Monday, 18 September 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Dripping

We seem to be positively dripping towards the autumn solstice here - day after day where rain appears in some form or another. My flowers were picked and photographed yesterday between the rain showers and downpours that were not initially forecast.  I thought that I should get ahead whilst I had the chance in case today turns out to be a case of more of the same.

In my 'In A Vase On Monday' today are some of my late summer favourites namely :

  • A very pink penstemon, name unknown ( possibly 'Apple Blossom' ) which seems to have two flowering flushes each year. It is both reliable, easy going and pest free. What's not to like apart from the colour maybe? 
  • Eurybia divaricata (formerly aster divaraticus) - a woodland plant which has attractive wiry ebony stems topped with clouds of little white daisies. As the flowers age the tips of the petals take on a lilac-mauve shade.
  • Lysimachia barystachys, aka white loosestrife - this hardy perennial is a newcomer to the fold as I only purchased the plant earlier this summer at the RHS Tatton Flower Show. I came across it on the brilliant Plant Heritage stand, which I wish I had discovered earlier in the day as my hands were pretty full by then. So far so good. Apparently it has good autumn foliage so I'm looking forward to seeing the leaves change colour.
  • Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail' - this is a moisture lover which sends out glowing red tapers of tiny fluffy flowers from mid summer to early autumn above lance shaped leaves.
  • Leycesteria formosa, aka the Himalayan honeysuckle or pheasant berry. This is a deciduous shrub, which has attractive stems and pendulous flowers with bracts, which eventually give way to deep purple berries. This year it seems to be positively dripping with flower and ahead of itself. In previous years it has shown colour as late as mid November but I think that it will give up the ghost before then this year. It is particularly recommended for partial shade or woodland gardens and seems to be one of those unsung easygoing shrubs that apart from pruning just gets on and does it own thing. My shrub is a good few years old and I can no longer remember how I came by it. It does have a tendency to self seed but it can be also propagated either by softwood cuttings. If you try sowing seed from your own shrub be prepared for really sticky fingers as you open up the ripened berries and try to extract the seed. It's great fun. 

Finally not actually in the vase but lurking by it some stems of cosmos bipinnatus 'Pysche White', which I've grown at the allotment this year. I usually grow 'Purity' but thought that I would have a change this year. They just didn't look right in the vase but I thought it was a shame to leave them out. Picked in yesterday's damp gloom they were still a major source of attraction for honey bees. 

A quick peek has revealed that our hostess Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' is sharing enough sunny goodness with us today to dispel any rain day blues. I'm looking forward to seeing what other flowers are starring in vases this week.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

"I Don't Care What The Weatherman Says....."

But I do, I do and regularly check multiple weather forecasts, keep up with a local weather related Twitter feed, monitor my own little weather station as well as cast my eyes and nose to the skies for the sign of imminent rain or the smell of snow depending on the time of year. Yes you can smell snow before it arrives! Thinking about it my interest in the weather was piqued at an early age when I was appointed as a weather monitor at primary school. This exalted position involved a daily venturing out on the school roof which was exciting in itself and would certainly not be allowed in this day and age. Once out there were temperatures to read and record, a rain gauge to peep into and I'm convinced that my duties involved the far from scientific technique of waving a hanky about to establish the wind direction. 

Spending some time traveling on trains last weekend gave me the chance to catch up with some of that backlog of garden magazines, including the September issue of the RHS magazine 'The Garden' (July and August are still in the to be read pile). My eyes were drawn to a snippet in the news section (page 8, if you have a copy) entitled 'Weather Watching', with mention of a free online course starting this month,"open to to anyone interested in, or wanting to learn more about, weather and its forecasting. Participants do not need any science or weather knowledge".

This is a course that has been devised by the Met Office in conjunction with the University of Exeter under the umbrella of FutureLearn, an organisation which runs a variety of online courses. This particular course runs for four weeks and involves two to three hours of learning each week. The last week of the course includes a "gardening module with content supported by the RHS Gardening in a Changing Climate report, and covers a topics such as frost, and adapting your garden for climate change. There are also options for photographers and walkers".  I'm hoping that it might be possible to do both the gardening and the photography modules but still need to check that out.

Further investigation revealed that you can study at your own pace and that there are bite sized sections. Well with the darker nights setting in I made the decision to enrol. I have just dipped my toes into the water and am slowly navigating my way through week one. So far so good. A good starting point is the really friendly discussion board before moving on to the more serious stuff. I will report back at some stage, but if the idea of such a course appeals it is not to late to join me on this journey. The course only officially started on the 11th September with a completion date of 22nd October. After that you can no longer access the course material unless you pay for it. All you need is some free time and internet access. You can find out more detailed information here.

I've had one eye to on the sky whilst I've been writing this. It's looking brighter than yesterday but it's cool out there. Shopping calls and a coat and umbrella are the order of the day methinks. At least it's not too windy to put an umbrella up. What's the weather like where you are?

