Saturday, 29 May 2021

Six on Saturday - 29 May 2021

 Hopefully that warmer drier weather is really on the horizon. On the odd day this week when the sun has been bright some plants have wilted under the unaccustomed draw of their water reserves.  Does this indicate too much top growth and insufficient root?  The ground is wet enough after all the rains. Maybe one of the visitors to this post will leave an explanation.

1. The wonderful looking young cucumber plants that I had been nurturing in the conservatory, were put out in a large pot in the garden about three weeks ago when I thought the threat of frosts were over, but given the rain, strong winds and very low light, they have decided to pop their clogs.  There was just too much wet soil around their roots. A lesson to me for next year to only pot up to the next sized container and keep the plants in the conservatory. A couple of weeks ago I planted a couple more seeds just as an insurance. I have yet to sow the runner beans, as I was waiting for the possible repeat of the perennial growth from the roots left in, but they have probably rotted away.  Time to sow fresh seed this coming week. 

2. I've noticed that some of the eryngiums are beginning to 'move'.

Eryngium bourgatii 's prettily variegated leaves cradle the rain drops, or else they are held at the tips of the leaves. I have it growing in the area where the oreganos will be flowering in a few weeks time.

3. The Hardy Geraniums are also starting to make their presence known, growing and hiding the dying leaves of bulbs. 

G. maculatum 'Beth Chatto' in a slightly shaded spot is looking pale and interesting above perfect leaves. The slugs and snails are avoiding this one.

4. I have two plants of Ragged Robin: the colloquial name for Silene flos-cuculi.  I grew it from seed which came with a gardening magazine, and it looks quite at home in the garden.  I love to spot this plant when we go for walks and now I need not go far. The rain has quite suited it.

5. Achillea × lewisii 'King Edward' over on the other side of the garden in the gravel garden is leaves a pool of  sophisticated pale yellow which glowed under that large full moon earlier in the week.

6.  The pale creamy yellow is just the right tone to lead the eye to Erodium Fran's Delight.  I don't think any other plant in the garden can beat the long flowering of this little gem.  Even with heavy rain she is undaunted, so wait till the sun comes out! Dead heading obviously helps....


The Prop is home and posting and recovering from his very long run.  Angel Wings not his, feature this week as week as a few others from his garden.  I'm joining him, and will also be able to read others contributions from there,

Monday, 24 May 2021

In a Vase on Monday - End of May

 The weather is all askew: low light, high rainfall, high winds, low temperatures.  I might not have the quite the right names for all the flowers, but a vase is a vase, and we do have some flowers.  Here it is then...

Pelargonium Pink Capricorn can be spared as the plant has started blooming strongly.  white Centaurea montana 'Alba', Ceonothus repens which is blooming all around the front bay window, a stem of purple self seeded aquilegia, and some stems of a pink bistort probably a little like Persciaria bistorta 'Superba', are also in there.  I'm not sure how well the Ceonothus will hold, as I haven't tried it before. 

Again I can't seem to do the arrangement justice with the camera, sorry about that.  It is quite pretty and we shall enjoy it in our living room.  I'll be linking in with Cathy, who have some special sweet peas in a delightful Caithness Vase.  Mine is also a smokey grey and purple Caithness Vase, and with its very heavy bottom make a lovely stable posy holder.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Return Visit to Beacon Hill

 As we were going up to Rocky Mountain, I suggested Mr S came had a walk round Beacon Hill Woods.  I had been waxing lyrical about my previous visit with my Geology Group, and now at last he understands my praise.

In the first instance I wanted to catch the bluebells before they were over.  The canopy of green leaves from mainly beech trees had started to unfurl, and with the cold rain and poor light, the bluebells well not as deep a colour as I was expecting, of course the few albino ones are always white.

Towards the Eastern Side of the Woods along the tract, there were some colourful patches.

Only a taster walk was intended, so we doubled back to return to the car, but not before coming across one of the bowl barrows.

