Monday, 29 March 2021

In a Vase on Monday - End of March

 The clocks changed yesterday, which suits me perfectly as I had been waking up far too early.  At least now I am a little more aligned even though I know that the owls were hooting and there was a fabulous dawn chorus a little later on. Joining the arrangement today is the little bird whistle a present from my sister many years ago, as a mark of my enjoyment of the wonderful birdsong.  We had a song thrush hiding somewhere in the tree.  I decided not to hunt its position but simply enjoy its melodious song.

My vase today features three very pale daffodils which were growing only young leaves when we moved into this garden, some deep blue periwinkle or vinca major which was rampant and which I thought I had managed to eliminate. The Vinca was growing through  the Mahonia aquifolium which currently is buzzing with bees.  The sprig of Mahonia does not show too well in this shot but it is gently perfuming the air.

Each year my friend Jayne sends us an Easter Card.  I love receiving this from her.  It is the only card and therefore very special to have some kind hand written thoughts from her.  Cathy speaks of love today in the form of poems and posies,  acts of love surround me as well as happy memories of friends and sisters.  Happy Easter.....

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Six on Saturday - 27 March 2021

The clocks change tonight, and that means even more hours in the garden. I have now changed to making our main meal mostly at lunch time.  With all the zooms in the evening, this suits our current days, and it means we get to eat at a reasonable time too. Although I am waiting for our Amelanchiers to bust out fully, daily walks have become blossom watches.  For some sedentary blossom watching, a peep at some of the posts and indeed The Prop's blossom, following down the rabbit hole will be worth while. 

1 Sometimes a plant 'will grow on me', for now I am rather underwhelmed with
Tulipa turkestancia, When it is cold and sunless the flowers close and with the outer petals a pale grey green they are indistinguishable from the leaves.  Maybe when it gets a little warmer, and I can 'bond' with it by getting close up, my opinion may change.  Already I am finding tulips to order for next year...but I shall give this one two or three seasons  to 'improve'. Maybe when the sun comes out and shows me its yellow centre?

2 Another bloom which only gratifies when the sun is out is little clump of pink Anemone blanda Pink Star, of which I bought two and planted them out in the garden last February. It sulks if it is too cold or cloudy, as it has been quite often over the last week. Only one clump came up, the second has quite disappeared as have all the blue ones I have planted over the last few years.  All the blue ones that I planted over the last two or three years have disappeared. I may have just chosen the wrong place, or something has eaten them, or they have inadvertently been removed by me.  Frankly I am not that fussed!

 3.  I have just rescued this plant by removing the pile of leaves that was surrounding it and under which its stems had become soggy and damaged: Corydalis cheilanthifolia.  I blame the hedgehog for this as it has made a big pile of leaves against it and the stone wall behindI think it is time to propagate this one and have it in several locations to see where it is happiest. I shall try and capture some of the seed rather than dead head it. After mid-summer last year, I started to get some unusual flowers.  Having consulted 'Bleeding Hearts, Corydalis and their relatives' by Mark Tebbitt & al, I read that "in shady situations, under stress, or late in the season, it may disappoint you with small cleistogamous flowers, which lack a spur".  

4. Primula Lilac Lace needs tlc and regular division to keep it going: here in a mixed tub at the foot of a clematis, these extra little bits, which were surplus were planted rather than chucked last November,  are proving the point; aren't they are small and dainty.

5. For now my new Cyclamen repandum is just outside the back door, where I can admire it each time I look out.  In the narrow side alley it only catches a little light towards late afternoon, when its elegantly twisted long and slender petals seem to glow with deep but delicate self assurance.  I wish I had bought more!

Echeveria Elegans
seems to be at home, on the stone conservatory table. The advantage of propagating this easy succulent is that you can experiment with all your surplus plants. From time to time I just immerse the whole lot in a bucket of water, then drain it off. There is very little soil.  A clump of Echeveria Elegans has survived in the ground in the front garden, and has managed to come through all the rain, and several days of freezing temperatures, albeit with a few darkened leaves.Yesterday fell down the rabbit hole of the internet and found the person after whom this plant was named. the 18th century Mexican botanical artist Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy. I also found that it is not a 'tropical' plant  and grows at high altitude and often on cliff or vertical slopes, which explains its need for good light levels.

