Monday, 14 April 2014

In A Vase on Monday ~ 'Accidents Will Happen'

At long last a vase of flowers to contribute to the 'In A Vase On Monday' meme hosted by the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. I've enjoyed this meme but have not participated up to now, the main reason being that I do not pick many flowers to bring into the house. Maybe the odd snowdrop posy will make it indoors in the winter and then throughout the summer bunches of sweet peas picked from the allotment come home with me two or three times a week. Other than that I have never really made a habit of picking flowers for the house.

This little vase came about completely by accident last Sunday into Monday. I've recently bought some dicentra spectablis alba plants (I refuse to use the new name) and whilst retrieving one of them out of the cold frame managed to break a flowering stem off. I cursed and bought the poor stem indoors thinking that I might as well appreciate its beauty at close quarters. The alternative would have been to lob it in the compost bin which would have been somewhat sad. On the Monday we had a spell of torrential rain. The 'Thalia' daffodils took a real battering so I rescued a couple of flattened stems and added them to the dicentra. From there I decided to add a bit more bulk to the vase so in came a sprig or two of lonicera nitada 'Baggesen's Gold' for foliage interest, plus the odd stem of the dreaded lamium galeobodon variegatum. I have written about my battle with this thug here and I'm still fighting If anybody knows how to kill this plant please do let me know.To add insult to injury the flowers do not last long in water - just another negative point to add to its undesirable qualities.

I've had the little jar for ages and as far as I can remember I bought it from a local charity shop. It is a stoneware cream jar. These jars were used during the period from 1880 - 1920. Hailwood's was a large dairy company and this particular pot was from their Manchester Creamery in Broughton.

If you've not visited Cathy to have a look at her current vase do have a peek here. You can also visit links to other bloggers who have been snipping away and who have been most creative with their cut flowers.

I'm playing with my new camera at the moment trying to familiarise myself with its settings so my photos may be a bit iffy. This one was taken against a black background but seems to have picked up a halo effect somewhere along the process. Hopefully you can pick out the contents of the vase and clicking on the photo should make it larger again.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

April Musing

"If ever I saw blessing in the air
I see it now in this still early day
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye.

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud.

If ever I heard blessing it is there
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air.

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates,
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones,
While white as water by the lake a girl
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans.

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick,
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass;
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance,
If ever world were blessed, now it is."

From 'April Rise' - Laurie Lee, 1914 - 1997.

Think of Laurie Lee and invariably thoughts of 'Cider With Rosie' and 'As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning' come to my mind, both books encountered and enjoyed during school days. It came as a complete surprise to me last week when watching 'Countryfile' to learn that Laurie Lee also wrote poetry. The programme explained how this year marks the centenary of Lee's birth and on the 26th June 2014 the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust will unveil the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way. This trail will consist of a six mile circular walk around the Slad Valley, which was the setting for 'Cider With Rosie'. The walk will take in some of Gloucestershire's nature reserves and will include ten new larch posts, each over five feet tall which will be inscribed with Laurie Lee's poems all inspired by the local landscape. The poem 'April Rise' was mentioned in the programme by his daughter who read it to the poet shortly before his death. I will be looking out for more of Laurie Lee's poetry to fill in a huge missing gap. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Willowy Wednesday ~ Tree Following In April

Sometime silently last week the willow opened up its first leaves of the year. There was no fanfare as far as I know and sadly I was not around to pinpoint this most special magic. I was slightly miffed as I was doing daily checks but then the lurgy and other events meant that I briefly took my eye off the ball and then look what happened !

Other than the leafing there is not much more to say about my willow this month other than I've noticed that there is a substantial patch of moss on the trunk.

I've discovered this because I'm looking at the tree more closely than ever before and squeezing in behind the shed to look at it from angles. If  I become permanently wedged there and don't hear from me for a while you will know where to direct the search party. More on my willow next month. Thanks to Lucy over at 'Loose and Leafy' for hosting this excellent meme. I will be visiting some of the other participants later today when I look forward to meeting some new to me trees as well as reaquainting myself with others.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

End Of Month View ~ March 2014.

