Thursday, 30 April 2015

End Of Month View ~ April 2015


'Stealth' is this month's word - all sorts of flowers have opened in the blink of an eyelid and the month has evaporated just as quickly. The first floral find of the month was away from home in Cumbria where I was delighted to come across this bone china cup and saucer for sale in a charity shop. It's one of a set of 'The Flower Of The Month' series manufactured by Royal Albert. I have a few mainly cups featuring other months of the year. Himself also came across a book of Lakeland walks which together with the china cost the grand total of £3! I'm still quite understand the connection between April and the sweet pea but there you go.


In the middle of the month we returned to Cumbria for a visit that I was really looking forward to. We went to the Lyth Valley Damson Day but sadly I have no photos of blossoms to share. Nobody had told the blossoms to flower that weekend. This was a shame as the event is held annually to celebrate the arrival of spring in Westmorland and the damson blossom. Apparently this was the first time that the blossoms had not obliged. Still there was plenty to see and wander at including a dog agility competition, various demonstrations of rural crafts, damson products for sale and fortunately a couple of stalls selling guess what - plants! Needless to say I resisted the bouncy castle.

April here like as in most of the country has seen more sunshine than usual. The down side has that is has been extremely dry and not good planting weather. It's ending more true to form with some decent deluges during the last couple of days, so I'm hoping to to do some work soon in the gabion border which you can see below.

Spot The Dandelion!
It looked quite good for the first couple of weeks in April but the colour is now beginning to fade. The weeds are also making their presence known especially self seeded cow parsley. As I mentioned I want to inject more colour and plants in this area especially for later in the year. The thinking cap is still on. Hopefully I can report some action by the end of May.

Wildlife has been interesting this month but not always appreciated. My varied selection of sweet peas were decimated before they even germinated. I made the mistake of forgetting to put a propagator lid on the root trainers, resulting in nearly all the seeds being eaten by some furry little creature. We were away when this happened so it was particularly galling to rush to my greenhouse on return to discover the remains of seed cases littering the compost. Another lot has gone in but germination has not been brilliant with 'Beaujolais' being a complete no show.

Elsewhere a wren has decided to nest amongst my collection of pots of special snowdrops. I would normally be quite happy to welcome such a home builder but with it being so dry I've been worried about the plants not getting water. Himself being more pragmatic assured me that nests do get wet, so he used the hose with a fine mist attachment to water and hopefully neither bulbs or bird suffered. In other bird news we've had a moorhen visiting most evenings. Sometimes there are a pair of them so maybe a nest is nearby. They perch in the branches of the willow but look most uncomfortable doing so.

At the allotment there has been the usual endless tedious weeding. The weeds have been thriving in the warm weather. There are encouraging signs in the shape of strawberry flowers and the fruiting berries such as gooseberries are already showing fruits in the making. Sadly a midweek visit gave cause for concern as it looks as if one of the apple trees have been frosted. Two lots of spuds have gone in along with shallots. We've also replaced two of the raised beds that himself built when I took the plot on as the wood had rotted in places. There are plans to replace one more later in the year as well as install two new beds. We have chosen ones that will be easy to pick up and transfer in the future should I give up the allotment.

My April Pride And Joy - Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel'
The greenhouse is getting fuller although I have reduced seed sowing this year and sown later. I thought that I would miss all the frantic activity but straneglet enough it's been quite liberating to have fewer plants to attend to. I've not even had to start the greenhouse shuffle yet and for once I've not found myself wondering around searching for mislaid seedlings or committing the crime of forgetting to label trays. It does mean that I give more attention to what I'm growing which is a positive. I'm also not having a plant stall at our garden club annual plant sale next month which again has reduced the need to worry as much about caring for so many plants.

I have been however active on the plant buying scene I'm pleased to report. Two plant fairs have come along this month so I've made the most of it. I've bought so many that I can't remember what they are but no doubt they will be revealed in the fullness of time!

With many thanks to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' ,who enables us to chronicle our monthly retrospective thoughts and views. It's much appreciated.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Waiting Game


After what seems an interminable wait the very first ever flowers of my crab apple opened fully this weekend. They have been teasing me most of this month. Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel' arrived as a bare rooted plant from Victoriana Nursery Gardens last February. It promised scented white flowers followed by clusters of small red fruits. When researching which crab apple to buy there were three main factors which made me chose 'Red Sentinel' i.e. white flowers, good disease resistance and finally fruits that apparently cling on to the tree for a long time. In her book 'The Winter Garden' Val Bourne writes "Crab apples are also great trees for winter fruits. When it comes to selecting varieties, one red-fruiting form stands supreme - Malus x robusta 'Red Sentinel'. The abundant bright red fruits, which follow white spring flowers, are studded in clusters along the branches and persist well into winter. A great advantage of the tree is that it does not suffer from scab, a scourge of many other crab apples." Sold! Later in the year we saw a more mature specimen of my malus in full fruit mode which only served to confirm my feelings that I had made the right decision.


