In a Vase on Monday: Greens are Good For You

…and good for our gardens too, providing a foil for colourful blooms and giving texture, colour and interest throughout the year.

If you look closely, you might see the following in today’s vase: ivy, epimedium, grasses Amenanthele lessonia and Luzula sylvatica, Penstemon ‘White Bedder’, parsley, hart’s tongue fern Asplenium scolopendrium, Trachelospermum asiaticum, Nandina domestica ‘Obsessed’, Dianthus ‘Sweetness’ and one of my newest roses Rosa ‘Strawberry Hill’ with a tiny bud and red-edged leaves. The vase is 1980s Tupperware and not having thought to pack a sprout in my suitcase on our return from my Mum’s at Christmas I was unable to provide a real sprout as an example of edible greens.

This vase is every bit as attractive as any with flowers as the main component, so who needs blooms?! Certainly not every week, and it shows that thinking laterally extends the potential for creating our weekly vases – flowers, foliage, herbs, twigs, seedheads, vegetables, fruit…let’s use our imaginations. It is such a joy to share our homes with a regular vase so think again – it may be winter in the northern hemisphere but is there potential you have missed? Enjoy a vase just for yourself or share it with us by leaving the usual links to and from this post.

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Posted in foliage, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged | 51 Comments

Make That 16…

I was clearly not as observant as I thought, because the yesterday I found a further five blooms  that I had missed in my eagerness to ramble in every corner of the garden after nearly a wek’s absence. Hamamelis pallida (above and below) is my smallest and youngest witch hazel (five years here), and the only one that did not flower last year; in the woodland edge border, she and H ‘Arnold’s Promise’ are separated from the rest of my collection which centres around the streamside and paved area.

Also in the woodland edge border I found an unnamed H orientalis and under the apple trees were several clumps of primroses, albeit a bit raggedy:

I am not sure how I could have forgotten to check out the stalwart winter flowering honeysuckles, but it was probably due to their location. Lonicera purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ *below right) is tucked at the back of the shrub border against the fence, and Lonicera standishii ‘Budapest’ is one of several shrubs to be, or about to be, relocated. Despite fairly judicious pruning, Budapest was still too large for its position and therefore dug out, a small division being planted next to the shed to replace an ugly Lonicera fragrantissima and the remainder tucked in at the back of the woodland edge border where I was surprised to find it flowering (below left). Supposedly having pink-tinted blooms, last year was the first time any of them were remotely pinkish.

L fragrantissima was ousted, L ‘Budapest’ was moved and in due course I am also planning to move over-exuberant rose ‘The Poet’s Wife’ from its recommended front-of-border position further back and away from the adjacent path and bench; this will probably require a reciprocal move of something else, maybe Rosa ‘Harlow Carr’. I have not moved a mature rose before but her stature is getting beyond a joke and the operation is surely worth the risk; she is not yet, however, as tall as near-neighbour The Pilgrim, which must top six foot or so, and is another potential candidate for my relocation plans

Too big for their boots, roses The Poet’s Wife and The Pilgrim, awaiting relocation

Posted in Boxing Day blooms, Gardening, Gardens, projects, Winter | 11 Comments

Twas Two Days After Boxing Day, When All Through the Garden…

… I searched for plants that were blooming. Unable to do my usual Boxing Day count of blooms, my first ramble for nearly a week included an initial appraisal of how many different blooms I could find. Although the total is substantially less than every other year since I began the count in 2013,  this in no way reflects a ‘downtime’ in the garden, more a pause as it gathers breath for its winter and early spring season.

Although both Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ (above) and H ‘Harry’ (below) had a couple of blooms each before we went up to my Mum’s for Christmas, I was not prepared to find them both in full bloom today; the latter is barely 3 feet away from one of the kitchen windows and got my attentionas soon as I looked out, whilst Jelena is so floriferous that you can easily see her from the house too, albeit further away, and she stopped me in my tracks when I encountered her on my ramble.

They were joined by H ‘Orange Peel’ and H ‘Magic Fire’ (below), which were not showing even a speck of colour when I last saw them. Although the remainder of my witch hazels are not yet in flower I am monitoring blooming times as I plan to open my garden for witch hazels and snowdrops in mid February 2020. Seven of the collection were in bloom on Boxing Day in 2015 and six in 2016, but this year is more typical and the blooms last many weeks so there should still be a good showing in mid February. Rather than add this early opening in 2019 I decided to give myself a winter season to assess blooming times and check out typical seasonal tasks to make preparations easier for the following year.

Snowdrops are pushing through thick and fast; more than half of my specials were evident by way of green spikes at this time last year although perhaps only a third or so this year. It has been fairly mild today (at least 10°C) and this encouraged the three most advanced buds to open a little: Galanthus ‘Gloria’, ‘Godfrey Owen’ and ‘Mrs Macnamara’. A degree or two more and they would have been fully open. It is a little concerning that only one spike of a decent size clump of Mrs Mac is evident so far, although a large hole has appeared next to her, the product, I guess, of a bushytailed visitor. No sign yet either of any Faringdon Double, another usually earlyish snowdrop – but this uncertainty is par for the course for those of us with growing collections of them.

