Wordless Wednesday: Triptych

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 9 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Sweet

I have not allowed myself to sway from the original intention of using purely sweet peas in today’s vase: after all, they deserve it, brightening the greenhouse where they are grown and filling it with a sublime fragrance. For those who have not come across them before they are an early flowering variety called Winter Sunshine, bred to flower under cover (in the UK) at lower light levels and cooler temperatures, and mine have been flowering for a month or so. My outdoor sweetpeas, sown inside at the end of January, are also doing well, forming nice sturdy plants around 18″ (45cms) tall.

As Owls Acre, where the seeds were purchased from, do not sell mixed packs of seed, I buy a number of different colourways and mix them together – probably seven different shades in total but not all flowering yet.

To keep the focus purely on the sweet peas there is no additional material, and the blooms were placed in a plain and simple vase, another of my numerous Caithness Glass collection, this time in the ‘moss’ colourway. To complete the title, the prop is a reproduction metal advertising sign, promoting pea seeds, which has been adorning my kitchen for over 20 years.

As a bonus there is a second vase this week, a vase (another Caithness Glass one!) of gorse* blooms. I often see gorse on my local walks and consider picking it to add to a vase, but the usual spots are on the other side of ditches and not worth the risk of reaching over. Today there was a bush right next to the path so I picked a handful, a little disappointed that their fragrance was not as pronounced as it was reputed to be. I had always intended, when I did manage to pick some, to weave a post around kissing, kissing being in season when gorse was in bloom, but as this is the secondary vase we will all have to forgo that pleasure…

Have you got a vase to share with the IAVOM blogging community today, filled with material from your garden or foraged locally (mind those ditches)? If so, please leave the usual links to and from this post so we can find it.

*in hindsight I realised it was actually broom rather than gorse, which shows how long it is since I had a close encounter with a gorse bush! And I had forgotten that broom grows wild too…

Posted in countryside, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, In a Vase on Monday, seed sowing | Tagged , , | 41 Comments

Sumer is Icumen in…Slowly

A warm, sunny and dry April accompanied by chilly nights has been followed by a cool and damp May, with weather records broken in both months. The borders are gradually filling up with attractively mounded clumps of fresh foliage, some now punctuated with splashes of colour as blooming begins. The promise of summer is clearly there, as the border above and below shows, but one of the major heralds of summer, the rose, is still absent: plenty of buds, but no blooms. But all in good time, and they will come when they are ready…

It is always a pleasure to welcome back old friends in the garden, so let’s take a quick ramble around it and see what’s blooming in this latter part of May, starting with old faithful astrantia, allium and aquilegia in the above border, along with early flowering Persicaria ‘Superba’. On a breezy afternoon it was hard for the camera to focus on the many variations of aquilegia that can be enjoyed here, but here are a few that came out clearly:

Geranium make gorgeous clumps at this time of year, but so far it is the more informal and often partially evergreen varieties that have begun flowering:

I mentioned signs of  geum reappearing in one of the bold borders, and it has company, especially in the form of recent purchase Geum ‘Tempest Scarlet’, making a currently unparalleled splash:

There are the first buds on summer flowering clematis but two of the spring flowering varieties are still in bloom:

Bluebells were a little later this year but are still dominating the woodland along with wild garlic and a large clump of red campion, returning after a year off:

Centaurea are another stalwart of late spring, with buds of both blue and white varieties opening to reveal blooms which always make such an attractively bright contrast with the soft green leaves:

Also seasonal but running late are the slowly establishing lily-of-the-valley, whereas this low growing comfrey is rarely out of bloom:

Rhododendrons can be expected every May, and this seems to be the usual flowering time for the powerfully fragrant Choisya ‘White Dazzler’ too:

I am chuffed to have grown these candelabra primulas, P ‘Miller’s Crimson’, from seed:

In the cutting beds my seed-sown cosmos, still less than half its full height, is in bloom and should begin appearing in a vase soon. There are buds on some of the cornflowers too, but it will be a few weeks before anything else is flowering.

