greentapestry : 2022

Saturday, 28 May 2022

More May Musing - On Buttercups

" I remember once walking out hand in hand with a boy I knew, and it was summer, and suddenly before us was a field of gold. Gold as far as you could see. We knew we’d be rich forever. We filled our pockets and our hair. We were rolled in gold. We ran through the field laughing and our legs and feet were coated in yellow dust, so that we were like golden statues or golden gods ...  It was only a field of buttercups, but we were young.’

- Jeanette Winterson


Monday, 23 May 2022

IAVOM ~ More Darling Buds


Well it's that time to bring out this vase for the annual outing. Apart from this vase being on the small side it also has a very small neck. I think that it may well become one of those items that I will continue to wonder what tempted me to but it other than the words 'Darling Buds Of May'. Anyway here it is stuffed to the gunnels with some of my favourite May buds :

  • Aquilegia - this is one of the self seeders from the original 'Hensol Harebell' seeds from The Cottage Garden Society that I sowed many moons ago. Some good news on the aquilegia front is that Carrie Thomas of Touchwood Plants is back in the business of selling aquilegia seeds again. I'm most sorely tempted. 
  • Geranium phaeum - again a self seeder and perhaps not as pure white as it appears in this photo. These are such easy going  and obliging perennials
  • A trio of stems from millium effusum 'Aureum' also known as 'Bowles Golden Grass. Again a self seeder which prefers some shade as the foliage can scorch
  • Finally astrantia - variety obscured by the mist of time and many lost labels along the way. The astrantias are only just getting going here so I'm looking forward to others in different hues opening very soon too.
Thanks as always to Cathy who is firmly rooted over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her excellent hosting. It is a relatively cool but dry day here just right for some gentle pottering about and to discover what is happening out there. I hope that that you are also able to get outside to play in the dirt too. 

Monday, 16 May 2022

IAVOM ~ It's A First!


This week's vase just had to include :

  • The first ever ranunculus that I have ever managed to get to flowering stage! I have had a few attempts at growing ranunculus in the past but have never managed to get them this far. The fact that they were a named variety 'Champagne' and cost more than what I have paid for ranunculus in the past may well have something to do with it. I planted the corms in February in a tray under cover. I resisted the temptation to give the tray some bottom heat on the sand bench and watched eagerly for signs of growth. Sure enough I eventually saw signs of shooting and six of the ten corms I planted took off. They were eventually transferred to individual pots but I lost one when they were still quite small. There are more blooms to follow - not in copious quantities but they will all be treasured especially the couple that look as if they will be a coral/salmon colour when open. I haven't cracked ranunculus growing yet but will definitely be planting some claws in the autumn and hoping for sturdier plants which will produce even greater a quantity of flowers next spring,

  • Thalictrum - 'Black Stockings' I think and perennial . I planted this in 'The Lockdown Border' in 2020 and it has now really clumped up well and has several flowering stems this spring. The photo makes it look more pink than it is in the flesh. The dark stems are most attractive too,
  • Some flowers from geum 'Totally Tangerine - three of these were planted in the 'Lockdown Border' in 2021 with varying degrees of growth. The one that has been in flower since  late March seems to be on steroids and hasn't stopped flowering since. I must start to deadhead them soon.
  • A couple of sprinklings of the grass 'Briza Maxima' which has conveniently and so far considerately self seeded about here and there.
  • Lastly some of the deliciously scented biennial hesperis matronalis also known as 'Dame's Rocket'. I always think that the scent is more pronounced on a warm evening.  These were sown last June or July. 

Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for encouraging us to share our Monday vases. I wonder what spring sparklers are in other folk's vases this week.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

May Musing

" The growth is a remarkable thing during these weeks between spring and summer. If you could hear it, there would be a tangible hum, made from a million buds breaking and stems flexing. The tide of green sweeps up and over bare earth, cloaking it as fast as the leaves fill out above us. Blink and you miss the soft marbling on the new leaves of the Epimedium and the dusty bloom of the overlaying the ruby young growth on the 'Molly the Witch'. Blink again and the first of the peonies will be open - primrose cups filled with bees.

The flurry of spring perennials starts the summer garden. One layer takes over from the next, replacing and adding like an increasingly complex textile".

From 'Natural Selection' by Dan Pearson.

If you enjoy Dan's writing and have not come across it yet he produces an excellent online gardening, growing, cooking and making magazine most Saturdays over at 'Dig Delve' together with his partner Huw Morgan. You can also subscribe to have it sent to your inbox.

