Monday, 21 December 2020

IAVOM - Winter Solstice Offering

"So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!"

- an extract from the poem 'The Shortest Day' - by Susan Cooper. You can read the full poem here.

 In what may be my last 'In A Vase On Monday' this year (blooms are few, decidedly soggy and far between at the moment) are :

  • The first snowdrops of the season to open in the garden. These are the early flowering 'Fieldgate Prelude' and 'Faringdon Double'. They seem a little ahead of schedule although accurate record keeping is not my most strong point but they are still most welcome. 
  • Stems of cornus or dogwood' Anny's Winter Orange' - these with the exception of one snip appeared in November vases.
  • Some bleached and well blown about ready peeled seedcases of lunaria annua alba variegata, also known as variegated white honesty from the garden. I have a big pile of this in the greenhouse crying out in the greenhouse for me to to do much in the way of peeling and bring inside the house for Christmas. If anybody should want spare seed there will be no doubt be plenty to spare so please request in comments.

With a special shout out to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for continuing to host us so steadfastly and with such good cheer every Monday, whatever the weather is sending our way and through good times and bad. Looking forward to settling down this evening when surely there can't be any urgent household tasks to deal with, so that I can peruse vases from near and far.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

December Musing ~ 2020


"From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens - the garden outdoors, the garden of pots and bowls in the house and the gardens of the mind's eye"

~ Quotation by Katharine S. White.

~ Illustration by Mary Azarian.

Monday, 30 November 2020

In A Vase On Monday ~ Rescue Mission


The flowers in my vase were picked towards the end of last week thinking that they were about to fall victim to a heavy frost. The predicted frost did not materialise and apart from the lightest of frosts one morning early last week we have escaped. I think though looking at the forecast for the week ahead this state of affairs might change. In my 'In A Vase On Monday' today are :
  • Rudbeckia 'Sahara' which has flowered throughout summer and well beyond. I am leaving the plants in to see if they overwinter but will also sow a batch in February in a heated propagator.
  • Rosa 'Lady Emma Hamilton'. After reading hearing her praises being highly proclaimed in books and various blogs I finally took the plunge and bought a bare root plant last autumn. She has been slow to get going, has suffered slightly from blackspot but I have great hopes for the future. She has all the magic ingredients for a perfect rose. Her foliage is indeed most attractive as are her flowers and perfume.
  • The twiggy bits of cornus 'Anny's Winter Orange' and the green lonicera nitada are both pre-loved having appeared in my last vase some three weeks ago now. After a spell on the kitchen window-sill the vase was moved to the cooler climes of the greenhouse.

I didn't think that it would get a photo of my vase as the light here has been so poor over the weekend but there was a break in the rain and some temporary lightening of the gloom so I was able to snatch a couple of photos earlier this morning. As always a special thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. Do visit if you haven't already and see what she and other bloggers have in their vases on this very last day of November.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

A Week Of Flowers ~ Day 7


My last flower of the week is one that is in flower today. Despite its appearance suggestive of early spring this little narcissus is a particularly early one to flower. The plantswoman Beth Chatto wrote in her 1998 book 'Dear Friend and Gardener' "On the kitchen window sill, I have a small vase of two or three flowers of our earliest daffodil, Narcissus 'Cedric Morris'. The late Sir Cedric, my old friend brought it from Spain more than 40 years ago. It seemed to be a one-off there in the wild, he could find no others around, and now the site has been blasted away to make a motorway. We always look, and find buds, if not open flowers, by Christmas , whilst established clumps continue to flower well into March. It is neither miniature (weedy), nor dwarf 'stunted', but stands in prefect scale, about 25cm (10 in ) tall. I love the green stain on the back of its perfect little lemon-yellow flowers ; the way its twisting petals curve round the frilly-edged trumpet. When picked, it lasts longer in a warm room than snowdrops". 

The Cedric she refers to was the artist and plantsman Cedric Morris.

It took me some time to get hold of some of the bulbs but after much patience I got my bulbs from the Beth Chatto nursery. They have taken a while to settle down, didn't do very well last year but are looking healthy this year and the bulbs are multiplying. I think that the flowers were much later in opening last year but this year they have opened up this week. I will have to check to see when I planted them but it was possibly four years ago or so. It will be some time before I have enough flowers to pick for a vase but I have noticed that the flowers do last for a long time despite any inclement weather that is thrown at them.

A BIG thanks to Cathy who came up with the idea of spreading some cheer in November by posting flowers from all the seasons. I must admit that I didn't stick entirely to the brief mainly because I have not taken many flower photos this year. However having said that all the flowers I've posted have flowered in my garden this year and it has given me great pleasure browsing through my photo archives. As well as photos of flowers, gardens, special gatherings I've also looked back at some holiday photos.  Do visit 'Words And Herbs' and see what flowers are there today and also check out the blogs of other gardeners who are participating.

