Monday, 28 December 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ "Where My Rosemary Goes"


After this morning's somewhat disconcerting shock of discovering daffodils in flower on the other side of the stream bordering the garden, thoughts turned to this week's 'In A Vase On Monday'. Several hellebores are now in flower including helleborus 'Walberton's Rosemary', the large  flowers of which turn a deeper pink with age. The flowers were specifically bred to look upwards and do to some extent.

The flower that I had to brace myself to cut is now floating in the base of a ceramic candle container. I bought this at a local craft fair many years ago. The whole caboodle usually comes out at this time of year, when it sits on the hearth from where it sends out a warm glow in the evenings. A few left over cranberries provided a splash of colour underneath the flower.

With a special thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting. Now to find out what everyone else is including in this the last vase of the year.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

"Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire"



Some welcome bright sunny weather kick-started the day, so we took a stroll along the canal towpath in the direction of town to pick up last minutes essentials. Just off the busy high street and in the shelter of an old brick wall is a small grassy area of land, which is maintained by a community arts project. Recently a seasonal makeover has taken place, which provides a most welcome splash of colour and a bit of Christmas magic to please all generations.


Here's wishing all my lovely blogging friends a most Merry Christmas!

Monday, 21 December 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Lime Green


This week's vase for 'A Vase On Monday' is a small posy of chrysanthemum 'Anastasia Green', which has finally flowered after much, much waiting or so it seems. It is one of a collection of five varieties of rooted chrysanthemum cuttings which I bought earlier this year from 'Sarah Raven'.


'Anastasia Green' is a half hardy perennial which is recommended as being a good chrysanthemum to grow in a sunny porch, conservatory or in a greenhouse. I wish I had access to the first two but don't, so my plants have been lurking in the greenhouse for some time in anticipation of the frosts that we've not had as yet. They are straggly and gangly creatures which are getting in the way. I could forgive them if they were more floriferous but they have not produced much in the way of flower. 

Growing chrysanthemums is a first for me and I think that I need to do more research into both varieties and cultivation. Just round the corner from here is a garden which has a fabulous pink variety in numbers in the borders growing at the base of a short wall. They flower their socks off each autumn and are obviously happy and hardy. Maybe one day I might come across the gardener of the household to ask its name. I also think that I didn't perhaps give my plants enough tlc or sunshine. The allotment would probably be a more suitable home. I would like to try again as their late autumn flowering is a huge plus, so it's back to the drawing board over the winter. Any recommendations would be most welcome especially hardy varieties.

In case you are wondering the garlic jar has absolutely no relevance - it just happened to be there. The little vase is one of a cheap collection of four decorated differently coloured vases that came from Lidl. It's ideal for just holding a few flowers.

Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting a weekly get together of vases from all over. I'm looking forward to seeing what other flowers are playing starring roles today on this last day of autumn (in the northern hemisphere).

Monday, 14 December 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Gleaming In The Gloaming


"We are into December, Mid -winter-monath in old Saxon, and what a difficult time it is to fill even a few vases in the garden" ~  from "The Illustrated Garden Book' by Vita Sackville-West. 

It was one of those December weekends when it was thoroughly dark, cold, wet and miserable throughout here on the Costa del Merseyside. The sort of weather which made it so much easier to get on with seasonal tasks such as card writing. During the odd break I wondered round and looked out of the windows. I was cheered by the sight of my prunus subhirtella autumnalis, aka autumn flowering cherry in full flow. It positively glowed in the gloom. Yesterday himself who is taller than me was dispatched in waterproofs to cut a few branches. He returned with what initially looked like half a tree but he assured me that it was just the lowest branch. I don't think that the flowers will last long as there was a considerable confetti shower when I filled not one but two vases ~



Getting a photograph to do the subject justice was a challenge, thanks to the quality of light, but here is one taken under sunny blue skies at the end of March 2012 ~ 



This is a most generous tree as it produces a second flush of flowers in the spring. It's the autumn blooms that are most precious and the show this year seems particularly floriferous probably because of the mild autumn we've experienced.