Monday, 11 September 2017

In A Vase In Monday ~ Between The Showers

Getting a vase together has been somewhat of a challenge today - the weather is more like the middle of October than September - wild, windy and wet. However compared to the dreadful hurricane that has battered the Caribbean and Florida we can't complain. There was a suitable gap between the showers late this afternoon and I dashed out, picked and then took a quick photo before my vase disappeared over the edge of the railings. What you can't see is the twelve foot or so drop down into the stream behind.

In today's 'In A Vase On Monday' are a spray of rose 'The Fairy', ammi visnaga 'Compact', symphyotrichum (the artist previously known as aster) 'Little Carlow' and clematis jouiniana' Praecox'. The vase was a small teapot at some stage in its life before it ended up in the charity shop I found it in.

The forecast is more of the same so there were will be plenty of time for vase hopping, once we have tended to pressing domestic tasks such as making damson gin. Thanks as always to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for so graciously hosting every week come rain or shine.

Monday, 4 September 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ Just Because ...

This week's 'In A Vase On Monday' ingredients are all from the allotment and with the exception of the marjoram  have all come from seed. In my vase are :
  • A couple of heads of a pale orange dahlia, which I think originated from a 'Bishop's Children' mix grown a couple of years ago. They flowers suffered slightly in transit. Note to self - must clutch flowers in my hands on return from allotment rather than cram them into the top of my bag.
  • An orange cosmos - either 'Diablo' or 'Tango'.
  • Tagetes - possibly 'Cinnibar'.
  • Sweet pea 'Eclipse' - now a regular in my sweet pea sowings. In the photo they look more pink than their true colour which is a purple/mauve shade.
  • Centaurea 'Black Ball'. I didn't sow any cornflowers this year as I noticed some self-seeders appearing. I had too many plants last summer so somewhat ruthlessly culled the seedlings down to just five, not knowing whether they would produce blue or black flowers or a mix. I would have been happy with any combination. They were showing signs of making sturdy plants, when they were given a brutal 'Chelsea Chop' by the rabbits that are now unfortunately regular visitors to the allotment site. Only one plant went on to flower. I'm now planning to sow some cornflowers directly at the allotment this month, in the hope that they will make for tougher plants before the rabbits get hungry next spring. We are also planning to supplement our rabbit defences over the next few months to try to keep them out.
  • Marjoram - which is not only has sweetly scented foliage but bears flowers which attract the pollinators.
The little glittery elephant is there just because I think that it goes well with the flowers and the vase. It was a charity shop purchase made locally earlier this year.

Oh I see that our hostess Cathy from 'Rambling In The Garden' is sharing a delicious looking coffee and cake combination this week.  Now who could resist popping in to see to see her and all the other vases that she will be generously sharing.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

#mygardenrightnow - A Work In Progress

A sunny late summer morning and what better place to be than at my allotment, working on my long term mission of getting on top of the mare's tail. This work in progress has now been years in the making and I feel that I'm never going to get the upper hand. If you could knit or crochet with the stuff I think that I could have made a blanket by now big enough to cover the entire plot. The shadow you can see in the photo belongs to me.  I only wish that I had not first seen my plot in the winter - little did I know what trouble lay underneath the ground. Any advice is more than welcome.

All is not doom and gloom thankfully. There were butterflies and bees about as well as crops to take home, swap and to be gifted. A couple of wonky cucumbers were put in my hands. They may not be straight or supermarket shelf worthy but they will be deliciously crisp and tasty. 'Katy' and 'Sunset' apples were swapped for some Cox's Orange Pippins. A plot neighbour and I picked some of the rose hips from the eglantine rose on my plot - she is going to make rose hip jelly and in due course a jar will come my way.

From my plot I picked a couple of courgettes, a patty pan squash, 'Charlotte' potatoes, some climbing French 'Cobra' beans, apples and a few autumn fruiting 'Polka' raspberries. The raspberries are the start of a second flush and will decorate my porridge tomorrow morning. Now it's back to the kitchen to the bowl and two carrier bags full of apples picked earlier in the week.  There's much peeling ahead of me this weekend.

A HUGE thanks to lovely Michelle over at 'Veg Plotting' for inviting fellow garden and allotment lovers to share a scene from their patches of earth captured at some point this weekend. Your contribution can take the form of a blog post, a tweet, a photo via Instagram, a YouTube post or you could use Facebook. Do join in if you haven't already.

Monday, 28 August 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ A Bridal Bouquet

My first 'vase' this week is a bouquet tenderly held by a newly-wed bride. The flowers - a mix of white and cream roses, the palest of pink sweet peas and soft pink astilbe together with eucalyptus foliage. The bride in question married my nephew last weekend and we were privileged to have been invited to share such a happy day with them.

One of the vases of flowers which had decorated the church was moved to a table just inside the entrance of the reception venue. Very similar to the bridal bouquet but with pale pink roses instead of white and white delphiniums in lieu of the sweet peas. We didn't notice that the lampshade was at such a tipsy angle when we took photos of the flowers - maybe it was the champagne fumes.

