Not an End of Month View

The end of October must have passed in oblivion, as it was only a day or two ago that the absence of an EOMV post occurred to me so here, mainly for my own records, is what the garden was looking like today, more than a week into November. You won’t miss a lot if you decide not to bother reading any further than this!

The coloured blobs in the central section of the above photo, the view from the back of the house, are crab apple ‘Evereste’ to the left, and Dahlia ‘Art Deco’ and Busy Lizzies to the right centre. There are still some pink argyranthemum blooming in the group of pots in the bottom left. Below is the adjacent shrub border with the choisya of yesterday’s vase to the right of centre, whilst the second photo shows the border from the other direction, with the area around the apple tree very different now it has been opened up by severe pruning. I have been extending the low retaining wall a little, and there is a rose on order to fill the new gap in the border

Moving on to the woodland, the woodland floor is now a carpet of leaves under which are all the named snowdrops that were moved here earlier in the year, hopefully waiting to emerge at their allotted time… From the bothy at the end of the woodland you can look out over the main borders and would normally then see the borders at ground level from the back of the shed, but I  forgot to include this view and it is now too dark to take any more photos.

Walking through the woodland edge border we come to the grass border and the two ‘bold’ borders, the latter more than ready for a good tidy-up:

Moving on through the gate to the cutting beds, nearly at the end of their useful life for this season, and the bubble-wrapped working greenhouse:

There are now three sections of blue & white border, the third behind me when I took the photograph. Having been revamped and replanted these are satisfyingly tidy! Continuing on our walk, we pass through the rose garden still with an occasional bloom, under the clematis colonnade and through the main borders, now almost exclusively foliage:

Now heading back towards the house, we pass the obelisk border (previously snowdrop border) newly planted up, awaiting positioning of the new obelisk which arrived today, before looking up at the yellowing wisteria foliage. You can see the blooms of Dahlia ‘Art Deco’ better here:

It has been a breezy day here, so let’s shelter briefly  in the Coop, now partially protected by bubble wrap for the first time, and admire the nerines on the far left and streptocarpus in the right foreground. Winter dormant plants will live under the staging for the winter, allowing space for spring bulbs above. Beyond the Coop is the Coop Corner, currently with some striking hellebore and pulmonaria foliage, and awaiting a new rose to entwine with Clematis armandii and clamber along the far fence.

If you wanted a better idea of how the different areas fit together and where the photos are usually taken you can look at maps of the garden under The Garden tab above. No accompanying video this month!


Posted in End of Month View, Gardening, Gardens | Comments Off on Not an End of Month View

In a Vase on Monday: Life More Sweet

Hath not old custom made this life more sweet (Shakespeare, As You Like It)

In no way had I envisaged today’s vase, but my journey to the bottom of the garden, secateurs in hand, was cut short by the sweet smell of Choisya dewitteana ‘White Dazzler’ which reached my nostrils as I stepped through the back door, despite being a good 10 metres away. This choice shrub was all but smothered in the aromatic blooms, much like its early summer offering, and certainly not what one would expect on a damp November day. Bewitched by the fragrance, I chose to enhance it by adding a stem of the adjacent Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, itself smothered in puffy pink pompoms, and with just a few more steps plucked a choice bloom of Rosa ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ to complete the posy. The blooms were stripped off their lower foliage and conditioned in hot water, before being placed in a small glass cuboid vase, needing no further embellishment other than a few of the Golfer’s sweets.

Searching my dictionary of quotations (sometimes books are still better than the internet!) for a reference to prompt an appropriate title, ‘fragrance’ drew a blank, but ‘sweet’ provided the quote from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’, which in view of IAVOM’s impending anniversary seemed especially apt. The nine year old weekly custom of finding material in my garden to cut and put in a vase has certainly made my life more sweet.

