greentapestry : 2021

Monday, 2 August 2021

IAVOM ~ 'I Am The One And Only'

How quickly 'In A Vase On Monday' comes round! As usual this year I sowed some sunflower seeds. Sunflowers are one of those seeds that are either a hit or a miss with me - a big miss being the usual outcome. I decided that this year I would go for a red shade rather than yellow and after some searching of seed catalogues and web sites decided that 'ProCut Plum' was the perfect choice. The thought of "dusky crimson and 'cafe-au-lait shades" was the clincherAn order was made and seeds arrived well in advance of sowing plans. I sowed my seeds (two to a three inch pot) duly in April and nurtured them with an eagle eye. They survived the delicate seedling stage when more often than not predecessors have been demolished by molluscs. They grew nicely into young plants, were hardened off and were finally ready to cope in the big wide open world. Five sunflowers were planted. They were happy and healthy and grew taller and taller and are now taller than me. Flowers began to form and I waited with great anticipation. Imagine my excitement when I saw colour appear. Imagine my disappointment when I saw a different colour to what I was expecting! Four of out five sunflowers were a murky yellow with vague hints of a plum centre. However I'm pleased to say that the runt of the litter and the last to flower was exactly the same as the illustration on the seed packet and I love it. I will just have to try them again next year. Of course I had to opt for my sun vase to display my one and only true sunflower in all it's full colours.

Thanks as always to Cathy over 'At Rambling In The Garden' who is most pretty in pink this week. Do have a peek and enjoy vases of flowers from far and wide.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Dear Diary ~ Late July 2021


Here we are already at the end of July and thoughts turning to late summer and the autumn. I'm still dithering over my spring bulb order and need to make a final decision and get it off as soon as possible. I will probably order the majority of my bulbs from Peter Nyssen and a few odds and ends from Farmer Gracy.  Last year I ordered some narcissus bulbs from the latter and they turned out to be the plumpest narcissus bulbs I've ever seen. I'm also enjoying leafing through the tempting catalogue that you can pages from as Sarah Raven's  catalogues are always brimming with positively beautiful colourful combinations. 

Just a brief post today mainly for my personal records. A lull from full on seed sowing for now but the seed compost will come out again in September. I pricked out some 'Sooty' sweet william seedlings today which were sown at the back end of June and there is another batch of a different variety that are still to small to prick out.  I may fit in for some sowing more salad seeds though. We are now eating French beans, which were just morphing from flower to bean just over ten days ago or so, some rather delicious beetroots and cherry tomatoes. I've not grown my own tomatoes from seed for a while now but treat myself each year to some small plug plants from the excellent Simpsons Seeds. They offer a wide range of tomato varieties in all colours and sizes and their plug plants are always well packaged, happy and healthy. They also stock other vegetable plant plugs.We have just enjoy the third harvest of 'Charlotte' potatoes grown in bags this year. Each harvest has been enough for two meals and there are probably another couple of harvests still waiting. Not necessarily a cheap option but they have been delicious.  My shallots need lifting - they looked most promising in their early days but are not looking so brilliant now. The proof will be in the lifting sometime this week. 

We have had a fair bit of rain this week which the garden needed after the recent heatwave. Unfortunately there were two intense cloudbursts involved which did flatten some plants but no long lasting damage done.

Not much in the way of other news. I'm expecting an exciting delivery in the post next week but more of that next time round. The weather for the last week or so has been on the wet and cool side so I've not been out there in the garden as much as I would have liked to. Just in the nick of time we gave the new 'Bathsheba' roses a specific rose granular feed this afternoon. Their second flower flush is just starting with one or two flowers already out and plenty of buds to come. That's it for today - short and sweet. Next time I hope to say that I've ordered those bulbs. Does any one else dither just trying to decide what to include in their bulb order.

Monday, 26 July 2021

IAVOM ~ Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow

It's another bunch of sweet peas in 'In A Vase On Monday' today. The flowers are coming in thick and fast at the moment so I'm picking every couple of days otherwise the flowers will soon turn into seed pods and then this year's display would not last as long. All the sweet peas were grown from seed sown in March and are getting a weekly seaweed extract feed. In the absence of any rain for a good ten days or more now as well as very hot temperatures for us they are also being regularly well watered. Rain is forecast for tomorrow and I think that the garden will be singing and my watering can arm will be highly relieved. 

The little hare that you can see next to my vase - a Kilner jar, maybe intended for a long cool summer drink, was discovered in the garden yesterday. Himself is in the process of embarking on some major brick repair work and found this hare buried under some ivy. It was that long since that I've seen it that I had no recollection of it all! It is looking somewhat sadder for it's experience and has lost a leg although it is still able to perch on the wall. I'm sure that it was not giving onlookers the evil eye in its previous existence. Another garden long lost dicovery was made last week which I will share another day. I wonder what discoveries lie in store this week in other Monday vases. Thanks to Cathy over 'At Rambling In The Garden' as always - she is sharing some bright sunshine in her vase this week.