This afternoon I've got to concentrate on wrapping up and prettifying the seasonal pot pourri I mentioned in my last post, as I'm meeting with the recipients tomorrow. However I'm looking forward to sitting down this evening to do some virtual vase visiting. Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' as always for being such a brilliant hostess.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Seasonal Scent


A production line has been in operation in the kitchen this week putting together some gifts of Christmas potpourri. It was quite relaxing sitting there making this concoction - all that was missing was some suitable music and a glass of sherry.

My potpourri mix started with the pine cones, which were picked from the campsite in Normandy where we stayed this summer. To them I've added dried orange slices, some star anise, cinnamon sticks, cinnamon rough sticks and nutmeg. The resulting scent is most subtle and soothing. Other ingredients can be added as you go along e.g. dried cranberries or rose hips for a dash of red, bay leaves for a hint of green, dried flowers etc.

It's possible to dry the oranges yourself which is what I originally intended to do, but I conveniently came across a boxed set of them in a well known German supermarket, along with boxed sets of the cinnamon products. If this stroke of serendipity had not transpired, I would have purchased most of the ingredients online from a company specialising in florist supplies. This is much cheaper than buying the small jars of spices that you come across in supermarkets. The star anise however was purchased as a small jar, simply because I wanted to see that it had not been broken in transit which is what sometimes happens.

The next step will be to bag the ingredients in some snowflake adorned cellophane bags and tie them up with some pretty string or ribbon. I will also be dotting one or two bowls of this mix about the house. As I suffer from asthma I have to be careful when it comes to introducing any scented product in the house. I'm sure that there is nothing in this concoction that will bring about the dreaded wheezing. 

Should the potpourri become jaded as we all do at some point over the festive season it can be revived with a drop or two of essential oil e.g. orange, cinnamon etc.

Are you still busy making any festive gifts or is all the present preparation already done and dusted?


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Vanished Into Thin Air

"All the kitchens along Brambly Hedge were warm and busy. Hot soups, punches and puddings bubbled and in the ovens pies brown and sizzled. Clover and Catkin helped Mrs Apple string crabapples to roast over the fire. The boys had to sit and watch because they ate too many.
"It's not that I mind, dears, but we must have SOME left for the punch!" "

 ~ extract and illustration from 'Winter Story' by Jill Barklem


There is but one lonely crabapple hanging from my first time fruiting malus 'Red Sentinel' tree today, which this time last week was covered with bright red berries. I would not feel so aggrieved but all the blurb that I read before choosing the tree suggested that it would hang on to its berries until well into the winter. I had visions of using a few berries in festive decorations but ......


Does anybody else grow 'Red Sentinel' and if so what is your experience? I'm not sure whether the berries have been purloined by creatures or whether the ferocious gales we've had of late have stripped them off the branches. Another of those garden related mysteries which I will no doubt ponder over for some time to come probably never to reach a clearcut conclusion.

Monday, 23 November 2015

November Musing ~ Frost Warning


It seemed as if the frost would never come. Late November, and there are still lush mounds of bright green nasturtium leaves, around the feet of the yew cones in the plates-bandes - the trailing sorts, spilling out in their exuberance over the little box hedges, which are themselves sprouting soft new growth after the August clip which should have seen them safely into winter.

Pots of violet-blue streptocarpus which should by now be over-wintering on the bathroom window-sill are still lining the steps up to the back door. There are white geraniums and raspberries still. Roses too of course - Portlands and Chinas, moschatas and noisettes - even a solitary pink bloom on the blue steel foliage of 'Queen Of Denmark'. And all the tender evergreens are still outside : a single precious ball of phillyrea, three pyramids of myrtle, and fifteen big standards of Seville oranges which will take two of us to shift when the time comes. In a normal year they would already be tucked in the house.

And tonight there's a cold rising wind from the north. As darkness falls I can smell the cold. On the six o'clock news there are pictures of snow in Scotland and on the east coast. It's too late to move things now. I go back out again to swathe the orange trees in fleece, drag the myrtles and phillyrea into shelter, move the geraniums and streptocarpus closer to the walls of the house. The wind whips the fleece out of my hands, unravelling. I go back in to fetch string and scissors and a flashlight. By the time I finish, the cold is pinching my nostrils and striking up through the soles of my canvas shoes.

