Tag Archives: Grass bed

End of month view – July 2014

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Another post thrown together in haste before our departure to the States.

You may remember I avoided sharing photos of the garden in this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, instead showing the exuberant blooms in my cutting garden down the road.  Well I feel I should (wo)man up, and share for the end of month view.

The picture above captures the rare sight of raindrops (on the scaffolding that’s been erected for the house painting).  I have to say I’ve really struggled to cope with the almost complete lack of rain until the thunderstorms just after the middle of the month.  And as my watering has concentrated on the vegetables and the greenhouse, the flower beds have been suffering.

The left hand Swing Bed still has the St Swithun rose flowering, but the the other roses are long over.  The sweet peas are climbing enthusiastically up the pea netting at the back of the pergola, scenting the area around the swing wonderfully, and the phlox, penstemons and verbena from prior years are all fine.  However, the annuals I planted in both Swing Beds have really struggled to get established, despite my watering efforts.  Interestingly, many of the same plants (Cosmos and Cleomes) are now doing well in the cutting garden, which I think it’s more a reflection of their being planted out earlier, rather than any superior watering regime.

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The right hand Swing Bed shows the apple tree’s potential two apple harvest as well as a salvia, the new growth of the Euphorbia and the mirror sweet peas at the back of the bed.

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Meanwhile, in the Grass Bed, the Verbascum Chaixii Album I grew from seed last year have all come into flower at the back of the bed, adding a certain amount of cohesion, but the planting in front is still a terrible mess.  There are still the remains of the Allium Hair (which really should come out), as well as some Salvia viridis blue used for cutting, the Fox and Cubs (yes, they should come out too) and the Nasturtium Black Velvet.

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In the shady Oak Bed, whilst I’m still not happy with the overall effect, the foliage is calming on hot days and shows the planned pattern of green and purple foliage.  I particularly like the Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (in the foreground) which is one of the only things I’ve planted in this border, having admired it in Beth Chatto‘s garden years ago.

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More positiviely, the raised cutting beds have been doing well (although they had to be lifted and moved as part of the painting works and are now in a rather strange place)

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the Verbena bonariensis are unstoppable

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and the vegetables are all becoming productive (just as we go away!)

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French Bean ‘Cobra’IMG_3877

Runner Bean ‘Painted Lady’IMG_3875

chard,

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courgette

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and Pumpkin ‘Munchkin’IMG_3872

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are romping away

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and the Plumbagos by the greenhouse door are flowering beautifully,

IMG_3863And whilst there are still some good looking pots

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there is still too much chaos and still far too many plants in pots, (a legacy of over ambitious seed planting and obsessive division and cutting taking).

And as I write this I wonder how they’ll cope with a two week absence.  Fingers crossed.

IMG_3866 (2)With many thanks, as ever, to Helen at the Patient Gardener,  for hosting everyone’s End of Month views.

End of month view – June 2014

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Well, what a balmy June.  However, partly as a consequence of this balminess, I feel like the garden has got away from me this month.  There has been too much indulging in garden visiting (there have been others, watch this space…) and just not enough proper graft.  One thing I have spent a significant amount of time doing is watering – especially all my pots.

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Whilst others around the country have had some significant downpours, we’ve had nothing but the odd shower and as a consequence I’m developing arms like Popeye from carrying endless watering cans around.  Whilst we’re lucky enough to have a well (and associated complicated pump and holding tanks) the water pressure isn’t high enough to use a hose, hence the endless cans – and impressive muscles!

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So, having made my excuses, here we go.  The first picture is the grass bed.  I still love the Stipa tenuissima, but the rest of the bed is looking rather a mess.  The hope was that the dark nasturtium (Nasturtium Black Velvet) would pick up on the dark orange of the buds of the fox and cubs, but the latter seem to be going over, and rather than orange I have numerous tiny dandelion type seed heads, which don’t go with anything.

On a more positive note, behind the fox and cubs, but in front of the grasses, I’ve planted a whole row of the Verbascum chaixii album which I grew from seed last year.  These are just starting to flower so hopefully by next month I will have pulled out the spent fox and cubs and have some towering verbascums to admire.

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This is the left hand swing bed, which is looking a bit exhausted.  I haven’t pulled up the foxgloves yet in the hope that they’ll self seed, but the combination of them, the brown Nectoscordum heads and my very poorly Euphorbia wulfenii is not good.  However, hopefully some concerted effort in pulling all the above out, cutting back the geraniums (out of shot at the front of the picture), and giving some space, food, time and water to various annuals I’ve planted out recently (Cosmos Rubenza, Malope, Cleomes) as well as the existing Astrantia, Roses and Penstemons, will pull things back from the brink.