Monday, 19 July 2021

IAVOM ~ Butterfly, Flutter By

The word hot would describe today in a nutshell. Much as I would like to be a vision of loveliness in the garden, floating hither and thither all day in a flimsy dress, floppy straw hat perched on head with a pair of secateurs to hand I am a sticky glowing creature who is only venturing out at the moment in the early hours or after our evening meal. My Mediterranean genes have failed me. However I made an exception today and ventured out later this morning for a lightening snatch and grab raid of flowers to put in 'In A Vase On Monday' this week are : 

  • Buddleia flowers - this is an unknown variety which came to me as a cutting along with a darker flowered one from my late parent's garden. 'The Big Butterfly Count' is ongoing at the moment and these buddleias also known as a butterfly plants are usually covered with butterflies especially on very warm days. Most sadly that doesn't seem to be the case at the moment with the only butterfly visitors being Cabbage Whites. Where are all the others? Buddleias do self-seed but seedlings are easily pulled out, the foliage is nothing special but on the other hand they smell delicious and as well as usually acting like a butterfly magnet they do pull in other pollinating insects too.

  • Occupant two is a new to me dahlia called 'Senior's Hope' which I have fallen for and will definitely include on next year's list. 
Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for encouraging us to share our pickings on a weekly basis. I'm living dangerously now and heading back out again to try to harvest some salad potatoes to eat this evening. Hope that everyone else is having fun either in or out of the sun and that you have a myriad of butterflies in your garden.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Garden Diary

Once again time is running away with me as it is coming up to a month since my last diary post. The weather was disappointing during the second half of June and first half of July - cool and showery. However it has been slowly perking up for the last few days and today is an almost perfect summer's day. If anything it is too hot for me and venturing out to potter is limited to early mornings and evenings. Apart from the sun the pollen is high and all the biting insects seem to be homing in on me as soon as I set foot outside. Oh well you have to take the highs with the lows and the sun is certainly welcome.

It doesn't seem that much has been happening as far as gardening jobs are concerned apart from weeding, weeding and more weeding.

We have had our first strawberries which were delicious but sadly a good number went mouldy in the rain. After weeks of looking pristine the French bean leaves are now looking rather tatty and mollusc shredded. The beans themselves are in flower and a few are now morphing into discernible beans. The beetroot are plumping out rather nicely, shallots will be ready to pull soon but the 'Sunburst' pattypan squash so far seems all leaf and very little in the way of pattypans. I've grown these for several years now and they are usually prolific. However this is the first time I've grown them in the garden. 

We've had the first crop from the 'Charlotte' salad potatoes which were delicious with some bacon and broad beans. This is the first time that I have grown them in a potato planter bag and I made the mistake of planting too many in each bag. I think that the two bags I planted are too congested to produce a good number of potatoes but those that were harvested were in an immaculate condition and looked better than some of those grown at the allotment over the years.

The lockdown border has come to a bit of a standstill. I think that I'm dispirited by seeing the marestail taking off again after my initial culling. However I must grit my teeth and continue to suppress it the best I can. I have bought three more 'Totally Tangerine' plants to go in there and need to get them in soon especially as new flowers will soon be opening on them. Now I'm in search of penstemons and phloxes in purple or lilac shades. I had quite liked the look of penstemon 'Plum Jerkum' when I saw it online but I came across it accidentally yesterday afternoon in a local garden centre and decided it was much too dark so that was a useful discovery. No I didn't buy anything for once - the main purpose was meeting up with two old friends and very pleasant it was too sitting in the sunshine under a canopy and chatting.

In other news the new 'Bathsheba' roses looked beautiful when they flowered but didn't seem to last long or look good when they went over in the wet spell. Their fragrance wasn't as strong as I had hoped for so the jury is still out. It is described as being repeat flowering though so I'm keeping my eyes peeled for new buds. 

A rest from seed sowing apart from another batch of lunaria 'Chedglow' of late but I'll soon be checking the seed tin to see if I need to order anything for September sowing and then of course the bulb order needs to go in imminently.

Finally for the first time ever I've managed to grow sunflowers at least as tall as me! Sunflowers are one of those plants I've sowed many a time usually to see them gobbled up by molluscs when they are still tender young plants but this year sees a trio of sunflower 'Procut Plum' about to open. I'm most excited indeed. 

Monday, 12 July 2021

IAVOM ~ The Sweetest Pickings

Of all the flowers I cut to bring into the house sweet peas remain my all time favourite and of course the first pickings are always occasion to celebrate. This year's are later by a few days than last year possibly because of the cool spring. They were sown in the middle of March and include 'Gwendoline','April In Paris', 'Erewhon', Earl Grey,  and the in my book best for scent 'Matucana'. Every year I think that perhaps I should have sown a couple more varieties but I think that I will now be returning to more or less the same nucleus of varieties each year. A couple of plants have still to show their colours so I'm hoping that this week's predicted warmth and sunshine will do the trick. In the meantime these elements are in very short supply today and apart from an odd short dry but damp spell it has been raining for most of the day hence the indoor photo. As I cut the stems in the damp spell I could inhale and smell the scent drifting through the air. Pure bliss! 

A big thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting. Do have a peak at what Cathy and other participants have in their Monday vases this week.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

June Musing ~ Rosy Thoughts


"The serene philosophy of the pink rose is steadying. Its fragrant, delicate petals fully open and ready to fall, without regret or disillusion, after only a day in the sun. It is so every summer. One can almost here their pink, fragrant murmur as they settle down upon the grass 'Summer, summer, it will always be summer."

