greentapestry : 2021

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.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Time To Say Goodbye

Well it was time to say goodbye to my allotment at the end of last year after much soul searching. It had got to the stage where fretting about it rather than enjoying it was. I had been debating the issue of whether to call it a day for some considerable time feeling that I've not been doing either the garden or the allotment justice. Then falling over in the autumn of 2019 resulted in two broken bones in my right hand. Originally I thought that I would catch up with any remaining autumn tidying and preparation come the spring and perhaps sow fewer crops last year. Although my hand has regained it's strength it is certainly not the same and does twinge and ache from time to time. 

Events in the outer world meant that I was very cautious last spring although it was legal to visit and tend the allotment which was deemed as exercise. Himself has always been excellent about taking me there and collecting me after an allotment session but my other mode of transport which was to get there and back by bus became a non starter. 

When I did get there it was a case of rushing to my plot and shutting myself in. This was not always as simple as it may sound. Walking up and down the main path there was a good chance of crossing paths with other plot holders some of whom had no concept of social distancing. I appreciate the fact that we were outside but I still found this disconcerting. As the year unfolded I visited the allotment less and less and it helped me reach the conclusion that perhaps I wouldn't miss it at all I didn't have a plot. I did feel tremendously guilty though that I wasn't utilising the plot to its full extent and that somebody else who was on a long waiting list could. That combined with the feeling that once this state of limbo is behind us I don't want to be committed to the same extent. There are places to go and gardens to visit whilst we are both still able. Having an allotment a big commitment which you can't afford to turn your back on for more than a couple of weeks. If you do you are asking for trouble. Himself is delighted with my decision.

As I said giving up the allotment had already been in the back of my mind for some time. With that in mind I grew a few annual and half hardy annuals in the garden last year and also French beans to see how they fared. My garden at home is much shadier than the allotment. The flowers including my favourite sweet peas did well on the whole but the French beans faltered. Possibly the fact that they were grown in front of a wall didn't help. We dismantled three of the relatively new raised beds that himself had installed and these have now been found homes in the garden and were filled with a vegetable friendly growing medium last week.

I'm now having fun deciding what I can fit into my reduced growing space. I plan to  grow cut flowers, herbs, strawberries, French beans, shallots, kale, beetroot, salady stuff and courgettes in the first instance. I hope to squeeze in a few of my favourite salad potatoes 'Charlotte' probably in containers and of course there will be tomatoes which I've always grown at home. I'm sure that one or two crops will squeeze their way in. 

What I will not miss? Well allotment life is not all a bed of roses or perhaps in this case I should say a bed of cabbages. Sadly over the years there have been upsetting incidences of vandalism and theft. I will not miss the fact that there inevitably seems to be some internal feuds going on and it is sad to say that in this day and age some women on the site felt that were bullied by a handful of men. I will not miss the lean over the fence and give you so called advice types who never once offered to lend a hand. I will not pine over the fact that to get to my plot for a good few months of the year involved slip-sliding through mud. This was a normal winter happening but the photo below was taken one July day in 2022.

What will I miss? I will miss my lovely apples trees which I have left for the next plot holder to enjoy. I did consider bringing my apple trees, well two of the three, back home. I apparently should have done some preparation work at least a year in advance beforehand if I had transplanted them so decided to let them be. A new tree for the garden is on its way - an eater called 'Sunset' which was my favourite of the three. I will miss the thicket of the delicious autumn fruiting raspberry' Polka', as well as the gooseberry and currant bushes. 

I will miss growing crops that like the sunshine such as sweetcorn. I will miss the visiting birds and bees which varied from those visiting the garden. I will miss the community fun days that the allotment association supported over the years. Hard work but most rewarding. 

I will miss my lovely well established stipa gigantea grass which lapped up the sun there. I will start again with one in the garden. Above all though I will miss the camaraderie of fellow plot holders, exchange of growing tips and the generous swapping and gifts of plants and crops. I do have invitations though to call in at any time and catch up on what is happening. No doubt I will report back here on the progress of my new home allotment over the next few months. Hopefully before long I will be tucking into a bowl full of some strawberries like these again.

In the meantime I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything and count myself privileged to have been an allotment plot holder.

Monday, 22 February 2021

IAVOM - 'Here Comes The Sun'

The quickest of pick and plonks and photo too today for 'In A Vase On Monday'. I have had my eye on the main road today looking out for a bulk delivery of compost - still to arrive at the time of writing and a grocery delivery which looked as if it might sail past but eventually found us. The flowers and the vase are reflecting not only today's sunshine but also an optimism after receiving my first vaccine last week just less than a fortnight after himself. Now to wait until today's road map out of lockdown is revealed in detail.

