Getting There

Each day the wisteria is showing more and more colour as the racemes get progressively longer and tentatively begin blooming; it is usually in full flower at the end of May so looks to be on target for a fairly normal flowering period. In the same photo you can also clearly see some of the crowds of buds of the rambling rose Rambling Rector in the top right of the picture and less clearly the first buds on climbing rose Danse de Feu in the top left, so another good rose season is also in the offing.

Huge progress has been made on emptying the greenhouses since we got back from my Mum’s as I have continued to plant out as much as possible, so I am definitely getting there with that.  The big greenhouse is now more or less home only to the Winter Sunshine sweet peas, some baskets waiting to go out and a few trays of things on the point of being ready to go out. The three tier metal staging unit which helped with the recent overflow has now been moved out and this greenhouse seems quite spacious now, whereas the smaller greenhouse is still home to many, many trays of later sown seedlings including some pleasingly healthy zinnias.

If the greenhouse has been almost emptied, that means something else has been filling up – like the cutting beds:

As things have been planted out I have been able to allocate spares for selling at the open garden events so have been potting those up as I went along although still have some labelling to catch up on. Having kept a record of numbers as labels were written, I can confidently say that even with inevitable rejects there should be well over 300 plants available for sale when the plant stall is set up – although to be fair to the Sunday visitors the plants will need to be split into two batches. As shown previously, they are currently biding their time in the convenience of the fruit cage where the temporary staging the Golfer put together is now being encroached upon by the very vigorous loganberries behind. The pots of lilies in the centre foreground will not be for sale but are awaiting their close-to-flowering stage before they are moved out.

Around six weeks to go, but we are definitely getting there, especially now the Golfer has his own list of tasks that he can be entrusted with… 😉

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Wordless Wednesday: Summer is on the Way

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In a Vase on Monday: Victoria’s Secret

Having used the tulips I gave my Mum for last week’s IAVOM it seems ages, albeit only a fortnight, since I created a Monday vase myself and I was looking forward to having a greater variety of blooms to choose from now that spring has well and truly sprung. It wasn’t quite as easy as that though and I am not especially satisfied with the result.

Although intending to shun tulips in favour of all the alternative blooms around I nevertheless ended up using a single Victoria’s Secret tulip as the centrepiece of the vase, this gloriously deep purple curled and twisted parrot flowered tulip being at its best now. Joining her were to be a range of pinks and purples and whites, complementing but not detracting from her diva status. In the vase are two out of the only three ranunculus flowers (Aviv Rose) the garden was blessed with, soft pink aquilegia, Heuchera ‘Florist’s Choice’, Ornithogalum nutans, Geranium phaeum ‘Raven’, Astrantia ‘Buckland and spent flowers of Hellebore ‘Double Lime’; picked but rejected as unsuitable were pale purple aquilegia, the last of Narcissi ‘Erlicheer’ and a sprig of dark red foliage from Malus ‘Royal’. Oh, and the third ranunculus bloom which was suffering from a broken stem.

My Caithness Glass rose bowl in the vintage Heather colourway was chosen because of its muted purple tones but in practice the colour is perhaps too subtle to be noticeable – although a clear vase would have such a distinct lack of colour that maybe this one works better than first appearances suggest. The backdrop is provided by a large purple towel and props are courtesy of the Golfer’s coin collection, a selection of Victorian pennies, some ‘young head’ and some ‘old head’ or ‘widow head’. There are many rumours of secrets in Queen Victoria’s personal life, but most will no doubt remain as such, Victoria’s Secrets…

I may not be entirely satisfied with today’s vase but it will still give me pleasure, as Monday vases always do. What can you find in your garden or nearby to pop in a vase and bring you pleasure during the week? As always, please share it with us if you can by leaving links to and from this post in the usual way.

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Tick Tock

With 4 nights at my Mum’s and two days travelling, quickly followed by a day on polling duty at the recent elections, I am conscious that the clock is well and truly ticking and the number of days until the garden opens gets shorter and shorter. Having deliberately waited till we were back from our travels to begin serious planting out this has been my priority this week and – along with watering to make up for the transition from dry April to an equally dry start for May. It is still possible for us to get frosts this month, of course, but as more seedlings are being potted on, more shelf space is needed in the greenhouse to accommodate them, and at least there is fleece to hand if any frosts are forecast.

It is good to see the cutting beds start to fill up, although it will be a good few weeks before  anything in them available for cutting. So far sunflowers, cosmos, larkspur, calendula, alonsoa, aster, godetia and seed-sown dahlias have been planted out here, although the cosmos that Monty Don planted out on Gardeners’ World last night are far taller and sturdier plants than mine! The sweet peas were planted out in mid April and have responded well to being pinched out. Overwintered dahlias have also been planted, some in very big pots to provide space for more in the borders; they were all started off in smaller pots before the end of February, thus rewarding me with earlier growth and hopefully making up for last year’s delayed flowering.

