In a Vase on Monday: a History Lesson - - Usa - Britain

In a Vase on Monday: a History Lesson

I have chosen roses to go in my Monday vase this week because they are the most floriferous blooms in the garden at this point in mid-June. There are two varieties, growing together in the gallery border, and both seem to have done better this year than before – behind the gallery fence is the woodland which blocks sun from the south, so the roses only get the morning and late afternoon sun. However, our neighbours cut some of the lower branches from their huge mature beech over the winter and perhaps this allows more light to filter through.

Six on Saturday: Differences -

Six on Saturday: Differences

After a day of tweaking we are all but ready for tomorrow’s garden opening (although there are always things that can only be done on the day), and I am enjoying sitting down while I write this post. Things are generally in order and the garden is poised and waiting, so a chilled evening is more than justified.

Six on Saturday – Mind Your Head! -

Six on Saturday – Mind Your Head!

Although our first proper opening of the garden is not till a week tomorrow, we had a group visit on Thursday, a mixed blessing, as it meant the garden had to be more or less ‘ready’ over a week sooner than it might otherwise have had to be. We didn’t have any group visits last year, the first year that we hadn’t, and this was the first time we had a visit before the main openings as I had previously avoided this – June is probably the most floriferous month, and sometimes we could be in limbo for two or three weeks after the main openings until all group visits were over, before we could loosen the reins a little. Interestingly, this gardening group, from one of the local villages, had previously visited us the first year we opened, although all but a handful of them were new members so the garden was new to them.

In a Vase on Monday: Sweet - - Usa - Britain - Japan

In a Vase on Monday: Sweet

My early sweet peas, grown in the greenhouse, are now flowering prolifically and I have to work hard at picking them regularly – but will have to work even harder soon as there are now buds on my outdoor varieties. The indoor ones have been bred specially to flower at lower light levels and in the UK have to be grown in a greenhouse. For some reason the lavender blooms are more dominant this year, although I sowed the same number of seeds of each colourway.

Six on Saturday: Ballerinas, Bells and Beautiful Blooms -

Six on Saturday: Ballerinas, Bells and Beautiful Blooms

Oriental poppies in any shade may look dramatic when in bloom, but don’t flower for long, flop unattractively and certainly don’t die back well. Somehow they still merit space in a border, but if they start thinking they can take over the world then they are OUT, although removing them is never as easy as one would like it to be. I have a basic fiery scarlet one, pale coral pink Papaver ‘Princess Victoria Louise’ and the more recent acquisition above, ‘Royal Wedding’. The blooms on this one seem particularly large, especially when the petals are splayed out like a frilly tutu – no doubt they will be gone by tomorrow!

In a Vase on Monday: Dining Out -

In a Vase on Monday: Dining Out

Bloom of the moment here is undoubtedly the delphinium, displaying its stunning deep blue spires in the blue & white border. I have had this plant many years and although it lost its label it may be ‘King Arthur’; it was moved from its original position about 3 or 4 years ago and has done even better since – so much so that it was split and part of it moved to one of the bold borders where sadly it declined to return after its second season. Although it does have side shoots, it never really reflowers to the same extent later in the season as perceived wisdom suggests it might.

Six on Saturday, Starting With an Untruth -

Six on Saturday, Starting With an Untruth

It wasn’t actually a lie, but I was misleading myself as well as anyone who reads my blog, when I talked yesterday about how behind the clematis were. In reality, it seems to be mostly the C viticella and C integrifolia that are either slow or not showing at all, whereas  C texensis like ‘Princess Diana’ and ‘Duchess of Albany’ are as floriferous as usual although not yet in bud, and the few Group 2 clematis are growing and flowering (or about to) as usual, like the striking Clematis ‘Kingfisher’ above.

Marvellous May! -

Marvellous May!

I can only marvel at May and what it has brought to the garden…

In a Vase on Monday: On Its Way - - India

In a Vase on Monday: On Its Way

It’s a strange in-between season at the moment, no longer really spring, but surely not summer yet, despite all the roses. Summer, however, is definitely on its way, despite the 36mm of rain on Wednesday and the thundery showers yesterday, and today’s vase contains the first evidence of both summer colour and summer abundance.

