Monday, 21 January 2019

In A Vase On Monday ~ Leafy Lovelies

I have strayed a little from the straight and narrow with this week's offerings for 'In A Vase On Monday' as the contents have not come straight from the garden or allotment.

My first snippet is from my kitchen windowsill, where just in front of the garlic jar are a couple of glass containers containing some baby spider plants. It's a great source of hope at this time of year to see new plants in the making and certainly makes washing the dishes more exciting. The baby spiders will be potted up in due course ready for our allotment plant sales later in the year.

My other snippet comes about as a result of the annual January look through and purge of last year's photos which are taking up too much space on the computer. These were taken at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. They were part of a display by Plantagogo, specialist growers of heuchera, heucherallas and tiarellas and show how attractive the foliage of these plants can be when displayed floating on water.

If these float your boat I still have another floating floral creation up my sleeve which I will share in due course. 

A special vote of thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for enabling us to share our Monday vases.

Monday, 14 January 2019

In A Vase On Monday ~ Just Dropping By

Yesterday's wild and windy weather eased up enough for me to get out into the garden this morning to pick and photograph a few of my special snowdrops for this week's in 'A Vase On Monday'. If you have been visiting here a while you will know that I grow a number of my specials in pots under cover but I have also been planting them out for some time and now have a dedicated snowdrop border although this is still a work in progress. Most of the snowdrops are in but the thinking cap is still considering what else to plant with them and the issue of summer interest. All bar one of the snowdrops in this photo are now growing in the garden.

This gathering includes 'Robin Hood', 'Fieldgate Prelude', 'The Pearl', 'Robin Hood', 'George Elwes', 'Florence Baker', 'Lapwing', 'Trumps', and 'Ding Dong' which are all single snowdrops. There are also two double snowdrops 'Richard Ayres' and 'Lady Beatrice Stanley' in the midst.

The vase is new - a Christmas present to myself and most useful in that its lid has holes into which stems can be placed and supported.

If you would like to know any more about any of them my go to place for snowdrop information is the excellent 'Judy's Snowdrops', where there is a wealth of information about growing them, gardens to visit to see them as well as individual plant profiles.

Thanks as always to our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her encouragement to gather and share our flowers and foliage on Mondays.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Reading Matters ~ 'House Of Glass'

'And on a February morning , I stepped down from the bus in a place called Kew. This was a name that I knew. For here, there were famous gardens, with rhododendron walks and glasses and pagodas. I'd read of them in books.

I entered through the gates of Kew Gardens on the twelfth day of February  ......  and Kew was grey, desolate. It grass was cropped by wintering geese; its lake had thickened with ice so that I asked myself, what is this? Why is this known, or written of? It seemed no different to other parks.

I decided to go home. But as I turned, I saw it: an extraordinary domed building of glass. A temple, or palace. I entered it and left February behind. For the Palm House at Kew contained canopies and ferns and damp wooden benches; palm leaves brushed my hair as I passed. Vines twisted on metalwork; condensation pooled on beams and, having pooled, dripped on my shoulders and the back of my hands. A droplet hung so perfectly at the tip of a leaf that I stood by it, waiting. Small handwritten signs announced such words as Indochina and frangipani.

Kew Gardens, October 2018

Now I wanted to be nowhere else. I was done with crowds and London's streets. Here was a new beginning. The betelnut's feathery leaves. The soursop and the kalabash tree. I'd move forwards to read their names. I'd wonder too, how these plants might have looked in their homeland - if jewel-coloured birds had flown up to their branches, if they had offered shelter in rains that came without warning. And I began to write down what I liked of each plant ; its brief rare flowerings, or how, in its motherland, bats would sip from it. Their Latin names : crescentia cujete. Fiscus benghalensis.'

- an extract from 'House of Glass' by Susan Fletcher.

Sunshine has been in short supply so far this January - we've had a run of almost uninterrupted mild, murky and grey days. I've been escaping into my own house of glass for a regular fix of snowdrops as well as reading seed catalogues and books. My first read of the year was Susan Fletcher's House of Glass' which certainly soon had me gripped. I was drawn in by the introductory blurb on the dust jacket :

'June 1914 and a young woman - Clara Waterfield - is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Her task: to fill a greenhouse with exotic plants from Kew Gardens, to create a private paradise for the owner of Shadowbrook. Yet, on arrival, Clara hears rumours: something is wrong with this quiet, wisteria-covered house. Its gardens are filled with foxgloves, hydrangea and roses; it has lily-ponds, a croquet lawn - and the marvellous new glasshouse awaits her. But the house itself feels unloved. Its rooms are shuttered, or empty. The owner is mostly absent; the housekeeper and maids seem afraid. And soon, Clara understands their fear: for something - or someone - is walking through the house at night. In the height of summer, she finds herself drawn deeper into Shadowbrook's dark interior - and into the secrets that violently haunt this house. Nothing - not even the men who claim they wish to help her - is quite what it seems.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier, this is a wonderful, atmospheric Gothic page-turner.' 
My first ever visit to Kew Gardens was made last October - it rained heavily throughout, but like Clara I was transported to other far away lands and warmer climes. A fabulous place. Where have you been taken to by your most recent read?

