Monday, 22 February 2021

In a Vase on Monday - February miniatures

 Arriving late in the day to In a Vase on Monday. I expect Cathy who hosts this weekly get together was bright and early.  

The first small vase is in celebration of the first week in flower on the miniature Tete a tete daffodils.  Having seen primroses in flower when out for a walk with Janette this afternoon along the lanes, I was happy to pick some from the garden to remind me of this.

The second little vase are of three different cyclamen coum together with stems of Hebe Silver Dollar.

Hope the coming week finds you enjoying your garden blooms. 

I would love to share this as pleasant way to pass some time during the week.  I had this link sent to me by the Galanthophile section of the Hardy Plant Society.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Six on Saturday - 20 February 2021

 (1)This time of year a variety of birds flock to the garden.  The come for both water and sunflower seeds.  Am I being too generous?  I had to pick off a couple of caterpillars with my own hand, and left it on the wire basket on the feeder.  I am surprised this robin had not gobbled it up, but I think he was too busy keeping guard on his patch. As soon as the temperatures rose, birds came to the birdbath.

At first I was quite excited to have this pheasant fly over the wall, but not so, when he started to try the crocus.  He was soon chased off, but he has been returning every few hours for several days! I am seriously considering removing the bird feeder once spring starts.  The garden is starting to look like a previous garden where all my bantams were running around free range.

(2) Some may be willing to run out and cover plants with fleece, but I'm not one of them.  Here Phlomis purpurea Matagallo has been severely nipped.  I think with it having been very wet, it just could not shrug the icy conditions.  It needs a cut back, but I wonder if left, the foliage will help protect the stems? Will the outcome be  removal and something altogether hardier sought to  fill the gap?

(3) At its feet a few Iris Reticulata Harmony have survived.

(4) Elsewhere the excessive rain and cold temperatures have taken their toll.  Will it be complete removal, pruning, and cuttings taken?  This is a ground hugging and soft rosemary, and my favourtie in cooking, so I may try to salvage some of it.

(5) Salix chaenomeloides/ gracilistyla 'Mount Aso' is great for a little spring cheer.  I think I need to try a different pruning regime, or maybe even a Chelsea Chop.  I would like the shrub to be a little bushier.  The strong prune I gave it last spring has resulted in some very strong, long lax stems, albeit well covered in pink catkins.  As they were emerging I was powerless to resist going out and picking off the little coverings which at that stage were balancing on the ends. Hope some botanist can come up for the name of those little bud coverings.

(6) Like a spoonful of honey to help the medicine go down, this arrived completely unexpected by post on Wednesday when I had my injection: Yes the one: Galanthus Trumps with hearts on all petals.  One of the side effects of the vaccine is that whatever is felt, nothing can stop one for going out to pot up the Galanthus, even in the pouring rain and strong wind.  Bulb and gardener now sheltering and resting up for a few days.  

The other activity which has helped me shift the blues this week is thinking up items for this weekly post.  Looking back over previous Six on Saturdays, I can see how plants  fared in previous seasons, and realise that the garden is simply going through its usual winter blues too.  Thank goodness for the Propagator who thought up this weekly get together and has persevered keeping us together. He is still running and finding things to do in his garden.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Snowdrops in a Vase on Monday

 I've already featured Snowdrops in a Vase  this year, but why stop at just once a year?

During the week via the bush telegraph, which is via WhatsApp they days, I learnt that one of our netball team lost her mother.  When I hear of such news, my heart goes out and I also think of my own mother.   Even though it was snowing, I felt I just had to pop a card and a little posy on our team member's doorstep.

I added some Rosemary for remembrance, and to reflect my mood a few leaves of Black mondo grass Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'.  The snowdrops growing in the front garden, together with their greenery, were tied together with a little raffia,  which was in a glass jam jar, in case my friend was out.

I am linking this post in with Cathy's, which feature upside down vases and not quite snowdrops.  With love to all our mothers....

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Six on Saturday - 13 February 2021

 It has been bitterly cold this week.  Some of my plants are looking decidedly frost bitten. The soil which had been washed quite flat by the torrents of rain, has the heaved up frosted look. This hasn't deterred the Prop from getting out there and seeing to his roses, or even setting out this morning for his every so long run.  That chap has stamina, and determination for sure.  Each Saturday he sets the pace and leads the pack the whole way: a marathon for sure.  Thanks so much: us supporters will be hanging on your coat tails, for 100 metres or so in my case.

No snow except the finest slightest sift of snow powder was left one morning means that there are a few winter bloom opening in the garden.

