Monday, 11 June 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Little & Large

 No it's not the comic duo I'm referring to when it comes to ' In A Vase On Monday' but the size of the respective vases.

The first is a quick as lightening picked and plonked effort put together early this evening. The day has been one of those with no chance to get out into the garden until late in the proceedings. In my vase are :
  • The first pickings of calendula ' A Touch Of Red Buff', grown from seed, all the flowers so far varying in shade and shape. I'm not sure whether that was meant to happen but still a gold star so far. Sown under cover on 17th March the first flower opened last week. Time still to get a second batch sown methinks.
  • Some sprigs of an old favourite in the most easy going perennial that is alchemilla mollis.
  • A few little white buttons of another old favourite, the lovely ranunculus aconitifolius, commonly known as 'Fair Maids Of France'. This is an easy going shade loving perennial. It's one of those which goes completely underground relatively early in the season until the following spring.

Now to my second vase. I would dearly like be able to say here is one I made earlier but ...... this was on the 'Flowers From The Farm' stand at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show last week and I think that it's simply too fabulous not to be shared. I thought that it might be of special interest to Alison who is currently setting up a flower farm business. I am not going to attempt to name the flowers except from the red rose which I found out is 'Hot Chocolate', a rose that I have read about but have never seen in the flesh before. It's gone on to the wish list and no ..... it doesn't smell of chocolate. If only!

Thanks as always to our excellent hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. Your invitation to share our flowers each week is much appreciated

Monday, 4 June 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'The Heat Is On'

Every Monday Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' invites us to share our flowers and leafy loveliness in a vase. This week's pickings mainly come from the allotment where I'm spending what seems a disproportionate amount of time at the moment. I was quite excited when the weather forecast was predicting cloud and cooler temperatures today as my allotment plot is almost all in sun. The only shade is offered by area around the gate. However once again the forecast was adrift and my plans to work there all day were curtailed as I could feel myself overheating. Still progress is being made albeit slowly as I catch up from my allotment absence during early spring when it was so cold and wet. Those days are already seeming a dim and distant memory.

In my vase are :

  • Some salvia officinalis or sage flowers which most popular with the bees.
  • Allium schoenoprasum or chive flowers. Sometimes I scatter the flowers over salads - just a modest amount as they are quite peppery.
  • Centaurea cyanus or cornflower to give them their familiar common name. These are dark flowers which seem to have been swallowed up in the photo. Blue would have been more effective in the vase but there was only a solitary open blue flower. The plant is a self seeder which I moved from one bed to another back in March. It is a sturdy and flourishing plant which is mysteriously sporting  black flowers and one blue flower to date.  Maybe it is two plants rather than one. Lesson learned - I will be sowing cornflowers direct come September. 
  • The yellow roses are not from my plot but come from a wilding that grows on the site. It seems to survive quite happily with no special attention from anybody.
  • Sambucus also known as elderflower. These frothy heads were picked from the elderflower on the other side of the stream which runs alongside one the the garden boundaries. I can see it from the kitchen window and love the way the flowers light up at dusk. 
  • Finally a grassy head of two of luzula nivea from the garden. 
The crystal vase was a retirement present from a colleague and the tablecloth came out just because the vase looked as if it needed it.

Thanks as always Cathy for your most excellent hosting of 'In A Vase On Monday'. I must apologise to anybody who had problems commenting last week. Blogger has imposed changes on the comment system and not for the better. A special thanks to anybody who had to persevere to make their voice heard. I have been muttering about changing to Wordpress for some time and am thinking that will be a priority on the to do list once the sun stops shining.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

End Of Month View - May 2018

If I could press a pause button on one month of the year it would have to be May with its always unfailing freshness and promise. This May has been exceptionally sweet albeit a challenge at times. The greenhouse and new plantings have both needed extra in the way of watering and some seedlings were scorched which is unheard of in my shady greenhouse. It's also been too hot for me to work out there at times. It looks as if May 2018 will be going down in the record books both for sunshine hours and for its temperatures. This Met Office snippet goes into more detail. It seemed to me that we almost bypassed spring this year and shot straight through to summer.

