Monthly Archives: October 2014

Sun, Sea and Sand


We have spent the last week enjoying a well earned holiday, lapping up some late summer sun in the south of Spain. Beautiful as you can see! The cobbled streets here, take on a whole new dimension.

Despite all this warm sunshine and relaxation, the “little green cells” were still working. Having been here before and taken albums full of the obligatory holiday snaps, I was still snap happy, on the look out for a horticultural gem, or an unusual slant. Most of these photos have yet to be downloaded (or should it be uploaded? I never know!) Some have led me to have fun with some puzzles!



This was intended to be a “Wordless Wednesday”, while away, but a wonderful day spent far away from Wi-fi connections in the fascinating city of Córdoba, meant it was not to be be. This old city of narrow streets, keeps its horticulture a closely guarded secret, in beautiful courtyards, hidden from view. We did get a sneaky peak – citrus trees, fountains and walls covered in pots trailing with brightly coloured flowers. Apparently, once year in early summer, these courtyards are thrown open to the public. Make a date in your diary!

Have you spotted the ball? (Or is it a fallen orange?)


….what La Biznaga is?

Well, for one, it is the tapas bar we were frequenting while there.


As we perused the menu on so many occasions, it became obvious that the bar’s logo resembled a flower or seed head, so it led me to wonder what La Biznaga meant. Ah, the wonders of Google!



This is one. It is, in essence, a scented posy of Jasmine, which is a speciality of the Malaga region. The name comes from the Moorish, meaning “Gift from God”.
The starting point is what they term as a wild thistle, but was named as being Ammi visnaga, familiar to us as Bishops Weed, or Khella. They collect these early in summer, leave them to dry and then strip off the flowers, leaving only the skeleton. Later, jasmine flowers are picked early in the morning, before they open, and stuck on to each prong, giving a head of scented jasmine flowers. Each of these “posies” are stuck into the body of a cactus, which has been stripped of its prickles, to be carried through the streets by the sellers, or biznagueros.


Sounds like a painstaking process! But what a perfume they must emit!
They feature strongly in Malaga’s culture, depicted in art and poetry, and they comprise an integral part of the city’s annual festival in August.



Home now, and time to assess the vase I did just before we left.
I was determined that a week away, would not be an excuse to forego a vase of flowers. I put a lot of thought into what I could use that would either last the week or die gracefully. My thinking was that the evergreen Mahonia leaves as a background, with their splashes of red, should last well, as would the Skimmia buds and Sedum flowers. The rosehips should dry out, the Persicaria create seed heads and the grass flowers fade beautifully.

One week on and what’s the verdict? I think it’s worked exactly as I’d hoped!



…. the viola was the only casualty!

I went to Ashwood and….


….came home with a cyclamen, a viola and some tulip bulbs.

I was needing some floral supplies for the forthcoming autumn and winter, as well as thinking ahead to flowers for next spring.

I wanted to see some winter colour,

from the kitchen window image

and from the dining room window image

and, hopefully, some cutting material for vases.


Oh! And I nearly forgot! A garden magazine – what I went for!

The Cuttings Calender – September


Sometimes simplicity is best!

This was my favourite for the month. I loved its freshness, and was enjoying the late burst of pure white rosebuds, nestled amongst the lime green flower heads of our good old friend “Annabelle”, yet again. And it was also, my first foray into Cathy’s meme “In a Vase on Monday”.

Mind you, it was a close run thing! Roaring into second place, was my warm, rosy wine vase I created for my “Last of the Summer Wine” post, out of the dying embers of the garden.


It was quite a concoction of wine coloured flowers, buds and grasses, seed heads and red berries, freshened up with some simple white Anemone “Honorine Jobert” and Rosa rugosa flowers. The wine tones were provided by the flowers of our unknown Sedum, Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail”, the buds of Skimmia rubella, and the wonderful, velvety flower spikes of Miscanthus “Ferner Osten”. Other grasses were also used in the making of this vase. Seed heads were provided courtesy of Crocosmia “Lucifer”. The red berries used were from our Rowan tree (again, unknown variety) along with the hips of two roses – the fat juicy ones of Rosa rugosa and the smaller, goblet shaped ones of Rosa rubiginosa – complete with their leaves to provide bright green and blue green foliage respectively. Quite an autumnal display!

I must share with you my landmark of earlier in the month. Six vases in one day!


You probably recognise several of them carried over from August, but there’s a couple of fresh ones, in there.

First, my jug of flowering herbs,


with mint, lavender, hyssop, fennel, borage and purple sage.

Second, more rosy tones,


with Persicaria used again, this time complete with leaves, complemented with the favourite wine combo of Cotinus “Grace”, and Miscanthus “Ferner Osten”. You can also see the red blades of the grass Imperata rubra, blending beautifully.

Other offerings this month;

A cool blue composition image

More sweet peas,
this time with rosemary. image

A single white rose. image

Buttercups and Daisies. image

And finishing where we started,


the same vase, minus the long gone roses, fading away like a sepia photo!

The Last of the Summer Wine


I’m so pleased with our crop of grapes! O.K. – so they’re small, more the size of blackcurrants, really, and all “pip and skin”, but they’re also sweet and delicious. When you consider that the vine, Vitis vinifera “Brant”, was chosen for decorative purposes, to cover the pergola, this is definitely a bonus!

While (sort of) on the subject of wine, my walks around the “Estate”, has revealed a very rosy glow (or should that be, rose?). Now you may be saying to yourselves, “What do you expect? After all it is autumn!” and I agree. This is the time when foliage takes on fiery hues – reds, purples and golds. But these dying embers seem to embrace more than the leaves.

They include flowers,


– here we have our unknown variety of sedum, their flat, rosy red flower heads, in among the daisy flowers of Aster frikartii “Monch” and Echinacea purpurea –


– and here we have the rosy red bottle brush spikes of Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail” with their complementary coloured leaves. They have been flaming now since the start of the summer, like a veritable bonfire.

They also include grasses,


such as the wonderful wine velvet inflorescences of Miscanthus “Ferner Osten”, so beautifully soft and tactile, partnered with the similarly coloured Cotinus “Grace” and its contrasting shaped leaves


and the grass Imperata rubra now joining in the colour scheme. Note the carefully positioned self-seeded Red Orach!

Even the stems want to join in!


Our Japanese wine berry is making a bolt for it over the box hedge.

Some plants have it all!


Red Orach (Atriplex hortensis var. rubra) is greedy with its deep wine leaves and stems, and matching flowers and seed heads.

But leaves cannot be ignored!


Our Hydrangea quercifolia is turning a gorgeous, rich wine shade, with tiny flower remnants turning slightly pink.


Now to turn this theme on its head! Here, the colour change is in reverse. The normal wine colour of Cercidophyllum japonicum “Red Fox”, is starting to change to buttery yellow. Its somewhat rubbery leaves, turn a lovely shade before shedding and emitting a wonderful scent of burnt toffee! (I had to get scent in here somewhere!) The prospect of this was so irresistible, that even though this is a large tree, unsuitable for the average garden, I had to give it a try in a pot. Probably utter folly, but worth a try! This coloured leaved variety is no so tall as the species, so I may stand a chance. Is this my most unusual scented shrub perhaps? The scent being provided by its shed leaves?

And also, looking in from next door, not wanting to miss out are
some beautiful Hydrangea mop heads.


More “stolen pleasures”!

All we need now, is to bring some of these rich colours indoors, to light up the house.