Saturday, 19 June 2021

Catching Up - Diary Update

Ooooooops - almost a month has lapsed since my last diary update. I'm not sure where that time has gone but needless to say I've been busy. June seems to have been quite a dry month so far and we could really do with some of the wet stuff at the moment. Whilst parts of the south of the country received more than a month's rainfall yesterday there were just a few spots here and looking at the forecast no sign of any on the horizon in the immediate future. It has been cooler during the last few days though which has made it easier on watering duties.

The new raised beds are beginning to fill out. One is planted with a wigwam of 'Cobra' climbing French beans, a wigwam of about to come into flower sweet peas and 'Sunburst' patty pans. I sowed some 'Romanesco' courgettes for a bit of contrast but not one germinated. The seed was past it's sow by date though but still worth a try and note has been made to order some afresh. In the other bed there are herbs, calendula, shallots, enough for a meal or two of dwarf French beans, beetroots, a trio of sunflower 'Procut Plum' anemone coronaria 'Mr Fokker' and some strawberries. There are plans to put up a third bed but where remains to be decided.  The new apples tree which looked like a mere stick when it arrived has grown but I expect that it will be a few years before it produces a decent crop so I will treat us to a mature specimen before the year is out.

Work on the ongoing 'Lockdown' border also known as the 'Border Of Doom' continues. This like a lot of the garden has suffered whilst there were not really enough hours in the day to tend to garden and allotment. It is about thirty feet t long by four feet and is sadly riddled with marestail. I've come to the conclusion after years of battling with the stuff that there's no way to get rid of it so it's a case of living with it. However I was dismayed to see it also raising it's ugly head in the new raised beds which were filled with a newly delivered vegetable growing medium this spring. Grrrrrrrrr! 

Meanwhile the 'Lockdown Border' in search of a new name is slowly being replanted. I have planted a few annuals in it this year but in future the plan is that is filled with perhaps two or three roses, mainly perennials as well as some annuals/biennials that can either either be sown in early summer September or sown directly in the ground. The colour scheme is purples, mauves, orange, burgundy, plums and perhaps some bronze shades. It is going to take some time to sort out and is still very much a work in progress. Giving me most pleasure there at the moment is papaver 'Patty's Plum' (photo above) who although planted last spring didn't flower last year.

More seed sowing took place in late May and this month of hesperis both mauve and white, lunaria annua 'Chedglow', calendula and foxglove and I hope to sow some sweet william this weekend. I planned to sow some wallflowers but so far haven't been able to track down the desired colour. Then a bit of a rest from seed sowing until the September sown annuals when another year starts. 

There have been some most enjoyable garden visits squeezed in too - one to a local beautifully maintained and planted NGS open garden and the other to a famous garden which we had not visited for some years. More of the latter visit very soon. Needless to say plant purchases were made at both but I'm pleased to report that especially when it came to the first garden my purchases were on my wish list rather than falling into the spontaneous buy now and think where I'm going to plant it later category. Another diary update soon hopefully.

Monday, 14 June 2021

IAVOM ~ 'Summer Song'

It never ceases to surprise me just how quickly another Monday arrives and time to share our vases again in 'On A Vase On Monday'. What also still surprises me is that is often breezy on Mondays as it is today. I'm always on tenterhooks in case my vase topples and falls off the wall into the stream below. The breeze though is welcome after a hot and particularly yesterday an unpleasantly muggy day. Today is much fresher and the air so much more pleasant.

In my vase today are :

  • Rosa 'Summer Song'- a new to me rose purchased from David Austin last year along with 'Lady Emma Hamilton' who was in last week's vase. As their website says she has "vibrant blooms of a red -orange colour" which was what attracted me to her when I first saw her in a vase of flowers at a flower show. I had to rush over on first sight to make a note of her name. She is pleasantly scented and seems floriferous but on the minus side I'm finding her stems to be on the floppy side and she is also suffering from black spot. The jury is still out.
  • Some wifty-waftiness  in the shape of some stems of briza maxima which has gently self seeded in a couple of places in the garden. I was pleased to see it as it seems to be a hit and miss occurrence whether it appears each year. I used to be able to pick abundant stems from outside the community hut at the allotment where it grew in profusion but I have closed the allotment gate firmly behind me now. No regrets at all although I do miss the access to cutting certain flowers that grew there.  
  • A couple of stems of a favourite hardy geranium  namely geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendal Clarke'. She is now growing in a different spot to where she previously lived in the garden and is much taller than my first experience of her and has need staking this time.
  • Some stems of the blue flowering anemone coronaria 'Mr. Fokker' which were started off with some bottom heat in the greenhouse back in early March and were transplanted to one of the new raised beds sometime in April. I love them!
  • Finally some what the label in the pot they are growing in informs me that they are 'Allium Lilac Beauty'. I'm not sure whether I've written the correct name on the label so must check the bulb orders I placed last autumn. I'm mystified how they have acquired the name as lilac they are most definitely not. However if you look closely at the flowers there are little lilac spots on the flowers. They are gently scented.
The vase was given to me by my mum a good few years ago. I'm especially fond of it so took a photo very quickly just in case.