1. A pale and interesting cyclamen

Cyclamen coum 'Maurice Dryden' has been out in bloom since the New Year, and if and when the sun shines, it is a joy as it catches the low winter sun.

2 Crocus are  displaying their charming goblets..

Crocus chrysanthus var. fuscotinctus  is the only yellow crocus planted in the back garden, and easy to spot. 

Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple' and Crocus sieberi Firefly are also out: Firefly is easy to spot  with its flash of yellow at its throat.

3.Hebe silver Dollar is looking 'pale and chilly'.  It is a small slow growing hebe, but ideal for a small garden. The colours appear to be more noticeable than during the summer.

4. I bought a Snowdrop called  Galanthus elwesii, a few years ago, and from some seed have now two or three newly flowering bulbs.  I was quite happy with this as the original one has 'disappeared'.  

As the bulbs are flowering, I decided to pick the blooms. I thought this way the bulbs can build up and produce some good reserves for next year.  I noticed the beautiful heart shaped lower green mark on its inner petals with a thin green line leading to the upper mark.  Two green marks on the inner petals, and stout blue green leaves are characteristic of elwesii.  

Since this snowdrop is in bloom for Valentine's day I am naming this one Galanthus elwesii Valentine. I brought them onto the desk to trawl the internet to see if I could identify it.  Someone suggested it could be Lodestar, but the heart shape on these is very distinct.  To Mr S: My Valentine.

5. Corydalis Beth Evans is just emerging in the Conservatory bed.  A couple of days of warmer weather will see a splash of pink.  Oh the anticipation!!!!!!!!!!! From one plant a few years ago, I now have a few in the bed.  I love the way these Corydalis, with their beautiful foliage, come up. Corydalis flower in Act I Scene II, as the snowdrops wane , and they quietly melt away and then are followed by late early summer beauties.

6. A few years ago, on trawling the internet, I came across Andrew's blog: Kind Hearts and Corydalis. Later when I joined this weekly get together, I was delighted to see that he also posted here mainly about his favourite set of plants.  He is now at the stage in his life/growing corydalis and similar plants to launch out and follow through by selling his plants. Yesterday my first order arrived!  Talk about showing how packaging should be done: absolutely delighted to receive perfect plants, all nicely labelled.  

No soggy packaging, no escaped soil or grit: Corydalis solida 'Purple Beauty', Corydalis integra, Corydalis solida 'Ruksan's Red', and another Corydalis malkensis to add to the two already in the garden.  The Corydalis malkensis card a beauty too! 

The plants have had a water, and with a couple of hours of good light, they were looking very perky, and were shrugging off their travel  weariness. Until day time temperatures rise above five degrees, they  are being sheltered in the cool conservatory  then they will be out in the garden: most probably on the display shelf.

Monday, 8 February 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Good packaging

 Sense at last: paper and other biodegradable and plant based packaging is on the increase.  Where once we would have bubble wrap, strong crushed up paper is being used more and more. 

 Instead of posting exactly the same vase as last year, here are some little iris reticulata again this year, with paper packaging as a background!  

Bulb sellers may wish us to replant each year, but I much prefer to try and keep plants from one season to the next.  Two stems of Iris reticulata Blue note planted in 2019, and one of Iris Harmony planted in 2018, each flowering for the first time early spring the following year.  Blue Note is the darker one. It is a wonder that we can grow such dark attractive flowers which are perfectly hardy to give us joy so early in the year.

A few diminutive leaves from Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Little Tabby' completes the small offering. Of course the best of packaging is the outer protective coverings of the bulb itself. 

For wonderful props, back stories, and flowers, the best thing is to visit Cathy and see her Monday offering together with ones from other gardeners.     

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Six on Saturday - 6 February 2021


Thank goodness for Six on Saturday and being able to read posts from other gardeners.  Jon collects all these, and makes a good job of supporting us all with his master post, and support with comments in return on ours, should he have time.

In a week that seems to have been the soggiest of a very wet winter, interest in matters botanical and a little light activity in the garden has kept me sane.

1. Let matters gardening keep us sane.  Find just one thing, if you can, to focus on and be in the now.  My little Buddha which I have had for yonks catches snatches of the even shortest moments of sunshine.

2. His temple however is not so resilient: it needs rebuilding  rejuvenation, repotting from time to time.  I read somewhere that if it has cooler temperatures during its 'dormant' period it is  more likely, as with many succulents,  to flower.  It last flowered in 2014, about three  regenerations ago.  Crassula Buddha's Temple is looking  sturdy after its previous refurbishment last summer.