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Looking Forward ....

We came across the above sculpture on a visit to the fabulous Chelsea Physic Garden last year. I'm hoping to live life inspired by its sentiments in 2019, although the drink wine advice will have to be in moderation. Wishing anybody who might pass by a most healthy and happy New Year!

Monday, 17 December 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Towards The Solstice

Although the winter solstice is still a few days away it certainly felt like winter good and proper on Saturday, with storm Deirdre knocking loudly on the door for a few hours. Sunday was much calmer and drier at least during daylight hours and the bitter wind had worn itself out. Time for a walk round the garden and to snip the heads off a few real hardy perennials for this week's 'In A Vase On Monday'. Into my vase went:
  • A stem of helleborus niger also known as the Christmas rose. I purchased a tray of six plug plants back in November for a most reasonable price from the German supermarket name beginning with an L. I bought them on a whim, only spotting them as we had exited the shop with some food shopping. Himself was duly patient waiting in the car whilst I dived back in the store to get in the queue again. Fortunately it was a short queue.
  • A snippet or two of jasmine nudiflorum also known as winter flowering jasmine. It provides a most welcome ray of sunshine in the darkest of days. 
  • A couple of leaves of arum italicum which seem to last forever in a vase. I have resolved to buy another plant to plug one of the gaps in the snowdrop border.

          The vase itself  is a newcomer to the growing collection that has been slowly multiplying since I've been participating in 'A Vase On Monday'. For some time I've hankered after some smaller vases and this is one of a recent arrival of a set of four different coloured glass vases, making use of a gift voucher my dear sister sent to me some time ago. I'm delighted with them especially this green one. No doubt the others will make a debut on the blog sometime in the future. Thanks as always to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for brightening up Mondays.

Monday, 10 December 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Innocent Until Proved Guilty

It is decidedly soggy in the garden at the moment and the main colours are greens, shades of brown and shades of something less appealing than brown.There are signs of the winter and spring treasures that will follow - primroses, hellebores and snowdrops but as yet these are too precious and few to pick. However the garden yielded this seemingly innocent trio for this week's 'In A Vase On Monday'. I say seemingly innocent because all of them are thugs of the highest order, the first two of which I would not plant again if I could turn back time. They are :
  • A symphoricarpos or snowberry bush which bears the little pink pink tinged berries that you can see in the above photo. This shrub is a creeper that is in the pursuit of world domination. Avoid it like the plague! Mine came to me via my parents which is why it is still in the garden, that and also because I think it would be almost impossible to remove every trace of it. It probably didn't thrive as well in the dry soil of East Anglia as much as it does in a significantly wetter part of the country. I didn't inherit my father's hack it to within an inch of its life genes. If I had I would have probably not had the same problems with the snowberry. I wouldn't mind as much if berry production was bounteous but the berries are usually bitty and sparse. Still I suppose it's a bit of colour in these cooler months which is not to be sniffed at.
  • An in your face shocking pink flowered hardy geranium which I can't remember ever hankering for or even introducing to the garden. This again should carry a government health warning! It seeds absolutely everywhere and is one of those that even when you think that you have got rid of it, manages to leave enough below the ground to return as an unwelcome visitor given enough time. I think it might be geranium x oxanianum but am not sure. Whatever its identity it's only plus is that is flowers for a long, long time probably from May right through to the back end of the year.
  • The third occupant of my vase is erigeron mucronatus which is rather an ugly name for a most attractive low growing plant. It was previously known as erigeron karvinskianus, which although a mouthful seemed a more attractive name. It hails from Mexico. This plant flowers for months starting here sometimes as early as March, and continues until the first protracted spells of hard frost.  It flowers for even longer than the geranium and the flowers turn from pink to white as they age. It came about as a result of a Margery Fish moment many years ago. She beguilingly described the plant in terms that I could not resist. However she did write of it in her book 'Cottage Garden Flowers that 'nobody minds how many seedlings appear each year'. I have to disagree with that particular conclusion as it self seeds prolifically and that's stating it mildly. I have to chuckle when I see it for sale at exorbitant prices. Over the years it has survived various serious eradication attempts by himself which I'm secretly rather pleased about.

Our hostess Cathy is featuring a most attractive rose in her vase today - if you haven't already called in do pay a visit to 'Rambling In The Garden' to see her post along with links to other vases. Make sure you have pen and paper to hand!

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Reading Matters - 'I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree'

"I am the seed 
 that grew the tree
 that gave the wood
 to make the page
 to fill the book
 with poetry"

~ 'Windsong' by Judith Nicholls.

