Monday, 23 November 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Needs Must

Pottering around the garden on a Sunday I saw that Alison's Sedum is behaving as if it is spring, sending up stems and buds, and the Hydrangea was starting to have its petals skeletonized by rasping mini snails. '




Of necessity these form the basis of the vase today, for who knows how long they will hold, and I ought to keep back other plants for posts in the weeks to come, when material will be meagre.  





 Materials this week

Sedum Hylotelephium  erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn', aka 'Alison's sedum'

Persicaria Red Dragon, aka Cathy's Dragon.

Achillea Millefolium Lilac Beauty

Salvia Amistad

various seed heads and capsules gathered on walks...

I often heard the expression or proverb or is it an idom:  'Needs Must', when I was a child, and did not quite understand its meaning. We've certainly been practicing this in the current situation, but with a little imagination and substitution, or acceptance of the not quite perfect, a few freedom can be gained.  This is just one example of  'All's well that ends well', as I attempt to come to terms with 'the new normal'.

Shakespeare used the old saying in his play 'All's well that ends well'. Apologies to all the linguists and word smiths, and historians for any misunderstandings....

I am joining in with Cathy who leads this weekly get-together. Cathy is posting some superb chrysanthemums this week, all spider like with excellent prop.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Six on Saturday - 21 November 2020

 I don't know whether the Prop is who our leader in this weekly show and tell, ask and answer, is aware that I am getting big pot envy?  However I realise that this garden and gardener needs to keep herself in check.  Why not spend a little time to look over what we have been up to or think worthy of sharing this week?


Here are my six....

1. For Succulents you need good drainage, and this container must be about the most appropriate I have.  I'm not sure what type of stone it is made of.  It looks like a piece of volcanic rock full of holes, but non the less heavy.  At present Echeveria Elegans is growing in a little gritty soil, and has been in  there for two or three years.  Did I ever deny that I liked succulents? But I do not like cactii to work with, though admire them elsewhere..its the thorns!



2. I've been dithering over a little mini succulent at the market over the past two weeks and this time I succumbed and brought home this Portulacaria Afra Variegata, also known as the Elephant bush. Some people buy cakes, I buy plants...



When we were on holiday in Crete a couple of years ago, I found huge specimens in flower! However it was not the variegata form, but in full flower.




Other succulents have been sheltering from excess rain outside the front door.  

3. We had our first Gardening Club Zoom meeting this week, where a friend and fellow member of the club: writer, garden designer, lecturer etc Sally Gregson gave us a talk: The Naked Garden, which was about the pleasures of a winter garden.  Outside the colour is starting to come in the corner Acer. Later I am joining in our first HPS Zoom meeting.  Bob Brown will be speaking, therefore I shall be coming back after that to read more posts.


4. This is the earliest I have seen the tips of crocus coming up....



5. Yellow shines through the gloom: Jasmine nudiflorum: Yingchun 'The Flower that welcomes Spring' in China is cheering up the Winter in Somerset.


6. I need to read up on how to increase this lovely plant growing in the gravel garden.  It has been flowering non stop! I just keep on dead heading it:  Erodium Fran's Delight. Will it be best to wait till spring, or would cuttings taken now be OK?


Chin up everyone...keep sane, and garden.  See you all next week again for another six? Hope so.


Friday, 20 November 2020

Mid Week Muddy Walk

One of the best ways I can think of at present to escape the hemmed in feeling is just to go for a walk. Early in the week, we had a few hours forecast without rain, and that was the signal to get out our boots, and explore a walk I had discovered on line. The Somerset Wildlife Trust Reserves are certainly worth visiting whatever the season.

From the top of Cheddar Gorge, where we parked on the road side, we walked along the path and stopped to look the over the old lime kiln, which was not far from the dramatic rock exposure left by quarrying.  




This area is called old Black Rock Quarry, and is part of the Black Rock Nature Reserve.


