In a Vase on Monday: Spotting Signs of Spring - - Britain

In a Vase on Monday: Spotting Signs of Spring

As was clear from many Six on Saturday posts this weekend, spring is very much on its way in the UK and some other northern hemisphere gardens, so spotting signs of it is a doddle, with spring bulbs very much to the fore. It was only after I snipped the contents for today’s vase that I remembered my intention to pick some of the double Narcissus ‘Tête Boucle’ from the baskets usually hanging at the front of the house, but removed to allow installation of external installation (delayed numerous times, unsurprisingly due to the weather) and now languishing largely unseen at the side of the property instead. Perhaps they will still look as good next week?

Six on Saturday: Light Bulb Moments -

Six on Saturday: Light Bulb Moments

The snowdrops are over and the witch hazels finished flowering more than a month ago but hellebores, with their long season of interest, continue to make their presence felt. There are a few flashes of purple from lingering crocuses and the streamside grass is still ablaze with yellow ‘Tête-à-tête’, and now the later spring bulbs are beginning to appear – fritillaries are so pretty, with their nodding purple snakes’ heads, even more so when growing in a clump, aren’t they?

In a Vase on Monday: Sunshine and Blue Skies -

In a Vase on Monday: Sunshine and Blue Skies

Sadly, there were neither blue skies nor sunshine yesterday, when I created this vase, and if I had checked the forecast when I first got up I would have searched for and picked blooms, popped them in a vase and photographed them first thing, when it was at least dry. As it was, however, with other commitments later, I found myself dashing out in the rainy late afternoon to find something I could quickly cut and display and photograph.

Six on Saturday: Undercover -

Six on Saturday: Undercover

There are no sleuths investigating a dastardly crime here, it’s just that all but one of my contributions for Jim’s meme at Garden Ruminations this week are inside and undercover! Snowdrops, both common and specials are all but over here, but Galanthus ‘Peardrop’ (above), my star performer, is still strutting her stuff, flaunting her HUGE blooms, a full 2″ (about 5 cms) from the top of her green ovary to the tip of the outer perianth segments – she’s gorgeous!

In a Vase on Monday: Measure for Measure -

In a Vase on Monday: Measure for Measure

Like last week, I hadn’t a clue where to begin when I began my hunt for the contents of today’s IAVOM, but was prompted by the arabis shown on yesterday’s Six on Saturday, one clump of which grows close to the back door. The arabis firmly fixed the scale of the vase as ‘small’, making the rest of the task suddenly easier, as I cut unnamed pulmonaria and Cyclamen coum blooms, adding slightly reddish sprigs from Nandina domestica ‘Obsessed’ and an unlabelled heather that had been included in baskets at the front of the house to provide some height.

A Glossy Start to March -

A Glossy Start to March

Although snowdrops are all but over, hellebores are still making a big statement in the garden and it could be easy to overlook other signs of early spring. I haven’t made a point of featuring hellebores in  a post this season, not yet anyhow, but thought I would begin my post that links with Jim’s Six on Saturday meme at Garden Ruminations with H ‘Glenda’s Gloss’, to show off her intriguing blooms – you don’t need to be able to look Glenda in the face to see how beautiful she is.

Remembering February -

Remembering February

February has been an almost surreal month in many ways, so it comes as a surprise that I have remembered that today sees the end of it, allowing me to post a timely review of that garden – not a detailed review, I hasten to add, but just a quick romp round, so please excuse its brevity. We start, as always, with the view from behind the house (above) and of the adjacent streamside and shrub border, the latter from both directions.

In a Vase on Monday: Keeping Watch at Twilight -

In a Vase on Monday: Keeping Watch at Twilight

I had no preconceived ideas of what I might pick for today’s vase but wanted to avoid hellebores and snowdrops, which would have been the easy option. I don’t have many summer snowflakes, Leucojum aestivum, but the first stems were in bud so I cut three as a starting point, keeping the stems long.