May is such a beautiful month and although my favourite of the month I've noticed a distinct lack of May musing on my blog. I hope to return with another snippet or two as this magical time of year unfolds.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Garden Diary ~ An April Catch Up

An extremely dry April looks as if she is going to exit on a last minute downpour in this part of the world which will be more than welcome with farmers and gardeners. We have had a very settled month with much in the way of sunshine but some cold nights when the fleece has come out to protect the more tender greenhouse occupants at night.

April has seen more seed sowing activity - another tray of cut and come again salad, thunbergia alata, aka Blacked Eyed Susan, Swan River daisies, nasturtiums, sunflowers 'Claret' and 'ProCut Plum', anethum graveolens 'Mariska' also known as florists' dill, moluccella laevis aka Bells of Ireland, a second sowing of cosmos 'Apricotta' and scabious 'Fata Morgana', courgette 'Atena Polka', beetroot and chard. There has been much in the way of pricking out and some hardening off of hardy annuals has taken place. March sown sweet peas are now more than ready to get into the ground. The first couple of bags have been planted with 'Charlotte' potatoes with another bag at the ready to plant.

The February planted ranunculus have flowers which is most exciting but some of the foliage is looking rather miserable so it's a case of wondering what will happen. I have never had any joy with growing these so I do so hope that these plants will turn the corner and I will be able to cut some flowers for a vase. 

 The potted snowdrops all made their way back outside at the beginning of the month to make room for seed sowing and other greenhouse activities. Dahlia tubers have been planted including some new to me varieties and are presently in pots still undercover.

It was a month of no plant purchases until we visited a local garden centre yesterday when it was warm enough to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy some lunch. Leaping into the basket gallantly wielded by himself went three lemon verbena plants, hyssop, apple mint, a tray of violas and a substantial plant of deliciously scented nemesia 'Wisley Vanilla'. 

Giving me particular pleasure this month has been the blossom on pear, apple, crabapple and amelanchier - so pretty and the display from the three pots of tulips. The most impressive has been the pot of single planting of 'Ballerina'. Two pots of mixed planting of 'Ballerina', 'Havran' and 'Purple Dream' have not convinced me especially the 'Purple Dream' which is either taller than the other two varieties or has not grown to full height in some cases and is on the pink shade of purple to my eyes. I shall tweak the combination next year.

Some of my stalwart spring flowers have been in fine fettle this month - especially brunnera, 'Solomon's Seal' and geranium phaeums. As the month departs and we enter my favourite month of the year alliums are on the point of bursting, aquilegias are slowly opening and elderflowers have just started to show. Exciting times!

Monday, 25 April 2022

IAVOM ~ 'Blue Monday'


Today's vase is part yesterday's weeding activities - a collection of just bluebells which we inherited with the garden, some bulbs more suitably sited than others.  As far as I can these are native English bluebells as opposed to Spanish bluebells, the difference between which is described here. These would have been deadheaded sooner than later to prevent them spreading further into an area which is already host to the thug that is lamium galeobdolon 'Variegatum' aka the yellow archangel. The common name seems most inappropriate as this plant is far from angelic in behaviour. The variegated leaves are visible in the above photo but none of the yellow flowers.  I have mentioned before now that I innocently looked out for this plant and welcomed it with open arms before I knew of its tendency to run everywhere. I've come to the conclusion that I will never be rid.

The vase is a recent purchase from eBay - a James Keiller & Son Ltd. marmalade jar. Keillers was established in 1797 and made a number of different flavoured marmalades until it ceased to be in 1992. The descendants of the Keiller family include the gardening writer and broadcaster Monty Don amongst their numbers.

"Enter the wood with care, my love
Lest you are pulled down by the hue,
Lost in the depths, drowned in blue"

With thanks as ever to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her steadfast hosting. Do take a peek in what is other vases this week. 