Enjoy the spring in your gardens and if in the southern hemisphere the autumn bounty.....

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Nexus Socks Complete


Came across this pattern again when I was sorting out my old copies of The Knitter.  Always loved this pair, and nicely photographed in mango, a favourite colour of mine.  Knitting this in WYS blue, which happened to be in my stash.

I looked up the meaning of Nexus: an important connection between the parts of a system or a group of things...

That sums up the pattern: a lace cable pattern and wave pattern interspersed with some other stitches.  I though it would do my head in, at first, but using colour coded markers to separate the groups, and keeping a log checked off after each row, I have managed to build up a rhythm and enjoyed this project.  Knitted in blue West Yorkshire Spinner sock yarn.

Just in case Kay is looking at this...I am still using the bag and scissor keep that we made in our little Kenilworth WI craft group under your excellent tutelage.  So many happy memories.

Monday, 22 March 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Black or White

I've enjoyed musing over a few recently heard sayings: you know the sort of thing you hear and such good catch phrase or a expression which give a short cut to ones feelings or experiences, is mused over.  One the Queen used recently was "recollections may vary" and now Mr S and I are using that and also may "differ in place of vary". I have recently been quite tired and felt I have had to draw back from some things.  I heard someone say regarding knowledge, or interest: "That is outside my bandwidth" so for now many of the things I may have followed through are now "outside my bandwidth".  I wish I could remember where I heard it so that I could give it the right attribution.

Picking flowers, arranging them and posting here is well within my current bandwidth.  You can have it in Black or White: now that was a saying that was thrown at me when I was young.  Now I am older I can see all the shades in between, what it may look like from other people's viewpoint, and the more tactful approach of not saying anything. Wise men have always known this:

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

 Attributed to the medieval philosopher Omar Khayyam 

Back to topic: A Vase on Monday Black (Dark Grey)

A Vase on Monday White ( A cream of some kind)

A few Silver Birch twigs picked from a branch I found on the pavement on my journey out for my dental check up: the first for around 18 months. A few stems of Pittosporum  garnettii speckled with pink on the fringes of its green and cream edged leaves, and a small bunch of grape hyacinth  plonked in a Caithness Vase forms this week's offering. There is a type known as Muscari neglectum, but I am not so sure that this is that one.  When I looked up and found that name I nearly let out a burst of laughter.  The bulbs were in a neglected patch at the side of the house, that I had only tackled last autumn, and I planted the bulbs well spaced so that I could see what would come up.  I knew at least that the bulbs were not the same shape as the hybridized bluebells which have still come up a plenty, even where I thought I had dug them all out. There are some much nicer Muscari around but 'neglectum' is a great one and will have to do for today.

Cathy's vase of twigs and stones artfully arranged is our  cornerstone this week.  I am joining her, as well as many others again this Monday.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Six on Saturday - 20 March 2021

My spade is getting twitchy and I am finding that I want to move plants, or divide clumps: last week it was crocus this week it is my clump of daffodils that I forgot to move when dormant last year.

 "The ideal time to lift any bulb is when there is no root growth to disturb or damage. For most bulbs that is when they go down for a summer rest however if necessary you can move them in full growth - provided you can do it with minimal damage to the roots. The reason I am planting this pot of bulbs out now is I can see the spaces in the beds where I want to plant them and I can get reasonable access. By the time these bulbs would be dormant there will be extensive growth in the beds and around the area where I am placing them and planting the bulbs then would cause much damage to those other plants so it a case of doing the job when I will cause least damage." Quoted from the Bulb Log Diary of Ian Young shared on the Alpine Garden Society's Members; Group Face Book Page. This is full list of Logs to which I shall surely delve many times.  I am reading one a day, and making notes!

I lifted the Daffodil clump "Rip Van Winkle", examined them all, discarded some, found a big Narcissus Fly Grub in the middle of a fat bulb. It was amazingly tough: I have to get my knife to slice it in half. Would this grub have been muching through all through the year?

2. Dicentra cucullaria is worth watching each day as it emerges.  This is a day later than I would have liked to photograph them in the leaf stage without flowers.  They appear like folded grey lace.  I now have two pans all from the original small pot bought in 2018. They just stay in these pots the whole year, that is up to now.  I would like to understand how well they grow in the ground, so may move the smaller pot after I have refurbished the shady border.