Six on Saturday: Velvet Petticoats, Eyeliner, Sprouts and Stately Stems - - Britain

Six on Saturday: Velvet Petticoats, Eyeliner, Sprouts and Stately Stems

I must be honest and say that the petticoats are not velvet, but two pots of hooped petticoat narcissi in the Coop, Narcissus bulbocodium ‘Arctic Bells’ and ‘Casual Elegance’ (above); what is velvet, however, is a plant recommended for a cool greenhouse by well-known UK nurseryman Bob Brown. I was trying to find suitable contenders for the Coop and bit my tongue as I tried to ignore that it has yellow flowers – I am glad I did as the foliage is not only delightful but tactile too, and as a plant it has sailed through two winters with negligible attention and without batting an eyelid, looking every bit as smart as it did when I first bought it. Let me introduce you to Oxalis spiralis ‘Sunset Velvet’ (below):

In a Vase on Monday: Keen as Mustard - - Britain

In a Vase on Monday: Keen as Mustard

Many people think of daffodils as the harbingers of spring, but we gardeners know there can be many other early spring treasures delighting us before most of the daffodils begin to emerge. Whatever we think of yellow blooms, however, there is still something pleasingly cheery about daffodils and narcissi of various types although personally, I prefer the smaller varieties and those that are – yes, I have to admit it – less yellow.

A Private Viewing -

A Private Viewing

We were due to open the garden today under the National Garden Scheme for snowdrops, hellebores, witch hazels and other plants of seasonal interest, but have had to cancel it for family health reasons. The garden was largely ready for the opening, although there were still a few outstanding tasks when we made the decision a fortnight ago; it is a shame, but it was the right decision to make.  The biggest shame, however, is not being able to share it with more people, so today I have recorded a warts and all video tour and am sharing our mid-February treasures with all of you instead.

Six on Saturday: What’s New? -

Six on Saturday: What’s New?

The first ‘Tête-à-tête’ in the streamside grass for a start (although if you look closely it is more weed than grass these days) above, and one of several recently-emerged Clematis armandii ‘Snowdrift’ blooms below:

In a Vase on Monday: A Vase of Vegetables -

In a Vase on Monday: A Vase of Vegetables

…well, not really, actually a vase of Helleborus ‘Double Aubergine’. With no real aubergines to hand, the flowers and an arum leaf are propped up by a few (shop-bought) sugar snap peas, and displayed in a slim-waisted dark green vase, possibly Caithness Glass.

Six on Saturday: Promise -

Six on Saturday: Promise

The garden screams ‘Promise’ at every turn, offering up joy on every ramble. Buds of Prunus mume ‘Beni Chidori’, tight little pink balls for several weeks, have begun opening and allowing yet another fragrant winter plant to delight us in these leaner months. A picture of the tree, below, does not give a good indication of its real impact, but at least the close up of some of the blooms does.

Six on Saturday: Walking With Witches -

Six on Saturday: Walking With Witches

Not surprisingly, I have been enjoying my witch hazels in recent weeks, from the moment they began flowering at the turn of the year. Some are perhaps on the wane now, but there is still plenty of colour on all of them. Why not come and admire them with me?

In a Vase on Monday: At the Double -

In a Vase on Monday: At the Double

Just a very quick IAVOM post from me today, a teeny Bretby Pottery salesman’s sample jug, with a posy of common double snowdrops, Galanthus ‘Flore Pleno’. They may be ‘common’, but that doesn’t stop them being exceedingly pretty, with their frilly white tutus and generous green markings. And if we are going to use a double domino as a prop, let’s have a double six!

End of Month View: Oops!…I Did it Again -

End of Month View: Oops!…I Did it Again

I wasn’t aware that it was the end of the month until it no longer was the end of the month, and the new month of February instead – this is becoming a habit! As my EOMV posts are as much for my own records as anything else, I shall whizz through it with just photographs this month and (may) be better prepared next month… You can check out the usual locations the photographs are taken from by looking at the ‘Route of Video Tours’ under The Garden tab.