This poem gives its name to a new book of poetry 'I Am the Seed That Grew The Tree' that recently made its way to my bookshelves. Although I am an avid reader I'm buying fewer and fewer books each year so much so that new books have become a mere trickle. This is one though that I couldn't resist after reading a review in a Saturday newspaper. Although I will not settle down to a thorough browse until much later this month my initial impressions are that this volume is an absolute gem.

The book contains a nature poem for every day of the year. It has been published by Nosy Crow in conjunction with The National Trust. Within its pages are poems about snowflakes, stars, moonlight, seasons, storms, rain, rainbows, fog, wind, flowers, fruit, vegetables, leaves, trees, sea and seashells to name but a few themes, as well as all manner of wonderful creatures. Every page is illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon with big bold colourful images which are every bit as beguiling as the poems themselves.

There is list at the start of each month with detailing the poem and its author  for each day together with a comprehensive indexes of poems and first lines at the back of the book. Some of the poems are well known old favourites but the majority are ones that I've not come across before so the book will be a voyage of discovery. It is a primarily children's book but it would appeal to all generations.  I should point out that the book is hardback and weighty. I find it an effort to pick it up so for children I think it would be a sitting at the table reading activity after adult hands have placed it there. Definitely not one to drop on your toes. You find out more about the story of how the book came to be here.

I purchased my book from Hive but is also available through other online sources as well as from national and local high street bookshops.

As the cooler months unfold I hope to share more of my reading matter and would really love to hear what you are reading. 

Monday, 19 November 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Taking Flight

Oh I couldn't resist snipping my last sweet pea flowers of the year for this week's 'In A Vase On Monday'. There were only two stems but they are just as precious as the big bunches that I was able to pick earlier this year. I think that this is the latest that I have ever had sweet peas in flower. Slipping into the vase with them is a couple of stems of an annual white scabious, a perennial lilac scabious and a spray of 'Blush Noisette' roses still in bud. The sweet peas and the white scabious travelled back from the allotment with me on Saturday afternoon. There was also a pleasant take a gasp of disbelief moment at the allotment in the shape of one anemone coronaria 'Sylphide' in full flower. Is this late or this early? I was and still am totally confused. It looked as if it had been open for a few days. As I was walking home to clock up the steps on the Fitbit I decided it best not to risk it coming to an unseemly end as I walked so left it to shine at the allotment. There were also raspberries at the allotment - the autumn fruiting 'Polka' variety. Needless to say these didn't come home with me but provided a most pleasant nibble whilst I worked.

Thanks as always to Cathy over 'At Rambling In The Garden' who is the garden fairy inviting us to enjoy a sprinkle of magic every week.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

(Not) In A Vase On Monday ~ A High Five

Well it's Tuesday to be precise but my plans to join in the celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the unique meme that is 'In A Vase on Monday' were thwarted. Not wanting to miss out on this auspicious occasion I'm posting a little late.

Our hostess Cathy's challenge to think outside the box and not use a vase as such this week was a challenge - much head scratching later I looked to the left when I was sitting at the computer one evening. Eureka! One of the items sitting on the bookshelf is an old wooden pencil box. The contents were removed, some green tissue paper provided a lining and it was good to go. It was a bit of a squash though for everything to fit inside so I have laid everything with more space to spare as you can see in the photo below.

      Inside my not in a vase are :
  • A 2018 vintage conker picked up from the lane that leads up from our house to the main road. There are a couple of chestnut trees in the vicinity.
  • Sycamore keys - oh they look so innocent but are a bane come spring when they seem to germinate anywhere and everywhere.
  • An empty garden snail shell which will probably be deployed sooner or later as a cane topper.
  • Some lunaria annua or honesty seedcases - emptied of their seeds. A sizeable stem remains in readiness for the festive season and seeds have been saved for future sowing.
  • French bean seeds from a crop at the allotment.
  • A stem of bleached grass and some seashells from a vase on Monday put together back in July 2015 when we were on holiday by the sea. The vase or yoghurt glass in this case also reside near the pencil case. Apart from the odd emptying and cleaning of the glass the contents look almost as fresh as they did back then.
  • My little ornamental snail previously my mother's which has appeared before in a Monday vase.
  •  A stem of calendula 'Pink Surprise' - which although most pretty seems most inappropriately named in that I fail to detect any trace of pink on the petals. Maybe wrongly suppled seed?
  •  A few berries from malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel'. The tree is still clinging on to the majority of the berries but a few are now hitting the decks.
  • Finally a lapis lazuli gemstone which is a stone of friendship. I have become interested in gemstones since coming across them through Cathy who has featured some beautiful stones as props accompanying her vases over the years. I now have a small collection of them. To me 'In A Vase On Monday' encapsulates the very spirit of friendship.  A big thanks and a high five to to you Cathy 'At Rambling In The Garden'not only for your friendship but also for all the pleasure and knowledge gained through pouring over both your vases and other blogger's vases over the last five years.