In our house we call the 'homework on the bus' syndrome. It's always the same : however much time I have, I always seem to be behind it".

 ~ extract from 'The Morville Year' by Katherine Swift.

Illustration of 'Blowing Leaves' by Arthur Rackham.

Was it just me or was anyone else dashing around yesterday to get all those sensitive plants under cover before that first frost descended?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ November 2015


Coming out of my cold frame for some exercise especially for GBBD is saxifraga cortusifolia 'Silver Velvet'. This was a purchase from a plant fair held at Abbeywood Gardens in Cheshire this August. It should have course been planted by now but I think that it may well now reside in the cold frame overwinter. Although the dark foliage is what initially caught my attention its delicate starry late autumn flowers have been its selling point over the last couple of months. It is admittedly going over now but I was not around in October much to take photos. 


There was little information on the plant label when I bought it so a delve into Google pointed me in the direction of a post on the very same plant from Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener'. Here you can see the plant in more close up detail. Getting a decent photograph has been a struggle with the poor light and blustery wind that have been assailing this neck of the woods. Helen kindly provided me with some more information about 'Silver Velvet' reassuring me about its hardiness. Like Helen I'm debating about where and what to plant it with but am presently leaning towards planting it in the company of some ferny goodness. Being a woodland plant it prefers some shade but not dry shade.

 A special thanks to Carol over May Dreams Gardens, who so generously provides us with a monthly platform to share the flowers and foliage that are giving us pleasure, as well as a brilliant opportunity to add to our wish lists! Now where's my notebook and pen?

Monday, 9 November 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Gourdness Gracious Me!


Can it really be two years since Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' made her first 'In A Vase on Monday' post? Well it well and truly is so time to join in the celebrations today! I must admit that I was slow to get off the ground with participating in this meme. My first vase did not materialise until April 2014 - during that year my sum total of vases was a miserly eight. However this post will be number nineteen to date this year so I'm obviously getting the bug along with many other bloggers.

I had never really been in the habit of picking flowers to bring into the house to enjoy at close quarters. I may have bought in the odd small posy of snowdrops in the depths of winter and have regularly picked bunches of sweet peas from the allotment, but that was the extent of my vases, unless I treated myself to a shop bought bouquet or was treated to one. Now I'm really beginning to anticipate what I might be able to pick for a vase and to enjoy putting them together.

I've also recently realised that I do have a cutting garden although the penny has been very slow to drop. I've always had a couple of beds at the allotment which I use for growing flowers and herbs but have never thought of them as a cutting garden as such. I'm considering expanding these beds next year. Not only will it give me the chance to grow some old favourites but also plants that I've not grown before. I already have a long list of flowers/foliage that have caught my eye as I've admired other vases. Most of these will be annuals.

Considering that it's a party today the weather gods are not behaving today chucking down rain and blowing wind which is most inconsiderate of them. So my vase plans have had to change accordingly. I've gathered together a number of gourds which came back with us from our recent holiday. Yes we tend to bring odd souvenirs back with us from our travels. I used to be able to buy gourds to ring in the seasonal changes from our local Country Market but sadly this closed during the summer. I shall definitely be buying gourd seeds to sow next spring. The pumpkins are 'Wee Be Little' which I grew at the allotment this year and which will be eaten in due course. Although on the small side they are most tasty and keep well. The gourds are sitting on a special plate made and given to us as a wedding gift by one of my aunts. The candle needs no explanation. It's contained in a glass jar hand decorated by either my mother or sister. I can't remember which so further investigations are called for. There is a dragonfly on the other side. I shall be removing this arrangement to the living room later, where I will be lighting the candle for a warming glow in the long November evenings to come.

