Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Pelargonium myrrhifolium var. coriandrifolium in flower

This species Pelargonium from the cape area of South Africa has the possibility of charming anyone interested not only in this species, but also in complex leaf structure.  A prostrate, rather straggly, plant with finely cut, lacy foliage and root fairly easily. 

and pale-pink flowers with red veining on upper petals have a charm and elegance.  A maximum of three blooms to as stem.  It is best to encourage multibranching to get as many flowers as possible, and it is possible to give it a good trim to rejuvenate the plant.

Monday, 27 April 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Small and sweet

 Cathy's vase this week is full of 'Nighttime sophistication and glamour' in contast to mine, which is very small and a sweet collection of flowers in bloom.

This morning I was removing the swelling seed heads from the dutch iris when one broke off by mistake.  Joining it is Ajuga reptans, the standard green one which has some fine flower spikes, and the white and yellow Corydalis  ochroleuca aka Pseudofumaria alba, both  from Alison C's garden.

The lovely dainty small white daisy with pink on the opening buds is the ubiquitous Erigeron karvinskianusThe small pink very sweet smelling head of flowers is Androsace sarmentosa Watkinsii.

For the last few days I have had this one rose on the mantleshelf.  I was given it and I was totally humbled that someone who has gone through the mill recently, remembered me and picked the first rose of the season.  It is called Just Joey.

Below is the tiny watering can with a couple of feathers found in the garden..

After having my own knitting on hold so that I could get on and knit the baby jackets etc., I have finished my latest pair of socks:

Friday, 24 April 2020

Six on Saturday

The Prop has an interesting assortment in his SOS.  Something for everyone, and my favourite the first rose!  Here are six things from my garden this week.

(1) Sometimes nasty things happen and one cannot decide what the best medicine would be, without incurring collateral damage to insects.  Plum leaf curling on Mirabelle de Nancy caused by Leaf Curl Plum Aphid?

(2|) Purple foliage is looking handsome in the garden and contrasts nicely with the fifty shades of Green in the garden.  Taking pictures has made me realise that a slightly different juxtaposition  would make a big difference.  I'm one of those gardeners who frequently repositions plants!

Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon' and Geranium maculatum Elizabeth Ann are not doing each other a favour.  One of them will have to be moved...or both, but not next to each other. I think the Euphorbia was self seeded.

( 3) Persicaria Red Dragon is standing out nicely and will soon highlight the wonderful apricot colours of Rose Grace.

(4) Loropetalum Fire Dance is flowering once more 

(5) Androsace sarmentosa Watkinsii starting to flower....

and within a few days

Getting down low to remove a few leaves meant I found out where the wonderful scent was coming from.   Androsace sarmentosa Watkinsii has a really wonderful smell and not one that caused any reaction....

 (6) Red Campion: a native plant, planted as a plug plant, looking lovely in the conservatory bed.

Again  growth spurt means that daily walks around the garden are a must...

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Well enough now to cycle

Glorious sunshine and a need for some gentle exercise.  The hills which I normally cycle up had got harder and steeper...all conquered by getting off and pushing the bike up.  First swallows of the season seen perching on the wires in this village.

Just had to stop...for a rest really...and take a picture of this Wisteria in Wookey.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Easy parsley growing

Have in mind where you want your parsley to grow.  It could be in the soil in your herby area, or mixed in with your flower border, in a tub, or window box.  Prepare the soil as best you can. Add a little fertilizer if you have any, remove any weeds.  It does need a little sunshine, four hours a day will do.  Water the soil well.

Choose your pot of parsley from the supermarket.  The better type for splitting would be one that is on the young stage that is not root bound, and not too crowded.  In these times you have to go with what is available.  Water it well the night before.

Take it out of the pot.  Decide how many clumps you want.  This one pot could have made six or eight.  I wanted four.  If you wanted just one in the garden, I would say still divide as you want the maximum of four little plants in each clump.  You can always put some back into pots to put on your windowsill or give away.

 Here I've put the divisions between my garlic.

Water well.  Remove some of the larger leaves carefully with scissors..use in your next meal...lovely on scrambled eggs.