Illustration - by Gustav Klimt.

Words - by Rachel Peden.

Monday, 5 July 2021

IAVOM ~ 'Flowers In The Rain'

"I'm just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain making the garden grow
I'm just sitting watching flowers in the rain
Feel the power of the rain keeping me good"

It's been one of those days when after some heavy rain over the weekend there has been the occasional glimpse of blue skies and sunshine but also intermittent showers too. We did need a decent amount of rain though so it's doing a good job. The watering can has laid idle for a couple of days too. In my vase this week are mainly perennials which have been growing in the garden for a long time and a couple of annuals. The contents are:
  • Rosa 'New Dawn' - I had to have a few goes at picking a couple of stems only to be met with a shower of sodden petals but was eventually successful. She is the first rose we planted and although I regularly threaten to behead her as she does suffer from blackspot she has survived. This year she has a particularly good show of flowers.
  • Almost impossible to see but there is some alchemilla mollis in the vase also known as lady's mantle. This perennial as I'm sure you will know does have a tendency to self seed rather vigorously unless you are quick off the mark and remove the flowering stems as soon as they go over.
  • Some astrantia flowers but I have no idea of what variety they are. They do have a slightly off putting aroma about them but not everybody's nose picks it up.
  • The purple daisy like flowers are kalimeris incisa 'Charlotte'. This is an excellent trouble free perennial which has never seeded in my garden yet so I wonder if it's sterile. I bought my plant in 2014 and have divided it and intend to do so again. It has opened in the last couple of weeks or so and will go on for some time. It's a great magnet for pollinators and unlike asters isn't affected by mildew. There is a white flowered kalimeris too which I would like to track down.
  • Finally a couple of September sown plants in the mix - orlaya grandliflora and daucus carota. 
My post title comes from a song by 'The Move' that came on the radio with perfect timing yesterday as I was on the treadmill. The vase an old favourite passed on to me by my mother.

As always thank you to our generous hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for enabling us to share our vases each Monday. I'm looking forward to being inspired tonight by glimpsing what's in other people's vases. I must also mention that I'm also looking forward to watching the indomnitable Carol Klein's programme on Channel 5 later tonight in which she will be visiting the beautiful gardens at Wollerton Old Hall in Shropshire throughout the seasons. A notebook and pen will be by my side for both activities.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Visiting Time ~ Wollerton Old Hall, Shropshire

The idea initially was to write a diary update post but a weeding marathon was what came to mind when I thought of what has happening in the garden recently. I'm sure that there have been other activities but I will reflect and come back to do a diary post sometime this week. Instead a few words and photos from a visit to one of my favourite gardens that we made a couple of weeks ago or so. I've visited Wollerton Old Hall several times over the years both in the company of himself and also with the local horticultural society that I belonged to for a good few years. 

Funnily enough my last visit to Wollerton was also in June. It was seven years ago and not the ten or so himself reckoned and it was also following a very long and cold spring. It was the beginning of June and there were still tulips in flower and daffodils at a nearby garden! This time there were the roses I had hoped to see last time. Roses were climbing up the exterior of buildings that greet you when you arrive and were also in evidence throughout the garden. The rose on the left of the photo below is 'Wollerton Old Hall" but I don't know what the pink rose is. I imagine that most of the roses are probably peaking now. 

You can read more about the garden here  but in a nutshell it's described as being set around a sixteenth century hall and is a formal, modern garden on an old site. 

It covers four acres and is composed of a number of garden rooms richly planted with perennials, shrubs and some beautiful trees. It is especially renowned for its plantings of roses, clematis and salvias. The garden has a small nursery attached to it where you can buy many of the plants grown in the gardens including rosa 'Wollerton Old Hall' bred by David Austin and of course named after the garden. I already have the rose but did make a couple of salvia purchases as well as a thalictrum 'Hewitt's Double' which I've grown in the past but it has long since disappeared. There is also a tearoom with both indoor and outdoor space where you can enjoy a light bite or  more usually in our case a cuppa and a slice of delicious cake.

We called there after a couple of nights away in the camper van in Shropshire and had a dull but dry day for our visit. All visits needed to be pre-booked at the moment but that was easily done online and the garden is open on a few days each week. 

It is a combination of the setting and also the exquisite planting that appeal to me as well as the fact that the garden is beautifully maintained. It was busier than our last visit but still quiet enough to find the odd nook and cranny completely to ourselves. I would return tomorrow if I could. That's unlikely but we do hope to get back there later this summer.

All the photos in this post were taken on my most recent visit but you can see photos from my previous post here

If you can't get to the garden yourself you may be interested to hear that Wollerton Old Hall is about to feature on the excellent series 'Great British Gardens With Carol Klein' on Channel 5 on Monday 7th July. In each hour long programme Carol visits one garden throughout the seasons. This will be episode 4 in the present series but you can still see the others on catch up. I'm now trying to work on himself for a trip to Coton Manor in Northamptonshire which looks out of this world. Hope that you are able to visit some beautiful gardens this year.

Monday, 28 June 2021

IAVOM ~ 'Just William'

"Soon will the high Midsummer pomps come on,
Soon will the musk carnations break and swell,
Soon shall we have gold-dusted snapdragon,
Sweet-William with his homely cottage-smell,
And stocks in fragrant blow;
Roses that down the alleys shine afar,
And open, jasmine-muffled lattices,
And groups under the dreaming garden-trees,
And the full moon, and the white evening-star."