3. I have a little primula which I bought from a small nursery at one of the plant festivals at the Bishop's Palace.  It was labelled 'Blue Horizon' and indeed I did check up this name with the grower.  Maybe it is just one of those old cultivars that is no longer available generally. It is smaller than my primroses or primula Primula Wanda.

SOS companion Jim has written below and I am now incorporating this here: AGS Primula book lists 'Blue Horizon'as a julianae hybrid and describes it as a sport of 'Wanda' P.C. 1950.  I asked the question as to what does P.C. stand for, and a fellow member of the Alpine Garden Society kindly advised: 

P.C. stands for Preliminary Commendation which is the first level of awarded granted by the joint Rock garden Committee of the R.H.S. to plants shown to that committee. The next level is A. M. = Award of Merit and the highest award is F.C.C. = First Class Certificate.

4.Ipheions give little stars of brightness towards the back of the border. Soon emerging  perennials will hide the foliage.

5. Another plant with blue flowers but no so lovely foliage are some Muscari which I found when I attacked the jungle at the side of the house.  This border is still a work in progress, and the Muscari may well be for the chop. I shall have to decide soon as they are much easier to find.

 6. Flowering for the first time this year is this handsome Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii

This plant was handed over by my neighbour, in whose garden it had got too large, here it is right opposite her front window so there is no getting away from it.

A Zoom meeting later this morning from our local HPS will be the excuse to get moving and get all my chores done as earlier as possible.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Winter is over - Spring has begun

 Its true Spring is with us: the first wild Wood Anemone are out on Torhill today.

With some wild primroses, violets and a pair of nuthatches close by, our short walk was a pleasure.  Somehow both of us were washed out, so for the first time for ages and ages, we went by car just to the other side of town, and had a short walk up the hill and through the woods and back to the car.  The wild garlic is just coming up.

Monday, 15 March 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Mid March Storms


The last of the Daffodil: Rip Van Winkle, an old Irish cultivar are the stars of this week's arrangement.  They were 'rescued' after the very heavy winds and rains, and are well enough to make an appearance this week.  Echoing the form, a stem from Japanese Umbrella Pine Sciadopitys verticillata, a few long leaves from a crocus, stems of  Lonicera nitida 'Baggensen's Gold' and some darker green foliage of Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina the small leaved Myrtle.

I too have been through a storm: after a health scare this week which saw me having a ride across the Mendips to Bath, in one of those wonderful ambulances and several hours of checks, I am pleased to say that I was home the same day, and on the way to recovery.  A suspected heart attack and a BP of 237/93 meant there was no option.  The strange thing is, after the extreme pain in the chest in the middle of the night, in the morning I was feeling fine, and not being able to get through to my Doctor's for an appointment, dialed 111.  As we were on the phone, an ambulance was called, and they were on site within about 15 minutes. I now have my orders to phone immediately if something like this happens again, at any time even during the night.  I am now on medication and pleased to say the BP is moving in the right direction. I really feel for my poor hubby, and you should have seen his face when he came to pick me up. I think he suffered more than me! 

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Six on Saturday - 13 March 2021

1. "Beware do not plant mint" in your border warning to all new gardeners or old ones like me who did know better, but fell for the romance of  mint by water.  I spent a good hour trying to get all the roots out.  Yes: plant it in a pot, or a bucket, but not in rich heavy clay.  It was a devil of a job, and I think I shall have to watch out for missed bits coming up.

2. A new Corylus has been placed where I dug out the ice damaged Phlomis.  I decided to go for a shrub which would look lovely in the spring, rather than keep on with one which I would always worry about its tolerance to low temperatures.  I have a couple of that same Phlomis in another border, which can be cut back and expected to rejuvenate out of sight. In any case they were much less affected.  

I had been wondering around the local nursery, with no particular plan in mind, when I was drawn to a shrub., I knew I would want to give it a go. 

With the Corylus avellana Scooter the stems are more upright than a twisted hazel with with angular rather than sinuous side stems, having a kinked look with little twirly side growths, and it looks just the thing for my early spring flower arrangements. 

