Monday, 17 June 2019

In a Vase on Monday - Full of Grace

Today is an Auspicious Date in our family calendar......

So I have held back this year, until now, to post a vase of roses the colour of which is beguiling.  

It is Rose Grace, which I had in my previous garden and have written about many times, 
and then missed so much I ordered a couple for my conservatory border, less than a year ago.  They are in full bloom, and are looking wonderful with their bright green foliage.  The blooms have stood the downpours without damage, which is a great attribute.

To balance out the roses, which are around 10cm across I have added some Persicaria Red Dragon, the big leaf being 17cm long, the original plant coming from Cathy, and a few stems of Phalaris arundinacea with its barcoded leaves, a recent gift from a gardening friend.  I love this plant despite a reputation of being rampant.  It adds a slender vertical element in the garden, and I recall growing it in several previous gardens, except the last one.

The vase is a lovely cloisonne vase collected by my mother's on her travels around China nearly forty years ago....

I shall go over to Cathy's blog, link into hers, and see what other friends have posted today...Cathy has posted roses too, with a great story under the theme of forgiving....

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Six on Saturday- 15 June 2019

At last some rain...almost too much.  In between squalls but not on the days when we had non stop rain, the gravel paths have been a asset, meaning I can get out into the garden.  The watebutt is completely full, and dust washed off plants.

As I write this post and am yet to see what others have entered, I wonder if there have been light bulb moments, or other mid season challenges from The Propagator who hosts this meme, and other gardeners....we shall see.  Interesting viewpoints and musings will be there to pour over during the coming week for sure.

Choices have had to be made regarding which plants please and perform, and if not, I have tried to weigh up their merit and gone ahead in some instances and removed them entirely.  It is not that they are unhealthy, or not good plants, its is rather a question of their relationship with other plants in garden or their position.  The garden is too small for the number of plants I have, a few have been binned this week!

1.   The first plant to be removed was the double camomille.  It had grown too lush and tall, over 30cm high, and was yet to flower.  I was envisaging a low growing green swath with some nice double flowers, but that was not to be.  So out they came.  I do have a lovely lower growing single flowered camomile which came to the garden last year, gathered as little plant whilst visiting a friend.  Just the sort of sharing that I love....a simple small division the sort that is gathered with a trowel from the edge of a larger patch which one had admired. No plant pot or potting compost, or time spend looking after it, just a little bit of damp newspaper is all that it needed, then it is straight home to be cosseted, until it is nicely established.  As soon as I was home, the piece smaller than my palm, was teased apart, and every little joint grown in a well draining medium under shelter, to provide a dozen or so plants to plant out early this spring.

2.   The second plant to go, was to be the golden feverfew: Tanacetum parthenium 'Aureum'.  Just coming up to flower, its stems were encrusted with black fly.  There were far too many blackfly to spend time squashing the bugs away even with a gloved hand, and really they had just been fillers during the winter.

As I pulled out the first plant, I remembered that in spring I did admire the lovely yellow green growth on the golden feverfew.

I stopped just in time, also remembering how I was enthralled and beguiled by its looks on a stand at the Malvern Show, only a few weeks ago.  I clipped the other plant, removing the blackfly infested top growth.  Isn't it ironic that a plant that was almost a 'weed', well staged, with a fancy name plate can say: "Look at me am I not just the sort of green that can draw the eye on a gloomy grey day?"

It seems that at least half of my SOS this week are woes....

3.   My third SOS and woe is the sad condition of my a couple of my hydrangeas.  Being almost hooked on propagation, it was with glee I brought back some clipping in the middle of winter 2017, from the Bishop's Palace Gardens, with permission of course, salvaged from what would have ended up on the compost heap!  I had about seven plants root well, even when the gardener there thought they were not likely at all to take at that time of the year....several plants went to Alison...whose garden the camomile came from.  I have three shrubs in the garden. One plant which is not in the shade border, is very handsome indeed, but in the shade border I have two plants, both looking quite stressed.

Medicine for now is Seaweed plus sequestered iron, and close observation to judge whether some alternative action would be more appropriate. Again suggestions as to what has caused this and any remedies would be much appreciated.

4.  Looking very handsome in the shady border is Chiastophyllum oppositifolium, sometimes called Umbilicus oppositifolius.  I first admired this in my friend's garden in Kenilworth.  She brought me a little piece as a parting gift, and having been moved a year ago from the sunny side of the garden, it is finally thriving in its semi shaded position.  It is a lovely well behaved plant, with its light reflecting shiny evergreen, fleshy leaves, it is well behaved little gem.  The flowers a pale sulphur colour work very well in a vase too over a long period.  It is quite hardy here in the UK.

5. Sometimes finding a solution to something just comes around when one is least pondering them:

A light bulb moment!  Whilst tidying the shed during a heavy squall, I came across my roll of copper tape which usually goes round just below the rim of plant pots supposedly to deter slugs.

The thing that had been iruking me was the sight of my damaged pot.  I decided not to throw it away, but to use it to house my three little tumbler tomato and outdoor cucumber plants for the summer, thenditch it.  Unfortunately in my haste, I position the cracked rim towards the kitchen window.  Each time I looked out from the kitchen, the damaged white edge glared out at me.

The copper tape which has a sticky side, is now a 'decorative' rim, hiding the damaged edge....

6.  Not just bumblebee watch....but a game similar to the one years ago of how many people can you get into a mini....when minis were still very small cars.  I think this was a game invented in my youth, so that chaps could stand around and watch girls squeeze into their small cars....maybe its because girls have got bigger that minis have got larger...but I don't think that at their current pricetag, many youths would be able to afford them...other small cars do exist!

