Monthly Archives: March 2015

End of month view – March 2015

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All of a sudden, spring has sprung.

This morning (Monday) was beautifully sunny and everything was looking so perky and fresh. Above are a few spare wedding flowers which never made the cut for this weekend’s trip to the bright lights, but they seem happy to have stayed at home.

There’s a lot of other interest at this time of year from pots and containers.  The bath by the front steps has finally filled out, and there are still tulips to come. IMG_6444

 

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and in the trough Narcissi Minnow have just started flowering.IMG_6456

The two Swing Beds have daffodils (Narcissus Jenny) and Forget me nots already flowering, but so much else on the verge.IMG_6459

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The Grass Bed has temporarily (?) lost its willow alliums after wind damage over the weekend, but is looking good with just the Stipa tenuissima and the Forget me nots.  They do seem a deeper blue this year – do they fade over time?IMG_6455

The two lavender beds are starting to fill out too, but both still need a proper tidy up.IMG_6449

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The Oak Bed is probably at its best this month, with hellebores, bergenias and more Jenny daffodils.IMG_6445

And here’s another shot of the reprieved Phormium near the front door.IMG_6441

But the real excitement, is the beginning of the two new beds.

We’ve already admired Hamamelis Aphrodite in the Bronze Bed, but she is now definitely past her best.  However, she’s been joined by a few things – some bought in Tulip Prinses Irene, some Calendula ‘Sunset Buff‘ grown from seed and Libertia peregrinans, a gift from my friend Louise at the Old Rectory garden.

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There’s still plenty more to come, largely grown from seed, to try to keep the cost down, but I did confess to splashing out on some new roses here.

The Mid Century Bed has been named after the structure the OH bought for my 50th last year after I’d admired something similar in a magazine and he went and got it made by the local blacksmith!  It’s been waiting well over six months for its final home, and here it is.

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As well as my lovely obelisk (not strictly but not sure what else to call it) the bed now contains lots of transplanted Cerinthe, some bought Digitalis Mertonensis (I grew some from seed but as they’re still only about an inch or so across I can’t see them flowering this year) and some bulbs.

But as you can see, there’s still plenty of space, which couldn’t be more exciting 😀

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With thanks as ever to Helen at The Patient Gardener for hosting our End of Month Views.

Resolve and realise – March 2015

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Well a much better month than last (although I’m a day late posting!) with all jobs pretty much completed.

There were many jobs carried forward:

  • mulch all beds

Hmm, not quite there, but the vast majority done, so think we can tick this one off

  • prune and feed remaining roses

Tick.  Herewith a photo of my roses from last year,  rather than a pruned and fed twig, but trust me.IMG_2873

  • pot up dahlia tubersIMG_6470

I have some dahlias in the ground, some that were overwintered in the greenhouse in a large terracotta pot, and then these few, which were dug up and overwintered as tubers.  I think it was because they were in pots I wanted to use for something else, but it’s all a bit of a blur now, and I certainly can’t remember their variety.  Oops.

  • chit potatoes (and decide growing approach)IMG_6467

I finally got round to buying some potatoes – Ratte and Anya this year.  I’ve also bought some potato growing bags for the first time, so I think I’ll put some in the ground (in the top ‘tier’ of the veg patch) and some in the potato bags.  I’m planning to put the potato bags in the area of the veg patch behind the raspberry canes.  It’s pretty dark but I did grow potatoes there before in the ground, but then they got blighted.  Clearly I can’t grow them in the ground again, but hopefully they will do ok in the bags and make a difficult area productive.

  • sow chillies, tomatoes and hardy annuals

Tick.  The seed tray at the top shows my particularly perky looking Padron Peppers.  There may be a few more hardy annuals to sow, but I’ve definitely sown all the tomatoes (Sungold, Gardeners Delight, Ferline, Black Cherry and Country Taste)

  • plant out broad beansIMG_6457

I need to provide some support for these, put at least they’re in the ground.  I have a second wave now in the cold frame which I’ll plant out in a week or so.

and new for March

  • plant aubergines

Tick.  I’ve never had much success with Aubergines, but I love to eat them, so I’m trying yet again.  This year’s variety is Kaberi from Chiltern.  Has anyone tried it?

