Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

Euphorbia rigida

When I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden.  I have already posted this week about the snowdrops but they aren’t alone in bring dashes of colour to the borders. In the front garden the star is the Euphorbia rigida – its my favourite Euphorbia, well probably.  I love its acid yellow flowers against the glaucous leaves.

The first hellebores are already in flower and definitely a few weeks ahead of previous years probably due to the warmer weather.  They do seem a little washed out in their colour this year but that’s probably just my imagination.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’

The Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’) has just started flowering and there are definitely fewer flowers than last year.  I suspect this is because it was so dry and witch hazels really benefit from moisture in the summer to help them form flowers.  I did water it from time to time but obviously not enough for a stunning display.

Jasminum nudiflorum

I’m quite pleased with the photo of the winter jasmine as my photos always seem to be out of focus due to the smallness of the flowers.  However, as there are so many flowers this year a photo showing more of the plant has proved to be quite interesting.  I know lots of people don’t like this plant but I cut it back very hard each year and this keeps it in check and not too woody.

Rosemary is at its best at the moment, covered in dainty lilac flowers and the odd pollinator looking for food.

Eranthis hyemalis

As well as the snowdrops, the Eranthis hyemalis  are starting to flower.  I do love these little bursts of sunshine in the border.

Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

The other gem in the border is the Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’ which is fragile tissue like petals which seem to disappear as fast as they appear due to the wind and rain we have had recently.

Primula palinuri

Primila palinuri is something of a miracle.  I grew this plant from seed some years back and it has lived in a pot wintering in the greenhouse. However, with my new approach to the garden I decided back in the Autumn to risk planting it out as the plant never looked that well and I thought it might benefit from the move.  Primula palinuri grows in a rocky location in South Italy so I decided that it could probably withstand low temperatures if it had good drainage.  Despite the yellowing around the older leaves it is already looking at lot healthier and I love the farina on the flower which I’m sure it didn’t have in the greenhouse. Having just looked it up to ensure I spelt the name right I have discovered that it is on the Red Threatened List in its native South Italy so now I am concerned I planted it out!

For more Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts check out Carol’s blog May Dreams.

Start of the Snowdrop Season

Galanthus Ding Dong

Whilst we are still in the midst of Winter, the first signs that Spring is just round the corner comes from the Snowdrops which are beginning to put on a show.  I have a number of named varieties which flower ahead of the normal Galanthus nivalis.   Above is Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’, named by Avon Bulbs as a nod to the marketing jingle of the Cosmetic company Avon..

Galanthus Selborne Green Tips

Next to it is Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’ which is looking at little nibbled, probably because it grows under the bird feeders and the local pigeons seem to try to eat anything, a bit like avian goats.  I am toying with lifting these clumps now once the flowers have finished, splitting them and planting them in an additional location to protect against losing them.

Galanthus Mrs McNamara

Galanthus ‘Mrs McNamara’ is the star of the snowdrops at the moment.  She started flowering at Christmas and being a larger flower really stands out.  I’m not that clued in to identifying snowdrops but if you look at the photo below you can see how much bigger Mrs McNamara is  compared to another unknown snowdrop

This is a close up of the unknown snowdrop which I am sure is a named variety due to its location in the garden but all the labels have gone, even those I put in last year.  I am going to have to relabel and I think I might need to make some notes or draw a plan as not knowing the snowdrops names is an annual event now.  I think I will also look back through my posts and make a list of the snowdrops I know I have and see if I can identify the unknown ones from that.

Galanthus Godfrey Owen

Every year I add one or two new Galanthus (with labels honest).  This year’s new acquisition, so far, is Galanthus ‘Godfrey Owen’.  As you can see it is a large snowdrop and quite distinctive from the six outer petals all being the same size.  Galanthus ‘Diggory’ is also on my wish list as it has quite distinctive texture to its petals.


End of Month View: January – Nine Years On

January 2018

Long term readers will know that I have been hosting a meme at the end of each month, unsurprisingly called the End of Month View (or EOMV), for some time.  I was surprised to discover that, apart for some months last year when I took a break from blogging and Steve hosted the meme, I will have been hosting it for 9 years this March.  I started the meme to follow progress in my garden in my second year of blogging and I try to take photos from roughly the same position each month.  I’m thrilled that a number of other garden bloggers have joined in with the meme each using it to suit themselves.

