greentapestry : 2010

Friday 31 December 2010

Looking Over My Shoulder

Here the year is slowly evaporating in a misty haze, with the odd reluctant to melt patch of snow still on the ground. The last spell of extremely cold weather has taken its toll but there are signs of spring's inevitable renewal. A quick tour of the garden this morning revealed snowdrops breaking through the ground, hellebores with plump buds and a slug making its merry way along the inner lid of the compost bin.

2011 has not been the best of years for me because of my father's rapidly deteriorating health. Dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia in November 2009, which although not entirely a surprise was still a blow to the family. My parents though seemed to be coping quite well until he had a fall this May resulting in a head injury and a broken hip. Since then his decline has been rapid. At eighteen I could not wait to leave the parental nest but now oh how I wish that I lived somewhat nearer than an almost four hour train journey. Not near enough to nip down for the day although I have done it once. Since May I have been yo-yoing back and forth to give my mother some support as she looks after Dad. Dad was a primary school teacher in his working life, eventually becoming a headteacher. After years of teaching children the basics of literacy and numeracy I have found it heartbreaking to observe him slowly losing these skills.

I was one of those unenviable minority of children who was taught by their father ~ a most strange experience chatting to 'Dad' over a bowl of breakfast cereal before he morphed into 'Sir' calling out the register in the classroom less than half an hour later. Dad told me when I was much older that that he was unnecessarily strict with me at school, so much so that once some of my classmates formed a delegation to tell him so! I did not realise it at the time but he was a fine teacher and well respected by many of his former pupils. One most touching tribute to this is the fact that one of my former classmates, who has many years of experience of mental health nursing, is now spending a couple of hours twice a week with him as his carer. She considers it a privilege.

Leisure activities including gardening have taken a bit of a back seat these past few months. Last years garden plans remain by and large on the to do list, as what time I have had has been spent at the allotment, in a determined effort to keep on top of it and stave off those nasty letters and the possible threat of eviction. I will do another post about the allotment season very soon before it becomes a distant memory. In fact I have just remembered that I have already done a retrospective post in September here ! What I will just echo from that post now is that I never ever thought that I would not be able to face the thought of eating strawberries - this scenario arose several times this summer. I will do a forward planning allotment post very soon.

There have been some gardening related highlights though in 2010 and when I look back plenty to treaure. It was the year that we finally demolished 'The Temple' and we now have a snazzy new gazebo in its place thanks to himself's hard labour. I think that I started the story but never finished it so again one for another post.

Our first garden visit of the year took place in the chilly depths of February -  to the newly created nearby Winter Garden at Dunham Massey - hopefully a return visit will be on the cards soon. In late March we searched the Lake District in vain for Wordsworth's "host of golden daffodils". A much delayed spring meant that there will still snowdrops abound whilst the yellow trumpets were only just unfurling. In May we had the pleasure of revisiting the Malvern Show which is becoming an annual pilgrimage. It was a pleasure to meet up again with a couple of blogging acquaintances, as well as meeting many new blogging friends, some who had travelled from long distances.

In July himself and I travelled to France in our trusty old camper van, where amongst other adventures we spent a memorable day at the garden festival at Chaumont - sur - Loire (the above photo and the one at the top of this post were taken there). August started with a day out in the company of a dear friend visiting the Garden Museum in London, where there was a special exhibition featuring the life of the late Christopher Lloyd. In late August himself and I had the chance through my garden club to visit the gardens at Highgrove, the country home of the Prince of Wales, which was another most interesting and amusing experience. Within minutes of the tour starting the heavens opened for probably the most drenching shower I have ever encountered - oh what fun but at least it was warm rain. Towards the end of September we spent a week in North Wales, which although almost on our doorstep is an area we have sadly spent little time in - to be remedied in the future. Here we came across a hilltop garden - Caerau Uchaf, set in stunning surroundings, made our first trip to Portmeirion and also revisted the beautiful gardens at Powis Castle (below) ~ 

There have also been some most positive learning experiences during the year, through the monthly meetings of my gardening club and also from attending excellent propagation and garden photography workshops, at nearby Bluebell Cottage Gardens/Lodge Lane Nursery.