Crocus 'Yalta'
A combination of the dreaded lurgy and being occupied with family matters has delayed my EOMV post but here is a brief round up, before it all disappears from the recesses of my foggy mind. My March word is again a four lettered one - SLOW. It sums up the progress that I seem to be making with my garden plans.

In the garden the main task has been a major spring clean of the relatively new gabion border aka 'The Great Wall Of Cheshire'. Surprise, surprise - the top soil which was imported for the bed did not live up to its top quality label. There were all sorts of perennial weeds having a go at making a good take over bid, so it was a case of off with their heads and into the bucket. I then top dressed with leaf mould some of which was less decomposed than I would have preferred but needs must. The plan is is to cover it up again with wood bark when expenses permit. Already somewhat dishearteningly some of the weeds were already making a come back by the end of the month. If I keep an eagle eye open on them I will knock them into eventual submission.

The bed is mainly planted for late winter/early spring interest with hellebores, snowdrops, pulmonarias, cardamine pratensis, the little 'Elka' narcissus (more to be added this autumn) and bergenia purpurescens 'Helen Dillon' form. A couple of shrubs have now been added. The first is prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' which had been lurking in a container for some time but a decision was made to take the plunge and get in the ground. Also planted was a rather tiddly bare - rooted amelanchier lamarckii which was reassuringly opening its leaves by the end of the month. For later interest there are a couple of astrantia 'Gill Richardson', an actaea and a couple of aster diveraticus.

There are still plenty of big gaps for further planting. I bought a few perennial plants to go in the other day but will mention them in April's EOMV post. The big brain teaser at the moment is that I need to plant a shrub or two to clothe the walls and am still mulling this over. The border faces north and I would prefer evergreens as the bare wall is still rather bleak.

I've noticed an unsightly nibbling problem in this border which is illustrated by the photo below. I have the same aster diveraticus in another part of the garden which are not affected and have not been before now. There are also some nibbles on hellebore leaves. Sadly I had to remove an emerging day lily the foliage of which has really suffered.  I don't think that molluscs are the sole culprits. Any suggestions would be more than welcome.

In the greenhouse the heated sand bench is up and running. Tomatoes 'Box Car Willy', 'Banana Leggs', 'Ananas Noire' and 'Cream Sausage' were sown with very poor germination. I don't usually have any problems germinating tomatoes so don't know whether to put it down to the seed supplier, the compost or whether it is down to human error. A second batch has gone in so I will report back in due course. March sweet pea sowings of 'Erewhon', 'Fire and Ice' and 'Cupani' are all coming along nicely. Veggie sowings included broad bean' Witkiem Manita' and 'Douce Provenance' peas. 'Red Sun', 'Golden Gourmet' and 'Jermor' shallots were planted in cells and are now more than ready to head to the allotment to get their feet in the ground along with 'Red Baron' onions.

Plant purchases in March included the perennial fuchsia 'Hawkshead' along with two more special snowdrops 'Three Ships' and 'Erway'. I also made an online order from Crocus for a  couple of hellebore plug plants - 'Double Ellen Red' and 'Double Ellen Picotee, a trio of dahlias and finally salvia 'Amistad'. which I'd been hankering for. I've bought bulbs and the odd present from Crocus before but have as far as I remember not ordered plants from them. I was most impressed with the packaging and the speed of delivery. These purchases were prompted by a phone call from a good friend, who had ordered hellebore plugs herself and mentioned not only their quality but the fact that the Gardeners World website is presently offering 20% discount off orders placed with Crocus. This offer is valid until the end of April so it could be worth having a peek.

Thanks as always to Helen over at 'The Patient Gardener Weblog' for hosting this most useful and inspirational meme.

