greentapestry : 2020

Monday, 21 September 2020

In A Vase On Monday ~ Summer's Last Swansong

My 'In A Vase On Monday' this week is a tribute to the very last day of summer and was picked in most beautiful weather yesterday afternoon. We have been blessed with some most glorious settled weather for the last week or so which is set to make way for more of an autumnal feel as the week progresses. We are forecast much cooler temperatures and what will be some welcome rain.

In my vase this week are :
  • Sweet peas - the two toned one is 'Erewhon' whilst the other is 'Noel Sutton'. I mentioned in an earlier post this year that my sweet peas sown in mid March seemed very late to start flowering. However once they got going they have more than made up for it. I planted them at home this year rather than at the allotment so they have been close to hand for picking. Perhaps not in the best position as they proved rather challenging to pick at times and I have to avail myself of himself's extra height and longer arms. A new position will be sought next year. They are slowly dwindling to a close now but will be allowed a while longer before going into the green bin. Not enough room left in the bin now before it gets wheeled up ready to be collected tomorrow morning.
  • Some sprigs of an old favourite herbaceous perennial clematis in the shape of clematis jouiana 'Praecox'. This is a sprawler in my garden but can climb too given support. It is great for late summer colour and is beloved by bees and butterflies. Its one big minus is that it dies disgracefully and sadly will soon begin its annual journey in the direction of dormancy.
  • Lastly a single rose in the shape of 'Wollerton Od Hall'. She is a most delicate appealing shade and is supposed to have a strong scent. Unfortunately I am unable to pick up on much scent although I must admit that after some nasal problems my sense of smell is not as good as it was. However to me her scent definitely pales in comparison with 'Gertrude Jekyll'. 'Wollerton Old Hall' is a David Austin rose and is named after the outstanding garden of the same name in Shropshire. I have been lucky enough to visit there twice with himself and once with a local gardening club. I'm hoping very much to make another visit next year and would urge anyone to do so should you find yourself in Shropshire.

The vase is a cheap and cheerful purchase from a well known supermarket some time ago.

Thanks as always to our lovely hostess Cathy who pampers and cherishes her flowers over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. I'm off to recover now over the shock of legacy Blogger completely disappearing. There had been enough warnings but it seems that sadly Blogger have finally pulled the plug. I will be heading back into the garden to relish this beautiful last day of summer.

Monday, 14 September 2020

IAVOM ~ Mellow Yellow

Gathering flowers for today's 'In A Vase On Monday' was fun with a heavy dew and spiders conspiring against me. The it came to taking a photo and the flowers flopped and the sun was too bright but here we have a few ingredients from what is still flourishing during these last few days of summer. You might be able to make them all out if you squint your eyes :

  • Anthemis tinctoria 'E.C Buxton' also known as Dyer's chamomile - a beautiful perennial daisy which starts off as a slightly too bright yellow but redeems itself as the flowers mature and fade in colour. It seems trouble free and flowers over a long spell. I would love to know who E.C. Buxton was.
  • Mainly faces looking down is the annual cosmos 'Pink Lemonade' which was grown from seed this year and is unlikely to be on my seed list next year. I could not take to this cosmos.
  • Some wispiness from seed grown hordeum jubatum or squirrel's tail grass. I planted a few of these and will keep my fingers crossed that they return next year. I also have a few left overs in pots which I will overwinter in the cold frame.
  • The annual nasturtium 'Milkmaid' which again was grown from seed, a free packet from a gardening magazine. Last year she was at the allotment but this year she has been in the garden where she has developed a bit of a climbing habit. She will definitely be on next year's seed list which is already in the making. 
Thanks as always to our steadfast hostess Cathy who blogs over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. Her post this week has a little person stealing the show. Do take a peek if you haven't already! Here after spending a good part of a beautiful day in the garden I notice that I have bitten a few times but it has been worth the price. Now off in search of some calming lotion to apply to my wounds.

Monday, 31 August 2020

IAVOM ~ Hanging On In There

It's Monday - the last bank holiday of the year and time for 'In A Vase On Monday'. As I was in danger of being edged out of my usual photographic perch by a power washer it was a case of the quickest of snips this morning.

Both snips are from plants that have been badly treated, one by human hand and the other by the elements :

  • Rosa 'Boscabel' - this was a new purchase from David Austin in the autumn of 2018. She came in bare root from and was planted in a pot for convenience. This was supposed to be short term and much to my shame she is still in the pot. Even worse than that she had been pushed almost out of sight but still has managed to hold on and flower. I have promised her better. She is a beautiful soft coral pink and has a most pleasant scent.
  • Tucked in behind her is a snip of the half-hardy grass 'Panicum capillare 'Sparkling Fountain'. This was grown from seed sown in the greenhouse on 5th March. It certainly more than lives up to its name especially on sunny days. This snip was taken from a plant that was looking most splendid in a pot with companions, until it was knocked sideways in the first of this month's two named storms. Fortunately it has perked up and still lives to tell the tale. It didn't over winter this year so maybe another sowing will be in order next spring. 
A BIG thanks as always to host Cathy who blogs over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. Time soon for lunch and the plan then is to have a peaceful afternoon out in the garden before finally placing my bulb order tonight. No bank holiday traffic jams for us especially this year!