March 2009

I thought it would be interesting this year to compare the garden, through the months, with how it looked in 2009, although I don’t have any comparisons for January and February so you will have to make do with March 2009.  The other challenge is that the garden has changed so much in the intervening 9 years that I can’t quite match the viewpoints.

Jan 2018
March 2009

The observant of you will have spotted that there was a pond.  It lasted for probably 4 or 5 years until I filled it in.  The lesson learnt was just because you have a large hole created from removing a large conifer this doesn’t mean that this is the best place to put a pond.  Ponds look wrong half way up a slope, think about it, and being under a large tree you will spend your life fishing leaves. In 2009 we had recently removed a large Laurel from the back of the garden and had gained the slope for planting.  The slope is steep and so we put in some ‘terracing’ using scaffolding boards. Now however we are looking to take the same boards out partly because they are rotting and partly because the area has become more of a shrubby and it isn’t necessary to have a path to access it.

Jan 2018
March 2009

The greenhouse really demonstrates my different attitude to gardening.  Over the last nine years I have gone through a period of embracing plant propagation, developing a passion of various plant groups such as succulents, ferns and bulbs.  Now I’m in a place where I feel my life is more balanced and I have developed new interests which mean that I don’t have as much time to spend sowing seeds and propagating which is fine as I then don’t need to feel guilty about the collection of seedlings which I haven’t done anything about.

I hope this will be a good theme for the meme this year and if you would like to join in with the meme, however you choose to use it, as always please leave a link to your post in the comments below and if you could include a link to this post in your post that too would be fab.  It helps us to link up with each other.


Small delights

Iris reticulata ‘Eyecatcher’

What a beautiful morning we have had today; blue skies and mild temperatures. The garden was positively sparkling this morning and it was a delight to go outside first thing to explore what had happened over the past week while I was at work.

Eranthis hyemalis

The week has seen the Eranthis appearing around the garden.  I have three varieties: Eranthis hyemalis, Eranthis schwefelglanz and Eranthis cilicia. Finally, the Eranthis hyemalis is starting to bulk up albeit it slowly and I am thinking that once they have finished flowering I will bring the various plants together into one border rather than dotted around the garden, as they are now.

Eranthis schwefelglanz
Galanthus galatea

I am rather fond of Galanthus galatea because of the long pedicels which allow the flowers to dangle in a charming way.

However, with the sun shining it would be foolish not to have taken the most of the opportunity to continue with the tidying that I had started over Christmas.  I had intended to tackle the back of the garden but as usual I became distracted and ended up tidying the patio.

It all started with transferring the wisteria bought last April at Bodnant into a larger pot without detaching it from the house wall.  Not the simplest thing but very satisfying when it was done. It then transpired that the old pot was just the thing I needed to pot up a climbing rose for the seating area.  Which of course led to me cutting back the bog garden (for want of a better name), scrubbing the table and chairs, weeding the various pots on the patio, and planting out a few things that had been lurking on the patio.

So whilst I may not have tackled the top of the garden the patio is now looking quite smart, well smart for me, which will encourage me to do more.

Hope you also had good gardening weather this weekend.


GBBD January 2018

Grevillea Canberra Gem

The first Garden Bloggers Bloom Day of the year sees a interesting selection of plants in flower, albeit a small choice selection. There are numerous buds a plenty – Hellebores, Eranthis, Snowdrops, Iris reticulata and Magnolia – but as with many a garden visit they will probably look lovely next week.

Grevillea victoriae

So what are we left to enjoy in the second full week of the year? Strangely, two Australian shrubs – Grevillea victoria and Grevillea Canberra Gem.  The former has been in flower since before Christmas and the latter has just started to open its flowers despite being covered for days in a thick crust of snow before Christmas. I’m not sure when Grevillea Canberra Gem is supposed to flower in the UK but mine is rarely without a few  flowers and beloved by the pollinators.