At the top of the eastern loop in the Long Wood Nature Reserve, we found a nice bench for a rest.  Tall slim tress reached skyward.

Beyond this as we arrived at a valley floor we could hear a stream flowing into a swallet.  




This stream  continues underground through the large caves, emerging lower down in the Cheddar Valley.



Returning along the valley, which is dry but very muddy, we came across a couple of cave entrances, and for the last part retraced our steps back through the Black Rock Nature Reserve.


We were very glad of our walking sticks to help along the slippery tracks.  The drive down the Cheddar Gorge with very few cars and just a couple of climbers here and there was as always an amazing experience.  We shall be sure to return in the Spring to see all the spring flowers.



Monday, 16 November 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Rose Grace

Another week and another vase, a little routine is soothing, and I shall be anchoring this post to Cathy's.  Others will also be sheltering there, so for a little calming distraction, do go there to look at other vases of garden flowers. Just by coincidence Cathy has a 'nautical' inspired post, so whether you are anchoring against being blow way by the wind, or seeking refuge in a safe port, may you find moments of calm this week.

 If Grace can withstand the rains and winds then she deserves to make this week's vase.  I have posted vases with Grace as late as December, but there are not many more buds forming at present, maybe because we have been lacking in Sunshine.  Here against the yellow lampshade the blushes on the outer petals shows up nicely.



The Arum Italicum is showing nicely in the shady border, and the sedum is on its last legs.  Over the stormy period I have watched as  gusts tug at and cast the many petals like confetti, but now is the time to bring a few of the last buds indoors.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Six on Saturday - 15 November 2020

 Another mildish week, with lots of rain and wind, and some intervals where sun has come out has made popping out into the garden a possibility. Had The Prop who gathers us under his sheltering post each week, talked about planting so many alliums in pots, that may have sown the seed of the idea and I may have planted the tulips in pots. For tips, inspiration, plant admiration and the general camaraderie that is created each week, do go and enjoy Jon's post, and those of other enthusiasts.

(1) I managed to plant all my species tulip bulbs, but a couple of days later had the low sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Most gardeners recognise and know that feeling.  The soil looked further loosened and the mulch scattered.  Yesterday as I stood at the study window I saw the culprit: a very plump grey squirrel digging through my neighbours pot.  When I told Mr S how much the bulbs cost, he said that amount could have bought him an engine for his railway layout, and that does not get eaten by the squirrels!  Sadly the species bulbs are now out of stock.  Should I decide to put in a repeat order next year, I will plant them in pots in a very secure manner and only set them in the garden when they are growing well in the spring.

(2) I wonder whether he who dusts had a little mishap with one of my houseplants.  He didn't say and I am not asking.  When I saw a little soil on the windowsill, I decided to take the whole pot outside to investigate.  The problem was that all the roots had in effect died and reasonably healthy looking top has separated.  It could have been that I was a little zealous with the watering, which caused the stem at soil level and the roots to rot off.  The only solution was to rejuvenate it by selecting a few of the good shoots, preparing some fresh well draining medium and repotting the

 


 Crassula perfoliata var. falcata or var.minor, which I last did in February 2018. I shall try the cool and dry winter cultivation advice. The little nibbles on the leaves were collateral damage from having spent the summer in the garden exposed to all the wandering insects.

(3) The weather been just right for shrub moving.  At least I hope so, time only will tell.  I used to have a thing about Myrtles and still have two or three.  I propagated a smaller plant of Luma Apiculata Glanleam Gold to bring to this garden, and it had been planted far too close to the fence and too far away for me to enjoy it without stepping across other plants. It got moved to form a little gathering of evergreen shrubs to lighten up the winter months.



(4) Fuchsia Silver Linings is continuing to grow nicely, and its flowers are still a draw for small bees still out during the warmer calmer spells this week.


(5) Another Shrub just coming flower is the Rosemary and it too is drawing in the late bees.  The older stems  left from the original structure are the first to come into bloom, but all the newer growth have small flowering buds forming.


