greentapestry : February 2011

Sunday 27 February 2011

'Walk Like An Egyptian'

Well this week my little 'Egyptian Walking' onion also known as a 'Tree Onion' made the long journey from Devon up north to the banks of the Mersey. It is now catching its breath in the greenhouse. As I am not sure whether it has come from being under cover or from the great outdoors, I am erring on the side of caution and will gently reintroduce it to the elements. In case you are wondering about the name the plant sets forth air born bulbils, each one which having the capacity to root and produce another plant ~ hence the walking. Along with it arrived a Japanese wineberry, some shallots and seed potatoes with the most romantic name of BF15. Now if one picked potatoes by name only this surely would remain on the shelf. However it is meant to be a tasty morsel - its parents being Belle de Fontenay and Flava . All these goodies will be making their way to the allotment sooner or later. We paddled our way down there this morning but it is much to wet to do anything other than observe the progress of the new fencing.

The cuttings which have overwintered in the greenhouse seem to have put on a spurt of growth in the last fortnight and are ready repotting. Some of the penstemon cuttings look a bit leggy and in need of pinching out. A task for the forthcoming week.

It still seems as if we are very much in between the seasons here. Some of the snowdrops are now going over and giving way to irises, little daffs and hellebores. I was pleased to see this hellebore open for the very first time earlier this week ~

It is one of the hellebores I bought via Ebay a couple of years ago as a plug plant. It's perhaps more spotty than I would prefer but considering it cost relatively little in hellebore terms, I am more than happy with it. Weather wise though apart from a beautiful mild day on Thursday, which I had the misfortune to observe from a train window, it is still more like winter than spring. There has been a good deal of rain and wind this week but it has been possible though at times to get out and do. Tomorrow there will be the grand ceremony of the switching on of the heated propagator and then all systems go!

The title of this post was inspired by the most catchy ditty of the same name by 'The Bangles', which I will be singing regularly to my onion to encourage it to grow, go forth and walk.

P.S. For Mey who commented on my last post wanting to contact me by email I am unable to reply to you directly. You can contact me at
Look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Flight of Fancy



There is a wealth of fascinating folklore associated with many of our favourite flowers. Some of these fables are fanciful whilst others are factual ~ all are great fun to read.

Each year I look forward to the fabulous markings of digitalis purpurea or the foxglove to use its most well known common name. The generic name derives from the Latin digitabulum 'a thimble' ~ a reference to the shape of the flowers, whilst purpurea alludes to their purple colour. It is thought that the common name is from 'fox's glove' but another version is that the name is a corruption of 'folksglove' i.e. the glove of the good folk or fairies who occupy woody dells alongside the flowers. Foxgloves have a number of other names including 'Our Lady's gloves', 'fairy fingers', 'fox fingers' and in Wales 'elf fingers'. Its more sinister names include 'Deadmen's Bells, 'Bloody Fingers' and 'Witches Gloves' which remind us of the plants highly toxic properties.

The foxglove is apparently unlucky if sighted in the house or on a ship and those who hear the 'Deadmens Bells' ring will not be for this world for much longer.

If you fancy reading more on this subject 'Discovering The Folklore of Plants' by Margaret Baker is full of fantastic information.

Why don't you fly over now to ABC Wednesday for further information and frivolity featuring the letter F ?

Monday 21 February 2011

For Your Delight And Delectation

It was back in the depths of February last year when Jodi over at Bloomingwriter encouraged other members of the Blotanical blogging community to extend a welcome to new bloggers and hopefully build up their visitors.  At the time I thought that this was a brilliant idea and intended to do something positive to highlight new blogs that I came across. Unfortunately my good intentions did not get off the ground but here we are ~ another year and a chance to put the theory into practice. So here are my two selections for February reading ~ both of which I discovered relatively recently.  If you have not already come across them I urge you to visit as soon as you can.

Scott gardens in Portland, Oregon, in the U.S.A. His blog Rhone Street Gardens contains some glorious photography e.g. a unique perspective on snow here, inspired planting combinations especially for late summer/ early autumn colour and recently he has been putting together some fascinating posts on a year in the life of a number of plants. 

Over on this side of the pond is the equally enjoyable Plantaliscious. Janet writes with great love about the plants in her garden and of propagation. She has just got an allotment and is looking forward to her first growing season there, which she will be sharing with other bloggers. Visits to Janet's blog though are doing more than just making my plant wish list grow ~ I think that they may well make my waist line grow as Janet's other passion in life is baking bread. She kindly shares her recipes and techniques on her blog. After reading her posts I have got the bread making urge again ~ perhaps when my bread looks quite as good as hers I will share a photo with you ~ that is if it lasts long enough to photograph.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

'Come Fly With Me'


~ which I will be indulging in today by visiting gardens all over the globe. Today is Garden Bloggers' Day which is hosted on the fifteenth of each month over at May Dreams Gardens. There will be extraordinary examples of all sorts of plants and enthusiasm and expertise are the order of the day. No doubt engulfing February ennui will evaporate as I explore and my plant wish list will just expand and EXPAND!

Here the weather is far from exciting. As wet stuff falls from the ether photographic events are proving most elusive ~ close examination of exactly what is blooming in my outer environment is evading me. I know though that as a result of the extremely cold early winter, that there is definitely less in flower than on either the same date last February or the February before. Here though is one that I took earlier ~ yesterday to be exact of some exceptionally elegant snowdrops ~

Now why not endeavor to explore the letter E over at ABC Wednesday?

