Monday, 27 July 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ "My Cup Runneth Over".

The weather gods thwarted plans for today's vase so instead of sweet peas from the allotment so it's been a case of looking closer to hand. The 'vase' is one of several old or some might say vintage floral china cups and saucers I've collected over the years. Cup and saucer do not match in this instance but rather compliment each other.

The occupants are :
  • Rose 'Blush Noisette' - this rose can be grown as a shrub or as a small climber. It dates back to about 1814 and is subtly but deliciously scented. It has a had a first flush of flowers but it's now throwing out a second wave.
  • Thyme - I'm not sure which one but in the garden for a good few years now. At this time of year it's decorated with small purple flowers which attract the pollinators. It's easy to propagate by division.
  • The clematis is without a label but if my memory serves me well the odds are that it's clematis 'Blekitny Aniol', also known as 'Blue Angel'.
  • Linaria purpurea 'Canon Went' - a perennial which is most easy to grow and which unlike it's purple sibling does not seed itself about prolifically.
  • Achillea ptarmica 'The Pearl' - with it's dainty buttons of double white flowers is a plant that I had many moons ago but lost. It's a hardy perennial which flowers throughout the summer. I've looked for it on and off over the years but have never come across it until last Friday, when I came across a plant which was of course snapped up at once. It was a most happy conclusion to a delightful afternoon spent in the company of none other but Cathy of 'Rambling In The Garden' fame, today's hostess and her husband 'The Golfer' as well as himself. As always it was a pleasure to meet another blogger and as as you can imagine we found plenty to talk about. I think that you would like this plant Cathy, so when it's big enough a division will make its way in your direction.

It's decidedly cool as well as now raining here so time to put the kettle on when I've posted this and then to wander to see what's in everyone else's vases this week. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Sugar & Spice.

It's back to base for this week's vase which is a mixture of allotment meets garden. Absence from home has seen everything fast forward, so there were lots of surprises on our return from a beautiful and tranquil French beach, where our camper van has been resident for a short time. This week's vase ingredients are :

  • Alchemilla mollis or lady's mantle which despite its prolific self seeding habits I would not be without.
  • A few sprigs of golden oregano which grows on the plot.
  • Antirrhinum 'Black Prince' - grown from seed and planted both on the plot and in the garden. This was obviously camera shy but one stem is visible on the right hand side of the photo. This has most attractive dark foliage and I'm hoping that it might overwinter.
  • Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' - I like the way that each flower of this plant is slightly different in both pattern and colour. A division plant was kindly given to me year's ago when I admired it in the garden of a cottage that we stayed in when visiting the Malvern Show.
  • Allium sphaerocephalon this is a really reliable easy going bulb which flowers after the larger alliums are done and dusted. Its only drawback is that any seedlings can be mistaken for grass when they first come through the soil. 
  • Dahlia - I think that this is 'Arabian Night' but the label has gone west. It came through the winter at the allotment but came home to be potted up and receive some tender loving care before returning back to the allotment for the summer. It has really bulked out this year. 
  • Dianthus 'Green Trick' which is fabulously frothy. I fell for this when I saw it in Sarah Raven's catalogue and after being initially disappointed when they sold out I was delighted to get an email to tell me that it was back in stock. I ordered three plug plants which I've planted at the allotment. They are just beginning to come good now and the plan is to try and overwinter some cuttings. I don't think it can be grown from seed but would be pleased to find out that it could.

My vase this week is an old golden syrup tin hence the reference to sugar in the title. It normally houses a houseplant which is currently in intensive care. The spice is a reference to the flower colours and there are also spices round the base of the tin, remnants of a winter potpourri which are about to be jettisoned. Finally a stem of humulus lupulus aureus also known as golden hop has wrapped itself round the tin.

Thanks to Cathy from 'Rambling In The Garden' for offering us a platform to share our vases on a Monday. Such a cheerful and colourful start to the week!

Monday, 13 July 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ Beachcombing.

You might be able to guess where the materials making this week's vase have been collected. Shells, stone, pine cones, sun bleached grasses and the odd strand of an unidentified succulent have been found all within a hundred metres of our campervan. This impromptu arrangement is sitting in an empty chestnut yoghurt jar, the contents of which made for delicious eating last night. 