Monday, 31 March 2014

'Small Is Beautiful'

Last September's bulb order included a couple of new to me bulbs so I've been awaiting their opening with great anticipation. Allium 'Purple Rain' has still to flower whilst the other bulb narcissus 'Elka' has been one of this month's stars. I ordered 50 of the bulbs which have were planted mainly in the gabion border as well as a stray handful in a pot. They have lived up to the catalogue description and are quite small. The pot planted ones are about 5 inches whilst the tallest of those planted in the ground are about 9 inches. I've been waiting to see whether the trumpet fades as promised from a bright lemon yellow to a creamy colour as the flowers matures and yes they most certainly do as you can see from the photos. This little beauty was awarded an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS in 2011. It was bred by a Cornish cut flower grower Alec Gray and was named after a couple of daffodil growing friends Elizabeth and Kate ~

I'm so pleased that I decided to try 'Elka' and plan to order more this autumn. Are you enjoying any new to you bulbs this spring?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Wordless Wednesday ~ 26th March 2014.

Plaque to commemorate the 500th anniversary of St.Anthony's Church, Cartmel Fell, Cumbria 1504 -2004.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Making Your Mark 2

Prompted by Janet over at Plantaliscous, I'm returning earlier than intended with an update on the great marker pen experiment. I had intended to report back after an interval of six months but here we are just after an interval of four months. Well all five labels have overwintered in a huddle next to each other in the same pot. They have certainly seen some rain. It would be interesting to be able to gauge just how much but there's been more than six months worth in a four month period and then some more! I will have to do some research to see if I can get an accurate picture.

I took them out of the control pot yesterday afternoon - I'm even getting into the scientific lingo now. As you can see the pens that have not fared particularly well are the Sharpie fine point permanent marker and the Pilot Super Colour Marker Ultra Fine. The stars to date are the Artline 444XF Paint Marker and the Edding 140s ohp marker. The latter came up as the best and most permanent labelling pen in a one year trial conducted by 'Which? - Gardening' magazine.

As mentioned in my post in November the Pilot pen had been my preferred implement for labelling plants for many a year. I will now be contacting Pilot to enquire whether there have been any changes in its manufacture. Thanks for all your comments on the original post. I had planned to add a couple more pens to the experiment which were mentioned by you but could not find them locally. I will have to seek them out and conduct a separate experiment or maybe even start afresh! Whatever there will be more on this subject later this year.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Musing in March

"Strewe me the ground with 
And cowslips and kingcups
And loved lillies"

~ Edmund Spenser, 1552 -1559

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Wednesday Worisit

These rather striking alien creatures stopped me in my tracks last week or rather caused himself to bring the car to an abrupt halt, so that I could leap out and take a few photos. There were a few clumps of them growing alongside the road up in the Cumbrian fells. I've done some research and have some thoughts on what they might be but thought that it would be fun to share the photos first. Hopefully somebody will confirm my thoughts on identification or prompt me to reach for the books and explore Google again.

Whatisit - update. Thanks for all your suggestions. Petasites japonicus or butterbur was the most popular. My guesses at identification initially followed the same line of thought. I got off to a head start by accident when catching up with the February edition of 'The Garden', which included an excellent article on 'Scents of the season'. Petasites fragrans was featured as one of the plants which provides scent in winter. The flower looked very similar so from there I looked into the genus further. However I could not reconcile the leaves on the plants I saw with petasites japonicus, the leaves of which looked much bigger, more rounded and a different colour. Even allowing for changes as the plant matures I was not convinced. I've come to the same conclusion as Wellywoman that it is petasites albus or white butterbur. This is a native of mountainous parts of Europe and south west Asia and was introduced to the UK in the late 1600s. It is more commonly found in the north of the UK where grows in woodlands, beside streams and by the side of roads. Google also kindly confirmed that this plant has been sighted near Cartmel which is where we came across it. I most annoyed with myself though for not bending down to detect if there was any scent from these flowers. Will have to persuade himself to return next year.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ March 2014

Some blooms from another 'garden' this month. We are just back from a few days in the Lake District where we went in search of daffodils. We were perhaps a week or so too early to see them at their peak but here you can glimpse some in the beautiful and oh so tranquil setting of St. Anthony's Church on Cartmel Fell. The snowdrops were still just hanging on, there were vivid patches of crocuses, a few primroses in flower and a myriad of daffodils waiting to open in the churchyard. All this beauty in the middle of nowhere!

Thanks to Carol from May Dreams Gardens who came up with the brilliant idea of sharing our blooms each month.