Monday, 28 April 2014

In A Vase On Monday - 'Down The Lane'


Walking down the lane to our house today I could almost imagine that we were in the country not in a town within a stone's throw of a busy main road. The verges on both sides are afroth with cow parsley and dotted with bluebells. This particular piece of loveliness normally happens in May but is early this year. I usually pick sprigs of cow parsley to put in a vase to decorate my stall at the always held in May garden club plant sale. I also add foliage and additional flowers such as astrantias and aquilegias but as these are only just appearing today's vase also includes some geranium phaeum. The latter does not grow down the lane but in the garden, where it seems to self seed happily and has crossed with other geranium phaeums to produce variations of colour over the years. It is a most easy going plant although the foliage can be subject to mildew. Cut down after flowering it obligingly rewards you with fresh glowing foliage. Another plus point is that it is a magnet for bees.


The vase is a jar that contained some delicious onion relish that we enjoyed during last winter. I liked its shape and colour so could not bring myself to throw it in the recycling bin.  The arrangement if you can call it that will be remaining outside, as my nose starts to twitch like a rabbit when it encounters cow parsley so a sneeze is never far away.

'In A Vase in Monday' is the brilliant idea of Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' - do go and have a peek to see other seasonal pickings.

Monday, 21 April 2014

A Moving Story


Despite the title of this post there's no need to have a box of tissues to hand. Back in February with some trepidation on my behalf, we relocated a couple of pear trees moving them about twenty feet. The first of the pears concerned is 'Doyenne du Comice' which was planted some time in the autumn of 2011. Somebody did not do their research thoroughly at the time so did not release that a pollinating partner was required. This glaring error was rectified in the spring of 2012 when I came across a pear tree in the 'bargain basement' of a local garden centre. It was not the sturdiest of specimens but I felt sorry for it and bought it home as a companion for the 'Doyenne'. I think that it's a 'Concorde' tree - I say think as the label long disappeared into obscurity. It was duly planted in close proximity to the first pear.
Last spring I waited with bated breath for both to flower. They both did but not at the same time - the 'Doyenne' flowering well ahead of the newer arrival. A few pear like growths appeared on the 'Doyenne' but amounted to nothing. This year's wait was a more than just a case of bated breath as I wondered whether the trees had survived being uprooted and planted in a new dwelling place. Well I'm delighted to report that a) both are alive and kicking and b) that they are both flowering at exactly the same time albeit the 'Concorde' is only bearing a cluster or two of flowers. I am now waiting to see whether blossom will morph into pear this year. From what I've read it appears that it can sometimes be a few years wait before this happens but the odds must certainly be improved if the two companions are in flower in tandem. Whatever happens the 'Doyenne' has looked a picture this spring and though not a cherry as in A.E. Houseman's poem she has most certainly been 'wearing white for Eastertide'.


In other seasonal news there has been much activity on the allotment plot over the last few days perhaps too much as my body is protesting. The potatoes have gone in, broad beans and peas have been planted shallots have been transplanted into the ground and there has been much tidying up and weeding. I've spent some time in the greenhouse and I've also been thinking about the forthcoming annual plant sale at my gardening club. I have a stall there most years. The plants earmarked for the occasion unfortunately look as if they are going to be flowering well ahead of schedule, so I'm now having a mild panic thinking of what I will be able to take on the day. Himself has suggested putting them into the garage to delay flowering but somehow I don't think that this technique would be used by the exhibitors at the Chelsea Flower Show. What a challenge they must be facing this forward spring after last year's extremely backward's spring. Heading off back into the garden to ponder this dilemma over in more depth ..... What gardening activities have you been up to this Easter?

Monday, 14 April 2014

In A Vase on Monday ~ 'Accidents Will Happen'


At long last a vase of flowers to contribute to the 'In A Vase On Monday' meme hosted by the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. I've enjoyed this meme but have not participated up to now, the main reason being that I do not pick many flowers to bring into the house. Maybe the odd snowdrop posy will make it indoors in the winter and then throughout the summer bunches of sweet peas picked from the allotment come home with me two or three times a week. Other than that I have never really made a habit of picking flowers for the house.

This little vase came about completely by accident last Sunday into Monday. I've recently bought some dicentra spectablis alba plants (I refuse to use the new name) and whilst retrieving one of them out of the cold frame managed to break a flowering stem off. I cursed and bought the poor stem indoors thinking that I might as well appreciate its beauty at close quarters. The alternative would have been to lob it in the compost bin which would have been somewhat sad. On the Monday we had a spell of torrential rain. The 'Thalia' daffodils took a real battering so I rescued a couple of flattened stems and added them to the dicentra. From there I decided to add a bit more bulk to the vase so in came a sprig or two of lonicera nitada 'Baggesen's Gold' for foliage interest, plus the odd stem of the dreaded lamium galeobodon variegatum. I have written about my battle with this thug here and I'm still fighting If anybody knows how to kill this plant please do let me know.To add insult to injury the flowers do not last long in water - just another negative point to add to its undesirable qualities.

I've had the little jar for ages and as far as I can remember I bought it from a local charity shop. It is a stoneware cream jar. These jars were used during the period from 1880 - 1920. Hailwood's was a large dairy company and this particular pot was from their Manchester Creamery in Broughton.

If you've not visited Cathy to have a look at her current vase do have a peek here. You can also visit links to other bloggers who have been snipping away and who have been most creative with their cut flowers.

I'm playing with my new camera at the moment trying to familiarise myself with its settings so my photos may be a bit iffy. This one was taken against a black background but seems to have picked up a halo effect somewhere along the process. Hopefully you can pick out the contents of the vase and clicking on the photo should make it larger again.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

April Musing


"If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud.