Next Monday is the ninth anniversary of the meme, and as usual  I am offering  a challenge, just a small one, but this year with a twist. The vase challenge is to create a hand-held posy, but the twist is to join me in a virtual Zoom get-together at 17.00 GMT the day before, Sunday 13th November, with or without a hand-held posy. If you would like to join in let me know in a comment, and I will forward the link to the email address linked to your blog, probably a few days before. I know who the regular participants (with or without vases) are and hopefully will not need to limit numbers. Don’t know about you, but I am both excited and a little apprehensive about the event!

My anniversary blog post on Monday will go ahead as usual, so please join in with the usual links, just as you can do today.

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, shrubs | Tagged , | 40 Comments

Six on Saturday: Going…

…is crab apple Malus ‘Golden Hornet, with its manky rotting yellow crabs…

Still here, however, is multi-coloured foliage of witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Ruby Glow’, although most of my other witch hazels are now completely nude:

Nerines in the Coop are still looking attractive too, and although some flowers are now over there are now belated and single blooms on N bowdenii ‘Isabel’ and ‘Alba’, both a refreshing change from the pale and perhaps insipid other blooms:

The third of my early flowering snowdrops is coming into bloom in the entrance border, possibly my favourite early variety, Galanthus ‘Barnes’. It has relatively huge bulbs and seems to bulk up quickly as I started with a single bulb not very long ago and there must be half a dozen of them now:


Down at the bottom of the garden I have been bubble-wrapping the working greenhouse. Most of the bubble wrap is on the inside but, where staging and storage make this difficult, some has been clipped on the outside. In view of current energy prices, I am going to reduce the temperature the greenhouse is heated to, as it only needs to be kept above freezing. The Coop, however, needs to be kept above 6°C and although as a lean-to greenhouse temperatures don’t drop as much, but for the first time I will add bubble wrap here too, to keep dependence on the electric fan heater to a minimum. Both greenhouse heaters are thermostatically controlled, which takes the guesswork out of it.

Next to the working greenhouse the cutting beds continue to decline, and I have pulled out the zinnias (the remaining buds have only sulked when rescued and put in water) and removed the two layers of netting from the first of the beds. There are still hangers-on in the others, but I think the time has come to work around them and remove as much of the dead material as possible, so that will be job for tomorrow.

Jim of Garden Ruminations is the genial host of this meme every Saturday, so why not pop over to his blog now and see what’s happening in other people’s gardens?

In the meantime, I am happy to say that Golden Hornet has now GONE, in a shower of yellow crabs…

Posted in Autumn, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, seasonal tasks, Six on Saturday, Winter | 24 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Spooky…

… not really!

Walking past a card shop last week, I spotted these Halloween pumpkin mugs in the window; finding they were half price, at just £4, was an opportunity not worth resisting, even if the mug only gets used once a year. For today’s vase, it was filled with overblown blooms of Dahlia ‘David Howard’, already beginning to drop their petals, and a couple of spikes of late but ghostly heuchera blooms. There is also a small and lichen covered twig in amongst the blooms, not visible in the photo above, but evident in the overhead shot below:

Supporting the vase is a larger twig, the lichen suggesting tangles of spidery webs, and a ghostly paper lantern made to demonstrate the technique to The Tinker and The Boy when they were here on Grannie Day on Thursday. We also made pumpkin and bat lanterns.

It would not surprise me if there were more Halloween-themed vases today, but if you have blooms or other material to share in any vase or jam jar please join us by adding the usual links to and from this post. Please note, we are rapidly approaching the ninth anniversary of IAVOM when I usually throw down a challenge of some sort, so watch out!

Posted in Autumn, dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , | 33 Comments

Six on Saturday: Observations

There is always something worth seeing in this garden, whatever month of the year it is. Observing the small changes not only brings a lot of pleasure but is a meditative process in itself, except on those occasions when inclement weather increases the speed of my rambles! There will inevitably be times when observations are of the less welcome variety, but we gardeners have to take that in our stride, don’t we?