The  three different forms of Rosemary I have are in great shape as they enter the winter.  This tall upright form was given quite a severe cut back in March, with the expectation of it being removed.  Since it has grown back very nicely and adds structure as well as some height, it is staying, and in the spring, I shall remove the older stems and have a fine rejuvenated shrub.


(6) The wild pollinated cyclamen coum seedlings most probably distributed by the ants are starting to emerge, and there are some lovely variegated leaf patterns emerging, I've checked and compared all the cultivars that I bought last year.  This new one is quite different, I see a dark Christmas Tree, on a silver background with the round leaf edged in green. Shall I name it 'Noelle'.  It needs to be rescued and planted individually to grow on, giving  Galanthus Blewbury Tart room to emerge.


The closest pattern cyclamen coum in the bed is this one, and I also have 'Maurice Dryden' close by.


With a very wet, stormy but warm week, I'll be able to garden in any intervals from the paths, but the ground is already too wet to work on.  Maybe I ought to take advantage and tidy out the shed, and plan what veggies I shall be growing in my very small potager next week.



Monday, 9 November 2020

IVOM 7th Anniversary

Why just the acronym?  Should it have been VOM?  It is seven years since Cathy made the call and rallied fellow gardeners together, and since then some of us have been posting on and off, but Cathy has been doing this each week bringing us together under the banner of In a Vase on Monday. The Challenge this week is to post an empty vase.  Having just gone over to Kathy's post after thinking of my contribution and writing it up, I now understand her interpretation of "A Vase with no blooms" I have also revisited the Challenge she set the previous week:

"Amazingly, next week is the 7th anniversary of In a Vase on Monday! On these anniversaries I like to throw down a challenge – this year, the challenge is to share a vase without blooms. We know that pickings become leaner as we move into winter, but nevertheless a number of us have still managed to post vases throughout the colder months – even without blooms there can still be material available to make a pleasing vase, so do give it a try."

You can tell that I had not read fully this to the end, or understood the challenge.  No blooms means no flowers, but there are other things in the garden such as seed heads and grasses.  All I can say is that Cathy has NO vase!  My speedy interpretation lead to my thinking of an Empty Vase.  Strangely I am feeling a little like an empty vase during these strange times: something is lacking, sadness at the state of the world constantly needs to checked and replaced by appreciation for what we do have:  weekly 'artistic' efforts shared and  friendships made across the world.

My Vase without Blooms:

I have a vase, one carved out of soapstone, which is almost impossible to match with anything from the garden, which is the reason it has not featured on any of my previous posts. 

My mother went on a Grand Tour of China in the late 1980s and brought back a few things, some of which she brought as presents on her next visit to the UK.  This soapstone vase is less than perfect, but as something completely hand made probably by a poor artisan, working outside the state infrastructure and sold on the street, it suits me perfectly.  My mother rebelled against the dictate to buy high end items from the state run shops only, preferring to support artists directly. 


This week, with  its own stone carved bloom which withers not for lack of water, neither fades under the sun. it is sitting in the middle of my stone table with a few finds from recent walks. 



Saturday, 7 November 2020

Six on Saturday - 7 November 2020

Six on Saturday in November is a tricky ask for me, but I am sure that The Prop will have managed some interesting ones, so I shall go there, link up, and get inspired by the other gardeners in the group.

1. First frosts of the season this week leave a pretty pattern on the outside roof of the conservatory, but no damage yet on the plants.


2. My order of  bulbs has arrived and now I must decide where the species tulips are to go in the front 'Mediterranean' garden.  I've been reminding myself of the height, colour, and the position I first thought of when I was ordering the bulbs.  My imagination exceeds the capacity of the garden, and will I remember where all the other bulbs are?  These will be planted with labels and ought I to plant them in pots and wait to see where to put them?   



