Flowering in my garden today

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Spring has definitely sprung!

Mystery Solved

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Last year we spent a fabulous week in the wonderfully secluded Tottergill Farm. From here, we were able to travel around the Lakes, Hadrian’s Wall and Northumberland. It was while during a visit to Hadrian’s Wall on a beautiful sunny day, we were inspired to join the National Trust.

The very next day we decided to put our new membership to good use and set off for Cragside. We drove through thick fog for about an hour and a half only to be greeted with the announcement that Cragside was closed on Mondays! Unbeaten, we retraced our journey and discovered Wallington.

rhodochitonWhilst exploring the walled garden, this beautiful specimen caught my eye but I didn’t have a clue what it was. I took a photo of it with the intention of looking it up once I returned home and promptly forgot all about it. That is, until it turned up in the Gardener’s World magazine. So, I now know it is a rhodochiton or purple bell vine and it will climb or trail. My 10 very expensive seeds are now languishing under the bubble wrap in the conservatory. Mystery solved!

Seedaholic!

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I was thrilled to receive a free gift from my  Gardener’s World Magazine; a packet of Cosmos Purity seeds. I was reminded that tucked away in my new seed tin (a Christmas present from my lovely sister) in the garage,  were the seeds I had collected last year. I must admit, I wasn’t as diligent as I have been in previous years in carefully drying  and separating seeds from flower heads then labelling and dating. It was more a case of stuffing the complete flowers into envelopes, hurriedly scribbling some identification on the front with every intention of sorting them out later and not getting round to it. Part of me was thinking, ‘why am I bothering with all this fuss? Surely, if left to their own devices, the seeds will be dispersed and germinate without any help from me and probably more successfully’. However, the ‘control freak’ in me decided that this important task could not be left to chance.

Anyway, it gave me an excuse to go out into the garden on a cold, damp and miserable day, fill some seed trays with compost and open my treasure chest. It was then that I wished I’d taken the time to separate the seeds. I knew at the time of gathering, but didn’t seem to be able to stop myself from collecting dozens of seed heads, each in themselves containing dozens of seeds.  The problem is, I just can’t bring myself to throw them away and I end up with far too many plants which I end up giving or throwing away.

I started with the Cosmos Purity as they came conveniently packaged. Next, I opened my own collected Cosmos mixture which I had grown from seed last year with seeds collected from the previous year. Once the seeds are ripe, they are so easy to identify as they are contained in little ‘pockets’ and are hard and slightly crescent shaped.

centaurea_cyanus_snowmanHaving sewn as many Cosmos seeds as I dared, my attention turned to an envelope marked Centaurea Snowman. A lovely upright, airy cornflower with fluffy white flowers, I grew these for the first time last year. Again, I was greeted by a jumble of brown seed heads to sort through. These were a little more tricky as, although the seeds have a little beard, they are hidden amongst lots of other fluffy stuff.

The final envelope was Coreopsis. Either I collected these at the wrong time, or the seeds are so small they are impossible to pick out from the rest of the debris. I had no option but to sew the debris as well!

Still hundreds of seeds left if anyone wants some?

All are now safely tucked up under a layer of bubble wrap in the conservatory – time will tell.

Nothing to see here!

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Or that’s what I thought when I decided to venture out into the bog that once was a garden.

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It was freezing outside but I could wait no longer. I donned two pairs of gloves, fleece lined jacket and wellies and went outside to weed the veg bed. I have two parallel veg beds, one was completely clear of weeds, the other covered in them as well as a blankety moss. As usual, one thing lead to another and I was soon weeding and tidying up the fallen twigs. It’s so wet that the borders have been invaded by liverwort.

I was amazed to see the number of flowers that are already in bloom and thrilled to see that the flower buds on the ‘last chance’ camellia still looked healthy despite a short frost not so long ago. One tiny yellow crocus stands bravely in the middle of the lawn, wonder where the other 249 are? The snowdrops are finally coming into their own, standing out brilliantly against the dark soil and other less ostentatious plants. What a surprise to find a sprinkling of tiny pink Daphne flowers along the otherwise bare branches. It would be easy to overlook the one very short, greyish blue iris beneath the hibiscus bush.

