Wednesday, 31 March 2010

End Of Month View - March 2010



March has got itself into a right old muddle here coming in like a lamb and exiting roaring like a lion. In between the wind and rain that came down for most of the day, I managed to take a few photos for Patient Gardener's End Of Month View. I am not sure whether I was standing in exactly the same spot as I did last time but it was too cold to linger. The border is beginning to green up and there's definitely more colour than last month. There are also some little weed seedlings already in evidence and that lamium has started to walk already! I have planted a couple of small hellebores to add to the three that are already in there and am debating whether to slip in a couple more. I was hoping to tidy away all the debris from last year, remove a rather large stray rose seedling and to divide a couple of plants this week but the weather is conspiring against me. In the meantime a clearer idea about replanting and rejeuvenating this border is slowly emerging in my head. In the meantime some close ups of some of its occupants ~





Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Penciling It In

K IS FOR?



KESWICK! ~ If there is anybody in your house who draws or sketches, chances are that they may have a pencil or crayon that has been manufactured in this little Cumbrian town, home to the Cumberland Pencil Factory, founded in 1832. In the grounds of the factory is a little museum where you can find out more about this history of the firm, the manufacturing processes and the range of products. This little van is on display outside the museum - it was used as delivery van and is a 1950s Morris. Himself and I spent some time there recently and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. We can also recommend Brysons of Keswick, one of those old fashioned tearooms which does a most delicious carrot cake.

More on the most challenging letter K can be found over at ABC Wednesday.

Monday, 29 March 2010

The eBay Hellebores

This last week or so has been the week that everything seems to have gone wooooooooosh - in 2009 it happened in February! We came back from our weekend in the Lake District to find greening and leafing abound. Moreover the eBay hellebores had come into their own. Last year my friend D. who is a hellebore fanatic, mentioned that she had had ordered some hellebores via eBay and was pleased with the quality of the plants she received. Knowing how discerning she is, I was tempted and put in an order myself with the same seller initially for five anemone centred and five picotee hellebores. The plants were two year old seedlings and arrived quickly, looking healthy, happy and with good rootballs. The seller was generous and threw in extra plants. I was so impressed with their quality that I ordered another five plants - doubles this time. I must admit that I felt I was taking a bit of a risk as I would have to wait at least another year or possibly longer for the plants to flower. However price wise they were very reasonable (under £3.00 per plant) and I thought that they would be worth taking a gamble on. Well now the majority of the plants have flowered this year and I am delighted with my purchases. There are the spotty and dotty doubles ~





anemone centred ~



the picotees ~


and possibly my favourite this plain ivory double flower ~



Now to decide where to plant them. Most of them will be heading for the side of the sloping lane leading down from the main road to our garden. I have a vision of a bank of hellebores in the spring sunshine but it has some way to go. I must confess to ordering more doubles last month from the same seller ~ pink and burgundy this time so hopefully I will report back on them this time next year.

Friday, 26 March 2010

'Fatal Attraction'



What else could prise me away from my greenhouse in the first few days of May but a flower show and to be more precise the Malvern Spring Gardening Show. I have been fortunate enough to visit all the major flower shows over the years. There was the excitement of Chelsea, where our garden club entered the amateur hanging basket and window box competition for gardening clubs and came away with a silver gilt medal. Then Hampton Court on a most sultry summer's day, when we must have beaten the world record for eating ice cream and my friend's clematis seemed to grow about a foot, between her buying it in the morning and us getting home very late at night. Then there's the local show at Tatton Park, where my most vivid memory of the very first show was the uncomfortable journey there with my legs crossed, when a normal half an hour or so journey developed into a three hour endurance test.

Out of all the shows Malvern remains my favourite and the one that we have returned to several times over what must be the last fifteen years or so. Why is my favourite? There are several reasons for this including its glorious setting, excellent car parking facilities, the fact that although it is busy the crowds never seem overwhelming and its most friendly welcoming atmosphere. It has none of the pretentiousness of some of its other counterparts. You can see a glimpse of the showground from above in the photo below. We went for a walk in the Malvern hills last September and were able to peer down at the site from our lofty perch ~



Remember that if you can't make the show in May there is another equally enjoyable show in September, celebrating autumn which this year will be held from 25th -26th September. Further information can be found here.