3.  It may have rained, snowed and frozen but the 'sacrificial' pot of echeveria elegans, planted out at the end of summer last year,  is hanging on in the front garden.

I have as many as I need sheltering in the conservatory, one of which is at the side of Buddha's Temple above.  This is a super easy succulent and works well as a house plant or, in mixed summer planters with other succulents and as bedding in the garden: all coming from a single original plant given to me whilst I was judging gardens for Kenilworth in Bloom.

4. Each winter I 'suffer' from too many birds visiting the garden.  On one side there are the wonderful moments when flocks of long tailed tits can almost bring a tear of joy, then to counter these the ever breeding wood pigeons lumber around the soil, snapping off irises, and flattening the soil.  Each time I prune or have some spare twigs the worst areas end up protected with a little thicket.  I have added some twisted hazel branches given to me, and can tolerate the eyesore by persuading myself that it is a little piece of art installation.

5. Last week I picked up an order of snowdrops from a local grower, and have been contemplating the different structures, and very careful observation can tease out differences.  Here in the plant labelled as Jaquenetta there are several distinctive curled but longer petals in the middle. I appreciate help and Cathy and Anna have been supporting me with help and advice.

Early this evening I shall be joining a zoom talk on Galanthus by Anne Repnow.  For members and visitors to various gardening group, there are some fabulous lectures via zoom.  On 20th Febraury there is another lecture on a group of interesting plants: Euphorbias:  Timothy Walker – ‘Euphorbias: Probably the Best Plants in the World’

6. This week I received my copy of The Flora of the Silk Road.   As I cannot get out there and enjoy finding and observing plants in the wild, then this is the best thing. With all the knowledge of  authors Basak and Christopher Gardner and the quality of their pictures, this book will bring me hours and hours of interest. Only a few days previously, I joined a zoom meeting via the Somerset branch of the Alpine Garden Society where Christopher Gardner talked about the richness of the flora across a vast stretch from Turkey to China.  He was at home in Turkey. This lock-down has opened up the opportunity have having speakers from around the world.

My mother often used to spurt out to me,: "If Mohamed can't go to the mountain, the mountain must come to him."  Yes she knew she was using it the wrong way round.  This is because I used to try and look for things, then just sit down and sulk, and someone would need to fathom out what it was I wanted, and bring it to me. I think this trait all started when I call only crawl, but having been indulged, it could be said to be a small flaw in my character now. 

Looking up the meaning of the saying, one source gives it as: If things are not going your way, you'll have to adjust to the way they are.  Is that resilience or adaptation?  May blessings come your way.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Beginner's mistakes or luck when choosing snowdrops

 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and given a selection of snowdrops I go for the ones that make me smile.  I am not a collector or galanthophile, nor have the sort of brain to hold all the differences, but maybe that comes as a result of years of study and observation. It is the cultivation and care that I enjoy. 

 With all the zooming going on, it has been a bonus to be able to join in with lectures and to this effect, I have now joined in with the Galanthus arm of the Hardy Plant Society, after hearing about the talk on Saturday by Anne Repnow all the way from Germany.

I went to collect my order from a local grower, and having viewed the snowdrops picked up a couple more plants.  How could you not?

One snowdrop which really appealed when I saw it, but it was not on my list.  It was also too cold and wet to get my book out.   I could not remember why it rang a bell.  I had read up about it, that I remember, but I could not remember its details.  Its name was Galanthus Jacqunetta, and it was indeed a fine one.  But is it Jacqunetta?  Jacquenetta on the left and Hippolyta  on the right side by side.

Hippolyta is flowering with shorter leaves and Jacquetta has a longer stem.

The plant labelled as Jaquenetta on close inspection the flower does not appear to resemble any pictures I have seen, as it lacks the green markings on the outer petals.  I wonder whether it has been mislabeled: by that I mean the labels being mixed up?  If any one recognises it it would be much appreciated, if you would post your suggestions below.

Galanthus Hippolyta

"One of the last to appear, but one of the best, beautifully formed, rounded bells, filled with neat, green edged petticoats. One of the Greatorex doubles. When established makes two flowers per bulb. 20 cm"  the Description on Beth Chatto's site is a clear description of the flowers on the pot on the right.

The reason the name Jacquenetta was familiar is that it is one that Anne may have a spare bulb come the summer.  I am hoping Anna will be able to compare the one I bought with hers.  