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The ‘Med Beds’ (ie Mediterranean) either side of the greenhouse door are looking rather better.  The Geranium and Potentilla are flowering well, the Eryngium are preparing themselves and I’ve planted out many of the Agapanthus I grew from seed.  I don’t suppose they’ll flower this year, but fingers crossed for next.  I’m also pleased with the Euphorbia mysinites (at the front), which I also grew from seed and must now be about four years old.

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This is the left hand Lavender Bed, the ones described as ‘bonkers’ in last month’s End of month view.   (Both lavender beds are shown in the foreground of the top photo).

Here you can see the old Allium Purple Sensation dead heads in amongst the lavender.  The colour of the lavender is picked up by the Veronicastrum behind, with a yellow flowering Euphorbia for contrast (and the ubiquitous Verbena bonariensis)

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The shady bed is continuing to look lush, despite the hot weather, and the inherited rose is flowering well

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and the hostas were also looking great, right up until the scaffolders came and planted their scaffold and ladder on them.

IMG_3666A new addition this month is my raised cutting beds which were made out of some repurposed greenhouse staging.  I’m a bit concerned as to how shallow they are, but whenever I pull up annuals at the end of the season the roots never go very deep so I hope with food and water they’ll do ok.  I’ve already cut some Amaranthus viridis, Molucella laevis as well as the Marigold, Calendula Sunset Buff, but the vast majority are still to come.

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Meanwhile, in the veg bed, the Diving Lady’s pool runneth over (and is being invaded by courgette leaves), but at least she now has plenty to look at:

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As well as three different sort of courgettes (yes, I know, too many altogether), I’ve planted French Beans (Cobra), Runner Beans (Painted Lady and Polestar), Chard Bright Lights, Cavalo Nero, Mange Tout, Sugar Snap peas and Pumpkin Munchkin.

IMG_3671I’ve finally planted out the greenhouse bed with tomatoes, cucumbers and, for the first time, Cucamelons.

IMG_3670And on the staging, second waves of beans and peas (which need to go out), various seedlings (the ones in the foreground are Abutilons) and cuttings, as well as in the grow bags some (rather diminutive) peppers and aubergines.

IMG_3643The wisteria is kindly providing a second flush, and the Oak Bed, which I always find disappointing, is actually looking rather calm in the heat of June.

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And to finish, the most exciting development.  After some weeks’ persuasion, the OH has finally agreed that we can lose some lawn to make another bed (see hose line below) as long as ‘he doesn’t have to dig it’.  Wish me luck!

With many thanks, as ever, to Helen at the Patient Gardener,  for hosting everyone’s End of Month views.

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End of month view – May 2014

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Everything has, all of a sudden, gone rather bonkers.  All those odd self seeded plants are threatening to take over, but it’s unlikely I’ll live to see it as I will have been strangled by convolvulus long before…

In the right hand Swing Bed above, the roses on the pergola are flowering well.  As some of you know, the idea of the two Swing Beds is that they are generally symmetrical, but this hasn’t been helped by two things.  Firstly, my reluctance to pull out the existing apple tree and secondly, David Austin’s inability to supply two ‘Wedding Day’ rambler roses for the outside uprights.  By a sheer coincidence, I think the rose on the far right is instead ‘Snow Goose’ which I have along the drive bed and was inherited.  Consequently, these two are flowering away, but on the left hand Swing Bed, my Wedding Day rose is biding its time and instead I have the Clematis Josephine (which is a little smothered on the right).  These symmetrical plans are all very well but one does need to be flexible! IMG_2731 This is the Swing Bed looking north.  You can see the Cerinthe is still flowering like mad, but has now been joined by some perennial geraniums, foxgloves and Sisyrinchium striatum. I’m particularly chuffed with the Digitalis ‘Suttons Apricot’ which I grew from seed.   I planted them out last year (having planted the seed the year before), but lost a number to the chickens, and the remainder were all rather nibbled, so last year there were no flowers. However they’re now flowering well, so I guess one positive of the fox getting my poor girls last year, is that I get my foxgloves this year! IMG_2664 IMG_2732 This is the left hand Swing Bed and you can see my solitary lupin, Lupinus ‘Gallery Rose’, and you can also see a massive clump of Sisyrinchium.  The plant was a gift which I split and put a small piece in each bed a couple of years ago.  What’s comical is the fact that in both beds the original clump in the centre of the bed is quite small, but a much larger clump has somehow bullied its way to the front of the border and is now crowding out the geraniums and alchemilla.  I think some judicious ‘thinning’ (binning?) is in order.