A special vote of thanks to Cathy who not only came up with the idea of 'A Vase On Monday' but has also been the most consistent and encouraging hostess that you could wish for. Cathy, you deserve a gold star ⭐️

Monday, 2 November 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Preloved


Leaping into this week's 'In A Vase On Monday' and supplying the post title are the the three 'John Riley' chrysanthemums from last week's vase. Will they still be going strong next Monday? They have been joined by a couple of stalwarts which have featured in previous vases, namely mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream' and dianthus barbatus 'Green Trick'. Both of these plants are now at the tail end of flower production days for this year and the flowers that I picked are perhaps a little past their sell buy date. I was reluctant to pick the mathiasella until I saw signs of new emerging flowers on the plant. I have just checked and it featured in a vase on 8th June this year. This plant has been in flower on and off since May so certainly works hard for a living. It took a good two or three years to establish but has flourished since. Moreover it seems untroubled by pests/disease - sssshhhhhh - dare I say that out aloud? My only complaint is that I always have to check its spelling and the fact that it's a mouthful to get my tongue round. The dianthus occupies space at the allotment and featured in vases in July and August. Although this week's vase is perhaps my favourite of the three, looking at and comparing the respective vases has made me realise what a versatile character 'Green Trick' is. I intended to take cuttings but smack wrists haven't done so. They are described as short lived perennials so I really hope that the plants come through the winter.



The red twiggy bits are from an overgrown cornus (variety unknown) which is in need of a good prune. The foliage is from one of my favourite plants - brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'. I'm not sure how long the leaves will last in water so will be observing closely.



I've no idea where the vase came from or how long I've had it. There's not even a single clue on its base to suggest its origins. It's a most useful vessel though. 

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for being such a gracious hostess every Monday.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

End Of Month View ~ October 2015


October is coming to an end with snowdrops and sweet peas. The snowdrop in question is one of my specials 'Galanthus plicatus 'Three Ships' - well I that's what the label purports. If the identity is correct it's certainly sailing in well ahead of time. From what I've read about it although an autumn flowering snowdrop, it's more of a late November/ December bloomer than a late October star. I will have to get out my snowdrop tomes and do some serious research. This week on the sweet pea front I've picked what will probably be the last vase worth of the year from the allotment. I thought that I might have picked the last bunch just before we went off on holiday in the last week of September but returned to find that the plants have got a second wind. I will do a separate post on this year's sweet peas soon. I was thinking of missing out on autumn sowing again this year but had a change of heart so a batch of 'Cupani' have just gone in. I'm trying a late October sowing rather than an early one to see if this will produce less leggy plants by the time they are ready for planting out.

I must admit that I have been very much in the doldrums recently when it comes to both garden and allotment which I think explains why I've not participated in the EOMV for some time. In fact I've just checked and June was my last contribution! Lack of time has been a real issue this year which may be hard to understand as I'm no longer working. In theory I should have all the time in the world but in practise it's not working out like that at the moment.  I was hoping for a bit of catch up and to do some planting when we returned from holiday earlier this month. However I had more or less no sooner unpacked when I had to unexpectedly down tools to go and care for a poorly mother. So October has gone by in a blink. It doesn't help that October has been a most benign and gardener friendly month. 

I had been feeling decidedly peeved at missed gardening opportunities but I'm trying to be positive and think ahead to next year now! I have bulbs to plant (too many as usual), have just ordered a new shrub promising dazzling autumnal colour and am considering one or two perennial purchases for spring delivery. I've also cheered up every time I go out in the garden at the moment by the new crab apple that we planted back in February 2014. Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel' has produced its first ever fruits which are an absolute delight. The books say they quite often last until the new year and so far there seems to be little in the way of damage from the elements or theft from the feathered population. 

Thanks as always to the lovely Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' for hosting this most useful and informative monthly meme. 

Monday, 26 October 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'Anyone Who Had A Heart'

Taking centre stage this week is the second of my chrysanthemum collection to flower. I know that Cathy, our intrepid 'In A Vase on Monday' hostess also bought the same collection of rooted chrysanthemum cuttings from Sarah Raven as I did earlier in the year. So I've been wondering how her plants are faring of late. Any blooms yet Cathy? We are both keen to see the acid green 'Froggy' leap into action.

This particular chrysanthemum goes by the name of 'John Riley' and it's a tender perennial. The flowers took me by complete surprise returning home on Friday after an unexpected absence of a good few days. The vase has been lurking on a hall window sill for some considerable time but has never been used for flowers before. It's an Emma Bridgewater Pink Hearts Milk Bottle Vase and was purchased a few years ago via eBay. 