Six Shining Stars on Saturday -

Six Shining Stars on Saturday

The garden continues to race along, filling out its borders, opening its blooms and generally providing an endless degree of wonder and awe on every ramble. There are new shining stars waiting to be discovered each day, and I have included a selection of them for Jim’s Saturday meme at Garden Ruminations, making no apologies that there are yet more roses amongst them.

In a Vase on Monday: Alone and Palely Loitering -

In a Vase on Monday: Alone and Palely Loitering

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight, Alone and palely loitering, The sedge is wither’d from the lake, And no birds sing. John Keats You could be forgiven for thinking that today’s vase was a bit of a cop-out, that I had spent next to no time preparing it, but you would be wrong. It took several circuits and a fair degree of thought to come up with the vase and its associated prop. It may only be a single stem in a vase, but I am more than satisfied with the combination and the title and prop.

Six on Saturday: More Roses - - Britain

Six on Saturday: More Roses

Every day I seem to spot the first rose of the year on yet another bush and, today, the first of hundreds on ‘Rambling Rector’; in the warmth and sunshine this afternoon there was even a hint of fragrance in the air. I can’t post any fragrance on this blog, but I can share the beauty of the roses along with their varied colour and form, beginning with ‘Olivia Rose Austin’, above, which grows into a neat and shapely bush.

In a Vase on Monday: Ball and Chain -

In a Vase on Monday: Ball and Chain

Having decided to spare a few allium (probably A hollandicum) for today’s vase, I sought other material on the purple spectrum, cutting Geranium phaeum ‘Raven’, a deep purply-blue aquilegia and foliage from Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ – but the combination just didn’t seem to work. Glancing up at the wisteria W floribunda ‘Multijuga’ in all its glory, it occurred to me that the purple hints in the racemes were on the same spectrum as the allium – would they last in a vase? I have no idea, but I decided to give them a try.

Six on Saturday: Sun and Shade -

Six on Saturday: Sun and Shade

We have had some very pleasant days this week, warm and mostly sunny and never uncomfortably hot, so lots of gardening jobs have been done – perhaps as well, as our open days are suddenly creeping up really quickly.  I still took time out to go for a walk on one of the days, choosing a route I have avoided for some time because it crosses fields which will have been muddy and difficult to walk through for many weeks. Taking a slight detour, I entered a small woodland which from experience I know is host to naturalised bluebells. Unfortunately, a fallen tree and overgrown paths meant I failed to get the full experience this year, but it made me aware just how realistic our own little woodland is. Despite being planted with trees, bluebells, wood anemones, wild garlic, fritillaries, snowdrops, comfrey and more, many other things have arrived uninvited and there is a real woodland feel to it, even more so at this time of year, as the green canopy closes in and brings an air of coolness and greenness. Lovely…

In a Vase on Monday: Last Chance Saloon -

In a Vase on Monday: Last Chance Saloon

Having cut spent flowering stems from all the hellebores over the weekend, amassing a large trugful of them, rather than compost them all I decided to use several stems in today’s vase. Not only was it the last opportunity this year to use hellebores in a vase, but this time I could also be sure, with seedpods well-swollen, that the stems will remain upstanding, unlike vases when the blooms were fresher. I wish I could tell you what colour the original blooms were, but I can’t; now, they are a very pale green with dark speckled centres, giving them a kind of vintage appearance.

Super Speedy Six on Saturday -

Super Speedy Six on Saturday

Having mentioned before that the rhododendrons seemed to be flowering better than any other year, I can also say that I don’t recollect ever seeing anything with blooms as dense as this before – R. yakushimanum ‘Vintage Rose’ is absolutely astounding! Mind you, I don’t think I remember seeing destruction quite as quick or efficient as that experienced by Fritillaria imperialis either!

End of April: Some Warmth at Last! -

End of April: Some Warmth at Last!

April has been a mixed and breezy month, with April showers and sunny periods, and although it has been pleasant in the sun we have not really felt much warmth from it, with temperatures rarely rising above the mid teens (centigrade). Today has seen a change, however, with a mild night and blue skies from daybreak onwards, and our weather monitor recording temperatures over 19°C – but we still have the breeze! We are forecast more days like this, and I feel confident of beginning to plant up the cutting beds.

