Monday, 14 August 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'All Shook Up'

The ingredients of today's 'In A Vase On Monday' had the dubious pleasure of a bus journey back from the allotment to home via the shops. One or two of them became battered and bruised en route and sadly a few stems had to be jettisoned. My vase this week reflects the seasonal changes of the palette from pale and pastel to dark and sultry. In my vase are :
  • Sweet peas - 'Matucana', 'Midnight' and 'Eclipse'.
  • Crocosmia - I inherited a patch of this at the allotment so have no idea what variety it is.
  • Dahlia 'Magenta Star' and an allotment dahlia - possibly 'Arabian Night'. 'Magenta Star' is a fabulous flower, which not only attracts pollinators but also has deliciously dark stems and foliage that seems to have a sheen about it. The photo doesn't do justice to it so I will try to remember to take another photo before this year's flowers are over. The allotment dahlia has been left to overwinter in a raised bed for the last two years and is now a most sturdy plant producing a multitude of flowers.
  • Geum 'Mrs J. Bradshaw' - this poor lady suffered in transit. I only managed to retrieve one stem. This is a long flowering perennial which comes true from seed and can be sown in autumn in a tray and left in a cold frame to overwinter. I was given a trio of plants by my allotment neighbours last year and they have made a good show this season.
  • Cosmos bipinnatus 'Rubenza' - grown from seed sown in April. I prefer the 'Double Click Cranberries' that I grew last year. Although the 'Rubenza' plants have not grown as tall or as broad as 'Double Click Cranberries' I've not really been struck by the flower colour. I think that I will be clicking again next year. 
  • Tagetes 'Cinnibar'? - these seeds were grown in the expectation that they would result in an all orange cosmos - either  cosmos sulphureous 'Diablo' or cosmos sulphureous 'Tango. I sowed both varieties in April but one of them has turned out to be an impostor. As far as I can tell they are very similar to tagetes 'Cinnibar' which I've grown previously. Labels got lost somewhere between sowing and planting but the other is definitely an orange cosmos. I picked a flower for this vase but it suffered a fatal injury on the way home so could not be included. Hopefully there will be more blooms to pick soon which I can include in a future vase.
A huge vote of thanks as always to Cathy the lovely hostess of 'In A Vase On Monday'.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

August Thoughts

"One early evening at the beginning of August, I come back from my allotment with potatoes, carrots, shallots, beans (broad and runners), kohl rabi, and a little tomato, and soon the juice of runner beans under the knife with the smell of other vegetables cooking. After supper, through the open back door, the pale cups of the oenothera and the sweet Turkish smell of the night-scented stock, the clovey smell of other stocks, and the deeper clove of carnation, took over. Then there was the fresh astringency of a perfect unfurling bud of 'Golden Showers', lemon balm up the path, and then phlox.

But what had drawn me in to the darkening garden were the night-scented stocks, and it is the one smell that, inside comes to me on its own without seeking it out. This is one of the high points of the year - the quiet house, the lamp on the table with the bowl of sweet peas, dahlias in a jar on the shelf. It's so still that there's hardly the flap of a moth. It's warm enough again, after the dip we took at the end of July, to relax and think of another day's activities ahead in and out of the house, pegging down strawberry runners, taking cuttings of honeysuckle, remembering not to miss the time for sewing spring cabbage ; drying shallots and then onions in the sun, cutting down the broad beans for a second flowering , and being reminded, by the smell  of your hands when you touch stalk and leaves of excitement at the emergence of those grey-green leaves at the beginning of the year if you had done a sowing the previous November".

~ An extract from 'Led By The Nose' by Jenny Joseph.
~ Illustration by Lena Anderson.

Monday, 24 July 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ A Snow Princess

This week's vase features a 'Snow Princess' and in this case she has not been blown in on a cold blast of arctic air but has been ushered in by a summer zephyr. Three new to me annuals were sown earlier in the year and this is the first to come into flower. Hopefully I can report on the other two in the near future. 'Calendula 'Snow Princess' was a new arrival in some the 2017 seed catalogues and as far as I'm concerned has lived up to my expectations. Although definitely not the colour of snow the creamy flowers are most attractive and I like the bronze tinged petal tips. There is of course the bonus that her petals are edible but I've not nibbled yet.

