Monday, 29 September 2014

In A Vase On Monday ~ Allotment Meets Garden

Allotment and garden came together to create this week's little vase. From the allotment the violet blue daisy flowers of aster 'Little Carlow'. I know that asters have had a recent name change but I haven't got a hang of it yet and it will probably take me some to do so. 'Little Carlow' produces clouds of tiny flowers which are a bee and butterfly magnet. It's quite a tall plant reaching about three feet. I have some divisions from this waiting to work their magic in the garden.

From the garden the bright yellow daisies of 'The Yellow Peril' which I've posted about before. It has defied my attempts to kill it off. There's an uneasy truce between us but for now it sits in a corner where it's thuggish habits are carefully monitored. Any spreading growth is yanked out as soon as I see it. I must admit that I've become fonder of it over the years and now welcome the late colour it provides. It came as a nameless division from a gardening club friend. I think that it's a helianthus but I'm clueless as to which one.

Finally tucked in to the vase a couple of sprigs from my new salvia 'Amistad'. Pottering in the greenhouse yesterday I gently tugged at the cuttings that I took earlier this month. I was so excited by being met with resistance.

The vase is the reverse side of my stoneware cider jug.

You can enjoy a host of other vases over at 'Rambling In The Garden' - thanks as always to Cathy for providing a virtual mantlepiece each week for us to showcase our vases.

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Mere Snip

A quick post to alert any fellow Kindle owners of a bargain buy. 'The Well Tended Perennial Garden - Planting and Pruning Techniques' by Tracy DiSabato-Aust is currently available for a mere snip at £2.32 in the U.K and at $3.78 on the other side of the pond. I would have downloaded it but already have a hardback copy of the first edition which is a most practical and hands on how to tome. Described by the publishers Timber Press as "the first, and still the most thorough, book to detail the essential practises of perennial care such as deadheading, pinching, cutting back, thinning, disbudding and deadleafing, all of which are thoroughly explained and illustrated. More than 200 new color photos have been added to this revised edition, showing perennials in various border situations and providing images for each of the entries in the A- Z encyclopedia of important perennial species."

Useful appendixes include a yearly planting and maintenance schedule which although a guide for U.S. Mid-west gardens can be adapted to British gardens. There are also some fascinating lists of the specific pruning and maintenance requirements of perennials. These include a list of perennials which reseed which could either save you much weeding or produce more pass on plants depending which way you look at it. Other lists give guidelines as to the intervals at which perennials are likely to need dividing. I'm reassured to read that my aruncus dioicus (goatsbeard) only requires division every ten years or more - the last time nearly polished himself off. The author warns that the plant has tough roots and resents disturbance and that's an understatement!

Although this could be a very dry book the author's detailed observations and her gentle sense of humour make sure that it's not. It's certainly worth adding to your Kindle's virtual bookshelves at that price.

Monday, 22 September 2014

In A Vase On Monday ~ Showtime

I'm cheating this week as the vase of late summer/early autumn colour is definitely not of my own making. I came across it about a month ago at the Southport Flower Show and thought it much too attractive not to share. As you can see it won first prize in its class deservedly so my friend and I thought.

The entrant had thoughtfully written the names of all the plant material that was included and most of them are still available for picking now. The vase is the standard green vase that entries in flower arrangements at horticultural shows are always displayed in as determined by The Royal Horticultural Society. Using identical vases ensures that all contestants start at the same point and I imagine makes the judge's job much easier.

Thanks to Cathy from 'Rambling In The Garden' who came up with the excellent idea of kicking off the week with a vase of flowers. Please forgive me for bending the rules Cathy.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ September 2014

A new arrival here is salvia 'Amistad' (which is the Spanish word for friendship), part of my plans to introduce more late summer/ early autumn colour in to the garden. More on the very same subject soon. This plant went straight to the top of my wish list after I saw photos of it in gardening magazines and on a few blogs last year. I'm sure that a few other bloggers will have fallen for its charms too. I bought a small plant earlier in the year which has not flourished so when I saw a much larger specimen I could not resist. 'Amistad' is a relatively new introduction which apparently flowers from May - October and is attractive to bees. It is a tender perennial which may need protection in a cold winter. I've taken a few cuttings as an insurance policy.  Previous experience with salvias tells me to err on the side of caution. Will be keeping my fingers crossed and will report back next year.