Cyclamen repandum, Galanthus S Arnott, Zwanburg, plicatus and Elfin have also been added to my collection. I hope they will all be good doers.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Snowdrops - In a Vase on Monday

 Here is my little vase on the first day of February.  A few snowdrops brought in from my little clump of Lady Beatrix Stanley.  Thinking of  Anna whilst arranging this. There is a lot of symbolism associated with snowdrops: one of the them being sympathy and consolation


The Song of the Snowdrop Fairy

Deep Sleeps the Winter,

Cold, wet, and grey;

Surely all the world is dead;

Spring is far away

Wait! the world shall waken;

It is not dead, for lo,

The Fairs Maids of February

Stand in the Snow!

                                                                                             Cicely Mary Baker

I am joining Cathy and other bloggers this Monday: do go and see what is up in our gardens this week.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Six on Saturday 30 January 2021

Time again for Six on Saturday in a week when I could write about six types of weather, but that would be too boring, and your brain may fog over.  Don't despair The Prop will have gathered several of us and no doubt we shall hear from gardeners several hopefully from some who have had better weather.

(1) It was very cold start of the week: cyclamen coum brought a spot of colour as the blooms poked up above the meagre sprinkling of snow. This couldn't help but bring a smile to my face.

The auriculas Nessun Dorma ought to brought under shelter to keep away from the wet?

If these had not been  brought  under shelter as well as all the other small pots, they would have most probably been washed out of their pots: the rain on Thursday night and during Friday was the heaviest I had seen.  We have more of this to come today!

(2) By the middle of the week, the weather became unusually warm.  Windows in the house and the conservatory were opened, and this gardener could not just sit on her hands.  The old tatty gasteria was in imminent danger of being thrown out.  It had worked its way to the back door ready to be thrown out.  Of course it has once been loved, and had been potted in an old hand-thrown terracotta pot,.  

On one of my forays before the times of being able to locate nurseries on the internet, and the era of 'Garden Centres' as we know them today, I came across an old nursery.   It wasn't so neat and tidy, but it grew plants.  It had  stock plants from which it grew seasonal plants to sell.  It seemed that tomato plants and  garden plants like wall flowers, and biennials etc. were their stock in trade.  They were also small market gardeners. You would walk out along rows, and the old gardener would dig you some up and wrap them in newspaper.  I was very young and starting my new garden.  He had fuchsias, succulents and glass house Chrysanthemums too. I got to know the 'old chap' who in the glory days of the nursery was one of the best producers of glass house tomatoes for the area around, and loved to welcome callers.   Behind one of the glasshouses I found a mountain of clay pots piled pell mell.  Many were broken but I could see one or two whole ones.  I asked why they were like that, can only remember that he explained that plastic pots were now what people wanted, and he just used the broken clay to help with drainage along the paths etc. He said it was a shame to see them like that as some were as old as the big old house that had burnt down many years before.  He was only too happy for me to have two or three.  This was one of those: it has been with me ever since then.

Gasteria carinata v.verrucosa

A few of the old leaves were showing signs of fungal disease.  Time for complete destruction and a little post mortem?

The bottom of the pot was full of dead roots.  I learnt this week that this happens to the old roots every few years. After all the bits were separated, I found some healthy shoots and decided to clean up the pot, and start again, with fresh compost mixed half and half with grit. I

This isn't the first time of repotting, but I ought to have done it sooner. I only have a few succulents, and love having them around the house, in different places. I don't have a book on how to really look after them properly, and just check on the internet.

(3) As I had the repotting tray out, I mixed some suitable potting medium  and got cracking on potting up some rooted cuttings. Three of  Salvia microphylla 'Cerro Potosi', and three of silver leaved Artemesia Powis Castle, which I had taken as an insurance should my heavily pruned shrub not survive its hard pruning.  All six are being protected in the shred from further rain. It has started to rain, but it was still warm, and a treat to out in the fresh air.  I limited myself to keeping only a few of the cuttings: for myself and to give away. Jon The Propagator used an apt term this week: "one to wear, one to spare, and one for the wash".

(4) My well packed order arrived from Pottertons. The plants may be in their winter phase, but since 'the specials' were in very low supply, leaving it a little later would end in disappointment.

New labels are best written out straight away for : Gypsophilia tenuifolia, Origanum 'Buckland', Salvia cyanescens, Pelargonium endlicherianum, Silene schafta 'Ralph Haywood', and Viola pedata.  I saw the tricolour version at Birmingham Botanical Gardens a few years ago and the whole plant charmed me. If I am successful with this one, ie I can grow it reasonably successfully, I hope to find and grow the tricolor version.