  • finish planning two new beds and start to buy seeds/plants accordingly.

A lot of time has been spent daydreaming about what to put in the new beds and a few things have already been planted which I can show in the EOMV post, but one thing I will disclose here is my recent extravagance with David Austin:

For the Mid Century bed

2 x Munstead Wood
2 x Jubilee Celebration
1 x Falstaff Climbing

And for the Bronze Bed

2 x Pat Austin

 Rose Munstead Wood, picture courtesy of the David Austin website

So for next month

Nothing to carry forward – hurrah!

New for April

  • Prune various shrubs that probably should have been pruned already
  • Continue planting seeds, pricking out and potting on
  • Plan cutting garden
  • Provide supports for broad beans and plant out second wave
  • Start to erect structures for beans and sweet peas
  • Tidy up shady bed and lavender beds
  • Continue planting up the two new beds

If you’d like to join in with Resolve and Realise, please do, just leave a link to your post in the comments.

 

In a vase on Monday – Saturday’s Wedding flowers

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We’re just back from a rather mad London based weekend, attending two fabulous 50th birthday parties as well as my step niece’s wonderful wedding.

As some of you know, I have been fretting over the readiness of the bulbs I’d been growing for the wedding since my Advice please! post in February, and by Saturday morning I was all out of time.

The pots were tied with purple ribbon, packed in a big box and driven up to Chelsea to arrive by mid afternoon.  Carrying them all from the car to the restaurant where the reception was to be held was more than a tad scary, with the phrase ‘falling at the last hurdle’ spinning around my mind.  But I got them there without incident and arranged four to a table as agreed.

The Narcissi Elka were just right and very pretty (having spent at least two weeks in the fridge without any ill effects)

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however, the Muscari Latifolium weren’t quite as advanced as I would have liked, despite a last minute move into the conservatory, but they provided a good contrast to the Narcissi, and were a lovely deep blue.

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And the overall effect – well, judge for yourself!

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With thanks as ever to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting In a vase on Monday.  Cathy, I hope you’ll forgive me for posting my Saturday ‘vases’ on your Monday meme!

Wildflower Wednesday – (very) late March

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Well I might have known things would start to go awry now I’m back at work – here I am posting my Wildflower Wednesday on a Sunday.

Sadly there’s not as much progress on the Duver as I would have hoped.  Some stalwarts are still in evidence, the Daucus CarotaIMG_6377

primrosesIMG_6387

and the gorse.IMG_6390

And there is a new, good sized clump of violets to admire. IMG_6382

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However, whilst the shrub I’ve photo’d for the last couple of months is finally putting on some proper growth, I now have to admit that I can’t think what it is!  Help please!IMG_6402

And to finish, no flowers at all, but a jolly ‘stripe’ of geese.IMG_6397

With thanks as ever to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting the Wildflower Wednesday meme.

Hopefully by next month there’ll be some new wild blooms to admire, and I might even be on time!

In a vase on Monday – Common Farm Flowers

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I’m linking this post to Cathy’s ‘In a vase on Monday’ meme because so much of what Georgie Newbury, from Common Farm Flowers,  said during her talk reminded me of this meme and the joy we’ve all had from it.

Georgie is a flower farmer and now also author of the wonderful ‘The Flower Farmer’s Year’, a book I was so excited about I pre-ordered it.  Neither the book, nor Georgie in person, disappoint.  Her tone is that of a knowledgeable friend, bursting to share her knowledge and love of plants, growing and floristry, and I found her talk captivating.

Rather than flogging either her book or her beautiful bouquets, her talk was all about inspiring people to grow and arrange their own.  And at this time of year, going in the garden and searching out whatever might be available to cut, just as we all do for our Monday vases.2015-03-17 18.28.39

During her talk Georgie created a beautiful, informal hand tied bunch (which sadly I failed to photo as she gave it to her aunt who was in the audience!)

