Tag Archives: sarcococca

My Poor Little Homeless Babies!

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Poor little things! It’s not as if they’re unloved – far from it! Just one look, and I had to have them. And that’s the problem. The family is growing and must have a home.

Let me introduce you!
From left to right;

Escallonia “Iveyi”, Salvia “Senation Deep Rose”, Drimys lanceolata, Caryopteris clandonensis “Dark Knight”, Helwingia chinensis, Cestrum parqui, Pittosporum tobira, with a tiny hellebore seedling at the front.

Things appear uneventful on The Long Garden Path over recent weeks, with not much to report or write about, other than broken fence panels, which is of little interest to anyone. Activity levels outside have been far too low, with either the wind or incessant rain beating me, sending me scurrying indoors to the welcome warmth.

There have been some pleasures on the “walks round the estate”.

Winter scent, in the form of Clematis armandii ” Apple Blossom”

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and various Sarcococcas,

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and the early spring beauty in the Woodland.

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But the little grey cells have not hibernated. Indeed, they are working well, if nothing else is. They have long been pondering the problem. And so, now, there is an overhaul in the pipeline.
I think I’ve already mentioned tweeking the cottage border and adding in or moving, scented shrubs, which, hopefully will do better in a sunnier border. And now the “walks” have clarified where each will live.

Of course, this mental exercise has had a knock on effect, which will impinge on both the existing shrub border, and the Woodland. Will I ever resist moving my poor plants about and let them be?

The little grey cells have also pondered the Allotment, and improvements that can be made there. They have persuaded us to add two new raised beds – one for veg. and another one for more strawberries. You can never have too many strawberries!

So I have been shopping. A start has been made. Seeds have been bought and started off, and compost and soil improver stocked up on. Now all we need is some dry and, hopefully, warmer weather, to leap into action! (Or at least creep!)

Oh, but before I get carried away with excitement, I just have to go back to the aforementioned fence panels. None of this can sensibly be done till they are repaired!

Such is a gardener’s life!

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Scent in the Garden

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

I am joining in with Louise at Wellywoman and Sue at Backlane Notebook with their new meme about Scent in the Garden.

Well, I couldn’t really avoid it!

As anyone who follows my blog regularly will know, I have a passion for scent in the garden, especially scented shrubs and climbers. A scented shrub border was the first border we planted when we first moved here, over 20 years ago. It has been much modified since then and my shopping list shows no sign of diminishing. They are now spilling over into other planting areas in the garden – wherever is available!

The aim is to have scented shrubs in flower all through the year – a continuous feast for the nasal senses!

The winter months can be rich in scented shrubs, so many have obviously found their way into the border. That makes February a good month for me to start.

I think the most delightful one at the moment is Chimomanthus praecox, pictured at the top of the post. This year, after an enforced bit of pruning resulting in a poor display last year, it has come out this winter with its best display yet. Sheer heaven, it was today, trying to photograph it. Looking up into those tiny yellow bells, with their purple “stained glass” centres, dotted against a brilliant, clear blue sky, was breathtaking, but difficult to capture. A gentle breath of wind insisted in moving the stems just at the point of focussing, leading to several blurred images. But the compensation was the gorgeous, spicy perfume wafting down. I’ve never noticed it so strong before. Often, I had to bury my nose in the blooms to appreciate it.

Now, giving this a run for its money are the Sarcococcas or Christmas Box.

Sarcococca humilis

Sarcococca humilis

Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca hookeriana digyna

Sarcococca hookeriana digyna

We have several different species in the garden. I just love them! Their delicious honey scent is so strong that it follows you round the garden, often catching you unawares. After all, the flowers are rather inconspicuous buried in the shiny, evergreen leaves. I think S. digyna has the prettiest flowers with their pink stalks. They are so easy to grow, and, being small and managable, they are easily slotted into any available space. We have two others – Sarcococca orientalis and Sarcococca ruscifolia – but, as they were only planted last year, they have yet to flower significantly.

We also have a couple of winter flowering honeysuckles.

Lonicera fragrantissima

Lonicera fragrantissima

The flowers have seemed a bit sparse this year but their delicate perfume – like lemonade! – may be my favourite (well, one of them!)

Lonicera purpusii

Lonicera purpusii

This one resides in our front garden hedge, so unfortunately, can get a bit overlooked. Shame, as its flowers have a lovely pink tinge.

Our Mahonia japonica is still going strong.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

I thought these were the last of the blooms, but then I took a second look ….

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

….looks like it’s having a second wind, with what looks much like fresh new sprays just starting to open. And more lily-of-the-valley perfume!

Meanwhile, still going strong in the front garden, is the Coronilla citrina, which has featured in several of my vases since the end of last year.

Coronilla glauca "Citrina"

Coronilla glauca “Citrina”

It’s such a beauty, with its sweetly scented, lemon pea flowers and its pretty glaucous foliage.

Am I allowed to include my latest purchase, even though it’s still in its pot? Well, it’s in the garden and giving me pleasure! So, I think, yes!

Hamamellis mollis  "Imperialis"

Hamamellis mollis “Imperialis”

I’m determined to have a Hamamelis in the garden. What self respecting scented winter garden could be without one? This one I bought just last week, and it will survive! It has a really strong, heady scent with lemon, starry flowers.

But it’s not all about shrubs. This is the Snowdrop season – the time for all Galanthophiles, and so here is my scented offering of Galanthus “S. Arnott”….

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….both outdoors and in!

What perfumed delights do you have in your garden this month?

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!

The Cuttings Calender – February

Snowdrops in a dinky vase

Snowdrops in a dinky vase

I’m ashamed to say, that the contenders for February are a bit thin on the ground. I did keep it going, but there was a large element of repetition. I could blame a lack of cutting material, but it’s more likely to be my lack of imagination.

My other contenders?

Six of the best

Six of the best

“Six of the best” was interesting – a sort of botanical “exercise”! – but some elements of the composition did not last well. It comprised of a single sprig of six winter-flowering shrubs, in each of my milk bottles. Abeliophyllum distichum, Daphne laureola, Chimonanthus praecox, Coronilla “Citrina” and of course, Sarcococca and Lonicera fragrantissima. The smell was wonderful!

Chimonanthus praecox

Chimonanthus praecox

I loved the single sprig of Chimonanthus! I felt it was “understated chic”(!) – Japanese almost! It was simple and long-lasting, as well as fulfilling the original aim of bringing the scent down to nose height.

But the simple beauty of the snowdrops, was the winner. So lovely, to bring the harbinger of spring indoors and be able to appreciate them at eye level.

The Cuttings Calendar – January

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Having instigated my Cuttings Calender, and set myself the target of a constant supply of indoor arrangements, I’d better get on with it! It is now nearly the end of February, with little to show so far.

Indoor arrangements – well, I must use the term loosely! I do like single sprays occasionally, sometimes for simple impact, but sometimes because there is little available at the time. I will allow myself that leeway for my first attempts!
My fellow bloggers have inspired me to be more imaginative so I must be more adventurous in future.

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My Mahonia selection in milk bottles, was a contender. It imparted a wonderful scent around the room and was a lovely, cheery yellow. It also lasted well. Snowdrops with Sarcococca also featured for several days.

However, the Sarcococca had to be the pick of January! It was my first attempt and so had to be the one!