCK HORROR! – whether to replace the relatively small Tai Chi grass with artificial turf…  Please don’t throw your hands up in alarm without considering the potential advantages of such a scheme: the lawn is only a little more than 2 metres square and apart from the streamside grass which is cut roughly by hand is the only grass we have and thus barely worth getting the lawnmower out for, whilst a consistently short and ‘well-maintained’ surface would encourage greater use for its supposed function, Tai Chi. Watch this space (the green space below, that is!) for a decision in due course…

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Wordless Wednesday: Oops!

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In a Vase on Monday: a Degree of Ambivalence

There is nothing auspicious about today’s date that might have merited red, white and blue blooms and a patriotic ‘vase’: it is just the way things turned out.

Salvia Amistad was my ‘go to’ plant for this vase – indeed not just one plant, but several. The main plant was grown from a cutting sneaked from a municipal planter just prior to its disposal last autumn (I emailed the local council and found that they no longer operating their own nursery so all their plants are bought in and binned at the end of the season). Other cuttings were sold as young plants on my garden open days and further cuttings were taken from my own plant at the beginning of August this year, growing ridiculously quickly and all now flowering themselves.

Rather than just a small vase with a handful of blooms, I decided to enhance the salvia with some other good performers – long flowering scarlet annual Alonsoa, and equally prolific Cosmos ‘Purity’. In doing so, I am reminded to include the unabashed brightness of alonsoa in my borders as well as the cutting beds next year.

Even with red, white and blue blooms I wasn’t looking for a patriotic vase (but maybe a patriotic prop) but a search of a vase stash proved fruitless and I began to think out of the box instead, glancing around the kitchenalia on the shelves. This one-off Marmite jar (Ma’amite – get it?! produced for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012) caught my eye – and reminded me of the challenge I thought I might pose for IAVOM’s next anniversary in November… no further clues though! For those who don’t know what Marmite, a very British product is, it is a spreadable yeast extract (originally a bi-product of the brewing process) that people traditionally either love or hate.

Unlike my mother and sisters who love it and probably use it daily I have to confess to a degree of ambivalence – I don’t dislike it but it plays no part in my culinary routines and I am sure the empty jar will have found its way onto my shelves courtesy of my mother. The little Marmite knife and spoon will have come from a boot sale or similar and now live in the jar.

Sadly, a few hours after creating this vase I realised that, having forgotten to put any water in it, the blooms had all wilted! Its belated addition may breathe new life into the blooms or they may be destined for an early grave. Please don’t forget to add water to any vase you choose to create today – or do at least take your photographs immediately! Just find something from your garden or foraged nearby to pop into your vase or jar or other receptacle to bring you pleasure during the week, and share it with us by leaving links to and from this post in the usual way.

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Wordless Wednesday: Like Baubles on a Christmas Tree

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