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.