What you can’t see in the photo above is my lovely poppy,  I’m pretty sure this is Papaver Patty’s Plum.  It does look a little pink for Patty, but I can’t think that I planted anything else. IMG_2717 IMG_2727 The Grass Bed is having a transformational moment.  I’ve planted Verbascum chaixii album which I grew from seed, all along the back of this bed, but I don’t think they will flower this year.  In front I already have the mad allium, Allium ‘Hair’ (still in bud) and far too many fox and cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca).

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This is a plant I first saw when I took my mother to The Garden House on her 80th birthday.  This instantly became one of my favourite gardens and this plant reminds me of a wonderful garden and a very special day.  However, it is threatening to take over the garden, so I think some more thinning/binning required here.  I think once I’ve got round to taking out the forget me nots I’ll add some annuals from the rather large collection still filling the greenhouse.  But which to choose? IMG_2734 The Diving Lady, introduced in last month’s End of Month View, now has a pool to dive into and something to look at: IMG_2735

The strawberries are ripening so we’ve but some fleece over the whole bed (bottom right of picture above) so that we don’t lose them all to the blackbirds.

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Meanwhile the Shady Bed is looking lush and green (although rather overrun with Honesty seedlings).  There is very little colour here, apart from the rose, which laughs at my ‘Shady’ description.

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This is the bed which epitomises the ‘bonkersness’ of the garden currently.  This is one of the ‘Lavender Beds’ (that’s a name I’ve just made up as they don’t have names, but there are two of them and the path in the middle is lined with lavender).

A number of these plants were inherited (the rose and the paeony for example) but this year all sorts of plants which have been growing around and about, seem to have decided to party in this one bed at the same time.  The Allium Purple Sensations are on their third year and better than ever, the Gladioulus Byzantinus have not previously visited this bed, and the Linaria purpurea and Verbena Bonariensis which were here before, have had a population explosion.  I’m starting to feel I’ve completely lost control, and yet there’s a certain delight in letting them all get on with it.

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The Oak Bed (above) continues to disappoint, but the Melianthus major  is still a joy and the Gladioli here cheer me up.  I think a proper redesign is required for next year.

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I have lots of lovely pots – these Aeoniums were planted by the OH and are very handsome.IMG_2636

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, (which I think will have to be a whole other post) the tomatoes are flowering, but unfortunately they’re still in their 9cm pots…IMG_2685

With many thanks to Helen at The Patient Gardener for hosting the End of Month meme.  Why don’t you go and check out some other End of Months?

End of month view – April 2014

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This is my first post joining in with Helen’s ‘End of month view’ meme at the Patient Gardener and it’s also the ‘big reveal’ of areas of the garden as yet kept under wraps.

Firstly, (and nothing to do with the end of month view as she’s there all year) meet the ‘Lady Diver’, another Denis Fairweather sculpture bought for our 25th Wedding Anniversary to keep the ‘Gentleman Bather’ company (see Don’t f-stop me now).  Unfortunately when we got them side by side we realised they were a slightly different scale and didn’t work together, so the lady has been moved to preside over the veg patch.  In retrospect this is probably the secret of a happy relationship – a certain amount of distance!

In this shot you can see the two ‘swing beds’ and at the rear of the picture, the ‘grass bed’.  The highlights of the swing beds this month have been the Euphorbia characias Wulfenii, forget me nots and the Avignon tulips – some in pots and some in the ground.  However, whilst I love these tulips in isolation (they look great in a pot my the front steps), I have found the fact that they clash with both the crab apple blossom (now over) and the pot of pink marguerites (almost in the centre of this picture) rather disconcerting, and I think next year they’ll be replaced by something equally bright but better toning.

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Working east from the swing beds is the strawberry bed which sits below the Lady Diver.  The soil in the bed has definitely sunk considerably since the beds were built four years ago, and this year I meant to dig out the strawberries (which have been in since that time, and are now rather congested) give them a sort out, top up the soil and replant, but somehow with a poorly ankle it just didn’t get done, and now I look and they’re already flowering.  Too late for this year I feel.

