Wordless Wednesday: Looking Rosy

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In a Vase on Monday: Sugary Confection

A quick and simple vase from me again, squeezed into yet another busy day yesterday: one of my many Caithness Glass vases with a selection of pastel coloured aquilegia, from the pleated single and double coloured ones to the curious anemone-flowered ones. Foliage is courtesy of a dicentra (lamprocapnos). All the aquilegia were grown from seed, the greenish-yellow Green Apples and a range of varieties sourced from seed bought from aquilegia specialist Carrie Thomas of Touchwood Aquilegia. To maintain the beauty of the originals, I am now in the habit of removing any substandard seedlings that pop up.

The title of the post is triggered by the aquilegia in the bottom right which always reminds me of the sugary confection called ‘coconut ice’; I have made coconut ice before, but having other more pressing things to do my prop today is instead a box of sugar-free sweets. The Golfer has a very sweet tooth but has been persuaded to try and stick to sugar-free sweets after too many expensive and painful visits to the dentist.

Even if you can’t find time to post about a vase today, do still pick blooms or other material from your garden and pop them into a vase for your own pleasure. Even though the tulips are now brittle and dry, I am still getting pleasure from last week’s vase and have no intention of dismantling it yet. If you are able to share your own vase with our friendly IAVOM community then just leave links to and from this post in the usual way. In the meantime have a lovely week and enjoy your gardens!

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Top May Blooms: a Recurring Theme

The wisteria may be a little half-hearted this year having suffered, I think, from the cold northerly winds we had in March, but elsewhere in the garden things are definitely hotting up – and with a recurring theme. Chloris of the Blooming Garden invites us to share our top blooms every month so do pop over to her blog where she will be sharing her May blooms in due course too.

The alpina clematis are past their best now and giving them a haircut to tidy them up is on my to-do list, but Clematis montana var. grandiflora is in full flow, clambering into the hedge and conversing with buds of rose ‘Rambling Rector’:

The pink hawthorn that featured on Wordless Wednesday has been absolutely stunning:

In the herbaceous borders allium and aquilegia are bringing much pleasure, as you can see here:

and here:

Aquilegia and Magnolia ‘Susan’:

Aquilegia and Geranium phaeum:

Hordeum jubatum (squirrel-tail grass) – with aquilegia:

Astrantia ‘Ruby Cloud’ – with allium and aquilegia:

Astrantia ‘Star of Beauty’ and allium:

Stalwart Astrantia ‘Buckland’:

Rhododendrons in the woodland edge border:

Purple viola evicted from their winter HQ in troughs to various borders and hopefully continuing to bring a vibrant splash of colour for weeks or maybe months, seen here with teeny tiny Thalictrum ichangense and young geranium foliage:

There are buds on some of my seed sown cosmos, but the first seed sown blooms to appear are on the cerinthe (although I did spot a single bloom on Californian poppy ‘White Linen’ after I had taken today’s photographs), seen at the base of another annual grass, Lagurus ovatus (bunnytail grass; no bunny tails yet):

Finally, I am pleased to have blooms on Centaurea montana ‘Alba’, which I am hoping will establish as well as the blue version although I would be happy if it wasn’t quite as rampant:

So yes, a wonderful time in the garden for the 3 ‘A’s – allium, aquilegia and astrantia – but as you can see they don’t steal the show completely! And thank you Chloris for hosting the meme.

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, seed sowing, Spring | 33 Comments

Maybe Pink

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In a Vase on Monday: More Bang for Your Buck

Concise and to the point sums up today’s Monday vase: ‘Red Georgette’ tulips, multi-headed and thus giving more bang for your buck, popped into the gifted vase that you have seen many times before and accompanied by a shapely and curvaceous little red vase that itself might only hold a single stem. Each tulip bulb produces several stems, seemingly fused to each other and splitting off at various points up the main stem. This year they were grown in a pot but I shall definitely be growing them again and will probably sink these potted ones into a border when they have finished flowering. The heads are much smaller than many other tulips and they looked especially attractive in bud when their multitudinousness was even more obvious.

Last week’s vase has only just been dismantled, easily lasting the full week. The magnolia was the only element that failed after a couple of days, but at least the bud opened after being cut which I was pleased to see. Parrot tulip ‘Victoria’s Secret’ died especially elegantly, whilst the luzula still looked fresh and the aquilegia having opened after a few days was just on the way out. The squirrel tail grass, however, was different again, fat and fluffy instead of slender and furry, and now covered in pollen: I like it very much.