In the garden the usual suspects and amongst my favourites - aquilegias, Solomon's Seal, lamprocapnus spectablis 'Alba', lunaria annua variegata, lamium orvala, lily of the valley, anthriscus sylvestris, chaerophyllum hirsutum 'Rosea', and geranium phaeums of various hues have provided their usual joy. The biggest disappointment was the failure of the Pacific Coast iris to flower. This is a plant that I've had for over twenty years and it has never sulked before. Perhaps it was a combination of the winter and being perhaps too congested that led to it not showing. The iris has now been earmarked for division as soon as possible.

My favourite new plant of the month just had to be lunaria rediviva which is a perennial honesty. I grew this from seed last year when it produced a huge sturdy plant bearing-heart shaped leaves. It was moved in late March/ early April as it was in the wrong place. Come May it was a mass of deliciously scented pale lilac flowers. The flowers have nearly all gone over now and the elliptical seed heads are appearing. It was an absolute treat when it flowered but sadly didn't like its photo being taken so I will have to wait another year. Close behind in second place was the foliage of athyrium 'Ghost'.

As for the allotment the least said the better. Like many of my other fellow plot holders I'm well behind the game. Until this month the main path leading to my plot has been like a quagmire so not in the least bit inviting. I normally try to give all the raised beds a spring clean before planting them up but I'm still catching up with that now. Still there is some stuff on the move including a bed of 'Charlotte' potatoes.The French climbing beans are in along with courgettes and patty pan squash. I've planted one bed with new strawberry plants. The cut flower bed is now planted up with geum 'Mrs Bradshaw', nasturtiums, rudbeckia 'Sahara', zinnias, dahlias, calendula 'Shades Of Red', cornflowers, scabiosa 'Tall Double Mixed' and just the one wigwam of sweet peas. I normally have two but sweet pea germination was abysmal. Tomorrow it's the turn of beetroot and mange tout peas to be planted.

In the second week of May we visited the Malvern Spring Show. I intended to blog about it at the time but the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. It had been a few years since we had visited the spring show and we had a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days away. As always the highlight for me was the floral marquee. The weather was even warm enough for us to eat outside the camper van on the second evening of our stay.

New plant purchases this month include my show purchases of a long wanted lamium orvala 'Album', geranium phaeum' Album', epimedium 'Hakubai', geum 'Eden Valley Angel' and thalictrum 'Black Stockings'. A couple of plants namely thalictrum delavayi 'Spendide White' and actaea 'Queen of Sheba' have been purchased from our local nursery at 'Bluebell Cottage Gardens'.

Sadly the last few days of May always coincides with the end of my love affair with the month, when the large willow tree (just outside our garden boundary) starts its inconsiderate and unsightly annual shedding of its innocent looking fluffy catkins all over the show. Appearances are deceptive and these catkins are bad news! Some days it's almost like it's snowing out there so we are careful to keep our mouths firmly shut when we venture out.  Everywhere is covered with a layer of fluff. Opening windows at this time is fatal and we are convinced that our television reception is compromised. Himself hosed down the satellite dish today to see if things would improve. Oh well May was fabulous until then.

Thanks to the lovely Helen over at 'A Patient Gardeners' Weblog' for hosting. It seems an age since I've done an end of month view so it's good to be back.

Monday, 28 May 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Family Matters

Without a doubt the star of my 'In A Vase on Monday' has to be my first rose of the year. It's special to me having being given as a gift from my lovely sister last year and is named 'Luisa's Daughter' in memory of my mother. The flowers are very suffused with soft pink in bud but this gives way to a cream flower when open. I had no qualms about cutting the stem as the rose has a very lax habit and the flower was almost touching the earth. Yesterday's weather forecast had predicted thunderstorms and heavy rain so I had visions of this bloom being drenched and flattened to the ground if I didn't snip it. As it was the predicted wet stuff didn't reach here despite ominous skies at various intervals and some thunder rumbling in the distance come evening.