Friday, 27 November 2020

A Week Of Flowers ~ Day 6

Today I've either gone back a good few months or gone forward a month or so with some snowdrops from my garden. Although I make some fuss of my special named snowdrops I love the snowdrops in my garden just as much. This year there are already signs that they may be in flower earlier than usual. I'm hoping that the weather turns colder and holds them back a while longer. Although the frost and fog predicted for this morning didn't materialise (it was slightly misty in the early hours) there seems to be a cooling down in the long term forecast. This will suit the snowdrops and other early flowers in the garden. I'm joining in this week with Cathy's 'A Flower A Day' over at Words and Herbs. Do visit her blog and enjoy the flowers both she and other garden bloggers have been sharing today.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

A Week Of Flowers ~ Day 5


It's been most enjoyable taking part in 'A Week Of Flowers' this week, an idea emanating from Cathy who blogs over at 'Words and Herbs'.  Cathy suggested that fellow bloggers might like to dispel some of the seasonal or other blues by posting photos of flowers from their gardens. I'm still harking back to summer today with a photo of a greranium pratense a most faithful and usually trouble free stalwart in the garden. I think that this one is "Mrs Kendall Clarke'. The bees like it too. If trimmed and tidied up after flowering you will be rewarded with fresh foliage and may get a second flush of flowers later in the year. Do visit Cathy's blog and also drop in some of the other participants.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

A Week Of Flowers ~ Days 3 & 4

 I'm catching up today - going back to late spring/early summer again with a couple of flowers. The first is allium christophii - no words needed. The photo below was taken on a sunny evening.

The second an astrantia - variety unknown and always appreciated by the bees. 

Thanks to Cathy over at 'Words and Herbs' for her idea of sharing flower photos this week and in doing so brightening our days.

Monday, 23 November 2020

A Week Of Flowers - Day 2


Time traveling back to summer today to the flowers of rose 'Blush Noisette'. She arrived in the winter of January 2019 as bare root plant. She was the first rose I had ever planted as a bare root plant and it was hard to believe that the twiggy sticks I unpacked were going to turn into a rose of beauty but they did. She is a climbing rose and has been around since 1817. She has been trouble free, repeat flowers (still a few still hanging on now) and is strongly scented. A clematis viticella 'Blue Angel' dangles through her structure and they are briefly in flower together.

This week I'm joining in with fellow blogger Cathy's 'A Week Of Flowers' over at 'Words and Herbs'. Do pay her a visit if you haven't already along with the other bloggers keeping her company this week.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

A Week Of Flowers Day 1

Blogging friend Cathy over at 'Words and Herbs' has come up with the inspired idea of posting a photo of a flower or plant from your garden for a week starting as of today. She suggested it as tonic to help ward away the blues that many people are currently experiencing for variety of reasons. My photo is of a Pacific Coast iris, variety unknown. I picked it up many moons ago from a plant stall in a colourful, brimming full of plants garden in Liverpool. The garden was open as part of the NGS Open Gardens scheme. This iris has a delightful flowers but its flowering period is fleeting. However for a couple of weeks usually in the middle of May it is absolutely magical. Divisions have been passed to friends and when I could take it in flower to our garden club plant sale where I used to have a small stand it always flew off the table. I must try to save seeds one year and see what transpires. Please pop over to Cathy's blog and have a look to see what she and other bloggers have posted. We are certainly all in need of as much brightness as possible in our lives as possible.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Not A Single Drop

Not just a single 'drop but 236 of them have been making their way into the greenhouse since the beginning of the month. I'm talking about my collection of potted named snowdrops. I have an inkling that the annual migration to warmer climes started earlier than than usual this year. This was because we had a most wet October and I was getting worried that my bulbs might simply drown. Funnily enough as soon as they started to come in the weather improved and the first two weeks or so of November were quite pleasant and bright on the whole. 

Until the cold winter of 2010/2011 my snowdrops lived outside all year round but that winter put pay to that state of affairs when I lost a good proportion of my precious collection. Now they come in for some winter pampering in a cold greenhouse which is ventilated every day unless it is bitterly cold. I have a small electric heater which goes on at a low temperature if frost is predicted. 

The task of gathering them all in takes considerably longer than it used to. Up to a couple of years ago I used to carry in crates of 24 one at a time. Each pot is topped dressed with horticultural grit so the crated weigh a fair bit. Last year himself was in charge as my right hand was in plaster so I directed proceedings. I am not longer able to carry the crates for any distance so this year I've bought them in two or three pots at a time and then they have gone back into the crates. I only have seven crates so some are in mushroom trays and some fitted in wherever. Each pot has a little well underneath so careful inspections have been made to make sure that they were not harbouring any stowaway molluscs. Indeed some of them were so these trespassers were soon shown the door.

Once all the pots were in I have then examined any that were still not showing any emerging snouts or didn't have signs of roots showing towards the bottom of the pots. Generally if you can't see anything above or below the snowdrop at this time of year it's not good news and sadly so it proved to be the case with a few snowdrops. Now the for the final part of the task which will be to sort my beauties into alphabetical order so I know what's what. Despite the numbers only about hundred of them are named. Others are spares to share or swap with snowdrop friends but the remainder of them are simply labelled 'unknown' as they have lost their original labels (most inconsiderate of them). The U section will soon be sorted with no need to refer to records.

As all this has been happening the first few 'drops have started to open. The first to open is labelled as 'Three Ships'. You can see the photo at the top of the post. I'm not sure whether it is 'Three Ships' but maybe one of my snowdrop friends can confirm. The second which is above is 'The Pearl'. Apologies for the grainy photos which taken using my phone. The third 'drop to open was 'Faringdon Double'. Before long there will be a veritable avalanche of snowdrops for me to wander at in the depths of winter and before that there is so much joy in the anticipation.