Monday, 20 April 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Gone Shopping

An article in the paper today grabbed my attention. Apparently social media in the form of Facebook is responsible for people buying more clothes. There is a fear of being tagged wearing the same outfit! Now although not a particularly active Facebook user I nodded my head in sympathy with this predicament. After what will will be a record for me of three consecutive vases in a row I have reached the conclusion that this establishment is in desperate need of some new vases. You've probably seen them all now. This week's vase appeared previously last April and is doing the rounds yet again. In fact it's a glorified glass jar that once contained onion relish but I could not bring bring myself to chuck it in the recycling bin.

The first photo was taken at the snipping stage resting on the decking before the vase journeyed round the corner to grace a table outside the patio door. We spent some time out there on a sunny afternoon. The conversation drifted to holiday plans for later this year.

Inside this week's vase are narcissus 'Thalia', some of the bluebells that we inherited with the land where the garden is now, corydalis, geranium phaeum, lunaria 'Chedglow', bunnera and forget-me-not. I was reluctant to pick the honesty as it is attracting butterflies but decided that perhaps one flower would not be missed too much.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting. Now if you don't see a vase from me for a while you will know the reason why..... I'm out there vase shopping.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ April 2015

It's the turn of a pea and a cabbage to star in this month's GBBD post. The spring pea or lathyrus vernus grows quite happily in lightly dappled shade. Mine is planted in the gabion border with hellebores and pulmonarias for company. This plant has a bushy habit unlike the summer flowering climbing/scrabbling sweet pea but it sadly lacks the scent of the latter. It seems easy going and does not seem to suffer from any damage by pests. It's the colours of the flowers that I find its most attractive feature. There's also a pink version namely lathyrus vernus 'Alboroseus' but this one is my favourite. Both can be grown from seed although I always seem to miss gathering seeds before they have silently shot off into the stratsosphere.

The cabbage in question is a cardamine which has only taken up residence very recently. Cardamines are a member of the brassicaceae family which includes those good for you edibles such as cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli. I came across it at a plant fair under the name of cardamine enneaphyllos but having since done some research the jury is out on this one. The flowers of that particular plant are described as creamy whilst the plant I have come home with has most definitely got white flowers. I was advised that it prefers a moist shady spot and is not in the least bit fussy. I know that some cardamines can be invasive so I am going to have keep my eyes on in at least until I can establish what it is.

April is such an exciting time of the year in the garden with new flowers seemingly opening when you have turned your back just for five minutes. I'm still looking for more April colour, so will no doubt gain inspiration as usual, when I visit May Dreams Gardens later to see what other bloggers are highlighting today. With many thanks to Carol without whom we would not have a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Monday, 13 April 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Spring Bling

The last week has seen some most balmy weather and with more apparently on the way the daffodils will soon be going over. With this in mind I picked a trio of those which were not out in time for last week's vase - these being 'Minnow', 'Toto' and 'Sailboat'. I was entranced by the latter which I initially came across over at 'Lead Up The Garden Path', so many thanks to Pauline for prompting me to add these to my bulb list last autumn. I planted them in pots but having seen them in the flesh will definitely order more to plant in the borders later this year. A few sprigs of omphalodes cappadocica 'Cherry Ingram' then snuck their way in. The vase still felt as if there were some holes to be filled so it followed me round the garden where a couple of stems of pulmonaria jumped in the vase. I'm not absolutely sure which one it is but think that it is 'Blakes Silver', which I have to make a conscious effort not to refer to it as 'Blake's Seven'.

The little vase is one of set of four purchased recently from a well know discount supermarket. Each has its own motif. This one is my favourite of the set.

My Monday has mainly been spent travelling on a train with three changes en route so it has been quite relaxing to unwind in the garden, with a hot drink in one hand and my snipers in the other. Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who enables us to share our vases each Monday.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Tree Following With Lucy ~ April 2015

Hopes of reporting clouds of frothy white blossom adorning my pear tree have been cruelly dashed as you can gather from the above photo. Records have been checked to confirm that last year blossom was fully open by 13th April but it is lagging behind this year. The flower buds are now clearly visible but not as much as a tantalising sliver of white. I'm not sure whether I noticed any brown marks on the emerging leaves and flowers last year but they are very much in evidence this spring and are rather unsightly. Are they the sign of something sinister or is this a normal occurrence on pear trees? The tree was only planted in the autumn of 2012 so we are still getting acquainted.

In terms of wildlife there is nothing to report. I've still to see a living creature on it. Given the fact that my 'Doyenne du Comice' is only a young slip of a girl it's not surprising. I'm sure that any self respecting bird would not want to perch so near to the ground in a garden which has several regular feline visitors. Even the squirrels are not attracted ...... yet ......

