Monday, 26 June 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Summer In A Nutshell


"Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white
And taper fingers catching at all things
To bind them all about with tiny rings"
~ John Keats,1795-1821 

This is the vase of flowers that I look forward to most each year - the very first vaseful of sweet peas.  My summer would not be complete without them. The flowers have been opening in tantalising dribs and drabs over the last couple couple of weeks and now finally there are enough of them to cut to fill a vase. Such vases usually sit on the kitchen windowsill and I hope there will be many more of them to follow.

This year's sweet peas were spread over two sowings both in rootrainers in a cold greenhouse. The first batch was sown on 14th February and the second at the beginning of March (unable to find label with exact date but will update this post when and if I do). The plants raised from the February sowing have turned out to be the stronger although the germination rate was less than fifty per cent. I have since read an article which recommends not watering any early sowings of sweet peas until they have germinated and must remember that for next year. I think that some of those early sowing seeds rotted away. I've never sown sweet peas in February before so have nothing to compare against. The March sowings all germinated but the plants are not as vigorous.

Once hardened off the plants were planted on wigwams at the allotment with two plants to each bamboo cane. They all got a dollop of manure and some chopped up comfrey leaves when planting. I must start to feed them soon. This year's varieties include 'Matucana', 'Midnight', 'Gwendoline', 'Ewewhon', 'Eclipse', Mollie Rilestone (not in this vase), 'Noel Sutton' and 'Ballerina Blue'.


Thanks as always to our lovely hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for encouraging us to share our vases each Monday. I had the pleasure of seeing Cathy's magical garden last week and came away wishing that I could take it away with me. Looking forward to seeing what is in everyone else's vases today.

Monday, 12 June 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Handpicked With Love


This week's 'In A Vase On Monday' just had to feature my new vase, bought recently at a well known supermarket for the princely sum of £3.00. The flowers within were all picked at the allotment this afternoon and are :

  • Leucanthemum vulgare or ox-eye daisy growing at the back of the community greenhouse. It is also known as the moon daisy which I think is most apt as the flowers seem to be gently glowing.
  • Briza maxima - growing at the front of the community hut. This self seeds in the same spot every year which is most considerate of it.
  • Buddleja globosa which I've just found out is also known as the Chilean orange ball tree. These were snipped from a shrub growing near the allotment perimeter fencing. I wish that I had clocked the shrub a week or two ago as the flowers are going over but it's a part of the site that I rarely walk past. I wonder if this self seeds like buddleja davidii. A search for tiny offspring didn't produce any sightings. I will now be keeping my eyes peeled.
  • Finally from my own plot a few sprigs of helichrysum italicum also known as the curry plant. Just stroke the leaves and you know how it got its common name. As somebody who pulls a face at  the mere mention of curry I'm not sure why I grow it other than I'm partial to its silvery foliage. The flower is a soft yellow when in bud, before opening to reveal brighter in your face yellow, which again makes me wonder what possessed me to plant it in the first instance. Anyway I've become fond of it over the years so I daresay it's not going anywhere.
Thanks as always to our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' who inspires to share our pickings in a vase each Monday.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

#mygardenrightnow ~ From The Allotment


Over at Veg Plotting and as part of the Chelsea Fringe event, the lovely Michelle has extended an invitation to share a photo of our gardens or allotment plots this weekend. I've spent most of my spare time at the allotment over the last couple of days, not only working on my plot but also supporting a plant sale which was held this afternoon. Funds were raised for the allotment association, delicious cake (too much) was eaten, growing hints were shared, plans were made to exchange pears and other fruits for jars of jam but above all there was a chance to meet new faces and strengthen community spirit. Do pop over to Veg Plotting or to Twitter to peek over garden fences and allotment plots from far and wide.

Friday, 2 June 2017

EOMV May 2017 ~ Watering Can Neck


Tennis elbow, driver's arm, writer's cramp, housemaid's knee .... is there such a condition as watering can neck? If not can I make a plea for it to be included in dictionaries across the land forthwith. The early part of May passed in a blur of pain, which was located at the top of my spine spreading out to my shoulders. I was unable to think of anything that could have caused it other than the increased lugging of full watering cans. Himself kindly applied foul smelling liniment to the affected parts but it was slow to abate. Needless to say gardening and other activities suffered.

The splendid trio of watering cans in the above photo are not mine but were spotted in the garden of a cottage in Bishop's Castle, Shropshire where we spent a most enjoyable weekend in the middle of the month. Another highlight of the month was a visit to Trentham Gardens, Staffordshire in the company of a good friend, where we were held spellbound by dandelion and fairy sculptures as well as a memorable display of tulips. A return visit is on the cards later this year.



Meanwhile whilst the neck pained the garden did its own thing so May was filled with the loveliness that is chestnut candles, lily-of-the valley, cow parsley, bluebells, honesty, sweet rocket, aquilegias, Solomon's Seal, alliums, tulips and geranium phaeum in various hues and shades. I hobbled in and out of the greenhouse just about keeping in top of the watering and was pleased that I've not grown as much from seed as in some previous years. For the second year running I've not sown tomato seeds but obtained them as small plants from Simpson's Seeds. Both the quality and variety choice is excellent and I'm not left with surplus plants to care for and rehome.