- an extract from 'Thyris' by Matthew Arnold, 1822 -1888

A quick and plonk from me this Monday in the shape of a jug of dianthus barbatus more commonly known as sweet william. I sowed them sometime in June or July 2019, fully expecting them to flower last summer. They put on a lot of growth by then but didn't have as much as a single flowering stem. I had passed some seedlings on to a friend and they became a regular conversation topic. As last summer progressed she doubted that they were sweet williams but at last there are flowers to confirm their identity. The centre of the flowers is a darker red to the naked eye but as always red shades are a challenge to capture on camera. Their outstanding quality as you will all probably know is their fragrance which I wish I could share with you today. I've just sown some fingers crossed for next year - a dark sultry colour and a neon pink. On the allotment sweet williams were short lived perennials when grown in a raised bed but were never as vigorous the following year. I shall pull these out when flowering ceases. One of the plants has a yellow anthemis growing directly behind it which might prove a rather offensive colour clash. Come to think of it the anthemis is going to be relocated later this year.

The jug was a buy from an Oxfam shop a good few years ago.

'Just William' in case unknown to you was the first in a series of books by the author Richmal Crompton. She was a prolific writer as there were some thirty nine William books which were published between 1921 and 1970! The central character was a lively soul and schoolboy called William Brown who got up to all sorts of adventures with his friends Ginger, Henry and Douglas. I have recollections of reading the odd one or two of the books as a child but never became addicted as I did to the books written by Enid Blyton. Was William part of your childhood reading?

A thank you as always to our simply brilliant hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who encourages us to share our Monday vases each and every week. 

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Catching Up - Diary Update

Ooooooops - almost a month has lapsed since my last diary update. I'm not sure where that time has gone but needless to say I've been busy. June seems to have been quite a dry month so far and we could really do with some of the wet stuff at the moment. Whilst parts of the south of the country received more than a month's rainfall yesterday there were just a few spots here and looking at the forecast no sign of any on the horizon in the immediate future. It has been cooler during the last few days though which has made it easier on watering duties.

The new raised beds are beginning to fill out. One is planted with a wigwam of 'Cobra' climbing French beans, a wigwam of about to come into flower sweet peas and 'Sunburst' patty pans. I sowed some 'Romanesco' courgettes for a bit of contrast but not one germinated. The seed was past it's sow by date though but still worth a try and note has been made to order some afresh. In the other bed there are herbs, calendula, shallots, enough for a meal or two of dwarf French beans, beetroots, a trio of sunflower 'Procut Plum' anemone coronaria 'Mr Fokker' and some strawberries. There are plans to put up a third bed but where remains to be decided.  The new apples tree which looked like a mere stick when it arrived has grown but I expect that it will be a few years before it produces a decent crop so I will treat us to a mature specimen before the year is out.

Work on the ongoing 'Lockdown' border also known as the 'Border Of Doom' continues. This like a lot of the garden has suffered whilst there were not really enough hours in the day to tend to garden and allotment. It is about thirty feet t long by four feet and is sadly riddled with marestail. I've come to the conclusion after years of battling with the stuff that there's no way to get rid of it so it's a case of living with it. However I was dismayed to see it also raising it's ugly head in the new raised beds which were filled with a newly delivered vegetable growing medium this spring. Grrrrrrrrr! 

Meanwhile the 'Lockdown Border' in search of a new name is slowly being replanted. I have planted a few annuals in it this year but in future the plan is that is filled with perhaps two or three roses, mainly perennials as well as some annuals/biennials that can either either be sown in early summer September or sown directly in the ground. The colour scheme is purples, mauves, orange, burgundy, plums and perhaps some bronze shades. It is going to take some time to sort out and is still very much a work in progress. Giving me most pleasure there at the moment is papaver 'Patty's Plum' (photo above) who although planted last spring didn't flower last year.

More seed sowing took place in late May and this month of hesperis both mauve and white, lunaria annua 'Chedglow', calendula and foxglove and I hope to sow some sweet william this weekend. I planned to sow some wallflowers but so far haven't been able to track down the desired colour. Then a bit of a rest from seed sowing until the September sown annuals when another year starts. 

There have been some most enjoyable garden visits squeezed in too - one to a local beautifully maintained and planted NGS open garden and the other to a famous garden which we had not visited for some years. More of the latter visit very soon. Needless to say plant purchases were made at both but I'm pleased to report that especially when it came to the first garden my purchases were on my wish list rather than falling into the spontaneous buy now and think where I'm going to plant it later category. Another diary update soon hopefully.

P.S. Although there wasn't a single hint of rain on the last Met. Office weather forecast I saw before going to bed yesterday there was some considerate rainfall in the night. Even though the sound woke me up at some unearthly hour it made me smile.

Monday, 14 June 2021

IAVOM ~ 'Summer Song'

It never ceases to surprise me just how quickly another Monday arrives and time to share our vases again in 'On A Vase On Monday'. What also still surprises me is that is often breezy on Mondays as it is today. I'm always on tenterhooks in case my vase topples and falls off the wall into the stream below. The breeze though is welcome after a hot and particularly yesterday an unpleasantly muggy day. Today is much fresher and the air so much more pleasant.