3. During the week, it got to be too windy to sow seeds outside, and in the absence of a potting shed, the utility room was given over to the task. By writing numbers along the edge of the tray, I can keep a paper account of what is in each row of cells on the Bustaseed tray. The bottom container has no drainage holes, and with the clear domed cover, I have a little unit that can easily to moved and placed inside on the window sills. Obviouslycareful watering will be necessary.

On my recycled pot, there was room enough to write the names, as it may not be used again.

Four individual pots contain the cucumbers.

4. On one of finer days at the start of the week, I had my house plants outside, where they were inspected, preened, and had a watering from the base by standing them in a bowl of water with a diluted feed.  Back on its table in the conservatory Aeonium arboreum velour is ready to face the season, having grown from this in November 2019

to this in March 2021, about 16 months, it does give one a good display.  Again later this year, when it is time to bring them back from the garden, into the conservatory for the winter, the top rosette will be cut off, and planted into a gritty compost, and the rest of the plant discarded.

5. The pink primulas vulgaris, which I found growing wild on a friend's farm add that early spring splash of colour and  Primula 'Wanda' are starting to flower. 

Primula 'Wanda'

6. I have wondered before about bees taking nectar by piercing flowers, by-passing their fertilising job, after observing them doing this on my white runner beans over several years.  

I am currently enjoying a fascinating book called 'A Buzz in the Meadow, by Dave Goulson'.  I managed to borrow this from our local library in time before the latest lockdown.  David Goulson has a section on robbing of nectar, and gives a quote from Charles Darwin's  letter to the Gardener's Chronical in 1857:

"One day I saw for the first time several large humble-bees (sic) visiting my rows of the tall scarlet Kidney Bean; they were not sucking at the mouth of the flower, but cutting holes through the calyx, and thus extracting the nectar...The very next day after the humble-bees had cut the holes, every single hive bee, without exception, instead of alighting on the left wing-petal, flew straight to the calyx and sucked through the cut hole....I am strongly inclined to believe that the hive-bees saw the humble-bees at work, and well understanding what they were at, rationally took immediate advantage of the shorter path thus made to the nectar."

I had to refer to my Collins guide to the Insects of Britain and the Western Europe.  Access to the internet would yield pictures of course, but sometimes I just love to loll around with books only.

Dave Goulson's book, again with no illustrations, is a great way of getting to appreciate insects in our gardens, and should they ever meet I am sure the Prop and the author would also discuss their running: Each chapter starts with the timing of his morning run and some of his observations along the route. 

Monday, 8 March 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Spring Miniatures

This week I am showing a Mini Spring posy with items from my conservatory border.  Spring ephemerals  deserve a look in rather than be held back, as I am never sure what the weather or other natural forces can do to these delicate flowers.  Saying that the cyclamen have survived very well, some plants flowering since before Christmas.

In addition to two different cyclamen coum, leaves of Geranium Russell Pritchard, Pulmonaria Sissinghurst White, and a Spring of Pittosporum Tom Thumb which echoes the purple tips on Corydalis Integra's pale pink flowers.  This is a spring beauty which is new to the garden this year. If I am to mention props then the Doves wall hanging mosaic of two doves, was made by Helen Clues, who runs the Farthing Gallery in Kenilworth.  Mr S and I chose this as 'the present to our new home'.

 This weekly arrangement is dedicated to my friend Kay who originally gave me the Pulmonaria and which is a delight in the garden throughout the year.  I am joining in with Cathy at 'Rambling in the Garden': not only flowers, but a little story and props awaits us all.  We love to Flag up her arrangements, and this week I shall also post a link to our Gardening Club Facebook page. In addition you will find links there to many others who like me love to join in this weekly celebration of flowers from our gardens.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Six on Saturday - 6 March 2021

It has been a little drier and sunnier and some plants are requiring some tender loving care, various tasks are being added to the list, but removing some plants, and moving others around seem to be the main activity. Having just a small garden, it is the way I like to try different arrangements otherwise I would get bored! Six on Saturday is a great source not only for myself but by joining in with The Propagator and fellow bloggers, we get to learn, share, and just enjoy 'chatting' with other gardeners.  Some are superb photographers too, so visiting Jon's blog and whether you contribute or just 'ear's drop' is always interesting.

