Saturday, 30 May 2009

Now You See Me, Now You Don't



The garden club plant sale always distracts me for a while. I usually have a daily reccie of the garden to see what's happening, but in the lead up to the plant sale I turned my back for a couple of days. Look what snuck up upon me when I wasn't looking ? This geranium phaeum is growing amongst stipa tennuisimas and blue aquilegias. I was somewhat remiss and did not notice it open. It is a sunnier spot than most of my phaeums so is tiny in stature. Still a most welcome sight. Have any plants crept upon you this year and taken you by surprise ?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A Chip Off The Old Block

S IS FOR?



SCULPTURE!

On a September afternoon sortie last year we were much taken with this tree sculpture which is in the grounds of Pershore Abbey,Worecestershire. The sculpture has been carved from beech using a chainsaw and chisels. Find out more about the sculptor Tom 'Carver' Harvey here.



Any gardeners finding themselves in Pershore should travel a few miles on to Bob Brown's excellent nursery Cotswold Garden Flowers, where it is easy to loose yourself in the polytunnels and display beds for some considerable time.

This is my post for ABC Wednesday - why not saunter over there now for more on the letter S.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Done and Dusted




Well the garden club plant sale is done and dusted for another year. The day dawned dry and the wet stuff considerately held off. During the morning the sun made a much wanted appearance. On opening we were quite busy for the first hour but there was no repeat of the opening rugby scrum scenes of previous years.Try as I might it was a challenge to take photos indoors with sunshine streaming in and under artificial light, so have included just a couple of snippets of my stall. It is in the foreground in the second photo. We hold the sale at the local branch of The British Legion where our club meets. The Legion generously allows us to use a big room for the sale free of charge. This year we decided to 'grow', so we also ran a table top sale and invited a local project for young people with special needs to have a stall. The young people made the items they were selling which included bird boxes and garden ornaments.

True to form all the plants that I took in flower were snaffled up rapidly. These included astrantias, dicentra spectablis alba, polemonium caeruleum, polemonium 'Sonia's Bluebell and geranium phaeum 'Margaret Wison' and heuchera. I had some sturdy specimens of cerinthe major pururescens which were just on the point of opening and was pleased not to bring them all back home with me. Next year thought I must follow the lead of Pam at Hortensia and Maureen at Allotment Heaven who sowed their cerinthes much earlier. Geranium 'Orion' although not in flowers also proved popular. My happiest customers of the day were a couple who bought two insignificant looking teasels and were absolutely delighted with them.

What was not popular this year was tomatoes - no takers at all - I wonder why - normally they are snapped up.



As with all good plant sales I could not resist making some purchases from my fellow stallholders. Filling in some of the gaps in my plastic crates in the way home were geranium 'Brookside', a purple flowering osteospernum, hydrangea 'Annabelle', aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii',a horseradish and a pot of three Lilium 'Le Reve'.

Disappointment of the day - I had bribed himself my trusted assistant with the promise of a bacon butty, but the kitchen had run out of bacon by the time he went to order lunch. Somehow a grated cheese and onion sandwich is not the same - the cheese goes absolutely everywhere except into your mouth so why do people make grated cheese sandwiches ? One of life's perplexing mysteries.

The last hour of the sale was very quiet in terms of customers and once again we wondered about the timing of the event. We think that we have the timing right as far as the month is concerned. We hold the sale on a Saturday from 12.00pm - 2.00pm. Is two hours too long ? Is it a good time of day ? Would Sunday be a better day ? Your views would be most welcome. A glorious morning here so I am heading of to the allotment to find a home for my horseradish.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The List Mistress



The garden club plant sale looms ahead this weekend and I am losing the plot. Back in January when I wrote this post it seemed a comfortably long time off. So now that it is a couple of days before the event and I wish it was over:) I have lists everywhere - lists of what plants to take to the plant sale, what I still need to do before the day as well as what to take with me on the day. It is fortunate perhaps that I have fewer plants than what I imagined my still relatively new non working life style would give me the chance to propagate. As well as the plant sale lists there seems to be a plethora of other lists - what needs taking to the allotment, what needs bringing back, what still needs sowing and well as what needs attention in the garden. Meanwhile the greenhouse shuffle continues in all its permutations, plants seem to reproduce overnight, I am still searching for whatever decapitated my cucumber and everytime I put my head out of the door there's more of that wet stuff ! I will write more about the plant sale at the weekend when I surface for breath.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

If

R is FOR ?



RHUBARB FORCERS !

If I ever have riches to spare I will treat my rhubarb at the allotment to some beautiful terracotta forcers - a black plastic bucket is not quite the same. For non gardening visitors placing a forcer over rhubarb in January results in an earlier crop of more sweet and tender stalks. Read more about forcing rhubarb here where there are some links to some delicious sweet and savoury dishes using rhubarb.