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In the Garden' for being such a gracious hostess. I'm off to dip my toes in the ocean but will return later to enjoy vases from far and wide.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

End Of Month View ~ June 2015

Allium christophii/Star of Persia glowing in this evening's sun
June is departing on a fabulous note - a warm, warm day followed by a long, calm and sultry evening. Although the sun has now set it's still warm now. This post will be short as I can feel myself glowing as my computer emits additional heat. The month though as a whole has been like May on the cool and windy side. Even earlier on today there was a fair old breeze swirling about, enough to make the rotary washing line swivel.

My word or should I perhaps say phrase for the month is "back to front". I have a dahlia flowering before the first of the sweet peas has opened as much as a petal, which is most perturbing. I associate dahlias with late summer whilst sweet peas are high summer. Something has gone wrong somewhere! I think that is because I sowed my sweet peas later than I usually do so have made a note to get them in at least a week or two earlier next year. The sweet peas initially looked quite weak and almost anaemic but have responded to a seaweed based feed and are now quite robust plants.

The garden has not received as much attention as it deserves this month as the allotment has consumed most of my time. I've been thinking quite seriously on this division and am slowly coming to the conclusion that something must give as I'm not doing justice to either. I'm thinking about enquiring about whether my plot could be split which would give me less to maintain. Something to decide perhaps not in the next month or two, but perhaps before the end of the year when my allotment rent is due. In the meantime apart from cursing the pernicious marestail which I swear I could knit with, I'm now enjoying the fruits of my labour. Our Wimbledon tennis viewing this afternoon was enriched by strawberries picked from the plot. Raspberries are now ripening along with the red currants whilst the other currants are not far behind. The gooseberry bushes are dripping. It looks as if there is going to be a good crop of apples this year.

On the vegetable front I've picked the first courgettes. Beans and peas have just started to flower.The sweet corn and pumpkins seem to becoming on nicely. Potatoes have still to be harvested. The shallots are perhaps less productive than last year. All in all I've grown less variety than the last couple of years which again may be a reflection of trying to do too much as well as the result of deliberately sowing less.

There have been a couple of plant purchases including the most tactile pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose' as well as a geranium and a rose to be featured in another post. Going back to the garden I would be grateful if somebody would remind me to have an astrantia cull later in the year. You can have too much of a good thing.

Thanks as always to Helen who enables to share our end of month reviews over at 'The Patient Gardener's Weblog'. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to in their gardens this June.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Scented Garden ~ 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight"

- from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Shakespeare.

The first of my scented plants this month is a rosa rubiginosa also known as sweet brier. When Shakespeare was writing it was known as eglantine. It's a wild rose bearing soft pink single flowers which are lightly scented but it's the foliage which is the more fragrant. If your grow this and should venture out on a warm wet summer evening your nostrils are likely to be assailed by the aroma of stewed apples floating through the air. The scent can also be detected on drier days by rubbing the slightly sticky leaves between the fingers. The arching branches can grow up to eight foot or so in height and it's a prickly customer. In the autumn and into early winter it's decorated with rose-red hips.

I think that I must have bought this plant at a NGS open garden. I've never seen it for sale at a garden centre. It self-seeds gently and I'm always happy to share the seeds. I've got this plant growing both in the garden where it has unfortunately become rather straggly. My fault entirely for not being a more ruthless pruner. I've also got a more robust specimen at the allotment which started life as a seedling in the garden. My next door plot neighbour liked it so much that she asked for a seedling which is now thriving and is in flower over on her plot.

My second plant is honeysuckle or lonicera which Shakespeare refers to as woodbine. The plant you can see above just appeared growing at the edge of the garden as well as in a second spot nestled in amongst a beech hedge. It is a climbing rather than a shrubby honeysuckle and although not certain of its identity I think is our native honeysuckle lonicera periclymenum. Although I've not tried I believe it is easily propagated by taking cuttings in early summer or by layering in spring or summer. The flowers are appreciated by both moths and bees. The scent takes me back to the garden of my childhood when a honeysuckle was planted in close proximity to my bedroom window. If I close my eyes I can smell the scent and hear my parent's voices as they worked in the garden on long summer evenings when we were tucked in bed. I must ask my sister if she can remember. 

There is also a honeysuckle on my allotment plot which I inherited. Its a shrubby one but I do not have a photograph of it but like those in the garden it seems to be resplendent with flowers this year. It seems to be a particularly good year for honeysuckles. Has anybody else noticed this? 