In my vase today are :

  • Rosa 'Summer Song'- a new to me rose purchased from David Austin last year along with 'Lady Emma Hamilton' who was in last week's vase. As their website says she has "vibrant blooms of a red -orange colour" which was what attracted me to her when I first saw her in a vase of flowers at a flower show. I had to rush over on first sight to make a note of her name. She is pleasantly scented and seems floriferous but on the minus side I'm finding her stems to be on the floppy side and she is also suffering from black spot. The jury is still out.
  • Some wifty-waftiness  in the shape of some stems of briza maxima which has gently self seeded in a couple of places in the garden. I was pleased to see it as it seems to be a hit and miss occurrence whether it appears each year. I used to be able to pick abundant stems from outside the community hut at the allotment where it grew in profusion but I have closed the allotment gate firmly behind me now. No regrets at all although I do miss the access to cutting certain flowers that grew there.  
  • A couple of stems of a favourite hardy geranium  namely geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendal Clarke'. She is now growing in a different spot to where she previously lived in the garden and is much taller than my first experience of her and has need staking this time.
  • Some stems of the blue flowering anemone coronaria 'Mr. Fokker' which were started off with some bottom heat in the greenhouse back in early March and were transplanted to one of the new raised beds sometime in April. I love them!
  • Finally some what the label in the pot they are growing in informs me that they are 'Allium Lilac Beauty'. I'm not sure whether I've written the correct name on the label so must check the bulb orders I placed last autumn. I'm mystified how they have acquired the name as lilac they are most definitely not. However if you look closely at the flowers there are little lilac spots on the flowers. They are gently scented.
The vase was given to me by my mum a good few years ago. I'm especially fond of it so took a photo very quickly just in case.

A big shout out as always to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden', who so steadfastly steers the good ship which enables us to share and enjoy vases on Mondays.

Monday, 7 June 2021

IAVOM ~ Still Spring?

It seems that we have rushed from the unseasonal cool and wet May of a couple of weeks ago headlong into summer, although I refuse to believe that summer really starts until the solstice which this year is still a fortnight off. In my vase this week are the following :

  • A single rose stem of rosa 'Lady Emma Hamilton'. This was new to me last year and I'm most taken by both her foliage and her most delicious scent. I should have either moved her whilst she was dormant or the plants around her as I think she needs more air circulating around her. I must try to remember to do this later this year before she gets much bigger. 
  • Some of the annual orlaya grandilora which I sowed in the greenhouse in the first week of September last year and which subsequently overwintered under cover in the greenhouse. I didn't pot them up until the start of March and then introduced them to the outer world before planting them.
  • A couple of stems of allium 'Purple Sensation'. These appeared in a pot and I don't remember planting them last autumn. I'm wondering whether I planted them too late in the day in 2019 before because they certainly didn't show their faces in the spring of 2020. The heads are not as full and spectacular as the same variety planted in the garden so I didn't feel too guilty about beheading a couple of them although I had to wait for a couple of loitering bees to depart the scene before I did the deed.
  • Some unopened stems of sweet william. I've forgotten what variety these are in my long wait for flowers. I was expecting them to flower last summer but they didn't and in the meantime I've realised that there is going to be a quite unsightly colour clash when they finally do as there is a yellow flowering anthemis behind the plant these were cut from! Oh well it will be one year only nightmare.
  • Finally some flowers of the biennial or short-lived perennial hesperis or sweet rocket. I sowed seeds of both the white and lilac flowering in June or July last year. Their scent is heavenly especially as the day draws to a close.
The vase was bought almost four years ago when out in Liverpool for the day with my niece who had recently obtained her degree from Manchester University with flying colours. Tempus fugit and all that. She and her partner are still in Manchester but I have a feeling that they will move on when life settles down. Although we have not been able to see much of her recently I shall miss her when she departs.

Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who so generously hosts 'In A Vase On Monday' each week and enables us to share our vases little and large whatever the season is. 

Sunday, 6 June 2021

June Musing - On Sweet Peas

"Picked first 'Matucana' sweet peas in the eternal exhaustless freshness of the morning. They were self-seeded seedlings from last year, sprouted in the autumn were they fell by their tepees and got a head start. I popped them in my ponytail where the scent nudged me all afternoon. I gathered a full bunch on June 4th, the sweetness all the more intense after a ten-month wait. Sun-warmed water, soap suds, marzipan, marshmallows ; treats of all kinds come to mind on sniffing the first sweet peas. The first lathyrus odaratus flower of the year is like the return of a great friend, usually alone and fragile, who has made it to your doorstep. A couple of days later you might be able to pick six and proudly put them on the kitchen table. A week later the house is filled with them in every sort of vessel, like paint pots, like a flower show. The wait, the patience, the frost fingers, grappling with hazels, mania about mice, all becomes worthwhile"

An extract from 'Scent Magic: Notes From A Gardener' by Isobel Bannerman.

My sweet peas including 'Matucana' are not in flower yet but hopefully that great friend will return later this month. I have used a photo of a bunch I picked in July 2016.