There's been much in the way of weeding, planting and constructing bunny deterrents at the allotment and not much in the way of eating produce. However by the end of the month there were encouraging signs that we will be picking soft fruit soon including raspberries, strawberries and goosegogs. The apple crop looks as if it will be good, shallots and potatoes are doing well so far, French beans have been planted and this weekend will see courgettes and pumpkins move from home where they have been hardening off, to being hopefully planted in their permanent positions. The non-edibles such as sweet peas are just starting to show colour which is a sure sign that summer is knocking at the door. May is without a doubt my favourite month of the year so I'm always slightly sad to see the back of it but still looking forward to the delights of June.

Monday, 29 May 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'Not Fade Away'


Today's opportunity to pick flowers and take photographs for 'In A Vase On Monday' was a race against time. Once again the weather gods have decided on rain to celebrate a bank holiday with rain. They were considerate enough to throw a dry interlude in this afternoon, although there is the promise of more wet stuff on the cards before the day is done.

In this week's vase are :
  • Sprays from an inherited honeysuckle which was picked and bought home yesterday from the allotment. 
  • Astrantia which are now at their peak. There are two varieties in the vase, names long forgotten.

  • Some wispiness in the shape of flowers from a grass that I think is some sort of sedge.
  • Fading out now but still retaining a paler shade of their true colour are the pink flowers from what I think is viburnum plicatum 'Pink Beauty'. I really should have cut some of these last Monday. A big confession and a source of hang my head in shame, is that I bought the viburnum home some years ago and plonked it down at the side of the side of the cold frame whilst I decided where to plant it. Well procrastination got the better of me. It is still there, taller than me and rooted firmly into the ground. I think that an attempt to move it now might well prove fatal. I'm planning to take some cuttings this year and if they strike the progency will be allocated a more deserving spot. 
Thanks as always to our hostess the lovely Cathy who is coming up with roses today over at 'Rambling In The Garden'. I'm wondering what will be starring in other vases today as spring is now well as summer is slowly nudging spring out of the way.

Monday, 22 May 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Chive Talking


We've officially marked the end of winter when it comes to our Sunday evening meals. I persuaded himself yesterday, not without difficulty, that it was time to move on from traditional roast dinners to salads. A visit to the allotment in the morning provided me with the chance to pick some chive leaves to garnish new potatoes and the flowers shouted out at me to pick them for a 'In A Vase On Monday'. I also did this in the knowledge that removing the flower stems is beneficial for the vigour of the plant, so there were no pangs of guilt when I cut the flowers off.

Chives along with thyme must have been the first herbs that I ever grew, initially in the garden before I had an allotment. Their flowers have always given both me and the bees great pleasure. As you probably know the petals of the flowers are edible too but they are too hot and strong for my taste buds. I once had a very pretty white flowering chive plant sadly long since gone to that big plant compost heap in the sky. I must seek out a replacement.

Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting.

Monday, 15 May 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ The Twilight Zone


This week's 'In A Vase On Monday' was picked and photographed late yesterday evening prompting the title of the post. It was a rush to get there before the sun went down. The weather forecast for today suggested that we might have rain throughout the day, so I thought that I would assemble my vase in advance. As it has turned out so far today a wet start has given way to a substantial dry interlude. However hopefully we will have more of the wet stuff later. The garden is already looking happier for what has already come down, after what has been a prolonged dry spell. It's not often that the watering can comes out in April and May but that has happened this spring. In my vase are :
  • Aquilegias - over the years the original aquilegias I introduced into the garden have morphed into an annual lucky dip of different colours, shades and forms. Occasionally mucky shades emerge but they are easily dealt with by snapping their heads off. Each year usually brings the unexpected - this year in the shape of pompoms of pink and also a pale blue which I could not bring myself to snip.
  • The fluffy pink spikes are persicaria bistorta 'superba' which used to be called by the more memorable name of polygonum bistortum 'Superbum'.
  • A couple of stems of convallaria majalis also known as lily-of- the-valley. 
  • The white daisies are erigeron mucronatus - yet another plant that has had a change of name over the years. I think that it would be hard to beat this plant for sheer length of flowering, from very early spring until the frost gets to them.
  • Lastly the pink cow parsley like pimpinella major rosea - well at least I think that is what it is. I also grow chaerophyllum hirsutum, which has similar flowers but in a different shade of pink and every year I struggle to remember which is which. Whatever name it answers to it's one of my favourite late spring flowering perennials, being easy to grow and seemingly pest free.

    Well whatever is happening out there it's time for me to get back outside to the shelter of the greenhouse where urgent potting on awaits. You know that sense of mounting pressure that an explosion might be imminent unless you act!

    Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for hosting. A quick peek reveals that her vase this week is a pretty vision in shades of pink, white and green. I will vase hop later with pen and paper by my side as usual.

    Monday, 1 May 2017

    In A Vase On Monday ~ "As I Roved Out One Fine May Morning"


    So here we are in the month of May already - the fairest month of the year. I would like to say that it dawned fair here but it was rather grey and damp earlier on. However it is definitely brightening up now so I will be heading out into the greenhouse and garden very soon. In my vase celebrating the arrival of May are anthriscus sylvestris or cow parsley, geranium phaeum, narcissus 'Thalia' (there are some advantages to a late planting) and a double flowered tulip by the name of 'Antraciet'. The tulip is a first time round experience which will definitely be repeated. Sadly most of my bulb order didn't get planted last autumn but this one did and I'm delighted with it


    Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' ,who is the ever constant inspiration behind 'In A Vase On Monday', such a pleasant way to kick-start the week.