"This monument includes two circular enclosures and three bowl barrows which form part of a round barrow cemetery situated at the summit of the prominent Beacon Hill. The largest enclosure contains all the remaining features within its interior and survives as a circular area of approximately 200m in diameter defined by a low outer bank and partially buried ditch which survives differentially. The second enclosure is similarly defined with a bank which stands up to 2.5m wide and 0.5m high and has a diameter of approximately 36m. The three bowl barrows survive as circular mounds surrounded by buried quarry ditches from which the construction material was derived. They vary in size from 11m up to 21m in diameter and from 1.5m up to 2.5m high. Surface undulations indicate early partial excavation and the interior of the outer enclosure has also been subject to tree planting and surface stone quarrying. One of the barrows has a clearly visible ditch of up to 3m wide and 0.5m deep and another is topped by a standing stone."  Historic England

We used to love walking on the Ridge Way, and a regular walk with our dog went via The White Horse, and Waylands Smithy, which Mr S said made their hair and fur stand up!  

In all our walk, we saw only one person, and their young dog.  The dark trunks and pale green leaves of the beeches were calming, but we must have been there when the birds were having a rest, as we heard very few.

There was this mass of fruiting bodies emerging from a rotten tree trunk, but being still in the tight button stage, I am unable to name it. 

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Six on Saturday - 22 May 2021

1.  When I feel the garden is in the doldrums, or maybe it is just my mood, I find satisfaction in caring for my succulents and propagating them. I don't have very many, and on the whole have them for many years.  From time to time the house plants get brought out to be rained on:

Caring for succulents only involves  gentle work such as removing any dead material and potting up, propagation and rejuvenation etc. Unless of course they are in large pots, but I am working on reducing those, as with my manual handling hat on, they do not make safe weigh training items!  The larger ones are in the conservatory for the moment and had their moment of care last week.  These succulents are mainly house plants.  The pan in the foreground is a Haworthia:  Haworthiopsis venosa subsp. tessellata (Veined Haworthia).which has the longest of flowering stems I have seen.  Back in 2015 I took a picture of the stem when it was about 1 metre long.  The pot on the blue table was repotted last year, but it has now had its three flowers removed! 

Portulacaria afra variegata. was bought late last year and I had been admiring it elsewhere for some time. After spending the winter in a small pot on the kitchen windowsill, it was time to take it up a pot size. 

2.  At the same time the crowded pan of Echeveria elegans, which spend the winter in the conservatory was turfed out, some fresh young rosettes selected and replanted in new well draining compost, topped with grit.

I had so many rosettes which I could have make something of, if I had mixed sufficient gritty compost, and found several local people who would have wanted them.   It was 7 am and threating to pour, and what would I do with umpteen little pots of these? 

I ought to be more disciplined and just throw the lot away, however here it is in the front garden, just by the small clump that successfully overwintered and is now coming into flower.  This has survived, frost, snow, rain etc.  It had a few leaves swell up and go black, but these have been removed.

3. The nasturtiums grown from seed found in the bottom of my posh coat pocket are wondering when it will be summer or even just stop raining and the sun come out. I must have been in a 'posh' garden and found some old nasturtiums seeds last autumn. The original plants were very compact with dark flowers, and yes I do remember where I was.  To repay my debt I did take round a couple of my unusual Pelargoniums for their collection. I'm sure a mouse would have eaten the seeds as they lay on the ground, and now I feel that I have deprived a mouse of its winter store!

4. The  Corylus avellana Scooter, planted a few weeks ago,  is coming into leaf.  In the very early morning light the dew/rain drops catch the light, and my eye, but I can't quite get the right picture...

Corylus avellana Scooter

5. Clematis Sugar Sweet growing in a pot a mixed perennials is fully coating the hand made trellis.

6.This dainty little plant from China is growing in my estimation,  Semiaquilegia ecalarata is starting in flower.  I was a little under impressed with it previously.  I allowed it to self seed, then moved a few plants around and they seem to be much happier, or maybe they are in  a position better to be appreciated. The green and purpled infused leaves are also rather attractive the rest of the year. Now that I know I can easily raise new plants from seed, but this I mean they self seed, and are happy to be moved, I shall be viewing up different parts of the garden to try it.  I'm not quite sure how long lived the plants are. As they are described as short lived perennials it probably is a good thing to keep a few new seedlings in different parts of the garden, and discard older plants.  I like the way they are growing through surrounding encroaching plants, just as seasonal wild flowers do along the edges of woodland and fields.

Semiaquilegia ecalarata

We had our first 'in person' monthly Henton Village Gardening Club meeting, and  we were delighted to welcome Alasdair Moore from Heligan. He came up for a 'break' to visit a friend, who is also a member of the club. Along the way, during a visit that morning to another 'Holy' garden, picked up another great gardening mind who came to the talk.  At the meeting I was wearing the same jacket when I visited their garden on the day the nasturtium seed was acquired!  My blushes were well hidden by my mask.