Her foliage was all from her farm, Poplar, Pussy Willow, Black Elder and Hawthorn.2015-03-17 19.49.25

However, the blooms were largely from her suppliers in Cornwall as she lives in a frost pocket and struggles to produce flowers before April.  Flowers included Narcissus (Soleil D’Or and Paperwhite) and lots of gorgeous Ranunculus.2015-03-17 19.55.30

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She shared numerous tips (don’t pick flowers when you can feel the sun on the back of your head, so early morning or after 7 at night, pull bulbs when picking to get a longer stem, always pick directly into water – no romantic wandering with a trug, keep everything scrupulously clean and change the container water regularly to prolong vase life…) as well as numerous supplier tips.   Interestingly many I already use – Chiltern and Higgledy Garden for seeds, David Austin for roses, Peter Nyssen and Avon for bulbs – but also others like Withypitts for dahlias and Hillhouse Nursery for shrubs.

Like Mark Diacono for vegetable growing, she encourages people to grow things that are unusual and unavailable in the shops.  She had a few suggestions of less well known plants including the bulb, Ornithogalum, the slatey purple flowered Delphinium D. requienii and she also loves the Iris below, Iris tuberosa.  It has a relatively short season but is so different to anything else.2015-03-17 19.54.44

I’m already booked on a course at Common Farm later in the year and hearing Georgie talk has just made me even more excited.

With thanks as ever to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the lovely ‘In a vase on Monday’ meme.  I’m sure Georgie would approve!

 

 

 

Willow Weaving at West Dean

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Wednesday saw the OH and me back at wonderful West Dean together.  I’d promised to buy him some sort of course as a birthday present, and then (pre re-employment!) decided I’d go along too.

The course was ‘Willow Work for the Garden’, the instructor Dominic Parrette (see some of his work above) and we had an absolute ball.

Dominic couldn’t have been more helpful and supportive, and we came back with an absolute stash of willow goodies, to the point where we had two items strapped to the roof rack, as well as the seats down and the boot stuffed!

We started on Wednesday evening with a general chat regarding safety, materials and tools.  Dominic grows some of the willow himself, but he had also brought some in, so there was a range of lengths and colours.IMG_6245

The first evening we all made willow spheres just to get the ‘feel’ of the willow.IMG_6246

But on the Thursday we started on various individual projects.  I wanted two tall plant supports to replace a pair which had rotted after a number of years, and so the OH and I decided to make one each.

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A certain degree of rivalry ensued, but I think they look pretty good.  Note the spirals travel in different directions as I’m left handed.  I’d like to say that this helps with the symmetry, but that’s rather ruined by the fact that mine’s definitely chubbier!

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After the plant supports, we both went a little off piste.   The OH created a sculptural piece which then evolved into a rhubarb forcer.  (Or, as one of our fellow attendees suggested, a hobbit house),

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and I decided to convert the two spheres we’d made the previous evening into some sort of flower sculpture:

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After knocking up another tall plant support after dinner (which was even chubbier), on Friday I calmed down and made a more sensible woven panel.

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The challenge then was getting them home – here they are admiring the West Dean view whilst waiting for their transport.

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And here are some other lovely creations made by our jolly groupIMG_6370

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And finally, here are a couple of our items in situ.

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With enormous thanks to Dominic, West Dean and all our lovely group for a wonderfully creative couple of days.  Do take a look at the short courses at West Dean – and note Dominic will be back in both June and October if you’re inspired by our wobbly willow!

Osborne Mothers’ Day

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Like last year when I went to Mottistone, I do like to treat myself to a garden visit for Mothers’ Day, and this year it was Osborne House.  Osborne House is situated in East Cowes near the central northern tip of the Isle of Wight.  The property was built in the 1840s for Queen Victoria, her husband Prince Albert and their children.  According to English Heritage, who now own the property “It was built in the Italianate style in order to fit its setting on an island whose temperate climate and panoramic views over the Solent reminded Prince Albert of the Bay of Naples”.IMG_6187

There are a number of areas of gardens, firstly the parkland area, both near the entrance and between the house and the Solent.  These areas are more informal, with many hellebores and spring bulbs:IMG_6133

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and some winter flowering shrubs like this Lonicera FragrantissimaIMG_6136

Edgeworthia chrysanthaIMG_6134and this fiery Berberis Darwinii.IMG_6117

In front of the house, to the north and overlooking the Solent, are formal terraces.  Although I’m not a fan of ‘park planting’ there’s something pleasing about the crisp layout as seen in winter. IMG_6185

And the pots are gorgeous!IMG_6177

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It’s hard to spot in such murky weather, but you can just see the sea in the two photos above. This is the Solent, the strip of water which separates the Isle of Wight from the south coast of England.