1. Chamaecyparis pisifera var. filifera  maybe ‘Filifera Aurea’,  it could be 'Golden Mop'.  It is a type of dwarf threadleaf cypress, with graceful golden foliage. 

 I must admit that the name is simply gleaned from the internet, having looked for plants with a similar form and colour.  I had been using some little snippets of prunnings in my recent In a Vase on Mondays, and given that I had several comments about it, I thought I would feature it this week. I've had it now for three years, it is a slow grower, which is one of its advantages in a small garden. I bought it from Graham at his Tadham Nurseries stall, this was the last one he had, and I forgot to ask him the name!

In the pot, the foliage drops down around the rim, and it tends to be moved around making different groupings.  Grown like this I am also able to turn it around to catch the sun, and gain a lovely golden colour all round. During the winter when most of the garden is quiet, this little shrub shines out.

2. I could have shown a picture of the Amelanchiers last week when I thought the buds were just starting to swell slightly.  

The trees in the front garden were 'builders' trees', planted around twenty five years ago.  Probably misshaped from the the start we have done a little pruning each year since we arrived. This week they ought to be shown, and this way I will have a way to compare different seasons and timing of the bud burst. They are about ten days later compared to last year.

3. When I received an email with an article about the crocuses coming out in Turkey this week, I read that there is a name for people who like crocuses it is Croconut .  I don't think I am one yet, but I do love them. I have three clumps of rather congested Crocus Barr's Purple looking like this:

There were four such clumps before I decided to dig one up, and split it in the green.  Another year will tell whether I did something foolish.  I thought they stand a better chance this spring with space and tlc to help them bulk up with more room. 

It would interesting to hear of your experiences. I'll probably do my 'homework' this coming week and may come across 'scientific experimentally proven advice'. If dividing in the green is an option then all the others may get divided if I have the time. The sticks are there to try and deter birds from walking all over the area.

4. Of the little consignment of corydalis planted out this spring, this is one of the two new Corydalis integra. It has formed a lovely tall (for corydalis) flower spike with many flowers, with a couple of good side ones coming up. I'm rather pleased with this variety, and quality of the plant: thanks again Andrew.

 Corydalis Beth Evans continues to unfurl and the corydalis are following on very nicely in the same bed, where the snowdrops have finished blooming. This is one of several clumps which I have gradually increased in that bed from the original plant.  I seem to have got the conditions just right, or maybe they are just easy to grow.

5. This is my first Cyclamen repandum, only recently acquired.  I shall be looking for a cool shady place for this one. The flowers are still in bud with their petals genteelly twisted,  ready to leap up from its pirouette. 

6. These primula are so bright, I have had to tone down the colour a little and in turn the leaves look a little yellower. I could never get bored of this primula, which is why I cherish it and nourish it as it requires: it gets
 split and replant regularly in soil enriched with compost, otherwise I think they would just flower themselves to death. They flowered before Christmas, and are again ready to send up several flower spikes per plant.  

Monday, 1 March 2021

In a Vase in Monday - St David's Day

 Happy St David's Day.

St David is revered  as the Patron saint of Wales, he helped to spread the word of Christianity, and founded around 12 monasteries in his lifetime, and whether he set up the Monastery at Glastonbury within sight of our home, is debatable, but what is sure is that he did visit.

 He also helped to suppress Pelegrian heresy, where people believed that original sin did not taint human nature and people are capable of choosing good or evil without divine aid.

I am of course a heretic according to St David, only sometimes invokeing divine aid, and would most probably have followed Pelagius.  However it is not to say that I wouldn't admit to taking on good teaching from philosophers, saints and anyone I come across with good ideas. I love the one of St David's sayings:  "Do the little things".

This has become a well-known inspirational saying in Wales. One of the little things I like to do is join under Cathy's open arms, on this weekly Vase of Flowers from our gardens. 

Being St David's Day and I am using daffodils which is the national flower of Wales and often worn on St David's day.  The daffodil is an old heritage Irish cultivar called Rip van Winkle.  The greenery is made up of leaves of Mahonia 'Soft  Caress', leaves of Arum Italicum, and leaves of a dwarf false cypress.

If you can manage anything even something small: take heart and rejoice.