Early season bedding plants (pansies, bellis, polyanthus and tulips) still occupy many of the pots, delaying their summer flowered replacements, but I can still enjoy them while I wait…

And finally, an unseasonal latecomer, the last of the hippeastrum in the Coop, ‘Appleblossom’:

Addendum, written a few days later:

I managed to omit from my notable May blooms the spreading but still welcome Galium odoratum:

And wonderful Magnolia ‘Susan’:

And how could I forget the Winter Sunshine sweet peas in the greenhouse? Probably because they had all been picked to put in a vase on Monday:

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening | 15 Comments

Six on Saturday: Curiosities

It is such an exciting time in the garden, with so much going on and new appearances to look out for every day; however, a long list of pre-garden-opening jobs  (not to mention the fairly persistently damp weather) has precluded a catch up of May blooms, but perhaps it will happen tomorrow – before I run out of days in the month!

For today, let’s instead look at some more curiosities, after the puzzling camassia and primula cross of last week – starting with one of two blooms on a pot of sarracenia in the Coop. The picture is a little misleading as the bloom is not attached to the pitcher on its left. Not yet fully open, the flower is a couple of inches or so across and looks very out of scale with the pitchers. The stem of the second one is even longer than on this one but the bud is still tightly furled.

There is probably rather too much in the way of arisaema foliage (if that is what it is*) in certain parts of the garden and it is one of those plants that just seemed to appear from nowhere – I certainly have no recollection of ever having purchased it, and am guessing that this one must be a UK native. This is the first time I have found a flower though, and although most of the clumps are in the shrub border I found the bloom on a small patch in the woodland. No doubt some reader will be able  to give me more details about it, including whether I ought to be restricting its spread. * it isn’t, and has been correctly identified by Pauline and Chloris as Arisarum proboscideum or mouse tail plant

Popping up in the streamside grass this week was Ornithogalum nutans, which hasn’t been seen for a little while after arriving out of the blue and appearing occasionally in recent years. Note the sprinkling of cowslips and two fine dandelion seedheads – as well as the length of the grass, which will be attended to by hand shears when we next have a dry day, now that the daffodil and crocus foliage has partially died down.

Similarly reappearing after an absence is the first hint of this geum in one of the bold borders – from its location, I am confident it will prove to be Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, but what it has been doing for the last four or five years is a secret it has not yet shared with me.

I added a number of small woodland plants to the woodland edge border at the end of 2019, but was puzzled by the yellow bloom on one of them last year as it is not often I would choose to purchase a yellow-flowering plant. Edrom Nursery, where I purchased the plant from, no longer had it in stock so I couldn’t check if it was what it was meant to be, and I failed to get a photo whilst it was still in bloom. It was meant to be Cardamine heptaphylla ‘Helen Myers’, but when it bloomed again this year and once again I searched for clarification I realised from the leaves that it wasn’t even a cardamine! A photo and email to the nursery provided a very prompt reply with an apology and an identification of the plant as Hylomecon japonicum, which sits next to the cardamine in the nursery. A replacement will be sent when available from this very helpful and efficient small nursery. in the meantime I have to avoid mistaking the blooms for Welsh poppies, which they resemble, and plucking them off…

Last summer a friend shared a packet of seeds with me (three seeds from a packet of six!), and this is the result: Aquilegia ‘Chocolate Soldier’, a curiosity indeed…

Do pop over to Jon the Propagator’s blog for more contributions to this Saturday meme, curious or otherwise.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday, Spring | 21 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Go Girl!

Posted in Gardens, Spring, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 8 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: What Elegant Ladies are Wearing These Days

Just over 5 weeks ago I posted a Monday vase with the first tulips of the year, tulips I had noted down on planting as ‘Elegant Lady’ but could now see were something completely different. I remembered later that soon after planting I had removed the elegant ladies from two smaller tubs and replanted them in one big one, where they are just coming into bloom. With such elegant bodies and delicate white complexions with a hint of rouge, these ladies are clearly ready to dress up and hit the town.

