Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Reach For The Stars

O IS FOR?

AGAINST THE ODDS!

Isn't it amazing how plants grow in all sorts of weird and wonderful places? On a recent outing to Liverpool we observed these specimens on a city centre roof top. Do click on the photo to see how much is growing up there.

Why not go over to ABC Wednesday now for more opportune observations on the letter O.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Hilltop Garden In North Wales


Himself and I spent the last week in September on holiday ~ we were victims of a cancellation so made some last minute plans which worked out well. We headed off for not so far away North Wales where we stayed in a most comfortable log cabin just outside Bala. Of course we just had to fit in some garden visiting and our first trip was to Caerau Uchaf Gardens in Sarnau, which is four miles east of Bala. This is the highest private garden open to the public in North Wales at over 1000 feet. The gardens are owned by Toby and Stephanie Hickish, who have built award winning show gardens at Royal Horticultural Society Shows at Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park.

In our camper van we gingerly made our way up a rather narrow ascending track before tackling a cattle grid which had seen better days. A most friendly welcome from the owners ensued. They had seen and heard us coming and thought that that we might need a drink to calm our nerves. We decided though that we would see the garden first before seeking refreshments. From wherever you were in the garden, there were glimpses of breathtaking scenery ~




I think that I was so distracted by the scenery that I paid less attention that normal to the garden and the planting. However although it was late in the season there was still colour ~




Places for contemplation ~





A greenhouse that made me positively tingle with envy ~


As well as fine accomodation for visitors both insects  ~



and human ~

including the delightful Pig - Sty Cottage, which you can see above with its most attractive windows . I think I could quite happily stay there for a week but himself thought that it might be too far off the beaten track, to stride out to a local hostelry come the evenings! Caerau Ichaf opens regularly throughout the season including under the National Garden Scheme. We had an enjoyable lunch and a mooch round the plant sales area before taking our leave. A garden now discovered that I hope to return to soon. More on the other Welsh gardens we visited before long.




Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Not A Pretty Sight

N IS FOR?

                                                                                                                                
'NEW DAWN' ~ a most nifty climbing rose which was introduced in 1930. Here she is in flower in the garden at the end of June, whilst her foliage still looked rather natty. Sadly as the year progressed her leaves began to look rather nasty and they reached a nadir as the nuisance of blackspot took its nefarious hold. Nip over to ABC Wednesday for more news on the letter N.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

'On Tip -Toe For A Flight'


"Here are sweet peas, on tip- toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white
And taper fingers catching at all things
To bind them all about with tiny rings"
~ John Keats,1795-1821 


Earlier this week I sowed some sweet peas in the greenhouse. I have once again decided to grow the highly scented 'Matucana' which I have grown ever since I got my allotment plot. They give me as much pleasure as any edible crop and their arrival always signifies the sure arrival of summer. A wigwam of seven plants is more than enough to keep me supplied with bunches to pick for vases from early June to mid September. This year I decided on another introduction ~ 'Albutt Blue' which you can pick out in the photos below ~ 




In the sniff stakes these were not a patch on 'Matucana' and although attractive I do not think I will grow them again. I would still like to try another variety preferably a pastel mix. I have been stopped in my tracks a couple of times at the allotment this year by shows of sweet peas, including a display of mixed pastel shades interwoven with scarlet runner beans. Any suggestions of good and preferably highly scented mixes would be most welcome from any other sweet pea fans out there. Earlier today there were some comprehensive instructions for sowing sweet peas in the autumn as well as advice on their aftercare on BBC's 'Gardener's Question Time', which is now available on BBC IPlayer.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ October 2010


The latest arrival to the party is this quiet but graceful character above ~  a scutelleria or skullcap, although exactly which one I don't know. The first frost has still to arrive so there are still a number of hardy perennials in flower, although some of them are past their best. The hardy geraniums are still holding forth including 'Buxton's Blue','Salome',' Pink Penny' and 'Dilys' as well as ones whose names have long gone out with the bathwater.  Aconitums are flowering, a couple of astrantias are having a second flush, heucheras still froth and erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' continues to send out sporadic purple spikes. I am glad to say that erigeron mucronatus defies himself's spiteful attempts to erradicate it but dismayed to report that the dreaded 'Yellow Peril' defies my deliberate attempts to polish it off.

I have recently been making a deliberate attempt to introduce plants specifically for late colour so tempted last year by An Artist's Garden,  I have been delighted with rudbeckia fulgida var. dreamii. I have also been pleased with the similar but subtly different rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii "Goldsturm". Although I am not a big fan of orange or yellow flowers I think that I am slowly being converted.

