Monthly Archives: January 2015

Wordless Wednesday – Raining Cats and Dogs!

(Or, really, Raining Cat(kin)s and Dog(wood)s!)

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

Hazel catkins in our native hedge

Hazel catkins in our native hedge

Dogwood bed

Dogwood bed

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I went to Ashwood and….

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….and spent some of our garden vouchers.

Ashwood, as would be expected at this time of year, was awash with the most gorgeous Hellebores. So many beautiful colours! I was particularly taken with a deep red one, with lovely marbled leaves – sorely tempted! (Sorry! Didn’t notice its name! Will pay more attention next time!) Several Witch Hazels were also available – “Pallida” in particular, caught my eye, or, more correctly, my nostrils. It was a lovely pale lemon, and it seemed to have the best scent of those on sale. Sorely tempted again! But I came away with a clematis – Clematis armandii “Apple Blossom”. Thank you, to my work friends! My choice was decided by space available. One of the uprights of the pergola has been bare for a couple of years, awaiting its replacement. Needs must! But I still have vouchers available for a Hamamelis which I’m determined to have. I just need to find a spot. And for that gorgeous red Hellebore!

Mr. Chef also spent some of his vouchers. He spotted a lovely little Green Man wall plaque, to add to our collection. A packet of seeds made up the balance. He is planning to try some Florence Fennel in the allotment. Sounds tasty!

Plant tags were needed, too, for all the propagation I’m planning. Many changes, moves and divisions are on the cards and I hate waste!

I can’t wait to get back to Ashwood soon. I’ve left behind so many goodies!

The Cuttings Calender – December ….and the Calender!

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Well, I managed it! A year of continuous vases in the house, cut from the garden! It’s been a delight, both in the doing and the viewing! I did think I might fall by the wayside, especially towards the end of the year, as material becomes more scarce, but I was surprised by my own imagination. And I was helped by the inspiration from fellow bloggers who contribute to Cathy’s weekly meme “In a Vase on Monday”. Cathy’s blog is “Rambling in the Garden” – most enjoyable and inspirational, so please, do go and have a look! Seeing what others achieved gave me many ideas. So thank you all!

My December vase had to be the Christmas one. I had to include the Christmas necessities of Holly – both green and variegated – and Ivy – again variegated, complete with their berries. I chose to also include some Christmas Box (Sarcococca). Sadly, the traditional red element was lacking. I struggled to find many red berries in the garden. They must have all fed the birds, since they had been there earlier in the month. The only red element I could find were two holly berries and a couple of sprigs of Skimmia “Rubella” buds. Never mind, I had the props to finish it off, in the form of some Christmas pot pourri and a beautiful hand made card. And our colour scheme helps too! I must confess to using the language of flowers, in a bit of a sentimental moment, by adding a sprig of Myrtle for good luck and one of Rosemary for remembrance.

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Earlier in the month, the vase was decidedly more pastel, using the newly blooming flowers of Coronilla “Citrina”. These flowers are beautifully scented and their leaves are a lovely glaucous blue, so I chose some creamy lemon variegated evergreen leaves to set them off, in the form of Pittosporum “Silver Queen” and Elaeagnus “Limelight” to accompany them.

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As the last vase faded, I was faced with a bit of a problem. It would be several days before I could get into the garden in daylight to concoct the next vase (I’m no lark!) and no way could this vase last. Then inspiration struck! What could I pick from the doorway? Our front porch is overwintering our olives and myrtle, the latter sporting some magnificent juicy, black berries. So by the light of the hallway, the follow-on vase was concocted! Ok, a modest little number, but a pleasing little vase nonetheless!

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To round off the year is the “Full circle” vase I showed in my last post. It’s based on the first vase I did, in my little milk bottles, using sprigs of Sarcococca, but this time with a few added winter blooms. Standing proud at the back, are scented sprigs of fresh Lonicera fragrantissima and spicy Chimonanthus praecox alongside the delicate Coronilla again. On the sidelines are a beautiful sprig of Mahonia japonica with its tiny daffodil-like flowers and the ever flowering blue Campanula. In centre stage are some berries, including the cheeky tongues of the Euonymus berries – I just love them!

And this time I found a suitable prop in the form of our brass armillary, displaced from its normal site by the Christmas decs. Somehow it seems appropriate for a New Year vase!

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And finally, the proof!

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My Cuttings Calender for 2014!!

Here’s to 2015’s!

January

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January – the doorway to the year.
Named after Janus, the God of beginnings and transitions.
Derived from tha Latin word ianua, meaning door.

How apt, therefore, is my cuttings display at the moment, displayed by our new French doors! They are showing a selection of scented blooms, flowering at the moment against a backdrop of the evergreen Sarcococca, or Christmas Box. It’s looking forward to the garden delights to come, while coming full circle from this time last year, when I started my Cuttings Calender, using Sarcococca in my new little milk bottles.

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Oh, yes, I’ve done it! Completed a whole year of having flowers and cut material from our garden, on display in the house. Sometimes, rather minimal, and sometimes, I must confess, slightly past their best, while I get a chance to do a fresh vase, but there’s been at least one vase on the go all year. Now, to keep it up and get better! This has affected what I plan to grow from now on. I’m considering more bulbs and growing flowers for cutting. As I’m now struggling for border space for these plans, I’m searching for some quirky containers in which to grow them.

And, I’ve been blogging now for a year, too. As many of you know, I was honoured to be nominated for a Liebster award too, to coincide with my anniversary.

