Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Almost Worldless Wednesday ~ Not On Tonight's Menu

Spotted last night growing on our gravel driveway leading to the garage a new to me mushroom. We regularly come across mushrooms growing in the garden but usually in the autumn. My initial research suggests that this might be a common morel, which is a much sought-after edible mushroom. However with no definite identification it was left to passing woodlice and their friends for their supper. Any mycologists about? 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Easter Lilies

Think Easter flowers and daffodils come straight into my mind. It's a late Easter this year and the daffodils are already fading away. Before thoughts of them go over the horizon completely, I wanted to post about a veritable host of daffodils that we had the pleasure to see on our last trip to the Lake District.

This year we were spot on with our timing to catch the the wild daffodil at the peak of perfection 'Narcissus pseudonarcissus' is also known as the Easter lily, Lenten lily, daffy and daffydowndilly. They are the daffodils mentioned in the famous opening lines of William Wordworth's poem :

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake beneath the trees, 
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze"

The poem was inspired by a walk that Wordsworth had taken with his sister Dorothy on the shores of Ullswater. She records in her journal on the 15th April 1802 that "When we were in the wood beyond Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils close to the water-side...... But as we went along there were more and yet more ...... I never saw daffodils so beautiful. They grew among the mossy stones about and about them; some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness; and the rest tossed and reeled and danced, and it seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake; they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing".

We didn't go to Ullswater to see wild daffodils but to the beautiful church of St. Anthony's, Cartmel Fell, which was built in 1502.

Here we paused for some considerable time in the churchyard, gazing at the daffodils and listening to the sound of silence, broken only by nectar seeking bees and by birdsong. Simply quite magical.

Monday, 10 April 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'Small is Beautiful'

The flowers in today's 'In A Vase On Monday' are lathyrus vernus or the spring pea which is one of my favourite early spring flowering perennials, not just for the flowers, but also for its attractive fern-like foliage. Oh and there's also the bonus that it seems to be pest and disease free (says she whispering softly). I wanted to pick a few blooms before all the flowers had gone over. Some are already developing seed pods. This year I'm determined to collect seed which always seems to manage to evade me.

The little vase has come from my Mum's house and is one of a number that she painted herself. It's teeny, tiny being all of two inches high but just the right companion for dainty blooms.

Thank you as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting.

Monday, 3 April 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Take Two

Today's 'In A Vase On Monday' morphed into something else in the making thereof. An allotment visit yesterday revealed some anemone caen 'Syphide' flowers in full fettle, so these were picked to be the star of today's vase. They were joined by a trio of tulips (one seems to be photo shy) from the pots that time forgot and some lunaria annua 'Chedglow'. Something didn't seem quite right though - the penny was not long to drop. Whilst 'Sylphide' looks brilliant growing at the allotment the flowers are a very much in your face pink and dominated the vase at the expense of its companions. A touch of light was needed - either pink or white or the anemones needed to shed their company. A flying trip to the allotment late this morning provided the answer in the shape of some white blossom along the road leading to the site. There was such a profusion of blossom that I didn't feel guilty snipping the odd branch for my vase. I'm not sure what the blossom is although I know that there are some cherry trees along the road.

The vase is an old favourite which my Mum gave me many moons ago after I came across it lurking in a cupboard.

As always thanks to our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who is the muse behind this great way to start off the week.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

End Of Month View ~ March 2017

I hadn't realised that a whole year had passed without me posting an End Of Month View, which has been most remiss as it's a great meme for keeping track of new developments in the garden and allotment. So I'm back with one day in March which just happened to be the last day of the month. I can't remember how the month started but here it did go out like a lamb. It was one of those days when it was blissful to be working outdoors.

I decided to make a start on planting up a section of the garden which was in desperate need of a makeover. An aged dogwood had made a bid for world domination sending suckers hither and thither. It just had to come out and himself proved to be the strong man for the job. There is also another shrub in the shape of a hardy fuchsia which will also probably be extracted later in the year. I'm reluctant to remove it as I think that it's the first plant that I ever grew from a cutting but it does get in the way where it is. If it comes out I will certainly make sure that I've established some cuttings first.

I have had it in mind for some time to plant more of my named special snowdrops into the ground and this seemed a perfect spot to get a few in. Growing them in pots has some advantages but has ceased to have some charm as their numbers have grown. Crates full to the gunnels of pots are getting more challenging to lug in and out of the greenhouse and tend to as the years go by, so I'm looking at making life easier. I will still keep a few specials in pots but want to try to plant the majority of them out. I know that snowdrops are happy in this spot - there is a clump of galanthus plicatus here already, some galanthus 'Lady Beatrice Stanley' and a clump of galanthus 'Blonde Inge' which is in need of division. I also wanted another dogwood or two to keep them company and have promised himself that I will keep them under control.