The most special garden memory though of 2011 for me took place in my parent's garden, where some of the family gathered towards the middle of August, to celebrate my parent's diamond wedding anniversary. Dad was well enough to thoroughly enjoy the day, to sit outside for a while and to smile with joy at the rose which he had bought with our assistance for Mum and which my sister and I had planted for him.

So as one year slowly slip - sides into another  I wish everyone a most happy, healthy and peaceful new year. May all that you grow in your gardens and allotments sing out loudly and longly in 2012.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Angel's Hair


Once the festive season is done and dusted himself and I usually start discussing holidays. When I say discussing I mean so at great length. The process usually turns out to be an epic saga of earnest debate, maps and guides overload as well as some minor spats before we come to a satisfactory conclusion. It is often well into the new year before we make any decisions, sometimes only a few weeks before we are due to depart. This year was no exception to the rule. The dilemma seems to be that my ideal holiday features the coast and garden visiting, whilst himself has a yen for mountains and architecture. This year we both comprised ~ our destination was the Loire Valley, where there are both grand gardens and chateaux in abundance. We both agreed after the event that our choice more than lived up to our expectations. The most exciting and exhilarating day of the holiday for me was a visit to the annual international garden festival at Chaumont - sur - Loire.  The above photo is of the most exceptional exhibit in my eyes which was entitled 'Cheveux d'Anges'. This translates as 'Angel's Hair'. I still have to post in length about this visit. I have made a start several times but have agonised over which photos to include. I will do so though before we decide on where to venture forth in 2011! 

More on the extraordinary letter X can be explored over at ABC Wednesday.

Meanwhile if you would like to indulge in some seasonal silliness and possibly win a small prize do have a peek at my last post here.

Monday 27 December 2010

Some Seasonal Silliness

The space between Christmas and the New Year is one of my favourite times of the year ~ the drawbridge is up, the larder is well stocked and there seems to be endless time to browse through the seed catalogues, make a start on Christmas books, indulge in Scrabble marathons and pour over giant crosswords ~ oh what bliss. So in keeping with the season,here is a little quiz to tease your grey matter ~ this like my recent post featuring a guide to etiquette at the bird table, was unearthed as I  continue to declutter. It featured in our garden club newsletter some time ago. The answers to all the questions are names of plants, flowers, herbs etc.

1) Wise old man
2) Without a dance partner
3) In perfect condition
4) Harlequin's sweetheart
5) It's in the eye
6) Fictional hotel proprietor (first name)
7) Elizabeth has been active
8) Wordsworth sung its praises
9) Prickly Christmas evergreen meets a German wine
10)Did Chaucer's pilgrims hear these when they ended their journey? (plural)
11) A company of animals or birds
12) Romance bloomed in the foggy weather
13) A motionless insect usually busy
14) The girl would share your tandem if you sung to her
15) The truth be told
16) The Universe
17) Mother sprinted like this on sports day
18) Amour, prone and haemorrhaging
19) Head cover worn by monastery's inhabitants
20) A floral fiddle
21) It would smell as sweet by any other name ?
22) This girl has been in a fight
23) Daughter of Zeus and Hera?
24) Ms. Ledward may grow this in her garden
25) Bear's Breeches

In the spirit of the season there will be a small prize for the first set of correct answers to be pulled out of a plant pot or whatever I can lay my hands on. Answers should be emailed to me at before midnight on 6th January 2011.

For the winner a copy of Elspeth's Thompson's 'The Wonderful Weekend Book' which includes many ideas for enjoying the simple pleasures of life!

Thursday 23 December 2010

"Tidings of Comfort and Joy"

A very merry Christmas to anybody who may wander past ! 
~ here the snow is still on the ground, my trusty sherpa has set forth for the last lot of provisions and the Scabble board will soon be making its first seasonal apppearance, so I will refrain from the sherry until later. I hope that you are able to enjoy this special time of year with your loved ones and a safe and warm journey to those who have still to reach their destination.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

"Welcome To The Pleasure Dome"


As I child I always hankered after a snow globe. I was fascinated by these glass globes, which encapsulated either festive or well known tourist scenes. Turning them upside down and shaking them resulted in magical and hypnotic snow flurries. I sadly never ended up with my own snow globe, so was delighted recently  to come across this grown up festive version in Liverpool. Much to my disappointment though despite the welcoming 'Have you be inside?, I could not work out an obvious way in and there was not an attendant in sight. So I was left to wonder whether I would have been shaken but not stirred and would the snow have whirled around me or would I have whirled round?

