My Garden This Weekend – 29th March 2015

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My garden this weekend is soggy and blustery which is fine as I have the start of a cold and as I have next week off as annual leave I have decided to give in to the cold in the hope that it goes quickly.

So there has been no gardening – instead there has been photography as I have a new camera which I am surprisingly thrilled with.  I broke my beloved original Fujifilm camera two years ago replacing it with another Fujifilm point and click which was good but has broken twice now and I never really thought the close ups were as good as the old camera.  Anyway, when the camera refused to hold a charge last week despite trying numerous different batteries and chargers I decided to start again.  As ever with anything technical as soon as I start researching the options my brain goes blank just as it used to when I was at school learning fractions.  There is too much choice and I don’t understand all the technical camera jargon; well I understand it for about 5 minutes and

Primula denticulata
Primula denticulata

then it leaves my brain.  I looked at SLRs – don’t want to be lugging one around, I looked at bridge cameras – again they are cumbersome and don’t fit in a bag easily.  I tried to find my original camera no joy. Fed up! I then remembered that when I bought the last camera the guy in PC World had explained to me that all the zoom information was irrelevant if I wanted to do close ups – a step forward.  After reading a few more reviews I decided to buy another Fujifilm but to go for a cheap option with a view to researching something better for the summer.  I can’t cope without a camera available, more so than not having access to the internet so a quick purchase was needed.  I bought a Fujifilm FinePix T500 which is the smallest camera I have ever had and it really is simple – there is a zoom and a macro feature and that is more or less it.  However, this post shows the quality of the photos and I think it is pretty good.  The next challenge will be to see how it does when I go to Rome in May.

Narcissus 'Beryl'
Narcissus ‘Beryl’

Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the HPS Western Counties group, my favourite garden club.  Needless to say there were a few plant purchases but I was surprised to only find one Epimedium for sale despite the number of plants people selling.  Epimedium ‘Black Sea’ came home with me as well as Mertensia virginica, Iris dardanus, Geranium ‘Johnston’s Blue’, Muscari ‘Jenny Robinson’, an Anemone nemorsa, and a herbaceous Clematis.

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The morning discussion is always the best part of the day and it was interesting to hear others views of soil test kits.  The general consensus was that the ones you can buy in garden centres weren’t that reliable and it is more important to see what is growing well around your garden so I am less worried about finding I have alkaline soil having just bought two rhododendrons!  In the afternoon we had a talk from Leila Jackson of T3 nurseries on ornamental legumes which was interesting and a few new to me were noted to investigate.

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Today between the showers I took advantage of a sunny moment to try out the camera and see what had emerged over the last week.  It was very satisfying to find Trillium grandiflorum appearing above ground.  I purchased it over the winter, potting up the corm which had just started to show signs of life when I planted it out a few weeks back.  I did spend some time improving the soil here adding lost of home made compost and wood chips so hopefully it will like its new home and flower next year as well as this year.

Soldanella alpina
Soldanella alpina

I got ridiculously excited when I found Soldanella alpina flowering in the cold frame.  A week ago there was no sign of any flower buds and with one thing and another I haven’t opened the cold frame all week so this was a complete surprise.  I suspect the cold frame has warmed up during the sunny spells which has brought on the flowers.  The reason for my excitement is that I bought this plant, in flower, some 3 years ago and it has never flowered for me since.  This autumn I re-potted it adding fertiliser and I applied slug pellets and gravel around the base to prevent the molluscs eating the flower buds before they had a chance to appear – it seems to have worked.

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In the greenhouse and the propagator indoors the seeds sown a couple of weeks ago are germinating and hopefully this week I will be pricking some of them out.  I will need to rejig the greenhouse yet again to make room for the seedlings and more pots of seeds that I want to sow this week.  I am slowly but surely emptying out the cold frames of plant purchases yet unplanted, with the intention of finding them all homes, and last year’s perennial seedlings.  My biggest thrill are four Meconopsis hensol violet seedlings from last year which have reappeared and I hope will flower this year once I have planted them out.

For the rest of today I am sitting on the sofa looking at the garden which I am rather pleased with and doing embroidery – well there is more to my interests than plans, honest!

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. rusty duck says:

    Your Melianthus is looking fabulous, very exotic.
    An afternoon on the sofa sounds like a good move, both for the cold and the grotty weather. I’m watching tall conifer trees here bend over at a very alarming angle!
    Get well soon.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Jessica
      It’s been christened the dinosaur plant by my sons, looks very prehistoric

    2. Diana Studer says:

      I wonder if any of your birds will use the nectar. Deep dark pools of it.