Work began yesterday morning with tidying up the surface of the soil. Three buckets of twiggy debris and leaves were removed. Some new compost was added. Then time for a bowl of soup before returning to an initial planting session. I've kept the back of the border clear for now to allow space to give the railings a lick of paint. The railings mark one of the garden boundaries and are about twelve feet above a small surface water stream. Come later in spring the border becomes very shady as the willow on the other side of the stream greens up. Our resident ducks were out for a morning constitutional down below which was good to see.


Plants that went in during the afternoon were cornus sanguinea' Midwinter Fire', cornus sanguinea 'Anny's Orange', pulmonaria 'Opal', thalitcrum inchangense, geranium phaeum 'Album', arum italicum 'Mamoratum', a brunnera that was lurking in the cold frame - probably 'Jack Frost' and a white flowering  Lamprocapnos spectablis. There was much dithering over which snowdrops to plant and so far only two were planted. These are the early flowering galanthus elwesii 'Peter Gatehouse' and the rather unfortunately named but beautifully marked galanthus 'Trumps'.

Come late afternoon I called it a day. Despite himself's muscle there were still signs of the dogwood under ground which I encountered whilst planting. Several tugs of war later I was worn out. I still have more planting to do - I would like to duplicate some of the planting, get more snowdrops in, plant a shrub (still to be chosen) in front of where the two walls meet, plant a couple of hellebores (debating which colour) and to sneak some interest in for later in the year. As always there is never enough room. I'm also wondering whether to leave my wooden dragonfly in. It has just come out of its winter hibernation in the garage. Oh and then the geranium phaeums at the front will be removed, the border needs some bark on it and then edging, the gravel needs refreshing etc, etc...... Hopefully I will be back next month with an update. Thanks as always to the lovely Helen, The Patient Gardener who is the most inspirational hostess encouraging us to share views at the end of each month.

Monday, 27 March 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Stealth

Whilst my back was turned for a weekend away some bright tulip colour quietly crept in and took me by surprise on my return this afternoon. I make no secret that I have a love/hate relationship with tulips - love the flowers and hate the leaves. I think that the bulbs pick up on my vibes so don't usually perform well. Sadly my autumnal bulb planting schedule went out of the window last year, so nearly all of my hopes in the tulip department have been pinned on bulbs that were planted in pots in the autumn of 2015. After flowering the pots were unceremoniously shoved at the back of the greenhouse and have been left to their own devices ever since. They have rewarded me with what seems the earliest ever tulips in flower so of course a trio of stems had to be snipped to leap in to this week's 'In A Vase On Monday'. Unless the squirrels have been playing musical labels I'm reasonably sure that these are 'Orange Emperor'. Along with them a stem of a hellebore (name unknown,very tall stems) together with a trio of narcissus - 'Thalia', 'WP Milner and sweet scented 'Bridal Crown'. I'm not sure whether I've shown the vase on a blog post before. It's a fairly recent find from a charity shop and it's Chinese. That's all I can tell you about it.

I wasn't sure whether I would get a vase together today but then I remembered that magical extra hour of daylight that we have gained, so there has been time to catch up with some domestic chores and still time to play. Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling At The Garden' for her unwavering prompt to celebrate the start of a new week with some flowery goodness.

Monday, 20 March 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Sink Or Swim?

My 'In A Vase On Monday' this week is in fact a bowl into which I've  tried to float a quartet of hellebore flowers, hoping that they would artistically drift atop of the water. So far they are being rather wayward, hence the title of my post. It could be the fact that they were wet when picked that is dragging them down into the deep briny. Not content with chucking wet suff down most of the weekend, the skies continued to weep again this morning but the sun has come out this afternoon to celebrate the first day of spring. Yaaaaaaaaaaay!

The flowers have been picked from a plant that has been in the garden for years, from a self-seeder and from two newcomers purchased since the start of the year. I did vow not to buy all more hellebores this year but like snowdrops I find them hard to resist. Helleborus 'Madame Lemonnier' (bottom left) is the first newcomer carrying outward facing dusky-pink flowers. The majority of the flowers are conspicuous by their sheer size but this is one of the plant's smaller flowers.  The second newcomer is Helleborus 'Angel Glow' (bottom right), which seems to have been fed on a diet of steroids going by the sheer volume of flowers it has produced.

The Portmeirion bowl was a serendipitous find that emerged as we were clearing my mother's house. The exterior is an intense deep blue whilst the inner surface has a iridescent glaze of pale blues, soft greens and turquoise which has had me bewitched from the moment I set my eyes on it.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who provides the inspiration to come up with a weekly vase each Monday. I see that Cathy is very much in the pink this week celebrating the landmark anniversary of five years of blogging. Do pop in and say hello to her either with or without a vase and be sure of a warm welcome.

