Thursday, 25 February 2010

When Sir Cedric and Lady B Came Calling




I have not had the bone china tea service out for them or fed them wafer thin cucumber, crusts cut off sandwiches. No there's no standing on ceremony here as Cedric and Lady B are both standing out in the garden tonight. During the last few days the postie has delivered two more named snowdrops to add to my small but growing collection. Both these 'drops are relatively easy to grow. I already have 'Lady B' but a few snowdrops in my collection are suffering from that dreadful disease of lost labellus. I am trying to get some order in the chaos and this time I will be more organised with my labelling, so I can be sure that it's definitely her rather than probably her.

Galanthus 'Cedric's Prolific' was given to Beth Chatto by her great friend and mentor Sir Cedric Morris. He was a Welsh artist and eminent plantsman, who from 1940 until his death in 1982, ran the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing from his house Benton End in Suffolk. His work as a horticulturalist resulted in a number of plants being names after him including dianthus 'Cedric's Oldest', the Benton series of irises, narcissus minor 'Cedric Morris', papaver orientale 'Cedric Morris' and rosa 'Sir Cedric Morris'. He gave Beth Chatto many plants. One form of galanthus elwesii in particular was distinct and vigorous enough to warrant her naming it as galanthus elwesii 'Cedric's Prolific'. It lives up to its name by increasing rapidly. My Cedrics have come directly from Beth Chatto's nursery.

'Lady Beatrix Stanley' is an early flowering double snowdrop from the garden of Lady Beatrix Stanley at Sibbertoft Manor near Market Harborough. As well as growing snowdrops she grew other bulbous plants. She is also remembered by iris histrioides 'Lady Beatrix Stanley' ~



Any tips on photographing snowdrops would be most welcome as most of my efforts result either in blurry blobs or the whiteness looks much too harsh.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

'Big Wheel Keep On Turning'

F IS FOR?





FERRIS WHEEL!

This is the Ferris wheel which graced Liverpool's Chavasse Park in December last year, providing much fun for families and friends alike. A more permanent structure is to be erected on Liverpool's fabulous water front later this year.

For more on the letter F fly over to ABC Wednesday.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

"When Skies Are Low And Days Are Dark"



When skies are low
and days are dark,
and frost bites
like a hungry shark,
when mufflers muffle
ears and nose,
and puffy sparrows
huddle close -
how nice to know
that February
is something purely
temporary.


~ Niels Mogen Bodecker, 1922- 1988.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Ear,Ear



Give me an hour or so pottering in the garden at this time of the year any day. It beats mid summer gardening hands down. Fingers might be dropping off, nose might be running etc., etc but oh it does such wonders for the spirit. This morning's snow showers gave rise to a decent enough day so I have spent some time outside. Hampered by coat, scarf and gloves I have not actually achieved much. I did briefly take the gloves off and sowed my first seeds of the year (onions Rijnsburger and Red Baron) but mainly I just mooched, looked and made plans. Whilst looking I came across this fungi growing on the bark of a rather dilapidated buddleia. I have come across this before but never in the garden. It looks quite disgusting but fascinating at the same time.



I think that it's time to remove the shrub as despite bearing a few leaves it does not look like it will flourish again. Wonder if I can persuade himself to do aforesaid deed. It does not require his strength but I am worried that I might topple over. Would that I were twenty years again and more athletic. Then who am I kidding - have never been athletic. Our garden has a small stream on one boundary - aforesaid fungied shrub is just on the edge of a rather disconcerting drop down to the stream. I have visions of falling in and floating off, as in the above painting of 'The Lady of Shalott' by Millais. I would certainly not look as romantic as I wended my way downstream to the nearest culvert.



Back in the warmth now feeling reinvigorated. Hopefully there will be more opportunity to get out over the weekend. If not with the arrival of the March editions of 'The Gardener' and ' Gardens Illustrated' and a book to read before Tuesday's reading group meeting, I am certainly not short of reading matter.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Harvest Home

E IS FOR?



ENGINES!

We were enchanted by a display of agricultural engines and equipment at the Malvern Autumn Show last September. Eager to find more about the letter E then why not escape to ABC Wednesday, kindly hosted by Denise Nesbitt.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - February 2010



I have just been peeking at my first my very first Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post which was a year ago. There is less colour in the garden today which is not surprising after such a cold winter. The stars of the show at the moment are definitely the snowdrops. It was a cool and damp morning and the single flowered snowdrops had decided not to cooperate, with flowers remaining closed. The doubles were making more of an effort ~



My named snowdrops are again later in coming to bloom but there should be plenty on a variation of theme of whiteness soon. The pot below is of galanthus ‘Ginns Imperati’ which is a particularly strongly scented variety ~



I have still to plant my recently purchased hellebore 'Walberton's Rosemary' (below) whilst the older residents have started to plump up nicely and show colour ~



Before more rain stopped play a welcome warming influence from hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' ~



I felt guilty as I forgot all about her when I took part in Rebecca's recent 'A Rainbow Invitation' meme - how could I?

and finally especially for Frances over at Fairegarden I have lots of this ~



Looking forward to seeing what's blooming in other parts of the planet over at May Dreams Gardens, kindly hosted by Carol on the fifteenth of each month.

