Thursday, 28 April 2022

The First Rose of the Year

 Still no rain, most things three to four weeks early.

Visit to Forde Abbey

 Together with friends from the Wells WI 'Blooming Fun' I visited Forde Abbey Gardens for the first time last Friday.  The weather was bright and fine and just right for a tour of the garden and a spot of lunch in the tea rooms. 

The tulips were putting on a fine display planted in mixed herbaceous beds.


One of  us was carrying a map but I was lured and some of the adventurous followed to view different plants, walk down paths in different directions which offered different views of the surrounding grounds, house and gardens. 

After the Tulips and spring bulbs we walked along the path which cut through a large rockery, and amongst the many plants I found this clump of Fritillaria Michailovski a picture of perfection.

and another perfect auricula.  What a beauty, one for garden and a yellow one.  I may drop the Abbey a line and ask if they know the variety, better still they may have plants on offer in their nursery some time.

Higher up there was an open woodland area with some excellent trees and shrubs including some lovely spring flowering specimens.

With the beautiful trees we enjoyed a little tree hugging irrespective of being seen.  A happy bunch loosing any inhibitions, but not quite wild enough to try some tree climbing which we probably would had we not been the wrong size of age 10! 

The settings of garden sculpture was classical as well as humorous.

This lot only stood still enough for a group photo

At this stage some of us peeled off to explore further afield and walked up to the upper lake and the bog garden.  Having recently read a book about Paxton the similarity of the work involved to create a fountain at Chatswworth House came to mind.  The fountain at Chatsworth is fed from a large lake is higher, but the Millennium Fountain at Forde Abbey  is the highest powered fountain in England. 

"At 160-feet-high fountain is quite a centrepiece for any garden, but is only one of the memorable features of this month’s garden. England’s highest-powered fountain, it was installed in 2005 by the Roper family to celebrate 100 years of their ownership of Forde Abbey, which is situated on the Dorset/Somerset border, in a stunning location alongside the River Axe." Dorset Life

The Bog garden where the 'bones' were evident before the lush spring growth emerged was an absolute gem and well worth the walk.  My eye was first caught by the bright red 'Chinese Bridge' from which newly gravelled paths wind through well chosen and placed bog plants.

White and Yellow Skunk Cabbages, ferns, emerging leaves from Astilbes and Rodgersias and the views of the upper lake were there to delight.

We held back to arrive at the Millennium Fountain:  having positioned myself at what  I thought was a good vantage point, I managed to take pictures but as the fountain grew taller I was soon covered with spray, so these pictures do not show the full extent of its height.

We joined up with the rest of the gang and voted straight away to make another visit later this year to enjoy the long border and the promise of a late display of dahlias.

Their Wisteria is yet to flower, I think it is on the north side of the house and had yet to show a single shoot so of course it will be flowering at time when few frosts to damage the buds can be expected.  From its old and weaving branches it has probably stood there many years.

Our car decided not to visit the house on this occassion, and I would have in any case spent the time in the well stocked nursery.  I wanted to keep the house to visit with Mr S and also the garden again within the next few weeks. 

By the exit this amused me!

At home I planted my 'souvenir' into the gravel area: Pulsatilla vulgaris subs. grandis 'Papgeno'.  I am sure all the other plants bought are now settled in  my friends' gardens.

Forde Abbey is now my current Garden No One which we can reach from home without staying away. 

Monday, 25 April 2022

More and More - In a Vase this Monday

 Another miniature vase showcasing the Narcissus 'More and More'.  

This delightful little jonquil is in flower and looks like there will be stems for a couple more weeks.  The lovely little blue is from a plant given to me by Barbara on Saturday.  With new plants, it is a good idea to remove flowers to ensure the plant spends its energy in growing new roots and establishing themselves.  The lovely blue is from Omphaloides 'Cherry Ingram', and the purple leaves from Euphorbia dulcis 'Chameleon'.  This is the smaller thumb sized vases I use for snowdrops.

As we walked round the Bishop's Palace this morning identifying  stones as part of our Geology Walk, I noticed that they have started to placing good. In an area under the Holm Oaks which has recently been developed, a large number of 'Cherry Ingrams' had been planted out to good effect around the tree ferns.  What a picture they made on the sunny morning. The blue looked most effective in the shade.

I have just finished reading a most excellent book, which with his interest in the Medieval Period, Mr S is now reading though he may just stop after the Victorian period. It is 'Taste' by Kate Colquhoun.  After reading her book on Paxton, I was delighted to find that her book on The Story of Britain through its Cooking, was available at our local library.

It is a little late in the day but I have great pleasure in joining Cathy on her weekly ramble down the garden to pick a few flowers.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Six on Saturday - 23 April 2022

 The Propagator Jon would most probably approve of some of my propagation this week.  I have no doubt he and other linking into this weekly group of home gardeners will have some interesting views of the past week in their gardens.  The link to Jon's post where everyone links into is included in this preface'.