Above the strawberries is the main veg bed full of nothing but promise.

IMG_2081 I have hundreds of seedlings growing in the greenhouse destined for here, but this year I’m considering scaling back the veg and scaling up the flowers for cutting.  At the moment the seedlings would easily fill a plot ten times this size, so some difficult decisions will need to be made (or I need to find more space somewhere…)

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Nearer the house than strawberry bed (you can see the strawberry bed at the back of this picture) are the two troughs.  The daffodils are now very nearly over, but the lovely stocks are continuing. Sitting on the swing yesterday I had a sudden burst of inspiration as to what I can do about the dying daffodil foliage – turn the troughs around by 180 degrees.  This should hide the foliage by putting it behind the stocks, put also, it makes sense as at the moment, the emerging Allium Purple Sensations are actually coming up in front of the stocks.  Turning the troughs around would put them behind the stocks.  And come next spring, I can reverse the whole process.  Sounds foolproof, all apart from finding someone strong enough to lift them!

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Sitting on the decking above the troughs is a cold frame made out of some unused windows.  It never got closed this winter as it’s full of hardy things, generally grown from seed by me, including lots of both Verbascum chiaxii Album and Agapanthus.  I desperately need to get planting so that I can 1. free up the space for hardening off and 2. free up the pots for potting on.

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At the westerly end of the decking the OH created a small new bed which has become home for my lovely daylilies bought from Nick at White Cottage Daylilies, just across the harbour in Bembridge.  Obviously the daylilies aren’t doing much at the moment but the Cerinthe (which self seeded and overwintered) is stunning, and I love the little silvery Sedum.

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This is looking due south from the daylily bed towards the chicken shed.  Sadly the chickens got killed by a fox last year and we haven’t yet replaced them.  However the shed is providing a useful support for the Montana flowers.

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The garden is really east and west of the house (at either side, rather than front and back) and the drive is in the middle.  The drive bed, above, which previously was looking very ‘springy’ with lots of daffodils, pulmonaria and a few bluebells, is now looking a little tired apart from the Erysimum.  However there are Alliums to come and then i’ll pop in something I’ve grown from seed.

At the west side of the drive (alongside the porch) is the east facing herb bed.  Many of the herbs survived over the winter – most noticeably the parsley, which goes from strength to strength.

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And round the corner from the herbs, facing north, is the hosta bed.

IMG_2061I’m afraid the ‘Slug Gone’ hasn’t been a complete success as some of the hostas have got a little chewed, but they’re filling out nicely and I’m trying to resist the temptation to reach for the little blue granules…

Further back behind the house is the shady bed:

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The Old Pheasant’s Eye daffs are the highlight here, although there are ferns and hostas emerging (including Blue Mouse Ears, hurrah!)

And at the end of the drive, facing the road, is the greenhouse, but that needs a post all of its own.

To the west of the drive and in front of the house, there is a small lawn, a table, (where the wisteria is) and the so called ‘oak bed’ because the bed spends almost all of its time shaded by the over-the-road oak .  The beds are fine in spring as they get more light, but in the summer once the oak is in leaf I do find them challenging.  My biggest success has been planting a Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (just coming into leaf in the left hand picture), but otherwise the bed is dominated by a large viburnum I’d like to have out, and, at this time of year, a lot of green perennial foliage.

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At the border with our neighbours is my lovely Melianthus major, and also our Wisteria, extending its influence next door.

And lastly, some tender plants I’ve recently moved out from the greenhouse, are also at this end of the garden –  firstly a shallow bowl which sits on top of a large olive oil jar and then a series of succulents in pots in a lovely old wire ‘carrier’ bought from the gorgeous Petersham Nurseries, close to where we used to live.

Many thanks to Helen for hosting this meme, check out her ‘End of the month view’ using the link at the top.