Monday, 31 May 2021

IAVOM ~ "Flowers In The Window"

" And there is time, time, time

To plant new seeds and watch them grow

So there will be flowers before we go"

Well what a difference a week can make when it comes to the weather never mind politics. A lovely sunny and warm day especially when compared to last Monday and all that is so magical about this month has finally come about in the very last week! I realised this morning that my brand new vase could just sneak in one more appearance when it comes to 'In A Vase On Monday' before the month of May is out. Again few contents as the neck of the vase is on the small side. 

The first is lovely lacy annual orlaya grandiflora. These were sown on the 6th September 2020 and overwintered in the greenhouse before being hardened off. I have since sown a second batch in March and may yet squeeze in a third.

Secondly a couple of heads of anemone 'Galilee Pastel Mix'. The bulbs were planted towards the end of February in three inch pots in the greenhouse on top of the heated sand bench. Once they had come through they were moved way from the warmth of the sand bench before going out to harden off some time in April. I grew them last year for the first time but was unlucky to end up with a bag of flowers of all one colour but this year's bulbs are already revealing a more varied rainbow of colours. The flower that is prominent is more lilac than the pink it appears to be in the photo. The other flower lurking at the back is white. I planted another lot of bulbs in March which have still to reveal their flowers. They are perennial but last year's bulbs did not overwinter so it will be interesting to see what transpires with this batch. 

Finally a single snip of last year's carrot foliage which was still fresh from last week's vase.

My post title was inspired by my exercise on the treadmill this morning when my ears were treated to the sound of 'Flowers In The Window' by the excellent Travis. We often listen to their music late at night when we're away in the camper van, especially when we are parked well away from other vehicles and can sing at the top of our voices. One of those songs that I have heard before but had forgotten about so I was delighted to rediscover it and it sparked the idea of an indoor vase setting.

Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who came up with the gem of an idea for sharing our vases each and every Monday. 

Monday, 24 May 2021

IAVOM ~ " The Darling Buds Of May"


Just simple pickings in today's 'In A Vase On Monday', in the shape of aquilegias which are amongst my favourite May flowers along with geranium phaeum, Solomons Seal and Jacob's Ladder. These are are the direct descendants of seeds obtained in the 1980s from The Cottage Garden Society seed exchange scheme. I think that the variety is 'Hensol Harebell'. They have gently seeded themselves about over the years sometimes in surprising nooks and crannies and are most easy going and usually disease/mollusc free. The ferny foliage has been snipped from a pot of carrots grown last year which I really must empty. The weather today is cool, breezy and not surpisingly there has been yet more rain. However the weather forecast promises some overdue warmer and oh so welcome days to come as the week unfolds.

I have treated myself to a new vase via Etsy after such a long spell of not adding a single newcomer to the vase cupboard. I like it, although the hole for inserting flowers is most restrictive in diameter. No doubt it will make another public appearance next May.

As always a virtual bouquet of flowers and thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for prompting us to share our vases each Monday.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Diary Update


Well almost a fortnight since my last diary post so I'm not doing brilliantly so far. I would love to say that I've spent a lot of time in the garden of late but that is sadly not the case. The weather has often been cool, windy and very, very wet and almost unlike May. It will be interesting to see what the weather statistics are at the end of the month. 

The table of plants in the photo is my haul from a plant sale last Sunday. This was far less chaotic than our first in ages plant fair visit in April and it was comfortable to browse. I came home with astrantias, thalictrums, a geum, a couple of pulmonarias, an actaea and a veronicastrum 'Fascination'. I have never grown a veronicastrum before. Three of them are plants that I have had before and lost. Astrantias 'Gill Richardson' and 'Burgundy Manor' both got suffocated by too many plants surrounding them and my lack of care whilst the lovely dainty thalictrum 'Hewitt's Double' has lived here before on at least one occasion and slowly fizzled out.

Planting out the September hardy annuals is still underway. I hoped to get them in by now but the weather gods have conspired against me. The foliage on some of them is looking slightly anaemic but hopefully they will perk up once their feet are in the ground. I will also treat them to some seaweed feed. It will be the turn of the half hardys next which are still in the process of being hardened off.

The French beans - both the climbing 'Cobra' and the smaller 'Ferrari' have been sown as well as 'Sweet Basil and 'Mrs Burn's Lemon Basil'. My little courgette plants look quite sturdy. March sown sweet pea plants are in now in the ground planted at the base of a wigwam.

I want to sow one or two more annuals before the end of the month so need to sit down before the weekend is out and make a list. I'm also thinking of splitting some of my biennial seed sowing over May and June so better add them to the list too. Only a handful of varieties though.

In other news a lovely blogging friend - you know who you are, sent me a couple of dahlia cuttings as well as a cutting of salvia 'Phyllis Fancy'. I've also welcomed half a dozen little bit healthy and happy scented pelargoniums from 'Fibrex Nurseries' a company which specialises in pelargoniums. Finally all this wet suff means that the weeds are growing! 

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Dear Diary

When I started my blog many moons ago I had some notion that I would be able to make use of it to track gardening and allotment activities. I thought of it perhaps developing into regular diary type entries which would enable me to record the plannings, plantings and general going ons in the garden and what was then an allotment too. Well I was never brilliant at keeping a diary even when I was much younger and in the way of all my previous chronicle keeping attempts entries slowly but surely fell by the wayside. I have decided to have another attempt at a weekly or thereabouts diary type post. I'm sure that some weeks I will have more to say than others.