Although there are flower buds beginning to appear on a number of hellebores, it is only ‘Anna’s Red’ and ‘Winter Moonbeam’, both in the new partially shaded border at the side  of the house, that I could say are actually in flower yet. Both are H ericsmithii varieties and have typically marbled leaves and flowers that are more upright than many hellebores, but here both have determinedly turned their backs on me:

Sadly, Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ has finished flowering, leaving bare twigs and numerous soggy brown blobs, but she was a joy to behold at her peak. Elsewhere, stalwart sarcoccoca is in bud not yet in bloom, and there is little else flowering although the garden is still considerably lush and leafy. With pots of a purple mix of winter pansy and a few blooms of Erigeron karvinskianus this brings the 2018 total to a mere 11, the lowest since my annual count began. It is late December after all, and this is no reason to be downhearted as the garden ebbs and flows with variations in the weather as well as the seasons and every ramble is a journey of discovery, with or without blooms. Blogging has encouraged me to observe the garden more closely, observing changes on a day-to-day basis and celebrating every nuance: blooms and foliage, form and structure, shade and texture,  animals, insects and birds. Comparing the number of blooms on Boxing Day is nevertheless an interesting exercise:

2013 18
2014 28
2015  37
2016 14
2017 28
2018 11 16 * see the following post for additions! *

Posted in Boxing Day blooms, garden blogs, Gardening, Gardens | 26 Comments

In a Vase on Monday: Wishing You a Very Berry Festive Season

Holly and ivy berries from our garden, symphocarpus from my local sports centre car park, a vintage cream pot and a ‘wise man’ from a set of Christmas cake toppers, photographed on star studded runner which adorns our kitchen table throughout most of December: a festive vase to celebrate the season. May I wish you all peace and joy and a happy, healthy and productive 2019.

Posted in Christmas, Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday, Winter | Tagged | 42 Comments

Midwinter Gems

Any blooms that appear in December are to be welcomed, whether seasonal or not, and these are my current Midwinter Gems: winter pansies in shades of purple, the start of the witch hazels with ‘Jelena’ leading the way, snowdrop ‘Gloria’ ringing out her presence and on target to be the first snowdrop of the season fully open (but I have counted 30+ of my different specials pushing their way above ground), a solitary bloom on ‘The Mayflower’, Rhodochiton and Salvia coccinea in the Coop, ‘Dawn’ still breaking in the shrub border and Hellebore ‘Anna’s Red’ in the new shady bed, buds conveniently facing upwards, but with their backs towards me.

Thank you to Chloris who encourages to celebrate our blooms every month; no doubt she will try in due course to find time to post her December treats too, so do check out her blog.

Posted in Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, Gardening, Gardens, Winter | 17 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Short Back and Sides

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In a Vase on Monday: a Cheat’s Vase

I am calling this a ‘Cheat’s Vase’, whereas in fact as the host of IAVOM I can do what I like – not that I would discourage any contributors from recycling previous vases anyway!

I posted some birthday flowers as a Wordless Wednesday vase the week before last, and many of the blooms were still going strong so it would be a shame not to continue to enjoy them. The roses, freesias and antirrhinums were over (although sadly the latter never fully opened) and removed, whilst the Sweet William, Stock and Lisianthus were retained and trimmed down, along with the ‘green bells’ and the unknown leathery leaves. This is the first time I have had any lisianthus, having failed twice in an attempt to grow them, and they are exceedingly pretty although I do prefer the bolder shades that we have frequently seen on Kris’ blog at Late to the Garden Party. To add a greater sense of ownership, I added three yellow-green stems of Cornus ‘Flaviramea’ now, along with its colourful neighbours, positively glowing in the shrub border. It’s hard to believe that all three plants are cut back to within a few inches of the ground every year.

The prop is a pack of playing cards, each featuring a different wild flower, as I was reminded of the card game ‘Cheat’ as I prepared this post, a game my brother excelled at when we were children. The cheating part involves placing as many cards as you can get away with whilst stating what you want others to think you are placing eg three tens. The first player starts by putting down as many aces as they have, the second player must follow on with twos, and so on; the object is to be the first to get rid of all your cards. If you are caught cheating, you have to pick up all the cards in the stack; if you are incorrectly challenged, the challenger has to pick them up. It’s good fun – or it certainly was, back in the days of wet family holidays when a child!

There have been many seasonally festive vases on offer at IAVOM in recent weeks, and although I have not managed one yet I did finally get a wreath on the front door during the week – perhaps there will be a festive vase here on Christmas Eve. Will you be posting a festive vase today? Whether festive or not, please share it with us by leaving the usual links. In the meantime I have still been enjoying the gradual opening of a bud of Lady Emma Hamilton from last week’s vase, and what a joy she is, with her soft apricot petals flushed with red. Sadly for you, the photo does not do her beauty justice….

Posted in Gardening, Gardens, In a Vase on Monday | Tagged , , | 29 Comments