Well, I made it half way round the garden before I gave in to the cold and decided to leave some weeding for another day. Thursday promises temperatures in double figures, could be positively barmy!

Let it snow!

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The garden has been under a blanket of snow this week until the rain arrived last night with a vengeance and turned it into a muddy bog.

Earlier this week, Raewyn and I decided to enjoy a snowy day out at Dunham Massey to see the Winter Garden. Although still very early, there was lots to see, including the fascinating bare twisted branches of the corkscrew hazel and the delicate spidery flowers of the Hamamelis. It is plain to see that the snowdrops are going to be quite spectacular given another week or so. Sparkling chunks of ice cling to the junctions of the branches of shrubs, dripping in the winter sunshine like a remnant from Christmas. Groups of brilliant white silver birch trees shine out against the clear blue sky, made even more startling by the backdrop of the dark brown of the other bare trees and shrubs .

Today has been such a gorgeous, sunny day and after my second visit to Dunham Massey this week, I finally got around to planting the fig tree. It now resides in a big pot with plenty of crocks in the bottom, positioned in the sunniest place in the garden; against the back fence. Fingers crossed for figs!

Whilst wandering round the garden (which takes all of 30 seconds!) I noticed little clumps of snowdrops but not half as many as I remember planting. Maybe, like Dunham Massey, there will be a few more in the weeks to come. Thank goodness for hellebores. The old faithful is flowering away and the three ‘Double Ellen’ that just produced leaves last year are also bursting into life.

It was exactly one year ago that the Cornus Sericea ‘Flaviramea’ and Cornus Alba Sibiricia were planted. Today, they have been pruned almost to ground level to encourage lots more colourful branches. I am a little concerned that I have left it a bit late as both already had breaking buds.

This is a great time of year for bargains at the garden centres and I took advantage to purchase some 1/2 price Boxus to replace one that has died at the end of the row.

The days are already getting longer but I must remember that it is only January and not get carried away with my enthusiasm for planting.

I didn’t mean to!

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I don’t know how it happened, it certainly wasn’t my intention. I didn’t even put my coat on, it was a matter of  “I’ll just have a quick look”. Some horrible laurel leaves were strewn around from next door’s pruning so I suppose that is where it started. Next thing I know, the gloves are on and general picking up and tidying taking place. Before long, out come dad’s trusty secateurs and trimming is happening. So there I am pruning and weeding on this beautiful January day when I should be ironing and cleaning. Well, what would you rather do?

My post-Christmas spirits were well and truly lifted when I spotted at least 3 flower buds on a camellia I bought about 5 years ago that has never flowered. This was its last chance. It has been positioned all around the garden over the years as I was convinced that this was the problem. I noticed another tiny specimen (free with something or other) was thriving near the patio, so this is where my mature and pampered plant has spent the last 6 months or so. Let’s hope the frost doesn’t get it before they open.

It’s amazing to see how many signs of new growth are apparent. Daffs, alliums and sedum all making an appearance. I am fairly certain that the primula in the front rockery haven’t stopped flowering all year. So pleased to see that my lovely Angelica has decided to spend another year with me. All the foliage has been cleared from the helibores to reveal plump flower buds threatening to burst open at any moment.

Maybe I’ll just nip out and have another look!

A new year has begun!

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OK, so my last post was way back in June, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing any gardening! 2012 wasn’t a great year for the garden with all that rain and the beetroot wasn’t up to its usual standard but the carrots, swedes and purple mange-tout produced a very satisfactory harvest.

However,  I am starting 2013 with renewed enthusiasm and have already made my first acquisition of the year – Madeleine des deux saisons – a fig tree. All my seeds are organised for planting in my new seed tin and plans for the veg patch are under way.

Already new shoots are appearing, but no sign of the 250 crocuses planted in the front lawn last November. Early days.

 

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