It's hardly surprising that Titania, the Queen Of The Fairies nodded off in such a delightful spot. I will be visiting 'Wellywoman' later to see what other June flowers might lull my senses and help me dream sweet dreams. Thanks to the lovely Louise for hosting. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

In A Vase On Monday ~ "It's A New Dawn''

With the advent of the summer solstice yesterday dawn arrived slightly later today but in the garden rosa 'New Dawn' has still to attain her zenith. She has been in the garden for some twenty years or so and is in for the chop later this year. It's nothing personal but a small pantomime ensues every time himself walks through the archway with the lawn mower en route to the lawn. On one side a thorny rose brushes against him and on the other side a humulus lupulus aureus, aka golden hop clings to his legs. Not nice when you're wearing shorts is the complaint. Well that's putting it politely. The plan is if possible to replace both plants with more gentle touchy feely characters and if possible to save 'New Dawn' and replant her elsewhere. If she does not live to to tell the tale a replacement will probably be found as I'm most fond of her so are the bees.

Sharing today's vase with this beautiful rose are campanula persificolia, astrantia, linaria purpurea, a penstemon (possibly 'Apple Blossom') and some frothy pink pimpinella major rosea. Although the weather is not acknowledging it here today (cool wind, rain, cool wind) summer is definitely here. I'm off to put the kettle on to warm my hands with a cuppa and then over to visit 'Rambling In The Garden' to see the glorious flowers which are no doubt gracing other vases this week.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Garden Visiting ~ Windy Hall, Cumbria.

"2 people, 4-acres, 6ft rain, 30+ gardening years" was the phrase from the NGS Yellow Book, which acted like a magnet for a visit to Windy Halljust south of Bowness-on-Windermere in Cumbria last Sunday. The fact that the garden is just a few miles down the road from the caravan was another reason why we could not miss out on a chance to visit. By one of those spooky coincidences 'Gardener's World' got there just before us so we were able to have a sneak preview of the garden on the Friday night before our visit.

According to the friendly welcoming party the GW factor was swelling normal visitor numbers even at 10.45am. We were informed that the BBC crew had spent some 12 hours at the garden which resulted in just a few minutes coverage. With the aid of a well illustrated map we set off to explore the most tranquil and unmanicured of gardens. This is a garden where moss is celebrated rather than eradicated. There was certainly plenty to admire including the moss path (top left), the Japanese influenced quarry garden (above and below middle) and a waterfowl garden. The garden also has national collections of aruncus and filipendula.
There was excellent cake we were informed and there were certainly lots of folk enjoying their elevenses. However as with alcohol never before lunch is my motto when it comes to cake so we resisted! A plant stall was a different matter with a visit being compulsory even before we set foot in the garden. I'm glad that I did as the geum avens 'Mai Tai' that I purchased was no longer on the sales table when it came to leaving.

The highlight of the visit for me was a remark from himself who looking at a patch of flowers uttered the words "What are those lovely little blue fellows? I was that flabbergasted I can't remember what the flowers were. After 30+ garden visiting years I've finally converted him.

Windy Hall opens under the NGS. Sadly both the 2015 dates are now done and dusted but the garden also opens to visitors by prior arrangement from April -August.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Tree Following With Lucy ~ June 2015.

All was looking most promising with my 'Doyenne du Comice' pear tree until towards the end of May/beginning of June. Firstly the rough weather at that time scattered a good number of would be pears to the ground. I presumed that was the phenomenon known as the 'June Drop' so just muttered to myself. What followed though has been more traumatic when closer inspection the other day revealed that some of the remaining fruits have the pear equivalent of the 'Black Death'. Not a pretty sight as you can see from above! Research revealed that the pear has been affected by pear midge. This is a pest which causes the fruitlets to turn black and fall prematurely. Apparently though I've not done this yet but if I cut up open one of the afflicted fruits it will reveal lots of tiny white grubs. The advice is to remove affected fruitlets before they fall to the ground or to spray with some nasty sounding chemical just before the blossom opens.

So it looks as if this year's crop will be counted on two hands that is presuming all the other so far healthy fruits mature. I'm happy to report that the neighbouring pear has not been touched by the midge and although not exactly groaning with fruits it bears a couple of promising clusters one of which you can glimpse above.  This fruit growing lark seems to be full of challenges but I remain optimistic that I will consume at least one of my own pears this year. 

Thanks as always to Lucy over at 'Loose and Leafy', who enables us to share the ups and downs of a fascinating and diverse range of trees each month.