Today they are wearing floaty green giwns of Lathyrus vernus ‘Alboroseus’, sprinkled with delicate pink, and bright accessories courtesy of Argyranthemum ‘Grandaisy Pink; clouds of sweet pea ‘Winter Sunshine’ perfume follow in their wake as they head off in the subtle peat coloured Caithness Glass vase to make their mark on society. I am sure they would be sporting a glittering brooch or necklace dripping with diamonds, given half a chance, but I am not a jewellery person and could only conjure up a simple Art Nouveau style brooch, sitting unused in a drawer for many years, to grace the occasion – sorry Ladies!

I will observe them from a discrete distance and report back on their behaviour!

Perhaps there are some pretty ladies in your garden that you would like to share with us today – if so, please leave the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 43 Comments

Six on Saturday: Many a Slip

There are lots of cowslips in the garden, mostly in the streamside grass, that popped up out of nowhere a number of years ago. This week another newcomer has arrived in the same part of the garden, shown above. At first I thought it must be an oxlip, assuming an oxlip is a cross between a cowslip and a primrose – the stems hold themselves like a cowslip, but the blooms are bigger and paler and certainly more primrose-like. Google tells me, however, that oxlip is actually a plant in its own right, and not a cross – but could they still cross-pollinate and produce something different, like a ‘primslip’ or ‘cowrose’?  Or has a cowslip cross-pollinated a nearby Primula denticulata perhaps? It’s all very curious and I am open to any other suggestions…

I would also welcome thoughts about these camassias:

Last year a clump of foliage appeared in the blue & white border and eventually produced white camassia blooms. Now, I have bought camassia bulbs before (and possibly more than once) but they had never shown themselves in any form, so their emergence was a real surprise – especially as they were not included in my Peter Nyssen bulbs invoices back as far as 2017 (not sure if I have any earlier ones). This year at least one blue camassia has emerged too – so what have they been doing all these years? What has changed to encourage them to suddenly appear? I have no idea – have you?

Despite last year’s hot summer, most of my rhododendrons don’t seem to have been adversely affected and look set to flower as usual. ‘Percy Wiseman’ is the latest to open:

I had hoped to write a post during the week, focussing on preparations for our garden openings which are now less than 6 weeks away – once into May, the timescale suddenly seemed to shrink! It seems only a few weeks ago that although I felt generally on top of tasks, many of the plants seemed to be behind – and then there was an issue with the compost and many seeds had to be resown and seedlings repotted. My detailed records show, however, that this is not the case and that I was planting out at more or less the same time as in the previous two and most likely those before that – and probably over 90% of the cutting beds have now been planted up:

I gauged the timing on a combination of the size of the seedlings and the local weather forecast and seem to have judged it satisfactorily, with the bulk of the planting out achieved just before the recent damp weather which was accompanied by milder nights. The weather conditions have really given the plants a boost, with all making noticeable progress in a short time. An end to colder nights has meant seedlings still in the working greenhouse have made good progress too and generally made up for any delays caused by the compost debacle. Antirrhinum and zinnias are not quite ready to go out, but most remaining seedlings are either perennials or afterthought annuals that were only s0wn a month ago. Most of the dahlias are outside now as well, either planted out or in pots for potential sale, with bedding plants going out too when pots become available.

This weekend has been showery, as promised, but between showers I have managed to rebuild the brick plinth for the displaced sink I showed last week, a task requiring considerable stretching of my little legs to get over the sink as I to and froed with bricks and mortar. You don’t want to see that though, especially as it is covered up to protect it from the rain, so have a look at some of the nearby and still pristine miniature hostas instead:

That’s my Six on Saturday, but do visit our host Jon the Propagator’s blog for more.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday | 30 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: First Cosmos

Posted in annuals, Gardening, Gardens, seed sowing, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 11 Comments

Ina Vase on Monday: Shabby Chic

My vase today is simple: a clutch of faded blooms from Helleborus ericsmithii ‘Winter Moonbeam’ in a vase from my collection of Caithness Glass ‘Ebony’ pieces.