The most heart skippy time of the day for me is the visit to the plant marquee which I usually make a beeline for as soon as I get to the showground. Here is spring captured in a gigantic tent with all its magic, colour and scent. There is also the opportunity to buy new plants grown by real plant lovers ~ impossible to resist. Then there is the expertise of the specialist societies, impressive show gardens, the open gardening section where amateurs compete against each other as well talks and demonstrations to fit in into one whirl of a day.



I have already had a peek at some of the nurseries who will be attending here over at the Three Counties website. The website also gives information about some of the other events and attractions which will be taking place during the show. There is plenty to keep non gardeners occupied too - himself is quite happy to while away some time doing his own thing. As well as the show itself we enjoy staying in the area and exploring local attractions. We usually round up proceedings by treating ourselves to a most delicious Chinese takeaway from nearby Upton on Severn.

This year though the icing on the cake is going to be the opportunity to meet more of my fellow bloggers and put faces to names - actually in some cases I don't know people's real names :) If you are reading this and have not yet decided about Malvern it is not too late to join in the fun. The enthusiastic and industrious Patient Gardener and VP have so kindly put a great programme together which you can see over at Meet@Malvern. Looking forward to meeting you all in May and for those who are too far away to make the trip, I am sure that there will be lots of blog posts on all the gossip and goings on at Malvern.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Just A Sunday Stroll

J IS FOR?



JETTY!

On Sunday himself and I walked round Lake Derwentwater in Cumbria - it took us a lot longer than the little launch that tours the lake in fifty minutes, stopping to put down and pick up at seven little jetties along the lakeshore. It was a tad choppy out there though so I was glad to be on terra firma, even though my feet were rather tired at the end of our little jaunt.

Just jump over to ABC Wednesday now for more on the most jolly letter J.

Monday, 22 March 2010

In Search Of An Elusive Host

We are back home after a weekend in the beautiful Lake District, where there were plenty of these ~



and these ~



and even these ~



but where oh where was ? ~

"A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance."

~ William Wordsworth, 1770 -1850

Well I have to report that sadly we searched for them in vain. Yesterday we walked round Lake Derwentwater, where we came across this patch, which has started to show colour and will no doubt soon be a mass of glorious yellowness ~



but in the meantime I had to content myself with a few glimpses of daffodils, mainly dainty little 'Tête-à-Têtes' snuggled up in the shelter of cottage walls ~



and with the thought that the entry in Dorothy Wordsworth's journal, which apparently inspired her brother's poem was written on the 15th April 1802,when spring arrived later than it usually does now.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

All Down To The Very Last 'Drop



First and foremost a bit thanks to all you lovely folk who recently wished me a happy birthday. I felt a bit of a fraud as my birthday was back in January but that it was much too early in the year for my birthday present to be delivered. The new arrivals are all potted up now and recovering from their journey all the way from Devon, home of Avon Bulbs. Thanks also those of you who answered my pleas for hints and tips on taking photos of snowdrops. Your advice was much appreciated. I also came across a most useful post on the very same subject here.

This month I been making an effort to grow my clumps of galanthus nivalis which are mainly around one edge of the garden, as well as under the trees on the path leading down to the house from the main road. I would like to achieve a continous ribbon at the garden's edge,rather than the intermittant clumps that are presently dotted about. I will be dividing some of the exisiting clumps later this month or early April to plug the spaces. Some of them are now quite substantial ~



I have tried again to do a snowdrop count in the style of VP but gave up as it sent me quite cross eyed. I know from previous photos though that the clumps are expanding and have also been delighted to see that they are self seeding too.

However I was impatient when I saw some little bundles of 'drops on sale at the Country Market and most reasonably priced. I could not resist. I took some home with me recently as an early Mother's Day present but also treated myself to a few and have already planted up some of the gaps. Slowly but surely the ribbon is taking shape.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

St Patrick's Day Plans

I IS FOR?



IMAGINE!