The neck of the vase is on the small side but three flowers slipped in nicely. Now I will wait with bated breath to see if the flowers live up to the information that they will look good in a vase for up to three weeks. The rest of the collection has still to flower but there are buds and tantalising hints of colour so fingers crossed for a late autumn show. 


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Tree Following With Lucy ~ Disappearing Act


After an absence from the garden catching up with my chosen tree and its neighbour was much anticipated on my return. We arrived back home in darkness so it wasn't until the next morning that I hurtled out to see my trees with visions of finding some ripe pears dangling from the branches. I had given up any hope of eating fruit from the 'Doyenne du Comice' tree this year but was looking forward to munching pears from its neighbour a few feet away. Back in September there were nine healthy looking tantalising fruits dangling from its branches. Well what was waiting for me? Not a single solitary pear was left on the tree and no traces of cores or pips in the vicinity! Oh what disappointment and yet another year to wait before I eat one of my own pears. This waiting for my first homegrown pear is in danger of becoming a saga that may yet outlive me.

I must admit that in the flurry of activity that seems accompany holiday preparations, I may have not paid close heed to them in the week or so before we left but they were definitely still on the tree when we left. I understand that the weather was mainly dry, sunny and warm whilst we were away. However there was one wet and windy day, which may explain the rather large broken tree branch I found on the ground nearby. This was from a tree growing on the boundary of the garden not so far from the pears. My theory is that the fruits had probably ripened in this golden spell of autumn weather, only to be shaken off on that one wild day and snaffled up by one of the many passing grey squirrels which haunt the garden. Oh yes I can imagine that the flavour combo with horse chestnut conkers would be quite delicious.





Well the wait goes on. My chosen tree is now looking rather sorry for itself as you can see from the top photo being already almost completely undressed. I'm sure that it did not look so weary last October. In comparison its pear tree neighbour is still wearing mainly green. Back in September our hostess Lucy commented that she would like a closer peek at the rust affecting some of the leaves. In response to this I took a couple of photos. I will add these as a postscript to September's post but have also included them here. If you have a pear tree and see orange spots like this take action and remove the affected leaves. I was slightly consoled by a comment from Brian over at Our Garden@19, who said that his pear tree was affected by rust for the first time this year. Maybe it's just not been the year of the pear.

Thanks as always to Lucy over 'Loose And Leafy' who hosts this meme where tree followers and their trees gather from all over the show gather every month for an update.

Monday, 12 October 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Autumn's Bounty


There has been quite a major change on the home front here when himself retired at the end of May. One of his long held wishes was to go on a rail holiday in Europe to celebrate and that's what we have just done. Starting off in Amsterdam we then travelled on to Berlin, Prague, Bratislava (a last minute destination instead of Budapest), Vienna and finally Frankfurt before arriving back home on Saturday evening. 

We have some absolutely fabulous memories including seeing the finishing stages of the Berlin Marathon as the runners came through the Brandenburg Gate, walking around the enchanting city of Prague, and in Vienna visiting the jaw- dropping formal gardens at the Schönbrunn Palace as well as watching the Lipizzaner horses train at the Spanish School of Riding.


However we've taken away some most poignant and sobering memories too of groups of refugees gathered on the concourse of the main railway station at Vienna. Their numbers included some family groups but what was particularly noticeable were the significant numbers of apparently single young men, most of whom were travelling with very little in the way of possessions. On our departure from Vienna for Frankfurt on Friday morning, several of their numbers were waiting for the same train as us and we were asked several times for confirmation of the train's destination.The journey started but for many of them ended prematurely at Passau on the German border. Here a number of police officers walked through the train to check whether they had visas to enter Germany, explaining that without these they could proceed no further. The outcome of this was that a number of refugees had to leave the train. We're sure what happened next - our last sight of our fellow passengers was as they were shepherded into an queue on the platform. The experience certainly put any small worries I have into perspective and reminded us of just how fortunate we are. 