In a Vase on Monday: Sticks of Pink -

In a Vase on Monday: Sticks of Pink

Inspired by the lovely pink pussies of Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ featured in my last Six on Saturday and a sudden glut of blooms on Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, creating today’s vase began easily. Selecting stems of the former that wouldn’t detract from the shrub and reaching flowering stems of the latter proved a little challenging, but it was easy enough to choose additional material to complete the contents, with witch hazel H vernalis ‘Amethyst’ and foliage of Pittosporum ‘Tom Thumb’ providing different degrees of pinkness.

Six on Saturday: Whirling Dervish? -

Six on Saturday: Whirling Dervish?

This hellebore always astonishes me with its profligacy, an almost overabundance of buds and, in due course, flowers. I have to remember not to trim its marbled leaves, a feature of x ericsmithii hellebores; this one is H ‘Piroueutte’ and I can visualise it twirling round and around with its swirling pink skirts, like a whirling dervish.

In a Vase on Monday: Thoughts of the Orient -

In a Vase on Monday: Thoughts of the Orient

I am not quite sure where the thoughts of the Orient came from, although the witch hazel at least has oriental ancestry – it may simply be that the yellow, cream and yellow-green contents brought this little perfume bottle to mind, thus bringing thoughts of the Orient to me even if no-one else…

Six on Saturday, Including Some Lessons -

Six on Saturday, Including Some Lessons

If there is a lesson to be learned about the rose above, ‘Phyllis Bide’, it is not to overlook what is in front of your face. Planted outside the front door a few years ago to replace, on a whim, the bright pink ‘Pink Perpetue’, the bud that this bloom opened from must have been in evidence before I noticed the fully open flower on Thursday, but I hadn’t seen it. Not that I was expecting to see any roses in bloom halfway through January, although it does sometimes happen – and admittedly it tells me that this is a rose I had forgotten to prune when I did my climbers back in the late autumn! The front of the house is in full sun for most of the morning, so the sunshine that accompanied some bitterly cold days this last week has clearly given Phyllis a boost. Overall, however, she has still been outperformed by her predecessor, and needs to pull her socks up to justify her front-of-house position.

In a Vase on Monday: Green Grow the Rushes, O - - Britain - state Ohio

In a Vase on Monday: Green Grow the Rushes, O

I’ll sing you one, O Green grow the rushes, O What is your one, O? etc

Six on Saturday: Always Something -

Six on Saturday: Always Something

I feel sorry for gardeners who have no incentive to spend time in their gardens in January, especially on the more clement days like those we have had this week – with colder days due soon, however, it might be a matter of looking for tasks that can be carried out inside for a while! Now that the working greenhouse is up and running again (albeit currently sharing the space with the remnants of reconstruction and unpacked bags and crates) I can at least begin sowing seeds, starting them inside the house before moving them into the greenhouse upon germination.

In a Vase on Monday: Blowing Its Own Trumpet - - Germany - Scotland

In a Vase on Monday: Blowing Its Own Trumpet

Last week, Anna of Green Tapestry apologised for ‘cheating’ when she shared her amaryllis/hippeastrum In a Vase on Monday. Happily, our rules for this meme are fairly fluid and contributors share vases very much in the spirit of it, and it was by no means cheating – and I am not just saying that because I doing something very similar this week! In fact, I am very grateful to Anna for messaging me back in November to let me know that ‘a certain German supermarket’ had these bulbs in stock, allowing me to hotfoot it down to our local store ASAP.

Six on Saturday: the Fire at the Heart of the Garden Burns Brightly -

Six on Saturday: the Fire at the Heart of the Garden Burns Brightly

I have no idea what has caused this ‘flame’ in the garden, but perhaps it really does symbolise the heart of it. I was not aware of the flame while I was working in the garden today, removing and cleaning the bricks from the low retaining wall at the back of one of the bold borders, and it only became evident when I looked at the photos later. Looking at the wider picture, when there was about a third of the wall left to remove and clean, you can see that there is a glass sculpture in the border but, at the time the picture was taken, the sun (and it was a sunny day) was behind me and to my right, so it wasn’t shining through the glass. Curiously, as I perched on my makeshift stool, chipping away at the bricks with my lump hammer and chisel, I found myself thinking of earlier civilisations, chipping away with bones and stones to make their artefacts – so could I perhaps have been joined by ghosts from the distant past, huddled round their fire for warmth…?

