greentapestry : November 2013

Saturday 30 November 2013

End Of Month View - November 2013

November has ended here on a beautifully sunny albeit cold day. Darkness was already descending though when I came home from the allotment, where unfortunately we've had a meeting. On such a day I would have preferred to have been moving about and doing jobs on the plot but it was not to be. I've been trying to think how the month started weather wise but the brain refuses to co - operate.

There are already signs and stirrings of seemingly far off spring days. One of the snowdrops in the greenhouse is tantalisingly close to opening - in fact another day of slightly warmer temperatures might do the trick. It's rather frustrating as the label has walked so it's keep me guessing to the very last minute. The first to open last year was 'Faringdon Double' but I remained to be convinced that this one is a double. I moved my small collection of named snowdrops in pots under cover a couple of weeks ago. The pots were saturated and with colder weather being forecast I decided to bring them into the greenhouse again this winter. The greenhouse is ventilated on all but the coldest day but at the moment the recent appearance of an adventurous young cat has seen me err on the side of caution. There is a heater which should keep the greenhouse frost free. I will water the pots sparingly over the winter. Already a few pots are showing little green snouts which is most exciting.

In another corner of the garden a hellebore is budding up nicely which you can see in the above photo. Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' recently mentioned her 'Moonbeam' hellebore which prompted me to check on mine. On doing so I remember that I think that it might be 'Angel Glow' rather than 'Moonbeam', but whatever the identity it's great to see promise of soon to be opening flowers.

On the subject of bulbs I have amazed myself and have only a few remaining bulbs to find homes for. I've surprised myself as my bulb planting activities often extend into the new year when the risk of severe frostbite can lend an element of an extreme sport to the procedure. I've tended to stick with already tried and tested bulbs but I'm looking forward to the eventual flowering of two newcomers. These are allium 'Purple Rain' and narcissus 'Elka'. As well as being newcomers to me they are both recent bulb introductions, so it will be really exciting to see whether they live up to the catalogue hype surrounding them. I still have one or two more bits and bobs to sort out with which hopefully will be done by the end of the December.

I'm afraid that I've somewhat neglected the allotment and must get down to some work in the colder months. I have to confess to being somewhat of a fair weather gardener. I can do cold and dry but when the weather is wet I'm too much of a wimp to relish being out there.

New to me plants in November are a hardy geranium 'Blushing Turtle', which promises to be a prolific and long flowerer and a pink hesperantha kindly given to me by a friend who read this post.

Another marker pen has entered the grand experiment. This late contender is an 'Artline Garden Marker' as mentioned by Annette over at 'Annette's Garden'. It one cost me £2.50p including postage from an Ebay seller. It's much too early to report on the state of the labels yet and I will not do so in any detail for a few months.

Thanks as always to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' for enabling us to share our end of month views. Do pop over to visit her and the links to other gardeners who are recording their end of the month views.

P.S. I've been having problems on accessing and commenting on Wordpress blogs for a couple of days. I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday and believe that there are some issues. Some Wordpress bloggers are unable even to access their own blogs. I have had success though with changing my normal browser from Chrome to Safari. Just thought I would mention it in case anybody else is being thwarted in their blog visiting and commenting.

Sunday 24 November 2013


Watering cans in Le Jardin De Marie Ange, Pas- De-Calais, France.

Somewhere in cyberspace greentapestry celebrated its fifth birthday yesterday. I wonder if it floated past that famous Doctor and waved as both celebrated auspicious occasions on the same day. Actually the very first words on this blog were back in 2005, but it was only in 2008 when I was brave enough to enter the public domain. I can still remember the excitement of receiving my very first comment from the lovely Michelle over at Veg Plotting. Many thanks to everyone who has commented or contacted me by email over the last five years. I've learned so much from your comments and observations, laughed a good deal and have been the recipient of some lovely acts of kindness.

I've been mulling over the blog recently and feel that it's time for some out of season 'spring cleaning'. So I'm going to use the winter months to get on with this and hope to re-emerge with a new look. I'm even considering going over to the other side ie Wordpress so would be grateful for any comments or advice on doing that. I also want to get to grips with the pages element of the blog. These were constructed an oh so embarrassingly long time ago but I've never completed them.

So if I disappear off the radar for a while or if appearance of the blog looks a bit iffy you will know what's happening. I intend to be around for the memes that I participate in and I will of course still be visiting other blogs. Many thanks again and a humungous virtual bouquet of fabulous flowers to anybody who reads this post.

PS Many apologies to those of you who have problems commenting recently and thanks for your persistence. I've changed my comment settings to see if that makes any difference and am keeping fingers crossed.

