Monday, 30 September 2019

In a Vase on Monday - Gleanings

At this time of year I find myself tidying up the garden, and making the most of gleanings.  Annuals are being cleared in advance of heavy rains.  Being outside, even if gardening in the drizzle, the different quality light makes different colours sing......

Gleanings:  pot marigold and cornflowers.  Cornflowers are a native and once grew in corn fields in England, and although not a field marigold, I can imagine people may have put a bunch of gleaned flowers in a pot  for centuries.  I've saved seed from the cornflowers to grow again next year.

Tomatoes red and yellow from the garden are gradually being eaten up with late salads which include nasturtium leaves and flowers, and petals from the cornflowers and dianthus.

Cathy has riches in comparison...pop and see what she is showcasing this week.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Six on Saturday - 28 September 2019

It has been a busy week, working on the garden in between all the showers, so that I won't need to walk on the claggy clay, and also empty the many pots of plants which have been holding plants for the new front garden. Autumn is on its way....The propagator who hosts this meme is of the same opinion.

(1) Bulb planting this week:  Puschkinia scilloides var libanotica planted when I dug up  Crepis Incana, and many alliums in the front garden, in the gravel garden, and daffodils towards gooseberry corner.

(2) You may well ask why I dug up Crepis Incana.  It happens to be one of my favourite plants particularly as it flowers in July.  However it does not set viable seed in the UK according to various sources, and the seed I did save and sowed came to nothing.  I lost my first plant after I thought it had flowered its socks off but was able to source a second one.  On this one I did not let it flower itself to death...and has survived several weeks in flower and now has good leaf formation.

I did however read that it can be increased by (3) taking root cuttings.  I love propagating, but have never tried taking root cuttings before.  I dug up the whole plant, my heart in my mouth, and looked at the roots...I wish I had taken a picture at this stage.  I would normally have made a division at the crown, but thought the plant more like to survive with a root or two taken off rather than the central stem cut in half.  Off the main roots there were small fibrous roots covered in nodules.  I have no idea whether this is standard for Crepis Incana.   The plant is now in a sunnier position, with good drainage, and hopefully it will make some new roots in time for next year.  I have moved the pot of cuttings out of the rain, as Crepis Incana suits drier well-drained conditions.

(4) Just how many bricks can one dig up in a space 40cm square?

They say it is all in the preparation, that it is giving the plant the right conditions, looking after the roots, the bits you can't see.  As plants are moved out of pots, they do need to have the best conditions. (5) Viburnun plicatum 'Mariesii' is one of those shrubs that looks gorgeous in the spring time.  This spring the shrub bought from Rocky Mountain nursery  had its second year in a pot....

now in its position in the border adjacent to our neighbours

(6) Tidying the garden and getting some of the many pots planted out invariably means making room by cutting back and the inevitable seed saving.  I use an old stash of dinner money envelopes, but have to stick them down as the glue has disintegrated! one of the blue cornflour seeds is starting to germinate!

Finally Kay, a good friend from Kenilworth who reads my blog, emailed me and I am sure she won't mind my sharing this

I have also been spending more time in the garden trying to catch up on potting up all the lovely little self seedlings in the gravel.  I don’t have the heart to green bin them.  I will have to stop pushing odd pieces of pruning’s in pots as I now have quite a few rose prunings’s which have taken and are more than ready for new pots.  I am being very careful and taking lots of breaks to enjoy the garden.  I have been told to stop buying plants by ‘him indoors’ as we have no more space.  I buy them for one space, try it for a few days then decide it will look better somewhere else.  He’s very lucky I leave them in pots until I am happy otherwise he would be digging holes we didn’t need."

I own up to many of these qualities.....except I do all the planting and Mr S asks when am I going to reduce the number of pots as promised...they are going down fast this week.....

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Late August Break

Right at the end of August we had three nights away, taking ourselves away from bare floors, and the smell of fresh paint.  The weather was still ridiculously hot, dry and sunny, and a little rest and recuperation was needed.  I was a little below par and was not in the mood to take many pictures.  

However there were some lovely moments.  Our drive down to Topsham entailed a drive through glorious quiet Somerset and Devon countryside.  Our first stop was at Illminster, where we stretched our legs, had a little look around some antique shops, and admired some of the local architecture, built in honey coloured limestone, of which this is an example.