January is also the time of returning to “normal”. I trust you all had a pleasant festive season. For the last couple of months, my garden has had to take a bit of a back seat, with, not only Christmas preps, but also the dreaded D.I.Y. to deal with! At least it’s been a quiet(ish)time, gardening wise. I’ve still been enjoying my walks around the “Estate”, seeing what is developing, and taken some interesting snapshots along the way, but with no coherent storyline – somewhat random – but I’ll show them anyway!

They mainly revolve around the weather effects in the garden – or to be more precise, frost. It has been such a mild Christmas period, with temperatures well into double figures at times, but contrasting with some cold snaps giving us some pure white frosty scenes, and even a touch of snow, albeit short lived.

I have some shots of our frosty garden.

The frosty Grass Garden

The frosty Grass Garden

The frosty Allotment

The frosty Allotment

Note the garden fork staring at me, reproachfully!

The frosty Cottage Garden

The frosty Cottage Garden

Glass of wine, anyone? Hot chocolate, more like!

And there were some magical frost effects!

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One of my somewhat overlooked shrubs, given as an unknown cutting, (unknown other than it’s an evergreen Euonymus) and just plonked somewhere to grow away, threw up a surprise.

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The most amazing berries – totally unexpected! I knew deciduous Euonymus developed similar interesting berries, but not the evergreens. I’m always learning! It has grown in my estimation over the last year for providing good foliage for vases. And now, berries too! Some were immediately added to the milk bottles! It will be a bit more valued from now on.

And on one glorious winter day….

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…. what a racket greeted me! The sycamore trees at the end of the garden, silhouetted against a beautiful blue sky, was full of birds chattering away. They were too far away to make out what they were, but I suspect they may have been starlings. If so, we don’t normally see them in our garden. Slim and dark and not too large. Am I right in thinking that starlings tend to flock and are renowned for their song? Anyway, it was such a cheerful experience!

And now it’s time to look forward. Have any of you got any gardening New Years Resolutions? What plans have you got for your gardens this year?

Here’s to another gardening year! I can’t wait to get started!

A Blog Award

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How pleasantly surprised I was when Chloris at “The Blooming Garden” nominated me for the Liebster award. What is it? Well, Chloris describes it as a sort of chain letter, with the aim of recognising new blogs, and bloggers that you have enjoyed reading. Put that way, it’s very much an honour, and very rewarding to realise that people are enjoying what you write. So thank you, Chloris!

When you accept this, you have to link back to the person who nominated you, and then you have to answer their set of eleven questions. Then you pass it all on by nominating five other bloggers of under 1000 followers. Do inform them and explain the rules. If they accept, you have to set them all another set of eleven questions. And so on!

So I’ll start with the questions that Chloris set me.

1. Why did you start your blog?

Well, I had recently completed a Garden Design correspondence course, and found that I really enjoyed describing and writing about my proposed gardens. I felt I wanted to start my blog as a way of writing about my garden and “showing” it to the world. And I’ve found that not only am I writing about my garden, but I’m now chatting to so many other garden lovers about their gardens and comparing notes and exchanging tips. I’ve found a whole new bunch of gardening friends! (And I can use Latin terminology!)

2. Which is your favourite gardening book?

The one I’m reading at the time! No? O.K.,tricky one. My RHS encyclopaedias are constantly being referred to, as are my Dr. Hessayon books, but if I must pick one, it would be the first gardening book I bought, that helped me plan my new garden and introduce me to my love of scented plants. “The Garden Book” by John Brookes.

3. What do you love to do when you are not gardening?

Oh, dear! Sorry, Chloris! Please don’t banish me to Room 101 or retract my award! My other great pleasure is watching Rugby Union, and our local team. There, I said it!

4. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Plantaholic, impatient, “saft”.

5. What is your favourite film?

It has to be “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, with the wonderful Audrey Hepburn.

6. Tea or coffee?

Coffee (black, no sugar, please!) 😉

7. Favourite flower?

Roses – the ultimate scented flower!

8. How long have you been gardening and what got you started?

I’ve been gardening for 23 years, since I was first confronted with our first and current garden of 160 ft long. What do I do with it? Thank you, John Brookes!

9. Do you garden organically?

Yes! Or at least wherever I can. Weeds that I can’t remove by hand, hoe or fork, is where I occasionally lapse.

10. How do you deal with slugs and snails?

A 3-pronged attack. Organic slug pellets, avoiding slug “dinners” (I no longer grow their favourite food stuffs such as delphiniums and lupins) and standing on them! And I’m beginning to wonder if copper bands round pots may, actually, work!

11. Do you prefer cats or dogs?

Cats, although I’m allergic to both.

Now for the hard part – my nominations. That is so hard. I love reading all the blogs I follow and enjoy them immensely. But I must choose!

1. Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides
2. Angie at Angie’s Garden Diaries
3. Cathy at Rambling in the Garden
4. The Biking Gardener
5. The Tattooed Gardener

I do hope my nominees will accept. If they do, they must pass on the baton, by nominating 5 others. And I hope they enjoy my questions.

So here they are!

1. How would you describe your gardening style?

2. What is your favourite colour in the garden?

3. What is your most loathsome pest?

4. What is your favourite national style of cuisine?

5. Gardening gloves or bare hands?

6. What is your highlight of 2014?

7. And have you any gardening New Year’s resolutions?

8. What would be your “Desert Island” disc?

9. What is your most and least favourite gardening task?

10. What was your favourite subject at school?

11. What is your favourite garden that you have visited, and why?

Have fun with those!

All that’s left is for me to thank Chloris for her nomination, and to all my followers for their comments and support. I would like also to thank all the bloggers I’ve nominated, for the enjoyment their blogs give me. I hope, Chloris, I’ve covered everything and not missed anything. Here’s to another year of blogging (I’ve just marked my first anniversary today – what a nice way to celebrate!)

Happy New Year to you all!