A big shout out as always to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden', who so steadfastly steers the good ship which enables us to share and enjoy vases on Mondays.

Monday, 7 June 2021

IAVOM ~ Still Spring?

It seems that we have rushed from the unseasonal cool and wet May of a couple of weeks ago headlong into summer, although I refuse to believe that summer really starts until the solstice which this year is still a fortnight off. In my vase this week are the following :

  • A single rose stem of rosa 'Lady Emma Hamilton'. This was new to me last year and I'm most taken by both her foliage and her most delicious scent. I should have either moved her whilst she was dormant or the plants around her as I think she needs more air circulating around her. I must try to remember to do this later this year before she gets much bigger. 
  • Some of the annual orlaya grandilora which I sowed in the greenhouse in the first week of September last year and which subsequently overwintered under cover in the greenhouse. I didn't pot them up until the start of March and then introduced them to the outer world before planting them.
  • A couple of stems of allium 'Purple Sensation'. These appeared in a pot and I don't remember planting them last autumn. I'm wondering whether I planted them too late in the day in 2019 before because they certainly didn't show their faces in the spring of 2020. The heads are not as full and spectacular as the same variety planted in the garden so I didn't feel too guilty about beheading a couple of them although I had to wait for a couple of loitering bees to depart the scene before I did the deed.
  • Some unopened stems of sweet william. I've forgotten what variety these are in my long wait for flowers. I was expecting them to flower last summer but they didn't and in the meantime I've realised that there is going to be a quite unsightly colour clash when they finally do as there is a yellow flowering anthemis behind the plant these were cut from! Oh well it will be one year only nightmare.
  • Finally some flowers of the biennial or short-lived perennial hesperis or sweet rocket. I sowed seeds of both the white and lilac flowering in June or July last year. Their scent is heavenly especially as the day draws to a close.
The vase was bought almost four years ago when out in Liverpool for the day with my niece who had recently obtained her degree from Manchester University with flying colours. Tempus fugit and all that. She and her partner are still in Manchester but I have a feeling that they will move on when life settles down. Although we have not been able to see much of her recently I shall miss her when she departs.

Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who so generously hosts 'In A Vase On Monday' each week and enables us to share our vases little and large whatever the season is. 

Sunday, 6 June 2021

June Musing - On Sweet Peas

"Picked first 'Matucana' sweet peas in the eternal exhaustless freshness of the morning. They were self-seeded seedlings from last year, sprouted in the autumn were they fell by their tepees and got a head start. I popped them in my ponytail where the scent nudged me all afternoon. I gathered a full bunch on June 4th, the sweetness all the more intense after a ten-month wait. Sun-warmed water, soap suds, marzipan, marshmallows ; treats of all kinds come to mind on sniffing the first sweet peas. The first lathyrus odaratus flower of the year is like the return of a great friend, usually alone and fragile, who has made it to your doorstep. A couple of days later you might be able to pick six and proudly put them on the kitchen table. A week later the house is filled with them in every sort of vessel, like paint pots, like a flower show. The wait, the patience, the frost fingers, grappling with hazels, mania about mice, all becomes worthwhile"

An extract from 'Scent Magic: Notes From A Gardener' by Isobel Bannerman.

My sweet peas including 'Matucana' are not in flower yet but hopefully that great friend will return later this month. I have used a photo of a bunch I picked in July 2016.

Monday, 31 May 2021

IAVOM ~ "Flowers In The Window"

" And there is time, time, time

To plant new seeds and watch them grow

So there will be flowers before we go"

Well what a difference a week can make when it comes to the weather never mind politics. A lovely sunny and warm day especially when compared to last Monday and all that is so magical about this month has finally come about in the very last week! I realised this morning that my brand new vase could just sneak in one more appearance when it comes to 'In A Vase On Monday' before the month of May is out. Again few contents as the neck of the vase is on the small side. 