3. A small pink flowered  'decorative' strawberry has been doing its thing out of season. I don't know its name.  The colour of the flowers isn't quite right for the garden, but I hope the birds have enjoyed the fruit.  



4. Hiding amongst the strawberry I am surprised to find cyclamen coum in flower really early. 



Cyclamen Tilebarn Elizabeth is showing plenty of leaf, hopefully it will keep its full flush of flowers for early in the new year. 


5. Now all the leaves have fallen off the small amalanchier trees in the garden, there is just a little sprouting of green leaves.  Please do not share this as I would not want all the 'druids' from Glastonbury trampling over the garden in admiration.  I remember smearing some seeds from a wreath I had made up three years ago. Orchards, poplars and many other trees in the are are festooned with mistletoe...


6. Scabiosa caucasica 'Perfecta Alba' has some strangely angled stems.  This plant was bought last year, but moved to this position in the summer.  I wonder if it is a disease such as a virus or a growth anomaly caused by damage from a biting insect, maybe a nematode?  I think I shall cut it down to ground level but not compost the material what do you think?


OK pretty poor pictures, but I did find some superb ones of Scabious taken by Brian Johnston of Canada.

Monday, 2 November 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Small and beautiful

Well this is one group that has no limits as to how many can meet, and no restrictions except those deemed to be required by Cathy our leader: In a Vase, On Monday, from your garden! But watch out as next week there is an anniversary challenge with Vase only.  This week just by coincidence Cathy has a 'Pink Rock' and pink flowers.

 Sitting on our conservatory table is this week's little vase.  In it are the fine dainty flowers of Serratula tinctoria subsp. seoanei, and to give some idea of size I am sure you all know the little daisy: Erigeron karvinskianus, and for greenery some stems of Phuopsis stylosa.

It is joined on the mat by three pebbles.  I love stone and pebbles, so much so that we chose to make walking surfaces in the garden of stones and shingle:  the crunch underfoot being one of the sound elements in the garden. This morning I have been off on a geology trip, probably the last for some time.



Close up the structure of the Serratula is mesmerising.....




From Royal Botanic Edinburgh 

"Serratula seoanei bearing terminal light pink coloured composite flowers. The regular segmented flower bud structure is worth peering at before it expands revealing the anthers packed within. These late flowers fade and the seed appears as a pappus of bristles."


Earlier in the week a friend sent me a link to Angie Lewin's exhibition in Edinburgh. Of course I enjoyed the virtual tour, and realised that there was a recent book she had illustrated: The Book of Pebbles.  I have a couple of other books, cards and notelets as I seem to drawn to her style of art.  


I've only just started on the book.  It is one to read slowly  savouring both words and illustrations. The first essay is called "On Chesil Beach". It is not so long that we spent a day there...


Saturday, 31 October 2020

In the garden at the end of October - Six on Saturday

The Propagator under whose wings we shelter has been busy refurbishing his nest, but will still be keeping a beady eye on his brood.  You should see his sweetpea seedlings...

Another week of rain and wind, and having developed a mood of acceptance, find pleasure in the garden at the close of the month.  I have heard over and over how grasses are so wonderful this time of the year.  Apart from Hakonechloa and Phalaris, I have none with the lovely seedheads, and don't really have an urge to grown them here as the garden is so small.  I have enjoyed watching the waves created on other plants particularly the fuchsias which have arching flowering stems, and Salvia Amistad as they are buffeted by the gusts.

 (1) Orchid Coelogyne fimbriata

This little orchid is enjoying the rain. This plant comes from The Writhlington School Orchid Project, acquired when one of their students came to talk to our gardening club. Our Chairman bought the plant and I was delighted when Alison gave me a nicely rooted cutting a year or so back. It is my only little orchid and I ought to learn more about looking after it!  PS I put all the links in, so that at a later date I can come back, and find the posts or sources for further reading. Isn't it great that a school project has given many students a wide range of skills and knowledge through this project.  They have an Etsy selling outlet, and I may just be pointing a few people in that direction should they wonder what to get me for my Christmas present!