I thought that I saw signs of flowers towards the end of March and sure enough this was confirmed as the month moved on to April. There's been a progress check most days and when signs of colour finally appeared I was delighted but mystified. The buds are most pink as you can see in the photographs but sure enough on opening the pink has morphed to the promised white. As for scent my nose has not detected any yet but so far there is only the one sprig that is fully open. It has also been noticeably colder here since yesterday afternoon which may affect the scent. Time will tell but so far so good. I'm like the cat who has got the cream and if I could purr I would! Are you playing the waiting game this spring and if so what are you waiting for?

Monday, 20 April 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Gone Shopping


An article in the paper today grabbed my attention. Apparently social media in the form of Facebook is responsible for people buying more clothes. There is a fear of being tagged wearing the same outfit! Now although not a particularly active Facebook user I nodded my head in sympathy with this predicament. After what will will be a record for me of three consecutive vases in a row I have reached the conclusion that this establishment is in desperate need of some new vases. You've probably seen them all now. This week's vase appeared previously last April and is doing the rounds yet again. In fact it's a glorified glass jar that once contained onion relish but I could not bring bring myself to chuck it in the recycling bin.


The first photo was taken at the snipping stage resting on the decking before the vase journeyed round the corner to grace a table outside the patio door. We spent some time out there on a sunny afternoon. The conversation drifted to holiday plans for later this year.


Inside this week's vase are narcissus 'Thalia', some of the bluebells that we inherited with the land where the garden is now, corydalis, geranium phaeum, lunaria 'Chedglow', bunnera and forget-me-not. I was reluctant to pick the honesty as it is attracting butterflies but decided that perhaps one flower would not be missed too much.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting. Now if you don't see a vase from me for a while you will know the reason why..... I'm out there vase shopping.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ April 2015


It's the turn of a pea and a cabbage to star in this month's GBBD post. The spring pea or lathyrus vernus grows quite happily in lightly dappled shade. Mine is planted in the gabion border with hellebores and pulmonarias for company. This plant has a bushy habit unlike the summer flowering climbing/scrabbling sweet pea but it sadly lacks the scent of the latter. It seems easy going and does not seem to suffer from any damage by pests. It's the colours of the flowers that I find its most attractive feature. There's also a pink version namely lathyrus vernus 'Alboroseus' but this one is my favourite. Both can be grown from seed although I always seem to miss gathering seeds before they have silently shot off into the stratsosphere.






The cabbage in question is a cardamine which has only taken up residence very recently. Cardamines are a member of the brassicaceae family which includes those good for you edibles such as cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli. I came across it at a plant fair under the name of cardamine enneaphyllos but having since done some research the jury is out on this one. The flowers of that particular plant are described as creamy whilst the plant I have come home with has most definitely got white flowers. I was advised that it prefers a moist shady spot and is not in the least bit fussy. I know that some cardamines can be invasive so I am going to have keep my eyes on in at least until I can establish what it is.


April is such an exciting time of the year in the garden with new flowers seemingly opening when you have turned your back just for five minutes. I'm still looking for more April colour, so will no doubt gain inspiration as usual, when I visit May Dreams Gardens later to see what other bloggers are highlighting today. With many thanks to Carol without whom we would not have a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Monday, 13 April 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Spring Bling


The last week has seen some most balmy weather and with more apparently on the way the daffodils will soon be going over. With this in mind I picked a trio of those which were not out in time for last week's vase - these being 'Minnow', 'Toto' and 'Sailboat'. I was entranced by the latter which I initially came across over at 'Lead Up The Garden Path', so many thanks to Pauline for prompting me to add these to my bulb list last autumn. I planted them in pots but having seen them in the flesh will definitely order more to plant in the borders later this year. A few sprigs of omphalodes cappadocica 'Cherry Ingram' then snuck their way in. The vase still felt as if there were some holes to be filled so it followed me round the garden where a couple of stems of pulmonaria jumped in the vase. I'm not absolutely sure which one it is but think that it is 'Blakes Silver', which I have to make a conscious effort not to refer to it as 'Blake's Seven'.


The little vase is one of set of four purchased recently from a well know discount supermarket. Each has its own motif. This one is my favourite of the set.

My Monday has mainly been spent travelling on a train with three changes en route so it has been quite relaxing to unwind in the garden, with a hot drink in one hand and my snipers in the other. Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who enables us to share our vases each Monday.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Tree Following With Lucy ~ April 2015


Hopes of reporting clouds of frothy white blossom adorning my pear tree have been cruelly dashed as you can gather from the above photo. Records have been checked to confirm that last year blossom was fully open by 13th April but it is lagging behind this year. The flower buds are now clearly visible but not as much as a tantalising sliver of white. I'm not sure whether I noticed any brown marks on the emerging leaves and flowers last year but they are very much in evidence this spring and are rather unsightly. Are they the sign of something sinister or is this a normal occurrence on pear trees? The tree was only planted in the autumn of 2012 so we are still getting acquainted.