The wonderful letter W stars this week over at ABC Wednesday whilst over at Veg Plotting you can enjoy more seasonal whimsy out on the streets.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Etiquette At The Bird Table

"Dear Mr  and Mrs Blackbird

You, your family and friends are always welcome to dine chez us ; a bird table and other perching posts are available for your convenience along with the ground.

On the menu please be assured of finding a selection of seeds (mixed and sunflower), dried mealworms, nuts, cocofat feeders, bird - cakes as well as fresh and dried fruit. From time to time chef will provide specialities such as moreish cubes of cheese for you to nibble on.

In return, please observe these simple courtesies :

~ Mr and Mrs Blue Tit are valued customers ~ do not allow your boisterous behaviour to spoil their enjoyment.

~ Separate containers are provided to segregate the various tit -bits, please do not allow your party to mix these, or spread viable seed on the ground where unidentified seedlings could sprout next spring. Any spilt food should be collected forthwith and either returned to its container or eaten.

~ Appropriate toilets facilities may be found elsewhere ~ please do not despoil the new fence, the washing line nor mess over all the food. Other diners have complained that they find this sort of behaviour somewhat off - putting.

~ From time to time when it is warm enough, complimentary slugs, aphids, vine-weevil grubs etc. and other such delicacies will be provided. Please feel free to eat your fill of these. Indeed we insist !

~ Please feel free to elbow any squirrel who may pester you or use any other form of dissuasion whether it be fair or fowl.

Assuring you of our best service at all times (service charge at your discretion) 

G.Ullible (Head Gardener)"

Firstly I should explain that the above are not my own words. I came across the above letter on the internet in the middle of 1999. I printed it off and came across it recently in my ongoing de - cluttering. Unfortunately I am unable to credit it to its author, but I am sure that other folk will appreciate it, especially at this time of year when the bird station is a great source of amusement. I have amended it slightly in places. In particular the original letter was addressed to a starling - now for some reason we do not get any visiting our garden and the squirrel advice is my addition. Have fun watching your bird table on these oh so chilly winter days and please remember to vary the menu. Some excellent advice on what to feed the birds and on hygiene can be found here on the RSPB website.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Dishing The Dirt


VERMICULTURE which is rearing worms for the purpose of making compost.

The stars of the show saw me coming camera in hand and went into hiding. No wriggly mass of worms in sight but if you peek very carefully you might see the odd character squiggling by. They do not like light so disappear from sight rather quickly.

My wormery came as a ready to put together package from Wriggly Wrigglers but it is possible to make your own wormery, which does work out considerably cheaper. Chris Beardshaw gives a demonstration in this short video ~

The worms came to live with us in May 2009 - you can read about their first meal here. They live outside in the shed and when inclement weather is forecast I wrap their residence up with horticultural fleece or an old blanket - sometimes both. I must admit that they do not produce vast amounts of compost for me to use in the garden. This could be because there are only the two of us (humans) producing waste for them but we also have a compost bin in the garden. However they provide me with much entertainment and I usually visit them every day with food or without. Unlike us they do not eat as much in winter!

You can view more on the vital letter V over at ABC Wednesday!

Monday 13 December 2010

Embracing New Technology

I first discovered the magazine 'The English Garden' whilst waiting for a train connection at Nuneaton Railway Station of all places. This was back in the spring of 1997 and I can still remember my heart ~ skippy joy at discovering this brand new gardening magazine, which was very different to other contemporary publications. It made the hour or so I had to wait fly past, although keeping hold of the magazine was a major challenge, as the high speed trains shot past, leaving a hurricane like drag in their wake.

The magazine was published bi-monthly for the first year before becoming a monthly in May 1998. Since then I have purchased every copy which now fill a large wicker basket. Sooner or later I will be getting rid of this collection, preferably to a good home if I can find anybody who would like such an inheritance.  In the meantime as part of a major life de - cluttering effort, I have surprised myself by taking out a two year digital subscription to the magazine. I did this after much deliberation - the deciding factor was the financial incentive to do so. My subscription started instantly with the December edition. An email reminder arrived last week to advise that the January 2011 edition is now online. I realised that I already have a backlog to catch up on - so some things never change!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

