Thursday, 29 December 2011

The In Between Time


This time of year is one to savour - the gap between all that frantic rushing around, cleaning, cooking and never ending shopping and before the arrival of an unchartered year, full of hope and promise. Hibernation is the order of the day with studying seed catalogues and reading high on the agenda along with other gentle seasonal pursuits such as playing Scrabble.

The weather here over the Christmas weekend was extraordinarily warm - on Boxing Day we sat with the window open and no heating on until darkness fell.  A complete contrast to the sub zero temperatures of the 2010 festive season when snow lay on the ground. The following day saw me more than ready to venture out and about -  to be doing rather than sitting. Top of the list on the jobs to be done was to remove the old foliage from the hellebores. This is one of those tasks where there seems to be much debate as to the whether to and if so when to do it. The leaves are evergreen so you could leave them on  but can they become rather tatty. They are also rather large and floppy and can obscure the flowers. There is also the risk if you leave them on, of them carrying leaf spot disease throughout the winter, which could affect the flowers when they open. As to when some books recommend autumn and others early winter. It is one of those jobs best done though before the flowers buds start to open so you limit the risk of cutting them off, which if ever done brings out loud shrieks from both flower and pruner. I think that I would not have liked to do this job any later this year. Now all that remains to do is a bit of tidying up as well as give the plants a mulch. I have been saving a bag of worm compost in readiness for this but yesterday was too windy and cold to venture out whilst today is not looking any more promising so far. Oh well back to having my head stuck in a book until conditions are more favourable.
P.S. We made a last trip of the year to the garden centre yesterday morning and what should come home with me but another hellebore.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Voice Of An Angel



It will only be later on today when I sit down in front of the television, glass of sherry in one hand, mince pie in t'other that I will realise Christmas is really here. The candlelit carol service from Kings College, Cambridge is broadcast every year always starting with 'Once In Royal David's City'. The opening lines sung by a boy soloist invariably send a magical tingle of anticipation and excitement down my spine.

Wishing you all peace and joy at Christmas dear friends!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

"Raise Your Candles High"

'The Shortest Day'
~ "So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!" 
- Susan Cooper b.1935.


At 5.30am this morning well before dawn, when I was still asleep, the winter solstice occured, bringing with it the official onset of winter and the beginning of the end of those long, dark nights in the northern hemisphere. A time to rejoice and sing as we walk towards the light! My early flowering snowdrop - galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara' is nodding her head in full agreement. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wet,Wet,Wet!

W IS FOR?

WATERING CANS! ~ along with old clay pots I am quite partial to the odd watering can, as seen here earlier this year in Le Jardin de Marie - Ange. So much more welcoming than modern plastic versions.


Wander over to ABC Wednesday for more on the wondrous letter W!

Monday, 19 December 2011

"DiSAHster Dahlings!"

Just over a year ago I posted here about my attempt to embrace new technology by taking out a digital subscription to 'The English Garden' magazine. This came about from an urge to declutter as well as save some pennies.  Now a good year into this experiment I would like to say that it has been a great success, but this is not the case.  In the words of my favourite 'Strictly Come Dancing' judge, my verdict has to be it's been "a diSAHster dahlings!". What happens is that when the monthly email arrives to advise that the new edition is available online, I click and have a quick flick through of the contents but that is usually it. This happens even though there is always plenty that attracts my eye during that initial flick. I am ashamed to say that I have not read one single issue from virtual cover to virtual cover.

1 was always behind with hard copies of the magazine but only maybe by a couple of months or so never by a whole year! I think that the physical presence of a pile of unread magazines acted as a permanent reminder to make time to read them. Whilst they are floating about somewhere in cyber space it's not just the same! Sitting in front of a computer screen is just not as relaxing or as easy on the aging eyes as curling up on the settee with a favourite magazine. 'The English Garden' can be downloaded onto tablets which would go someway to perhaps making it more of a leisurely reading experience.  It is a shame that it is not working out as it's the cheapest way of reading the magazine. There are some minor minus points eg there are no free gifts with your virtual mag but the cost of subscribing this way is a big plus. I am going to make a determined effort to catch up with the backlog over the festive season and start afresh come the new year but I am not convinced. I have a feeling that come 2013 I will return to the traditional magazine format. Has anybody else taken out a digital magazine subscription? If so I would be interested to know whether you have fared better than me. Later this week more about my other venture into the realms of new technology which has left me with a big smile on my face.