Friday 15 November 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2013

Probably just like me, looking better in October than November, but still showing some colour on a November day is leycesteria formosa aka the Himalayan honeysuckle. It is a deciduous shrub, which has attractive stems and pendulous flowers with bracts, which eventually give way to deep purple berries. It is particularly recommended for partial shade or woodland gardens and seems to be one of those unsung easygoing shrubs that apart from pruning just gets on and does it own thing. My shrub is a good few years old and I can no longer remember how I came by it. It does have a tendency to self seed but it can be also propagated either by softwood cuttings. If you try sowing seed from your own shrub be prepared for really sticky fingers as you open up the ripened berries and try to extract the seed. It's great fun. Just to give more of a picture of leycesteria formosa here are a couple of photos I took last month ~

Meantime great excitement here as the first of my special snowdrops is showing white - not sure which one it is as the label has gone walkabout. Hopefully I will be able to share it come December.

Thanks as always to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for giving us the opportunity to share our November blooms.

Monday 11 November 2013

Making Your Mark

An experiment was launched last week - I shall be reporting back at odd intervals. The results will not have a breathtaking impact on the shape of the world to come but you may still wish to read on. It has come about as I've been doing some tasks in readiness for colder weather. I've bought some dahlias in pots into the greenhouse for winter. I've also finished top dressing my special snowdrops in pots with fresh alpine horticultural grit. What have these tasks have in common you may well ask. The answer is labels and MARKER PENS. I have been checking the labels on each pot of snowdrops and also want to be able to easily identify the dahlias.

Now for more years than I care to remember I've used the same permanent marker pen ie a Pilot Super Colour Marker Extra Fine - permanent type. I first came across them at meetings of the Cheshire and Friends group of the  Hardy Plant Society, where members sell their plants at meetings. One of the members sold alpines and also conveniently sold the pens that he used and recommended them. So I tried a pen and was most impressed - it certainly seemed to stand up to the vagaries of the elements, remaining legible for several years. In fact usually the labels snapped well before the ink faded. However the pens have not been as effective recently. Have there been any subtle changes to the formula of the ink? Must contact the manufacturer to ask. Is it because we have had such a copious amount of wet stuff falling from the sky in the last year? Has the local squirrel population developed an anti social habit of label licking? Could there be any other reasons? I must also ask my good friend D. who uses the same pens to see if she has any observations to make.

Matters came to a head when I was top dressing the snowdrops. I noticed that some cryptic notes on labels that I had made using the pen in late winter 2013 were already fading. Bad enough that they my notes were cryptic but cryptic and fading does not inspire much confidence. So the marker experiment was born. As you can see I'm testing out five different writing implements and will be comparing the writing on the labels at regular intervals to see which comes out best. Details are as follows :

  1. Sharpie fine point permanent marker - I must say that this pen has already failed the test as far as I'm concerned. It does not match up to my definition of a fine point. However it is going to stay in the experiment to test out its permanence factor. Sharpie pens are available quite readily from most stationers. I have just found out that there is an ultra fine point too which is maybe the one I should have gone for. 
  2. Artline 444XF Paint Marker (0.8mm nib)- I'm uncertain how available these are on the high street having bought mine at the Malvern Show. I would like to use the white ink version (black ink is also available) on black labels in all my pots of special snowdrops. I want something that it is designed to last. I do have a Brother garden labeller which would do the trick but it takes more time to set up and print than writing by hand does. Another factor which puts me off going down this road for my snowdrop labels is that the tape used in the labeller is quite expensive especially if you make any mistakes. 
  3. Pilot Super Colour Marker Ultra Fine  - I have not managed to find these on the Pilot Pens website but will continue looking and will update the link if I have any joy. I used to be able to buy these pens from a local art shop but they stopped stocking them. My last couple of pens were ordered online from Cult Pens who delivered them most quickly. 
  4. Chinagraph pencil - these have been around for a long time but I've not had any experience of using them. I have however bought plants with labels that have been completed using them and they seem to last well. They can be easily purchased from high street stationers.
  5. Edding 140 S ohp marker permanent - I first came across mention of this pen on Derry Watkins's Special Plants Nursery website. Derry writes that 'Which? Gardening' did a one year trial in which this came out as the best and most permanent labelling pen. I'm not sure how easy it is to find these pens on the high street. Funnily enough I bought mine from the art shop where I used to get the Pilot pens. They can be ordered online from Derry's website and from other online sources.
The plan to issue a bulletin on the state of each labels health after a suitable period of time. I shall insert them into the same pot as close to each other as possible. In the meantime I would love to hear how you make your mark and what experiences you have had. It might be possible to include some late entries at this stage.

PS The cheapest writing implement is the Chinagraph pencil whilst the pens all came in under £4 at the time of purchase.

Sunday 3 November 2013

A Poem For November

Today I think
Only with scents, - scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot's seed,
And the square mustard field;

Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the roots of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;

The smoke's smell too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.

It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth.

- 'Digging' by Edward Thomas (1878 -1917).

Illustration - Vincent Van Gogh (1853 -1890).