Monday, 18 April 2022

IAVOM ~ "Wearing White For Easter Tide"


Well not just white but shades of cream, green and even some red too. In this week's vase are :

  • Lunaria variegata alba - this variety of the biennial honesty obligingly self seeds so I now have a perpetual colony. The foliage is attractive too with the variegation varying slightly from plant to plant. I can't remember cutting the flowers for a vase before and somehow don't think they will have much staying power. Later in the year I will be cutting the stems down when the seeds have set and using them for seasonal decoration. I will have seeds to spare if anyone would like some.
  • A couple of stems of cornus which missed the chop out when I was pruning the shrub.
  • Narcissus 'Thalia' - possibly my favourite narcissus and one that is still going when most of its more diminutive siblings are fading.
  • The last occupant in my vase this week are stems of the tactile pussy willow catkins - none to be purloined in the immediately vicinity so I have to confess that these were bought especially for Easter.
The vase came from my mother but other than that I have no idea of its history. The little tin came supplied with little Easter eggs. The illustrations are by Arthur Parkinson who is developing a reputation as a florist, gardener and author and is is currently working on a book on keeping chickens which he has done since a young age.

My post title comes from  A.E. Housman's 'A Shropshire Lad' which includes these lines : 

" Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Easter tide"

As always a special thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who enables us to share our vases each and every Monday. I hope that you have all been enjoying the long weekend and that you have some beautiful gentle spring weather and delicious chocolates too.

Monday, 11 April 2022

IAOM ~'I Will Survive'

We had a reminder on Saturday that winter still had a sting in its tail when there was a sudden and most dramatic hailstorm.  I was inside and cosy at home at the time and wondered what the loud clattering noise was, before realising that  himself had left our bedroom window wide open so I was being treated to the additional sound effects of hail bouncing on a wooden floor. Whether that is winter's final fling remains to be seen but yesterday and today have been noticeably warmer and there is a strong pull towards the garden. In my vase this week are :
  • Tulip -   this is the only one one in the pot that has flowered so time to jettison all the bulbs. As to variety I know not what. Before the bulbs depart I thought that it only fitting to include the only survivor in this week's vase. 
  • Lunaria annua - this has arrived by itself and I'm delighted to make its acquaintance. It's in an out of the way part of the garden used as a gathering place for pots of bulbs after they have flowered. I'm hoping very much that will gently self-seed.
  •  A stem of amelanchier - variety unknown. This has made rather spindly growth but is slowly bulking out after a few years. I'm hoping to find room to tuck in another specimen somewhere . The colour of the spring foliage is exquisite. I just wish that it flowered over a longer spell but that of course is being greedy. 
  • Some hellebore flowers which have now reached the stage where you can see the seed pods forming. The colours are fading but they are still attractive. 

The hearts vase is an Emma Bridgewater creation which was purchased through eBay some time ago. I realised that it hadn't come out of the cupboard for a while so thought that it deserved an outing.

Thanks as always to Cathy whose blog can be found over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. Cathy most kindly enables us to share our vases throughout the year each and every Monday. Do visit and see what treasures are sparkling in vases created by fellow bloggers this week.

Monday, 4 April 2022

IAVOM ~ 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart'

 I snipped the content's of this week's 'In A Vase On Monday' in anticipation of some wet weather today but it now looks as if we might have a better day than originally forecast. It will be milder which will be welcome after some biting chilly winds over the last few days.

In my vase are companions, well in fact next door neighbours in the garden. They are :

  • A single leaf of arum italicum var. Mamoratum - this plant has really grown in spread this year and needs dividing. I will have to look up  how and when the best time is to do this. As well as growing in stature it has gifted me with some seedlings for the first time. which when slightly larger will be extricated and either potted on and then eventually planted or shared.
  • A single sprig of one of my favourite spring plants, the artist formerly know as dicentra spectablis alba also known as 'Bleeding Hearts'. The form of the flowers is fascinating. I refuse to learn the new name which is ugly and which I also find difficult to remember and spell. This perennial which goes completely underground in winter, always amazes me each spring as it seems to appear in the blink of an eyelid and then is flowering in no time at all.  It has a a clump of snowdrops in front of it and the dicentra is planted behind and just to one side.  I had a trio of dicentra at one point but the other two plants have disappeared. In the latest episode of 'Gardener's World' Monty Don demonstrated how to take cuttings in the same way as dahlia cuttings but the growth on my plant is too advanced to do this. I think that the programmes are filmed a good ten days or so before they get to our screens. I must try to divide it when it first shows next year which I've done in the past or even treat myself to two new plants. It was really too bright when I took my photo but after waiting some time standing in a chilly wind waiting for the sun to go in I decided that it wasn't going to happen. Of course it did as soon as I got back in the house!
The vase is tiny being just over 5 centimetres or 2 inches high and has the distinction of being the second smallest vase I have. 

My thanks as always to Cathy who blogs over at 'Rambling In The Garden' and who welcomes fellow blogger's contributions of vases both little and large every Monday. 