Monday, 24 August 2020

IAVOM ~ The Calm Before The Storm

It has been a beautiful late summer's day here with blue skies, sunshine and the most perfect temperature. The green bin has been filled almost to the brim ready for collection in the morning and this afternoon's trip to the allotment resulted in patty pan squashes, French beans, beetroot and a ruck of apples coming back home with us. The apple picking session was deemed an urgent task in view of the named storm that is heading our way tomorrow bringing heavy rain, thunder and gale force winds in its wake. Still it was lovely to breath in summer today. 

In my 'In A Vase On Monday' this week are :

  • A couple of roses. The larger flower of the two is the rose my sister had named after my mother namely 'Luisa's Daughter"and then sent to me as a birthday present. I've picked her flowers for vases before and they have always been a creamy deepening into a pale soft yellow colour. This year though odd things have happened and she is sending out some very pink buds which are opening to a pale pink flower. Most peculiar. The other deeper pink rose is an emerging bud from 'Evelyn', a new rose purchase this year from Davis Austin. 'Evelyn' has a most intense perfume and reminds me of the roses we picked as children to make rose perfume with. Somehow the promise of rose perfume never lived up to the expectation and the liquid from many a jar laced with decayed petals was tossed aside before winter. 

Update - since posting I've realised that the second rose is 'Gertrude Jekyll' and not 'Evelyn'.
  • Orlaya grandilora - the flowers of this annual come from the batch I sowed in May. This is the first year that I have grown these and I will be sowing another batch in the next week or so for an earlier flowering next year.
  • Some sweet peas which are still producing after their late off the starting block days. I hope that their respective wigwams are up to a bit of buffeting from the wind tomorrow.
  • A couple of flowers from cosmos 'Pink Lemonade' which I don't think that I will grow again. I only planted five of the plants and all have produced different sizes and colours of flower with only one looking anything like the flower pictured in the seed catalogue! An annual with a lot of hype to it's name or am I being harsh?
  • A sprig of the perennial thalictrum delavayi var. decorum. I love it's soft colour and airy ways.
  • Finally a few bits of the perennial eurybia divaricata also known as the white wood aster. It flowers in late summer and is a shade lover. 
My vase this week is a little milk jug, origin lost in time but probably bought from a local charity shop.

With many thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for the inspiration for sharing our vases on Mondays. Do have a peek there if you haven't already and be prepared to be dazzled and delighted by a wealth of flowers laced with generously shared knowledge and tips.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

August Musings


"There is no question of me trying to reform my reaction to the major smell that starts at the end of August to dominate the house in autumn - apples.

I was sitting down at my desk on a rather dull day when this strong mouth-watering perfume filled the room. I had no flowers on my desk. I turned my head and remembered I had bought a big bag of Discovery apples and piled them in a bowl on the window-sill, for their brightness as much as anything...... Another interesting smell that lingers in the house for some time comes from the making of crab apple jelly. It has a faint clovey tang to it. 

The elderberry with its irony smell had also succeeded to the fragrant flower. The bullaces, the sharp wild plums are brightening some hedges with their orange-red where the traveller's joy has become the old man's beard, a soft curly silver beard when the flowers have just gone over into seed.

So August is the beginning of the gathering season as well as the harvesting of cultivated crops. There are lighter sweeter smells as well from two plants that will have a resurgence now if you pick sedulously earlier on - sweet peas and wild strawberries. Mingled with these are the stringent smells of nasturtiums, tomatoes, bonfires, new feverfew leaves, poppy stalks. How can anyone, how can I think of August as a dull month?"

Photo - some of my 'Katy' apple crop 2017. 

Monday, 17 August 2020

IAVOM ~ Desert Sands

The run of very hot, sunny and humid weather has come to an abrupt end with some very heavy rain last night which snapped off some dahlia flowers and has knocked an ornamental grass for six. Fortunately thinking that it might be wet today I had picked most of my in 'A Vase On Monday' contents yesterday evening. In the vase this week are :

  • More of the lovely rudbeckia hirta 'Sahara' flowers which are now becoming a firm favourite. I have them growing in the garden this year rather than at the allotment which has worked out well. They were sown in late winter in a heated propagator. I passed some surplus plants to a friend who is equally enamoured so next year I will be growing for the both of us. I have already purchased seed for next year having read that one of the major seed companies has indicated that there may be shortages with seed supplies next spring! 
  • A new to me hardy perennial in the shape of achillea millefolium 'Salmon Beauty'. The blooms are now fading. This is one of my few plant purchases of 2020 and was bought from the nursery at Arley Hall. We made a trip there last month and struck gold. We had the double herbaceous border there to ourselves for at least ten minutes. I will have to write a post about this visit soon before it becomes a distant memory. 
  • Finally some foliage - cuttings a of a dark leaved physocarpus probably 'Diablo'. Most of them decided to turn their backs to the camera so you are seeing the green reverse of the leaves.

Thanks as always to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who is also showcasing another delightful rudbeckia in her vase today.

I started this post off in the new Blogger format but when I was unable to see a preview I once again reverted to the familiar format. However I think that this ceases to become useable in the next few days a prospect that I'm not looking forward to. I predict stamping of feet and curses ahead. 

