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?

Monday, 18 August 2014

In A Vase On Monday - 'Accidents Will Happen' - 2

Another accidental vase from me. Amongst the occupants the tiniest snippet from one of my new purchases from the Southport Flower Show last week, namely kalimeris incisa "Charlotte', which I bought for its late summer colour. It has dainty daisy like mauve flowers which apparently flower from June - October and it suffers little in the way of pests. Unfortunately the poor plant suffered slightly in transit back home but hopefully normal service will resume next year. Next the victim of the recent unseasonable strong breezes, a flower from my one and only 'Vanilla Ice' sunflower. I grew a few of these for the allotment this year but all came to grief bar one. They were munched by molluscs as soon as they were planted there having been grown from seed at home. The sole survivor has sulked at the allotment and no sooner than there were signs of flowers the stem bearing them snapped and is hanging on by a thread. I'm not sure whether the remaining flowers will go on to open, so bought this one home with me to enjoy at close quarters. I will definitely attempt to grow this particular variety again next year hopefully with better results.

The sunflower needed some help to prop itself up so the other occupants of the vase have a supporting role and were not arranged as such just plonked. Also coming from the allotment some stems of fennel with their yellow flower heads and some oregano flowers. Both are prolific self seeders so I must soon be quite ruthless and chop their heads off to save me from more weeding next year. Another prolific self seeder and also scented a couple of flowers from a buddleia which is located in the garden. The final touch was the inclusion of some clematis jouiniana 'Praecox', (the colour of which Cathy and I just can't agree on) to wrap itself around and hold up the sunflower.

Kalimeris incisa 'Charlotte' with a flowerhead of fennel

I'm fairly sure that the vase is one that my mum gave to me after a clear out.

Although I'm not often here with a vase I do enjoy seeing other blogger's inspiring and colourful creations as they are generously shared each Monday, courtesy of the lovely Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden'.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Furry Caterpillars ~ GBBD August 2014

A large pink furry caterpillar has been following me about the garden this afternoon. It came back home with me yesterday from the Southport Flower Show, where I spent a most enjoyable day in the company of a fellow plant addict. I was particularly looking for late flowering colour which at the risk of boring myself the garden needs an injection of.

It is a sanguisorba without a label but my guess is that it maybe sanguisorba hakusanensis. It's a most tactile creature which has been swaying gently back and forth in today's breeze. I was pleased to read that it is relatively easy to grow and apparently suffers from little in the way of pests and diseases although vine weevils can be attracted to the roots. It prefers a moisture retentive soil  and will grow either in sun or light shade. I think that it would look good in the company of a grass but am not sure whether the above grass is the right bedfellow. I'm still mulling over it's resting place so suggestions would be welcome.

I made one or two other purchases which I will no doubt mention sooner or later. Meanwhile I'm off notebook and pen at hand to gaze upon and no doubt covet other August blooms, courtesy of Carol at May Dreams Gardens, the home of Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Nursery At The Edge Of The Universe

Well maybe not quite but this one took some finding as have many of the nurseries we have visited over the years. I've come to the conclusion that there must be some sort of formula that decrees the optimum location for siting a nursery. It involves the back of beyond, narrow long bumpy lanes with few passing places and more than often than not a seemingly ferocious large dog or two to contend with when you when you finally put a foot out of your vehicle. On this occasion my phone came to the rescue just in the nick of time, as we had wandered up and down a lane and back again for several miles, with himself muttering and chuntering at the wheel. Modern technology considerately suggested that we should be the other side of the junction back on the main road where soon all became abundantly clear. Then in a jiffy or so it seemed we turned into the entrance to  'La Jouberie'. 

I had seen a little advert for this nursery and gardens in the spring 2014 edition of the Hardy Plant Society's magazine 'The Hardy Plant' and had clocked that we may be in the vicinity sometime when we were on holiday. So I scribbled a few details down on paper to take with us just in case and fortune duly favoured me when we visited towards the middle of July.

'La Jouberie' in Normandy is owned and run by a English woman Alison Sykes. The surrounding gardens have been created from previously uncultivated land from 2008 and are still very much a work in progress. We were greeted by Alison who gave me and another regular visitor a guided tour pointing out some of her favourite plants and combinations along the way. Talking plants as well as the very bright and windy weather conspired against taking many photos and some that I took turned out to be rather bleached. There is though an extensive photo gallery on the nursery website. Alison explained that Normandy is a windy area which can be challenging for gardeners.

Attached to the gardens is a small but well stocked nursery specialising in herbaceous perennials and shade tolerant plants. I could have bought several plants but was constrained by the fact that it would be a few days before we landed back home. I selected a little seed raised purple flowering scabious as a memento. I also added a couple of plants to my wish list - a stunning white hemerocallis 'Light The Way' as well as a highly scented phlox by the name of what I thought Alison said was 'Blue Wave'. The former looks as if it could be a challenge to find whilst I think that I might have misheard the name of the latter or it could be a very old variety, as I am unable to find any reference to it either in books or on the web. I may email Alison to enquire. I would certainly make another visit if ever find ourselves in this part of the world again.

With a special thanks to himself for providing the photo at the top of this post and for his never ending patience and tenacity in playing hunt that nursery.