1. Two pots of Persicaria runcinata Needham's Form ready and labelled to place on the HPS stall in Somerset this morning.  I received the seed  from Jim, who collected the plant/seed from Edward Needham's garden.  There is some question about the name, but I am going with Jim's.  Here in the garden it is hardy but dies down during the winter.  It has to be one of my favourite ground hugging beautiful leaved plants in the shady border. Grow wild name it as Persicaria sinuata EN. Is anyone able to tell me what the EN stands for? This is what it looked like last Summer, for me it is deciduous and winter dormant and has already started to show new growth with the delightful leaf shape.

2. I love the way the light catches the blooms on the Tiarella, which is flowering a couple of weeks earlier compared to last year.

3. Getting down to catch the morning light on flowers and foliage shows up the wonderful details on small plants.  The details has fascinated me, and if only I had the botanic words to describe them.  If all fails take a picture!

Polemonium reptans Lambroke Mauve

In early January as I was clearing some leaves blown to that area , a piece dropped off.  The side rosettes are quite brittle, I felt quite sad.  It also happened again a second time.  I am very pleased to say both bits took well, meaning I have three nice plants, and the new smaller ones are in flower and forming new side growths of their own.

4. Further up the same bed is a little plant I acquired at the HPS stall at Yeo Valley Gardens  just a few weeks ago. It is already forming the characteristic seed heads of that group of plants,  I know that dead heading really does promote more flowers, but  I have been watching the candelabra arrangement of the seed pods form over the last few days: green topped with red at the tips are the 'Storks' bills'. 

Erodium trifolium Sweetheart
I grew this in a previous garden but lost it the first winter.  Hopefully hear with less harsh winters and much better drainage it will come through to next year.

5.  Other attractive seedheads are forming and it is only April! Rich purple petals are no longer needed, now that the flowers have been fertilised.

6. When recently acquired plants flower for the first time, it can be either a pleasant thing or one in which one's sense of what is beautiful may be tested.  These two together could be termed a 'gothic' combination, and for now all I can say is that of the taller of the dwarf bearded Irises is behind the shorter one.  I would love to know your candid opinions on the DB Iris Gingerbread at the back.  DB stands for Dwarf Bearded. If I was to try and sell it I may tamper with the picture and  describe it a a mix of gorgeous browns. If it was in flower at the time of  perusing the plants would I have bought it?  Would you? Would you or I even want one?  The jury's votes are awaited.

I shall be spending the morning helping out on the HPS stall at our groups sale, and maybe I shall come back with plants surplus to a full garden! As for the weather update, another frost free week, but sadly no rain.  Have a good week everyone.

Monday, 18 April 2022

In a Vase on Monday - Daisies

 For Extravaganza or even egg related posts I am sure you will find some interesting ones if your click this link to Cathy's post on Rambling in the garden. Yes I bought eggs for the family and was also given a lovely little soap egg, which I shall cherish. For a eggless arrangement I have collected a few daisies.

Last year I bought a pack of six daisies and planted three in individual small pots, and the remaining three in a pot where Tulip Cabanna was planted.  Yesterday I went out for a longer cycle ride for several months, taking just over an hour.  However pleased I was with my increasing level of fitness, I was a little saddened to see, when putting away my bicycle, that one of the tulips had shed its petals.  

Its structure is unusual with bits of petals growing out of the surface, but generally the bleeding of one colour into the other, is worth looking at, and this inspired me to lay out the petals around todays vase of those very daisies growing above the tulip bulbs have been flowering since well before the tulips emeged.

The greenery is from the tips of Salix Mount Aso, which I shall need to cut back fairly soon in any case. I just wanted to check the quality of the photographs from my new camera, and zoomed in on the the bottom three daisies in the above photograph by cropping, and thus a second crop.  Cropped further, the tubular shape of all those individual petals is revealed. I don't think I would have ever noticed this by eye alone.  I found out a little more:

I have just read that in the 'Compositae Family' many flowers are gathered together resembling a single flower.  I also did not realise they were edible! And can be infused to make a tea.  Since I am into 'botanical' teas I may well try a cuppa!  probably mixed with mint.

Happy Easter Everyone.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Six on Saturday - 16 April 2022

 The fine weather yesterday with temperatures reaching just below 20 C with sunshine the whole day, as well as spending the whole day at a rendezvous day with our family walking around Avebury and up to Windmill Hill has at this moment obliterated from my mind all the gardening I may have done during the week.  What I did not do was prepare for the hot day, and when I got back some of my plants needed a plunge in a bucket.  The new peat free compost is a problem in terracotta pots.  Is anyone else finding this so?