A Guessing Game


The state of the contents of my greenhouse is giving me some utter nightmares and could result in a ultimate tragedy.  I did not take many cuttings this year but there are a few - mainly penstemons, erysium 'Bowles Mauve', lemon verbena and a parahebe which bears little white flowers. The November sown sweet peas are also in there along with a mature astelia and a phormium (both 2010 purchases) I was recently away for a week and unfortunately left home before the big freeze. I was foolishly very dismissive about the possibility of such a prolonged cold snap at this time of year Although the cuttings and the sweet peas were underneath some fleece just in case, I have serious doubts as to whether they will come through this weather undamaged. I have not dared to open the greenhouse doors to find, out so as soon as the mercury rises an urgent inspection awaits. I will be most sad if the parahebe suffers as my mother and I have both lost our original plants.  All will be revealed in due course but in the meantime I am keeping my fingers crossed.

You will find further coverage of the unique letter U over at ABC Wednesday.

Sunday 5 December 2010

'Plants For A Future'

Arriving in the post this week some allium ampeloprasum var babingtonii seeds or rather I should say little bulbils. I read about 'Babington's Leeks' earlier this year and have since been on a mission to get some to plant at the lottie. This is a perennial leek which not only produces bulbs but also produces leaves which can apparently be picked when young to eat as salad leaves, apparently as early as January.  The bulbils develop on the flower heads - it could take a couple of years for them to flower from sowing.

I must admit that after reading the instructions on the packet I was slightly bemused as to when to sow them so this led to some late night research. My books threw no light on the matter so I then had a play on the web. I was delighted to come across this most informative new to me site, where I am sure that I am going to spend much more time in the future :

'Plants For A Future' holds a database of some 7000 plants with edible, medicinal and other uses. Here I found all the information I was looking for - not only germination details but cultivation and use too. Ideally I should have sown the seed as soon as it ripe but there you go. I plan to sow some as soon as the compost in my greenhouse thaws out and my fingers too but will also hedge my bets by sowing some in spring. There is a lot of information on the site about lesser well known edible plants as well as the more familiar. I have only skimmed the surface but think that I will be using this resource regularly. Do have a peek.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Garden Bloggers Muse Day ~ December 2010.

" I heard a bird sing
  A magical thing
  And sweet to remember.

  We are nearer to spring
  Than we were in September,
  I heard a bird sing
  In the dark of December'

~ Oliver Herford, 1863 -1935 - ' I Heard A Bird Sing'

You can mull over more December muses over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago kindly hosted each month by Carolyn Choi.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

The Terrible Twos



Singing out be be snapped on a sunny Saturday afternoon a veritable field of sublime sunflowers. I thought that I would send out some virtual sunshine today to celebrate the second official anniversary of my blog. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by since I started this blog - your comments, advice, wisdom, humour and thoughtful words are oh so much appreciated.

So with a spring in your step why not saunter to ABC Wednesday for more on the sassy letter S !

Sunday 21 November 2010

'Pictures Of Lily'

I was delighted to find a little package lurking in the porch, when I reluctantly set off to do some food shopping on Friday. I placed it gently in the confines of the greenhouse and opened it up as soon as I returned. You know how it is when you are beguiled by one of those mouthwatering descriptions that you come across of plants. After reading nurseryman's Bob Brown's description of the Oriental Trumpet Lilium 'Robina' in a recent edition, of 'Gardens Illustrated' it was a severe case of 'Iwantitness'. Although my nose is sensitive and lilies can trigger severe sneezing bouts, I am partial to them as long as they are out of the confines of the house. 'Robina' is described as having deep pink watermelon flowers ~ Bob Brown scores the plant as a 10/10, calling her 'stonking'. What more could you want?

'Iwantitness' is usually followed by despondency, when I find that I can't locate aforesaid plant for love or money. However not in this case - I found a supplier (a most well known seed merchant) and my bulbs promptly arrived in November, as advised on their website at the time of ordering. Inside the box was an information leaflet. How useful I thought but to quote points 2 and 3 from the leaflet entitled 'Ten Steps To Success' :

"If you have received your bulbs from September to October ...... " and
"If you have received your bulbs from February to April .... '

No mention of what to do with bulbs that are delivered from November - January. Tut - tut, this is rather naughty and puzzling especially for any novice bulb buyers. Just after I had sent my order of course I came across a specialist lily nursery, stocking the same bulb. I noticed at the time that this company
was not sending out any bulb orders out until February, so I am going to wait until then to plant the new arrivals. I have also observed today on their website that my supplier is now not dispatching 'Robina' until February. So now the challenge of finding somewhere cool and dry to keep them over the winter saving the seller from doing that task.