(2) It time again for planting garlic.  I was delighted with the success and harvest from growing garlic the first time this year.  The cloves are still firm and look like they will keep in good condition until I can use them up.  I have therefore selected the best plump cloves and planted them out.  Mr S found my marking each one with an old icelolly stick quite amusing, he now understands why I sometimes buy him a multipack of mini ice cream lollies!  I've been saving these for a few years, and really if I don't use them for something like this, I may as well throw them out. I use these to keep track of where I was planting for spacing etc., and no doubt will be checking on where those first green pointed garlic shoots emerge during the next few months.


(3)  'Fledgling' plants are enjoying the rain like this Geranium sanguineum 'Nana', newly planted a few months ago, and flowering for the first time.  Hurrah geraniums are not the go to plants for garden molluscs!


(4) Each good gardener deserves a rest sometime.  One of my favourite birds to watch from the conservatory is the Robin.  My grandma used to call it Robin redbreast, and I thought this was very strange and almost thought she was being funny using 'baby language' to big me at eight or nine years old.  Well just how wrong was I...leaning lots of interesting things about Robins from this book, including the use of the term Robin Redbreast.


(5) Every good gardener deserves good socks.  I'm starting some socks for a gardening friend, and I have some West Yorkshire Spinners yarn called 'Robin'.  A little bird told me I could sneak that in as  it is a 'rainy gardening day' activity! I have no greenhouse in which to potter.

(6)  Jo Hynes is coming  to talk at our Garden Club next month.  She has the National collection of cyclamen, and I have checked, and sadly she is not bringing any plants for sale.  



Ought I to get myself organized and pot some of these little seedling up to share? I've just noticed the two have different leaf shapes.  Yes I have some named varieties but these two  came from seed 'foraged' a few years ago.  If I had a woodland, I would have one half carpeted with hederifoliums, and the other half with coums, with a few patches for other springs bulbs.



Friday, 30 October 2020

Friday Bun Day - using creme pat in a bun for the first time

 Inspired by Weekend Bakery's Cherry and Almond Cream Buns, today being Friday Bun Day, I set to yesterday evening, and made a dough and WB's crème pat.  I used Bake with Jack's dough recipe for this breakfast fruit loaf, mainly as I like egg in an enriched dough which I had used before.  The two loaves made back in August were super successful..


I just love a bake with a crème pattissiere, but made a slight twist on the recipe as I forgot and added vanilla pod, before realising that I ought to have added the almond essence instead.  Since I also love pain aux raisins which I have never made either, I made a sort of pain aux raisins crossed with chelsea bun.  The raisins are some very large black flame raisins which I had on the shelf soaking in Marsala. I made the dough and filling last night, and the dough rose slowly overnight.


Mr S earlier on was disappointed that I was making 'custard' infused buns..not his favourite..but now we have had one, well I wasn't going to make him something different today, he LOVES them!

 

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Somerset Rural Life Museum first time visit

 Mr S and I thoroughly enjoyed our two hours at the Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury.  We booked our slot and visited just before half term.  There is ample free parking at the rear of the Museum, with the entrance at the side of the great barn.



Outside in the 'farm yard' a farm horse in old iron stands strong and patient...'Punch' is a life sized sculpture by Artist Harriet Mead.

As a break we enjoyed a drink in the cafe, and how refreshing they had local apple juice!  

Lots to see, to read, and well worth revisiting with our annual passes...

Butter moulds...


my favourite...


The dairy industry and reputation of milk and cheese producers is without equal..."by 1950 Somerset had become the leading producer milk producer in England". 

The farmhouse kitchen set out as it would have been in the mid 1940's was filled with interesting pieces...and opened at just the right page for me, I have a Rhubarb and Fig preserve recipe!



And just as then, so we find Somerset people a friendly bunch, but not unpolished....