On a lighter note although we only visited one garden as such during the trip, I had to make several compulsory pit stops to gaze at gawp at the displays outside florist' shops. My 'vase' this week is one that caught my eye in Bratislava. In the pumpkin were asters, a dahlia, a sunflower, various hips and berries, richly coloured leaves, a couple of ears of sweet corn, hedgehogy cases spilling out sweet chestnuts, crab apples as well as what looked liked sprigs of herby goodness. Being a rather clumsy I dare not risk getting close up to peek to see how the contents were secured in case I disturbed the rest of the display. I did not have the energy yesterday or have had time today to come up with my own vase and take photos but thought that this is one that is calling out to be shared. With thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling Over The Garden' who came up with the brilliant concept of 'A Vase On Monday'. Do call in and wonder over vases from near and far.


Monday, 21 September 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ "Sunshine On A Rainy Day"


It looked as if there might not be a vase on a Monday today as it poured down most of the morning, whilst an essential shopping trip reared its ugly head in the afternoon. There was just time though earlier this evening before cooking our evening meal to snip my very first ever chrysanthemum. I've never grown them before - I'm not sure why, but they are hopefully going to provide some welcome autumn colour. I bought a set of plug plants from Sarah Raven earlier in the year, which contained two plants of five varieties. This is 'Orange Allouise' which is certainly providing a ray of warmth and sunshine today. There are doubts in my mind as to whether all the plants are going to flower as there are still no signs of flower buds on some but I've been telling myself that they've got perhaps until November to party. I'm off to make a welcome brew now, before sitting down to some vase gazing and gawping, thanks as always to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling in The Garden'.

Monday, 14 September 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ The Chicken Or The Egg?


In this instance the chicken came along first well before the egg. The chicken was liberated from a local charity shop sometime in the previous century and usually guards the entrance to the greenhouse. I suppose that strictly speaking he's a cockerel and also that I should treat him more kindly than I do. He remains outside all year round so he must get rather chilly at times and his feathers are getting quite thin in places.

The egg 'vase' only arrived this year. I can't take credit for the idea, which I came across somewhere when I was surfing the web on one of those serendipitous journeys that come from out of nowhere. I decided there and then to have a go. Several soft boiled eggs and toasted soldiers breakfasts followed, before I had an eggshell that was intact enough to find a home for this project. I think that I may be cheating a little this week as my 'vase' does have a teaspoon or so of compost in it and it is planted. I'm not sure what Cathy will have to say on the matter.


Put together in late spring and sitting outside since, both the vase and eggshell now show signs of being exposed to the elements. I'm not sure what will happen overwinter but will find out. However I suppose that this could happily live indoors just as well as outdoors. I have plans to make more as well as one or two ideas for seasonal variations, especially for Easter time, in the pipeline.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her idea of getting each week off to such an eggcellent start and providing us with the means of sharing our vases.

Friday, 11 September 2015

September Musing


"The sun that shines through the mauve, check - patterned petals of the autumn crocuses on the front lawn ripens our tomatoes. This is the pride of our year. To have grown a row of tomato plants in the open, one with forty -eight fruit tumbling heavily down on it, and the rest with nearly as many! They are beautiful in their dripping clusters, with their musty acrid smell. It will be a race now between the September sun ripening them and the autumn frosts smiting them. Already I take off those fruits that have turned a dull yellow, that they may redden in the sheltered sun in our windows. It's so difficult to find the dividing line in one's garden between utility and beauty. If things are eatable they are supposed to be only useful, if they are flowers they must be needs be merely decorative. But our tomatoes are lovelier than most flowers and and if we only have to tell the truth we must say that we only grow vegetable marrows and scarlet runners for the beauty of their blooms. To eat they are dull, but to look at they are disturbingly lovely. On the other hand beautiful though sunflowers are, I doubt if we should always aim at having them in our garden if it were not to provide, with their ripened seeds, an autumn delicacy for the tits".

~ an extract from 'Four Hedges' by Clare Leighton.



Monday, 7 September 2015

Tree Following With Lucy ~ September 2015.