The flowers are both iris reticulata - 'Eye Catcher' and 'Scent Sational' both of which are little beauties with their exquisite and detailed markings. Sadly they do not seem to do well for me for longer than one season either in pots or in the ground. Still worth a little splash in the autumn for the pleasure they provide. The latter makes a good companion for crocus siberei 'Firefly' so I discovered completely by accident.

With thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting this welcome platform for sharing our flowers and foliage on a Monday.

Monday, 8 February 2021

IAVOM ~ Good Companions

Just a couple of flowers in today's 'In A Vase On Monday', quickly gathered on a most cold day when a bitter wind is plummeting the temperature in a downward spiral. It looks as if this cold spell is here for the week and I'm hoping that it might be the last really cold snap of winter. No doubt like most of you spring can't come soon enough for me this year. I much prefer to take all my vase photos out in the elements where not only the light levels are stronger but I'm also not bought to an abrupt full stop when I notice every single speck of dust. However it was much too nippy out there to take my time so I came inside to take my photo. The fairy lights on the mantlepiece remain all year for an instant touch of a button sparkle.

I'm sure you will all recognise the two occupants in the vase - snowdrops and hellebores - both stalwarts and comfortable companions. The varieties of both in this case are both unknown. The snowdrops live in a big container outside and have multiplied over the years. The marking on the petals vary.  I did consider snipping a witch hazel but perhaps my shrubs are still too small so I came down on the side of caution. On the subject of  companions for snowdrops Plant Heritage is running a Zoom lecture this coming Saturday. The event is open to non-members for the most reasonable price of £4.00. Details are here. I listened to another talk on snowdrops via Plant Heritage on Saturday night and was most taken with the speaker's idea of planting her snowdrops without labels in the lawn. Something I've never considered before now.

The vase is one of a set of four, a present from my sister. Each is a different colour. I don't think this one has made a public appearance before. The other three are in need of some intensive care - each having developed a misty bloom on the inside. Any tried and trusted cleaning tips would be more than welcome. 

Thanks as always to our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who came up with the idea of sharing vases each week to mark the start of a new week which makes Monday a special day in the diary.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Wheelbarrows & Wellies

It seems to have been a long time since I've been here. I would like to say that I have been wearing wellies and wheeling a wheelbarrow but truth be told I've been relishing a deep longer winter hibernation than usual. I'm not sure sure what I've actually achieved but the seasonal jigsaw has been completed,  plenty of books have been enjoyed and much amusing entertainment has been had watching the birds feed. They for one as one of my nieces put it "are blissfully unaware of the turmoil going on around them". On the gardening front little has been done but the flower seed box is immaculate and sorted out in alphabetical order and the seed order will be going in later today. My dahlias were ordered on New Year's Day so I feel that I'm making some inroads, Now I need to get cracking on some indoor jobs before outdoor jobs and the seed sowing season take priority.

Our seasonal jigsaw this year was 'Wheelbarrows and Wellies', the first jigsaw from the Gibson's stable that we have tackled. It was made up of a set of garden related cameos and was most pleasurable to do. You can see some close ups here. The artist Val Goldfinch is behind other jigsaws so we shall look out for her in the future.

My main pleasure in the garden at this time of year is of course snowdrops both in the garden and also my collection of named snowdrops in the greenhouse. Outside up to Christmas everything seemed to be well ahead of schedule but is now back in kilter after the much cooler weather of the last month. However the joy that I get from the indoor residents has been diminished as so many of them have decided not to flower this year. I'm not sure why this has happened but think that water - either too much or too little is a factor. I have to confess that the pots may have baked too dry in the hot spring that we had - they were back outside by then and I took my eyes off inspecting the pots regularly.  I also divided a good number of them in the spring as the pots were crowded and then all the pots almost drowned before I took them in under cover earlier than I usually do because they were just so wet. I think that it has been too stressful for them especially the more immature bulbs and that with some tender loving care they will flower in profusion next year. I do have some showing their colours though and have welcomed some newcomers in the fold namely 'Aunt Agnes', 'Lucy', and 'Green Of Hearts'. Hopefully I will post photos soon.

In the meantime I've gained some snowdrop pleasure elsewhere via Zoom lectures, a virtual snowdrop festival on Instagram from The Garden House in Devon  and from a most enjoyable programme 'Snowdrop Country' here on BBC radio 4 focusing on Alan Street, the nurseryman from  from Avon Bulbs who has been responsible for most of their star snowdrops. Well now having found my way back here I hope to return sooner than later.