In a Vase on Monday: Feel the Beat

‘You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen
Dancing Queen, feel the beat from the tambourine’

This hippeastrum/amaryllis has  gone from dry bulb to fully open and flamboyant flower in seemingly no time (7 weeks) and was in danger of missing its opportunity to star in a vase on Monday – but thankfully has made it. Cut short, with a piece of bamboo cane shoved up its stem, it is held in place in the small but chunky rectangular vase with little pebbles, and accompanied by twisted hazel (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’). Red stems of Cornus alba were also snipped, before being deemed unnecessary.

As a tribute to the ‘Dancing Queen’ credentials of the bulb and in the absence of a tambourine, props were the sheet music for an Abba Medley, one of my barbershop group’s current favourites, a miniature drumstick and a stick pin featuring a drum kit. A few years ago, motivated by a conversation about what things we might regret never having tried, I bought a drum kit and had lessons for a few years. The miniature drumstick was one of a pair turned by a work colleague whose skills outside the workplace extended to both wood turning and playing the drums; attached to a key ring the second drumstick sadly but perhaps inevitably snapped.

In my mind the foreshortened dancer looks more attractive in her reduced stature, making it easier to admire her frilly and delicately patterned blooms, but I know not everyone will agree; however, so many Monday vase makers were reluctant to pick anything from their gardens before IAVOM, so perhaps in time we will all be cutting our amaryllis/hippeastrums and popping them in a vase as soon as the buds begin to open…In the meantime, what will be in those vases today? Just add links to and from this post so we can all see what you have found in your flower-starved gardens or foraged nearby.

ps some of you may have wondered why my post appeared so early last week, presumably at 12.01 am UK time…purely a slip of the typing finger when I scheduled it!

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , , | 64 Comments

Expect the Unexpected

Yesterday morning brought the unexpected sight of thick flakes of snow swirling around outside and settling where they fell. Despite continuing for at least an hour this was the full extend of the covering  and although temperatures barely rose above 4°C all day even this was soon gone. It was this same time last year that brought several days of bitterly cold weather and although temperatures have been low for several days they are set to go even lower nextweekend. It’s far too early to guess what kind of winter it will be, and along with the garden we will just have to take it as it comes.

This week we also took several hours of 40+ mph winds and I came back from a couple of days with Elder Daughter and the Poppet to find that most of the trees had largely been stripped of their leaves which up to now had been a slow and long drawn out process:

The conical tree on the right is the evergreen variegated holly and the dense green below the largest tree (our neighbour’s beech) is ivy, growing on an old and deceased plum tree. The consequences of leaves leaving the tress is, of course, leaves appearing elsewhere:

A few hours work sweeping and bagging by myself and the Golfer and a trial re-use of the leaf blower/vacuum that has been in the loft for a number of years has seen most of the leaves (but  not those in the woodland or woodland edge border, which are left to break down in situ) bagged up to be used as leaf mould in due course.

I was intending to write a nominal foliage post to link with Christina’s Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day, and I suppose this it, as the foliage that currently makes the greatest impact in the garden is that of fallen leaves. Once fallen leaves are removed from the borders and frosted leaves and stems – another foliage feature – are trimmed, then compost can be spread, overwintering plants mulched and most of the borders tucked up in bed for the winter. Just as it was with the cutting beds last week, there is a substantial element of satisfaction in completing these seasonal jobs

Posted in Autumn, Garden Bloggers Foliage day, Gardening, Gardens, Winter | 24 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Mystery Fungus Growing on Crown of Dahlia Tuber

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In a Vase on Monday: Rhapsody in Green

The posy I created to give to the friend who picks me up on a Thursday for our barbershop singing looked so pretty that I decided to recreate it for today. It was, quite simply, a rhapsody in various shades of green, demonstrating – as so many of us have come to learn – that foliage plays a huge part in our gardens, providing an infinite range of monochrome colours and textures.

To the mature ivy and its flowers, Euphorbia oblongata with its lime green bracts,  and the dangling phuopsis that were included in Thursday’s posy I added a sprig of spotty laurel and a few green crinkly leaves of Heuchera ‘Malachite’. The euphorbia was added on impulse to another buy earlier in the year, the Heuchera was a must-inclusion in a larger heuchera order when I saw the name (malachite being one of my favourite minerals) and the phuopsis which  I had not heard of until I ordered from Claire Austin was chosen then for its low growing, front-of-border attributes. It does flower, but they can’t make much impact as I don’t remember any blooms!

The stems of the ivy, laurel and euphorbia were conditioned in boiling water and then tied into a posy as the ivy stems kept popping out of the vase when I tried to arrange them. The vase is a heavy green spherical one that came from a low key antique fair some years ago, chosen for its green-ness and not (at the time) for its potential use as a vase; I was pleased with the way the roundedness of the posy reflected the shape of  the vase. Intriguingly, I had already decided to use malachite as a prop, so the last minute crinkly heuchera was an unplanned and happy coincidence; the chosen malachite prop was a chessboard and three malachite chess pieces (knight, rook and pawn).

Thank you for all your lovely comments last week on IAVOM’s fourth birthday and for your enthusiasm surrounding the additional challenge of a vase-less vase – these ranged from toilets and potties to vegetables and no receptacles at all. It was such fun to see them all and to know that you had fun coming up with your choices. I shall be putting my thinking cap on for an equally enjoyable challenge for next year! There were 24 vases posted, and as promised a winner has been randomly drawn to win Sarah Raven’s book ‘The Cutting Garden’: Alison from A Blog About Compost. Please email me your address, Alison, and I shall get the book sent as soon as I can. Well done, and thanks again to everyone for your support, whether you posted a vase or not.