Flowering for a long spell right up to the first frosts is fuchsia magellenica 'Alba' which despite the name has a delicately pale pink flush to its flowers. Sadly its much smaller hardy fuchsia companion 'Genii' has not shown any sign of flowering this year. I thought that the plant had been decimated by the harsh winter but slowly and surely it came back to life but it is foliage only. Oh well that must mean a bigger and better show next year! 

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is kindly hosted each month by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens. Paper and a pen are compulsory when you visit as your wish list will grow and grow and grow .............. !

Monday, 11 October 2010

''Something Old, Something New''


No there are no peals of wedding bells ringing out in the vicinity but this post is a glimpse at a couple of asters. Firstly the old acquaintance ~ aster cordifolius 'Little Carlow', which resides at the allotment where it was positively singing in this weekend's warm sunshine. I divided my original plant a couple of years ago into three portions and this year they have really taken off. Time for some more division and thinning out though come spring I think. This aster has a myriad of little flowers which bees and butterflies are partial to and another bonus ~ no need for staking! ~


The new is aster diveraticus, which was one of two plants that I bought on a recent trip to North Wales. Strictly speaking it is not new as I have grown it before but somehow or the other I managed to polish it off. This is a woodland plant with attractive wiry ebony stems topped by panicles of small white daisies. As the flowers age the tips of the petals take on a lilac/mauve tinge. I believe that it will tolerate dry shade as well as moist but I have not tested the former conditions out ~ 



My other holiday purchase was actaea simplex 'Black Negligee' - the name makes me cringe but I do like the deliciously dark leaves which you can see in the bottom photo.  I  must wither and get these planted today whilst the ground is still warm ~ now where did I leave my trowel? 

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Full Steam Ahead

L IS FOR?




LLANUWCHLLYN!
I am not sure whether I appreciated the sheer magic of steam train journeys as a child as then they were quite the norm. However a trip last week on the Rheilffordd Lyn Tegid (Bala Lake Railway) in North Wales, was a chance to rediscover the excitement that comes with this mode of transport. The railway occupies the trackbed of the former standard - gauge Ruabon to Barmouth line of the Great Western Railway. The line as it now was opened in 1972 but most of the steam locomotives in use are over a hundred years old.  The journey takes you along the shoreline of Bala Lake which is the largest natural lake in Wales.

Himself and I travelled in an open carriage delighting in making chuggetty - chug noises as we slowly made our way through the beautiful countryside ~ 




It was a twenty five minute journey from Lyn Tegid (Bala Lake) to our destination of Llanuwchllyn where we had just over half an hour to wait before getting back on board for the return journey. There was no difficulty in filling in the time as there so many fascinating bits of machinery, notices, paraphernaila and artefacts to linger over at the station ~












There was also a fine station buffet building serving the most delicious carrot cake. The station dog with the most soulful eyes imaginable watched us munch our way through this.


Now as far as the inticacies of the Welsh language go I am afraid that I can't get my head round the prounciation ~ maybe my friends at An Artists Garden and Welsh Hills Again could come to my rescue.


We hope to venture back to Wales before long where there are other steam train journeys that appeal to us. You can find out more about them over at The Great Little Trains of Wales.


Now why not leave here and loiter over at ABC Wednesday where you will be able to locate lots more posts on the letter L.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Garden Bloggers Muse Day ~ October 2010.


In Parliament, the Minister of Mists
and Mellow Fruitfulness announces,
that owing to inflation and rising costs
there will be no Autumn next year.
September, October and November
are to be cancelled,
and the Government is to bring in
the nine-month year instead.
Thus will we all live longer.

Emergency measures are to be introduced
to combat outbreaks of well-being
and feelings of elation inspired by the season.
Breathtaking sunsets will be restricted
to alternate Fridays, and gentle dusks
prohibited. Fallen leaves will be outlawed,
and persons found in posession of conkers,
imprisoned without trial.
Thus will we all work harder.

The announcement caused little reaction.
People either way don't really care
No time have they to stand and stare
Looking for work or slaving away
Just another Autumn day.


Just Another Autumn Day ~ Roger McGough

I am late with my monthly musing as himself and I have been holidaying in the glorious countryside of North Wales. The photo was taken just down the road from where we were staying. The poet hails from nearer to home ~ Roger McGough is from Liverpool. He writes some delightful and often humorous poetry. I thought that this one was quite apt, given not only the season but also the fact that government spending cuts are very much in the news at present. Fortunately the cancellation of autumn is not on the agenda ...........

Garden Bloggers Muse Day is kindly hosted each month by Carolyn Gail over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.