Sunday, 3 December 2017

Undercover ~ #my gardenrightnow

Today's garden related activities have taken place under cover in the shelter of the greenhouse, where I've been tending to my collection of special named snowdrops. I can't remember exactly when my addiction started but it was somewhere before the turn of the century. Over the years the number of snowdrop varieties has slowly increased and now this collection gives me great pleasure during the bleakest month of the year. My bulbs have come from specialist nurseries, eBay and as swaps or gifts from kind friends including fellow bloggers. Bulbs can be alarmingly expensive especially the new varieties but if you are prepared to wait prices do come down over the years. My greenhouse is close to the house so even on the coldest or wettest days I can pop out and see what is going on. As well as being able to see the flower markings at close quarters, I can also lift the pots up to inhale their delicate but distinct scent.

Growing snowdrops in pots can be a challenge especially when it comes to overwintering them. Originally all the pots were outside all year round but I lost a substantial number of bulbs following the cold winter of 2010/2011. Since then the pots come inside the greenhouse for the winter usually sometime towards the middle or the back end of November. The greenhouse door is opened on all but the coldest days and a small electric fan heater prevents the temperature dropping down below zero. Watering takes place at least once a month sometimes more depending on the weather but is always done during relatively mild spells. The pots will be returned to the big outside world sometime in the spring.

This autumn has seen the snowdrops come into growth earlier than I can ever remember. Today was chance to check all the pots where there appeared to be no visible sign of life. I wanted to remove any definite no shows in case those pots were harbouring any disease that might spread to neighbours. I found the odd pot where bulbs had completely disappeared. The good news was there were all varieties which I have more than one either growing in another pot or in the garden. The long term plan is to establish as many varieties as I can out in the garden and reduce my potted collection to a top twenty. Apart from the fact that they take over the greenhouse in the winter, lifting the crates in and out of the greenhouse has become more and more of a Herculean effort each year.

Why not join in the fourth and last in 2017 of this seasonal challenge to share what's been going on in your garden or allotment right now. This is a special festive or hope edition so I have focused on what gives me a fix of hope every winter. If you want to join in you can either put together a blog post or post a photo on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #my gardenrightnow

A BIG thanks to the lovely Michelle over at Veg Plotting who came up with this inspirational idea.

Monday, 20 November 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Hanging On In There

Today's 'In A Vase On Monday' includes a couple of late lingerers together with a piece of leafy loveliness. The contents are as follows :
  • A spray of flowers from Rosa 'The Fairy', a small shrub bearing clusters of little pink pompoms, usually from July onwards until late November/early December. Looking back she has occasionally flowered in June. She has fine glossy foliage and unlike a near neighbouring rose 'New Dawn' does not usually succumb to black spot.
  • Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Blackfield' - another new purchase which has been giving me much pleasure. The flowers look darker to the eye than they appear on the camera.
  • Some foliage from heuchera Little Cutie 'Frost'. Despite the irritating name this has a most striking leaf. As the leaves were attempting to merge anonymously into the background I removed one just for the purposes of this photo. It has since been replaced to plug the gap. Apparently there is a whole family of Little Cuties but this is the first that I've come across. 
I've just had a good peek over at 'Rambling In The Garden' and see that our hostess Cathy has also included a new to me heuchera in her vase this week. Coming across and learning about new plants is but one of the pleasures of sharing vases on Mondays. Thanks as always Cathy for the opportunity.

Monday, 13 November 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ "Say Cheese!"

'In A Vase On Monday' is celebrating its fourth anniversary this week. Many, many thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for bringing this element of fun into the week and for your encouragement and generosity as the hostess of this meme. It takes much dedication and energy to grow and sustain a meme over this length of time. I'm in awe of your achievement.

My vase was picked yesterday when to say it was somewhat nippy is an understatement. The skies were blue and sunny but what a bitter north west wind was blowing about. Still I thought that I would wrap up well and get out there. Cathy had asked us to think outside the box when it comes to our choice of vases this week. Initially my mind drew a blank but when I saw this empty Stilton cheese pot in a charity shop early last week I thought that it might fit the bill.

Pickings are getting sparser as the weeks go on but I found a few bits and pieces namely :
  • A few seed heads of lunaria annua.
  • Some twiggy fluff from clematis jouiniana x 'Praecox'.
  • Spent ivy flower heads.
  • A couple of brunnera macrophylla leaves.
  • Some chrysanthemum flowers - the plants came to me via a fellow allotment plot holder. The variety is unknown. At this time of year their colour is most welcome.
  • Sprigs of the white flowering persicaria amplexicaulis 'White Eastfield'. This is a new purchase bought at a plant fair at the beginning of October. I am already smitten. Not only does it provide some late colour but it seems to fading gracefully.
  • Especially for Cathy, a trio of galanthus 'Faringdon Double'. This is an early flowering snowdrop which seems to be especially early this year. I took the pot into the greenhouse for a couple of hours to encourage the flowers to open but they would not oblige. 
The little wooden mouse was a holiday gift from himself.