Monday, 3 August 2020

IAVOM ~ Summer Breeze

In today's 'In A Monday Vase' are mainly annuals grown from seed this spring or in once case in late summer 2019 although the odd perennial has sneaked in. The contents are as follows :
  • Rudbeckia hirta 'Sahara' - I grew these for the first time in 2018 and am now would not be without. They were started off in a heated propagator and without label to hand I imagine that they were probably sown in the last week of February. They produce flowers in different soft colours but my favourites are those in this vase.
  • Zinnia - my zinnias have not fared well this year and there is only just the one of them in this vase. I think that is 'Queen Red Lime'. I don't know what it is about zinnias but I have the same ambivalent feelings for them as I do for tulips i.e. love the flowers but not the foliage. Maybe both have antannae and pick up on my feelings as I usually struggle with both.
  • Cosmos - 'Pink Lemonade' - grown from seed sown in April. This cosmos is a relative newcomer and this is a first time for me. The jury is still out on this one. One of the plants is a cuckoo in the nest and I am more taken with that one. You can see it in the photo below. I might save seeds from that and see what transpires with them net year.
  • Ammi visnaga 'Green Mist' - also grown from seed which was sown last September and then overwintered in a cold greenhouse. I love both the flowers and feathery foliage of these. I will sow these again next month along with some other annuals. Unfortunately once planted some of my plants were felled by a mysterious ailment so I hope that lightening doesn't strike twice next year. 
  • Finally a bit of yellow frothiness in the shape of alchemilla mollis - a stalwart and almost trouble free perennial. Well it does self seed everywhere but surely that is my fault for not cutting the old flower heads off quickly enough.
Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for encouraging us to share our vases each and every Monday which provides me and no doubt other bloggers with much inspiration when I vase hop. I'm hoping that this morning's early and unexpected rain will give rise to a sunny afternoon so that I can head out into the garden soon. The signs at the moment are encouraging. I see some blue sky appearing. Enjoy your Monday!

Monday, 27 July 2020

IAVOM ~ Abundance

Sweet peas were not going to feature in this weeks 'In A Vase On Monday' but with the rain lashing down out there and a blustery wind I'm sharing a vase of sweet peas that were picked and photographed a couple of days when it was slightly more summery. My tardy sweet peas have morphed from a famine to a feast state at long last. I think that they are the one annual flower that I would miss the most. I've added one or two newcomers to the mix this year including 'April In Paris' (white with purple edge) and 'Earl Grey' (two tones and stippled). The latter is not in the vase as it had only just started to open. I am missing a couple of shades - a deep burgundy possibly 'Beaujolais' and a blue so must remember to order those for next year. The scent as always is intoxicating. 

I doubt if there will be much done in the way of gardening today other than in the greenhouse where I have some biennials to prick out - hesperis, lunaria and what the molluscs have left of the wallflowers. I'm looking forward to listening to another of the excellent Zoom lectures delivered by Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter on Wednesday evening this week. This one is on the subject of integrating annuals and biennials into your borders. Bookings are still being taken today here.

Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who gives us the opportunity to share our vases every Monday come rain or shine. I hope that fellow bloggers are enjoying better picking weather and weather that is more akin to summer.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Monday, 20 July 2020

IAVOM ~ Light My Fire

The contents in today's 'In A Vase On Monday' was picked on another breezy but dry Monday morning. Not a single drop of rain has fallen from the sky so far so that in itself is reason to celebrate with some sizzle. I must admit that I have a preference for pastel shades when it comes to flowers  but I do appreciate a bit of brightness now and again too. In my vase this week  are :
  • Dahlias - varieties unknown though one might possibly be 'Art Deco'. The labelling system went to pot when the dahlias were planted up in containers that had previously housed tulip bulbs. One of the dahlias still bears a label with the words 'Spring Green' written on it. I blame my assistant. The in your face bright red one at the front should be the peachy coloured 'Wine Eyed Jill' and in this case I think that it might be a case of right label, wrong plant. 
  • The pale yellow flowers of anthemis 'E.C. Buxton' which I bought home as a cutting taking during a propagation workshop at our local nursery 'Bluebell Cottage Gardens'. This is a hardy perennial and is a most easy going plant which flowers over a long spell. 
  • Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' - I first came across this plant in the vase that you can in the photo below.

We were staying in a holiday cottage in the village of Hanley Swan which is home to fellow blogger Brian who blogs at '' .We have stayed in Hanley Swan there several times over the years to visit the Malvern Show. Usually our accommodation is our camper van but that year we treated ourselves to a week in luxury. I asked the owner of the cottage what it was and came home at the end of the week with a division of the plant which is rather lovely. The flowers are all sightly different in markings and colourings. I don't think that mine have ever been in flower alongside Michaelmas daisies but wonder if they had been given the Chelsea chop, so flowered later in the year than mine do. 
  • Some persicaria 'Blackfield' pickings - another obliging perennial although I do wish that the foliage was more attractive.
  • Finally some leafiness from what I think is the deliciously dark leaved deciduous shrub physocarpus opulifolius 'Diablo'.

Is see that our hostess the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' has also been living dangerously and is playing with fire this week. Do visit. 