A quick trip round the garden with Six items that caught my attention.  There will be many more of course back at HQ ie The Propagator's post where others like me gather share and tell each Saturday.

1. Apple D'Arcy Spice is in flower, about a week earlier than last year.

2. Looking around the garden, I feel I need more yellows to catch the light, I shall have to ponder that.  Maybe I ought to just divide and place more of this lovely yellow Primula' Port and Lemon'.  As the season advances the port is getting more dilute and the lemons stronger. It started flowering in December and the party is still going. Primula Port nearby in contrast is well drained and flowered only for a short time.

3. Looking cute just 'downstream' if the dwarf  daffodil Hawera Narcissus 'Hawera' another triandus daffodil, but this time yellow, with many stems bearing five blooms, just along the same bed, is looking so cute.

4.  Another yellow hiding but growing out of the wall: Corydalis cheilanthifolia.  It chose to grow here and depending on where the ants may have deposited the see, I hope to see new plants in due course. 

5. Yellow lights up the shade, and also with good spring coloured leaves, this dry shade tolerant plant is now in full flower: Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum' may not be one of the fancy ones, but its simplicity I admire, and I brought a piece of this from my previous garden.

6.  As for this golden lady Tulip Clusiana Chrysantha: she has been groomed to perfection by the ladybird, no greenfly on this one for sure!

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Hot Cross Buns

Bake with Jack Hot Cross Buns..the only tricky thing is getting all the fruit below the surface of the dough! 


Monday, 11 April 2022

In a Vase on Monday

I'm pleased to be once more growing a few hellebore.  I have missed them and have to learn all over again how best to care for them.  Of course the go to place for Hellebore is Ashwoods and having read their care notes was surprised to read that they do flower better with a bit of sun.  Since I bought three young plants early this year that are yet to flower, the fourth a yellow flowered one, is already setting seed, and I wondered whether or not I ought to dead head it so that it builds up its strength rather than sets seed.  

Whether this was right or wrong, it is too late now, and the flowers with swollen seed capsules are the basis of this week's vase.  I found before that choosing 'maturing stems' meant the flowers did not flop. A few stems of Pittosporum Tom Thumb, Carex comans bronze form, and the nicely cut leaves of Geranium malvifolium made up its companions. Not altogether as spring like as I could gather from the garden, but without any pollen, they will be able to stay on the mantle shelf for a few days without causing us any hay fever etc.

I 'm joining in with Cathy who has the theme of Blood and Thunder and a delightful old Football Rattle.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

Of Spoons and Arm and Wrist Warmers

One of my two talented nephews took up wood carving recently as a hobby and has found his niche in hand carving spoons.  These are just a few of his recent  ones.

From selection of the wood to the final spoon, everything is considered and everything using only hand tools from start to finish.  These are works of art and it has been enjoyable following his increasing knowledge, and the large variety of shapes and woods that he is using to create unique spoons.

I was absolutely delighted to received a little spoon early in the new year, and have just had it on my corner shelf in the kitchen admiring its beauty. It is the first spoon that he has made in Olive Wood.  
Mr S normally does the butlering duties, but with one thing and another I was doing it, filling up both sets of salt and pepper grinders: oh yes, he had hurt his wrist!

The spoon may remain on display, or it may sit on the pepper  corns.  I'm not sure that sitting on damp sea salt crystals will do it any harm, but this is a precious present that is to be cherished, and I think it safer cradled on dry pepper corns.

I was delighted to have something hand made. Having contacted Nephew Stasher No 1, to thank him, I wondered whether he would like to have something handmade from me, and straight away he wondered whether he could have some arm/wrist warmers just like the ones I made for his mother last year.  

These were in green Alpaca wool from my stash.  Having been given his range of colours, I went to my stash, pulled out a couple of balls of Pure Wool and then had to go in hunt for needles, but needed to order some fixed circulars.  Everything seemed to take time, from selecting the stiches I would use, to designing mittens, given a totally different yarn, and of course to suit and fit a man.  I came across a stitch pattern called Aran Rib 1 in The Knitter's Bible, and having got out the calculator to assess the number of stitches to cast on, I was away.  But the progress was slow, sometimes you get a mental block!  Each mitten is a mirror image with the cable reversed, but it doesn't matter which hand you put them on.  

I had Mr S on hand to keep trying them on, and of course measurements sent.  I asked Nephew Stasher 1 if they were to be used whilst spoon carving, but surprisingly I heard that they were for wearing when he is carrying out his work which is something to do with working on the graphics for computer games. Ha!  I don't know anything about computer games, but I do know your hands can get cold working on computers.  Mr S has ordered a pair such as these that almost reaches one's elbows.  I too want a pair, fortunate therefore that I have all summer to make them.