Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday ~ A Red Letter Day!

Congratulations to a most special lady, my Mum, who is ninety years young today and still buying plants for her garden!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ December 2014

"We are into December, Mid-winter-monath in old Saxon, and what a difficult time it is to produce flowers to fill even a few vases in the house. The winter flowering - cherry, Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis' is a great stand-by. I have been cutting small branches of it for two weeks past, standing them in water in a warm room, when the green buds surprisingly expand into the white, faintly-scented blossom suggestive of spring. This is a little tree which should be planted in every garden. It doesn't take up much space, and pays a rich dividend for picking from November until March. Even if frost catches some of the buds, it seems able, valiant little thing that it is, to create a fresh supply. This year, the winter cherry was in full flower in the open during the first fortnight of November ; I picked bucketfuls of the long white sprays; then came two nights of frost on November 15th and 16th; the remaining blossom was very literally browned - off, I despaired of getting any more for weeks to come. But ten days later, when the weather had more of less recovered itself, a whole new batch of buds was ready to come out, and I got another bucketful as fresh and white and as virgin as anything in May. 

There is a variety of this cherry called 'Autumnalis Rosea', slightly tinged with pink; I prefer the white myself, but that is a matter of taste'. 

~ Vita Sackville West, 1892 -1962.

Sadly my beloved Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis Rosea' is now a pale ghost of its former self. It has probably reached the quarter of a century mark and although still producing flowers, they seem to be increasingly sparse and now mainly decorate the higher branches of the tree. Picking any branches for vases would now be a ladder job even for himself who is a good six footer. Taking photos of the clusters of blossoms is a challenge too which was beyond me today so the above photo is of a solitary lower down open flower. This year the tree was showing some blossom in October, which must be the earliest I've seen it in flower. I think though that the time has come for a replacement reluctant that I am to cull it. This time round I will be looking for the white flowering version which I could not track down all those years ago.

Thanks as always to Carol over at 'May Dreams Gardens' for hosting this inspirational meme, which I always visit equipped with notepad and pen.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday ~ Window Dressing in Ghent.

To celebrate thirty years of wedded bliss, himself whisked me off to Ghent last week, where despite the chill these window containers were still going strong. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Musing in December

"This is the darkest month ; it is plunged into despair yet elevated by hope. December is a meaningful but mysterious month. During its passage much will die ; but before its end rebirth will start with an all powerful upsurge. It is the time of the lowest ebb, the nadir. As the year moves towards the winter solstice and light decreases day by day, it's easy to feel cheated. The garden shuts down, creating a feeling of hopefulness ; its demise is inevitable and there is no point in fighting - perhaps it is better to give in? It's tempting to scrape the mud from your boots and put them in the cupboard , but no, there is so much to do and December gardening has its own special pleasures.

Now comes the start of the big clean up. This may be the era of the dying down, dying back, withdrawing, but underneath the surface of the soil so much is happening.

Sometimes the soul is crunch - cold, the wind is biting and the chances of having any meaningful interaction with the garden is below zero - so is the temperature. But there are still many jobs to do. Many of these anticipate the coming year, turning this month into a time of preparation ; to retire to my shed and scan the boxes and baskets of paper bags full of seeds I've collected in the last few months as a treat to look forward to ; then indulge in. Reading the names hastily scribbled, occasionally almost undecipherable, the image of those plants in their glory is conjured up. And as I winnow the seed , carefully separating it from the chaff and packing it into brown envelopes , the anticipation of all the plants these seeds will become is enough to carry me , smiling, through even the shortest wettest day".

~ words from 'Life In A Cottage Garden' by Carol Klein.
~ illustration by Jill Barklem.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Now We Are Six!

"When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever;

So I think that I'll be six now for ever and ever."

~ A. A. Milne, 1882 - 1956

Sometime yesterday greentapestry officially celebrated six years of blogging. I say officially because although my very first post was back in 2005 I did not go public until 2008. This was the year when work ceased to be a factor in my life. With a job that had changed beyond recognition I decided to take an offer of voluntary redundancy. Suddenly there was so much more time on my hands. After a heady summer of freedom, I decided that as well as already visiting a number of gardening blogs I would open the doors to mine. My very first comment came from the lovely Michelle over at Veg Plotting. I can still remember how excited I was.

In those days finding your way round the gardening blog community was greatly enhanced by the existence of Blotanical, which sadly seems to have disappeared without a trace. Through Blotanical I met many other like minded souls some of whom who are still blogging. I'm fairly sure that Grace who blogs over at Gardening With Grace arrived at Blotanical in the very same week. Grace has now written a book about her gardening experiences entitled 'Grace in The Garden : Thirty Years of Blunders and Bliss', which I recently read on my Kindle. This is a book which found me nodding my head and chuckling throughout.

It's perhaps more difficult now for those arriving on the garden blogging scene. There are so many more gardening blogs out there and there does not seem an ready-made mechanism like Blotanical to effect introductions to the blogging community. I would like to take this chance to point visitors in the direction of a new blog that I have recently had the pleasure of visiting. This is 'Our Garden@19'. Do pop in and say hello to Brian who has has just started on the blogging journey and who will be opening his garden in Worcestershire, for the very first time next year under the auspices of The National Garden Scheme.