Monday, 13 July 2020

IAVOM ~ Summer Soft

Yesterday saw a more than welcome return to summer. After a really miserable couple of weeks with the needle getting stuck on wind, rain and unseasonably cool there was finally movement in the direction of blue skies and warmth. I picked my flowers for 'In A Vase On Monday' late in the day, took a close up photo before it got too gloomy and then saved a longer distance snap for this morning. Guess what it has rained again overnight and one of my clematis flowers had wilted in the night probably because the stem wasn't properly immersed in water. So a clematis flower replaced and a photo taken before the rain kicks in again. In my vase this week are :
  • A couple of sprigs of label went a long time ago astrantia. The flowers are past peak perfection now but still have a certain faded elegance about them.
  • A little snip of the delicate but dainty pink rose 'The Fairy'. She is a shrub rose which comes into flower late in the season producing an abundance of little pom-pom clusters of clear pink flowers. Sadly she has little in the way of scent but that is her only shortcoming.
  • Sprinklings of a couple of annual grasses grown from seed sown in March, namely lagurus ovatus and hordeum jubatum. The former also goes by the most appropriate name of bunny's tail grass whilst the latter is also called squirrel tail grass which is harder for me to fathom. If squirrels had tails like that I might be more well disposed towards them. I'm still seething at the damage one of their number did more than likely did, which I described in a recent 'Wordless Wednesday' post. 
  • A couple of just opening buddleia snippets which are flushing with colour from the base upwards. The shrub came came as a cutting from my parent's garden.
  • Some white button flowers of achillea ptarmica 'The Pearl' an easy going if a rather floppy perennial. 
  • Last but but not least a couple of flowers of clematis viticella 'Blekitny Aniol', also known as 'Blue Angel'. This was purchased on holiday several years ago now from the Country Market Stall at Tavistock Pannier Market in Devon. If you live in the U.K. Country Markets are an excellent source of very reasonably priced plants and free advice from the sellers. They also sell home produced bread, cakes and pastries, jams and chutneys, eggs and a wide range of handicrafts. Hopefully they will survive and flourish again.  My clematis grows in the company of rosa 'Blush Noisette' which is usually between flushes when the clematis comes out but there are usually some rose stragglers so the two can flatter each other.

This week our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' is singing the praises of some summer beauties which I think that I might just have to try in future. Do go and have a peek. I am off to see if I can do one or two jobs between the intermittent rain that is forecast but look forward to sitting down with a cuppa later and seeing what is shining in other folk's vases this Monday.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Retail Therapy

Plant buying like haircuts has been rather sparse on the ground so far this year. I realised recently that is has been five months since I have had my hair cut. My tresses are the longest they have been probably for thirty years or more. My fringe had all but disappeared when I made the fatal mistake of asking himself if he would trim it. Say no more! Although hairdressers are open for business once more I will not be rushing to make an appointment so will have to do something with the headband I've recently bought to improve matters.

Anyway back to plant buying. Most of my plant buying is done in May at plant fairs and plant sales supplemented by trips to nurseries, the odd garden centre and open gardens. There have been none of those enjoyable activities so far this year although now that the weather has perked up after a really miserable spell plans for a couple of excursions are now being made. I occasionally buy plants online but really prefer to see plants close up and personal. Initially I thought that I would be content to make do without any plant buying and perhaps concentrate on planting all those plants screaming to get out of the cold frame. However there were one or two losses during the winter. I had peeked and peeked at the twiggy remnants of my lemon verbena plants willing them to sprout green but gave up all hope when it got to the end of May. I usually take cuttings of this but all my autumn routine went to pot when I injured my hand last September. Some years the odd pot left out over winter has re-sprouted the following spring but I think this year they probably were probably polished off by all that rain back in February.

I thought that I might be without lemon verbena this year and was resigning myself to that fact. However luck was on my side when I came across some positive feed back last month about Pepperpot Plants via my Twitter timeline and decided to look them up. Pepperpot Plants are a Hampshire herb nursery selling not only online but at some retail outlets too. Sadly lemon verbena was not available on their list at the time but I was still tempted and sent off for three scented pelargoniums, a couple of purple leaved perilla aka shiso plants and and a pineapple sage. I was delighted with the quality of plants, the speed of delivery and the sturdy packaging that the plants came in. I was also really pleased to see that there were a couple of plants in each of the pots of perilla.

The nursery updates their list of what's immediately available weekly and guess what ..... lemon verbena was listed a couple of weeks later! There was no hesitation and a second order was made for three lemon verbena plants, a couple of plants of African Blue' basil and a lavender. I have been restrained since but would have no hesitation returning to the same nursery. What about you - has it been a plant buying feast or famine during the lockdown? If the former any recommendations would be welcome.

Monday, 6 July 2020

IAVOM ~ "Have A Little Patience"

In the words of the song all gardeners need to "Have A Little Patience" and never has that maxim resonated so strongly as I've waited and waited for my sweet peas to flower this summer. At long last I have a few for 'In A Vase On Monday'. Yaaaay!

I don't usually sow my sweet peas early and this year I think it was the middle of March - must search for the relevant labels to check. However I am sure that I've have never waited so long for that wonderful first of the year intoxicating intake of their aroma. This year my first sweet pea bloom didn't flower until the first day of July! I have planted two wigwams at home this year rather than in the garden. I have watered them regularly and copiously especially throughout April and May and have been feeding them. They grew well and started reaching for the sky but there was just not any signs of flowers. I started to wonder if I had made a mistake moving sweet pea headquarters from allotment to home where I have grown them for over ten years.