Friday, 12 February 2010

'Holding Back The Years'




No alas I have not discovered some magic serum to stave off wrinkles but serendipity has pointed me in the direction of a photo of what our immediate neighbourhood looked like in 1913. The old cottages have now been replaced by two bungalows (one of which we live in) and the pond has gone. I wonder what became of the little girl standing at its edge. A small stream now meanders across the area, bordering our garden on one side. There are still some trees on the skyline but not as many. The greenhouses in the background have long gone too but were apparently part of a small nursery. A dear friend who died in her eighties a few years ago used to visit the nursery as a girl to buy tomatoes. So it's reassuring to know that somebody with a love of gardening and plants used to live here almost a century ago.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A Little Bit of Local History

D IS FOR :



DOWNTOWN!

Himself hails from the city of Liverpool and towards the end of last year took a guided tour of the city which he greatly enjoyed. He got to see some buildings to which the public are not often admitted and found out some fascinating facts about his birthplace. This is the view from the former Martins Bank Building, which looks out directly onto Liverpool Town Hall. The statue on the dome of the roof is a ten feet high statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. The statue was designed by Felix Rossi, who was sculptor to King George IV. In the same street; Dale Street there are other fine old buildings as well as examples of modern architecture. Do click on the photo for a better view. These weekly tours are led by local historian Frank Carlyle and if you ever find yourself in Liverpool on a Tuesday, it is an experience not to be missed. Must do it myself one of these days. Thanks to himself for the photo that illustrates this post.

Do not dally but get yourself down to ABC Wednesday, kindly hosted by Denise Nesbitt, for some delightful posts on the letter D.

Monday, 8 February 2010

'The Thing'



Recently Mr.McGregor's Daughter invited us to participate in the 2010 Houseplant Census. Now that was all done and dusted in the squeeze of a lemon for me. I have never had much joy with houseplants so I quickly tallied my count as five i.e. two orchids, one African violet and two amaryllises. I am getting quite excited about the latter as they are cybister hybrid. I have never grown these before so I can't wait for the for flowers to show but that is another story. What I forgot to do was to include 'The Thing' in my count. Shame on me for this is the most obliging houseplant that I have ever grown. In a nutshell it spends the summer months outside and comes indoors for the winter. A bit like me. During the summer it seems to be quite happy doing its own thing although it does need some shade. In the winter it survives on the south facing kitchen windowsill. Occasionally it is treated to a short spray of tepid water. It is a bit of a thrill seeker at times, getting caught up in the blinds when I open them and taking a fairground ride to the very top. It has survived these journeys unmangled so far I am pleased to report.

'The Thing' came to me via my Mum - she got her piece from a friend in Italy who holidays in Argentina and who bought a plant home with her. If anybody can put a name to it I would be delighted to be able to refer to this perfect houseplant with due respect. On the subject of naming plants if you have not had a peek at Teza's and Friends Garden Forum do pop in. February's debate is all about what lingo to use when describing plants. I don't think that 'The Thing' would object whether I addressed it either in botanical Latin or by it's common name. Anything has to be preferable to the 'The Thing'!

Friday, 5 February 2010

'The Holy Grail Of Hellebores'



Temptation stared me in the face today when we made our first visit of the year to the garden centre and I could not resist. She just had to fall into my basket - she being hellebore 'Walberton's Rosemary'. She is a new introduction and is described here and here by Graham Rice as the 'Holy Grail Of Hellebores'. She is a cross between hellebore niger and hellebore orientalis and was raised by plant breeder David Tristram, whose father played a large part in the development of the ‘Potter's Wheel' Christmas rose in the 1960s. I did not know all this when I decided that she must come home with us but was drawn to the plant by its large flowers, vibrant colour and the fact that there are many more buds waiting to open.

I came away with a few other purchases too. The purpose of the trip had been to buy some seed potatoes and I came away with two of the varieties on my list - 'Lady Christl' and 'Pink Fir Apple'. I excitedly spotted another variety on the list but they were already well sprouted, the result of being kept in too warm conditions so I left them on the shelf. I made a beeline for some of the highly scented white 'Casa Blanca' lilies which I am sure can go in a pot somewhere My last purchase was a couple of dahlias -'Black Wizard' and 'David Howard' which are destined for the allotment.

Back home it was warm enough for the first time this year to work outside without feeling that fingers were about to drop off. A special bonus - the sun came out and spring does not seem so much in doubt.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

'Let Them Eat Cake'

C IS FOR?

 
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CAKES!

It's been a cool and wet February day so comfort food is the order of the day. What fits the bill better than cakes and who can can craft them better than our continental cousins?

For your delectation here is a concoction of cakes - containing chocolate, coffee, caramel, custard, cream, chestnuts and coconut - oh such creative confectionery. All cakes were photographed in Colmar and Strasbourg in December last year and yes I must confess to consuming one or two along the way!

If you click on the collage for the bigger picture you will be able to see more clearly, in the bottom left hand corner, the regional speciality of Alsace which is kugelhopf. Should you fancy cooking it yourself here is a recipe.

Why don't you call round to ABC Wednesday for more on the letter C.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Garden Bloggers Muse Day - February 2010



'February'

'Splish splosh, February-fill-the-dike,
Sleet in the wind, mud underfoot.
What hint, you ask, of spring? But trust
The honest mistle-thrush, who shouts his song
And builds his nest - a less accomplished singer
Than is the clear-voiced mavis, but he is brave and true.

And trust the aconite and crocus, bright
As wicks of thread which are now lighted up
For ceremonials of Candlemas.'

~ John Heath-Stubbs 1918-2006

You can linger over other February muses over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.