Finally what I thought was a most special touch and one that made my eyes moisten. A step ladder to one side of the table was decorated with simple floral vases, together with photos of the bride and groom's parents and grandparents (including a photo of my parents).

I'm sure that our hostess Cathy will forgive me from straying from the brief this week. If you haven't already popped over to 'Rambling In The Garden', please do so. As usual Cathy has a floral treat in store to wonder over and there are links to other vases each with their own story.

Monday, 14 August 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ 'All Shook Up'

The ingredients of today's 'In A Vase On Monday' had the dubious pleasure of a bus journey back from the allotment to home via the shops. One or two of them became battered and bruised en route and sadly a few stems had to be jettisoned. My vase this week reflects the seasonal changes of the palette from pale and pastel to dark and sultry. In my vase are :
  • Sweet peas - 'Matucana', 'Midnight' and 'Eclipse'.
  • Crocosmia - I inherited a patch of this at the allotment so have no idea what variety it is.
  • Dahlia 'Magenta Star' and an allotment dahlia - possibly 'Arabian Night'. 'Magenta Star' is a fabulous flower, which not only attracts pollinators but also has deliciously dark stems and foliage that seems to have a sheen about it. The photo doesn't do justice to it so I will try to remember to take another photo before this year's flowers are over. The allotment dahlia has been left to overwinter in a raised bed for the last two years and is now a most sturdy plant producing a multitude of flowers.
  • Geum 'Mrs J. Bradshaw' - this poor lady suffered in transit. I only managed to retrieve one stem. This is a long flowering perennial which comes true from seed and can be sown in autumn in a tray and left in a cold frame to overwinter. I was given a trio of plants by my allotment neighbours last year and they have made a good show this season.
  • Cosmos bipinnatus 'Rubenza' - grown from seed sown in April. I prefer the 'Double Click Cranberries' that I grew last year. Although the 'Rubenza' plants have not grown as tall or as broad as 'Double Click Cranberries' I've not really been struck by the flower colour. I think that I will be clicking again next year. 
  • Tagetes 'Cinnibar'? - these seeds were grown in the expectation that they would result in an all orange cosmos - either  cosmos sulphureous 'Diablo' or cosmos sulphureous 'Tango. I sowed both varieties in April but one of them has turned out to be an impostor. As far as I can tell they are very similar to tagetes 'Cinnibar' which I've grown previously. Labels got lost somewhere between sowing and planting but the other is definitely an orange cosmos. I picked a flower for this vase but it suffered a fatal injury on the way home so could not be included. Hopefully there will be more blooms to pick soon which I can include in a future vase.
A huge vote of thanks as always to Cathy the lovely hostess of 'In A Vase On Monday'.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

August Thoughts

"One early evening at the beginning of August, I come back from my allotment with potatoes, carrots, shallots, beans (broad and runners), kohl rabi, and a little tomato, and soon the juice of runner beans under the knife with the smell of other vegetables cooking. After supper, through the open back door, the pale cups of the oenothera and the sweet Turkish smell of the night-scented stock, the clovey smell of other stocks, and the deeper clove of carnation, took over. Then there was the fresh astringency of a perfect unfurling bud of 'Golden Showers', lemon balm up the path, and then phlox.

But what had drawn me in to the darkening garden were the night-scented stocks, and it is the one smell that, inside comes to me on its own without seeking it out. This is one of the high points of the year - the quiet house, the lamp on the table with the bowl of sweet peas, dahlias in a jar on the shelf. It's so still that there's hardly the flap of a moth. It's warm enough again, after the dip we took at the end of July, to relax and think of another day's activities ahead in and out of the house, pegging down strawberry runners, taking cuttings of honeysuckle, remembering not to miss the time for sewing spring cabbage ; drying shallots and then onions in the sun, cutting down the broad beans for a second flowering , and being reminded, by the smell  of your hands when you touch stalk and leaves of excitement at the emergence of those grey-green leaves at the beginning of the year if you had done a sowing the previous November".

~ An extract from 'Led By The Nose' by Jenny Joseph.
~ Illustration by Lena Anderson.

Monday, 24 July 2017

In A Vase On Monday ~ A Snow Princess

This week's vase features a 'Snow Princess' and in this case she has not been blown in on a cold blast of arctic air but has been ushered in by a summer zephyr. Three new to me annuals were sown earlier in the year and this is the first to come into flower. Hopefully I can report on the other two in the near future. 'Calendula 'Snow Princess' was a new arrival in some the 2017 seed catalogues and as far as I'm concerned has lived up to my expectations. Although definitely not the colour of snow the creamy flowers are most attractive and I like the bronze tinged petal tips. There is of course the bonus that her petals are edible but I've not nibbled yet.

After reading this article by Graham Rice I sowed a few seeds yesterday, in the hope of some late flowers and will also be sowing again come September. Here she is together with some rosemary and a sprig or two of a viola. The container is a little jar hand-painted by my mum. As always a heartfelt thank you to Cathy over at 'Rambling In The Garden' for her oh so gentle encouragement to fill a vase on a Monday.