Monday, 29 June 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Threes

Feeling like something simple.....

 Aeonium Schwarzkopf 

Almost without colour except the dark summer near black of  Aeonium Schwarzkopf.


I heard that a friends lost her mother this last week, a sad event.

I have been pondering and contemplating the meaning of life.

I'm suffering from a 'surfeit' of being jollied along, of enticements to be stimulated, of changing variety.

My life is fine as it is, even the humdrum is good.  Analogy: my wooden bowl is beautiful, no need for gilding and glitter.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Six on Saturday 27 June 2020

Swifts, house-martins, and swallows are flying overhead by day and by night we have several species of bats, all seen whilst pending hours outside in the garden to try and keep cool. Mostly it is to escape the news and radio.  Inside I am reading blogs and gardening tips...a lovely pastime is reading The Props posts, and other joining in like me each Saturday

(1) Watching ants and their antics in the garden: a short video published on the Hardy plant Society web site.  Myrmechochory  has been going on in the garden here, I'm observed ants carrying seeds across the gravel garden.  Cyclamen will be coming up in strange places next year I am sure. I am sure the ants are farming the greenfly on the runner beans, now in flower, from the tubers which overwintered in the ground.


(2) Garlic Harvest: This week it was time to harvest the garlic. A quick wash to remove the soil, or the roots would take too long to dry,  and now these beauties are hanging up in the shade with good air circulation.  Since I grew this lot from five fat cloves from a head I bought last year. I shall grow some next year from the largest and best head. Some of what I thought were fat single cloves grew two shoots, giving eight heads in total. I may have harvested these a couple of weeks too early though, but they were starting to be overwhelmed by the Pattipan plants. There are lots of tips on the Isle of Wight site on growing garlic.

Garlic harvest 


Lettuce Royal Oakleaf

(3) I'm growing two types of lettuce in the garden at present.  I just love lettuce and salad, so this has saved many trips and supermarket plastic bags.  I harvest the leaves from the bottom, enough for each day, early in the morning, before it gets hot, and wash and pack it away in the fridge for later.  This variety of lettuce is said to be "heat-resistant, long-standing leaf ... produces large rosettes (indistinct heads) of oakleaf-shaped, dark-green leaves with thick midribs. Its tender leaves resist turning bitter even in hot temperatures" It is living up to its name.  Mr S likes smaller portions of lettuce!

(4) First flowering of Alstromeria.  This one came from the grounds of local Almhouses, and the gifter had never seen it in bloom.  I don't have many yellows in the garden, but it is a little pool of mango sweetness. At first I was a little disappointed, but they have grown on me.  


(5) Eryngium bourgatii with its silver marked leaves is just coming into flower.  The blues will get stronger.  The whole plant disappears completely during the winter.  During winter and early spring, before it emerges, crocus cover the area.  This year I waited in trepidation to see if it would emerge.  The plant has bulked out nicely from its small origins, and it was relief to see the first deeply lobbed silver veined leaves emerge.  At its feet is a creeping thyme now in flower and just in front, more sun loving plants. It survived the very wet winter pretty well.

Eryngium bourgatii



(6) At its feet, Origanum Kent Beauty is starting to show her pretty bracts. This is one of Elizabeth Strangman’s lovely hybrids.   From the stems pairs of  bracts are turning pink, as they mature.  Origanum Kent Beauty is small compact plant with flowering stems growing and floating close to the ground.  Collection a few of the types of origanums is fun and not expensive, and as the plants thrive in the dryish conditions, its not surprising that I am acquiring a few more beyond the Golden Marjoram that I have been growing for years. 

Origanum Kent Beauty

I learned this week on a walk on the top of the Mendip hills close by, wild marjorams can be found growing on the limestone thin soils. I happened to have a clump grow up in the very dry 'turf' in the front garden, some of which was saved, when I decided to remove all the turf from the garden.

 I am trying to compile information on Origanums, for now trailing through the internet.  If any one would like to share any stories, links etc I would be delighted to hear from you.  


Thursday, 25 June 2020

Exploring the Mendips - Up on Draycott Sleights

Realizing the rest of the week would be hot, we decided last minute to take our first walk using the car  to get us to Draycott, which is not far from Wells on the Cheddar Road.

With little preplanning, except to take a walking stick, a bottle of water and the ordnance survey map, we set off for a circular walk.  On our return I have found the walk with description and it is spot on.

As we chose to walk below the exposed cliff, we shall be sure to go again soon and explore the reserve further.



The walk up Batscombe Hollow was glorious, with bird song, and wild thyme covering the anthills, and great views over the Somerset Levels. The stone walls and stone styles speak of a landscape well loved, and cared for.  Beyond and up the hollow the early summer flowers were starting to come out.  At first I had trouble finding out the name of this small pink flowered plant.  Veronica came to my aid. There were several patches of common centaury starting to bloom in the close cropped turf.  On the west facing slope of the Hollow, blue small scabious were just coming into flower. Emerging common rock-rose: helianthemum nummulariun, and ant hills covered with creeping thyme  

Common Centaury

Common rock rose

Down on the levels the tree clad Nyland Hill is one of the many 'islands' rising above the drained levels with the water filled rhynes glinting like fine ribbons forming boundaries to fertile fields.


The one mistake I made, but on this occasion, was not a problem, is that without thinking I wore a bright red tee-shirt.  We had to cross a field with a herd of long horn cattle, which thankfully continued to rest under the shade of trees, simply checking our progress.  I did not even wish to halt to take a picture of them! I felt relieved when we reached the other side of the field and went through the farm gate.