After reading this article by Graham Rice I sowed a few seeds yesterday, in the hope of some late flowers and will also be sowing again come September. Here she is together with some rosemary and a sprig or two of a viola. The container is a little jar hand-painted by my mum. As always a heartfelt thank you to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her oh so gentle encouragement to fill a vase on a Monday.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Five Favourite July Plants

The lovely Chloris over at 'The Blooming Garden' has kindly invited her fellow garden bloggers to share their favourite July plants. Chloris has shared her top ten plants but it seemed more than that to me. Do visit her blog if you haven't already to peruse her choice of some fabulous plants. I've gone with the option of five plants. Four of them have proved to be reliable stalwarts over the years whilst the newcomer shows signs of promise in that department.  So in no particular order are :

Erigeron karvinskianus (formerly erigeron mucronatus) also known as the Mexican fleabane. This is a perennial which flowers from March onwards until the first hard frosts. It is in these summer months though when it looks at its best and the flowers are most prolific. It is best grown in full sun but has obviously not read the books as it is dotted about our north facing courtyard. Apart from its long flowering period another attraction of this little daisy is the way the flowers change from white to pink as they age. It is a plant that just gets on and does it own business without any intervention or attention. Moreover it seems to be pest and disease free.

It can be grown easily from seed or bought as a plant although I think that the latter option is usually relatively expensive. I have gasped with shock more than once when I've seen the price label at plant sales. Once you have it I think that it is with you for keeps it as it self-seeds with abandon. I'm quite happy for it to do so despite himself's regular assassination attempts.

 Kalimeris incisa 'Charlotte' - this is the newcomer of the bunch only arriving in August 2014, a purchase made at the Southport Flower Show from Holden Clough nursery. Preferring a sunny position is a hardy perennial which flowers from June to October. It bears pale mauve aster like flowers with a yellow centre. As far as I've been able to find out it is relatively disease and pest free. It's biggest selling point as far as I'm concerned is that it attracts bees and hoverflies. As you might be able to see I need to get in to do some dead-heading and some belated propping up. Friday night's torrential downpour has battered and flattened the plant somewhat and now that it's established I think that it might need staking in the future. The biggest selling point as far as I'm concerned is that 'Charlotte' attracts bees and hoverflies. 

Allium sphaerocephalon also known as the drumstick allium. Coming into flower later that most other alliums this is another easy-going character that just gets on with it given a sunny spot. I like the fact that they take so little room to accomodate so that you can plant them in between summer flowering perennials. A downside as it with all bulbs is trying to remember where they were the flowering stalk dies down. The flowering heads start off green before slowly from the top down turning into a deep purple colour. They can have a bit of a flippy- floppy tendency but that doesn't matter. They will self-seed gently. Again they are another magnet for pollinators. If you don't already grow these make sure to add some to your bulb order this year. Talking of making bulb orders I've read that it has not been a good season for bulbs because of the warm dry weather. The advice is to get bulb orders in early. I'm usually last minute when it comes to do doing this but intend to get cracking forthwith.

Clematis jouiniana x 'Praecox'- this is a long time July favourite although it first comes into flower in June. It's an extremely vigorous herbaceous clematis which can either be grown either as scrambling ground cover or as a climber. Awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit this again is a pollinator magnet. I love it although it has one major fault in that it dies a most disgraceful death. If you are not of a sensitive disposition and want the full picture have a peek here. It has reached the situation though where it's taking up too much room so is in for a most severe pruning next spring. 

Geranium pratense 'Plenum Violaceum' - another easy going perennial which has such pretty double flowers. Mine is in a north facing border where the flowers do not scorch as much if we have a very hot spell. Sadly it is sterile as I would welcome seedlings with open arms. I've had it growing in the garden for a long, long time, along with its sibling geranium pratense' Plenum Caeruleum' but sadly the latter did not remerge this year. I must seek a replacement. There is also a white flowering sibling too!