Many of us are especially busy in the garden at the moment and blogging is having to take a step back, but if you have time to pick something from your garden and pop it into a vase then I am sure it will give you additional pleasure over the next few days. If you also have the time to write about it and share it with us then we will do our best to catch up with your blogs as soon as we can and share in your pleasure – just leave the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, grasses, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , | 77 Comments

Full Steam Ahead

Apart from a couple of hours at a steam event literally just down the road from us I have spent virtually all my ‘free’ time recently working on the garden. This still doesn’t amount to very many hours and for the first time I have felt the slightest hint of pressure on myself to have everything ready for our openings  which are only 5-6 weeks away. This probably stems from the delay caused by the weather, the late cold spell slowing down seedling growth and then hot dry days preventing their being planted out once they were ready. The move finally began on Friday afternoon and the cutting beds quickly filled up, with seedlings destined for the borders still waiting their turn:

I find myself reluctant to take this next step as I can easily keep an eye on those in the cutting beds but in the borders they are often overshadowed by the existing herbaceous plants and neglected or munched by molluscs. Not surprisingly, the borders are full of lush growth and despite what first appears to have been a late spring the herbaceous plants seem to have adhered to their usual calendars. Already there are some pleasing combinations apparent, such as these alliums and astrantia:

The rhododendrons are in full swing in the woodland edge border, not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but you can’t beat them for their floriferousness at this time of year. Between them, I can’t help but marvel at the fresh growth on the epimediums, all the more attractive because for the first time ever I cut out the old foliage and was rewarded also by seeing their blooms which are normally hidden. You can just catch a glimpse of Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ in the top right hand corner of the picture on the right.

The wisteria on the gable of the house does seem to have affected by the cold winds in March after all, but strangely only on the lower stems which appear to be devoid of flower buds; the highest stems, however, look set to be in full flower as usual in a couple of weeks. Rambling Rector, which would also have taken the full force of the winds seems unaffected and is once again covered in buds so will be in flower before the end of the month and sadly over before our visitors arrive in late June. The lilac and laburnum that you can see are in our neighbour’s garden.

From bare pots a month or so again, spikes of hosta have quickly developed into lovely leafy clumps, so far free of slug damage; if only this were to remain the case!

I am pleased to be able to show off this early delphinium, grown from seed sown last July; I know it has a severe kink, but I can overlook this deformity as it is so pretty!

In the greenhouse (now a good bit emptier!) the ‘Winter Sunshine’ sweet peas are doing well, the best in all the three years I have grown them. I quite like the colour combination of the four varieties I have chosen but it is a shame that Owl’s Acre don’t sell mixed packets as a mixed bunch of sweet peas has its own special appeal.

Today I had a break from planting out and potting on as some fences desperately needed a new coat of paint, not the easiest of tasks when there are plants growing next to them but at least it will give them a few more years of life. More fences still to be tackled tomorrow, but not as awkward as this one was. Like the planting, this was a job delayed by the weather, as it couldn’t be done in the cold or the wet.

So much to do, so little time…but it will get done, I am sure…!

Posted in cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, Spring | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Sleeping Infant

I am snatching an indeterminate, but probably short, opportunity to write a post whilst I have a sleeping Grandchild, Thursdays having become a weekly Grannie Duty day since the middle of April. No gardening takes place on a Thursday – and the seasonal tasks are mounting up, waiting not just for a day other than Thursday, but a less HOT day, as there are lots of things waiting to be planted out.

One task that was carried out whilst temperatures were in the mid to high 20s was the new lawn:

You may remember an earlier picture showing the turf being removed from this area, the ‘Tai Chi Lawn’; having harboured thoughts of creating a turf stack, I soon realised that as well as having nowhere to discretely place such as stack, it was unlikely that I could make sensible use of the resultant soil a year or two down the line. Fortunately the neighbour who had our previous ‘spare soil’ was able to make use of the turf itself, edging a small mound on which they have just added an as yet unnamed outbuilding.

With the turf piles removed and the adjacent paved area swept of loose soil, the area was levelled and sharp sand applied. You will see that I had a bit of fun with the sand before the weed prevention membrane was added and the artificial turf laid. We looked at various samples before we made a final decision, which was Lazylawn ‘Lazy Signature’ – not cheap at £29.99 a square metre but with only needing a 2.2m length of the 2m width it was not an expensive project, although I had to reduce the width of the original square area to 2m to suit the width of the product.

We are pleased with the result and it will be interesting to see what visitors, whether friends, family or open garden visitors, make of it. I know the jury is out amongst fellow bloggers!

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