Monday, 30 December 2013

A Puzzling Time


I hope that you had a good Christmas and are feeling suitably refreshed. There has not been much time for gardening here but I was hoping to share a potful of snowdrops with you and relate the tale of some thwarted rather angry squirrels. However my camera is playing up at the moment and the photos are trapped therein. There has been much ruminating on the cause of the problem and then some logical deduction as to what the fault may be. Fingers crossed that it is just a new USB lead that is required so that normal service can be resumed soon.

Instead here is a photo of the fiendishly difficult jigsaw puzzle, 'The Bizarre Bookshop', which has formed part of our festive activities. It is still a work in progress and has required the aid of a magnifying glass to sort out some of the finer details. The second jigsaw which has a horticultural theme remains in its box and I can now confidently say that it will not be started until next year.

We went garden centre shopping yesterday for one or two odds and ends. Not surprisingly some seeds came home with me. If you have a local garden centre belonging to the Garden Centre Group near you it may be worth popping in as they have a sale on. Thompson and Morgan, Suttons and Sarah Raven's seeds are all half price! I was restrained as I've not yet finished sorting out the seed boxes but I did come home with a few packets. One of my favourite catalogues - the Avon Bulbs spring catalogue arrived in the post this morning so I'm heading off to study the contents carefully especially the list of snowdrops. I may be some time!


Monday, 23 December 2013

Yuletide Greetings


Well dear blogging friends the drawbridge is nearly up, the Scrabble board is primed and there are books to read and both crossword/jigsaw puzzles to tease and hopefully solve. Oh and we are fortunate to have good food and wine to enjoy over the next few days. Sadly himself is one of those people who has to work over the festive season but as he nobly says somebody has to keep the country going. Safe journey to anybody who is traveling in this inclement weather. Wishing and your loved ones peace and joy at Christmas however you celebrate! xxx❤️
P.S. The illustration is from Sheila Jackson's book 'Blooming Small'.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ December 2013


Yeeeaaaaaay - can you believe it - it's snowdrop time again! Introducing 'Faringdon Double' which is the earliest double snowdrop to flower. At first glance it's hard to tell it's a double flower and you really have to look underneath to be sure. I was hoping to get a better view of underneath those petticoats but am out out of practise flowering snowdrops and sadly did not have my assistant himself on hand to help. I will have another attempt soon.

'Faringdon Double' gets its name from the Oxfordshire village of Faringdon where it was discovered flowering in a churchyard. I'm not sure how long it is since I had my original bulb but it must be less than five years. For the last two years the flowers have opened this side of Christmas whilst in 2011 it was January before flowering commenced. So far we've had quite a mild autumn with only a few light frosts and some fairly mild daytime temperatures. I've found that 'Faringdon Double' increases well. As regular readers of this blog will know I grow my special snowdrops in pots which is probably not the best way to grow them over long periods of time. It suits me though as I can keep them close to the house and can enjoy seeing them and smelling them at close quarters. As they bulk up though I'm slowly planting surplus bulbs in the ground so that hopefully I can enjoy the best of both worlds in the future. You are unlikely to find this snowdrop for sale at your local garden centre but there are several specialist snowdrop sources where you can purchase bulbs including the excellent Avon Bulbs. At the start of the new year many of these companies will be selling snowdrops in the green. There is a school of thought that recommends buying dormant bulbs only but that's another story. Elsewhere other pots of snowdrops are showing tantalising flashes of white so these should be fully showing for January's GBBD.

Thanks as always to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens who hosts this meme, which gives us the chance to share, wonder and grow our wish lists throughout the year. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Wordy Wednesday ~ A Poem For December


"It's verdure trails
The Ivy shoot
Along the ground
From root to root;
Or climbing high
With random maze
O'er elm and ash and elder strays,
And round each trunk
A net-work weaves,
Fantastic and each bough with leaves
Of countless shapes, entwines and studs
With pale green blooms
And half formed buds"

~ extract from a poem by Bishop Richard Mant,1776 -1848

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Midwinter Fire


Last week's garden club speaker bought a touch of winter warmth and magic with him as well as providing me with some unexpected but welcome propagation material. The subject was gardening for winter interest and our guest came complete not only with slides but with a wealth of neatly labelled plant material from his garden. If the talk had been in January or February there would have been a wider range for us to see close hand but the examples of trees, shrubs and perennials on display were still considerable.

At the end of the evening our speaker left all the plant material behind and we were invited to take anything we would like home. I left with three samples which I hope to propagate. At the top of this post is the a stem of the multi-coloured cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'. This throws out attractive stems of red, orange and yellow in the winter border. Now is the time to take hardwood cuttings of cornuses. I also have a red stemmed cornus (name long gone) which I intend to take cuttings off, which hopefully will make their way to the allotment, where we are planting up the area around the composting toilet building. Any surplus prunings will come in handy as plant supports on my own plot.


Also returning with me along with my seasonal mince pie were berries from sorbus 'Joseph Rock'. I've been reading a lot about sorbuses recently in blogland and am tempted to plant one. I've been slightly put off though by mention in one book that the flowers of sorbus trees often smell like rotting meat - uuuuugh! Further investigation is required and feedback from anybody who grows sorbus would be welcome. In the meantime I thought that I would just have some fun to see what might transpire from the seed.


Last but not least a solitary cutting from the attractive evergreen pittosporum tenuifolium 'Irene Paterson'. She is evergreen and forms a shimmering mound about three feet high. I see snowdrops and hellebores at her feet. I'm not really convinced that the snipping I have will root so have decided that I will be on the lookout for a ready made Irene in the near future.

Our speaker also came with a list of all the plants of winter interest in his garden plus his collection of books on the subject, which included some familiar friends from my bookshelf. I will share these books in a future post.