With thanks as always to Carol over at May Dreams Gardens for kindly hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. As soon as I've ticked off one plant off the wish list I'm sure that I will be adding more when I see what is blooming in other gardens this month. What have you added to your wish list recently?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Tree Following With Lucy ~ September 2014.

 Subtle changes are afoot on the willow front. Gazing up at my tree in the glorious sunshine yesterday I noticed that there are hints of yellow creeping into the leaves. As I watched there were soft rustling sounds as leaves slowly drifted down to the ground. Not enough to merit the word "flurry" but a definite coming adrift for some of the leaves that have clothed the tree since April. I wondered if the first leaves to appear are the first to fall but I suppose there's no way of establishing that theory.
I also noticed how smooth the surface of the branches are especially compared to the bark which graces the trunk. Lucy bought the smoothness to my attention when she commented on my tree following post last month.

A blue tit was sitting in the tree but flew off on hearing my approaching footsteps. Other than that no sign of wildlife although I'm sure it receives numerous visitors. Unfortunately I can't get close enough to the tree to look for smaller creatures. I had not considered this factor when I made my decision about which tree to follow!

In other willow news I've broken my self imposed embargo of trying not to buy any news books this year. After all this purchase has been made in the interest of serious scientific research. The book concerned is Willow by Alison Syme. It looks a most fascinating book. I have only dipped into it so far, but am looking forward to reading it thoroughly and to sharing some willow snippets with other tree followers over the next few months. The book is one of Reaktion's Botanical series. The publisher describes the series as the "first of its kind, integrating horticultural and botanical writing with a broader account of the cultural and social impact of trees, plants and flowers". Other tree titles include yew, oak, pine with a new book on the subject of the apple tree coming out next month.

Thanks as always to Lucy over at 'Loose And Leafy', who came up with the excellent idea of a monthly post in which bloggers follow the progress of a specific tree over a year. I must check whether there are any other willow watchers out there.

Monday, 8 September 2014

In A Vase On Monday - Allotment Pickings

Not an accidental happening this time round but a conscious decision to bring some allotment colour back home where I can really appreciate it a close hand. Earlier in the year I treated myself to three named dahlia tubers one of them being 'Thomas A. Edison' named after the American inventor I imagine. This variety is described as having 'dinner plate' sized flowers. Whilst they are perhaps not that large (unless you have a minute appetite) the flowers are a good five inches across and they are real show stoppers. They also have long dark stems which enhance the flowers. 

I started the tuber into growth sometime in mid to late April in a pot in the greenhouse. After reaching a certain size and a period of adjusting to the outer world, Thomas was somewhat unceremoniously plonked in to one of the allotment beds at the end of June. Here are a couple of flowers outside the back door enjoying a few last minutes sunshine before coming in on to the kitchen window sill. I would have ideally liked to pick three stems but Thomas did not oblige. Another time I hope.

The vase is a stoneware cider flagon. I did not imbibe the contents but bought the empty flagon from a charity shop many moons ago.

Thanks as always to Cathy who came up with an excellent idea to kick off the week, of not only picking flowers for a vase but of sharing them with fellow bloggers too. You can enjoy more rich weekly pickings over at 'Rambling In The Garden'.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

September Musing - 'Moonlit Apples'

"At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows,
And the skylight lets the moonlight in, and those
Apples are deep-sea apples of green. There goes
    A cloud on the moon in the autumn night.

A mouse in the wainscot scratches, and scratches, and then
There is no sound at the top of the house of men
Or mice; and the cloud is blown, and the moon again
    Dapples the apples with deep-sea light.