Thank you Chloris for your welcome invitation. I'm now off outside as the weather has brightened up. I have a pot of oh so tiny hardy begonias to prick out so may be gone for some considerable time.

Monday, 17 July 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Bounty

It's vases in the plural this week. The first vases were picked slightly prematurely on Friday afternoon and went to other homes. Our allotment association took part in a local annual fun day on Saturday. We have been kindly invited to have a stall there for several years now. We took plants, flowers, fruit, veggies, jam and chutney to sell. All our profits go towards the cost of insuring our composting toilet on the allotment site. Friday saw me at the allotment picking sweet peas and dahlias. I picked over a hundred stems of sweet peas some of which stayed at home but there was enough to make up four bunches for the sales table. A couple of bunches were the first very sale of the day. They were bought by two young lads who had an earnest debate beforehand as to which was their favourite colour of sweet pea flower. It was the highlight of the afternoon for me! Young gardeners in the making.

Back to the allotment this morning to do more watering, weeding and picking before it got too hot. Look what was waiting for me .... yet more sweet peas!

Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for encouraging bloggers to share vases full of sunshine and flowers every Monday. Do call in to see her latest vase and to follow links to other vases from far and wide.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ A Most Special Gift

Just one bloom from me today in the shape of a rose which is new to the garden this year. Back in the depths of January a birthday present arrived for me from my dear sister. She had purchased my gift from a company which sells roses that are specially named by the customer. So it came with a certificate bearing the name 'Luisa's Daughter,' in memory of my Mum who died in December last year. It  arrived complete with a certificate, a photo of the flower together with planting and cultivation instructions. It opened its first flowers last weekend when I was away. I had been looking at the emerging buds willing it to open before I left but it teased me and wouldn't oblige. Still it was a delight to come home to and joy of joys as well as looking most pretty it is noticeably scented. As you can see it's also being appreciated by passing garden visitors.

Thanks as always to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for hosting. I wonder what plants will be tempting me to add them to the wish list for future July blooms.

Monday, 3 July 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Sparkle

Today's 'In A Vase On Monday' has been put together late in the day as I've been out in Liverpool with my lovely niece. She has been a student in Manchester for the last four years and got her final results last week - a first class honours degree! We are all so proud of her especially as there as been one or two family illnesses during this time, which must have been both distracting and upsetting for her. Still she managed to get her head down and work really hard to obtaining such an excellent result. It was a pleasure to treat her to lunch today and listen to her plans for the future. She is most lively and excellent company, has a wicked sense of humour but is caring and gentle too. Himself stayed at home but we will be raising a glass to a special young lady later.

In my vase this week are :

  • buddleja davidii (which originated as a cutting from my parent's garden)
  • some alchemilla mollis
  • a solitary stem of penstemon 'Sour Grapes
  • the lilac daisy type flowers of kalimeris incisa 'Charlotte'
  • the  larger yellow daisy type flowers of anthemis tinctoria 'E. C. Buxton'
  • a couple of stems of the curious mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream', which looks exotic and tender but has proved most definitely otherwise.

Oh and I have new vase! With time to wait before our respective trains home we took a wonder round 'The Bluecoat Chambers' where the above jug caught my attention. My niece didn't persuade me to refrain.

Thanks as always to our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for encouraging us to share our vases each and every Monday.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Musing In July

" We have our first dish of peas. The aisles of pea plants grow tall and the green walls are full of bulging pods ...... Compared with the gathering of strawberries, pea picking is is intricate, but undramatic. There is no sudden grow of crimson , no soft warmth of fruit. It is a world of shapes, pea being undistinguishable from leaf only by virtue of its bulk and form. We pick by feeling rather than by sight. The pea plant is a gentle green, deep and soft against the pale colour of the lettuces that shelter from the sun in the shade of the pea rows. Our baskets full of hard, rattling pods, we pick lettuces for salad. It is good to feed oneself from one's own earth" 

Words from 'Four Hedges A Gardener's Chronicle' by Clare Leighton.

Illustration by Sara Midda from "In and Out Of The Garden".