Thursday, 31 March 2022

March Garden Diary

A quick recap of the month before it goes sailing over the horizon. March 2022  has been dry and mild in the main and we have recently enjoyed a fool's spring, basking in a most settled long spell of above average temperatures, blue skies and sunshine. That came to an abrupt end with some dramatic torrential rain on Tuesday evening since when the temperature has absolutely plummeted. The month is ending with a cold but most seasonal snap.

Various distractions have meant that I've not achieved a lot in the garden other than seed sowing in the greenhouse and continuing to plant up the dedicated snowdrop border, where I'm beginning to run out out of room for further snowdrops.  I have been making sure to regularly water new additions and the established bulbs have had a seaweed feed.

A few more new plants have arrived in the shape of yet another pulmonaria 'Miss Elly', phlox 'Blue Paradise', epimediums 'Domino' and youngianum  'Niveum' and viola odorata 'Konigen Charlotte'. I'm looking forward to seeing all of these in flower. I've also had a delivery of dahlia tubers which now need starting off.

I've not sown any vegetable seeds yet but there is plenty of time left to do that. Shallot bulbs 'Red Sun' have been planted in cells in the greenhouse and will be transferred to the ground when they have made some growth.

I've made the difficult decision to sow fewer seeds this year but whether I stick to that remains to be seen.  It's a decision largely influenced by the fact that I have developed osteoarthritis in my left hand, which ironically is not the hand that sustained two breaks a couple of years ago or so. I think that I need to ease the burden on my hands as I get older and sadly lugging seed trays back and forth adds to the workload. The special snowdrop pots have been turfed out of the greenhouse into the outer world, the sand bench has been turned on and seed sowing has been going on since the start of March. 

To date I've sown panicum capillare 'Sparkling Fountain', lagurus ovatus (my own saved seed for these first two), larkspur 'Misty Lavender' (all of eight seedlings as of today), salvia viridis 'Blue Monday', two batches of sweet peas, ' papaver rhoeas 'Amazing Grey', more rudbeckia 'Sahara', phlox paniculata 'Isabellina' and 'Cherry Caramel', amaranthus caudatus 'viridis', cosmos 'Apricotta' and scabious 'Fata Morgana'. I've been mostly happy with germination rates with the exception of the poppy, larkspur (although the packet carried a warning that germination had been low in tests so there was a larger quantity of seeds included in the packet to compensate) and the phlox 'Cherry Caramel', which hasn't germinated at all so a second sowing has been made from a different packet. I will also sow more larkspur and poppy. The only perennial sown to date is heliopsis 'Bleeding Hearts' which is a new one on me. The seedlings from September sowings - orlaya grandiflora, ammi visnaga, perennial scabious, calendula and daucus carrota have been pricked out and potted up. Sadly all the puny snapdragons went by the wayside over the winter. April will see a few further flower sowings. 

Anemone 'Mr Fokker' is now in flower from November planting but those that were planted this February have gone mouldy in their pots. However I'm delighted that six of ten ranunculus 'Champagne' planted in a tray in February have healthy green shoots and need potting up soon.

So that in a nutshell was March in my garden. A month especially memorable for it's unexpected weather and an unbelievable sudden woooooosh of growth, the return of our resident ducks and for the pleasure gained from sticking my head over the stream to to gaze upon  labours of my guerilla gardening. When we moved here there were already clumps of snowdrops and some native daffodils growing on the other bank, which is nor owned by us but isn't maintained by anybody. I have slowly lobbed bulbs over to that side over the years. Numbers have depended on my finances and Wilko's sales at the end of the planting season. More yellow patches and the odd white are spreading slowly but surely with each passing year, with no attention from human hand whatsoever.

Monday, 28 March 2022

IAVOM ~ 'Monday, Monday'


A few tiny spring treasures in my tiny vase on  this sunny Monday. Making their way into this week's vase are :

  • Pulmonaria 'Diana Clare' who sadly lost some of her dark purple colouring as I  rather dangerously twizzled the stem round in the vase for a better view. Fiddling has its dangers when it comes to vases. This is one of my favourite pulmonarias. 
  • Muscari 'Valerie Finnis' named after the plantswoman and photographer.
  • A fritillaria meleagris or snakesead fritillary flower with its most distinctive chequered markings. 
  • A couple of stems of perennial anemone blanda.
The little glass vase was a gift from my mum who hand painted it with what I think are suns, although I suppose they could also be stars.