(5)  Galanthus Magnet, from Cathy, (2018)  and Eranthis hyemalis.  When separated and replanted last summer, the snowdrop bulbs were repositioned  it seems too close to the eranthis, or even over the top!  

(6) Crocus sieberi subsp. sublimis Firefly/
Crocus sieberi atticus 'Firefly':  the second crocus variety in flower this year.  Not quite as bright a purple as Tricolour, however the gentler colours look great in the conservatory border.

I hope my gardening friends find something to keep them going and maintain their hopes, but also there are great memories that emerge during quieter times. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Regular walk round Hay Hill

 Stepping out from home our regular walk takes us round Hay Hill.  Today there was still a little of the light snow left, but the roads were just about free from ice except along narrow hedge lined sections. This morning it was grey with intermittent fine drizzle.

 Whenever we have been away from home, the view of the hill just before we turn off is a cherish view.

Particularly in winter when the paths get muddy, we stick to the lanes. We are able to walk all around Hay Hill and back, passing the riding centre at Burcott, walking through Coxley Wick and then down onto Hay Moor. We walk along Haymoor Drove, which is edged by Rynes that drain the levels, and then turn back home.  

There are some old trees characteristic of the levels, and a number of birds.  For the last few times we have seen two pairs of stonechats.  Today we spotted the kingfisher, buzzard, swans, crows, jackdaws, blackbirds, robins, goldcrests, different types of ducks. 

There is an old thorny tree most probably a Hawthorn from which sprouts a large spray of male mistletoe.   It is have a more yellow look to it on account of the male flowers.

I've been meaning to frame its lonely growth, no female in sight, for some time. 

 It was at this spot that we crossed with the farmer, who was checking out the water levels around her fields. We hovered and chatted for quite some time, it was a treat to chat to a person face to face. She mentioned that they also get snipe in the area, which we shall look out for, but we ought to bring our binoculars to view further in details across the fields.

On the homeward stretch we catch a view of the barn on  Hay Hill. Still quite a way to go but always the beautiful green grass and the tree topped Ben Knowle Hill on our left.

We alternate directions around Hay Hill.  We cycle around if we want a short cycle ride, but walk if we want a longish walk from home.  During the covid lockdown, we feel this is all we ought to allow ourselves! 

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Six on Saturday - Signs of spring

 Time again to gather together and share our weekly six things from our gardens.  Jon blogs as The Propagator, but this he is also turning into a 'runner' not of strawberries but miles.

After days of rain brought on by the latest storm Christoph, yesterday was sunny, and although no great task was accomplished, I took delight in the garden.

(1) Stepping out from our back door, the three oriental pots in which the deciduous small fern are quietly resting,  the soft green cushiony moss caught my eye.  Needing as much cool shade as they can get, these pots remain here except for a few days when their fronds start to uncurl, when I may move them onto the 'blue table' or the shed shelf, where I can see them from the kitchen window.

This is the  narrow alley leading to the garden

(2) In the pouring rain the closest Kitchen Herb', except it is no herb but a shrub, is my pot of Bay, also a major ant nest....

(3)  The sun has coaxed open the first crocus: Crocus chrysanthus Snowbunting.

(4) Lady Beatrice Stanley is a pretty double snowdrop, and a cherished present from gardening friend Anna. I have only a few specials and this is a one that is starting to bulk up. Anna suggested I might like to listen to last week's Radio 4 programme on snowdrops.  I enjoyed listening to Open Country this week, in which Alan Street from Avon Bulbs described his passion for snowdrops and discovering new forms. I don't know how long the link will last, but it is worth sharing this with you.

(5)Frost warning the natural way.  I can check the outside thermometer, via the base station, but it is much more fun to peer out at Iris Jane Phillips.  At the first hard frost she bowed down completely, but within a short time as the sun coaxed up the temperatures, she soon perked up. Jane Phillips has curtsied several times this winter.

(6) An hour of so in the sun is good for everyone 

I was moving around mindfully, and thought to move some leaves, luckily I was wearing gloves, and only using slow gentle movements, as I thought there may be snowdrops hidden below. The dome of leaves was a covering for a hibernating hedgehog. She made her own bed in between the plants and the stone wall, and to think some of the neighbours have set up Hedgehog houses, I shall have to share this on our WhatsApp group.

It looks as if we are to have snow tomorrow. Delicates have been brought into the conservatory.