In a Vase on Monday : A Splash of Blue and Some Curls - - Britain - Spain

In a Vase on Monday : A Splash of Blue and Some Curls

Averting my eyes from the tulips which were shouting “Pick me! Pick me!” as I walked past, I headed towards the bottom end of the garden to pick some of the marauding Spanish bluebells that have sneaked their way in under/over/round the fence. The impact of bluebells in the garden has really registered in recent days, with the uninvited guests and the more local residents joining forces to provide by far and away the biggest splash of blue in the garden out of all the seasons. There may be little patches of blue from spring bulbs and isolated spots in the summer months, but bluebell season is something else and the splashes will only get larger and more widespread as time goes on, with even the English bluebells popping up in other parts of the garden than the woodland. By picking the Spanish bluebells, however, I can at least try and restrict their desire for dominance!

Six on Saturday: a Burning Bush and the Three As -

Six on Saturday: a Burning Bush and the Three As

Once again, a large degree of editing was required to get today’s selection down to six or thereabouts, to meet the rules of Jim’s Six on Saturday meme. Why not visit his blog to check out his six and those of other bloggers around the world?

In a Vase on Monday: Pretty (Pink) Pods -

In a Vase on Monday: Pretty (Pink) Pods

Technical issues will keep this post brief as a mammoth Windows ‘update’ and ‘cleaning’ of my laptop yesterday evening would have kept me up way past my bedtime otherwise!

Six on Saturday: Excitement Mounts -

Six on Saturday: Excitement Mounts

We have had a few days away visiting my Mum, and although I wouldn’t usually choose to leave the garden at this time of year it was a case of needs must. Fortunately, one of our neighbours can be relied on to water everything in the greenhouse in our absence, my main concern, and this is where I hot-footed it to on our return. Not only were the seedlings still thriving, but they looked increasingly sturdy and bursting with health, necessitating several hours in the last couple of days potting them on.

In a Vase on Monday: Strawberries n’ Cream -

In a Vase on Monday: Strawberries n’ Cream

I was trying to avoid tulips for today’s IAVOM, as they could easily become a mainstay for many weeks; however, these creamy tulips were tucked out of the way where they mightn’t otherwise be seen and, like last week’s fiery contribution, they are also a bit of an enigma. They are growing in the cutting beds where they were planted around 10 years ago with the sole purpose of cutting them. Presumably, they flowered in the first year of planting but, although there has been foliage in some of the intervening years, I don’t think there have been any further blooms until now. My guess is that these are mature bulblets from the original bulbs, now large enough to flower: I have only picked the two blooms that were in full flower, but there are others to come. They may be ‘Exotic Emperor’, which I have bought periodically over the years.

Six on Saturday: Galloping in the Graden -

Six on Saturday: Galloping in the Graden

Although winter and early spring flowering plants might have started flowering a little earlier this year than some, they were not unseasonally early; this is not the case with Rhodendron ‘Wine and Roses’ (above) and the large unnamed specimen below, which is light pink in bud but white in boom. Unlike last year, when blooms were sparse on all but ‘Cheers’, all our rhododendrons are smothered in swelling buds.

In a Vase on Monday: On Fire! - - Britain

In a Vase on Monday: On Fire!

I promised you tulips today, but even I wasn’t expecting these ones, remnants from a previous planting in a pot now filled with Carex ‘Everillo’. I can remember buying some fiery tulips two or three years ago, but have no idea why I would have put them in that particular pot, as their bright and brash colouring would have necessitated a planting location near the bold borders. Nevertheless, there they were, pushing aside the grass and cocking a snook at the main borders filling up with foliage of plants that will in due course have pink and purple blooms, so I had no qualms in cutting short their exhibitionism.

Six on Saturday: Little Beauties and Other Things, Mostly Beautiful -

Six on Saturday: Little Beauties and Other Things, Mostly Beautiful

Having photographed several contenders for today’s Six on Saturday, the popular meme hosted by Jim of Gardening Ruminations, I then had to do a cull – but suggest you don’t actually count how many have been included in today’s post!

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.

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