Monday, 29 December 2014

Snowdrops and Roses


Well here it seems that Christmas disappeared almost faster than you could say it. We have had a stay at home quiet but thoroughly relaxing few days. All in all the batteries which were running down are now thoroughly restored. There has been good food and wine and pursuit of gentle pleasures including reading, jigsaw puzzling, crossword solving, scrabbling as well as watching the odd film. There were some gardening related presents including a couple of books (more of them a later date), pruners, secateurs, gardening gloves, a packet of peas and some muscari bulbs to plant in a most pretty jug. Best of was a trowel which made me positively purr.

The first jigsaw entitled 'Garden Party' pictured above was a challenge to the old grey matter - only 250 pieces but the pieces were not conventional. It did not follow that a straight side necessarily equated with an edge piece - they could be in the middle of the jigsaw. If the kind donor of this gift
(a birthday present from earlier in the year) reads this you chose well my friend. We have now moved on to a thousand piecer which should keep occupied for some considerable time.

Although it was not a white Christmas we had snow on the Feast of Stephen. It arrived in darkness and was quite magical. My nose had detected that snowfall was imminent earlier in the day so I was on the look out for it. I've had discussions about being able to smell snowfall with several family members and friends and there seems to be a divided camp on the topic. What about you - can you smell snow before it arrives?


The bitterly cold temperatures since have prevented it from melting completely so scattered but substantial white patches remain. No chance to use the new trowel yet as the earth is indeed still hard as iron but I've made it to the greenhouse each day to study the state of snowdrop play. There have been one or two casualties, some will not flower this year whilst some have multiplied most considerately. In flower for Christmas Day were 'Mrs Macnamara', 'Faringdon Double',' Peter Gatehouse', 'Fieldgate Prelude', and an unlabelled bulb which did not flower at this time last year or during the remainder of the winter. I obtained 'Peter Gatehouse' in the green earlier this year so this was its first flowering. It was also a debut for 'Fieldgate Prelude' bought in 2013 and which has multiplied well. You can see a photo above. The seasonally named 'Three Ships' and 'Ding Dong' did not live up their reputation with the former going over well before Christmas whilst the latter is only just showing white. Now I know that I do not really need any more snowdrops but I'm already debating which I might add to my little collection over the next few weeks. Elsewhere in the garden I had two varieties of rose still in flower for Christmas Day - snowdrops and roses, now that's a first!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Be Merry and Bright!


The above angel floats on high overlooking the Angel Field Garden at Liverpool Hope University. I visited the garden back at the beginning of April this year and must return there in the future.
Wishing all my dear blogging friends peace and joy at Christmas. May your days be merry and bright!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday ~ A Red Letter Day!


Congratulations to a most special lady, my Mum, who is ninety years young today and still buying plants for her garden!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ December 2014


"We are into December, Mid-winter-monath in old Saxon, and what a difficult time it is to produce flowers to fill even a few vases in the house. The winter flowering - cherry, Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis' is a great stand-by. I have been cutting small branches of it for two weeks past, standing them in water in a warm room, when the green buds surprisingly expand into the white, faintly-scented blossom suggestive of spring. This is a little tree which should be planted in every garden. It doesn't take up much space, and pays a rich dividend for picking from November until March. Even if frost catches some of the buds, it seems able, valiant little thing that it is, to create a fresh supply. This year, the winter cherry was in full flower in the open during the first fortnight of November ; I picked bucketfuls of the long white sprays; then came two nights of frost on November 15th and 16th; the remaining blossom was very literally browned - off, I despaired of getting any more for weeks to come. But ten days later, when the weather had more of less recovered itself, a whole new batch of buds was ready to come out, and I got another bucketful as fresh and white and as virgin as anything in May. 

There is a variety of this cherry called 'Autumnalis Rosea', slightly tinged with pink; I prefer the white myself, but that is a matter of taste'. 

~ Vita Sackville West, 1892 -1962.

Sadly my beloved Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis Rosea' is now a pale ghost of its former self. It has probably reached the quarter of a century mark and although still producing flowers, they seem to be increasingly sparse and now mainly decorate the higher branches of the tree. Picking any branches for vases would now be a ladder job even for himself who is a good six footer. Taking photos of the clusters of blossoms is a challenge too which was beyond me today so the above photo is of a solitary lower down open flower. This year the tree was showing some blossom in October, which must be the earliest I've seen it in flower. I think though that the time has come for a replacement reluctant that I am to cull it. This time round I will be looking for the white flowering version which I could not track down all those years ago.

Thanks as always to Carol over at 'May Dreams Gardens' for hosting this inspirational meme, which I always visit equipped with notepad and pen.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday ~ Window Dressing in Ghent.


To celebrate thirty years of wedded bliss, himself whisked me off to Ghent last week, where despite the chill these window containers were still going strong. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Musing in December


"This is the darkest month ; it is plunged into despair yet elevated by hope. December is a meaningful but mysterious month. During its passage much will die ; but before its end rebirth will start with an all powerful upsurge. It is the time of the lowest ebb, the nadir. As the year moves towards the winter solstice and light decreases day by day, it's easy to feel cheated. The garden shuts down, creating a feeling of hopefulness ; its demise is inevitable and there is no point in fighting - perhaps it is better to give in? It's tempting to scrape the mud from your boots and put them in the cupboard , but no, there is so much to do and December gardening has its own special pleasures.

Now comes the start of the big clean up. This may be the era of the dying down, dying back, withdrawing, but underneath the surface of the soil so much is happening.

Sometimes the soul is crunch - cold, the wind is biting and the chances of having any meaningful interaction with the garden is below zero - so is the temperature. But there are still many jobs to do. Many of these anticipate the coming year, turning this month into a time of preparation ; to retire to my shed and scan the boxes and baskets of paper bags full of seeds I've collected in the last few months as a treat to look forward to ; then indulge in. Reading the names hastily scribbled, occasionally almost undecipherable, the image of those plants in their glory is conjured up. And as I winnow the seed , carefully separating it from the chaff and packing it into brown envelopes , the anticipation of all the plants these seeds will become is enough to carry me , smiling, through even the shortest wettest day".

~ words from 'Life In A Cottage Garden' by Carol Klein.
~ illustration by Jill Barklem.