It was only when I commented on one of Karen's posts over at 'The Bramble Garden' which featured some sweet peas and mentioned my woebegone specimens that the penny dropped. Karen mentioned the word mulch in her reply and that was the one thing that I hadn't done. I immediately applied a layer of Strulch around them and that seems to have done the trick even though their lower limbs still remain rather bare of floral adornment. Thank you Karen for that most helpful and timely suggestion. We seem to have more than our fair share of wind this spring combined with a lot of sunny dry days and although I was diligent about watering them the water was obviously not soaking in.

I've not used Strulch before - has anybody else and if so what are your thoughts? So far so good here. As well as the sweet peas I've used it around bean plants, sweet corn and some other newly planted annuals. It is supposed to deter molluscs which it seems to be have done so up to now and it also has a most delightful aroma.

This year's sweet pea mix, which still have to reveal all their colours included 'Matucana', 'Noel Sutton,' 'Erewhon', 'Eclipse' or was it 'Enchante' (again I must find those elusive labels), 'Gwendoline', 'Mollie Rilstone' and 'April In Paris' and a couple others whose names escape me at present. It is not going to be my best year ever for plentiful supplies of sweet peas but at long last there are some most welcome pickings to swoon over.

Thanks also to our hostess Cathy who this week is also sharing her sweet pea bounty over at 'Rambling In The Garden'.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Wordless Wednesday ~ Demolition Job

Postcript - a few words by way of a reveal. We had noticed little green planty bits on the table for a few days before the crime. The evening before I was washing the dishes, looked up and saw a squirrel pawing the content of the bowl. By the time contents still intact and in a ball of compost were on the table. I scooped everything back in and should have removed the bowl at the time but I didn't. Next day - a complete mess! My money is firmly on the squirrel. I had bought the bowl when out with a friend garden visiting last spring and it had been quite happy but I had only recently moved it on to the table. Oh well lesson learned and the bowl survives for another planting. Bits of the damaged plant have been replanted elsewhere. It's a permanent battle with those creatures and it seems that I'm always on the loosing side! One day though .....

Monday, 22 June 2020

IAVOM ~ Shimmer

Today's occupants in 'In A Vase on Monday' were a quick snatch and grab from my allotment plot yesterday but were not photographed until this morning. I've noticed that wind seems to be a regular feature of the weather on Mondays. Although today is rather breezy as opposed to windy the contents of my vase just refused to stand to attention.

In this week's vase are :
A prickly stem of dispascus fullonom commonly known as teasel and one of the biggest mistakes of my allotment life. I planted it more for the birds and pollinators than me and have regretted that decision. They self seed profusely and although I always intend to get on top of the problem I have never succeeded. The plants are unbearably uncomfortable to get hold of without gloves and seedlings are difficult to remove. Still I enjoy them in a perverse way. There is something quite splendid about their architecture and the hollows above their leaves which hold pools of water after rain. You can just see the first flush of colour which is creeping into the flowers now.

  • Secondly are the purple flowers of verbena bonariensis - these again have self-seeded over the years but never enough to irritate. Some years plants over winter but when they don't there are invariably replacement seedlings. The mauve scented flowers attract butterflies. 
  • Lastly one of my all time favourite plants - some stems from stipa gigantea also known as the golden oat grass, which garden writer Val Bourne describes so eloquently as "The tall shimmering golden veil of summer, for a hot spot in sun, where it hovers over the garden constantly moving and shining until autumn". It is a real beauty and my plant is looking particularly good this year.
The vase is a favourite stalwart given to me by mum. Unfortunately I don't know anything about its origins and must make a note to ask my sister if she does.

As always a big thank you to our lovely hostess Cathy who blogs at 'Rambling In The Garden' for enabling us to share our vases every Monday. It's a great way to celebrate the start of a new week. 

Monday, 15 June 2020

IAVOM ~ Daisy & Friends

It has been one of those days which have not gone according to plan. The day should have started with a trip to the allotment to plant some more French beans and a couple of summer squashes. However we were foiled in our attempt to enter the site when the key would not open the main gate. Himself deduced that there was something metallic blocking the keyhole. Whether this turns out to be the remnants of a broken off key or the unsuccessful attempts of somebody trying to break in remains to be seen. I was hoping to use one of two allotment wildings in today's vase but have had to pick from the garden where everything is growing more quickly now that we've had some copious amounts of rain at long last. The biggest rainfall came on Saturday night we had the most dramatic thunderstorm accompanied by torrential rain. There are more thunderstorms predicted for the next couple of days but I'm pleased to report that all is quiet at the moment. In today's 'In A Vase On Monday' are :
  • Kalimeris incisa 'Queen Charlotte' also known as the Japanese aster. This perennial summer flowering aster came home with me from the Southport Flower Show in August 2014. It is an easy going perennial. I now have two patches although one seems less robust this year. Time to divide again I think. As well as the lilac form there is also a white form which I would like to grow.
  • A couple of heads of foxgloves - these as self seeders originating either from the white or cream forms that were growing last year. 
  • Some stems of astrantia - I don't know which variety this is. It's been in the garden for years and I'm not sure even of where it came from but I love it.
  • More of the orlaya grandiflora which I've grown from seed sowed in September last year. I'm most taken with this. I sowed another small batch at the end of May just as an experiment and these are just beginning to germinate now. 
  • Some of the perennial toadflax or linaria purpurea which seeds about a bit too much although interestingly it's pink sibling 'Canon Went' does not have the same annoying tendency. 
  • Last but not least a spriglet of consolida ajacis' Alba' commonly known as larkspur which was also sown last September. I had hoped to include more than one spriglet today but the inclement too hot/too wet weather had other plans in store for my blooms.
The vase is a the bottom of a tea making receptacle which I bought when we attended the 'Terracotta Army' exhibition at the World Museum in Liverpool in October 2018. I've not used it for tea making - in fact I don't drink tea but the table where the vase is photographed is where we often sit for liquid refreshments when the weather is good. We seem to have sat out there a lot this year down to a combination of the weather being so good and also of course because we have been at home so much of the time.