Almost as much  excitement now, as I go over the the Prop's site, when Jon gathers a few of use that enjoy cataloguing things from our garden, sharing etc, each week.  

Monday, 17 May 2021

In a Vase on Monday

 Even if the light is poor, and the photograph a little grainy, why should this little posy with flowers from the garden not get posted for this week's In a Vase on Monday?  

Clematis Sugar Sweet was the starting point, to which I added some Thyme Jekka, Hardy Geranium Elizabeth Anne, and her dark foliage, a stem of Ajuga Reptans 'Atropurpurea, and Semiaquilegia ecalarata.  My little soldier that I bought from a street peddler in Xi'an is there to give scale to the arrangement. 

Since the Semiaquilegia comes from China, I wonder whether any real soldiers would have knelt down to admire them? Maybe It would have inspired a general to compose a poem about them to send home to their beloved.

I'm joining in with Cathy who has time to Ramble round her garden too, and pick some flowers, and write a little prose to go with them.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Six on Saturday - 15 May 2021

1.  Last autumn, I  added Thyme 'Jekka' to the gravel garden as I found its form interesting.  It is quite prostrate spreading out in every direction.  Now that it is in flower it proves itself worthy of a single solo appearance set off nicely by the gravel, and up to now used purely as an ornamental.

Thyme 'Jekka'

2.  I've bought my last lettuce from the greengrocer for some time.  At first I shall pick a leaf here and there, but I also ought to get on to sow a few more seeds to have plants to follow on from these.  

3. It is that time in between the spring and summer flowers, but with a little bit of rain this week, the plants have perked up considerably after weeks of drought.  I watched the flowering stems of the Sicilian Honey Garlic, Nectaroscordum siculum. slink around, and contort themselves as if sinewy snakes, and then the rain came and it is as if the great snake charmer played the tune which caused them to stand on their points.  They grow near the tip of this peninsula.

4. Rarely seen by me as it grows on the fence on the windowless side of the house, but much appreciated by my neighbours is Clematis Montana Warwickshire Rose.  

This was originally one of those Morrison bargain small clematis, nurtured carefully, but now starting to give a lovely display.  I love the scent of this one, and find its dark foliage very attractive.

5. This is a small herbaceous perennial, which I have brought with me from several gardens ago, and even when not in flower has some neat nicely pattered foliage:  Tiarella Spring Symphony has so many flowers open at the moment.  If I dead head them all, after a short rest I'll get a second flowering.

I have another Tiarella Mint Chocolate which has more dramatic leaf marking with a raised textured surface, but there is a little apricot in it its flower colour, but it is placed a little away on the other side of this conservatory bed. I see that there is one called Angel Wings, which I shall definitely be on the look of for at future shows and garden festivals.

6. Over in the shady border, I have recently planted a new primula to me: Primula sieboldii Spring rose.  It is rather bowed down with all the rain.  If it does well, I may well have some more cultivars as part of my Christmas 2021 presents! I think Penny's Primulas will be where I order from.

and just look at the structure in these beauties:

Athyrium Otophorum v  Okanum 

This fern has been pot grown for several years now, and repotted last year. Its  beauty can best be admired close up, and it suits the tall pot, though I think it would look a lot more dignified in a stone pot rather than an old plastic one.

Gradually moving towards to the 'despatch department', but noted a couple of days ago by Mr S for its lovely flowering stems is Carex Ice Dance.  This Japanese Sedge may well have to dance to somewhere more permanent, out of its first pot, if I am to please him inside. Or maybe it ought to have a better pot.  

On my early morning pavement walk , slugs and snails are slithering home.  The rain has brought them out, so I shall be out assessing the damage in the garden later. Many SOS gardeners will be out getting on with all those urgent tasks today, but not before linking in with the Prop, or maybe they will wait and rest after their tasks and take their time to link in.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

My Hero comes to the rescue

 I was just about to put two home made pizzas in the oven, and Pouf!  the element went on the large fan oven.  The pizzas had to be cooked in the small top oven, which I hardly ever use, as it is also the grill.