I always find it hard to imagine that these rather innocuous shriveled seeds will turn into lush and green plants, hopefully producing oh most tender and sweet peas this summer ~



Tomorrow is St.Patrick's Day which is the traditional day for sowing peas and I will be making a start in the greenhouse with 'Kelvedon Wonder'. I will sow them in cells and will take them down to the allotment to plant when it is a bit warmer.



Other varieties I plan to sow this year include 'Carouby de Maussane' (mange tout) and 'Hurst Green Shaft'. Meanwhile an autumn sowing of 'Douce Provenance' has overwintered in the greenhouse. Some have perished during this cold winter but there are enough survivors for a small and an early crop, which will be most appreciated ~



As well as pea sowing St.Patrick's Day always sticks in my mind as it is also the anniversary of my first 'date' with himself :) You can find lots more posts on the letter I to inspire you over at ABC Wednesday.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - March 2010



Here I have whizzed round the garden on a sunny but breezy morning and have to report a distinct lack of activity in the blooming department. I still have plenty of snowdrops though unlike like last year when they lived up to their name of 'Fair Maids of February' ~



Here one of the most distinct of my specials - the rather wacky galanthus nivalis 'Walrus'~



The hellebores which were well open this time last March are making slow progress ~



with the odd exception of my recent purchase 'Walburtons Rosemary', which you can see at the top of this post, 'Mrs Betty Ranicar' who I wrote about here and this clump which was planted many moons ago ~



Crocuses are open - here is 'Cream Beauty' ~



and a waif and stray which I found growing on the edge of the garden - I suspect that a squirrrel has bought it in from one of the neighbour's gardens and stashed it there ~



A few little daffs in a pot are just breaking through ~

\

but making my morning was this little chap who so obligingly posed for me ~



Why not enjoy more March blooms over at Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day kindly hosted by Carol from May Dreams Gardens each month.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Feeling "Greenish"

Not feeling seasick despite the title of this post. In between sowing veggie seeds in the greenhouse I took one or two photos of some of my special snowdrops this afternoon. Although in theory the temperature nudged double figures today, in practise it felt cooler with a wind and clouds taking the edge off those extra degrees. So I took my pots of snowdrops inside the greenhouse. Still trying to get the hang of photographing these white blobs but here's a couple of them, firstly galanthus nivalis "Greenish" ~



and then a touch of gold with galanthus plicatus "Wendys Gold" ~



I was feeling particularly snowdroppy happy today as the post bought my birthday present from himself - some more of these enchanting little flowers. More on this another day.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

'What A Lady'

H IS FOR?



HELLEBORES!

Hail to these heavenly harbingers of spring! Late in opening this year because of the cold weather their arrival is even more welcome. 'Mrs Betty Ranicar' photographed above started to show her colours at the weekend. She is supposed to come almost true from seed but sadly although she is has now had her fifth birthday, she has never set seed for me. Maybe this year!

Hop over now to ABC Wednesday for more on the letter H.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Fringe Benefits



I was so looking forward to being reacquainted with my fringe one Friday in February but fate dictated otherwise and instead took me to the new winter garden at Dunham Massey. I had made the journey to the hairdressers to be greeted with the information that R. was off work poorly so that was that. I declined the offer of an appointment with somebody else and wended my way home for a late lunch. The best of a sparkling winters afternoon stretched ahead, so himself and I decided to make the trip to see the new garden which was formally open last November.

The seven acre winter garden in Cheshire is the largest of its kind in the country. It is open throughout the year except for Christmas Day. The area covered by the new Winter Garden was originally part of Dunham's deer park before being converted into a paddock for the resident family's horses. When the National Trust acquired Dunham Massey in 1976, the old pony paddock had become overgrown.The area was tidied and replanted but only to become overgrown again some thirty years later. Visitors had requested that the gardens were open in winter. This area seemed to offer the perfect opportunity to develop a winter garden so clearing work began in 2007. The original woodland nature of the area was maintained by keeping some of the large oak and beech trees, species of rhododendrons, pieris, bluebells, azaleas and hollies.