As I start my seventh year of blogging (no I'm not staying at six for ever and ever) I'm hoping to get to grips with the spring cleaning and updates that I mentioned a year ago and have still to start - hangs head in shame! Thanks so much to all of you who have stopped by to visit over the years and who have taken the time to leave a comment. Your words of encouragement, observations, suggestions, gifts and humour are really appreciated. I only wish that I could send you all a bunch of flowers to say a BIG thank you!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day ~ November 2014

Still sitting in a pot on a rather soggy Saturday is one of my latest foliage purchases heuchera 'Georgia Plum'. I bought this earlier this year from Plantagogo at the Southport Flower Show. Plantagogo is a fairly local concern being a Cheshire based nursery specialising in heucheras, heucherellas and tiarellas. The nursery holds national collections of both heuchera and heucherellas and away from home have been gold medal award winners at all the major flower shows. Owner Vicky Fox also gives talks to gardening societies and other organisations. She has visited our local gardening club a couple of times and is one of those speakers who is so enthusiastic about their subject that you feel you could listen to them time and time again.

I mentioned earlier this year that one of my projects this year was to bring back some permanent mainly foliage container planting to the north facing courtyard outside the front door. I've failed abysmally so far so baby steps from now on so that hopefully I can achieve this goal during 2015. 'Georgia Plum' should fare nicely in this spot. I have a couple of companions in mind for her so far which are lurking ready made in the cold frame. They are an ophiopogon nigrescens and some early flowering galanthus 'Faringdon Double'. I'm intending to add a couple of other ingredients to the mix but am not sure what yet. I also need a new pot so sometime this week hope to locate both a pot and some more plant material that would be happy in shade. Any suggestions would be welcome. In the meantime I'm off to have a look at Christina's monthly foliage day meme over at 'Creating my own garden of the Heserides' for some inspiration.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

November Musing - 2014

"My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree
She walked the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise".

- 'My November Guest' by Robert Frost1874 -1963.

Illustration - 'Dancing Fairies' by Arthur Rackham, 1867-1939.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ November 2014

Deserving of a long service award is erigeron karvinskianus formerly known as erigeron mucronatus, which flowers from as early in March right up to the first frosts. It is dotted about our shady north facing courtyard and would probably be more floriferous, even at this time of year if it was able to sunbathe. Still those dainty little daisies bring cheer on gloomy autumn days as they greet me on leaving and coming home.

Below glimpses of this plant in full summer mode taken earlier this year at  Sizergh Castle in Cumbria, gives some idea of their inclination to self seed with gay abandon and their ability to grow in seemingly somewhat inhospitable territory.

Apart from its long flowering period another attraction of this little daisy is the way the flowers change from white to pink as they age. It can be grown easily from seed or bought as a plant although I think that the latter option is usually relatively expensive.

This plant has been growing in our garden for many years surviving both what winters have thrown at it and himself's attempts to kill it off. He regards it as a weed! 

Thanks go as always to Gail over at May Dreams Gardens, who kindly provides us with the opportunity to wonder at other bloggers seasonal blooms every month.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Tree Following With Lucy ~ November 2014

My willow has stood on tippy toes during the last month and has shed all bar a few leaves which are still clinging tenaciously atop of the branches. It's rather windy today and I'm not sure whether there will still be any hangers on tomorrow. There was no dramatic autumnal colouring up with my tree but a subtle thinning away. As Chloris from 'The Blooming Garden' commented in October "You will probably see the real difference next month when all the leaves will have faded away like silver ghosts" and that indeed is what has happened.

The foliage around the base has died down considerably now enabling a glimpse of the stream which runs close by. You will often find willows growing near to water and the word 'salix' which is the genus they belong to derives from the Celtic word, sal (near) + lis (water).

Our willow is on the opposite bank of a small surface water stream which runs alongside one boundary of the garden. Some time ago by sheer serendipity I stumbled across a photograph which shows the lie of the land just over a hundred years ago in 1913, when it was decidedly more watery than it is now.

Both the pond, cottages and greenhouses have gone but we do still get ducks swimming along the stream. I can't make out any definite willow form in the photo or work out exactly where our house is now, which is rather frustrating as it would be brilliant to pin an age to the willow, but I can see why the willow whenever it arrived chose to make its home in such a spot.

To see what other trees are up to this month do visit Lucy over at 'Loose and Leafy' who came up with the great idea of tree following over the course of a year.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

In A Vase On Monday ~ Birthday Party

Albeit a day late joining in the birthday party as I was absent from home yesterday. So here is a little vase picked this morning. Time and the weather were not on my side so it was a matter of snip, photograph and plonk. The occupants of the vase are :

  • hardy fuchsia - name unknown as grown from a cutting from a roadside planting which was taken many years ago. The fuchsia concerned retained foliage during last year's warm winter and flowered prolifically earlier in the year. However it's still sending flowers out now but not as many as it does most autumns.
  • hardy geranium - name long forgotten and a bit of a rampant self seeder.
  • rose 'Blush Noisette' which has still not given up the ghost.
  • leycesteria formosa also known as the Himalayan honeysuckle.
  • lonicera nitida' Baggesen's Gold' which is in desperate need of a severe prune.
I've fiddled about since the photo was taken and removed some of the leaves from the leycesteria and am happier with these pickings.

The vase has featured on the blog before but not for a long time. It's a small bone china milk jug that hails from Staffordshire, which I think was passed on to me by my mum some time ago.

Although I have not been a regular contributor to the 'In A Vase On Monday' meme, I've so enjoyed visiting those of you who have posted your vases throughout the year. I've picked up many useful hints and tips on flower arranging and conditioning. I've also learnt to think more outside the box about the material that can be used, picked up some useful photography tips and my wish list has grown and grown. A HUGE thanks and a virtual bouquet to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden', who came up with the inspiration for this meme and who has throughout the course of a year kept it running like clockwork. It takes some organisation and dedication to stay with such a concept. Cathy is full of enthusiasm and encouragement too so if you do join in if you have not done so already. Don't be shy! Many congratulations Cathy on the first anniversary of this meme and long may it continue!