In terms of wildlife there is nothing to report. I've still to see a living creature on it. Given the fact that my 'Doyenne du Comice' is only a young slip of a girl it's not surprising. I'm sure that any self respecting bird would not want to perch so near to the ground in a garden which has several regular feline visitors. Even the squirrels are not attracted ...... yet ......

In other news her neighbours which include another pear and a crab apple look set to blossom around the same time possibly even sooner.  A couple of Westmorland Damson slips have been bought this very day and will be joining their company soon. The pear blossoms may well come and go before May's tree following post but I will certainly take photos to record the occasion. As always a big thank you to Lucy over at 'Loose And Leafy' who enables bloggers to share and celebrate a glorious diversity of trees each month.    

Monday, 6 April 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ A Mixed Bunch


Not surprisingly daffies always come to mind when Easter comes round. So here is a mixed bunch picked from the garden this morning. They include 'Thalia', 'Elka', 'WP Milner', 'Tête-à-Tête', and 'Rijenveld's Early Sensation' (planted late!) amongst one or two others whose names elude me.  'Jenny' and 'Sailboat' are so close to opening that maybe if I had waited until this afternoon they might have been plunged into water too. Some of the daffies seemed rather camera shy not wanting to face the camera. Try as I did I could not get them all to look the same way and say "Cheese".


Also in the vase is some pussy willow which again I always associate with Easter. I'm afraid I've cheated here as this was bought in. At one time this used to be hard to locate but one of the local supermarkets sells it in reasonably priced bunches. I must admit that as well as looking it the strokeability factor is a major attraction for me. It also seems to last for some considerable time. There's also some lonicera 'Baggesen's Gold' in the vase as well plundered from next door with their permission of course.





The vase itself came from the Chester branch of Oxfam several years ago. It was bought as new. I thought that it might be of Indian origin but a sticky label on the base bears the words 'Handcrafted In Thailand'. Whatever its origin it's a long way from home but doing a good job. I hope that those of you who celebrate Easter have had a peaceful and joyous one. Here yesterday morphed from a grey cool morning into the most beautiful spring afternoon where all seemed well with the world. Much gardening was done and more to follow this afternoon.

Thanks to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden',who came up with the inspired idea of sharing our vases of flowers at the start of the week.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

End Of Month View ~ March 2015


Word of the month must be 'ROAR' which is just how the month arrived and departed perhaps with the loudest roar coming yesterday. It blew an absolute ferocious hooley as well as spouting out a fair bit of the wet stuff. In one of the few dry interludes there was a chance to take a couple of photos of 'The Gabion Wall' border. This is filling out nicely now. The hellebores are making good clumps as well as the pulmonarias and the little 'Elka' daffodils are a treat. I've also planted a few of my special snowdrops in this area. The one disappointment has been the refusal of cardamine pratensis to be sociable and produce more than a few flowers. There are astrantias 'Gill Richardson' and aster diveraticus dotted about for later flowering interest but I need to introduce more plants to the mix. Before that a weeding of epic proportions is required. The main culprits are herb robert and couch grass. I need to find some unobtrusive small paving stones so that I can get around without compacting the soil.




The above pumonaria is 'Majeste' - apologies for leaving the accent off the e but I'm using a borrowed computer for this post which is proving to be rather challenging. The leaves are in need of a tidy up and general spring clean. Finding time to fit in these jobs in is proving to be a challenge along with the allotment as we are trying to spend time in our caravan in Cumbria. The weather this March has not been particularly kind but it should start to warm up/rain less soon. Now that we have extra daylight I'm looking forwards to gardening outdoors in the evening whilst the allotment can be fitted in during the day. Well that's the plan anyway. We have a pocket handkerchief sized garden outside the caravan but that's more than enough. I will be planting up a couple of pots but in the meantime have been enjoying the patches of snowdrops, primroses and daffodils that can be found throughout the site. We also have some wonderful scenery on the doorstep. We returned in the middle of the month to the church we visited last year in search if its plantings of daffodils. Again we were too early so were greeted with snowdrops and swathes of crocuses. If anything the season seemed further behind this year.



However at the more sheltered and mild Grange-Over-Sands just a few miles away spring seemed more advanced with blossoms in full flow. There is a fine ornamental lake graced by some most interesting feathered visitors, a community orchard (more in a future post) and a prom with a richness of perennial planting (again more to come in a future post). It's the only prom where I've encountered hellebores in bloom.








I've not much to report in the way of seed sowing having made a conscious decision to sow less, sow later and try more direct sowing. I might also be buying a few plants this year rather than sowing them myself. I think that April therefore is going to be a busy month.

March plant purchases have included more snowdrops, pulmonarias 'Diana Clare' (a second to join the one already in the garden) and rubra 'Rachel Vernie), the sultry viola 'Molly Sanderson, as well as clematis 'Princess Kate' which was rescued from a bargain bin in an Ambleside garden centre.

With thanks as always to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog' for kindly hosting the End of Month View.