After the cool and dry April we experienced the first week of May has been decidely chilly too with some dramatic wintry precipitation. What has been remarkable though has been the amount of rain we've had over this time which has been welcomed by the garden, although perhaps not as much by the gardener whose attempts to get out there have been thwarted. Everything though looks so refreshed and the air smells better. We are promised warmer days in the week ahead starting with a prediction a temperature in double figures tonight! For the first time this spring a mollusc patrol will be mounted when darkness falls.

Plans for this week include planting out some of the September sown hardy annuals later than I would have preferred. These include orlaya, ammi visnaga, scabious and calendula. There should have been snapdragons too but only one germinated. Mind you it's a fine specimen if I say so myself but it is destined to be a lonely only. There are also some February planted on the heated sand bench 'Galilee Pastel' mix anemones to be planted. Once I have freed up a number of three inch pots there will be more pricking out and hardening off of various greenhouse residents. I reckon that everything is behind this year because of the combination of cold and dry. The first batch of March sown sweet peas are also ready to be planted. There is a wigwam already in place awaiting them.

Seed sowing plans for the week include zinnia, French beans, and direct sowing sowing some nigella. There is something else too but it is evading me just now. No garden centre, plant fairs or garden visits planned for this week but hopefully there will be more soon.

Giving me great pleasure in the cold and often damp gone past week have been my zingy pots of tulips. One filled with 'Ballerina' tulips, whilst the other two have a mixture of 'Ballerina', 'Jan Reus' and 'Purple Dream'. Although I love the colour combination 'Purple Dream' is much taller than the others and is rather wayward. I will tweak the combination next year. Apologies for the quality of the photo but it was a lightening snap with my phone on a chilly evening. It still conveys the colours. I feel so smug to have three containers of flourishing tulips as I have a love hate relationship with them, the leaves leaving me stone cold. The secret might be that himself planted them for me under my supervision. What has given you pleasure gardening wise this week?

Monday, 3 May 2021

IAVOM ~ 'Purple Rain'


The occupants of 'In A Vase On Monday' were gathered on Sunday afternoon in anticipation of a rainy Bank Holiday Monday, a forecast which so far has been spot on. I wish that I could share the scent coming from these flowers with you as it's most pleasing. In the vase are :
  • Geranium phaeum - an old favourite. It's not scented but the bees love it, it seems to be reasonably pest and disease free and flowers for a reasonable amount of time. A good haircut after flowering promotes fresh growth. I think that this one is a seedling, possibly of geranium phaeum 'Lily Lovell' rather than a named variety. They do self seed but not to the extent that they should carry a government health warning.
  • Wallflower - I mentioned this one a couple of posts back or so. It was grown from in 2019. It flowered last spring and looked exactly as the seed packet described it namely 'Wallflower Sunset Apricot'. I was delighted with the flowers and looked forward to a repeat performance this spring but as you can see it has morphed into this purple/ pinky shade with only a touch of apricot remaining. It is scented but will be removed when flowering is done and I will sow some more seeds next month.
  • Lunaria rediviva also known as a perennial honesty. This is the most soft shade of lilac and  has the most sweetly scented flowers. I grew this from seed in 2017 and after moving it it sulked for a while but seems to be happier this spring. It is quite a big plant and I'm still not sure whether it is in the right place. Unlike the biennial honesty the seed heads are elliptical. 

My vase, an old pickle or relish jar of some description is now on the kitchen window sill. I don't think that it will last long but I am going to enjoy the scent whilst I can when standing at the kitchen sink. 

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for inviting us to share our vases on Monday. I don't think that there will be much in the way of gardening done here today other than under the cover of the greenhouse. The rain is forecast to continue for the day which is quite reassuring given how dry April was. The wind is getting up as promised which is not as welcome. Still time to do some cosy potting up in the greenhouse and visit other vase posts sounds a much more attractive proposition than being stuck in bank holiday traffic. I hope that you're enjoying your Monday wherever you are.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Slightly Wordy Wednesday ~ The Changeling

Back in the early summer of 2109 ( which seems a long time ago now) I sowed some wallflower seeds - 'Sunset Apricot ' and 'Sunset Purple'. Germination was a disaster - with only a scanty number of the apricot shade emerging and not one of the purple. It was the first time that I've ever grown wallflowers from seed and as usual in these situations wondered whether the fault lay with me. I contacted the seed company nevertheless who sent me a replacement packet of the purple without any questions. 

The few apricot seedlings struggled on and I was eventually able to plant them out. I don't have any photos but they produced a lovely show for a good period last spring and into early summer. I left a couple of the strongest plants in where they came through the winter although the foliage did suffer badly in February but nothing that a haircut wouldn't sort out when it warmed up slightly. I noticed the plants plumping up and flower buds forming but something didn't look quite right. The penny slowly that the buds looked a different colour and sure enough the flowers are!  You definitely couldn't call them 'Apricot Sunset' this spring. Funnily enough though the eyes of the flowers are the same colour as last year's flowers. Has anybody else had this experience of wallflowers?

They will be allowed to linger another month or so as I love the scent of wallflowers but then it's into the compost bin and I will start from afresh in another couple of months or so. 