Hopes of a bumper pear crop this year have long since disappeared! The last bulletin on my chosen tree for Tree Following With Lucy was back in June, when the tale was related of drastic June drop and the arrival of the disfiguring pear midge. We were away in July hence no update and I'm not sure sure what happened to August's post. Now in September the sorry saga has continued. The remaining grand total of all of six pears seem to have hung in a state of suspended animation all summer. The fruits are just not swelling and it's not as if it's been a dry summer in these parts. Not only that but to add insult to injury the leaves of the tree have now been afflicted by pear rust. Not wanting to hurt my tree's feelings further I decided that the tree paparazzi would steer clear of it this month. Instead the above photo is of its neighbour rescued from a bargain bin and planted only a few feet away. It has been affected by pear rust as well but not as badly - you can see the orange marks on the leaves. I need to remove these leaves as a matter of urgency. However on the plus side the fruit is expanding and there are more than six - well nine of them to be precise. Thanks as always to Lucy over at 'Loose and Leafy', who provides us with the opportunity to peek at trees of all shapes and sizes each month. Thoughts of putting my tree up for adoption are flitting through my mind - any takers?

Monday, 24 August 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'Spice Up Your Life'


The last task before leaving the allotment this afternoon was a pleasant one of picking some flowers for 'In A Vase On Monday'. It more than made up for all the vigorous weeding that had been going on earlier on. In this week's vase are the following trio :




  • Crocosmia - I've no idea on the variety as I inherited a clump of these when I took over the plot. They make a welcome splash of colour each summer and are not as vigorous as croscosmia 'Lucifer' which grows in the garden. They are on the now on the wane but still clinging on to some colour.
  • The emminently fluffy dianthus 'Green Trick'. I bought three plug plants of this earlier in the summer from Sarah Raven. One faded away but I've been delighted with the other two which have produced plenty of flowers. They are planted near dahlia' Arabian Night', the sultry dark red antirrhinum 'Black Prince' and nasturtium 'Blue Bepe', which will be a combination that I might well repeat next year.
  • Tagetes patula 'Cinnibar' which I've grown from seed. This variety was obtained by Christopher Lloyd in the gardens of Great Dixter. Apparently he selected seeds from taller plants to end up with this beauty which flowers from July to October. It will definitely be on next year's seed list. Unfortunately the molluscs also found them attractive and ate all my seedlings bar one which lived to tell the tale! I'm so pleased that it did.
The vase has appeared before. It contained seasonal pickle in a former life. A decision was made to relove it.

With thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who is our gracious hostess today.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day ~ On The Decking


Blog posts here seem to have been few and far between of late. One of the reasons for this is that we've been making the most of our new caravan. Our internet access is not reliable there so I've yet to attempt a blog post from the southern reaches of the Lake District.

Our much anticipated outside decking was finally installed earlier this summer and is now complete with table and chairs. The summer however so far has not proved conducive to al fresco dining. We've only managed it twice so far and had to dash in quickly on the first occasion when rain arrived between courses. Next summer can only be better and we yet may be blessed with a gentle balmy autumn. 

With sitting outside in mind I've been planting up one or two permanent containers. We have gone for leafy loveliness rather than for flowers. The caravan is situated at the edge of woodland so it's more on the shady side rather than full blown sunshine. As it name suggests the Lake District gets copious amounts of rain, so hopefully we should not have to worry unduly about watering in our absence.

So far two big containers have been planted - one with an acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' which we will have to trim as and when necessary. We bought this from the small but excellent garden centre in Grange-over-Sands, which is just four miles or so down the road from the caravan. On reflection I think that a green leaved acer may have made more or an impact but the deed has been done. 

The other container has been planted as you can see above although I still have to apply a top dressing. No doubt some re-jigging will be taking place before long. The first inhabitant is an unknown heuchera bought at our garden club plant sale back in May. I was attracted to it by its colour. There was a label but I've come to the conclusion that the seller probably invented the name, as I've been unable to find any mention of it in books or on the world wide web.



Keeping it company are plants that I already had at home. The fern is athyrium filix-femina 'Dre's Dagger', which was in a pot but suffered from me forgetting to water it regularly in dry spells. It was somewhat frazzled earlier this summer but has perked up considerably since moving house. Sadly it's deciduous.


The largest plant of the trio which may well eventually dominate the container is the evergreen nandina domestica 'Obsessed'. New growth in spring is a fiery red which slowly morphs into green over the season. It has the bonus of small white flowers in midsummer but my plant has not produced any this year.