Whilst browsing their website I spied with glee that the specialist nursery stocks a lily that was proving most elusive to find. This is the Longiflorum Asiatic 'Eyeliner', which I first came across earlier this year on 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' and which I just had to have too. Hopefully next summer between the sneezes I will be able to report back on the progress of both lilies.

The lily in the above photo was this year's 'Muscadet' - an already planted and almost in flower Oriental lily bargain purchase.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

"The Circles That You Find"


"Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel,
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel,
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find,
In the windmills of your mind!"

I thought that there was something rather reassuring about the repetitiveness of these box balls in the gardens of the Chateau d'Amboise in Amboise, France. Sadly some of the foliage had been ravaged, maybe by the rays of the sun but perhaps replacements will be ready soon.

Run over to ABC Wednesday for rare ramblings on the letter R. 

Sunday 14 November 2010

A Final Fling

A winter celebration took place at the allotment today ~ our last get together of the year. A few of us foolhardy perennials braved the elements for a couple of hours to share lunch and natter. We sat outside well wrapped up against the November chill. There was homemade vegetable soup, barbecued lavender infused burgers and of course cake. Discussion was very much on the subject of plans for a new season ~ some of my more efficient fellow plot holders have already completed their seed orders and have their crop rotation details sorted to the last minute detail.

Before taking my leave I nipped to my own plot to pick some autumn raspberries, which I had noticed somewhat gleefully shouting ' Look ~ we're red Mrs!' at me yesterday. I did not have a suitable container with me to convey them home so had to leave them behind but came prepared today. I had been wondering when they would ripen  ~ whether they all will or not is still subject for speculation. Today though there were enough pickings for a little but oh most delicious feast.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

The Hanging Gardens


Now why does the letter Q always have me in a quandry quivering over what to post? We came across the garden in question earlier this year whilst on holiday in France.

Quick get yourself over to ABC Wednesday now for some quality quotes and quips on the letter Q! 

Monday 8 November 2010

End Of Month View ~ October 2010.

My good intentions to join in with Patient Gardener's 'End of Month View' seem to have gone off the rails. I have not posted since August. I was away from home at the end of September and then again in October so this post is late. I holding head down in shame also have to report that that the border has been in suspended animation since August. At the moment it is limping along, as I have been doing this last couple of months. In the middle of September my left knee suddenly gave way, made a dreadful crunching noise and has subsequently been the cause of some considerable pain. After hopping along with a walking stick for a week when we were away at the end of September, I made a doctor's appointment as soon as we got home. The outcome of this was a prescription for some 112 paracetemol (cheaper to buy over the counter) and a referral to a physiotherapist. I swallowed the odd paracetemol but did my best to manage without them. As the weeks have gone the pain has slowly but surely lessened, so much so that by the time I saw the physiotherapist earlier this week I felt a bit of a fraud. After various manipulations involving much undignified waving of the legs, the verdict was that there is nothing seriously wrong with the said joint.  However the ligament in the left knee is apparently not as taut as in the right. I now have exercises to do regularly to strengthen it and perhaps hopefully avoid future problems.

Whilst this has been going on not only have I been most grumpy and miserable but I have been approaching physical tasks with caution and rather gingerly, not wanting to aggravate the knee further. So I have neglected both the garden and the lottie which is most annoying. The autumn clean up is going to be one frantic rush. I still have to clean out the greenhouse, lift up the dahlias, plant bulbs, sweep up never the seemingly never ending leaf fall, mulch and generally tidy up. I am quite breathless just thinking about it and as for what needs doing at the lottie ...............