In the vase keeping it company are a few astrantias (long, long ago purchase - variety unknown), some shimmering briza maxima purloined from the community area at the allotment and a couple of stems of left over and still going strong from last week's vase.

My props are a bottle of 'Luisa' perfume which I saved from my mother's dressing table and have still to open and a photo of her when she was a young woman. I don't have the date when the photo was taken but imagine she was in her late twenties perhaps early thirties. It's one of my favourite photos of her and one that she liked herself as it also adorned her dressing table. The vase is one that I bought in the company of one of my nieces when out together for the day last year.

Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who is the driving force behind 'In A Vase On Monday'. The lack of rain is calling me to the allotment, floppy sunhat and watering can at the ready, but I will sit later with a long cool drink (another hot Bank Holiday Monday predicted) and will enjoy some refreshing vase visiting.

Monday, 21 May 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'Tangled Up in Blue'

It's the turn of the blues and some purple this week to star in 'A Vase On Monday' - perhaps too many of them and probably better photographed against a darker background but I wanted to enjoy them at close quarters before they vanish. With the fast forward button heading towards summer, it looks as if the spring that took so long arriving is going to depart at a rapid pace. So in my vase this week are :

  • A couple of  stems of hyacinthoides non-scripta more well known by their common name of bluebells. These are native ones as far as I can tell.

  • Aquilegia - I think that some are a seedling of 'Hensol Harebell' originally from the Cottage Garden Society seed bank which I sowed many moons ago. Over the years it has crossed with other aquilegias so there is also now a double blue form too which also appear in the vase.

  • A couple of stems of an ajuga reptans which is danger of being overcrowded out of existence. Another job for the ever growing to do list.
  • By way of a contrast to all the blues and purple a couple of stems of mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream. The green bracts slowly flush pink as the season progresses. This umbellifer is native to Mexico but seems quite happy growing in north west England. 

  • Some leafiness in the shape of millium effusum 'Aureum' also known as 'Bowles Golden Grass'. This was also grown from seed and like forget-me -nots seeds itself gently about every year.
  • More leafiness in the form of what I think is a euphorbia. The leaves were looking more purple a couple of weeks ago. Suffering from skin allergies I've never knowingly introduced euphorbias into the garden much as I like them but this one arrived quietly by itself and has now been granted permanent residence.
I see that our hostess the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' is celebrating a veritable confection of shades of pastel aquilegias this week. Thanks as always for hosting and in doing so inspiring the picking of flowers for a vase on Mondays.

Monday, 14 May 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ May Breeze

 No, there's not even the slightest hint of the phlox 'May Breeze' in this vase but rather it was last night's wind that lent itself to the title of this post. It became more than a breeze at one point catching the tallest flowers in the vase, causing the vase to wobble about rather alarmingly. At this juncture the vase was grabbed and immediately bought it round to relative shelter on the well used table by the back door for its photo session. In my 'In A Vase On Monday' this week are :

  • Tellima grandiflora purpurea - well that's what I think it is. I don't call buying it so it either sneaked a ride in with another plant or was present in soil that came into the garden. It's a quietly pleasing subtle sort of a plant although it does self-seed a bit too much at times.
  • Geranium phaeum - no name for this one. It is a seedling and is some shades lighter than its neighbour who I think is geranium phaeum 'Lily Lovell'.
  • Narcisssus 'Petrel' - the late flowers are result of planting some of my bulbs rather late in the day. I imagine that it would normally be over by now. The multi-headed flowers are on the shy side with their heads held down but their scent more than makes up for it.
  • Polygonatum x hybridum - commonly known by the more appealing name of Solomon's Seal. This is one of my spring favourites. The only downside is that it does go a bit tatty as the year progresses
Lastly the pink cow parsley like chaerophyllum hirsutum 'roseum' also known as the pink hairy chevril. As well as the attractive heads of lilac mauve flowers the foliage is feathery and fern like. An added bonus is that the foliage is also deliciously apple scented. It's one of my favourite late spring flowering perennials, being easy to grow and seemingly pest free.