P.S. I should say that you can browse in either single or double page mode and zoom in or out.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

'Dig For Victory'

V IS FOR?
VINTAGE! ~ which was the theme underlying The Southport Flower Show this summer. There were many valiant attempts at interpreting the theme but this was the victor as far as I was concerned ~



Vamoosh over to ABC Wednesday now for more on the vivacious letter V!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

'The Story Behind The Name'


Over at 'Garden Faerie's Musings' the lovely Monica has issued an invitation to gardening bloggers share the story behind the name and to reveal how you came up with your online identity. I must admit that when entered the world of blogging I was fascinated by the names of the company I was keeping.  I wondered whether there was a patient soul writing 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' as the name suggests, who was 'Veg Plotting', and was there a real artist behind 'An Artists Garden'? I have since learned the answer to those questions but there are always others taking their place. Amongst many other mysteries I am intrigued to know ~
  • Whether 'Wellywoman' has a pair of the aforesaid footwear permanently welded to her feet? 
  • Does 'Blue Shed Thinking' actually have a blue shed?
  • Has 'Beangenie' got a magical touch with beans or is she partial to the taste of legumes?

As for my online identity the story behind the name is is short and sweet and has absolutely nothing to do with my prowess as an expert with the needle. When I was in the initial throes of creating my blog I was really struggling to come up with a name. I looked round the study (where the computer resides) for inspiration and my eyes quickly scanned there bookshelf. There staring me in the face was the answer ~ one of my favourite gardening books, none other than Beth Chatto's 'The Green Tapestry'. I was doing a calligraphy course at the time and for some reason was taken with the the idea of merging the last two words of the title together ~ hence the name 'greentapestry' ~ as simple as that. The photo at the top of my post is what was was the header of my original blog design chosen to reflect the title.  It may well return one of these days.

Do join in and share the story behind your name over at 'Garden Faerie's Musings' as we would all like to know!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The First 'Drop


To quote from that well known seasonal refrain ~ 'The weather outside is frightful', but  I still have managed to nip out between the frequent hailstone showers, to take a photo of my first snowdrop of the new season. To give her her full title she is galanthus elwesii 'Mrs Macnamara'. She originated from the garden of Mrs Macnamara who happened to be the mother - in - law of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.  She is an early flowerer but seems to have arrived ahead of time this year. I think that she may well have opened fully by the end of the week if the forecast was not as dire as it is.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that I have a small collection of named snowdrops which I first wrote about here back in February 2009. I keep my bulbs in pots mainly because it enables me to enjoy them at close quarters near to the house. They brave the world when most other plants are hibernating  - their frail and dainty appearance belies the fact that they are tough customers. Another appealing feature is that snowdrops have a subtle almost honey like scent, which you do not fully appreciate when they are in the ground. As getting my nose to the ground is not as easy as it once was I appreciate having the pots  nearer to my olfactory organ.

Sadly the very fact that I keep them in pots has been a source of much woe as the past couple of winters has decimated my collection. I always knew that I was taking a risk but the winter weather had not been an issue in ten years or more or so of growing this way. If we have a protracted cold spell this winter they will be moved rapidly to warmer climes and if these cold winters persist I will have to plant them into the ground. Alternatively when they start to clump up I might split them between pots and the ground. 'Mrs Macnamara' is being most obliging in this department - there are some littlies coming through. Sadly I will not be able to replace all those that perished as I do not have the spare pennies to spend on plants that I had a few years ago. However I hope to slowly add to their numbers again. Having a winter birthday is quite handy as it when most of the specialist growers produce their catalogues! I do not think though that I could ever become a full blown 'galanthophile' as the really serious collectors are called. Apart from the rising cost, there seems to be very little discernible difference in the markings of some snowdrops, yet if there was a risk of me becoming addicted to one particular plant snowdrops would be in the lead. More to come on the subject as the winter unfolds.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Garden Blogger's Muse Day ~ December 2011

To celebrate the first day of the meteorological winter and our wedding anniversary ~ a poem by Jenny Joseph ~

'The unlooked - for season'

"Love, the sun lies warm across the wall.
The wide windows and the smell of the road 
Do not say Winter. Ladybirds are crawling 
Out on ledges. Midday full on the land
Slows down the progress of the afternoon
Promising evening, like a Summer Sunday.


But look where the sun is. Never high in the sky it crept round the horizon. Ask anyone,
Look at the trees and the calendar - all declare
It should be winter. Within two hours
The Winter night will come up with the fog.


Since you have come and gone in the dreaded season
And left so much sunlight, I cannot think
Of now as dead time, only gentle,
With nothing to be feared, if this is winter"


The rose is 'The Fairy', which like us is a little bit ragged around the edges, is still holding on to a few flowers today.