My first observation for today’s Six on Saturday, now hosted by Jim of Garden Ruminations, is of an expanding clump of early snowdrop Galanthus ‘Foursome’ (above), now far more presentable than when I showed the first couple of emerging spikes a few weeks ago. Below are my bargain hippeastrum, bought as an add-on to a small plant order from Gardening Express at the basement price of 6 for £6; admittedly they are unlabelled, and could all be the same variety of course, but I remain optimistic. Unfortunately three were already shooting so rather than stagger the planting I have had to pot some of them up today. The others have gone on the fridge for a few weeks, as I would ideally like some flowering in mid-February when we next open the garden.

While positioning the pots in the Coop I noticed that there are buds colouring up on one of my fantasy chrysanthemums, despite the plant’s stunted growth this year. Admittedly, the two plants tend to be left to their own devices for much of the year but are nevertheless still very generous in providing me with some very handsome blooms in November. They may not be as generous this year, but perhaps make up for it by not being the gangly specimens which take up so much space in the Coop.

My other observations are perhaps less pleasurable. I need to check back from previous years because I may not have had zinnias still flowering at the end of October before, but along with the two or three buds that are open or opening there are a number of others sitting atop very unhappy foliage – we have not had any frosts here yet, and although for us humans it has been a mild October, it may not be mild enough for zinnias and in anticipation of their possible demise I have today picked the remaining buds and brought them inside to see if they will open in a ‘vase’ (hmm, currently a measuring jug that happened to be sitting near the kitchen sink). How are other people’s zinnias faring, I wonder?

I have had reservations about crab apple ‘Golden Hornet’ for a number of years. Not only did I not research the variety beforehand, but I had no idea how tall it grew and had not considered what might happen to the crab apples. I have learned a lot since then, especially that the birds do not like the crabs which inevitably then rot on the tree – not a pretty sight, and hard to remove when some of the branches are shooting skywards. This year they have started rotting particularly early and I find myself considering removing the tree altogether…

My sixth observation is a bit of a mystery. Noticing that one of the recently replanted borders had been disturbed, I tentatively took a closer look, expecting partially buried cat poo – but no, it was a bone*, and a fresh bone at that!  Theoretically there shouldn’t be any means of access to the garden for dogs, but one of our neighbour’s dogs has been known to get into the garden before, albeit before the massive fence replaced the thinning hedge at the back end of the garden. Do dogs remember where they buried bones? If so, will it be back? They will be disappointed if they do return…

* I am guessing lamb bone, so a farmed rather than wild animal, either the by-product of someone’s dinner or a dog-treat from a butcher

Posted in bulbs, corms and tubers, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, Six on Saturday, snowdrops | 18 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Princess

Posted in annuals, cutting beds, Gardening, Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | 5 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Ebony and Ivory

With October running away with itself, taking with it the remainder of the late-flowering blooms, I considered several different options for today’s vase, knowing that next week might be too late. Should I go (clockwise from top left) with a fresh crop of blooms on the keep-on-giving argyranthemums, grab zinnias while I can, pick a huge bunch of blowsy dahlias or add other stalwarts to the numerous persicaria blooms gracing the garden?

In the end, I opted for dahlias, not a big bright brash bunch, but these simple and demure white ones, actually two different varieties, the plain white ‘Onesta’ with just the faintest hint of green towards the centre, and ‘Pink Petticoats’ whose pink petticoats seem to have lost their pinkness in the wash and are now all but completely white. One reason for the choice, I must confess,  was my inadequate staking, which had left parts of both plants face down in the border – there’s mud in your eye! Looking at the resultant vase now, it must be  one of the most voluminous I have ever put together.

I didn’t consider if any foliage would enhance the overall effect, but did add a few short stems of Clematis rehderiana, the greeny-yellow blooms reflecting the centres of the dahlias as well as the creamy yellow of the Caithness Glass ‘Ebony’ vase. I have several vases from this range, made from glass but looking like pottery, all bought from the factory shop in Oban, but don’t think I have used this shaped one before. The props are, in the absence of ebony, a polished jet sphere, and a paper knife/letter opener which could be ivory but is probably bone. The handle is intricately carved with Chinese symbolic figures and artefacts, and is part of a collection made some years ago because they were a relatively cheap thing to collect at the time.