If you have some fleece or old net curtain..use this to offer some shade for the first few days.  Give the little plants a good watering about once a week if they are in the ground, more freqently if in tubs.  Don't over water.

This way you have parsley for at least a year.  After that being a biannual, it will bolt.  Best start again. 

There is lots out there about parsley, this is just a short post to inspire you to grow easy parsley the easy way.

PS I took five of the fattest cloves off a head of garlic which I bought to use in the kitchen last August from Frances,:a local back garden grower of herbs and salady things, who has a small local band she supplies to.

Monday, 20 April 2020

In a vase on Monday - Bleeding Hearts and Baby clothes

Remaining cool and collected that is what we ought to do. .....

I am finding comfort in my regular home activities.  One being of course the weekly flower arranging and post.  The weather is glorious: bright and clear, a little on the cool side, which is my favourite type of day.

Centaurea montana alba, 

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' little forget m enot blue flowers

Hylotelephium erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn'

Lamprocapnos spectabilis Alba

The star performer happens also to be one of the most attractive plants in the conservatory border this week.  Much easier to say is "White Bleeding Heart".  Its flowering stems from which exquisite white blooms hang,  arch gracefully sometimes half hidden by the bright green foliage. 

Lamprocapnos spectabilis Alba
Many of us are putting on a brave face and adjusting to the new regime.  I realise that things out there are extremely serious, and for some very hard and dangerous.....

Another diversion has been 'emergency' knitting for twins boys yet to be born:all the baby merino yarn was already in my stash.

I may yet knit a full sized kimono jacket for myself.  The colours just happen to match the vase today, so I felt it had a place.

Cathy will be rallying  several of us...and for a few moments we can loose ourselves in the beauty of home grown blooms. 

Another Polenta Cake

This time, in the Polenta Shortcake,  I used dried apricots soaked in calvados, left over crystalised lemon peel home made from the freezer made for the Christmas 2019 baking sessions, chopped almonds, etc.  Baking cupboard items are slowly being used up. There is enough polenta to make a third with what fruit and nuts are left....

Back garden activities - Refurbishing the bike

Our back garden activity yesterday in the gorgeous spring sunshine: bicycle refurbishment.

The charger or rather my work horse, aka Giant Bike XS, is now in tip top condition. It had its spring wash to start off with.  The car wash and wax liquid was used, and the wheel arch brush.  There are all sorts of cleaning systems for bicycles, and this is just one up from washing up liquid in terms of the myramid of 'stuff' available.  Then Mr S took over. New tyres and inner tubes were fitted, and all breaks, gears etc checked and adjusted as necessary. 

My Knight in bright new coveralls below, had invested so much time in the series of second hand bikes his parents presented to him in his youth that he has amassed the series of bike maintenance skills that I can only but admire.  He was rightly proud of the lovely brand new bikes he later purchased when he started work.  

Just over a week ago, once both of us were feeling well enough, we thought we would set out for a little ride on the levels.  We set off  and only made it down our hill, when investigation of the rubbing noise led to the conclusion that we ought to return home with me pushing my bike.  The back tyre was seriously worn, and having been pumped up, the inner tube was causing a large bulge.

Mr S spent some productive time on the pc, located a good deal, and we were quite amazed with the good turn around with the bike bikes, inner tubes etc. delivered this Friday.

I use my bike to pootle to town, and for almost all my shopping and local journeys, find parking the bike a doddle and the journey quick compared to the car.  It also limits my shopping to the capacity of two large very green panniers!  I use the term pootle but I have often had comments about the speed, and had people admire my 'electric assisted' bike. I am happy to 'correct them with a smile on my face'.  So it may be hard to cycle up the hill with a heavy load of shopping, but I see this as my quick moment of exercise, and if I can make it to the drive without getting off and pushing the bike, I am as pleased as punch.

My bike is probably good for another four years, except of course for the off wash, and pumping of tyres.  I've had this one since March 2011, so I guess 9 years for tyres is pretty good.

We'll be able to get a little farther than our little circular walk and spy some of the lovely old cottages around.  This pretty one with wysteria on Burcott Lane  was a picture on Saturday...

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Six on Saturday - Back garden activities

Checking in with the Prop who gathers all of our cuttings together in one great compost heap under comments of his weekly post.  I for one often get great ideas from reading them. This week I find the idea of obtaining Geum 'Totally Tangerine rather tantalizing!