So there are the big containers up to now but there will be smaller ones too. A hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' is waiting for a permanent pot. I've also walked round the site to have a nose to see what other plants are doing well in containers. I noted a number of flourishing hostas which much to my surprise have not suffered from the ravages of slugs and snails. So with this in mind I was tempted yesterday by hosta 'Catherine' spotted at the Southport Flower Show on the impressive 'Sue Proctor Plants' stand.


I have to confess that apart from the above photo the others were taken a couple of weeks or so ago but I'm sure that the hostess of 'Garden Bloggers Foliage Day', Christina over at "Creating my own garden in the Hesperides" will be gracious enough to permit this slight digression. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ "Anyone For An After Eight?"


A slightly late vase on a Monday from me this week - not quite after eight but almost. This week's pickings are definitely verging on the rushed plonk it in end of the spectrum, having returned home this afternoon after a weekend away. So in my vase this week are :

  • The yellow flower heads of bronze fennel. I must take the time here to explain that the mega cluster of snails browsing on fennel which featured on a recent Wordless Wednesday postwere not resident either in my garden or at the allotment plot. Thank goodness! As Annette from 'Annette's Garden' rightly guessed I photographed them on holiday in France. I have seen similar clusters on other holidays in France but have also came across snails gathered in such numbers on the Northumberland coast.
  • The pale mauve flowers of clematis jouiniana x 'Praecox,' which can either be grown as ground cover or as a climber. 
  • The soft and fluffies are from a new to me this year grass - Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose' which is rapidly becoming a favourite.
  • Aster amellus 'King George'. I know that some asters have undergone name changes of late so forgive me if this is one of them. I'm feeling somewhat frazzled after a packed liked a tin of sardines noisy train journey so the old grey matter is not feeling up to the necessary research. 
  • Dahlia 'Twyning After Eight', with its white flowers and deliciously dark foliage. I must remember to have a go at taking some cuttings from this next year. The tuber has been going for several years now but I lost its companion last year.



The last two occupants have short stems so hence the vase is on the small size. It's one that I've had for sometime so its origins are somewhat misty but was probably bought in a charity shop. 



Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who so kindly provides a weekly platform for us to showcase our vases. It's much appreciated.

Monday, 10 August 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Almost But Not Quite


Sweet peas picked from the allotment are the sole occupants of this week's vase. Sown towards the end of March they've just come into their own in the last two or three weeks. The varieties were chosen mainly for their scent rather than colour. Having said that I was still aiming for a variety of contrasting but complimentary colours. I feel that I've almost succeeded but not quite.


The first sowings met with disaster as they were sown uncovered in the greenhouse and provided a mice sized meal or two or maybe there was more than one hungry mouse. A second sowing ensued but two of the eight varieties failed completely to materialise. One of these was the deep burgundy maroon of 'Beaujolais', whilst the other was 'Eclipse,' which was an unknown factor but still much anticipated.



So there were six varieties left in the mix. 'Matucana','Erewhon' had both featured in last year's sweet peas and once again lived up to expectations. The newbies all delivered in different degrees. Bright pink 'Gwendoline' makes for the most study plants out of the lot, bearing the longest and straightest of stems. 'Mollie Rilstone' has proved to be a most subtle but oh so attractive cream flushed with pink edges, whilst 'Hi Scent' also known as 'High Scent' has more than lived up to its name.


So plans for next year include having another go at autumn sowing as well as perhaps a slightly earlier spring sowing. The six star performers have all got automatic season tickets. Their ranks will be added to by 'Beaujolais' or a similar colour, by the highly scented cream of 'Cathy' as well as 'Turquoise Lagoon', which is the one that got away in the seed box this time round. I may include another deeper pink but the jury is still out on this. Any recommendations if I do?



My prop is the short but delightful true story 'A Bunch Of Sweet Peas' by Henry Donald. It tells the tale of one of the competitors in the 1911 'Daily Mail' sweet pea competition. My plain glass vase is a cheap and cheerful from Wilkos.

What will everyone else have in their vases this week I wonder. I will be having a peek later via 'Rambling In The Garden'. With many thanks to Cathy for enabling us to share our vases of floral loveliness on Mondays.