Jumping horses

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This is the ‘Grass bed,’ so called because of the row of Stipa tenuissima running along the back.
As you can see, at the moment it’s full of forget-me-knots, Erysimum ‘Ivory Giant’ and tulips either in flower, or still to come.  Last year’s Narcissi ‘Sinopel‘ seem to have gone blind this year which is a shame, but bearing in mind the bed faces north, they did all insist on looking the other way, rather than towards the garden, which struck me as rather rude, particularly bearing in mind how expensive they were.
What you can’t see, is that later in the summer this bed is plagued with mare’s tail (Equisetum arvense), and I spend quite a lot of time trying to keep on top of it with varying levels of determination depending on what else is going on.
Having had a problem with it years ago on my London allotment, I’m aware that the roots go deep, but a little investigation has suggested they go down 2 metres.  What I can’t quite fathom, even bearing this in mind, is whether there is a relationship between the mare’s tail in the grass bed, and that growing more like 3 metres below at the road side:
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However new information has recently come to light in the form of the quarterly “Kew” magazine.  Apparently the physicist, Philippe Marmottant of Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, has filmed the movement of mare’s tail spores with a high-speed camera and discovered that the way they move is humidity dependent.  
At high humidity the spores appear spherical, but as the air dries they change shape – at 75% humidity four ribbon like ‘arms’ unfurl, reaching their full extent when humidity drops to 50%.  Because this movement is related to the different structure of the inner and outer layers of the ‘arms’, the process can be repeated again and again, resulting in the spores ‘walking’ – albeit very slooooowly.  Conversely, when fully hydrated spores are exposed to sudden drying, they ‘leap’ from the ground, reaching a height as much as a…….centimetre. Now a centimetre may not sound much, but it takes the spores out of the still air at ground level and into moving air that can transport them into new areas to colonise.
So the question is, did my mare’s tail come from creeping rhizomes that haven’t read the RHS’s 2 metres fact, or from ‘jumping’ spores, caught in an updraft of a passing car and deposited on my bed?  I’m really not sure, I just wish it was neither.

Vanity thy name is Duver Diary*

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Recently I’ve been reading other bloggers’ posts showing their flowerbeds in all their wintery nakedness and I’m wondering whether to follow suit.  On the one hand, part of the point of the blog is to capture the garden as the year progresses, and yet, i would also like it to be a visual treat, (especially after last weekend’s photography course).  Consequently, like an extended Burlesque show, I think I’ll show you a glimpse at a time, and hopefully, by the time all is revealed, it won’t still be naked.

Along the way I also wanted to share a few close ups captured during the recent glorious weather.  The one above shows the new leaves of a honeysuckle planted last year to grow up a tree.  As this shot shows, it hasn’t yet reached the tree and its current ‘mid air’ habit prompted me to stop and admire the leaves, rather than the flowers, as one would usually.

The picture below is of Crocus Cream Beauty whose sunny faces are smiling at me from numerous pots around the garden.  I love the perfect shadow of the anthers against the petal.

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So the first reveal.  These are the ‘Swing beds,’ named after the beautiful Sitting Spiritually swing we installed over three years ago when these beds were first created.  The swing faces west and the beds are roughly symmetrical, although there is an apple tree growing in the right hand bed that was already in situ that we didn’t have the heart to pull out.

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To the left of these beds are some terraced vegetable and fruit beds (out of sight and very naked currently), and to the right is the so called ‘Grass’ bed which runs alongside the road (although 10ft higher) which is lined by Stipa tenuissima, probably my favourite grass.  Beyond the garden you can see the mouth of Bembridge Harbour and the eastern end of the Solent.

Thursday was largely spent working on the Swing beds, pruning the roses, cutting back and dividing, as well as weeding a worrying patch of couch grass.  I’ve recently ordered two ton sacks of compost from the council and the next job is to mulch them.

Here’s the left hand bed a little closer.   The stand out plant at the moment is the lovely lime green of the Euphorbia wulfennii which was moved from elsewhere in the garden when the beds were first planted, but also, although you can’t see from this distance, some Cerinthe Major plants which have survived the mild winter are also just starting to flower.

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And lastly a peek of the ‘Blue’ bed last year.  Take a careful look at the Erysimum Bowles Mauve…2013 05 006 (2)

…and now look at it.  Ah well, thank goodness I took cuttings.

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*So just for our Shakespearean education, I thought I’d check where the quote came from and it turns out that ‘Vanity….’ isn’t the quote.  The quote, from Hamlet, is actually “Frailty, thy name is woman!” and, according to Yahoo answers, Hamlet says it because he was cross with his mother for remarrying his father’s brother within a month of his father’s death.  

Furthermore, Wikipedia, tells us that ” ______ thy name is ______” is “a ‘snowclone’, used to indicate the completeness with which something or somebody (indicated by the second part) embodies a particular quality (indicated by the first part), usually a negative one”.  And ‘snowclone’ is defined  “a neologism for a type of cliché and phrasal template originally defined as a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different variants”

So now we know.  But I’m still not going to change the title.