With fine warm weather at the start of the week, we have enjoyed having lunch and morning coffee in the garden.  All around us the insects are buzzing,  New this week has been a Humming Bird Hawkmoth which must have overwintered, and on Thursday Mr S had to rescue one from the conservatory, at the same time as an Ashy Mining Bee, which is very distinctive with its black and white furry  stripe on the thorax and black shiny abdomen.  At last a little rain on Friday, and this morning plants appear to have grown overnight.

(1) Painting the bench and table....

A job I ought to have done for some time.  I even began to wonder whether the bench was beyond redemption.  We have paint in stock, so under the current conditions: reduce the number of journeys and that includes the person who comes to deliver things, shut down recycling centre or the opportunity to offer this to maybe someone with a lotti, I decided a refurbishment was in order.

I put this down to my exercise for the day, on account of the numerous squats, bends, lifting etc. 

With help, from Mr S, in that he had to go looking in his beautifully ordered storage for all the components: sand paper, scaper, luckily in store a full tin of paint, dust sheet, tin opener, protective gloves, paint brush. I set to work and just went at it methodically.  Sanding and preparing one day, and on Thursday two coats, finished in time for the glorious rain on Friday. 

I first painted the old bench blue as a bit of a pick me up in 2008, This must be its fourth coat of paint.  The bench is now over 20 years old! The table is cherished as it was made for me by my friend Steve, from old pallets.

This is our shaded lunch time spot now with a smart table and bench.

(2) Lurking under the bench all winter has been a fuchsia.

Usually it get far more protection.  Mr S was wondering whether it was in the 'ready to be despatched' section. It must have started flowering unseen about January.    A re pot, trim and good feed in order I think to bring it back in due course to a reasonable standard.

(3) Iris in flower

Miniature Iris Knick Knack

Mystery Dutch Iris

(4) Gradually picking up leaves brought down by gales earlier in the week. It was either too hot and evenings were spent watering, or I had benches to paint or whatever....maybe next week. Evergreen oak leaves take long to breakdown and tend to blot out the light from small plants, seedlings etc, but made excellent hedgehog bedding.  For now I am laying them along the edge of the stone wall.

(5) Rather than picking up leaves, I have been stepping across to inhale the wonderful scent of the apple blossom on Apple D'Arcy Spice.

Apple D'Arcy Spice in flower
(6)  Enjoying some of the 'whites' this week....

Dicentra cucullaria detail

Dicentra cucullaria

Clematis Moonbeam

Lamprocapnos spectabilis ‘Alba’

Monday, 13 April 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Easter Flowers

Last night we had high buffeting winds but no rain.  As I listened to the storm I wondered how the flowers I had cut last night were faring outside on the garden table and wondering whether I would have to pick shards of broken glass.  First light saw a falling in the wind, and I was able to bring in the flowers and jar unharmed.  The garden is strew with leaves from the evergreen oak and it will probably take me all week to clear them.

In the Caithness glass vase: A few dark purple heuchera leaves together with  Narcissus Thalia, Pulmonaria Sissinghurst white, and Centaurea montana alba.  The Narcissi in particular tend to bring out sniffles in this household.  However I love arranging flowers and if in doubt, am really glad to be able to share them with neighbours. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what other gardeners will have brought together as they join Cathy for this weekly get together....Cathy has posted a new car boot sale vase and some tulips.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Easter Saturday

 We have been 'staying at home' and only going out for exercise and very rare food shopping.  Today just before lunch we combined our walk with a step into the Grape Tree Health Foods for essential replenishment for nuts etc.

The streets were extremely quiet, and if we saw a pedestrian in the distance, it was easy and quiet enough to stand in the road, or cross and walk on the other pavement.

The moat benches around the Palace were clear, and only one family out with their toddlers taking the air and trying to ensure a special exercise time.  In a normal year this walk would be buzzing.

Sunshine, clear air and a pair of ducks....not sure which ones.

Six on Saturday - 11 April 2020

Each day this week the garden has been my little centre away from the world and our troubles.  For a couple of days I was almost voice is returning slowly as I reach a new equilibrium...

