Monday, 25 April 2016

In A Vase On Monday ~ Two's Company

The weather gods seem to have got in for Mondays at the moment - once again it dawned wet and it became increasingly windy as the morning progressed. Still despite the elements not one but two vases have been filled inspired by Cathy's 'In A Vase On Monday'.

The first vase is made up of just tulips - namely 'Couleur Cardinal',(thanks Christina for confirming their id), 'Malaika' also known as 'Bruine Wimpel' and 'Apricot Beauty'. The latter is new to me and I was pleased to read that she is scented although I've not detected any scent as yet. Mind you this could just be my nose. I like the way the way the flowers of this morph from an initial pale apricot colour to a soft pink. I'm also rather smitten by the feathering on the 'Bruine Wimpel' flowers which you can see  more closely in the photo below. I would have liked another trio of flowers in this vase to bulk the contents out but my plans didn't work out as explained below.

The second is a vaseful of yellow and green. I initially put three flowers of the tulip 'Spring Green' in the first vase but the colour jarred with the other occupants. So I sought out some different companions for them. Along with the tulips are a few sprigs of millium effusum aureum (aka Bowles Golden Grass), some narcissus 'Minnow', a flower of mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream' and some flowers of lamium galeobdolon variegatum. I bought the latter many years ago enchanted by Margery Fish's description of foliage and flower but have been trying my best to eradicate it ever since. You can read why I fell for it here. I have now come to the conclusion that it has got the better of me so was quite happy to snip some stems off to go in a vase - tee hee!

The vases are my recent lurking in the study finds which are now enjoying a new lease of life after years of holding pens, pencils, brushes etc. Sadly there are no more potential vases in there. With a special thanks as always to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' and wishing her all the very best with her imminent wedding posies and buttonholes. You will do a grand job lass.

Monday, 18 April 2016

In A Vase On Monday ~ Blowing In The Wind

Today's 'In A Vase On A Monday' started with the very first tulip that I could bring myself to cut. Others opened a few days ago but I didn't want to snip them to bring indoors. They are planted in a large container which is situated directly opposite the kitchen window and the flowers lift my spirits when I'm at the sink on domestic goddess duties. I was quite happy to behead the tulips in the vase though as they will be in for the chop soon. Of three varieties planted in a galvanised washing tub it's the only variety that's in flower this year. I'm not sure what it is but it may be 'Couleur Cardinal'. I also picked two other tulips from the same source which are just showing colour.

The tulips's companions are narcissus 'Thalia' and a couple of lunaria that I grew from seed last year. The first is the purple leaved 'Chedworth' which is a biennial. The second is the perhaps misleadingly named lunaria annua 'Corfu Blue', which is apparently a short lived perennial. You can see it in the above photo. In the flesh the flowers have an almost luminescent quality about them. I'll be more than happy if it is perennial albeit short lived.

Also in the vase are three sprigs of euphorbia. I've always shied clear of growing euphorbias because I suffer from skin allergies. However this one grew all by itself in the garden. Gloves were worn when snipping. I don't think that it was happy though as it flopped almost immediately. Maybe it will be perk up later.

Today has seen mainly cloudy skies accompanied by gusty winds so taking a photo was challenging. Too dark indoors but outside the vase toppled over on its side, so the arrangement in the photo you see was not the intended effect. I just wanted to capture the vase before it could go flying again. The vase is the second vase that I unearthed in the study a few weeks ago. It has been used for years to store pens and pencils. I think that it may have been a charity shop find but have no clues to inform me other than 85p written on it's underneath. 

With thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for the inspiration which is much appreciated.

Friday, 1 April 2016

EOMV March 2016 - Warm Fuzzies

March began with great excitement when we caught sight of a bird in our bird box, which you can see to the side of 'Is it Bill or Is It Ben?' It was only almost five years to the day since himself set up the box complete with camera. We have in theory been able to watch live streams from Bird TV in our living room since instalment but it has never been high up the ratings until now. After a couple of years of emptiness himself moved the box. The beginnings of a nest were constructed the following spring but then something must have gone amiss as it was abandoned. So when we saw the first appearance of what looked like a leaf, followed by more nesting material and then a glimpse of bird's legs you can imagine the euphoria. However it looks as if this was the first and only glimpse of Mama Bird that we will glimpse. What was a reasonably clear picture has disintegrated into a fuzzy morass. We think that the nesting material has been pushed up right against the camera thus blocking the picture. We can hear sounds including though so we know that the box is occupied. There are no babies as yet but when they hatch we will certainly hear them tweet although we will not see any open wide beaks.