Anyway around six bumblebees on the white Centaurea Montana Alba is a much finer sight!  One clump was cut to the ground ready for new growth in a couple of weeks, but I had to leave this clump.  Different species of bees seem to congregate on different plants.

Perhaps if you comment, you would mention if you have been light bulb moments in your garden.  Comments are enjoyed, appreciated, and where appropriate a great help.  So many thanks for them all.

Monday, 10 June 2019

In a Vase on Monday - Choices

Potentially there are so many choices to be made.  The real nub is deciding....

In the end a simple vase of Rosa Open Arms.  The shrub needed a little prune to allow good strong shoots to grow up unhindered by the first shoots following the successful planting from the cutting stage.  This is Mr S's favourtie rose, which I managed to take cuttings of before moving.  

Rain and more rain is forecast for this week, therefore most of today has been spent catching up with garden cutting back.  As it is with me and newly planted areas, some plants were planted too close together, too many volunteers left to outgrow their space, and growing much taller than anticipated was a very vigorous plant of honesty: Lunaria Annua Chedglow.  

Lunaria and Briza Maxima join the graceful flowers of Chiastophyllum oppositifolium. The newly planted shrub Phlomis fruticosa Bourgaei had all its flowering stems removed and I felt the handsome structure of the seed heads deserved to feature as well so a second vase was quickly put together this afternoon.

As the wind and rain is likely to topple the large Lunaria over for the second or third time despite obviously inadequate staking, the whole plant has been prepared..hope I've done it right....

Over now to link in with Cathy who hosts this meme, and see what beauties are being showcased this week. Cathy's is the Very Pink of  Perfection.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Gooseberry Invicta

There is something about gooseberries that I love.  I have several large bushes that I was growing in tubs in Kenilworth, but fearing that the furniture or removal men would be damaged, decided to leave them with friends.

I was missing them, and up at Rocky Mountain at the end of March, when I was walking through the nursery, I came across some well branched gooseberry plants.  I wasn't even looking for a plant at the time, I seem to remember a very low price, something like £3.50 each, so decided to get one.  It is an early season variety, and so far it looks really healthy, no mildew or gooseberry sawfly thankfully!

It went into the far corner of the known as Gooseberry Corner.  The first harvest is always a bit of an event, and 350g is pretty good.  By harvesting fairly early, I hope this allows the plant to put its energy into growing great roots and flowering spurs ready for a serious crop next year.

Making apple and gooseberry crumble for supper tonight....

Six on Saturday - 8 June 2019

Some reasonable rain showers this week meant that herbaceous plants were not floundering, and it felt very pleasant being able to walk out on the gravel paths to work on the borders, crush greenfly and rose sawflies as they land on stems ready to saw into stems and lay their eggs....

The first of my SOS is a view from the embryonic gravel garden area towards our central seating area.  Star plant for the month for me has been the red Dianthus chinensis.  Not only does its red add a point of attraction for me, looking out from the kitchen window or conservatory, each of its very numerous flowers is supporting bees and other insects.  I would have liked to get a picture of a visiting Hummingbird Hawkmoth yesterday, but by the time I found my had moved on. 

For my second SOS a view towards Acer Corner, along the curving path,  showing the growth achieved in area planted up less than a year ago.  There have been mistakes...such as too many Lychnis coronaria.  To give them their due, grown from seed they are wonderful specimens, but are crowding out choice plants.  This coming week, they will be thinned!

I love Phlomis and for my third SOS show Phlomis purpurea Matagallo. Its the plant with the pink flower spike.  I grew this starting March 2018, with seed from Chiltern Seeds.  I am amazed to have grown a small Phlomis shrub from seed that is flowering like this in just one year.  Something is nibbling its leaves!

This is on my driest sunniest most open bed.

The fourth item is a large clump of soft grey Stachys byzantina aka Lamb's ears.  I love it for its silver accent lighting up the border in winter,  and being evergreen here gives a good ground cover all the year round.  However at the moment it is rather floppy as the flowers grow up, and weighed down after heavy rain.  As it one beloved by bees I am waiting a little while before cutting it back, reducing it, etc!

The fifth item this week is a peep at Saxifraga stolonifera, which is going through its flowering stage.

It is growing on the edge of my shady border which does catch the early morning summer sun, and where the breeze makes the petals shimmer like so many small butterflies. It is close to the conservatory and I have a lovely view of this as I have my breakfast in the early morning.

Saxifraga stolonifera before flowering

 I grow Saxifraga stolonifera primarily for its year round attractive rosettes, but the flowers give an added bonus.  After flowering, the rosettes die off, but new plants from the strawberry like runners soon take over.

Number six is the clump of Sweet cicelyMyrrhis odoratathis week in the green seed stage.  

I am rather apt to cut back plants to encourage new growth, and tend to miss out on the seeds.  The fern like leaves grow on a drier part of the garden, partly under the shade of the evergreen oak tree. It flowers very early in the year offering nectar to early fliers.  Just above it on the wall, I've positioned some pieces of wood with holes and several of these are now sealed off by  This coming week, when the plant is cut back,  I shall cut the green seeds, freeze some for later use, and use some in walnut sourdough bread.  They have a wonderful sweet aniseedy flavour.  The sweet cicely came to me as a small plant several years ago from my friend Kay in Kenilworth, and a piece was brought with me, so I am pleased to say that after a couple of years sulking after the move, it is in fine fettle! 

Sweet Cicely is not native to Britain but is in fact a relatively recent introduction (neophyte) and was first recorded from the wild in 1777. Although recent it has become well naturalized and is often common around woodland edges and clearing, grassy banks and road verges particularly in the northern half of England and southern Scotland.
I shall be sure to use the leaves too next year,  when my new rhubarb will have grown strong enough to pick.

I'll be sure to see what other gardeners have contributed...if not now, later in the week.