The garden will eventually contain 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs chosen specifically for winter interest. There is still some planting to be completed. The detailed plant list that himself treated me to explained that "The plants have at least two of the following characteristics of interest; form, colour, texture, scent, berry, bark and sound". The garden's design and its planting schemes were planned with guidance from eminent plantsman Roy Lancaster working together with Dunham's own staff. Some 200,000 bulbs alone were planted - a task made possible with the involvement of local school children as well as National Trust volunteers, members and visitors.

On arrival we were amazed by the sheer number of visitors - the sunshine must have coaxed everybody out. Walking in the direction of the house and garden we were treated to a special edition of 'Dancing On Ice' with birds as the stars instead of so called celebrities ~



Then on to the garden for a wander round (please click on the collages for the bigger picture) ~







The garden is described excellently here by VP who visited in November. I wish that I had reread her post before visiting as I would have stood further back to photograph the ethereal silver birch grove, that you can see at the top of the this post. This is a garden very much in its infancy but my first impression is that it will become a special place to visit and enjoy not just in winter but well into spring. Sadly some of the newly planted shrubs were looking rather sad after such a cold winter and sadly there may well be some losses. I understand that planting is still ongoing so more digging, planting and labeling to be done.



I have mixed feelings about labels in gardens - I am pleased to know what it is that I am looking at but sometimes the labels can be rather in your face as they were at Dunham. I appreciate that it is difficult to manage labelling in a manner so that it gives information without offending the eye but there must be less obtrusive alternatives. There was a a small plant sales area at the exit to the garden. I was disappointed though as once again like many National Trust plants sales areas, this seemed rather pricey and not that inspiring so I did not make any purchases. All too soon but not soon enough for my frozen fingers, it was time to be thinking of wending our way home ~




but not before we enjoyed a cup of coffee and a most magnificent slice of cake in the tearoom. I can certainly recommend the carrot cake. We took our leave via this tree which was but a sapling in the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. Oh what stories it could tell! ~



We plan to return to the garden when spring finally arrives and will report back on what treats lie in store for us then.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

End Of Month View - February 2010




Here slightly late in the day is my end of month view inspired by Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog'. I was away from home at the end of the month, so did not get out to take my photos until now. Initially I thought that it did not look much different to the end of January view except the snow had melted and a temporary bird feeder has been put in the ground. I have not touched the border other than pull out a few old twiggy bits. I need to get in and have a rootle around but have been waiting for it to warm up slightly. The pile of paving bricks in front of the border are still in place which hampers my access and photographic opportunities somewhat. I now have permission from himself to remove them which I plan to do this coming weekend. However when I have peered more closely there are definite stirrings and goings on in the border.



The little clump of snowdrops were just about to open at the end of January but are still going strong now. I think that the cold weather has extended their flowering period. I do not think that I will be dividing this clump just yet :) There are three hellebores in the border - 'Mrs Betty Ranicar' and two without name, one of them being one of my own seedlings. They seem to have been almost in a state of suspended animation in the last month, but will no doubt be fully open by the end of March. A little clump of miniature narcissus is appearing, the brunnera is sending out new shoots and aquilegias are poking through the ground. Oh yes spring is definitely coming ~






and with the lengthening days the thug picured below is on the march again, despite me doing battle with it last year. I must have missed a piece. I wrote here last April, about how I was tempted to plant it after reading Margery Fish's 'Gardening In The Shade' but beg to disagree with her opinion about this plant. My advice for what it's worth - if you ever come across lamium galeobdolon variegatum ..... just say "No!"

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

My Pride And Joy

G IS FOR?



GREENHOUSE!


"Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too"
~ William Cowper,1731 -1800.

This is my new greenhouse late last November, when it was in the last stages of being a work in progress. Himself put it all up with a small contribution from me. I can't begin to explain the excitement I feel whenever I look at it or set foot inside. The wooden benches were handcrafted by himself for my former greenhouse. Although they are a bit on the short side for their new home I could not bear to part with them. I would like to say that the greenhouse is burgeoning with seedlings but alas this is not the case yet. My seed sowing has got off to a slow start this year. However I hope to report more soon on what's going on in the inner depths of my second residence.

Why don't you go over to ABC Wednesday now for more posts on the letter G.