March continued with some gentle gardening activities including dividing and seed sowing. The heated sand bench in the greenhouse has gone into operation. A batch of sweet peas went in on the first of the month and then a second on Easter Day. Other sowings include achillea ptarmica 'The Pearl', aquilegia 'Miss M.I. Huish', snapdragons, cornflowers, grasses, scabious, orlaya visigna, limonium suworowii, amaranthus caudatus and cobaea scandens. The only vegetable seed sown to date are 'Onward' peas sown on St. Patrick's Day but there will be a flurry of activity in this department once we are well and truly into April. Some dahlia tubers have gone into pots but there is still a pile waiting for me to plant up. I have some concerns about the quality of the dahlia tubers I received but only time will tell. I've made a mental note though to order early this year rather than leave it to last minute.

The greenhouse is still quite full with pots of special snowdrops which need shifting out into the outer world. I've put the bigger pots out and will probably move the smaller ones out next week. They are in crates so can be shifted back under cover if any really cold weather is predicted.

March ended with a sunshine, big bumblebees afloat, a delivery of two new special snowdrops, chestnut leaves unfurling and the flowers of geranium phaeum sneaking up on me. You can catch up with other versions of March over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog'. Many thanks for hosting each month Helen. Now it's back to Bird TV for me and the rustling and chirping soundtrack.

Monday, 28 March 2016

In A Vase On Monday ~ Here Comes The Sun

Today's 'In A Vase On Monday' almost took off into the stratosphere whilst still in the construction stage. Although we've  fortunately been spared the excesses of storm 'Katie' it was a rather damp and blustery start to the day. 

A quick trip to check on whether there had been any new germinations in the greenhouse since yesterday was followed by a garden reccie. This revealed that some daffodils were looking rather sad and bedraggled so I made the decision to snip.

Looking most sorry for herself was the ethereal 'Thalia', which I think is my all time favourite despite her floppy tendencies. Other vase occupants that I can put a name to are 'WP Milner', 'Elka', 'Topolino' and 'Téte-à-Téte'. 'Sailboat' and 'Minnow' refused to join the party as they are only just unfurling.

I'm fairly sure that the vase has not appeared before. It usually sits in the study where it's home to my too long neglected paint brushes. It was a birthday present from a friend many moons ago. The sun motif is repeated so you see it whichever way you look at the vase. A companion holds pens and pencils and will no doubt feature as a flower vase in the not too distant future. 

A special thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who is the inspiration behind 'In A Vase On Monday'. It finally looks as if it is brightening up out there so I'm off out to potter. I'm looking forward to catching up with spring concoctions in vases both large and small when the sun goes down.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Gardener's Cupboard

Although seed sowing and potting up has now started in earnest we are making the most of the last few long winter evenings indulging in the seasonal pleasure that jigsaws can provide. I would like to say that we always work in harmony but it's not always the case. Right hander versus left hander, different sorting techniques and my preference for having specific areas to complete can sometimes result in minor childish outbursts. However jigsaw evenings usually are most relaxing and companiable. Our latest finished opus was the 'The Gardener's Cupboard'. This is one of a series of puzzles designed by the author and illustrator Colin Thompson. His puzzles are whimsical, full of intricate detail and fiendishly difficult but all great fun. Although each is unique they feature signature cameos which are a pleasure to rediscover. This would be a perfect present for any gardening or even non gardening friend who enjoys the challenge of assembling a jigsaw. My only gripe was that there were no snowdrops in the picture! 

We are now on to what will probably be the last jigsaw for some time. It's a floral extravaganza to say the least. More information to come at future date when we've finally put all the jigsaw paraphernalia to bed. Are there any more jigsaw lovers out there? 

Monday, 7 March 2016

In A Vase On Monday ~ Full Circle

It was a case of the vase choosing the flowers this week rather than the other way round when I put together my contribution for in 'A Vase On Monday'. Prompted by the realisation that it's March I set to do some overdue tidying up in the greenhouse prior to serious seed sowing. Amongst other things including a telephone adaptor (one of life's many mysteries) I unearthed a vase that I've been searching for on and off since the autumn. It was purchased at the tail end of the summer when we managed to coincide a trip to the caravan, with with one of the monthly art and craft fairs that are held on the prom at Grange-over-Sands during the season.

I should have perhaps taken a before and after photo. The vase is peppered with holes all the way round so the vase would make for an excellent centrepiece. The flowers therein are narcissus 'Tête - à - Tête', my current favourite narcissus 'Elka', some of the last iris reticuluta to flower (label inconsiderately missing from pot) and the odd flower or two of coming to an end of cyclamen coum. Whilst cutting the flowers I was delighted to discover a little clump of cyclamen seedlings which will be transferred at some point. I only realised afterwards that the photo didn't capture the cyclamen flowers which are hiding round the back.