As always thanks to Cathy, who hosts 'In A Vase On Monday' on her blog 'Rambling In The Garden'. All shapes and sizes of vases containing flowers, foliage, stems, fruits etc. are welcome from fellow bloggers each and every Monday.

Monday, 21 March 2022

IAVOM ~ A Spring Posy

Although spring has really and truly been officially declared it feels more like winter today with a frost to greet my accidentally door left open overnight greenhouse, stubborn grey cloud cover and a definite nip in the air. I was relieved that I had bought my really tender seedlings into the house overnight and that I had fleeced up a few cuttings before darkness set in. I was also pleased to have snipped my flowers for a vase and taken photos on a Sunday sunny afternoon. In my vase this week are a mixture of late winter/ spring flowers and one that has surprised me by coming into flower so early. They are :

  • A flower of iris 'Purple Hill'. I have not grown these bulbs before now and initially thought it was too dark a flower but it's growing on me.
  • A dusky pink primula - unknown variety.
  • A flower of anemone coronaria 'Mr Fokker' - I planted the tubers sometime in November. They overwintered in single pots overwinter but have taken up residence in the outer world for a while now.
  • A couple of flowers, one now fading, of a  white picotee helleborus hybrid I bought from Ashwood Nurseries.
A sprig from a pulmonaria self seedling Finally keeping the pulmonaria company a sprig from geum 'Totally Tangerine'. The pulmonaria and the geum are companions in 'The Lockdown Border', aka 'The Border Of Doom' ,because of the persistent nightmare of marestail.  I planted three of the geums at intervals in the same border and one plant is flourishing, one is not quite as robust whilst the third is sadly puny. I was surprised to see it showing colour so early. The pulmonaria seedling appeared behind the flourishing geum and so far I've not had the heart to remove it. I was pleasantly surprised to see the geum showing colour so early in the year.

 Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her steadfast hosting. The forecast for the rest of the week is looking most pleasant indeed so I'm looking forward to much time spent in the garden this week.

Monday, 14 March 2022

IAVOM ~ Simply Yellow

I peered out early this morning to be greeted by blue skies and glorious sunshine, so my vase this week is just shades of yellow to celebrate a fine start to the day. The little daffies are at their peak now so they seemed just fitting. In my vase are narcissus 'W.P. Milner', 'Jenny', 'Gypsy Queen' (so petit that she is hidden from view) 'Elka' and the bright yellow of 'Téte-à-Téte'. The paperweight has been with me since my teenage years but when exactly remains a mystery. The sun and blue skies gave way to grey and a good shower this afternoon but tomorrow's forecast is encouraging. As always thanks for Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who encourages us to share our flowers and foliage every Monday come rain or shine. 

Saturday, 5 March 2022

Garden Diary ~ Looking Back

A mention if February before March is well underway. It certainly lived up to its reputation of being a wet month. As well as what seemed vast volumes of the wet stuff it was an extremely stormy month. Three named storms - 'Dudley', 'Eunice' and 'Franklin' battered us within the span of just over a week. Fortunately there was no real damage in the garden although there was a lot of garden debris to clear up. We had battened down the hatches beforehand which was just as well. It was a month when doing anything in the garden would sometimes have been to akin to taking part in an extreme sport. However there was little in the way of really cold weather and only a handful of light frosts. I haven't seen any February weather statistics so will be looking out for them.

Seed sowing started in the heated propagator starting with the tender cobaea scandens at the beginning of the month. I've sown the purple flowering one. This climber takes a long time to come into flower so an early start is advised. The seedlings are already like triffids but it will be May before they can be planted in the big wide world outside. They have moved out of the propagator and are now on the kitchen windowsill. I hope to prick the most well advanced ones out into individual pots next week. From there they will need a lot of tender loving care and mollycoddling if it is cold. Another early sowing was some rudbeckia 'Sahara' which were sown during half term week here, again in the heated propagator. They have germinated but fortunately grow slowly and caring for them is not as demanding. They have now become a must sow each year. That was the extent of my February seed sowing although my fingers were itching to sow more seeds.