My favourite area of the gardens, however, is the walled garden.  There are many references to Victoria and Albert here.  Not only the V and A intertwined in the ogee arch in the first picture, but also V and A potsIMG_6166

and many plants named for them, like these two rhubarbs.

In the glasshouse are wonderfully exotic Datura

as well as Strelitzia reginaeIMG_6153

and a pair of magnificent matching pots.  I can’t think what this is.  Any clues?IMG_6158

Back outside I found this lemon, growing against a south facing wall and just protected by fleece.  I’m starting to see the Bay of Naples connection!

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And to finish, something to tempt me back!  Clearly the gardeners have been marking out large areas of the beds in the walled garden for direct sowing of annuals.  They’re really big areas so it will be intriguing to see what they plant.IMG_6164

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Hopefully when I return I can also visit the Swiss Cottage (near the coast) where Victoria’s children used to play.  They each had their own garden plot where they “tended fruit, vegetables and flowers using miniature tools and their own monogrammed wheelbarrows. The produce was assessed by the under-gardener, Mr Warne, and if good enough, Albert would pay market rate to the child who had grown it.”  Aaah!

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – March 2015

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A late foray into the garden and the combination of low light, macro lens and windy conditions have made for rather fuzzy photos, so apologies!

The view above shows the bed running by the kitchen wondow which contains the pink Rose Flower carpet,  However, as you can see, both the Leucojum aestivum and the Narcissus Tete a tete seem to have proliferated since last year, and the rose is hardly to be seen.  The Phormium to the right of the photo is the one I’d like to get rid of and replace with something for winter interest, but annoyingly, it looks quite good in this grouping.  Hmmm.

After my Lonely and Blue Wordless Wednesday post, I’ve now had many more Irises come into flower in the big copper pot.  What I can’t quite believe is that I planted such a mix.  I haven’t had time to look back at my order, but there appear to be three different blue/purples and a solitary yellow one.  Bizarre.

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The hellebores are now at their best, unlike the photos

and here is a shot of the Hebe I arranged with some of them in Monday’s vase.IMG_6213

There are also a number of Euphorbias in zingy green bloom,

as well as a few Forget me nots just started to flower.  I like this slightly darker one.IMG_6226

The self sown primula I mentioned last month is still flowering wellIMG_6227

and has been joined by a new one I couldn’t resist, for sale at Osborne House,  (post to follow).IMG_6231

And to finish, a little grouping of bulbs by the door, Narcissus Tete a tete, Narcissus Elka and Muscari Armeniacum Big Smile.

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The Narcissus Elka,  (close up below), is the one I’m growing for the wedding.  This is a ‘trial’ pot I left in the cold frame when all its peers got moved to the fridge two weeks ago.  I’m delighted with the colouring and the size and shape of the blooms.

So what of the others?  Well, contra to the majority of advice received, I’ve left them in the fridge!  They were allowed out for good behaviour last Monday, and I think I’ll do the same tomorrow, but they’re looking fine and have definitely been stopped in their tracks by the combination of cold and dark.

The Muscari for the wedding are Muscari Latifolium, not the one above.  You may recall these were looking a little behind and so spent the week before last in the greenhouse.  They put on rapid growth and so were moved out to the garden, but I’m thinking they might need to come back into the greenhouse as, not surprisingly, they’ve slowed right down again.

Thankfully, there aren’t too many pots, and so all this moving around and in and out is more entertaining than challenging.  My fingers are still firmly crossed, but I’m feeling a little more confident than previously.  Watch this space…IMG_6214

With thanks as ever to Carol at May Dreams Gardens who hosts the GBBD.