End of the Year: Organised Mayhem at the Bottom of the Garden -

End of the Year: Organised Mayhem at the Bottom of the Garden

In terms of a review of the year as a whole, there is not a lot to say, with it being more a case of consolidation than of change, building on subtle changes made the year before, like moving snowdrops to the woodland, thinning the apple trees to introduce more light to the woodland edge border below, and extending the blue & white borders. Even the current project, despite the organised mayhem it has generated, will only bring about a subtle change to the garden. Within the garden as a whole, mixed weather patterns created uncertainty in flowering times but there were negligible losses from the previous cold winter and no problems with waterlogging during the last few rainy and unsettled months.

Boxing Day Count 2023: Winter Fragrance -

Boxing Day Count 2023: Winter Fragrance

I wasn’t expecting a lot from today’s count, but mild temperature in the week leading up to Christmas Day must have given things an unseasonal boost and I have had some surprises in the last few days. Having noted it was still only in bud, I wasn’t going to include sarcococca in the total until I came out of the back door again a little later and was instantly hit with an almost overwhelming fragrance: tucked under foliage and sprawling ivy was a clutch of fully open blooms, doing what they do best and perfuming the garden from several metres away.

In a Vase on Monday: the Holly and the Ivy, Both Full Grown -

In a Vase on Monday: the Holly and the Ivy, Both Full Grown

With very best wishes and thanks to all my blogging friends for your continued friendship, wishing you health, happiness, joy and good gardening in 2024.

Six on Saturday: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen -

Six on Saturday: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

The gentlemen may well be resting and making merry but, never one to sit and twiddle my thumbs, I have suddenly found myself in the middle of another project. With only eight weeks until we open the garden again, it is not necessarily a sensible thing to be doing, but with a settled period of weather in the offing it was hard to resist, especially as the Golfer was very much up for the challenge. In fact, unusually, the project developed from an idea of his, a practical revision of the status quo, and began with stealing one of the cutting beds (above) and temporarily bagging it up (below):

In a Vase on Monday: a Bunch, Not a Posy -

In a Vase on Monday: a Bunch, Not a Posy

When I set off into the garden yesterday to pick materials for today’s vase, I fully expected to come back with a little posy and certainly not a bunch, Winter not being quite as generous in her offerings as other seasons of the year are.

Six on Saturday: Forward and Back -

Six on Saturday: Forward and Back

Working through winter tasks in the garden when time and weather align favourably, there are plenty of opportunities to look forward and back, usually simultaneously, such as with crab apple Malus ‘Evereste’. This sad, mushy state was pretty normal for M ‘Golden Hornet’, but the blackbirds have usually taken all the peachy crabs from ‘Evereste’ well before now, leaving me looking forward to the pretty spring blossom or at least to when I am able to remove the offending fruit. Even the red Christmas lights do little to enhance their ugliness.

In a Vase in Monday: a Mixed Bag of Anticipation -

In a Vase in Monday: a Mixed Bag of Anticipation

Blooms are almost non-existent in the garden at the moment after several days of frost, but I had two options: another pelargonium from the Coop, or stems of the overwintering Salvia ‘Phyllis Fancy’ in the working greenhouse. The latter, which never made it back into a border last year after its previous overwintering, remaining in its pot in disgrace, won the toss. After continued underperformance, I have been on the point of banishing it altogether, but now plan to give it a reprieve, albeit keeping it in a pot rather than giving it border space. However, I am not holding my breath…

Wordless Wednesday: A Week of Flowers, Day 6 -

Wordless Wednesday: A Week of Flowers, Day 6

Joining with Cathy at Words and Herbs and her seasonal meme and looking back to the end of August, and Clematis ‘Gravetye Beauty’

A Week of Flowers, Day 5 -

A Week of Flowers, Day 5

Joining in with Cathy’s Week of Flowers meme, with a vase from April

A Week of Flowers, Day 4 -

A Week of Flowers, Day 4

Revisiting May for Cathy’s Week of Flowers at her Words and Herbs blog

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