I have indulged in some online horticultural retail therapy treating myself to some spring treasures. First to arrive were a trio of pulmonarias - 'Spring Awakening', 'Stillingfleet Meg' and 'Blake's Silver.' I have a vague inkling that I may have purchased the last one in the past but have no idea what happened to it. In the same box was a diminutive almost invisible epimedium 'Purple Pixie'. I'm relieved to say that it eventually showed signs of life and continues to grow. A trio of hellebores have also descended, a pink from the excellent 'Ashwood Nurseries' and two much smaller but sturdy plants from 'Twelve Nunns Nursery' - both Harvington doubles. All three hellebores were very well packed. You can photos of two of them in this post.

The one remaining pear tree has been pruned. We had two but one has never flourished so the decision was made to remove it. The Charlotte potatoes have now moved from shed to the spare bedroom where they are now chitting on the windowsill.

The snowdrops continued to sing throughout February, along with crocus, iris reticulata, hellebores, cardamine quinquefolia, cyclamen coum, muscari and towards the end of the month little daffies showed their colour. Towards the end of the month the green garden waste bin was emptied for the first time this year, always a welcome sign that spring is really on the way.

Monday, 28 February 2022

IAVOM ~ Mainly Ephemeral


I picked my flowers for 'In A Vase On Monday' yesterday in the sunshine as the forecast was for heavy rain today which has turned out to be spot on. It was good to enjoy a weekend of calm and sunshine and to blot out the outer world albeit for a short time. My vase contains some familiar friends in the shape of :

  • The dear little narcissus 'Téte-à-Téte' which stand up well to all that the elements throw at them and just make me smile whenever they come into flower each year.
  • Some lilac sprigs of the perennial cardamine quinqufolia. This plant will forever in my mind unfortunately be associated with the compost toilet at our allotment, which was officially opened by our then local M.P. in April 2012. I bought the plant at a plant sale run by the local Cheshire and Friends group of The Hardy Plant Society. I had a rushed round the stalls and grabbed this plant and a few others, before rushing back to the allotment where I was charged with the task of meeting the M.P.  It was a small plant at the time with just a couple of fading flowers but it now has morphed into a substantial lilac carpet. It comes up early in the year and then completely vanishes underground in the summer. It has looked its very best this year. The attractive ferny foliage quite often gets nibbled by some unknown beastie but not a single bite has appeared this year. At least it's one plant that I will always remember where I got it from. 
  • A couple of iris reticulata 'Clairette' flowers.
  • Some galanthus 'Blond Inge' flowers. This is small snowdrop which sometimes misbehaves waywardly as  the yellow markings can sometimes appear as a murky shade of olive green as you can see in the photo below. It has the reputation of either being difficult to establish or clumps up well. I have found it to be the latter so it must be happy where it is planted. It is in danger though of being smothered by an arum mamoratum sub. italicum,  so I must take some remedial action before that happens

Many thanks to our hostess Cathy who blogs at 'Rambling In The Garden' and kindly invites us to share our vases each Monday. I'm looking forward to seeing what it is in other participant's vases today. I doubt if  the contents of my vase apart from the narcissus will last say length of time in the warm of the house hence the title of this post. Still I will get considerable pleasure from gazing upon them for a day or so. 

Monday, 21 February 2022

IVOM ~ Bring Me Sunshine


A slightly naughty vase from me today in the shape of a recent supermarket purchase made when I was feeling very much in need of some instant sunshine. I rarely buy flowers from a supermarket or florist these days but occasionally make an exception.  

Sunshine seems to have been in very short supply this last week with three named winter storms more or less in succession. There has been much in the way of gales and heavy rain.The latest and let's hope last one 'Franklin' raged furiously for a good part of yesterday, throughout the night and well into this afternoon. I was rather deprived of sleep but am glad to say that apart from a good bit of twiggy debris and the odd snapped tree branch there was nothing serious in the way of damage. I hope that everyone who was in its wake escaped its full wrath. It looks as if these intense storms are likely to feature more regularly in the future because of global warning. A most sobering thought. Thanks as always to Cathy, over at 'Rambling In The Garden', who provides a platform for us to share our vases on Mondays come storms or sunshine.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

February Musing ~ Winter Dreams

"Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle ... a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream." 

Quote by - Barbara Winkler.

Illustration - by Mary Azarian

Monday, 14 February 2022

The Best Laid Plans ...