These forcers were photographed in the walled vegetable garden at Tatton Park which is not far down the road from us.

Now then don't ruminate but run round to ABC Wednesday now where a lots more Rs are rooting !

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Celebration !




Himself is celebrating one of those birthdays that end with an 0 today. He declared a wish to wake up in the Great Langdale Valley in the Lake District this morning, so off we went in the campervan yesterday. Himself came here regularly at weekends when much younger and has a great love for the area. You can just see our campervan nestling behind some trees and next to the purple van, if you click on the above photo. We liked the look of the yurts also in the same photo.

A gentle early evening stroll :






Past the lambs bedding down for the night - the look on the white lamb's face was priceless :



We head in the direction of one of three local hostelries:




Himself raises a celebratory glass of Wainwright's Ale from our outside seat in an alcove just beneath the eaves of the pub. We look out on a deserted beer garden. I wish I had bought my gloves :




Another foolhardy couple suitably attired for the elements arrive :



We head back to the van between cloudbursts and before frostbite sets in.

A stroll in the opposite direction this morning before heading home :



A truly beautiful spot. In our absence rum goings on in the greenhouse - a spaghetti marrow has been decapitated and a big hole has been nibbled out of the leaves of an aubergine :( I am off now with my torch to see if I can find the culprit. Please launch a search party if I do not report back soon !

Friday, 15 May 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2009.

 
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Magical May and here a cooler, wetter month so far than April. My May mosaic consists of :

Top row, left to right : weigela florida 'Variegata', ajuga reptans, polemonium 'Sonya's Bluebell (this does not set seed and is a lighter blue than polemonium caeruleum), emerging astrantia and unamed aquilegia.

Middle row left to right : Solomon's Seal, polemonium caeruleum,mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream',clematis montana (don't know which one but it has an aroma of talculm powder especially in the evenings) and geum rivale.

Bottom row left to right : geranium phaeum 'Mourning Widow' ( this plant has undergone a name change and is now known as 'Lady in Mourning' - I can't get used to the new name),unamed aquilegia, geranium maculatum 'Expresso', aquilegia probably Hensol Harebell and geranium phaeum ' Lily Lovell'.

Finally an escapee from the mosaic but growing in abundance at the side of our lane at the moment the beautiful anthriscus sylvestris or cow parsley:




More May blossoms are taking root at Mays Dreams Gardens thanks to Carol.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

"On The Road Again" - Part 2.



Both body and soul suitably refreshed after our visit to Hampton Court we set off for Welland, near Malvern where we set up camp behind a hostelry, where further refreshing ensued. An early start the next morning to our final destination - the Malvern Spring Gardening Show. Here I left himself to his own devices, making a beeline for the floral marquee where I met up with Helen of - The Patient Gardener's Weblog. For me the marquee is the highlight of this show and as usual it lived up to its expectations. It was a pleasure to be in the company of a fellow plant enthusiast and to linger and appreciate the plants and exhibits. As usual the quality and choice of plants was impressive. I was really attracted to the shrub Olearia x scilloniensis 'Master Michael' (above photo) but the specimens for sale on the Grange Farm Nursery stand were in too large a pot to be carrying about. It has gone down on the wish list. Do click on the photo for a larger view - the flowers are stunning.

Emerging from the marquee sometime we then went on to the show gardens, which were being tested by some ferocious squally gusts of wind. Here I had the pleasure of being introduced to Deb- Beholder's Eye and James Alexander- Sinclair. Deb was showing at Malvern and the beautiful Lola (below) was her design and execution :



More show gardens :





From the show gardens to the specialist societies which included these displays from a couple of my favourite gardening societies, The Cottage Garden Society and The Hardy Plant Society Must renew my HPS membership.






Then off to the Design for Living Theatre where we met up with VP from Veg Plotting before going for a sit down and listen to Terry Walton in the Design For Living Theatre. Veg Plotting was one of the first blogs I started reading regularly. VP gave me some behind the scenes encouragement before my blog went public which was much appreciated and it was lovely to meet her albeit briefly. After Terry's humorous talk on the perils and joys of allotmenteering in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, during which time the tent was flapping about rather alarmingly, it was all too soon time for me to leave Helen and VP's excellent company. I rejoined himself for a picnic lunch in the campervan which had been thoughtfully prepared by the time I got back to the van. We dined splendidly before diving back into the showground. The afternoon saw us mooching around the outer stalls and exhibits, getting soaked in a brief but dramatic cloudburst, heading back into the marquee for another quick reccie, visiting the amateur gardening competitions and also making a couple of surprise purchases - details to be revealed shortly.