The top photograph was taken last summer at the International Garden Festival at Chaumont - sur - Loire, in France.

Sunday 13 February 2011

'Follow The Yellow Brick Road'

Events outside the garden and lottie are taking up much of my time at the moment so no time for a diary post last weekend. I have been away for almost a week and on returning home I had a good wonder round the garden yesterday. Although it is still early in the year so much had happened in a short spell, no doubt prompted by a spell of warmer weather. The snowdrop clumps in the garden are now at their best, although the 'national collection of snowdrops' is in a sad state. I wrote about their frail state here. Since then there has been further wailing and gnashing teeth of as many of the survivors are not showing any signs of flowers this year. Oh what a to do. I can only hope that they revive but now face another twelve months to find out. More hellebores have opened and I am waiting for some to show their true colours for the first time this year. Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin' have opened and crocuses have croaked. All this colour out of nowhere in the space of a few days. It is too wet to be outside taking photos today so here is one of this exquisitely marked  iris that I took at my one and only visit to an RHS London winter show back in January 2006. Such show visits are a great way to dispel the winter blues but week day train fares from London make it too much of an expensive proposition these days.

I have not had a chance to visit the allotment but my trusted deputy himself has been down for a reccie. The work with the new fencing continues. Himself spoke to the contractors as some top soil is needed and they have agreed to drop some off onto the plot in the next week. Then I must get down to some work myself to get things into shape ready for the first inspection of the year in early April.

New to my bookshelves this week is the new edition of 'The Yellow Book,' the purchase of which always gives me a delicious tingle as it makes me think that spring is really on the horizon. I imagine that many of you are familiar with 'The Yellow Book' but just in case any introduction is needed, the book lists and describes  all the gardens in England and Wales, which open to visitors to raise funds for charity under the National Gardens Scheme. Although the information that the book contains is available online, I still get a lot of pleasure from dipping into pages full of descriptions of gardens both great and small. I have already penciled in a snowdrop garden to visit soon and an allotment site in June. Later on in the year I plan to cross the border over to North Wales, to be inspired by some colourful late summer planting here in Karen's, 'An Artists Garden's real life garden.

Tuesday 8 February 2011

'The Alternative Kitchen Garden'

I came across mention of this book some time ago, either via my internet or kitchen garden magazine reading and made a mental note to look out for it on my bookshop travels. As usual though the shelves of local book shops yielded only the works of television gardening personalities or those of famous horticulturalists. This is one of my favourite gripes as it often makes it impossible to have a peek inside books by authors outside the mainstream and to decide whether to buy. It makes me think how difficult it must be for new gardening authors to get their titles on the shelves of Waterstones and the like. By one of those quirky chances of fate, I read on the UK Veg Forum that Emma was offering bloggers the chance to review her book. I contacted Emma through her blog and was delighted to be offered a copy to review.

If you are looking for a serious comprehensive 'how to' tome this is not the book for you,although having said that there are still lots of useful growing hints, advice and information within its pages. There are though plenty of other titles which cover the whens and how tos of edible growing in greater depth. Emma's book comes across to me as a very personal cornucopia of thoughts and observations on an eclectic range of topics. She touches upon a number of subjects under each letter of the alphabet and writes engagingly on various crops, terms, living creatures, techniques, processes, organisations and places. The book is is made up of independent but linking bite sized snippets which you can read at your own leisure. There are two fundamental rules underlying' The Alternative Kitchen Garden' these being "be kind to the environment and have some fun in your garden", both of which resonate with me.

There is not only much useful information for the just starting out kitchen gardener but also food for thought for somebody like me who now has a few years of allotment growing behind them. I had often wondered what the bead like structures on the end of my French bean roots were when I pulled them out at the end of the season - well now I know why they appear and what their purpose in life is! I have come across new to me crops such as the jelly melon which I am tempted to grow in the future. At the back of the book there is an extensive directory of blogs, podcasts, recommended reading, suppliers, gardens and organisations some of which are unfamiliar and have been noted for further exploration.

 My only minor quibble was that there were a number of unfilled pages throughout the book, which could potentially have contained more of Emma's thoughts on certain subjects. What I especially liked about the book is that it is written by somebody who obviously enjoys growing and experimenting. All the observations are first hand and a sense of humour pops up throughout. On the subject of  hens Emma writes " If you really want to make your chickens jump for joy, then open a tin of (sugar and salt free) sweetcorn. It's not an everyday food (it goes straight to the thighs!)but it is the perfect chicken treat".

Emma has recently posted on her blog that she has a new book due to be published in June this year,entitled 'The Allotment Pocket Bible', which I am really looking forward to reading perhaps as I take a break for refreshments at the lottie this summer.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

The Perfect Tonic



On a chilly February afternoon I have been cheering myself up by sorting through my camera's captures of days when the temperature cracked the flags. This was clicked in the wonderful garden of 'Wildside', Devon, the creation of Keith Wiley.

Check out more Cs over at ABC Wednesday!

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day ~ February 2011

"From December to March, there are for many of
us three gardens:
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind's eye."

~ Katherine S. White, 1892 -1977.

More February musing can be found over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.