Fairly centrally placed was 'Ilminster Art Centre' called the Meeting House. We approached  the building as it looked open, and enjoyed looking round their gallery.  Here I found the book set for our reading group, right in the middle of the book selection, so bought it!  It was a strange moment, I wasn't really looking at the books, they were set out randomly, and I hadn't any idea what the book looked like, and my memory for names and titles of books is such that I have to write things down, yet my eye caught it.  I felt it was a moment of serendipity.   It was order from the library, so later went on line and cancelled it.  

At Topsham we soon settled in our very large room at the Globe, overlooking Fore Street. From our comfy chairs in the bay, we had good views out towards pretty buildings and trees and the Church. Streets with fine merchant houses, meant evening and morning strolls were a sure success, and at one stage we were followed by a cat for several streets.  We enjoyed watching the sun go down along the shore front as we decided what to do for dinner.

Towards the south part of Topsham, walking out along the Strand past the excellent Museum, at which we spent a lovely afternoon, no photographs allowed, we came on a circular walk.  I love peering over walls, when they are sufficiently low, and was delighted to see the little copse full of cyclamen.

Mr S fancied taking the train from Topsham to Exeter.  The station was easy to walk to, and we could spend as much time as we wanted to in the City.  There was a little rain at first, but it was lovely for a change!  We had a walk down to the Quay and mooched around Antique shops etc, and bought some local honey from a friendly very elderly gentleman sitting by his table.  What a lovely person, we heard his story of how he had retired and moved down many years previously and had several beehives on his flower rich meadows jjust up the valley, and just loved coming down to meet and chat with people.  His honey is lovely by the way.

In Exeter, the Cathedral green has a low wall by Cathedral close...Mr S was walking slightly ahead, when I decided that I would stand on top of it, to take this photograph.

But with shopping bag, camera, umbrella and handbag I felt hesitant about jumping down.  A gallant Japanese tourist, out with his young family, came to my aid.  I wonder whether he has a mother who does the same sort of thing?  Anyway he bowed as he let go of my hand, and I bowed too in thanks.  What added to the moment was this inscription at our feet.....we both smiled.....

I think I shall have to read again,  a few more of his poems, and a little more about William Blake.  A few years back I had a little period of reading some novels in which William Blake featured. 

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise

After a good lunch, we set forth in search of the 'Turkish Deli' to get some Turkish Delight...the sort I had at the Cafe at Bideford Pannier Market on our holiday in the Summer.  The owner has given me a piece, but only bought to give out with coffees, he did not have any boxes for sale, but he was happy to tell me where he had bought Exeter!  Of course there was Pomegranate and Pistachio Turkish Delight, and we added some large juicy dates to our basket too.

The Museum in Exeter is another must, and after a little while there, decided to return another time, out of School holiday time. It was packed with families. 

On our home-bound journey we stopped off at Bicton Botanical Gardens.  Maybe it was the time of the year, or our moods, but we were on the whole underwhelmed by the Park.  Yes, it had its long vistas and is well set out with the Italianate garden.  The tree collection is worth walking around.  The iconic silhouette of its curved roofed glass house with its palms is fine, but I felt the planting in the borders rather lacked luster, and the collection of Pelargoniums meager and plebeian.  The place seemed to concentrate on being a 'Venue', and a place to take children for things like soft ball, train rides etc, and the Museum needed a good clean and dust....

We stopped off at Ilminster again and had a nice lunch set in the garden area of the Meeting House..and then off home.  Back home I spent a couple of days resting........feeling much better at last.

Monday, 23 September 2019

In a Vase On Monday - The Oriental Influence

 Yesterday I felt I just wanted to be out in the garden quietly thinking and pottering around, and follow my inclination at the time to carry out little tasks.  It was gently raining, warm and steady, but non the less, out I went.  Was I appropriately dressed?  No a summer frock and my 'going out' mac which was hanging off the hook in the utility, my crocs and no socks.  Really I ought to have had someone following me with a large umbrella over my head.  However I was perfectly content and went round almost in a meditative state.

My Japanese Umbrella Pine Sciadopitys verticillata, in its pot,  was moved to a more prominent position away from the shade of the house,  now the more gently autumn sun is less likely to scorch its leaves.  Just a little light prune yielded two stems and these inspired this week's IAVOM.  I didn't want to waste these precious and beautiful, well in my eyes, twigs.

Koyamaki is joined by Kiku which is the Japanese for Chrysanthemum, and is a symbol that represents longevity and rejuvenation.  To insert a little point of light a few blooms of Japanese Anemone Honorine Jobert.  The green central boss is appealing and the golden stamens are similar in colour to Chrysanthemum Dixter Orange.  Japanese anemones are native to China, so I have no hesitation in placing my Chinese Terracotta soldier in the frame...

