Monday, 28 May 2012

All Boxed Off


The last week has passed in glorious sunshine, so much to do in the garden and allotment as well as the additional flurry of activity of getting sorted for our annual garden club plant sale, which took place on Saturday. Long time readers may remember this post. Well after temporarily retiring from the plant sale for a couple of years and just helping out on the day, I returned to having my own stall this time with the intention of raising funds for a particular allotment project. There has been much sorting out of plants and boxes over the last few days.

My good intentions of dividing lots of perennials earlier in the spring somehow got lost in the chill wet that was April so I had little to take that was in flower on the day. What was in flower though walked from the table in the first few minutes as it normally does on these occasions. With the allotment theme though I mainly had herbs and vegetables for sale. Lemon verbena or aloysia triphylla, which Cathy at Words And Herbs,  has recently posted about went as soon as it was stroked. Chocolate peppermint with its aroma of 'After Eights' was popular too. I wonder why. I was rather pleased with my selection of basils - cinnamon, lettuce leaf and lemon - something for everybody so I thought until the customer who only wanted Thai basil and no other. Oh well there's no pleasing some folk. So another plant sale done and dusted but I will be reporting for duty again at a local community event in July and am already wondering what I can possibly assemble for that occasion.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ 23rd May 2012


Have spent the last twenty minutes or so trying to think of the name of this unfolding flower which changed its name some time ago - then it suddenly tripped off my tongue - of course it's nectaroscordum siculum bulgaricum!!!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

"Here Comes The Sun"


Rumour ..... has it!

Always my favourite Beatle ~ did you have one?

Friday, 18 May 2012

Officially Open


"A week is a long time in politics" but just two days can be a long time in the garden at this time of year. From the above taken on Tuesday morning for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ to this taken yesterday morning fully open to visitors ~


A Pacific Coast iris - name not known ~ its one drawback is that it has very short lived flowers but to my mind it makes up for it with its colours and markings. I particularly like the tips of the petals which look as if they have been suffused with the faintest flush of school blue ink. Whenever I've had divisions in flower at our garden club plant sale this goes straight away. Delighted to discover one more flower spike yesterday as I thought that this was only the one! Apparently these grow easily from seed so I must have a go - I have noticed that Chiltern Seeds sell a packet of mixed seeds so may well be tempted. As you can see from the photo although still wet it was much warmer and rumour has it the temperatures are going to rise next week!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ May 2012


It seemed more like the middle of March than the middle of May when I stepped out to try to take some photos this morning. Chilly, gusty wind and winter coat on. Moreover it it had rained quite heavily in the night. Plans to leave the greenhouse shut for a while were thwarted when I saw a little bird flapping about on the staging. I was horrified to think that I had shut it in there for the night but tried to console myself by thinking that at least it had some warm shelter with some luxury bedding in the shape of fleece. The day has not improved with umbrella put into action earlier to fend off hail.

In May I have plenty of the above - geranium phaeum - in different shades - in fact too much but it is one of my favourite plants. It seeds itself about but not too nuisance values and is such an undemanding but obliging plant. It does not seem to suffer from any ailments and the molluscs treat it with disdain. Oh the leaves do get mildew in prolonged dried spells but no danger of that this spring.



The aquilegias have arrived -  I am not sure though yet whether 'Nora Barlow' is going to show up this year and will be disappointed if she doesn't. The plant above is a self seeded guest whilst below is an old favourite obtained from a seed exchange, possibly 'Hensol Harebell' if my memory serves me well ~


Another plant that I'm fond of polemonium caeruleum or Jacob's Ladder is showing colour. Firstly the stalwart ordinary version which seeds about ~



and one of cousins polemonium 'Lambrook Mauve' which is sterile but is easily divided in spring ~


The Pacific Coast Iris opened its one flower bud today - it must have known that it's a special day. I posted about this iris recently in what I have now christened my 'Not Waving But Drowning' border. Thanks for all your encouraging comments on that post which were much appreciated. Let's put it this way - there is definitely much more leaf than flower so the iris will be moving home later this year.


Two more May would not be withouts ~ polygonatum odoratum or 'Solomon's Seal' ~


and anthriscus sylvestris or cow parsley ~



Finally what would May be without a touch of blackthorn or May - I don't know about you but I'm definitely not casting a clout just yet ~


Much more May magnificence can be mulled over at May Dreams Gardens, with thanks to Carol as ever for hosting.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Malvern Spring Gardening Show 2012


After much ado about mud and the weather we made it to the Malvern Spring Gardening Show. The carpet was pulled from underneath our feet, when with a couple of days to go, our campsite booking was cancelled. This was done with great regret as it is possibly the site's busiest time of the year but the ground was simply too saturated. If I had not already been in possession of the tickets, I think that we might well have stayed at home as the forecast for our journey down was looking pretty absymal. However with some gentle persuasion from himself and many phone calls later, we managed to find alternative overnight accommodation some distance away just outside Ludlow.

