Seven on Sunday?

With a few random  bits and bobs to post about, it might not actually be seven but having posted something other than a Six on Saturday yesterday, Seven on Sunday has a certain ring to it!

Firstly, I would like to feature a close-up of ‘Rochester’, one of my eye-wateringly expensive witch hazels, flowering properly for the first time. The blooms are smaller than on some of the others, but do have a distinctly warm fragrance when you shove your nose into the shreds. Unlike cheaper witch hazels, the shrub has a more tree-like shape, so perhaps judicious grafting contributed to the cost.

A long overdue clearing of our lofts has kept me out of the garden for much of this last week, but seeking a new home for a knitting machine unused for over 20 years I came across a charity that refurbishes tools of all sorts (including knitting and sewing machines) and sends them to Africa to provide means of making a living. Some types of gardening tools are also on their wanted list, so today I have sorted out some duplicates to add to the growing pile of items to donate. The charity, for anyone interested, is Tools With A Mission (TWAM).

Emptying the last of 2020’s compost was a task I wanted to complete before the end of the year, and I was only a couple of days late; the Golfer can now dismantle the rotten framework and build a replacement, a job he willingly abandoned the loft to begin!

The recent relative warmth has meant Galanthus ‘Gabriel’ has fully opened, the drops bobbing about in the slightest movement of air:

Meanwhile, in the woodland the handful of ‘spare’ snowdrops I planted on a whim after discussion with some of my blogging friends early last year are doing really well, relishing, I think, the deep leaf litter they are planted in and furthering thoughts about relocating all of my specials here. Foolishly (and unusually), I didn’t make a note of the varieties planted here and, although all had been labelled, some of the labels have disappeared. All very odd, as the only cultivation that takes place here is the planting of bulbs. Hopefully, once they flower they will be more identifiable, especially if I check out which varieties I know I had spares of last year. In the meantime, I have had to pull out or cut back ivy which threatens to overrun the woodland, obscuring at the slightest opportunity the bark path alongside which these snowdrops have been planted.

Yesterday, I denied having any projects other than tweaking in mind, and moving all the specials would be a decision not taken lightly, whilst the future of a potentially empty border would require some planning, but the thought is certainly gathering pace in my mind, thereby potentially constituting a ‘project’. Similarly, there is a potential project involving one of the Anything Goes (aka Bold) borders, as I am pondering replanting it as a grass border…but that’s still just a thought, and a very vague one at that. Unlike the other two borders, which face south, this one gets much less sun, and most plants have never thrived:

Finally (and does this make seven?), I noticed today that buds on the stems of pink pussy willow Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ I experimentally picked a couple of weeks ago are beginning to open…definitely worth waiting for!




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Goodbye to 2021

It was only when I stepped out of the back door this morning for my usual ramble that I realised that yesterday was the end of another month – well, I knew it was the end of the year and that we are now in 2022 of course, but in terms of garden record keeping it certainly hadn’t crossed my mind that it was time for a formal look at the garden at the end of December. One day won’t have made much difference, but a few days of temperatures reaching an unseasonal 14°C has, with witch hazels, snowdrops and the Winter Sunshine sweet peas in the working greenhouse all putting on a noticeable spurt, very evident in the case of the witch hazels when you see the photos and video.

Chloris published a lovely post about her garden today, toying with dreams of vast manicured gardens, ancient towers and fancy sculptures, but coming to the conclusion that she wouldn’t swap the garden she lovingly created herself and the joy it brings her for any of these dreams. I know just what she means and, despite the perhaps inevitable dissatisfaction with parts of my garden (inevitable because, like most gardeners, I always think things could be better), I know that everything in the garden apart from the hedge, the apple trees and some other self-seeded trees is there because I put it there or planned for it be there, ably asisted by the Golfer in terms of constructing paths and wooden structures, and there is indeed joy great joy to be had in the creation.