I remember my father returning from Japan and amongst other things, he brought a pair of platform wooden shoes for my sister, and a picture of her balancing round the house in her Chinese pygamas  and 'stilted' shoes has just come to mind., strange how these memories just pop up from ages ago.  Also that was the year I danced the Dance of the China Man from the Nutcracker Ballet on stage, and I just a tiny bit peeved that I didn't have a pair to wear...but I love(d) my little sister, and I remember the feeling not lasting more than a day! 

Cathy has a lovely delicate arrangement this go and have a peep!

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Pelargonium myrrhifolium var. coriandrifolium wins plant of the month

Its only this year that I joined the HPS and the local group.  Yesterday I went to the meeting, and just before leaving grabbed my pot with Pelargonium myrrhifolium var. coriandrifolium.  It was repotted in my new Jacky Duncan pot earlier this year.  Only a couple of weeks ago it had been admired, and I had already taken a few cuttings.

They have two tables for showing one for plants, and one for specimen stems....

It was quite a surprise to hear my name announced as winner of the Plant of the Month...

I bought the original plant two years ago from Stourhead, where they have a well presented collection in their Pelargonium house, and usually have two or three interesting plants for sale in their Shop.

Monday, 16 September 2019

In a Vase on Monday - The Great Dixter moment

One of the plants that caught Alison's eye on her visit was this Hardy Chrysanthemum Dixter Orange.  She also admired the way it was growing through a patch of purple Verbena rigida which carried on from the previous years: " Christopher Lloyd colours" she said.

This week's vase was put together to showcase Hardy Chrysanthemum Dixter Orange.

Supporting cast: Purple Sage,  Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon', flowers and leaves of Persicaria Red Dragon, and better seen from the other side dangly Origanum Bristol Cross begs for attention, as she has been doing in the border since early July.  I only acquired this plant this year, and it has been an absolute joy.  I understand that it dries well, so I shall put some stems in a vase with just a tiny amount of water, and see how they behave.

Verbena rigida and a couple of stems of Nicandra physalodes with their interesting purple and green seed pods, complete the vase in homage of the great man.  We were about to visit the garden over ten years ago, when we had to suddenly return home...of course a visit is still due, and I think it would have to be in September.

The garden is teaming with insects..and when I looked close saw a Native Green shield bug had photo-bombed the event!

Green Shield Bug - Palomena prasina

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Teucrium Hircanicum

Having seen Teucrium Hircanicum growing in at least two gardens, one of which is Alison's, over the last couple of years, I was delighted when Alison brought me a little plant.  She brought it over on the day we went to the Bishop's Palace Rare Plant Fair.

It will be cosseted, which means watched, watered when needed etc.  and has plenty of space to grow.  Yes I have noticed I mispelt Hircancicum on the label, and it will be corrected. Today it was planted out in the space vacated by a plant which today was planted in the front garden.

I went on the hunt for more information on this plant and came across an interesting post which just happened to have a Forest Bug on the same post.  Another example of serendipity....another interesting and informative blog on plants and insects.

Whilst I was out in the garden I noticed a pretty 'Shield Bug' on the Fuchsia...From my Complete British Wildlife and also 'Nature Spot' I was able to pinpoint this as a 'Sloe Bug.

If anyone thinks it is something different, please do comment....I like to observe, and don't have much knowledge in the area.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Six on Saturday - 14 September 2019

The Propagator where we all link in to show and tell about six things in the garden, has some Autumn beauties this week.

During the week I read the update of Kind Heart and Corydalis's Oak Tree.  With a small garden, it is lovely to have a view of trees.  

Just over the wall is a (1) Holm Oak: Quercus Ilex.  I have come to learn to love it on many levels.  Through the seasons many birds come to feed on insects and also seek shelter.  Gold crests flitter around and this year came down to bath in the birdbath.  In the autumn pairs of Jays come to collect the acorns.  The leaves which don't decay and fall mid summer at first seemed to me just wrong...but I am using them as a surface mulch...and the Hedgehog is delighted with them....

(2)  POTTING ON:Phlox divaricata subsp laphamii ‘Chattahoochee’ has lavender flowers that each have a darker center.  I fell in love and bought this plant at the Malvern Spring Show this year and of course a little plant came back with me.  

It was doing very well in my shady border, but when I was tiddling...that is what my husband calls my fussing, adjusting, checking on, and cosseting my plants, I broke a couple of pieces of the brittle stems.  Of course, nothing is wasted, and I set small pieces in compost. The cuttings were set in two small 10cm pots, and placed in the shade in the garden early July.