Monday, 13 March 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Thumbs Up

It's a definite thumbs up for narcissus 'Tête-à-Tête', which are filling up this week's 'In A Vase On Monday' and are now brightening up the kitchen windowsill. Whilst a good number of my daffodils are 'blind' this year, this old stalwart is as floriferous as ever whether planted in the ground or in containers. I'm especially appreciate of them as a good number of them were purchased as late season bargain buys from Wilkos. A note has been made to add to their numbers this autumn as well as to give some t.l.c. to the afflicted daffies in the hope of better things to come next year.

Thanks to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for the weekly encouragement to fill a vase on a Monday. Domestic duties call for now but am looking forward to some vase visiting this evening.

Monday, 6 March 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Would You Adam and Eve It?

Yes it's already that time of year when they are subtly making their presence known. I'm refering to pulmonarias or lungwort, also known as 'Adam and Eve', 'Soldiers and Sailors', and 'Bethlehem Sage' are one of my favourite late winter/early spring flowers. As well having flowers which are bee magnets their foliage is equally desirable coming in a variety of shades of soft apple green, darker greens, silvers and as well as spotty dotty. Today's 'In A Vase On A Monday' is a trio of three pulmonarias - one that I can't put a name to, 'Rubra Redstart' which is now really going over and finally 'Victorian Brooch' which leapt in to my basket last week when I was supposed to be seed potato shopping. They prefer moist, partially shaded conditions and respond well to a shearing in late spring producing a second flush of foliage. They are excellent companion plants for snowdrops, hellebores and little daffs. I don't think that they will last long in a vase but still it's good to be able to study them at close quarters albeit briefly.

Thank you as always to the lovely Cathy over 'At Rambling In The Garden' for hosting.

P.S. Many apologies to those of you who tried to comment last week and who were initially thwarted (both Blogger and Wordpress users). I really don't know what's going on but changes here are afoot! Watch this space.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Having Fun~ #mygardenrightnow

Today's post has been inspired by Michelle over at 'Veg Plotting'. I've being making use of some welcome dry sandwiched between the wet to spend some time in the garden.

Amongst other activites I've been debating whether I can cram any more into our green waste bin, before its first much anticipated emptying of the year on Friday. I can see it being full again by the end of next weekend. The top layer reveals recent activities - belated removal of old hellebore leaves, cleaning up debris left behind by that femme fatale 'Doris' and evidence of a tussle with a truculent string of clover stem.

I've been wondering about the gap in the middle of this pan of crocus sieberi 'Firefly'. I definitely planted bulbs there!

I've been despairing over the stinging nettles, ivy and cow parsley that are creeping in, noting the blind daffodils and chastising myself for not picking up last year's leaf fall.

I've been admiring how some hellebore plants are bulking up and deciding that this patch of cardamine pratense definitely needs dividing sooner rather than later - just need to research when. 

I've made a start on planting one hundred eranthis hyamelis and continuing with the annual sycamore seedling cull. I've been pleasantly surprised by the emergence of the aptly named galanthus 'Baxendale's Late' which I had forgotten I planted last year. It's about to open now that the most of my other specials are shutting up shop. I've been gazing intently at my sweet peas in the greenhouse in the hope that it will make more of the seeds germinate. Above all I've had some much welcome fun in my garden today. 

Why not join in Michelle's imaginative challenge to share what's going on in either your garden or allotment right now. You can either blog or post a photo on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter making sure that you use the #mygardenright now hashtag. You can take participate either today or tomorrow. Full details of how to join in can be found here. I'm off out again whilst there is still daylight out there, but will return later to browse upon what other other folk are up to in their patches of earth right now.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017


"The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and aching back and weary arms.

Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said "Bother!" and "O Blow!" and also "Hang spring-cleaning!" and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.

Something up above with calling him imperiously, and he made for the steep little tunnel which answered in his case to the gravelled drive owned by animals whose residences are nearer to the sun and air. So he scraped and scratched and scrabbled and scrooged, and then he scrooged again and scrabbled and scratched and scraped, working busily with his little paws and muttering to himself, "Up we go! Up we go!" till at last, pop! his snout came out into the sunlight, and he found himself rolling in the warm grass of a great meadow.

"This is fine!' he said to himself. "This is better than whitewashing!" The sunshine struck hot on his fur, soft breezes caressed his heated brow, and after the seclusion of the cellarage he had lived in so long the carol of happy birds fell on his dulled hearing almost like a shout. Jumping off all his four legs at once, in the joy of living and the delight of spring without its cleaning, he pursued his way across the meadow till he reached the hedge on the further side."

~ from 'The Wind in The Willows' ~ Kenneth Grahame.

Illustration ~ Inga Moore.