So we got there safely and enjoyed a rain free day on Friday. As usual there was much to gawp and wonder at. Congratulations must go to the exhibitors on putting on such a good show given the weather in the lead up - they are absolute stars. I am always fascinated by these insect catching plants though not tempted to grow them ~


I was bewitched and beguiled by blue:


Himself's favourite exhibit  ~ the machinery that brings the big stuff to the show ~


The only RHS gold medal awarded to a show garden went to to the team from Graduate Gardeners Ltd for their 'Place To Reflect Garden, featuring a living wall of ferns ~


A full list of all awards can be seen here.

I always enjoy the school gardens competition, which features gardens designed and put together by local primary school children, with a lot of input from their teachers and parents I imagine. As usual some of the children had time off school to be there and their enthusiasm and excitement was catching. The future is safe in the hands of tomorrow's gardeners ~



Finally what I most wanted to bring home with me (apart from in the plants category) ~


On reflection though I did not enjoy the show as much as in previous years and having been asking myself why. It could be because instead of being conveniently situated a five minute drive away, we were further away so did not get to the show until well after it opened. Not only was there less time to see everything in but I was galumphing about rather slowly and eventually sorely in my not recently worn walking boots. Was it more crowded than usual or was it my imagination? Perhaps it could be possibly be a case of show fatigue. We have visited the show regularly over the last two decades so we may take a break next spring. Himself was quick to note a regular Ludlow based event taking place this weekend, which appealed to him more than Malvern. Beer, bangers (classic cars) and bread were involved! Say no more.

You may well ask what came home with me in the plant department ~ that will be revealed later this week.

Monday, 7 May 2012

"Red And Yellow And Pink And Green "



"Red and yellow and pink and green
Purple and orange and blue
I can sing a rainbow,
sing a rainbow,
sing a rainbow too."



~ well that's the plan. Inspired by Veg Plotting's 52 Week Salad Challenge, I'm hoping to be eating a myriad of rainbow coloured tomatoes later this year. Tomatoes are an essential and favourite salad ingredient for me. A salad would not be complete without at least a slice or two, preferably homegrown and eaten when still warm from the sun. A few years ago on holiday we came across a small market stall in Brittany, where a young man was selling tomatoes of all sizes and hues as well as variety of squashes. Just the mere act of looking made my heart sing. I had seen such tomatoes on catalogue pages but this was the first encounter in the flesh as it were. We bought a bag of mixed tomatoes and had a short conversation with the vendor about the source of his tomatoes. He bought out a well thumbed book from behind the stall and I spent ten minutes or so leafing through the manual of the Association Kokopelli. This non profit - making organisation was formed in 1998 and seeks to protect food biodiversity. Membership offers access to a range of organic heirloom vegetable seeds. I am not a member but am tempted.


Now I know from bitter experience that north west England can't compete with Brittany when it comes to sun, warmth and quality of light but this year I decided I would have a go at producing a riot of colour as well as taste. So here is the roll call :


Tried and Tested 
'Gardeners Delight' and 'Sungold' - both produce small sweet bite sized fruits.
'Losetto' - a low growing bush type tomato. This did really well gown in containers outdoors at the allotment last year.
Beefsteak 
'Super Marmande' - if somebody could enlighten me as to the difference between this and 'Marmande' (which I have grown before) I would appreciate it.
Unchartered Waters ~ 
'Prudens Purple' - a potato leaf variety producing pinky- purple beefsteak fruits. 
'Black Sea Man' - a potato leaf variety which hails from Russia. The fruits are described as mahogany to brown in colour with green to olive shoulders.
'Noire de Crimée' - another Russian tomato with reddish brown fruits.
'Matt's Wild Cherry' - hailing from Mexico this apparently bears a multitude of very sweet small red tomatoes. 
'Zloty Ozarowski' - a golden orange tomato from Poland.
'Jaune Flammé' - originating from France, this is an early ripening apricot coloured tomato.


Harvesting tomatoes seem a long way off at the moment. I am regretting the fact that with one or two exceptions I sowed most of them at the back end of February. I am now lugging trays back and forth in come evening and morning as it has been too cold to leave them in an unheated greenhouse overnight. If the plants had been smaller I could have fleeced them effectively but most of them are too big to be wrapped up, without the risk of damaging the foliage. Then of course as usual there are more plants than needed. I will be sowing later next year and also maybe looking at buying in from other sources, which might take care of the some of the hard graft. Age must be catching up with me!


Hopefully if it ever gets warmer I will be back later in the year with photos of my tomato fest, growth and taste verdicts. I have an inkling that the Polish and Russian varieties may fare better than the French and Mexican but who knows ~ maybe a glorious summer is on the cards. How is everybody else getting on with growing tomatoes in this challenging spring?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Muse For May



"Among the many buds proclaiming May,
Decking the field in holiday array,
Striving who shall surpass in braverie,
Mark the faire blooming of the Hawthorn tree,
Who, finely cloathed in a robe of white,
Fills full the wanton eye with May's delight.
Yet for the braverie that she is in
Doth neither handle card nor wheel to spin,
Nor changeth robes but twice; is never seen
In other colours but in white or green."



- my sources conflict as to the author of this poem so further research is needed. Edith Holden's 'The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady' attributes to it to Geoffrey Chaucer, whilst online sources attribute it to William Browne.  Will return to update if and when I remember.