The stoneware vase is a new addition coming home with us after a most enjoyable visit to the Malvern Spring Festival last week.

Thanks always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her stalwart hosting come rain or shine.

Postscript ~ some sad news since publishing this post. The remarkable gardener, writer and plantswoman Beth Chatto died yesterday. I've been fortunate enough to have seen her breathtaking stands at The Chelsea Flower Show and her garden at Elmstead Market. Her writing has provided with me much joy and information over the years with one of her books inspiring my blog title. Thank you Beth for for all the joy you have given me and thousands of others.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Brownie Points

No chocolate goodies on offer this week but a 'Brownie' in the shape of a single tulip. It's the only stem that I could bring myself to snip for today's 'In A Vase On Monday'. My love-hate relationship with tulips is long standing as I have mentioned in previous posts. I love the flowers but not the foliage and also I've never been able to grow them well. Maybe the bulbs sense my apprehension at planting time and behave accordingly. Tulip bulbs also feature on the menu for the local squirrel army so it's a battle of wits from day one of planting onwards. Despite this I'm still always tempted by the catalogues and try a handful of new varieties each year. This spring I have one or two modest successes including 'Exotic Emperor' and the still to fully open 'Mistress Mystic', also known as 'Mistress Grey'.

 I also have three pots of the peony flowered 'Brownie' which I'm quite chuffed about. From what I can gather 'Brownie' is a relatively new tulip. The colour is a coppery-brown flecked with golden-yellow and red.  It appears more orange in the photo than it does to the eye. The vase is last week's school milk bottle and the only prop was accidental. As I was taking the photo I noticed a skeletonised leaf on the wall, it's colour echoing the tulip flower.

Meanwhile the greenhouse is slowly filling with little trays and pots of seedlings, which will hopefully feature in vases to come over the next few months. The only bit of bad news apart from the dismal sweet pea germination rate, is that the world's biggest spider has taken up residence. It is lurking around and about the heated sand bench. Himself insists that the spider is more frightened of me than vice-versa but I remain to be convinced. I'm hoping that when I finally turn the heat off it might scuttle out in search of another snug hidey-hole.

Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for being such an excellent hostess. She is also showcasing tulips this week and also treating us to an early taste of summer. Do visit if you haven't already.

Monday, 23 April 2018

In A Vase On Monday ~ Friends Not Anemones

A visit to the allotment at the weekend was a chance to rescue a few anemones,  suffering like me and no doubt others from the sudden and unaccustomed heat. They then had to endure the indignity of a bus journey and a supermarket foray, all in the confines of my allotment bag, so were perhaps a bit worse for wear by the time they got home. The pink 'Sylyphide and the blue 'Dr Fokker' were grown from corms planted in pots on a heated sand bench in March 2016 and then transferred to the allotment sometime in the second half of May. Their first flowers appeared the following month. I was delighted with them that summer, can't remember much about their performance last year but they seem to have come back with a flourish this spring. I also have the white flowered 'The Bride' but no show of flowers there as yet from her.

That glorious  taste of summer that we enjoyed for a few days has disappeared now to be replaced by more staple April fare. The garden lapped up yesterday's downpour. New flowers are arriving on the scene regularly and it's most exciting to go out on that first daily reccie to see what's arrived on the scene. Next week it might be the turn of tulips to feature in a vase. A quick peek over at 'Rambling In The Garden' reveals some absolute beauties.  Do visit if you haven't already. Thanks as always Cathy for hosting.