The plan was to venture out  into the garden today and snip a few hellebore flowers, enough to float in a bowl for 'In A Vase On Monday'. That was the plan but the weather gods have not been cooperative so it's a case of make do and mend with one that was already floating. This was the accidental victim of some late in the day pruning of hellebore foliage on Saturday. I thought that I had finished this task early in the new year but there was one plant that got away. As the gardening books all suggest this a job to be completed before the arrival of flowers as there is a risk that if you leave it until later it's easy to snip a flower head off which is what happened. I'm sure that most hellebore lovers have done this at one point or another. I retrieved the head with short stalk, bringing it indoors to float in the hope that it would enjoy some company today but it was not to be. The hellebore is from a white picotee helleborus hybrid with a dark nectarine from Ashwood Nurseries

It is nestling in the pages of a book that I think that I might spend some time with later this week, namely Edith Holden's 'The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady'. The forecast is predicting two named winter storms so I think that there will be much in the way of hunkering down and reading. Thanks as always to the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' . No doubt she has had a most busy weekend with preparations and then opening her garden for the NGS yesterday, but she has still had time and energy to squeeze picking and posting some delightful gems to share with us today. Do visit and enjoy them.

Monday, 7 February 2022

IAVOM ~ Creeping Towards Spring

After a most wet and windy weekend, when the nearest I got to gardening was looking at seed packets and indulging in a smidgeon of retail horticultural therapy, it was a relief to greet a much calmer and so far drier day.  A few outdoor jobs were done and as it's Monday a few blooms were snipped for a vase, which this week includes :
  • A hellebore flower - variety unknown.
  • A trio of iris reticulata flowers - the variety is 'Pauline', chosen as I have a friend who is a Pauline. I've not grown it before, like it but I'm coming to the conclusion that I prefer lighter and bluer iris flowers. Iris reticulata does well in pots for me rather in the garden but even then they tend to be short lived. A friend suggested a possible reason for this last year and it wasn't our lack of dry warm summers but I can't remember what it was.
  • Finally a couple of snowdrop flowers. These flowers are of galanthus 'Lapwing' which is easily identified at a glance and clumps up steadily. 
Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for encouraging us out to pick flowers and foliage etc. to share in all seasons. Although it's still definitely winter here, the appearance of these early blooms and the sighting last week of the first bee of the year, has me feel that spring is only a few footfalls away. The thought of that is oh so exciting indeed. 

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Slightly Wordy Wednesday ~ 'Imbolc'

Today not only marks Candlemas Day, the Christian festival of light but also concludes the pagan festival of Imbolc. Imbolc marks the half way point between the winter and spring equinoxes which is indeed good news for people in the northern hemisphere. Both of these festivals have connections with purity, cleansing and hope and snowdrops are often associated with these festivals. Snowdrops were once known as 'Candlemas Bells', usually being in flower at this time of year. The above photo is of galanthus 'Imbolc'. Despite the fact that is has been the sunniest January on record in England as well as being warmer than average  the flowers on my clump of 'Imbolc' in the garden are still shut tight. The flower is from a bulb that is growing in a pot in a sheltered spot near the house. This is one of my favourite snowdrops and one of the last to open for me.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Diary Update - Late January 2021

January is all but over so a diary update is called for. I can't say that I've done that much in the way of actual gardening. A combination of days of grey grim weather and other matters have been responsible but there has been some behind the scenes activity. A January birthday called for a garden centre visit. Here unlike most of the other customers I resisted the compulsion to make a beeline for the bargain price festive paraphernalia. We headed straight for the outside and plants and it was so sad to see that just after 11.00am we were the only people out there for a while. Still it was pleasant to be able to browse comfortably. I came home with the above helleborus 'Lily' which in fact was not the one I intended to purchase. I was guilty of not checking the label as it was a flowering helleborus 'Tutu' which had grabbed my attention. I was guilty of just seeing colour and not looking carefully enough. Still it's a pleasant enough plant. A couple of witch hazels also landed in my trolley - 'Ruby Glow' and 'Jelena' thanks to a garden gift voucher from my dear sister. I also bought a modest amount of half price seeds. In the last couple of weeks or so more packets of seeds have arrived in the post mainly of sweet peas. I think that I'm more or less done now on the seed purchasing front but I've said that before. Shallots 'Red Sun' and seed potatoes in the shape of the salad potato 'Charlotte' have also arrived. 

The greatest source of pleasure this month for me this month has been my collection of special snowdrops both those grown in pots under cover as well as in the garden. Below are a couple of newcomers. The first is 'Hans Guck' In die luft (which translates as 'Johnny-Head-In -The-Air') - new arrival this year whilst the second' Green Of Hearts' is a 2021 arrival.