So I am putting the end of month border to bed for this year - you would not really want to see it just now - like my knee it's not a pretty sight. Instead a view of what I was glimpsing at with some degree of iwantitiness at the end of October. The garden is my parent's garden and the plant is a clematis that I bought for them some time ago - label long gone but I think it is clematis cirrhosa - which one though I don't know for sure but possibly 'Wisley Cream'. Whichever it is it is flourishing and the fence behind provides shelter from the bitter winds that blow in from Russia to East Anglia. My mother observed that it's in flower earlier than usual this year - apparently it usually it comes into flower in December with them when I imagine it would be even more welcome. Many thanks to Patient Gardener for hosting the end of month view and hopefully my postings will resume in the new year.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

"Give Peace A Chance"


Promenading through one of Liverpool's pleasant parks on a perfect autumn afternoon, we were pleased to come across a new sculpture which is to have permanent pride of place. It is a tribute to the late John Lennon, who if still alive would have celebrated his 70th birthday last month. It was created by a 19 year old artist Lauren Voiers who is from the United States. Taking photos was rather problematic because of the sun. I pondered over popping back later but it was already late pm so maybe I will persist and press the click button another day.

Perambulate over to ABC Wednesday now for more pithy pointers on the letter P.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Reach For The Stars



Isn't it amazing how plants grow in all sorts of weird and wonderful places? On a recent outing to Liverpool we observed these specimens on a city centre roof top. Do click on the photo to see how much is growing up there.

Why not go over to ABC Wednesday now for more opportune observations on the letter O.

Thursday 21 October 2010

A Hilltop Garden In North Wales

Himself and I spent the last week in September on holiday ~ we were victims of a cancellation so made some last minute plans which worked out well. We headed off for not so far away North Wales where we stayed in a most comfortable log cabin just outside Bala. Of course we just had to fit in some garden visiting and our first trip was to Caerau Uchaf Gardens in Sarnau, which is four miles east of Bala. This is the highest private garden open to the public in North Wales at over 1000 feet. The gardens are owned by Toby and Stephanie Hickish, who have built award winning show gardens at Royal Horticultural Society Shows at Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park.

In our camper van we gingerly made our way up a rather narrow ascending track before tackling a cattle grid which had seen better days. A most friendly welcome from the owners ensued. They had seen and heard us coming and thought that that we might need a drink to calm our nerves. We decided though that we would see the garden first before seeking refreshments. From wherever you were in the garden, there were glimpses of breathtaking scenery ~

I think that I was so distracted by the scenery that I paid less attention that normal to the garden and the planting. However although it was late in the season there was still colour ~

Places for contemplation ~

A greenhouse that made me positively tingle with envy ~

As well as fine accomodation for visitors both insects  ~

and human ~

including the delightful Pig - Sty Cottage, which you can see above with its most attractive windows . I think I could quite happily stay there for a week but himself thought that it might be too far off the beaten track, to stride out to a local hostelry come the evenings! Caerau Ichaf opens regularly throughout the season including under the National Garden Scheme. We had an enjoyable lunch and a mooch round the plant sales area before taking our leave. A garden now discovered that I hope to return to soon. More on the other Welsh gardens we visited before long.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Not A Pretty Sight


'NEW DAWN' ~ a most nifty climbing rose which was introduced in 1930. Here she is in flower in the garden at the end of June, whilst her foliage still looked rather natty. Sadly as the year progressed her leaves began to look rather nasty and they reached a nadir as the nuisance of blackspot took its nefarious hold. Nip over to ABC Wednesday for more news on the letter N.

Sunday 17 October 2010

'On Tip -Toe For A Flight'

"Here are sweet peas, on tip- toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white
And taper fingers catching at all things
To bind them all about with tiny rings"
~ John Keats,1795-1821 

Earlier this week I sowed some sweet peas in the greenhouse. I have once again decided to grow the highly scented 'Matucana' which I have grown ever since I got my allotment plot. They give me as much pleasure as any edible crop and their arrival always signifies the sure arrival of summer. A wigwam of seven plants is more than enough to keep me supplied with bunches to pick for vases from early June to mid September. This year I decided on another introduction ~ 'Albutt Blue' which you can pick out in the photos below ~ 

In the sniff stakes these were not a patch on 'Matucana' and although attractive I do not think I will grow them again. I would still like to try another variety preferably a pastel mix. I have been stopped in my tracks a couple of times at the allotment this year by shows of sweet peas, including a display of mixed pastel shades interwoven with scarlet runner beans. Any suggestions of good and preferably highly scented mixes would be most welcome from any other sweet pea fans out there. Earlier today there were some comprehensive instructions for sowing sweet peas in the autumn as well as advice on their aftercare on BBC's 'Gardener's Question Time', which is now available on BBC IPlayer.