I am thrilled to say that my autumnal vase from a fortnight ago, enhanced by the addition of nigella seedheads purloined from a table decoration brought home from an event, is still looking as good as it did when it was created, despite having lost a few leaves. I am also enjoying an unexpected bonus from buds brought inside after beginning to prune climbing rose ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’, temporarily housed in a mug along with a leftover arum leaf. Meanwhile, last week’s nerines have only just begun to curl up their toes.

Those in the southern hemisphere may now have a choice of early spring bulbs to consider for any vases they might create, but for those in the northern half of the world what can you rescue from your garden to pop into a vase today? If you would like to share the result with us just leave links to and from this post.

Posted in dahlias, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 34 Comments

Six on Saturday, Half of Them Pink

During the week I often come across something in the garden that could be featured on Six on Saturday, but then forget it by the time Saturday comes around and find myself scrabbling for contributions. Some of those featured this week were certainly previous contenders and more than likely there are others that have been overlooked.

Let’s start with the pinks, noted when I was admiring some late blooms on the gloriously fragrant (and dazzling) Choisya ‘White Dazzler’ (above). Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ (below) towers above the choisya and is currently sporting the first of its blooms, also fragrant, which will pepper the plant from now until spring:

At the base of these is a pot of Busy Lizzies, planted from a mixed batch but all very much pink in this particular pot. What good do-ers these are, shrugging off every weather condition they face until finally felled by frost. Close by is Rosa ‘Olivia Rose Austin’, proving to be an exceedingly healthy rose and, like a handful of other roses, still producing sporadic blooms.

Down in the working greenhouse, the Winter Sunshine sweet peas were sown about a fortnight ago and are looking good, with almost 100% germination. Owls Acre from where they were purchased is crafty and doesn’t sell mixed packs, so I bought 7 packets of 10 seeds and sowed half of each packet, 35 seeds in total, leaving the other half for next year. They will be planted out in the greenhouse border in December or January, depending on their progress.

Finally, we have Mock-Up version 2, as I try to decide on a sculpture for the ex-snowdrop border. The sculpture is a similar shape to last week’s alternative, but chunkier – and the actual thing is less than half the price! I suspect the quality may not be as good, but the overall effect will be similar and this is what I have decided to go with – perhaps you will see the real stainless steel version next week!

We have a new host for Six on Saturday – Jim of Garden Ruminations. Please offer him a friendly welcome by popping over to his blog too and leaving a comment.

Posted in art in the garden, Gardening, Gardens, greenhouse, sculpture, seed sowing, Six on Saturday | 26 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Seedheads and Buds

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | 6 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Flung Spray and Blown Spume

Having had the nerines blooming in the Coop in mind for my Monday vase, I found myself also thinking of using one of my large shells, which then led on to thoughts of the sea. I have used a shell as a vase before, when the theme of the vase was ‘Birth of Venus’, but today my thoughts turned to the poem ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield – not that I am called by the sea, although I appreciate that some people are, but there are so many beautiful phrases within the poem, and I especially like…

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I know neither flung spray nor blown spume is pink, but nevertheless with a little artistic licence the nerines could easily pass for spray or spume, ably assisted by some frilly long-lost-label Japenese anemones and a few sprigs of white limonium. The stems were cut short and inserted into the shell, balanced on a baking ring (for mousses, crumpets, presentation, etc) to keep it upright, and the ring hidden under crumpled blue tissue paper. The same tissue paper was used as a backdrop, with a teeny boat as the prop (not quite the ‘tall ship’ of the poem!).

I had no idea where I was going when I started with the nerines and the shell but am fairly happy with the outcome, and find that the Monday vases have a habit of creating themselves, even ones that are no more than picked and plonked. If you have a vase to share today, created from material provided by your garden or round-and-about, then please do so by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

Posted in Gardening, In a Vase on Monday, Poetry | 28 Comments