With instructions manual etc, a replacement element was soon ordered, and received back very quickly.  Luckily there are two pair of hands, and two strong people.  As we fitted the oven, ourselves over four years ago, Mr S knew how it all fitted together.  Due to screws having been inserted with heads on the back, the element could not be replaced without taking the whole oven out, and removing the back panels. If only it had been fitted from the front, changing the element would have been a doddle. I am just the extra help with lifting out the oven, and passing tools etc, Mr S is the problem solver and fixer on this project.

I'm very happy to report that everything is in working order, and the first and celebratory loaves has now been baked.

Monday, 10 May 2021

In a Vase on Monday - Perseverance

 If there was someone who would wave a magic wand and grant me three wishes, one of those would be the ability to paint, draw, sketch etc. I would not ask to be an artist: famous or even selling a few paintings, just the ability to apply myself and end up with something reasonable that I would not be unhappy to hang on the wall. 

I've grown to understand that effort and perseverance is required to achieve many things, and without even first trying, or even 'try, try, try again' : My mother always used to add the extra try, and another word she used say was needed was 'Perseverance'. I just haven't tried enough. A few one hour zoom lessons from our WI group recently has got me going. I've decided it isn't too late to try.

Getting going: assembling materials for the task, and having failures along the way, is something I find hard. I have a cupboard with a couple of shelves of 'art' things: paper, pencils, water colour, and all my calligraphy things which have not been touched often, since calligraphy lessons and also a few art sessions with Helen Clues  at the Gecko Studio and Gallery in Old Town, Kenilworth.

So following on from the zoom classes, and from posting about one of the plants in the gravel area, this Sunday I spent a couple of hours with my pencils and brush trying to paint from real life.   I had doodled this on my lap whilst watching a film on the TV the night before, to obtain composition, layout etc, but drawing in 'my book' from real life, brought on a few butterflies! 

In my vase was a little spring of Phlox bifida Ralph Lauren. with its cleft petals and elusive light blue periwinkle coloured flowers. At breakfast this morning, with not a pencil in sight, I shall fall deep in the perfect beauty of each and every detail of this charming flower.

Having started In a Vase on Monday, arranging flowers from the garden and celebrating their beauty with others has brought a rhythm to my life. Will I persevere with art as I have persevered with gardening or picking posies, only time will tell. Cathy's weekly coming together  has been a worthwhile gift  with several In a Vase on Monday arrangement to view and ponder about. Having viewed her arrangement this week, I may well have found my next subject for sketching.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Another new Wood visited: Beacon Hill

I nearly didn't go as I was feeling below par the day after my second vaccine.  However I was delighted by the enchanting woodland.  I was there for the Geology of course, and having received the excellent field notes, maps, and diagrams, looked forward to this field trip, as there is nothing quite like having 'our' Professor guide us.  

We were standing very close to, and examined some interesting exposures of andesitic lava flows and agglomerates, the later much sought after during the Iron Age and Roman periods for querns, millstones and the former as sort of grit tempering found in the distinctively decorated Iron Age Pottery found at Glastonbury.

The band missed the little patch of Wood Sorrel emerging from the thick blanket of decaying leaves: 

Standing Stone on Burial Mound

The site is rich in Archelogy, which was been very much disturbed in the past when ridges were ploughed when replanted with some beech  in the 1950s.  There still remains some interesting mounds which I will read a little more about on the Beacon Hill Society's Page.

"In Roman times Beacon Hill was probably at its busiest. Two main roads – The Fosse Way and a road from the Mendip lead mines to Southampton – intersected on the hill top, though little of their original construction is visible today. More apparent are the rakes, quarry pits and working platforms in the wood, that represent a considerable expansion of the stone extraction industry. The querns and millstones that continued to be produced here have been found at Roman settlements like Ilchester, Shepton Mallet or Camerton, as well as at villas and farms in the region. The sandstone was also used as metalling for surfacing the Fosse Way at Shepton Mallet at least."

We came across some wonderful old Beech Trees, not yet in leaf.  

The bluebells were also far behind compared to those lower down and further West along  the Mendips.  On Wednesday it was a jumper, hat and gloves cooler than Wells.  I was already wearing my warm coat and I shall remember to put further layers in the car next time.

I am looking forward to a slower paced visit soon to explore this beautiful wood looking out for other interesting flora.  I did notice that they had a fine selection of ferns, mosses and  a patch of  bilberries.