Friday 15 October 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ October 2010

The latest arrival to the party is this quiet but graceful character above ~  a scutelleria or skullcap, although exactly which one I don't know. The first frost has still to arrive so there are still a number of hardy perennials in flower, although some of them are past their best. The hardy geraniums are still holding forth including 'Buxton's Blue','Salome',' Pink Penny' and 'Dilys' as well as ones whose names have long gone out with the bathwater.  Aconitums are flowering, a couple of astrantias are having a second flush, heucheras still froth and erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' continues to send out sporadic purple spikes. I am glad to say that erigeron mucronatus defies himself's spiteful attempts to erradicate it but dismayed to report that the dreaded 'Yellow Peril' defies my deliberate attempts to polish it off.

I have recently been making a deliberate attempt to introduce plants specifically for late colour so tempted last year by An Artist's Garden,  I have been delighted with rudbeckia fulgida var. dreamii. I have also been pleased with the similar but subtly different rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii "Goldsturm". Although I am not a big fan of orange or yellow flowers I think that I am slowly being converted.

Flowering for a long spell right up to the first frosts is fuchsia magellenica 'Alba' which despite the name has a delicately pale pink flush to its flowers. Sadly its much smaller hardy fuchsia companion 'Genii' has not shown any sign of flowering this year. I thought that the plant had been decimated by the harsh winter but slowly and surely it came back to life but it is foliage only. Oh well that must mean a bigger and better show next year! 

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is kindly hosted each month by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens. Paper and a pen are compulsory when you visit as your wish list will grow and grow and grow .............. !

Monday 11 October 2010

''Something Old, Something New''

No there are no peals of wedding bells ringing out in the vicinity but this post is a glimpse at a couple of asters. Firstly the old acquaintance ~ aster cordifolius 'Little Carlow', which resides at the allotment where it was positively singing in this weekend's warm sunshine. I divided my original plant a couple of years ago into three portions and this year they have really taken off. Time for some more division and thinning out though come spring I think. This aster has a myriad of little flowers which bees and butterflies are partial to and another bonus ~ no need for staking! ~

The new is aster diveraticus, which was one of two plants that I bought on a recent trip to North Wales. Strictly speaking it is not new as I have grown it before but somehow or the other I managed to polish it off. This is a woodland plant with attractive wiry ebony stems topped by panicles of small white daisies. As the flowers age the tips of the petals take on a lilac/mauve tinge. I believe that it will tolerate dry shade as well as moist but I have not tested the former conditions out ~ 

My other holiday purchase was actaea simplex 'Black Negligee' - the name makes me cringe but I do like the deliciously dark leaves which you can see in the bottom photo.  I  must wither and get these planted today whilst the ground is still warm ~ now where did I leave my trowel? 

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Full Steam Ahead


I am not sure whether I appreciated the sheer magic of steam train journeys as a child as then they were quite the norm. However a trip last week on the Rheilffordd Lyn Tegid (Bala Lake Railway) in North Wales, was a chance to rediscover the excitement that comes with this mode of transport. The railway occupies the trackbed of the former standard - gauge Ruabon to Barmouth line of the Great Western Railway. The line as it now was opened in 1972 but most of the steam locomotives in use are over a hundred years old.  The journey takes you along the shoreline of Bala Lake which is the largest natural lake in Wales.

Himself and I travelled in an open carriage delighting in making chuggetty - chug noises as we slowly made our way through the beautiful countryside ~ 

It was a twenty five minute journey from Lyn Tegid (Bala Lake) to our destination of Llanuwchllyn where we had just over half an hour to wait before getting back on board for the return journey. There was no difficulty in filling in the time as there so many fascinating bits of machinery, notices, paraphernaila and artefacts to linger over at the station ~

There was also a fine station buffet building serving the most delicious carrot cake. The station dog with the most soulful eyes imaginable watched us munch our way through this.

Now as far as the inticacies of the Welsh language go I am afraid that I can't get my head round the prounciation ~ maybe my friends at An Artists Garden and Welsh Hills Again could come to my rescue.

We hope to venture back to Wales before long where there are other steam train journeys that appeal to us. You can find out more about them over at The Great Little Trains of Wales.

Now why not leave here and loiter over at ABC Wednesday where you will be able to locate lots more posts on the letter L.