With thanks as always to our charming hostess Cathy from 'Rambling In The Garden'. It's cold here but the sun is shining, so it's back to greenhouse tidying again before no doubt visiting some awesome vases later on today.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Musing In March

"All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair
The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing,
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of spring."
Illustration by Lena Anderson.

Monday, 22 February 2016

In A Vase On Monday ~ Grumpy Old Woman

A vase of flowers was just the right tonic for the start of a new week after not the best of weekends. A Saturday morning allotment visit that could not be avoided despite the pouring rain, ended up being quite enjoyable. We eat lunch and chatted in the community hut with the wood burner crackling away in the background. Tentative plans for tidying up and improving the woodland area that borders the site were made. Maybe a year from now there will be snowdrops in flower for the bees to forage on warmer February days.

But then it all went downhill from there. Boarding a bus to take me eventually in the direction of home, I had the misfortune to meet a driver who seemed to be in a hurry. He accelerated like a Formula One driver away from the bus stop before I had a chance to sit. Flesh came into abrupt and painful contact with one of the seat arm rests. A massive bruise is now decorating my left thigh. It is not a pretty sight. Somewhat later after vital shopping I hobbled home to be met with clouds of enveloping smoke coming from the neighbour's garden. In fact I initially thought that a fence was on fire but it turned out to be a false alarm. Just a huge bonfire on a still extremely wet afternoon so it didn't bother me too much. All I wanted to do was to get inside and have a look at the damage to my leg before drowning my sorrows with a cuppa.

Sunday turned out much better weather wise. The wet stuff had ceased and it was almost balmy. A great day for gardening jobs I thought despite the hurt but I was to be thwarted. Come 10.00 am or thereabouts there was a sudden rush to close the bedroom window as the mega bonfire entered phase 2 of its existence. This turned out to be an all day job. Suffice to say that by late afternoon I was fuming.

So a bit of vase plonking this morning was just what my blood pressure needed. The contents therein are :

  • Hellebore - not a named variety but a favourite.
  • Some double snowdrops from the garden. Most of them have started to go over now but there are the odd few still in fine fettle.
  • Pulmonaria 'Majesté' - there a few other pulmonarias already in flower much earlier than usual.
  • Narcissus 'Tête -à -Tête' which always makes me smile.
  • Cardamine pratensis. This again is early in flower but is putting on its best show since it was planted in 2013.
Thanks to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' - the calming vibes that come from putting a vase together were much appreciated.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day ~ February 2016

From left to right - galanthus 'Henry's White Lady', unamed hellebore, galanthus 'Trym'.

Exactly a year to the date and I'm pleased to report that both my last chance snowdrops are still alive and thriving. 'Trym' and 'Cowhouse Green' were fed when they flowered, were repotted with a generous dollop of leaf mould when dormant and have been under cover during a very wet autumn/winter. The bulbs have rewarded me by increasing in numbers. Funnily enough whilst 'Trym' is open at the same time as last year 'Cowhouse Green' is still to unfurl.

Galanthus 'Cowhouse Green'

The other snowdrop you can see in the above photo is one of this year's newcomers to the fold and goes by the name of 'Henry's White Lady'. Now I have no idea as to the identity of Henry so must do some research. The flower has no green markings on it, whatsoever hence the name.

The hellebore in the centre is growing on the bank at the side of the lane leading down to the house. I am puzzled as I although I planted some hellebores there some time ago I don't remember planting this rather frilly and frothy concoction. I'm sure that it wasn't there last year. I prefer the single hellebores but I'm not complaining.

As always a special vote to Carol from May Dreams Gardens for providing us with access to flowers from all over the show each month. On a bitterly cold and frosty February day it will mean that I can go out into the garden without my gloves and enjoy flowers. What could be a better occupation?

Friday, 12 February 2016

Musing In February

"You cannot have too many aconites. They cost, as I said before, about fifty shillings a thousand. A thousand will make a brave splash of colour, which lasts a month. If you can afford ten thousand you are mad not to buy them. There are so many exciting places you can put them ... in the hollow of a felled tree, by the border of a pond, in a circle round a statue, or immediately under your window, so that you can press your nose against the glass when it's too cold to go out, and stare at them, and remember that spring is on its way"

~ Beverley Nichols, 1898 - 1983.

Illustration by Cicely Mary Barker, 1895 -1973.

P.S. My financial adviser informs me that fifty shillings is £2.50 in today's currency.