Spring is definitely"moving in the air above and the earth below and around" here too. It's not arrived quite yet but the first of March means that it's tantalisingly near. Time for me to very belatedly start my spring-cleaning in the greenhouse before another growing season really kicks in. Have you completed all your preparations?

Monday, 27 February 2017

So Last Year!

Today's 'In A Vase On Monday' has been some time in the making. For the last few months a shrub in the immediate neighbourhood has been dripping with clusters of red berries. Last winter's copious rainfall was probably responsible for the sheer volume of berries which have hardly been touched by the birds. I think that the shrub may be cotoneaster cornubia but I'm not sure. Whatever it is it has proved a most welcome attraction brightening up grey and gloomy days. Each time I've passed I thought that I must return with my secateurs and snip off a couple of stems for a vase. What prompted me into action was the fact I noticed that the shrub had taken a real battering from last Thursday's dramatic 'Storm Doris'which also felled two trees just round the corner from us. Those berries are now definitely waning so time to act.

I've put them in a vase with a few dried flowers from Scabious stellata 'Sternkugel' (a great word to get your tongue around) which I grew at the allotment last year. It's an annual with pale blue flowers which morph into most attractive seed heads. They have had their own vase since the autumn but are now getting slightly past their sell buy date so will be jettisoned shortly.

The weather has played up again this afternoon, with not only some sleet but some snow too throwing a spanner in the works, so an indoor photograph again. My title for the post was prompted by our hosts Cathy's fashion catwalk theme from last Monday. Many thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden'  for hosting. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Twenty Fours Hours Later

Why are the weather gods intent on conspiring to thwart me from taking photographs on Mondays? Another windy and slightly mizzly afternoon here so I had to resort to taking a photo indoors in the still and the dry. My 'In A Vase On Monday' is most simple this week being a couple of stems of hellebore flowers. These accidentally parted company from their respective plants yesterday afternoon. I realised that I hadn't removed the old foliage from a couple of hellebores that are planted in pots, so was prompted into remedial action. I was obviously not paying as much attention as I should have done as these flower stems were snipped off too along with the tatty leaves. After muttering a few choice words under my breath I put them straight into water and should have taken a photo there and then. However it was one of those rather special dry and almost balmy February afternoons when I got carried away on a roll of gardening activities. You know how it is. So some twenty fours hours later I've finally taken my photo. My vase is one of a trio of old school milk bottles purchased on a trip to to the beguiling medieval town of Rye last summer.

Thank you to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for providing such a pleasurable way to start the week.

Monday, 6 February 2017

In A Vase On Monday, Simply Snowdrops Too

A week later than intended another bevy of snowdrops for in 'In A Vase On Monday' .This week's pickings include galanthus 'Wendy's Gold', galanthus 'Diggory', galanthus 'Melanie Broughton' (rather photo shy and refusing to open fully), the slightly wayward galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart', galanthus 'Benhall Beauty', galanthus 'Lapwing' and galanthus 'Imbolc' and finally one with the sad name of 'Lost Labellus'. I have a few of these and trying to identify them is a source of much fun as well as frustration. I was going to try to get a close up of 'Lost Labellus' but rain stopped play. I will take one soon though and post it so that perhaps one of my fellow snowdrop loving friends might come to the rescue. For the time being you can see it best in the bottom photo to the immediate left of the frilly 'Blewbury Tart' .

My favourites in this pick 'n' mix are 'Diggory' with its unique shape and seersucker textured petals and 'Imbolc' which is the large flower on the right in the photo below.

Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden', for providing the platform for us to share our vases throughout the seasons. I see that she is featuring some of her beautiful 'drops today and well as a jar of yellow deliciousness. Do pop in for a peek if you haven't already.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

A January Song

"The robin flew from his springing spray of ivy on to the top of the wall and he opened his beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off. Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off - and they are nearly always doing it"

~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, 'The Secret Garden'.

Illustration by Inga Moore.

Monday, 16 January 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Simply Snowdrops

It's so good to be back with an 'In A Vase On Monday' post again after what seems quite an age and what else could I return with in deepest January but snowdrops. This morning's poor light and breeze were not conducive to taking photos but it all added to the occasion. In my vase this week are a few blooms taken from some of my special snowdrops. They include galanthus elwesii 'Fieldgate Prelude', galanthus plicatus 'Wendy's Gold' (yellow-green ovary and yellow-green marking on flowers), galanthus 'Benton Magnet', galanthus 'John Gray', the large flowered galanthus 'Mrs Thompson, galanthus 'Wasp', galanthus 'Lavinia' (a double) and finally galanthus 'Sutton Courtney' which has an lime green ovary.

I think that there could well be a second part next Monday as more and more 'drops are opening by the day. Thanks as always to our most gracious hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who is the inspiration behind this most gentle way of starting the new week.