If ever I heard blessing it is there
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is."


From 'April Rise' - Laurie Lee, 1914 - 1997.

Think of Laurie Lee and invariably thoughts of 'Cider With Rosie' and 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' come to my mind, both books encountered and enjoyed during school days. It came as a complete surprise to me last week when watching 'Countryfile' to learn that Laurie Lee also wrote poetry. The programme explained how this year marks the centenary of Lee's birth and on the 26th June 2014 the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust will unveil the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way. This trail will consist of a six mile circular walk around the Slad Valley, which was the setting for 'Cider With Rosie'. The walk will take in some of Gloucestershire's nature reserves and will include ten new larch posts, each over five feet tall which will be inscribed with Laurie Lee's poems all inspired by the local landscape. The poem 'April Rise' was mentioned in the programme by his daughter who read it to the poet shortly before his death. I will be looking out for more of Laurie Lee's poetry to fill in a huge missing gap. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Willowy Wednesday ~ Tree Following In April


Sometime silently last week the willow opened up its first leaves of the year. There was no fanfare as far as I know and sadly I was not around to pinpoint this most special magic. I was slightly miffed as I was doing daily checks but then the lurgy and other events meant that I briefly took my eye off the ball and then look what happened !



Other than the leafing there is not much more to say about my willow this month other than I've noticed that there is a substantial patch of moss on the trunk.


I've discovered this because I'm looking at the tree more closely than ever before and squeezing in behind the shed to look at it from angles. If  I become permanently wedged there and don't hear from me for a while you will know where to direct the search party. More on my willow next month. Thanks to Lucy over at 'Loose and Leafy' for hosting this excellent meme. I will be visiting some of the other participants later today when I look forward to meeting some new to me trees as well as reaquainting myself with others.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

End Of Month View ~ March 2014.

Crocus 'Yalta'
A combination of the dreaded lurgy and being occupied with family matters has delayed my EOMV post but here is a brief round up, before it all disappears from the recesses of my foggy mind. My March word is again a four lettered one - SLOW. It sums up the progress that I seem to be making with my garden plans.


In the garden the main task has been a major spring clean of the relatively new gabion border aka 'The Great Wall Of Cheshire'. Surprise, surprise - the top soil which was imported for the bed did not live up to its top quality label. There were all sorts of perennial weeds having a go at making a good take over bid, so it was a case of off with their heads and into the bucket. I then top dressed with leaf mould some of which was less decomposed than I would have preferred but needs must. The plan is is to cover it up again with wood bark when expenses permit. Already somewhat dishearteningly some of the weeds were already making a come back by the end of the month. If I keep an eagle eye open on them I will knock them into eventual submission.


The bed is mainly planted for late winter/early spring interest with hellebores, snowdrops, pulmonarias, cardamine pratensis, the little 'Elka' narcissus (more to be added this autumn) and bergenia purpurescens 'Helen Dillon' form. A couple of shrubs have now been added. The first is prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' which had been lurking in a container for some time but a decision was made to take the plunge and get in the ground. Also planted was a rather tiddly bare - rooted amelanchier lamarckii which was reassuringly opening its leaves by the end of the month. For later interest there are a couple of astrantia 'Gill Richardson', an actaea and a couple of aster diveraticus.


There are still plenty of big gaps for further planting. I bought a few perennial plants to go in the other day but will mention them in April's EOMV post. The big brain teaser at the moment is that I need to plant a shrub or two to clothe the walls and am still mulling this over. The border faces north and I would prefer evergreens as the bare wall is still rather bleak.

I've noticed an unsightly nibbling problem in this border which is illustrated by the photo below. I have the same aster diveraticus in another part of the garden which are not affected and have not been before now. There are also some nibbles on hellebore leaves. Sadly I had to remove an emerging day lily the foliage of which has really suffered.  I don't think that molluscs are the sole culprits. Any suggestions would be more than welcome.


In the greenhouse the heated sand bench is up and running. Tomatoes 'Box Car Willy', 'Banana Leggs', 'Ananas Noire' and 'Cream Sausage' were sown with very poor germination. I don't usually have any problems germinating tomatoes so don't know whether to put it down to the seed supplier, the compost or whether it is down to human error. A second batch has gone in so I will report back in due course. March sweet pea sowings of 'Erewhon', 'Fire and Ice' and 'Cupani' are all coming along nicely. Veggie sowings included broad bean' Witkiem Manita' and 'Douce Provenance' peas. 'Red Sun', 'Golden Gourmet' and 'Jermor' shallots were planted in cells and are now more than ready to head to the allotment to get their feet in the ground along with 'Red Baron' onions.

Plant purchases in March included the perennial fuchsia 'Hawkshead' along with two more special snowdrops 'Three Ships' and 'Erway'. I also made an online order from Crocus for a  couple of hellebore plug plants - 'Double Ellen Red' and 'Double Ellen Picotee, a trio of dahlias and finally salvia 'Amistad'. which I'd been hankering for. I've bought bulbs and the odd present from Crocus before but have as far as I remember not ordered plants from them. I was most impressed with the packaging and the speed of delivery. These purchases were prompted by a phone call from a good friend, who had ordered hellebore plugs herself and mentioned not only their quality but the fact that the Gardeners World website is presently offering 20% discount off orders placed with Crocus. This offer is valid until the end of April so it could be worth having a peek.

Thanks as always to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener Weblog' for hosting this most useful and inspirational meme.