In the meantime normal service has been resumed and we can go back to ‘real’ vases again, although perhaps we will see now more alternative containers being used in the future. What will be in yours today? Whatever it is, it will bring you pleasure during the week as we have learned even the simplest and tiniest of vases can do. If you would like to share it with us on IAVOM just include links from your post to this, and to yours from a comment on this page. See you soon!

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , | 64 Comments

Winter Drawers On

Oops, silly me, ‘Winter Draws On’ is what I meant to say! Yes indeed, with each chilly night the new day sees more evidence of the impending wintry season, with Persicaria ‘Painters Palette’ drying to a cold crisp overnight and P ‘Red Dragon’ just starting to go the same way. Unlike these persicarias grown mostly for their foliage, the shrubbier flowering ones like Blackfield and its P amplexicaulis friends are untouched and, in the case of Blackfield,  still flowering.

Over the week, the dahlias have all been lifted and are now in various states of undress in the back sitting room, having the soil brushed off them and drying out:

It is a little too warm here for a long vacation and they will be evicted in due course, probably to the sitooterie, where they will join pelargonium, fuchsia, eucomis and (shortly) nerines, although the latter did not cough up any flowers this year so perhaps do not merit their gentle and protected overwintering. It doesn’t look as if there will be much sitting-oot going on here during the winter, particularly once the dahlias move in!

Meanwhile, having ousted the dahlias , pre-winter clearing of the cutting beds can finally take place, and there was a certain amount of satisfaction to be gained from turning the lingering remnants of a great summer of bloom…

…into deep, empty and fertile beds ready to start again next year. Such promise! There’s  something strangely appealing about a bed of pristine soil, don’t you think? The only remaining greenery now is courtesy of some scruffy wallflowers, the product of a wrongly-labelled packet of seed. The liable company did replace the seed but it was some before I knew for sure what the mystery seedlings were going to grow into and the wallflowers were a bit of a disappointment – but heyho! they will provide blooms for a vase at some stage, I daresay and I have moved them into the corner where they will be a little less offensive.

The large pots ahad previously held dahlias and have been planted up with tulips; I was going to plant the bulbs into one of the cutting beds but emptying the pots generated so much used compost that my overflowing compost heap would have struggled to cope with, so refilling the pots and putting the tulips in seemed a better bet. Job done, but several more  pre-winter jobs still to do, emptying the 2016 compost heap being one of them, and this can’t be done till the borders have had a final a pre-mulch trim (where appropriate) and tidy. This will be a job for the coming week, weather permitting, along with moving the nerines and bringing the last of the fuchsias inside.

And just us to remind us that winter really IS on its way, I heard a faint jingling today:

Posted in composting, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, Winter | Tagged | 17 Comments

Hangers On and Early Risers: November Blooms

With light frosts the last three Mondays and a slightly heavier one last night, blooms are going to be increasingly hard to find: the dahlias were seen off on Monday night and the last remaining annuals are barely hanging on, but along with the first of the winter seasonal blooms like snowdrops Galanthus ‘Peter Gatehouse and G ‘Faringdon Double’ there are still a few stragglers. As I mentioned recently, I am thrilled to be welcoming these snowdrops, the first time I have had any flowering in November.

Other new season blooms are to be seen in small numbers on Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and Lonicera standishii ‘Budapest’; the viburnum has had flowers off and on for a few months but most of them have been unattractively rain damaged, and the lonicera is not really pink as ‘Budapest’ is supposed to be. Both, however, are fragrant and will be an increasingly welcome sight and smell in the next few months.

Surviving the frosts so far are salvias ‘Neon’ and ‘Amistad’, both proving to be absolute stalwarts in the blooms department….

as are astrantias ‘Buckland’ and ‘Star of Beauty’…

and persicarias ‘Blackfield’ and ‘Red Dragon’. Blackfield has been flowering for months whereas the Dragon’s flowers are a late afterthought to top the wonderful foliage which any day now will be collapsing for the winter:

There are still a few late roses, rarely perfect with the cold and damp, but I think ‘Munstead Wood’ bloom meets the criteria, unlike the shivering ‘Poet’s Wife’:

Fuchsia ‘Swingtime’ which I showed on Wordless Wednesday is covered in buds but the open bloom may be the last this year and I shall be bringing the plant inside shortly, along with various pelargonium which are already having a rest in the sitooterie. When I took Wednesday’s picture there was a bee busy ferreting around inside the petals, and any blooms at this time of the year must prove very welcome for these late flyers. Fuchsia magellanica, a hardy fuchsia and not quite as floriferous,  just goes on and on and will be cut down to the ground in due course from where it will rise again like a phoenix ready for the summer.

This bidens may well have bullied the other plants in these baskets into submission, but they are still flowering their socks off and perhaps merit baskets of their own next year:

I was planting tulips earlier in the week (all done – hurrah!) when I found a solitary bloom emerging on my muhly ( Muhlenbergia)  grass in the shrub border: rather late in the day, but nevertheless lovely to see:

These are the top blooms in my garden at the moment, and if you go over to Chloris’ blog The Blooming Garden in due course she will be showing the best of her garden in November too, along with links to others. Thank you to Chloris for facilitating this.

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens | 18 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Swingtime


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