Thanks as always to our steadfast hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In the Garden', who is going to be out and about delivering tussie - mussies or nosegays to her friends this week. A lovely idea. 

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Musing In June ~ Roses

" Roses are like the days : shortest during the dark months from November to February, when they are often little more noticeable than a spiky stalk. Even unpruned wild roses are barely noticeable in a winter hedgerow, unless a rogue briar catches the wind or some unlucky patch of exposed skin. It is when the year begins to stretch and swell into early summer that the astonishing transformation of the garden begins, with bristling yellow or white rosebushes and arching sprays of clustering cream panicles.Wild dog roses whose blooms are small and pale and layerless , rely on numbers to make their presence known: along roadsides, in railway cuttings, the little fleets of pale pink coracles balance in a sea of green elder, firmly anchored by long, strong stems as the spray of white spume surge around. Some are white with yellow centres, like delicate poached eggs splashed across a hedgerow. By high summer, garden roses create a prismatic array of iceberg white, old yellow, amber, scarlet, magenta or crimson glory. Walls, sheds and garages disappear under mountainous rambling roses, which hang like suspended avalanches of pink and cream. Roses can shoot up trees to make midsummer fireworks of bright, white-gold star showers , or stay close to the ground, releasing cascades of soft, small spheres over a terrace or a rockery. The late flowerers are undeterred by autumn dankness and frost, their cold beauty, hung with clear cobwebs, while the bloomless bushes of earlier roses offer round red hips to ravenous birds."

- an extract from 'The Brief Life Of Flowers' by Fiona Stafford.

Illustration by Beatrice Emma Parsons, 1870 -1955.

Monday, 8 June 2020

In A Vase On Monday ~ Coming Up Roses

Today's 'In A Vase On Monday' is one of those that on reflection could have done with a little more filling at the back but it was also one of those where there was simply no more room to slip in another stem. The vase itself is relatively new and was a purchase a couple of years ago on a most pleasant day out in Liverpool with one of my lovely nieces. In it are :

  • A couple of stems of rosa 'Blush Noisette'. I first came across this rose in the Queens' Garden at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire on a visit there in the summer of 2008. The Queen's Garden there positively drips with roses and I was smitten by a good number of them. In the January of 2009 'Blush Noisette' arrived in the post from David Austin Roses as a bare root rose. She is described as a relatively short repeat flowering climber but here she is more of what I would call a scrambler and is most pleasantly scented.
  • Some more of the annual orlaya grandilora which have grown from September sown seed. I've often admired plants of this at garden shows but this is the first time I have grown it and am delighted with the results.
  • An annual grass in the shape of the shimmering briza maxima. Last year there were a couple of self-seeded clumps in the garden but no sign of it this year. The stems in the vase were picked from outside the gravel in front of the allotment community hut where they grown in profusion every summer.
  • A few snippets of the perennial easygoing polemonium caeruleum or Jacob's Ladder. These came into the garden via seed from one of the gardening societies. Funnily enough after years of blue flowers a couple white flowering plants that have appeared amongst the offspring from the originals. I must remember to gently tie some string round their stems and sow some seed from them to see what transpires.
As always thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' where it's carnival time. Time to listen to the music, sing, dance and party but I'm opting out. I've had a morning constructing a wigwam, planting French beans and sweet corn at the allotment so time to slow down now, relax and visit vases.

Monday, 25 May 2020

IAVOM ~ Calm

It's a glorious late spring day here but had 'In A Vase In Monday' been a couple of days earlier it would have been night on impossible to pick let alone photograph a vase. We had an absolute hooley that whipped itself up on Friday and only finally blew itself out yesterday afternoon. Some rain would have been more than welcome but not a drop fell. Our garden was littered with willow and sycamore branches but luckily no serious damage was done. At the allotment my plot neighbour's polytunnel covering flew off leaving his tomatoes and various annuals exposed to the elements. He is not convinced that they will make a full recovery.