In other news her neighbours which include another pear and a crab apple look set to blossom around the same time possibly even sooner.  A couple of Westmorland Damson slips have been bought this very day and will be joining their company soon. The pear blossoms may well come and go before May's tree following post but I will certainly take photos to record the occasion. As always a big thank you to Lucy over at 'Loose And Leafy' who enables bloggers to share and celebrate a glorious diversity of trees each month.    

Monday, 6 April 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ A Mixed Bunch

Not surprisingly daffies always come to mind when Easter comes round. So here is a mixed bunch picked from the garden this morning. They include 'Thalia', 'Elka', 'WP Milner', 'Tête-à-Tête', and 'Rijenveld's Early Sensation' (planted late!) amongst one or two others whose names elude me.  'Jenny' and 'Sailboat' are so close to opening that maybe if I had waited until this afternoon they might have been plunged into water too. Some of the daffies seemed rather camera shy not wanting to face the camera. Try as I did I could not get them all to look the same way and say "Cheese".

Also in the vase is some pussy willow which again I always associate with Easter. I'm afraid I've cheated here as this was bought in. At one time this used to be hard to locate but one of the local supermarkets sells it in reasonably priced bunches. I must admit that as well as looking it the strokeability factor is a major attraction for me. It also seems to last for some considerable time. There's also some lonicera 'Baggesen's Gold' in the vase as well plundered from next door with their permission of course.

The vase itself came from the Chester branch of Oxfam several years ago. It was bought as new. I thought that it might be of Indian origin but a sticky label on the base bears the words 'Handcrafted In Thailand'. Whatever its origin it's a long way from home but doing a good job. I hope that those of you who celebrate Easter have had a peaceful and joyous one. Here yesterday morphed from a grey cool morning into the most beautiful spring afternoon where all seemed well with the world. Much gardening was done and more to follow this afternoon.

Thanks to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden',who came up with the inspired idea of sharing our vases of flowers at the start of the week.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

End Of Month View ~ March 2015

Word of the month must be 'ROAR' which is just how the month arrived and departed perhaps with the loudest roar coming yesterday. It blew an absolute ferocious hooley as well as spouting out a fair bit of the wet stuff. In one of the few dry interludes there was a chance to take a couple of photos of 'The Gabion Wall' border. This is filling out nicely now. The hellebores are making good clumps as well as the pulmonarias and the little 'Elka' daffodils are a treat. I've also planted a few of my special snowdrops in this area. The one disappointment has been the refusal of cardamine pratensis to be sociable and produce more than a few flowers. There are astrantias 'Gill Richardson' and aster diveraticus dotted about for later flowering interest but I need to introduce more plants to the mix. Before that a weeding of epic proportions is required. The main culprits are herb robert and couch grass. I need to find some unobtrusive small paving stones so that I can get around without compacting the soil.

The above pumonaria is 'Majeste' - apologies for leaving the accent off the e but I'm using a borrowed computer for this post which is proving to be rather challenging. The leaves are in need of a tidy up and general spring clean. Finding time to fit in these jobs in is proving to be a challenge along with the allotment as we are trying to spend time in our caravan in Cumbria. The weather this March has not been particularly kind but it should start to warm up/rain less soon. Now that we have extra daylight I'm looking forwards to gardening outdoors in the evening whilst the allotment can be fitted in during the day. Well that's the plan anyway. We have a pocket handkerchief sized garden outside the caravan but that's more than enough. I will be planting up a couple of pots but in the meantime have been enjoying the patches of snowdrops, primroses and daffodils that can be found throughout the site. We also have some wonderful scenery on the doorstep. We returned in the middle of the month to the church we visited last year in search if its plantings of daffodils. Again we were too early so were greeted with snowdrops and swathes of crocuses. If anything the season seemed further behind this year.

However at the more sheltered and mild Grange-Over-Sands just a few miles away spring seemed more advanced with blossoms in full flow. There is a fine ornamental lake graced by some most interesting feathered visitors, a community orchard (more in a future post) and a prom with a richness of perennial planting (again more to come in a future post). It's the only prom where I've encountered hellebores in bloom.

I've not much to report in the way of seed sowing having made a conscious decision to sow less, sow later and try more direct sowing. I might also be buying a few plants this year rather than sowing them myself. I think that April therefore is going to be a busy month.

March plant purchases have included more snowdrops, pulmonarias 'Diana Clare' (a second to join the one already in the garden) and rubra 'Rachel Vernie), the sultry viola 'Molly Sanderson, as well as clematis 'Princess Kate' which was rescued from a bargain bin in an Ambleside garden centre.

With thanks as always to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' for kindly hosting the End of Month View. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

On The Scent ~ March 2015.

In The Process Of Sowing Sweet Peas
Here the start of British Summer Time apart from being marked with some most unseasonable weather, has seen some scent orientated seed sowing. Thinking of summer days ahead has resulted in the sweet peas going in. It's hard to envisage that these hard dark brown cases yield the most delicious of scents come summer but they will. Sweet peas are the one annual that I can't imagine being without. Small bunches are cut regularly throughout the summer to waft their fragrance at me as I stand at the kitchen sink.