They are lying in rows there, under the gloomy beams;
On the sagging floor; they gather the silver streams
Out of the moon, those moonlit apples of dreams,
    And quiet is the steep stair under.

In the corridors under there is nothing but sleep.
And stiller than ever on orchard boughs they keep
Tryst with the moon, and deep is the silence, deep
    On moon-washed apples of wonder."

The poem is 'Moonlit Apples' by John Drinkwater,1882 -1937.
The illustration is 'Apple Harvest' by Carl Larsson, 1853 - 1919.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Garden Hopping In The Rain

Garden visiting in the rain can be quite challenging as the art of keeping relatively dry is a prerogative let alone managing to take photos. The photos in this post were all taken from under the shelter of himself's enormous golf umbrella but still I ended up with only a few to choose from. We went garden visiting in the Lake District earlier this month when our camper van took us to the town of Grange-Over-Sands for a couple of days. This is a small Edwardian resort which is a pleasure to visit. The weather though was absolutely foul - extremely wet and windy and this was the weekend before the tail end of hurricane 'Bertha' hit the U.K. For some unexplained reason it seemed to arrive a week earlier in Cumbria. Still not to be defeated we set off on the Sunday to visit two gardens that were opening under the National Gardens Scheme

The first garden was opening for the very first time so the weather must have been must have been really disappointing for the owners, who had no doubt been preparing for this event for some considerable time. The Old Vicarage and Fell Cottage was most colourful even in the downpour that greeted us. Whenever I go garden visiting there's inevitably at least one feature and usually several plants that I would like to take home with me. My favourite part of this garden was the small vegetable area that was tucked in one corner of the garden. I could not believe the already red tomatoes, admired the hessian bag planted with potatoes and more than anything envied the dry stone wall. On leaving the garden we took shelter in the adjacent Parish Rooms where there was a bric a bric sale. This was on a much bigger scale than we anticipated and from which I emerged with what I think will be my bargain of the year. More of that in another post. 

From there we made our way to Cartmel of sticky toffee pudding fame where we eat our sandwiches and fruit lunch under cover, whilst watching a small group of intrepid people learning the skills of segway riding.

Back to Grange-Over-Sands in the afternoon to visit the much larger garden at Yewbarrow House, which has a stunning view overlooking Morecambe Bay. The garden here spreads over four and half acres and has been developed since 1999 by the current owners. It has featured in various gardening publications since then. Here are one or two of the features that I would have been happy to have popped into my wheelbarrow to bring home with me. I will have to leave it to your imagination for now but the other side of this infinity pool in the Japanese Garden has the bay as its backdrop. 

Some sturdy frames protecting the strawberry plants ~ 

Already glimpsed in my latest Wordless Wednesday post this is another photo of what I thought was a beautiful statue. It is one of two bronzes of the owner's daughters ~

Dahlias still singing in the rain ~

Finally this fine fellow was gazing out from one of the many attractive walls ~

As the afternoon progressed we were getting damper and damper. There were still areas of the garden to see but we reluctantly decided to call it a day. Stopping off though before we left to browse at the plant sale area from which an aeonium aboreum 'Schwarzkop' was selected. Hopefully a return visit to Yewbarrow on a dry day will be on the cards before too long. 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

August Musing - 'Blackberry Picking'

"Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not."
~ 'Blackberry Picking' by Seamus Heaney,1939 - 2013.

Blackberries seem to have ripened early this year and there are only a handful of pickings left now from the bramble which grows on one of the garden boundaries. It has absolutely dripped with fruit this year. Although it isn't a cultivated variety it still yields some tasty fruits which sometimes adorn my morning porridge. The last of this year's crop will accompany some apples which I have just bought back with me from a short trip to see my mum. The fifty plus year old trees in her garden produce apples in abundance. Shame that I was traveling back home by train. Stewed apples, apple crumble ..... the jury is still out but I will be out soon be venturing out to pick the fruit before the birds can beat me to it. How do you like your blackberries?