During the  past week we had a couple of blissful hours when it almost seemed like spring and the greenhouse temperature warmed up encourage a couple of pots of iris reticulata 'Pauline' and a 
pot of crocus 'Firefly' to show colour. Magical! 

Saturday, 22 January 2022

January Musing - A Posy On The Kitchen Table

"Every day of the year there would be a posy to greet you on the kitchen table. Pushed at random into a little pot to suitable utensil, the posy would be there come rain or shine, and it was the reward of adventure, the fruit of labour or the chance happening of something one of her many birds had brought to the garden. In this posy were mapped the weeks of the year. A spring of Hamamelis and Galanthus in January, or a tuft of old man's beard and rosehips come autumn. Her posies were the garden distilled in a jam jar, and often she would pick a spring that you might admire from the assemblage and push into your hand as the making of a cutting. She shared her garden well, and to this day I try to keep a posy from my own garden"

Illustration - Winifred Nicholson

Monday, 10 January 2022

In A Vase On Monday ~ Just Dropping In

Picked on a bright, blowy and cold Sunday afternoon, these few stems of galanthus elwesii 'Fieldgate Prelude' only fully opened to reveal their markings when I bought the vase into a cosy warm kitchen. It rained overnight but it is now possible to see their full colours. 

 What you are not able to see though in this photo though is just how small this vase is - about the same height as my middle finger. The few stems dropped in most snuggly indeed.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for the encouragement to pick a few stems of flowers or foliage to share each Monday, whatever the weather whatever the season.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Garden Diary ~ New Year's Day 2021

Illustration by Lena Anderson.

What a pleasure it has been to spend time in New Year's Day in the garden. The temperature was warm enough to venture out without a coat! Yesterday was perhaps slightly warmer and sunnier but both days provided unexpected bonuses. The first gardening task of 2022 was to snip off the old hellebore foliage and bin it. It was interesting to see that there was evidence of aphids on the back of a few leaves. I than disposed of some soggy tat. Tomorrow the weather is predicted to be cooler but still warm enough I think to get out again and mulch the hellebore plants with some well rotted leaf mould. In the garden there are signs of activity with bulbs beginning to emerge. The first snowdrops are opening which is such a heartwarming event. Some clumps are now quite sizeable but others are taking time to establish. 

Time soon to plan next year's vegetable garden. There are seed potatoes to order. I think that I will stick with my favourite 'Charlotte' which is a great salad potato. Without the allotment I grew potatoes in bags last year for the very first time. It proved successful and I think that a further bag might be purchased. This year's sowing definites include the usual suspects of salad leaves, shallots, French beans, beetroot, courgettes and chard but I will have to consider carefully whether to add on top of this list. It was good to notice yesterday that the garlic cloves of 'Purple Early Wight' planted on the 17th November have started to come through.

After my outside pottering an inspection of the greenhouse and my potted special snowdrops followed. One big change since last year is that I've bought a smaller number of pots in to overwinter. A good number will take their chance in pots outside. A lot of them are now planted in the garden so a few casualties in event of a tough winter will not be the end of the world. In the greenhouse are my favourites and newest additions will I can gaze at a close quarters during the winter months. If necessary I can put a heater on overnight to fend off the worst of any bitterly cold snaps. There are three trays which each hold two dozen bulbs and some dozen or so loose pots too.Some bulbs are duplicates. My two newest purchases are showing mixed promise - galanthus nivalis 'Prague Spring' which was a small bulb on planting will not flower this year whereas galanthus plicatus 'Sophie North' is thriving. Both were bought as dormant bulbs in the summer.

In flower today are the following galanthus elwesii ' Fenstead End', galanthus plicatus 'The Pearl', galanthus plicatus 'Trimmer', 'galanthus Sutton Courtney' and galanthus 'Betty Hansell' and galanthus 'Ding Dong'. Sadly the also early flowering 'Three Ships' has decided not to flower this year. Other 'drops are nearly there but not quite so I shall check again next weekend. 

Also in the greenhouse I was pleased to spot that the first anemone 'Mr Fokker' is sprouting. I planted six in November in dry compost which has been watered yet.

My gardening day is not yet complete as tonight I plan to order some dahlia tubers. some difficult decisions ensue! On this and my new seed packet storage container more to come hopefully next weekend. Happy New Year and happy gardening to all my blogging friends - I hope that 2022 treats you, your loved ones and your gardens most kindly. Thank you for all your kind comments and encouragement last year.