Six on Saturday - 8 May 2021

1. Shell pink this isn't, however, this small and dainty hardy geranium, with her magenta blooms is starting off early summer with a bang.  Did I say summer?  It is still far cooler than usual, and the fleece hasn't been put away yet.  This little plant is quite hardy though, and no slug is drawn to it either.

Geranium cinereum subcaulescens


2. I used to think Aubretia was easy to grow because I was used to see it tumbling over stone walls in the Cotswolds.  This was has taken a couple of years to make a reasonable patch.  

Aubretia Blue Beauty

3. Phlox divaricata 'Chattahoochee' is much happier in its new position. It has grown into a good clump. Of the cuttings that I took, only one survived.  The slugs seem to like nibbling round the thin stems, and I ought to have kept them in pots till they were a little sturdier.  It is just starting into bloom.

 Phlox divaricata 'Chattahoochee'

I added a different phlox to this border: Phlox divaricata 'Clouds of Perfume'.  This one is taller, has  brighter green leaves, and soft blue petals. All I can say for now is I wished I had bought more, had room for more, maybe some cuttings taken this year, will find space.  

Phlox divaricata 'Clouds of Perfume'

I had seen this phlox growing in one of lovely gardens I had visited last year, so when this is out it will remind me to walk up to Milton Lodge Gardens and enjoy some of their tea and cake, and their views and their delightful gardens.

The Phlox bifida Ralph Hayward taken earlier this week demonstrates what I would have missed if I had cut it back.  Maybe after it has flowered will be time for cutting it back.

4. Over in the shady border it is time for the lovely creamy white flowers of  Dodecatheon meadia alba to be the one to draw me out into the garden.

5. Back in the conservatory, where I love to sit and view the garden keeping nice and warm, I have a few succulents, and my species Pelargoniums. Pelargonium ardens is just coming into flower.

6. As a young Mum I used to have an allotment to which I used to cycle, with my son on the child seat, and watering can hanging from the handlebars.  Allotment picnics were always a lovely way to pick salad and eat it still squeaking.  This must have been taken during the summer,  I must have gone in the car that day, as I was probably digging potatoes too.  Apart from the initial double digging, when I had a little help, I did it all on my own. In those days I sowed most things straight into the ground, but had glass cloches.

I now just have only a very small patch at a different garden, but still enjoy growing a few veg. These days I seem to start sowings in small pots.  Here are the courgettes:  two yellow, and two green, which will be garden ready by the time the threat of frosts will be over.

We shall all be waiting on calmer milder weather to start planting out less hardy things.  Whatever the weather we join in under the protection of Jon the Propagator, with much to entertain, inform and educate there from several other SOSs.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Trees in Spring but for how long for the Ash of the Mendips

 On our walk this week, I retraced the steps of a walk taken with my Geology Group, wanting to show Mr S a particularly lovely little valley. All of this is no further than two miles away from home.

Just beyond the last houses along Reservoire Lane, an old original boundary was engulfed by encroaching trees.  From small saplings growing upwards, after many years, the iron railings  are mere 'piercings' with the railings now going through the middle of the left tree, with the bark of the other two slowly growing over the railings. The trees are now holding up the rusting railings. 

Wide spreading Oak Tree

With leaves just about to burst, it was the shape of the trees, lit by clear bright spring sunshine, that brought me the greatest joy. 

For now but for how much longer, we must enjoy the silhouettes of Ash Trees.  Tens of thousands are being felled, and it causes me anguish when I see all the stumps along the lanes and roads.  The very sound of the saws all around the hills, over the last few months has been their death knell . Will it stop now we are in the nesting season?  Will this be but a temporary respite? I really do hope that trees away from roads and paths, and on private land will have some sort of reprieve, if only they could stand a while, who knows, they may survive, and scatter their seed.  But whom am I to judge whether the science is correct, and whether actions to remove all the trees, or leave some will be the right action.   I really think that many healthy Ash Trees have been felled, simply as a convenience cutting long banks along the roads, rather than just the odd tree which is damaged.  Returning in five or ten years was not considered, and it does not look as if any replanting is taking place at the moment, Time will tell. I can just recall the loss of the Elm Trees from the English Landscape....

Mr S and I have vowed to return as often as possible to our little grass covered and Ashy Dell, with its cool limestone stream,  as often as we can.  There was mention of a picnique, book reading and gazing into tree tops...

RIP Mendip Ash.........