I had begun cutting faded hellebore flowers last week to allow clumps of fresh leaves to take centre stage, but after trimming half the blooms from this plant I realised they were too striking to consign to the compost heap, so left the rest to cut for this week’s vase instead. The original and numerous blooms were white flushed with pink but have now aged to green, this time flushed with a deeper almost burgundy pink. This floriferous variety of hellebore carries a series of blooms along each stem and there must be around 50 flowers in the vase, perhaps half the total produced by the plant. Highlighting their shabby chicness is a vintage handstitched patchwork quilt.

If you would like to join in with your own vase on Monday, filled with material gleaned from your own garden or foraged locally, then please leave links to and from this post so we can share in the pleasure it brings you.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

Six on Saturday, Including a Sad Tale…

Whatever records we keep of our gardens we are unlikely to have evidence to prove or disprove statements like ‘I am sure the blooms on this have never been as big’, as seems to be the case with crabapple Malus ‘Royalty’, whose pretty deep pink blooms tend to disappear amongst the equally pretty foliage – but not so this year, or so it seems! It was hard to convey this in the photo, but I have done the best I could. It may be that branches are hanging lower this year, bringing the blooms closer, but whether they are bigger than usual or not will remain a matter of conjecture.

I do know for sure that this time of year is when we begin to see the appearance of the three As – aquilegia, astrantia and allium – and once again they are true to form with the first hint of their winning combination: Aquilegia ‘Green Apples’, Astrantia ‘Star of Beauty’ and (probably) Allium ‘Purple Sensation’. This time last year the first roses were out (albeit early, which I do know from my records); this year there are some buds in evidence but still a few weeks away from flowering.

Heavy rain was forecast here for much of the day, sadly coinciding with our pre-booked tickets to a local specialist plant fair, and by late afternoon we had accumulated 18ml of very welcome rainfall, three times as much as we received for the whole of April – and exceedingly welcome. Recent days have brought a number of light showers which have done little more than wet the surface, but this is the first ‘properly wet’ rain we have had for months (or so it seems)!

The rain might have put a damper on our planned trip out but did not deter us and in fact by our later time slot the rain had eased off, allowing us (ie me, as the Golfer was there, he says, to carry the bags) to comfortably browse at our leisure. Of course, when a girl is deprived of visiting gardens and plant fairs for many months she will want to buy some plants:

As well as planting this haul in the next few days, she also has some bricklaying to do – sadly not a new project, but an unanticipated maintenance task triggered by damp in our attached neighbour’s house. You may recall the ‘shady courtyard’  tucked in between the two properties, which you would see at the end of the monthly videos, where we have an old sink on a brick plinth and several pots, all planted with ferns. The wall on the left and the one with the little window belong to our neighbour, and during recent rainfall damp has appeared inside under this window wall, where the floor is currently bare whilst awaiting a new wooden upgrade. The problem relates to a discrepancy in floor levels and has not been caused or exacerbated by our work creating the courtyard, but nevertheless it still required a dismantling of the brick plinth and temporary moving of the sink…hey ho! I do enjoy bricklaying but it is not a task I had anticipated adding to my current schedule…

The last of my Saturday Six for Jon the Propagator’s weekly meme is censored, as I do not want to distress anyone. In the bag is…(whisper)…a dead hedgehog – actually, and even more sadly, two dead hedgehogs… The first died, we think, from exposure as I found it in one of the borders on a chilly day a couple of months back when walking round the garden with The Tinker. It was hard to tell if it was dead at first or in a state of torpor, so it was brought into the shed and placed with straw in a large pot but it became clear as the days warmed up that it was the former. Such a shame that this was The Tinkler’s first introduction to a hedgehog, and distressing for us, especially with regularly feeding a hedgehog for months. Once its demise was certain, this hedgehog was buried nearby although bizarrely the grave was empty the following day and the body gone (found later, presumably having been dug up by a cat), although for a brief moment I wondered if I had buried it alive…

Within a day or two we knew it wasn’t ‘our’ hedgehog, who was seen waiting patiently when the Golfer went to feed him; today, however, he went to the shed and found a dead hog, possibly the victim of an attack. Was this our hedgehog? We don’t know yet, but what a sad tale to have to tell…


Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Six on Saturday, Spring | Tagged | 23 Comments