The Prop this week is showing some interesting tipbits, and I was amused by his use of the name 'Born Survivor'.  Do go and to his post and enjoy seasonal displays in home gardens.
In searching out more details on his Narcissus Pipit I happened to fall on Avon Bulbs which is not far from us, and due to cancellation of their shows have a large range of plants on special offer.  I realise only a few of us may be within the 15 miles radius, but maybe checking with your local growers may be a great help to them, if you are able to buy, and stop the waste that is predicted will happen as plants are destroyed.

Last week I was tickled by the name 'Wakaranai' for the small acer, suggested by Hortus Baileyana. Many thanks for advice, comments, and the wit of the Six on Saturday Community.

(1) Chaenomeles speciosa 'Geisha Girl' is flowering for the first time this year.  I bought it in January 2019  by mail order from Ballyrobert Gardens.  I was somewhat underwhelmed by the size of the plant when I unpacked it.  Hopefully it will start to put on growth this year.  In January I am apt to get garden blues and send off for plants.  I am going to write myself a list of does and don'ts... 

(2) In the conservatory border the Tiarella catch the early morning sunshine, and seem to glow.  Even the leaves on their own are pretty.  Further round the bed I have a named variety 'Mint Chocolate', which is continuing to progress after a rather poor year last year.  

(3) Narcissus Thalia emerging pure white is glowing also in the pure clear air.  In several weeks of dry weather, an overnight shower of rain was most welcome.  I had hoped to stage this one at the Wessex Daffodil Society's exhibition at Henton where our gardening club holds its meetings.  We usually help on the day with teas etc, and there is a separate section for us 'general local amateurs'.  The Society judges are always kind, and offer us some good tips and advice not only on growing but staging.  This one flowers late in the season in time for this particular show.  Last year I entered for the first time.

(4) Mahonia Aquifolium Apollo, or is it? One of the garden's original shrubs must be being visited by every bumblebee, honey bee and insect in the vicinity.   

(5) Geranium clarkei 'Kashmir Purple is providing a rich bluey mauve.  It lovely to have hardy geraniums in flower so early in the year.  The plant is Geranium malviflorum identified as a Summer dormant variety by members of the HPS Hardy Geranium group.

One of the three plants in flower 7 April 2020

This is the plant when it was flowering soon after I bought it last year from a grower at our HPS plant fair.  Not long after flowering it died down.  I was afraid it may have died.  Up it came for its 'autopsy'.  The roots were in a fine and plump state with good underground growth buds.  In accordance with my inner propagator, I divided it, and potted in three separate pots of good compost, it was in leaf all through the winter.  In early March I planted each one in separate parts of the back garden. 

In flower last year before it went into Summer dormancy

Was it summer dormancy?  I shall follow the growth pattern of the three plants this year.  Another question: Is this Geranium Clarkei 'Kashmir Purple or was it a wrongly labelled plant?  I would like to know, but would I swap it for some of the examples I have found on the internet?  No this is a keeper for sure.  It is not Clarkei 'Kashmire Purple'....

(5) Making do and using what you have is probably what we have all had to do over the last couple or more weeks.  Last year my neighbours cut down some bamboo, and  some of the canes crossed the road and had been languishing all winter down the side of the house.  As my Clematis ‘Scented Clem’ (syn. SUGAR SWEET Blue)  was fast outgrowing its little cane tripod, a larger structure was required.  I either like organic shaped supports 

Last year's photograph.

the alternative would be to buy some ones like this cream one holding up Clematis Olympia.

Unfortunately for me Tom Chambers have discontinued their cream range.  With long handled loppers, and lengths of copper wire, which were ready to go to the recycling centre but it is closed, lots of patience regarding disentangling the clematis, I give you.....Notice the pink Pelargonium capricorn in flower.  In the heat conservatory plants and succulents are cooling down in the garden.

Trial trellis for new Clematis Sugar Sweet
(6) It has turned hot the last few days...succulents have been let out.  Of course weather forecasts for night frosts will mean moving them back to the conservatory! Hence the succulents on the shelves and Pelargoniums perched on pots.  The hose has been taken out of the recently cleaned and tidied shed...even the floor has been washed!