My vase this week was mainly picked from the garden but there is one contender from the allotment in the shape of :

  • Allium schoenoprasum or chive flowers. These are appreciated by the bees and usually have a second flush later in the year. Both the leaves and the flowers are edible but my preference is the leaves especially finely chopped in scrambled eggs. I'm always intrigued by how wiry and strong the stems of the flowers are. 
  • From the garden are stems of rosa 'Luisa's Daughter' now in its fourth year and most floriferous. I've mentioned before that my dear sister had the rose named and sent to me as a birthday gift in memory of my mother. I wish that it retained the creamy colour of its buds but these gives way to large and blowsy white roses. Still they are most pretty and have a most pleasant light lemony scent.
  • Lastly a couple of annuals that were sown in the greenhouse in the third week of September, namely nigella damascena 'Double White' and orlaya grandiflora. Now these are himself's pride and joy as he sowed the seeds under supervision when my right arm was in plaster. The rest of the journey from seed to plant though was left to me but I'm most grateful for his efforts. I'm hoping that these will flower for some time and will self-seed. I had hoped that the nigella at the allotment would have self-seeded but there's not a single peek of it. Maybe it was a result of all that February rain.
Thanks as ever to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden',  who this week has some delicious sweet peas in her vase. Do go and have a look!

Monday, 11 May 2020

IAVOM ~ Old Friends

"Old friends, old friends 
  Sat on their parkbench like bookends"

~ from 'Old Friends' by Simon & Garfunkel.

The the plants 'In A Vase On Monday' are some old friends, who have been favourite May bookends for years. Their numbers are :
  • A sprinkling of a grass in the shape of millium effusum 'Aureum' also known as 'Bowles Golden Grass'. The leaves which are not in the vase are an attractive golden yellow. This plant prefers partial shade or shade as the leaves can be scorched by strong sun. Although it seeds itself gently about every year it has never become a nuisance.
  • Aquilegia - I think that these are self-seeders from aquilegia 'Hensol Harebell'. Although they have a relatively short flowering time I think that they make up for that in other ways.
  • Polemonium caeruleum or to give it it's common name 'Jacob's Ladder', an easy going perennial. This is given to self- seeding but like the millium never to excess.
  • Geranium phaeum - the darker one may have come with a variety name but it is long since forgotten whilst the paler one is a self-seeder I think. It may look white but is in fact a shade of off-white.

All the above apart from the geranium were sown from seed which I obtained from either The Cottage Garden Society or the Hardy Plant Society. I've been a member of both organisations for many years. One of the benefits of membership  of both societies is the opportunity to benefit from an annual distribution scheme where you can find a wide range of seeds at a much reduced cost than from a commercial seed company. All seeds are donated by members of the society. 
The navy vase is another in the set of small vases which my sister gave me as a present. I used the green one in the set last week as a container for lily of the valley. Cathy asked me what the other colours in the set are so I thought that I would use another from the set this week. I thought that there were five in the set but there are in fact four. They come from Sarah Raven and are described as ink bottles. The colours are listed on her website as navy, amethyst, dark green and purple. They can be bought as a set or as individual vases. Mine all came with cork stoppers.

As it is often is on a Monday today has been somewhat breezy albeit the wind is not as cruel as yesterday which felt like a throwback to winter. Panic was almost ensuing last night when it dawned on me that I had forgotten to buy some new fleece covering last autumn. Short of bringing all my seedlings into the house the only option was to rely on the little electric heater to come on to keep the temperature at a few degrees plus. The tomato plants and basil did come in for the night. Luckily we were spared frost and I hope that you were too if you live in the U.K. I've noticed some scorched leaves on astrantias but I daresay that they will recover and I think it was wind damage rather than the cold that got to them.

With thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting.
Featuring in her vase this week are some more familiar and lovely old Maytime friends.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Zooming In On Great Dixter

Until recently the word zoom only came into my vocabulary when I was thinking or talking cameras. However like many of you Zoom has now permeated my consciousness as a cloud-based video conference service enabling you to virtually meet up with others. It wasn't until this week that I actually used it and in fact have now had two successful Zoom experiences within a few days.

The first was joining in a virtual meeting of one of the U3A interest groups that I belong to. We normally go to the Apple shop in Liverpool once a month, where we have been treated to some brilliant free short courses covering a wide range of topics. As we can not meet for the foreseeable future it was great fun to get together in our respective homes over morning coffee and a quiz. We will meet again next week.

I'm glad that I joined in as it was a chance to use Zoom before I dove headlong into attending an online lecture by Fergus Garrett, the head gardener at Great Dixter. I had received an email earlier this week telling me about a couple of online lectures that were being offered by Great Dixter. Although both appealed the one that really interested me was a lecture entitled 'Layered Planting through the Season at Great Dixter'. The lecture I listened to was actually originally delivered in April but I missed the boat then, maybe seeing details about it at the time but perhaps being wary about my ability to use Zoom. Anyway I'm delighted that I decided to register for this lecture which was held this morning. It was a couple of hours or so long with a short interlude, was absolutely packed with information and ideas and all for the brilliant price of £15.00. I only wish that I had been able to listen to it thirty years ago. The lecture was illustrated throughout and the only person you could see was Fergus. We were advised that we will be sent a recording of the session and I will certainly listen again and maybe even again ....... I tried to make notes as the talk progressed but could not concentrate on the slides and talk as well as write legibly.

There are more online talks in the pipeline. There is one on ' Grow Fruit & vegetable in Pots' by Aaron Bertlesen on Thursday 14th May at 7.00pm which you can book here. Fergus indicated that he will be delivering another online lecture towards the end of May and I will definitely be zooming in on that.

I found Zoom fine to use although on both occasions I was slighly late in to the sessions. Has anybody else been using Zoom and if so what do you think of it?