A big thanks Cathy for enriching the garden blogging community over the last four years with such fabulous vases! 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Wednesday Worisit ~ Fishface

We came across this fungus growing in the shingle last month when we visited the fabulous RSPB nature reserve at Dungeness. Our fungus identification book has annoyingly disappeared, so until I find out a name I'm referring to it as Fishface. Himself says it reminds him of a burnt omelette! What do you see when you look at it? Maybe you know the name and can solve the mystery.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

November Thoughts

"From the window of my writing room I look out over the garden. I shouldn't; my mind should be on the writing. But it's hard not to - especially this year, especially now, when the annual pageant of autumn colour has been playing out with even greater theatrically than usual. Sitting at my window , mug of tea cooling in my hand, I'm an audience of one, a packed house, all attention ......

While I sit glued to the window, the book languishes unwritten, the bulbs unplanted, the apples unpicked, the garden untidied. But there are two messages that should be engraved on every gardener's heart at this time of year: don't panic ... and don't feel guilty. Allow yourself time to enjoy the garden, time to look. After all the trees won't mind if the fruit isn't picked, and the birds will bless you for it - and for the straggle of dead and dying herbaceous stalks which will provide them with seeds and shelter all winter long.

And there is still time to plant those bulbs. I have often been reduced to planting tulips at Christmas or even on New Day's Day, and they seem to come to no harm. There is even an argument for delaying planting now that our autumns and early winters are so mild and wet".

~ an extract from 'The Morville Year' by Katherine Swift.
~ illustration by Rachel Grant.

Monday, 16 October 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'Last Of The Summer Wine'

Yesterday was a such balmy gentle day marked with some decent spells of sunshine. If you weren't aware of where we are up to on the calendar pages you may well have thought it was a summer day. I enjoyed pottering about in the garden for a good part of the day and picked my flowers for 'In A Vase On Monday', knowing that it would be payback time weather wise today. This morning's leaden sky has given way to blue skies, but it is getting windier by the moment as the remnants ex-hurricane Ophelia nears. We also had a most spooky red sun pierce through the leaden grey sky this morning. Apparently the colour is due to the winds dragging in both dust from the Sahara and debris from forest fires in Spain and Portugal. Here as readers from the U.K. will know today marks the anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987which fortunately didn't do much damage in the north of England but had absolutely devastating effects in the south. My sister has memories of probably the most frightening night of her life at home with just her son to keep her company. He was a mere ten days old at the time. Anyway the Great Storm is another story so for now back to this week's floral gatherings.

In my vase (rescued from Mum's kitchen cupboard) are :
  • 'Blush Noisette' roses. This is a climbing rose which I purchased as a bare -root plant in 2009. I had seen it flower in a rose garden the year before but still could not envisage the parcel of twigs that arrived in the post ever morphing into such beauty. I'm pleased to report that they did. The main flush of flowers is in the summer but it does repeat. At the moment there are quite a few stems bearing still to open buds. Their fate will obviously depend on the weather over the next few weeks.  
  • Some sprigs of mentha suaveolens or apple mint, which like the rose is subtly but oh so deliciously scented. It's a hardy perennial which disappears underground in the winter. It makes for a good container plant either on its own or with friends.
  • Some cosmos bippinatus 'Pysche White' flowers. I saw this cosmos in flower on one of the stands at the Malvern Autum Show last year and made a note of its name then. The flowers are beautiful but are really not suited for cutting as the stems are on the short side. If I grow it next year it will be just to look at and for the bees who really enjoy this plant. 
  • The blue is scutellaria incana also known as skullcap which is a late flowering perennial. It does self seed a bit but not to a nuisance extent. It also seems to be in flower for quite some time. I must make a note of its flowering period next year.
Well I'm off to see what  delights our hostess Cathy from 'Rambling In The Garden' is featuring in her vase today. Do have a look if you haven't already.

Monday, 9 October 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Latecomer

A lightening snip and plonk for 'In A Vase On Monday' as I'm catching up with all sorts after a week's holiday. For some reason dahlia 'Bacardi' has only just come into flower and was a most welcome surprise when we returned home late yesterday afternoon. A note has been made to get the tuber planted in the ground next year rather than leave it in a pot. It has probably not had as much room as it would have liked so not surprisingly has been sulking. There are also a few sprigs of plecanthrus argentatus flowers in the milk bottle vase. This late flowering tender perennial came to me by way of one of my allotment neighbours last year. Unlike the dahlia it makes an excellent container plant and also has most attractive silvery foliage.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting. I'm looking forward to seeing what is residing in other vases this week.