Monday, 22 June 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Seed Heads and Summer Blooms

The garden is getting that mid Summer Look.  Seed heads, Fuchsias and Penstemons this week.  The Love in the Mist are seedlings from last year crop, which ought to have been weeded out much earlier, the poppies with no name, the Fuchsia a hardy one but with no name, and a lovely deep purple Penstemom.

Cathy has prompted me, and on consideration, looking at the form of the plant, shape of flowers etc., I believe that it is Fuchsia Riccartonii.  

The Vase is the bottom of an Arts and Crafts period Pewter biscuit barrel, that has a lovely lid.  It usually sits on a kitchen shelf along with some other pewter bits.  The mosaic birds were bought from  and made by my friend Helen Clues who is based at the Farthing Gallery in Kenilworth.  We just happened to be invited to a soiree just before we moved, and I fell in love with the Lovey Doves as Mr S and I are....



The Penstemon was given to me by neighbour Val, which was from a cutting from one bought by her mother.  It is a lovely plant too, and yesterday I took cuttings.  We shall see in a few weeks if they have taken.  


As for the lack of names, I could have posted a 'wordless' IAVOM........Cathy who gathers us together has a very colourful arrangement, together with a great story woven around her theme of Bright Eyes.  Do go and have a look, other too will join in, and well worth a dip into, not only for lovely arrangements from home grown flowers, but dotted here and there good prose, photographs and gardening tips.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Six on Saturday - 20 June 2020

At last some rain, two days or more of continuous rain this week. Hurrah! The Prop under whose 'umbrella' we gather on Saturdays, has some lovely plants, so do go and have a look.

With a couple of days inside I still managed to get some jobs relative to the garden done: sharpening secateurs, and cleaning all my old labels ready to use again.  There was a time I could remember the names of all my plants, where they were planted and when.  Those days have past, so labels are necessary.  I have also made a plan to write labels for all the plants that I wish to give away.

(1) One of the plans, a few weeks ago, was to rationalise the number of plants I need to take in, in the autumn, as well as the number of plants in pots.  Rather than face that dilemma in October, I decided to repot the majority and offer the plants on our gardening club Facebook page.  I had two succulent enthusiasts call around, and with all social distancing rules adhered to, there were two very happy gardeners.  It was great to meet up with two fellow club members, and to send plants to good homes.  Two really beautiful Aeonium Velours went, and now I have just this one, newly potted.  Many other succulents  also flew the coop and I have just one or maybe two of each cultivar remaining, for myself, but just one of these lovely aeoniums, since I have plenty of material to propagate again should I wish to.


(2) The Penstemons have begun flowering and are doing very well following a severe cut down in March.  This is a pass along from Val my neighbour. It looks a little like King George V.



(3) As soon as the rain eased off yesterday, I just had to get out into the garden.  Some of the lemon verbena: Aloysia citrodora, was harvested, ready to dry for my winter supply of teas.  Not surprisingly, a few cuttings were taken. As he inside was not looking, the bench doubled up as work bench, and when I was finished, everything wiped down and put away. He doesn't mind really, but I am a messy person, doing several things at the same time.  Another thing I ought to work on!



(4) Growing a few veg: Once upon a time,  I spent hours at my allotment.  I still like to have a little corner to pop out to, with herbs and a few other small patches of edibles.  I had sown a few peas to harvest as pea shoots, and after nipping a few ends, the plants ended up in the 'potager', size in opposite relation to the grandness of the title. I have picked a surprising number of peas, which end up playing a prominent role in canapes, risottos, etc. Something I wouldn't do with the very good ones that come frozen.

 Here the first garden peas star on some bruchetta; we had one each. One chicken liver slice and fried in butter, topped with 'verdure' from the potager,  deglazed  with brandy which had been used to soak dried cherries, on a small slice of home made sourdough.  I bought a lovely organic chicken from a local artisan producer at the market on the first day opening after over 12 weeks, and it came with all the innards, just as they used to come years ago. 



Next year, I shall grow some mangetout....


The lemon verbena which grows slap in the middle of the potager, will be moved at the end of the summer, as I hope this way to make a little more room for veggies.  The cuttings are an insurance in case it hates the move, and keels over.

(5) Things can get a little out of hand, or out of proportion.  Is there such a thing as giant fennel, growing to over 2 metres?  It did look cute with delicious feathery leaves which were chopped up for salads only a few weeks ago, but was it the sunshine, or is it trying to have a look over the next door fence, or the other way to the levels?  Next year I'll try Florence fennel, and buy my fennel seeds from the grocers!


(6)  Just how many spots and which way round?  Or stripes? Lots of two spotted and other ladybirds in the garden as well, which is why I am holding off dealing with the black and greenfly for now.





Let me also mention the larger animal with stripes, whose appearance made our wedding anniversary completely memorable.   After never having seen a badger alive, one day this week I saw one run in broad daylight just the other side of the wall, and on the following evening, as we were finishing off our special meal, one came in the garden, drinking from the bird bath on the ground.  I had wondered why and how the freshly filled bowls, were nearly empty and pretty grimy every morning.  I now surmise that it was not from all the early birds having their morning wash, but that the badger had been desperate for water during the dry spell.  I reacted quickly, and did not want to waste time taking a picture,  and shooed it off,.  The bird bath won't be left on the floor overnight again!  A quick sighting is fine, I would rather my garden remain a haven for frogs, slow worms, and grass snakes.  After cutting Mr S's hair yesterday, I scattered the clippings along the boundary, I hope the smell of humans may deter it.