The first is lovely lacy annual orlaya grandiflora. These were sown on the 6th September 2020 and overwintered in the greenhouse before being hardened off. I have since sown a second batch in March and may yet squeeze in a third.

Secondly a couple of heads of anemone 'Galilee Pastel Mix'. The bulbs were planted towards the end of February in three inch pots in the greenhouse on top of the heated sand bench. Once they had come through they were moved way from the warmth of the sand bench before going out to harden off some time in April. I grew them last year for the first time but was unlucky to end up with a bag of flowers of all one colour but this year's bulbs are already revealing a more varied rainbow of colours. The flower that is prominent is more lilac than the pink it appears to be in the photo. The other flower lurking at the back is white. I planted another lot of bulbs in March which have still to reveal their flowers. They are perennial but last year's bulbs did not overwinter so it will be interesting to see what transpires with this batch. 

Finally a single snip of last year's carrot foliage which was still fresh from last week's vase.

My post title was inspired by my exercise on the treadmill this morning when my ears were treated to the sound of 'Flowers In The Window' by the excellent Travis. We often listen to their music late at night when we're away in the camper van, especially when we are parked well away from other vehicles and can sing at the top of our voices. One of those songs that I have heard before but had forgotten about so I was delighted to rediscover it and it sparked the idea of an indoor vase setting.

Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who came up with the gem of an idea for sharing our vases each and every Monday. 

Monday, 24 May 2021

IAVOM ~ " The Darling Buds Of May"


Just simple pickings in today's 'In A Vase On Monday', in the shape of aquilegias which are amongst my favourite May flowers along with geranium phaeum, Solomons Seal and Jacob's Ladder. These are are the direct descendants of seeds obtained in the 1980s from The Cottage Garden Society seed exchange scheme. I think that the variety is 'Hensol Harebell'. They have gently seeded themselves about over the years sometimes in surprising nooks and crannies and are most easy going and usually disease/mollusc free. The ferny foliage has been snipped from a pot of carrots grown last year which I really must empty. The weather today is cool, breezy and not surpisingly there has been yet more rain. However the weather forecast promises some overdue warmer and oh so welcome days to come as the week unfolds.

I have treated myself to a new vase via Etsy after such a long spell of not adding a single newcomer to the vase cupboard. I like it, although the hole for inserting flowers is most restrictive in diameter. No doubt it will make another public appearance next May.

As always a virtual bouquet of flowers and thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for prompting us to share our vases each Monday.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Diary Update


Well almost a fortnight since my last diary post so I'm not doing brilliantly so far. I would love to say that I've spent a lot of time in the garden of late but that is sadly not the case. The weather has often been cool, windy and very, very wet and almost unlike May. It will be interesting to see what the weather statistics are at the end of the month. 

The table of plants in the photo is my haul from a plant sale last Sunday. This was far less chaotic than our first in ages plant fair visit in April and it was comfortable to browse. I came home with astrantias, thalictrums, a geum, a couple of pulmonarias, an actaea and a veronicastrum 'Fascination'. I have never grown a veronicastrum before. Three of them are plants that I have had before and lost. Astrantias 'Gill Richardson' and 'Burgundy Manor' both got suffocated by too many plants surrounding them and my lack of care whilst the lovely dainty thalictrum 'Hewitt's Double' has lived here before on at least one occasion and slowly fizzled out.

Planting out the September hardy annuals is still underway. I hoped to get them in by now but the weather gods have conspired against me. The foliage on some of them is looking slightly anaemic but hopefully they will perk up once their feet are in the ground. I will also treat them to some seaweed feed. It will be the turn of the half hardys next which are still in the process of being hardened off.

The French beans - both the climbing 'Cobra' and the smaller 'Ferrari' have been sown as well as 'Sweet Basil and 'Mrs Burn's Lemon Basil'. My little courgette plants look quite sturdy. March sown sweet pea plants are in now in the ground planted at the base of a wigwam.

I want to sow one or two more annuals before the end of the month so need to sit down before the weekend is out and make a list. I'm also thinking of splitting some of my biennial seed sowing over May and June so better add them to the list too. Only a handful of varieties though.

In other news a lovely blogging friend - you know who you are, sent me a couple of dahlia cuttings as well as a cutting of salvia 'Phyllis Fancy'. I've also welcomed half a dozen little bit healthy and happy scented pelargoniums from 'Fibrex Nurseries' a company which specialises in pelargoniums. Finally all this wet suff means that the weeds are growing!