From the first of July until 13 September, close to eleven weeks, this is how well they have taken, with a few good roots.  In the cool of yesterday evening, I made up three pots with new compost and hopefully they will come through the winter, and in spring planted in the border when I will be able to see where all the now dormant plants are.

What I love about the garden is that it is possible to share plants with friends.  This week three gardening friends have spotted different plants and this has led me to spending time 'making' plants.  

(3) Ledebouria socialis 'Silver Squill' was ready for splitting a large pan has yielded several pots, one of which has now been handed over, and the remainder are ready to be taken to the HPS member's plant sale.  

(4) Pelargonium myrrhifolium v coriandifolium was repotted earlier this year into a tall pot which suits it beautifully and suits the form of the finely divided leaves.  Again two friends showed an interest.  Continuing on with the theme of propagation, here some small cuttings were taken...

(5)  Front Garden Project The front garden has been prepared and is now ready for planting...after much dithering, I have decided for now to plant out sun loving Mediterranean type plants....succulents will soon be removed, making space for bulbs etc.  Mostly I have plants coming on or being transferred from the back garden.  Great prunners and loppers with extending handles were gratefully borrowed from a neighbour to further shape the Amalanchier Trees.  Each piece kept as they make useful props for plants that need a little support.

(6) Fruit Harvest of the unusual kind:  Berries of Mahonia Aquifolium

I shall be making Mahonia Gin...which tastes wonderful, a flavour a little like Pomegranate...but should I find some Fuchsia Berries, I may also experiment with some Fuchsia Gin too! 

Monday, 9 September 2019

In a Vase on Monday In the Garden and Kitchen

Early September and wonderful weather: dry and sunny we are taking full advantage and spending as much time as possible in the garden.  After our visit together, yesterday, to the Bishop's Palace Rare Plant Fair, Alison, met through IAVOM, came back here for coffee and cake in the garden.

On the garden table was a  little arrangement:  seed heads from the agapanthus, purple Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon', and calendula, grown from little plants from Jean.

The front garden is now prepared and ready for I scour the back garden for those plants that I had earmarked for being moved to the front, trimming them to make bushier, and inadvertently knocking brittle stems of Rosemary, I end up with a little 'cook's or Kitchen arrangement..a little posy of herbs I could use in the kitchen: Purple lavender, Sage tricolor cream edged with purple splashes, and rosemary.  The heart shaped tin contains my heart shaped biscuit cutters.....

Today a little rain is forecast. I hope there is sufficient or I shall have to go out watering again this evening after coming back from watching Five Seasons The Gardens of Piet Oudolf with a couple of gardening friends.

Cathy has posted daisies today and is the hub of all things in a vase this weeks, as every week......

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Six on Saturday 7 September 2019

I working hard to get the front garden ready for planting, which explains that it is rather late, but still has turned cooler, but the soil despite a few showers is still dry but more easily worked.  Who knows what I may bring back from the Rare Plant Fair tomorrow at the Bishop's Palace?

The Propagator must be something...gardener and marathon runner too.  He has some more beauties this do try to catch up with him, if you are fast enough, something soon...

(1) Pseudowintera colorata Red Leopard, an unusual New Zealand Plant. First bought in September 2016 and finally liberated into the garden a couple of months ago. Most entries state that this is a plant for a sheltered woodland site, however I have it in a nook by the house on a south facing wall, but with the return, it is shaded till about 2 pm.  I've had it three years in a pot during which time it has been moved around playing its part in various pot arrangements.  In New Zealand chefs are using this plant as a 'pepper'...something which I shall be exploring and experimenting with.

(2) Pittosorum garnettii is another favourite currently a 'pot plant' in the garden.  With its pretty cream edged evergreen leaves, it is great for adding interest and structure in the garden both summer and winter.  My last plant was left in my previous garden...and just looking back, I found a picture of it performing magnificently with red roses..., and am just wondering whether I can live another year without Munstead Wood?  There too it was a plant in a pot for two or three years before getting planted in the garden.

(3) unknown, which I have kept going for several years, but is performing particularly well this year after being re potted in the spring.  I fear this one may not be hardy, so it spends winters in the shed.

The colour is very nearly coral...

(4) Aster amellus  King George is a behind the other Aster Monch in coming into flower.  The stems are stronger and the flowers slightly deeper in colour and larger too.  It doesn't suffer from mildew and where it is has tolerated the hot and weather pretty well.  It has taken some time for this plant to establish, and really resents being crowded and is best not being overshadowed by other plants.