The Kitchen Windowsill
This year I'm sowing later than usual. In previous years autumn sowings have resulted in weak lanky plants, especially after mild winters, which has not been the ideal scenario when it comes to planting. Winter sowings have sometimes resulted in seeds rotting off so I've made a conscious decision to sow later this year. I do not soak the seeds prior to planting and usually do not have many problems with germination. I'm using root trainers for sowing. I only discovered these in 2013 and am now sold on them when it comes to planting sweet peas and beans. The act of transplanting is made so much easier on both the plants and the person planting them. Unfortunately the plastic is showing some signs now of wear and tear but they should see this season out. I was initially put off by the expense but they were well worth it. When eventually hardened off my sweet peas plants will travel to the allotment for planting.

From A Past Summer
Great fun was had choosing the 2015 varieties like that of choosing sweets in the good old days from Woolies pick 'n mix. All bar one were selected with scent in mind so we have :

  • 'Matucana' - which is one of the oldest sweet peas to have been introduced to these shores in around 1700. I've grown this for years so know that although the flowers are quite small they still pack a big punch when it comes to scent.
  • 'Erewhon' - I grew this last year. This is bi-coloured and is apparently quite unusual as it has lighter coloured upper coloured petals whilst the wings are darker. 
  • 'Beaujolais' - this was chosen for colour contrast rather than scent. I presume that the flower was named with the colour of the wine in mind. It still has some fragrance though.
Then four varieties which as far as I recollect I've not grown before namely:
  • 'Gwendoline' - the seed packet promises a 'rich heady perfume' and this sweet pea is an RHS Award of Garden Merit winner. 
  • 'Mollie Rilstone' - she has arrived in one of those silver foil packets with no picture and no information other than sowing instructions. 
  • 'Eclipse' - as above but you can see a beautiful photograph taken by Julie over at 'Peonies and Posies' if you click on the name of the plant.
  • 'Hi Scent' - which is regarded as one of the most highly scented sweet peas available hence the name. In some catalogues the spelling is 'High Scent'.
Are you growing sweet peas this year and if so have you any special recommendations for scent? After all it's not to late for more. With thanks to Louise over at 'Wellywoman' and Sue at 'Backlane Notebook' for coming up with the idea of a monthly post on the subject of scented plants. Hopefully later this year I can return to show the results of my sweet pea sowings.

Monday, 23 March 2015

In A Vase on Monday ~ Water, Water Everywhere!

"The water like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white"

- from 'The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' - Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Meet "Mrs Betty Ranicar" possibly my favourite hellebore who you can see floating in a glass container. She was going to float in another receptacle - an old dark blue flower shaped glass sugar bowl which nestles in a silver stand. I prepared to launch her when disaster struck. After three attempts which saw water oozing out of the bowl I reached in to remove the bowl, only to discover that it is fatally cracked. So a last minute change of plan resulted in the 'vase' you see which normally holds a candle. Its origins have been lost in the mists of time. The glass beads came with a gift from my mother I think.

The hellebore was purchased in 2005 at an RHS Show in London. Although she has never been a particularly vigorous plant she is still going. The plan is to move her later this year as she is possibly in too shady a spot. She is named after a renowned Tasmanian gardener in whose garden she was discovered. Apparently she usually comes true from seed. However last year was the first year that she produced any seed! Instead of sowing it immediately on discovery the seeds went into a little brown envelope just for a few days or so was the plan. The packet was swallowed up in the contents of my seed box only coming to light a few days ago. I have now sown it but am not sure how successful germination will be knowing how the seed is best sown fresh.

The bottle of water was required for me to quench my thirst after the exertions of wiping the water up. In this case fortunately there was a drop to drink. It also seemed to echo the colour of the glass beads and the fact that the shape of this hellebore reminds me of a water lily.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling in The Garden', who came up with the excellent idea of celebrating the start of a new week by sharing floral offering from our gardens.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sock It To Me!

Returning home from a few days away there was much delight in these parts. Little packages waiting on the doormat were opened to reveal seeds and socks. Now for a confession I have a bit of a thing about socks. After years of having to wear either dresses or skirts for work I now revel in trousers for everyday wear, accompanied by socks in the cooler months. I already have snowflakes, icicles and polar bears in my winter collection but nothing featuring flowers. When I came across them I just could not resist these snowdrop socks! Perhaps a little late for this season I look forward to wearing them in the future.

They are part of a collection called 'Floral Feet' from the Cornish company Seasalt, which may appeal to fellow bloggers and/or sock aficionados. A bit more expensive than my normal tootsie wear they feel soft and inviting. As with all these things the acid test comes to the wearing and washing thereof. However if they are as good as they look and feel I will be most satisfied. Meanwhile another pair featuring daffies on a dark blue background is calling out to me .....

N.B. This is not a sponsored post. I bought the socks myself and have no links with the company.