We left about 5.30pm being serenaded by this fine sounding quartet on the way out.


They were rather aptly playing 'Bring Me Sunshine' ! Looking forward to Malvern 2010.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Quadruple

Well coming up with a Q was a quandry so here is a quadruple !

QUAINT! ~ sign outside a restaurant in Auray,Brittany where the food was every bit as delightful as the exterior suggested it might be - mais non mes amis le lapin was not on the menu :)



QUIRKY! ~ I don't know just how far you would travel on this Harley, spotted by himself at the Holker Garden Festival in Cumbria.



QUEER! ~ goings on in Liverpool last September as 'La Princesse' strutted her stuff.



QUICK! ~ horses galloping at Chester Racecourse.



Now get yourself over to ABC Wednesday now for more Qs!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

''On The Road Again"



Leaving the occupants of the greenhouse to entertain themselves for a couple of days, we have just been to the Malvern Spring Gardening Show. We broke our journey down south with a stop at Hampton Court Castle in Herefordshire . I could not wait to return to the gardens there after making my first visit there last summer. It was an ideal chance to call in again and I was not disappointed. Stepping into the walled garden we both commented on the rise in temperature - oh what would I give for a walled garden ! If we ever win the lottery jackpot a walled garden would be top of my list, followed by clean sheets every day of the year. Although it is still early in the season there was still plenty of colour. We met one of the gardeners who was cutting flowers for the house as the owners were visiting for the weekend. She had plenty to choose from including alliums, tulips, valerain, lilacs, euphorbias, both real and false 'Solomon's Seal' and tellima odorata - she highly recommended the latter for its scent.



Another week or so would have seen the wisteria arch at its peak ~





Instead I drooled over the one or two flower heads that had fully opened ~



There was not much planted yet in the vegetable garden but preparations for the new season were well underway. I admired these sweet pea supports where sweet pea 'Matucana' had been planted ~



Lusted after the greenhouses ~



before finishing our stroll with a visit to the restaurant ~



where it was warm enough to sit outside to eat - enjoying the views down to the river and the clouds of orange blossom ~



All too soon it was time to return to the camper van to continue with our journey to Malvern and the show. To be continued in my next post .......

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Fit For A Queen

P IS FOR ?



PETERBOROUGH!


Well P was an easy choice for me. Peterborough is my birthplace and the city where I spent the formative years of my life. It has changed much over the years, especially since 1967 when the city was designated as a New Town. A constant at the very heart of the city is Peterborough Cathedral. Here is an extract from the cathedral's website which summarises its fascinating history :

"A monastic church was founded here by King Peada in 655 AD, destroyed by the Danes in 870, rebuilt as part of a Benedictine Abbey and re-consecrated in 972, burned down in an accidental fire in 1116 and re-built in its present form between 1118 and 1238. The porch was added about 1380, the eastern extension around 1500 and the central tower was re-built in the mid 1300's and again in the 1880's. In 1539 the monastery was closed by Henry VIII, but 18 months later in 1541, the church became the Cathedral of the new Diocese of Peterborough, with the last abbot as the new bishop, and Peterborough became a city.

In the Civil War much damage was done to the Cathedral by Cromwell's troops, and the Lady Chapel, Chapter House and Cloister were destroyed; only fragments of the stained glass windows were saved and these were later pieced together to form the apse windows. The choir stalls, bishop's throne, marble floor and high altar were all created by the Victorian architect Pearson after the tower had been re-built. In the 1960's new figures were added to the West Front and in the 1970's the spectacular hanging cross was added to the Nave. Since the disastrous fire of November 2001 a massive cleaning and restoration programme has been undertaken, but there is still an expensive and endless task remaining to maintain the building and fulfil its purpose."

My photo is of the West Front. Whenever I return to Peterborough to see my parents, I try to make time to have a stroll round the cathedral and its grounds and enjoy the atmosphere of peace and serenity that you can find find there. Not just one but two Queens were buried there - Catherine of Aragon and Mary,Queen of Scots. Queen Mary's body was exhumed in 1612 when her son, King James I of England, ordered she be re-interred in Westminster Abbey. I think that my visits to the cathedral and a marvellous history teacher inspired a life long interest in that period of history. I am fascinated by that era and those personalities.

This is my post for this week's ABC Wednesday the creation of Denise Nesbitt. Please pop over their now for more Ps.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Garden Blogger's Muse Day - May 2009



Magical May, my favourite month of the year. The poet and author Milton writes of her arrival as follows :

"Now the bright morning-star, Day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long."


~John Milton,'Song on a May Morning', 1660

This is my post for Garden Bloggers' Muse Day hosted by Carolyn Gail on her blog Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.