(5) A couple of days ago when I was looking to see if some of my cyclamen where coming up towards Acer Corner, I found a large pile of leaves...the tough type which fall from the Holn Oak, and was about to spread the leaves, and suddenly it moved and I had a little was a Hedgehog.  I am so very delighted that just thinking about this makes me smile!  

(6) Japanese grass Hakonechloa Macra Aureola planted in pots is just coming into flower.  Here they have Salvia Amistad waiting final placement.  Although it looks fine here unfortunately these two need different conditions: the grass shade, the salvia sun....

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Plant of the Month August 2019 - Dianthus superbus

The herbaceous plant of the month, in my garden,  for August 2019 has to be Dianthus superbus.  Slipping into September, it is still sending out its wonderful perfume..

In this September picture Dianthus superbus shows the seed heads, and when mature, seed will be harvested and shared with friends.  Various sources recommend cutting down spent stems to encourage fresh flowering.  Next year when I have more plants, and  no need to collect seed, I shall experiment with the best way of managing the plants in the garden.

I first acquired a plant after admiring the form of the bloom in a friend's garden.    In a Vase on Monday, a few weeks ago, it was on trial, and I am pleased to say that we have had no effects indoors, so it is low in allergens as far as we are concerned...yet it filled the room with its gentle and sophisticated perfume.

Last year the small plant flowered with a couple of stems only, and from seed from theses scattered on a piece of nearby soil, I had a few germinate and grow through the winter.  I transplanted a couple of seedlings in May into the gravel garden, and this is how they look this week. I am hoping that with a more open situation and less competition from other plants they will be even better!

I have cut back some other plants and came across the remaining of the seedlings growing in situ where the seed was sown,  which, in comparison are not as vigorous as the ones above.  The open situation and the gravel mulch have led to a couple of good strong plants which promise many flowering stems next year.

In the original planting position this is my first plant, shielded from the sun in the morning by an evergreen oak, but having plenty of light from late morning onwards. A little early correct staking would have been useful..but it may well have been planted in the wrong place...and ought to be in full sun?

Only yesterday flicking through the August copy of Gardens Illustrated in an article named 'The Outsider', I came across a description by Hannah Gardner of her trip to the Jungfrau Region in Switzerland.  Hannah came across a huge colony of this plant growing on a sunny grass bank. It is an excellent article and well worth reading in its entirety.  Here is an extract regarding Dianthus superbus:

"Later near the base of the infamous north face, covering a sunny grass bank, I found what I was looking for - a huge colony of Dianthus superbus, in every shade of pink from deep magenta to the palest blush rose.  This is a plant of mesmerising fragility that belies a resilient character.  Its native range extends through Europe, Russia, Japan and south to Taiwan.  Tall, slender branched stems terminate in scented feathery flowers consisting of five, deeply lacerated petals that have a tendency to droop slightly, giving an air of languid nonchalance."

Close up in my garden I love looking at the blooms....

Blooms with 'languid nonchalance'
Do you have a favourite plant this month?  I am waiting for Brian Skeys to come up with his and then will link up with his...Yes he has and what a plant..from June to now from a tuber, rushing to learn how to bring these beauties alongZantedeschia Contor.  I am going to suggest he puts his cultivation notes up for us to learn.

Monday, 2 September 2019

In a Vase on Monday - September Posy

So it is September....I feel that the year is slipping away,  the summer months have flown by.  There are still a few plants showing their best but here and there seed heads are testimony to this time of year when plants are preparing for another year to come.

Love in the Mist seed heads are turning purple.  These were white Nigellas, and thinking about this in the garden, my eye was drawn to the lovely white Dahlia Gallery Art Fair, and this led to the others for the vase: the stripy Gardeners' Gaiters Phalaris arundinacea, Fuchsia Hawkshead with its fine white flowers and green tipped buds, Salvia Amistad,  with more purple in Verbena rigida to bring out the purple in the seed pods.  I have often used the spent seed heads on Verbena .  As the Lamium is flourishing with quite a good show of flowers, a bit of that too...and then a bit of yellow to have some contrast: golden rod.

The only thing I just could not get the picture right...but you get the idea.

As for books just completed....

On the topic of mental health and serious problem parents....not one to read if you are feeling delicate.  However interesting topic and style.

Then as a good counterbalance I have just finished.  Finding towards the end the editing was a little rushed...but a great yarn. Maybe I just read too fast towards the end.... As usual I had to have my little piece of paper with the names of characters and their relationship to each other.  This one was recommended to me by Anna I think, and thanks and apologies if I had the wrong person!  Yes well worth reading....