The photo was taken in September 2011 on my very first visit to Great Dixter.

Monday, 4 May 2020

IAVOM - "Hi Lili"

It's a case of a speedy pick and plonk for this week's 'In A Vase On Monday' as the green bin goes up the lane tomorrow and fill it I must. We are fortunate that so far this council service has not been paused as I know it has in some parts of the country. Whenever I see my lilies of the valley come into flower there are three people who come to mind. I think of my parents who gave me some pips from their garden many moons ago. Theirs grew in a narrow strip outside their garage which was baked in the summer sunshine. Despite these seemingly inhospitable conditions they flourished. Mine grow under our living room windowsill which faces north and is most shady. They are somewhat subdued this year as far as flowers go but otherwise seem happy enough.

The other person I think of is our next door neighbour when we first married. We lived in an end of terrace Victorian house and shared a common wall which divided our back yard from our neighbour's yard. Hilda was well into her seventies when we first became neighbours and her back yard was crammed full with colour, overspilling everywhere from pots and various containers. Although she sometimes despaired of not having enough space to grow everything she wanted to she enjoyed the challenge of fitting in as much as she could into her little plot. She was generous with her knowledge and with cuttings and divisions which were regularly passed over the wall.  I remember her telling me about how her lilies of the valley were always in flower for V.E. Day which is this coming Friday.

My vase is one of set of five little glass vases of different colours of given to me by my sister. This has become my favourite of the set but I really must make a determined effort to use the others. 

Thanks to Cathy over 'At Rambling In The Garden' for her ever steady gentle encouragement to pick and share a vase of flowers on a Monday. Right my siesta is over and it's time to get outside again to fill that green bin to the brim. I look forward to relaxing later with a cool drink and some pleasurable vase visiting.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Almost Wordless Wednesday ~ So Near Yet So Far

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my longstanding love/hate relationship with tulips. For once I thought that I had cracked it - an almost perfect potful of tulips 'La Belle Epoque'. Well one or two were shorter in stature than others but that was fine. I intended to take a photograph to post last Wednesday but my camera was misbehaving big time. By the time I had checked the online manual and Google and finally sorted it out it was too late in the day to take a photo. I left it to the weekend and look what happened in the meantime - avert your eyes to the top left of the pot - an entire flower head has vamooshed without a trace! I'm not sure who or what the culprit was. The neighbouring pot also containing tulips has flowers with their heads bitten off but in this case considerately left on the surface. Pigeons maybe? They have been seen lurking in the vicinity. Oh well my search for the holy grail or in this case the picture perfect pot of tulips remains to be continued.

Monday, 27 April 2020

IAVOM ~ Froth

Opening the curtains up this morning to see no sign of the forecast overnight heavy rain was slightly disappointing. However when I got out to peruse likely candidates for this week's 'In A Vase On Monday' it was noticeably cooler and fresher than of late. Maybe some rain may fall over the next week.

I made a beeline for a couple of spring favourites and added to them. In my vase this week are :

  • Geranium phaeum - this in various shades is an easy going stalwart which just on with its business with little need for human intervention. It does have the propensity to self-seed rather generously but you can forgive it that trait. The bees love it. I noticed this morning that the foliage is peppered with mildew probably a sign of the dry month we've had. I will give it a good haircut when the flowers are done and dusted to encourage fresh foliage to emerge. There may even be a second show of flowers.
  • Anthriscus sylvestris - also known as cow parsley, one of our most common native plants. It grows up the sides of the lane leading up or down to our house depending on your starting point. For some unfathomable reason it annoys the sensibilities of the motorist in our house each year as it froths over into the lane. I persuade him to let it have it's head for a few glorious weeks each year - after all there is no danger of it scratching the car. It does make me sneeze rather violently and for this reason this vase is going to reside outside in a shady spot.  
  • Some foliage from errant young would-be sycamore trees. I am not a fan osf sycamores but the juvenile foliage is quite a treat.
  • Flowers of the last narcissus still standing in 2020 - in this case the new to me 'Starlight Sensation'.  Their numbers are definitely to be added to next year. 

Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her excellent hosting skills. I see that she has her dancing shoes on this week and is encouraging us all to trip the light fantastic to the tune of 'The Waltz of the Flowers'. Do join in!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

April Musing ~ Observations

"When proud pied April,
dressed in all his trim, 
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything" ~ William Shakespeare.

"I have seen the lady April bringing the daffodils,
Bringing the springing grass and the
soft warm April rain" ~ John Masefield.

"April prepares her green traffic light and the
world thinks Go" ~ Christopher Morley.

"April's rare capricious loveliness" ~ Julia Dorr.

"I had not thought of violets of late
The wild, shy kind that springs beneath your feet
In wistful April days" ~ Alice Dunbar - Nelson.

"Today has been a day dropped out of June into April" ~ L.M. Montgomery.

Illustration by Lena Anderson.

The world has been in turmoil this month yet the weather in this part of the world has rarely been so glorious, bursting with endless days "dropped out of June". Possibly when the monthly meteorological statistics come out they will reveal one of the warmest, sunniest and driest Aprils on record or at least one of those measures. Whatever the conclusion this hint of summer has certainly provided much comfort and has been a most welcome open-ended invitation to spend as much time possible out in the garden.