Monday, 19 April 2021

IAVOM ~ Snow White

In my vase this fine Monday are just a few of the beautiful and scented 'Thalia' narcissus which I think must be my favourite narcissus. It spreads well, is easy going and never seems to be troubled by any pests. The settled weather we have had for a while now is suiting her. My vase is an old Horrell's Devon cider stoneware jug purchased from a charity shop many years ago.

The weather here has changed since I last posted a couple of weeks ago and it seems now that spring is very much here. We are still experiencing some cold nights but I am sure that we've seen the last of the snow. We could do with some rain but hopefully it will come soon and considerately fall overnight. The hardy annuals grown from seed last September are hardening off, other more recently sown seeds are still sheltering in the greenhouse and a few more seeds are still to be sown before the end of April. We went to a plant fair on Saturday - more of that soon. Looking forward to settling down later tonight or tomorrow to peruse other spring time vases from near and far. As always a big thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for so graciously and diligently hosting whatever the season.

Monday, 5 April 2021

In A Vase On Monday ~ Love


Last week our 'In A Vase On Monday' hostess Cathy invited us to share our favourite love poems but I missed posting a vase. So a week later after finding it impossible to narrow it down to one poem, here are just a short extract from one of my favourite books of all time to celebrate my dear sister's thirty fifth wedding anniversary which is today. The book is Kahil Gibran's 'The Prophet' which has accompanied me since 1973. His words on love include the following lines :

"Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but itself

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed

For love is sufficient unto love"

My sister was married on a day most similar day to today - bitterly cold and windy but blue skies and sunshine too. There were other weather surprises thrown in to the mix too - hail, thunder and a beautiful rainbow. We shared laughter reminiscing about her wedding day yesterday when we enjoyed an Easter family phone call with my youngest brother and his two daughters. She and her husband are now enjoying the joys of grandchildren but have known some darker times too with both of them both going through serious illnesses during those years together. I will be raising a glass to them tonight.

The little violas in my sunshine vase, hand painted by our mum are 'Morpho', a recent purchase from my first trip to a shop since last March. 

Cathy today is celebrating the appearance of some lovely and elegant ladies in her garden, in the shape of her first tulips of the year. Do have a peek over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. I wonder what other firsts of the year might be appearing in other vases today.

Monday, 15 March 2021

IAVOM ~ Almost Spring In A Jar


Spring in my book has another few days to arrive with the arrival of the spring equinox on 20th March. The weather has been behaving accordingly with some very windy days and more rain. Today a little brighter in that we've seen some sun but there is a still a wind - less intense but still with a chilly sting in it's tail. I like to think that this is the final tussle between a stubborn digging it's heels in winter and an impatient and eager to get properly going spring. In my vase today are a collection of winter slowly morphing into spring stalwarts - hellebores, narcissus including the ever reliable 'Tête à Tête' and a trio of one of my last flowering snowdrops. I'm afraid that the hellebores lost labels a long time ago and the name of the snowdrop is not coming to mind. My snowdrop map has gone absent without leave but hopefully the penny might drop later and I will edit this post if it does. It is a lovely large snowdrop and is still looking good whilst most of the others are now finished for another year. 

If any one of you are snowdrop fans and also have an Instagram account - Jimi Blake from 'Huntingbrook Gardens' did a live broadcast from Huntingbrook on 21st February. His snowdrops and other winter flowering plants are fabulous. You will be glued to the screen! It's rather long so you might prefer to leave it until the evening or a rainy day - just sit down with a cuppa and you will be entranced.

With thanks as ever to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for all her encouragement to share our vases on Mondays. 

Saturday, 13 March 2021

March Musing - Daffodils


Narcissus pseudonarcissus in a Cumbrian churchyard -13/03/2014

"At first, you can hardly see them : slim, green tips barely distinguishable from the dew-drenched grass. Some, it's true,  are not so slim - here and there are pale swellings, hardly enough to alter the outline but firmer somehow and more promising. Day by day they become less reticent, and though, some stay hidden amongst the clumps of chaotic dead grass, others stand tall and straight ready to meet the sun when it may choose to appear. Their heads begin to tilt, as if still too shy to look at you straight in the eye, but almost at once their astonishing secret is out in a flash of yellow and a silent, spectacular chorus of trumpets. Daffodils herald the spring with vim and verve, seizing the limelight from the more diminutive earlier risers. Brighter than snowdrops, taller than celandines or aconites daffodils instantly command attention ...... only prolonged falls of heavy snow can utterly defeat a company of daffodils: when the sun returns and the ice retreats the yellow stars will generally be out again. Daffodils upright and bright, seem invigorated by seasonal setbacks.

'The Daffodil Fairy' by Cicely Mary Barker.

Just as it seems that it will never be light or warm again, huge teams appear in their high vis-jackets to rescue us from the effects of a prolonged winter. In villages across Britain, worn-out verges begin to gleam with scattered daffodils in early spring to , until the roadside is ablaze in a luminous citric glow, often outshining the sparse street lights.

A few of my own daffodils, March 2016.

As the chilly dawn begins to break a little earlier, these seasonal signs reminds yawning drivers and shivering teenagers that things are not, after all quite as dark as they have been and that brighter days are coming.

~ an extract from ' The Brief Life of Flowers' by Fiona Stafford,  which is well worth a read, revealing how even the most ordinary flowers have extraordinary stories to tell.