  2. Chloris says:

    Well your new camera seems to be a great success, wonderful photos. I love the Soldanella, it is exquisite. I was interested that you have Muscari ‘Jenny Robinson.’ Jenny used to live just down the road from me and she always insisted that this Muscari which she found in Cyprus was different from ‘Valerie Finnis’. Personally I can’ t see any difference, although I have both, because Jenny gave me some of hers, and I already had Valerie Finnis. Can you detect a difference?
    I hope the cold gets better soon so that you can enjoy your leave.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      There was both at the garden club. Valerie Finnis has more grass like foliage but more importantly the leaves appear in autumn and go brown from frost but Jenny Robinson leaves appear with the flowers. The flowers also seemed bigger on Jenny Robinson. I am just repeating what Bob Brown said but the two pots of plants were quite distinctively different

    2. Chloris says:

      Well I never noticed that, perhaps I had never had two pots side by side and examined them closely. They are in different parts of the garden. I had certainly never noticed about the leaves. Jenny is dead now and all her treasures have been removed from her garden. She used to grow wonderful fritillaries and lilies.

    3. Helen Johnstone says:

      I do like plants with people’s names so it’s nice to know a little about her

  3. Superb photos with the new camera; looks like you made a good pick. None of my small cameras have ever worked as well as I hoped they would. Congrats on your eye-catching Soldanella. I’m also loving ‘Beryl’ and have added it to my order list, as cyclemineus hybrids are typically good for shady gardens.

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Narcissus ‘Beryl’ is eye-catching. Feel better. susie

  5. christine says:

    the soldanella is gorgeous!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Christine
      Thanks, I am thrilled it has flowered

  6. Epimedium ‘Stormy Seas ‘ is on my wish list Helen!…I hope to make an appolntment to visit Exclusive Plants owned by Paul Bonavia, near Constantine in Cornwall when we go down there in the summer. He has it on his list,so hope that it will be available. There are other plants on the list that I like the look of…..
    Exciting to see your trays of emerging seedlings , it’s great when seed sown a year or two ago suddenly comes to life. I sowed some seed last year ..saved from my Paeonia lutea ,it did nothing ,but this year it has produced 9 strong looking seedlings. The advice to never throw out pots of seed that have failed to germinate is so true.Even if it takes two or three years to get a result.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Sue
      I have things germinating sown a year ago. peonies apparently put a root down the first year and then the shoot appears so you have to be patient

  7. Angie says:

    Your weather sounds exactly like ours this weekend and maybe you are catching cold at just the right time.
    Your new additions are looking great, as do your seedlings. I nipped along to my local nursery for some Epimedium today and noted that they were still all in the polytunnels rather than out on display. Maybe the growers and their plants are a bit behind this year.
    Hope you are feeling better sooner rather than later.

  8. The close-up features of modern digicams have much improved of recent years – as you’ve probably realised by now – but it does help to have an interested and intelligent salesman to demonstrate the features!

  9. hoehoegrow says:

    A day on the sofa reflecting on life and embroidery sounds just about perfect! We were out in the torrential rain planting a bare root beech hedge, which was definitely not fun! Love your new muscari ‘Jenny Robinson’ – it is a lovely colour.
    The new camera is clearly doing what it says on the tin – you must be very pleased with it, especially as it is so compact, which is always a plus as far as I am concerned !

  10. Anna says:

    Glad to read that your new camera is proving satisfactory Helen. I have a Fujifim Finepix F50 lurking in a cupboard somewhere. I may need to dig it out. In the meantime I’m off to a camera shop tomorrow to seek advice about my poorly camera. You certainly came home with a good haul following the HPS meeting. Maybe more epimediums might come home with you after next month’s meeting. Hope that you have a 24 hour or so lurgy rather than a full blown cold. Take care.

  11. rickii says:

    I keep thinking if I really put my mind to it, I will be able to figure out how to use the fancy camera. At present I just set it on automatic and shoot away. Seems like a waste. I should probably have gotten a camera like yours. It seems to be doing a commendable job.

  12. Cathy says:

    You have made a good start with your new camera – I have been through about 3 since I started this blog so have spent many frustrating hours getting to know them. I have only recently discovered that the close ups with my current Canon Ixus were rubbish as I wasn’t getting close enough! Hey ho 😉

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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