Some seedlings have also been planted in the borders elsewhere, although with the season’s luscious growth it is a wonder anything else can be squeezed in! A reassessment and overhaul will be the order of the day in the autumn, with plants having to have worked hard to earn their ‘keep’. Most gaps remaining are ‘front of border’, despite the emphasis on low growing plants amongst recent plant purchases. Here are just two of the borders, with tulips now side by side with emerging allium, billowing aquilegia and rapid growth of several plants that have sulked for the last year or two:

Carrying a notebook and pencil with me on my rambles is becoming a necessity, as new tasks spotted as I walk round are often replaced by others before I get back to the house and there are so many of them, even without the  upcoming openings, that none has any real priority over another, other than watering and and creating space in the greenhouse. I had hoped to get the manger baskets  planted up today to give them a chance to settle before they were rehung, but the pleasure of treating the baskets to brand new liners was tempered by realising the replacements were too small…grrr…so they have to wait. However, the new window boxes adorning the sitooterie were filled and planted with different scented leaved pelargonium, having last year begun to appreciate the subtle pleasure of scented foliage in the garden. When Dorris and I met up at Broughton Grange Garden last Sepetember we were both taken with large pots of scented pelargonium, triggering their introduction here. Mine were bought as plug plants from Fibrex Nurseries who grow a large range of varieties and hopefully they will bush out as quickly as other pelargonium do.

Lacking a prioritised list, on a whim I also took hand shears to the streamside grass today, with the intention of giving its wayward locks a preliminary hair cut; once the first tuft was removed, it became clear that the ‘Tête á Tête’ foliage amongst it probably still needed a couple of weeks to recuperate so the area had a selective chop instead. Definitely a Bad Hair Day!

With the recent sunshine the rhododendrons in the woodland edge border have rapidly opened their buds, contributing a range of pinks to the patchwork pieces of the border, a border that never fails to delight whatever the time of year:

The rhododendrons will be well and truly over before the garden opens, and the vagaries of the UK weather are such that it would be foolish to assume anything about what will or will not be flowering towards the end of June. Planting, tidying, weeding, sweeping, cake baking and the like are all within my control and despite that awareness of the clock ticking and there being less than 7 weeks till the first opening I am confident that it will all be done in time. Rambling Rector, however, despite June flowering ostensibly being a dead cert, is already covered in his usual mass of buds and will almost certainly now miss the party …


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Wordless Wednesday: Composition in Green Purple Pink

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Ina Vase on Monday: Time Travelling Tulips

These tulips were picked very early on Friday morning, wrapped tightly in damp newspaper, and travelled 400+ miles with us to my Mum’s – not quite as far as, however, as the lily of the valley Younger Sister had parcelled up and sent to her in the post the day before!

The time travelling tulips have been borrowed for today’s vase – three distinctive lily-flowered Ballerina, a double stemmed tulip which I think must be Red Georgette and a further red but unidentified tulip from a mixed batch. The former are last autumn’s planting and are in a pot, the multi headed one is probably in its second season in the ground, whilst the third has been in a large tub for perhaps 4 or 5 years; increasingly tulips seem to be surviving longer in the garden and I shall replant all last autumn’s potted ones into the ground when they have finished flowering. Despite the time travelling, the tulips have lasted well, aided no doubt by the rather cooler temperatures – they would no doubt have been fully open within an hour or two at home!

An easy prop was the perpetual calendar readily at hand on the mantlepiece below which the vase had been placed; constructed from slate, this has been around for many a year, possibly dating to the 60s or 70s. Such a simple concept, but requiring a degree of diligence to change the date every day, far more so than the already tough task of turning a calendar’s page every month – woe betide those with a birthday in the first few days!

Northern hemisphere gardeners are increasingly finder a wider choice of blooms to choose from for their Monday vases but, wherever they live, longstanding IAVOM participants know that they will always be able to find something from their gardens to pick and pop in a vase, regardless of the season, unless of course they are unable to get out into their gardens because of the weather, as was the case for many US bloggers in recent months. So, what will it be today? Do share it with us on your blog by leaving links to and from this post in the usual way – see you soon!


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End of Month View: Green, Green and.. um, More Green

Green is very definitely THE colour at the end of April this year but there are delightful splashes of colour from tulips throughout the garden and lots of promising buds – aquilegia in particular, but also the first of the allium, geum, geranium and goodness know what else. Lots of rose buds too but, like the wisteria, not quite ready to open – but by the end of next month what changes there will be! However, in the meantime green and leafy is still delightful, as the garden lovingly begins to close in around us…

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If you are unsure how to relate the photographs in the slide show to the garden itself there is a map under The Garden tab above. Finally, let me remind you that it is Helen the Patient Gardener who hosts this end of month meme (thank you Helen), so do visit her blog to see her garden at the end of April and those of others around the world too.

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