2021 began cold, although many winter flowering plants were already ahead of themselves, and a dry and sunny summer made it a great year for roses and the annuals and dahlias in the cutting beds. Projects during the year have been relatively minor, mainly tweaking existing structures or layout, and will largely go unnoticed by the irregular visitor. The lopping of 2 silver birch may be more noticeable and is an action I am still not wholly satisfied with, not helped by an inability to come up with inspiration for something artistic to do with the stumps, left at a heigh of two metres plus. I have also tried to be more selective in my planting throughout the year, not cramming as much in the borders, but still have a long way to go with this…

Unusually, there are as yet no grand plans for 2022, but I suspect that tweaking is here to stay! Before then, here is the garden at the start of the year, with the usual regular views, some spiced up by witch hazels and the glowing stems of cornus:

The woodland, the view from the bothy at the end of it and the same area from the back of the sheds, taken at ground level:

The woodland edge border, with hellebores budding up and native snowdrops pushing through (and the two lopped beeches):

The three Anything Goes borders:

The bubblewrapped greenhouse and the empty cutting beds:

The blue & white border, rose garden and path between the main borders:

The snowdrop border and view back towards the house, with the recently pruned wisteria:

And finally to the Coop, with late flowering crysanthemum and emerging spring bulbs, and the Coop Corner beyond it, where the recent lifting of the sagging pink pussy willow leaves the bed looking less overgrown, albeit still needing attention:

Finally, here is the usual end of month video, this time including close-ups of the witch hazels, and before you watch it please accept my warmest wishes for the best possible 2022!

Posted in End of Month View, garden structure, Gardens | 27 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: My Best Christmas Present

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In a Vase on Monday: Sprigs and Twigs

Some quick snipping and plonking brings us sprigs and twigs of Sarcoccus humilis and Prunus mume ‘Beni Chidori’, in bud not not yet in bloom and therefore not included in yesterday’s bloom count. I picked some of the prunus a week or two ago to see if they would open in water, which they are now just on the point of doing; that twig, however, was a bit

on the ungainly side so smaller sideshoots were cut for today’s vase instead, which also includes foliage from the wonderfully supportive Arum italicum ‘Marmoratum’. In anticipation of the buds opening in due course, today’s prop is my 5 year garden diary from Avon Bulbs, now containing a three year record of what is happening in the garden and my involvement in it, providing a handy guide on when to anticipate the appearance of its inhabitants.

If you have time to pop into your garden today and snip a few things to plonk into a vase, please share them with us by leaving the usual links.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Winter, winter interest | Tagged | 21 Comments

Boxing Day, Out For the Count

Every year, on Boxing Day or thereabouts, I count how many different blooms there are around the garden; I don’t pick them and create delightful tussie mussies like blogging friend Chloris, just seek them out and count them. This year she counted 23 (or 24 if she included the one she couldn’t bear to pick); I too found 24*, although I ‘cheated’, as I always do, by including some growing the Coop…

Let’s start with some stalwarts like Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’, a superstar I am pleased to welcome back after a number of years’ absence, and other regulars (clockwise from top left) Lonicera purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’, Rhododendron ‘Cheers’, catkins of twisted hazel Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ and out-of-sorts Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’:

Snowdrops specials seem to be following a more typical schedule this year, with only Galanthus ‘Gabriel’ and ‘Barnes’ in bloom:

Primroses tend to follow their own schedule, and some are flowering now, along with winter bedding polyanthus/primula:

Less seasonal are Rosa ‘Nathalie Nypels’ and Erigeron karvinskianus:

Equally unseasonal are some very silly potted annuals – nemesia, petunia and verbena:

Adding to my count are Chrysanthemum ‘Kiyomi No Meisui’, Pelargonium ‘Lindy Lou’, ‘florists cyclamen’ and Pelargonium ‘Copthorne’ in the Coop, the pelargonium only there because I haven’t got round to cutting them back:

Hellebores occasionally bloom here before the year is out, but this year it is only ‘Anja Oudolf’:

And finally, here are some of my witch hazels, just coming into bloom although none fully out – Jelena, Magic Fire, Harry, Orange Peel and Rochester, the latter flowering properly for the first time:

Winter blooms are possibly even more welcome than those appearing in the floriferous months, when their abundance can become almost overwhelming, and (where local weather conditions permit) it is worth seeking out additions to our gardens to provide interest in these leaner months. An added bonus, of course, is the provision of material for a Vase on Monday! Last year, many plants were ahead of themselves but this year’s count seems to be more typical, as the following records show:

2013 18
2014 28
2015 37
2016 14
2017 28
2018 16
2019 18
2020 37
2021 27

* as is invariably the case, the next day I found 3 more treasures that had been missed: Arabis ‘All Gold’, Hamamelis ‘Pallida’ and two very beautiful booms on Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’, bringing the total to 27

Posted in Boxing Day blooms, Christmas, Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens, Winter, winter interest | 6 Comments

Joy and Peace

Best wishes to all those who ramble with me, wishing you joy, peace, good health for the festive season and the coming year, with some good gardening too.

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Wordless Wednesday: Late, But Not Forgotten

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In a Vase on Monday: Best Laid Plans and the Optimist

Having received some flowers for my birthday earlier this month I noticed a couple of days ago that, amidst the faded stocks and dianthus, the lovely purple-blue alstroemeria still looked good, and therefore decided to base a vase around them. Sadly, even the best laid plans don’t always work out, and when I removed the stems from the vase the petals just dropped off…oops!

Closer inspection, however, revealed a few unopened buds on one stem and so, with my usual optimism, I continued with the plan, partnering the alstroemeria with a stem of twisted hazel and its catkins, placing them in a vintage green ‘poison’ bottle with, for a prop, a 2022 calendar for future planning. I have used this particular brand of calendar for as long as I can remember, and suffer momentary panic when I seek it out for the following year and don’t instantly find it (it took 3 attempts to get this one!)!

We have so many commitments at this festive time of year, but if you have time to find something from your garden or forage locally for material to pop into a vase, then please join us on IAVOM by leaving the usual links.

Posted in Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 15 Comments

Six on Saturday: Behold a Great Light…

…and the angel Gabriel appeared, the only main season snowdrop likely to be flowering at Christmas. Last year two thirds of the specials were poking their noses through, with six in flower, an all-time record here; this year looks to be more typical as far as the snowdrops go.

A more typical season for witch hazels too, with just a few tiny spicks and specks of colour beginning to appear, and only Hamamelis ‘Orange Peel’ being anywhere near ‘out’, a full three weeks later than last year:

Elsewhere I managed to plant out the early flowering Winter Sunshine sweet peas into the greenhouse border today, having first boosted the soil with homemade compost first. They should begin flowering by the end of March or into April at the latest.

Also accomplished this week was the planting of new rose ‘City of York’, which had been heeled into one of the cutting beds until I reached a decision on its planting hole. A climbing rose, it was destined for the side of the house, clambering up the wall and onto the entrance archway, and the original plan was for a raised brick surround; a belated flash of inspiration created a new plan, utilising an existing pot with its base removed and sunk into the ground. This gives it a neater profile with less obstructive potential than a brick surround.

And finally, for the sixth of my Six on Saturday contribution to the meme hosted by Jon The Propagator, is a large clump of Iris ensata, dug out of the streamside grass and awaiting splitting and removal of uninvited couch grass from its rootball. The irises have not flowered for 4 years, possibly suffering from a combination of dry weather and congestion. Using a saw, I cut chunks from the rootball and have left them soaking in a bucket of water so I can tease out any unwanted couch grass, before replanting them in the streamside border itself, which I am hoping will be a better location for them as it seems to hold more moisture. That will be another job to tick off my To-Do List!

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, roses, Six on Saturday, snowdrops | 14 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, Winter, winter interest, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , | 4 Comments