Euphorbia characias

Also in flower in the front garden are the Euphorbia characias.  I do love Euphorbias – wonderful structure, colour and such unusual flowers.

Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’

Since my last post I have been reassured that the above is indeed Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’ which is good to know.  Also joining Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ and Galanthus ‘Mrs Macnamara’ is Galanthus ‘Colussus’ and Galanthus galantea.

Galanthus colussus
Galanthus galatea

Whilst the woodland border is speckled with hellebore buds there is one already in flower, a reliable early flowerer, and one of the first ones I bought from Ashwoods.

Primula taygetos

Finally I thought I would share this Primula which has been flowering since November and is now just waiting for a home in the garden rather than languishing on the patio.

Thank you to Carol at May Dream Gardens for hosting this meme which is a wonderful way of recording what is in flower each month.

A winter’s weekend

Galanthus Ding Dong

I’ve been slowly adding special snowdrops to the garden for a number of years now.  Nothing very unusual but each year I have bought 2 or 3 special bulbs and planted them out in the garden.  So it is thrilling to see them bulking up now and reappearing year after year even if the labels which I know I put with them aren’t so reliable.  Galanthus ‘Ding Dong’ is usually one of the first to flower and is now a good size clump from just one bulb.

Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’

Galanthus ‘Selborne Green Tips’ is in the same border as ‘Ding Dong’ and by a process of elimination this should be ‘Selborne Green Tips’ but there is a distinct lack of green tips so now I am befuddled.  I will have to wait and see how the flowers open out and see if there are any more clues.

Another mystery is this hellebore.  I have had it for years and I have always thought it was a helleborus niger but as the plant has grown again I’m not so convinced.  What is really strange is that it always seems to struggle to lift its flowers up, they spend all their time almost prostrate and facing the ground.  If anyone has any ideas I would love to know what it is.

I mentioned earlier that I am reviewing the garden and it is interesting how when you have ignored a space for nearly a year that you then see it with fresh eyes.  One of the areas that is top of my to sort list this year is the compost area.  I have battled with the compost bins for years but  now with my fresh approach I have  decided that enough is enough. They take up a huge amount of space in my small garden and with the best will in the world I’m awful at turning them and managing them.  About once a year I steel myself to empty them out and it nearly kills me partly because I have to move all the unrotted stuff but also because the slopes in the garden makes it exhausting to barrow the good compost around.  So I am planning to do away with them – outrageous I know.  My local council has a green waste collection service so I have bought a wheelie bin and it is collected fortnightly.  I am impressed with how much it takes; so far it has coped with my obsessive tidying up and pruning and if for some reason I create more garden waste than it can take  I will take the extra to the dump and put it in the green waste recycling there.  Then when I need a mulch I will buy some green compost back from the council.  Yes this is a more expensive approach but I buy green compost every year anyway and I doubt I will buy more so I see it as a win win because once I have cleared the current bins I will have a new area to plant up which can only be a good thing.

So that’s the first plan for the new year.

Hope you managed to spend some time in your garden this weekend.



End of Month View – January 2017


This time last year I started the year’s End of Month meme with a post about the front garden.  By the time I had finished writing it I was completely certain that my argument that I had a love/hate relationship with the garden was flawed; I did in fact hate the front garden. Readers were kind with their comments but it was those that extolled me to bite the bullet and just dig up the wretched lawn that really hit home. So I did.


Well my youngest son lifted the lawn over the space of a week in April and then I pondered what to do next.  I had a whole collection of asters and grasses from the back garden that needed a home so I bought some fennel to add height and a couple of Euphorbias for substance.  Walking back and force it soon became clear where the path should go and my eldest son very kindly, with the odd mutter, laid the brick edging and spread the gravel. We also widened the single width paving slab path along the front of the house which has somehow balanced things better. img_9163

In my usual random way I didn’t dig the whole space over and carefully plan things.  Instead I spread the asters and grasses out and planted them hoping for the best.  The asters had lost their labels (a recurring theme over the last few years) so I wasn’t sure which were the tallest or the tones of purple.  Anyway, the first summer was good, not great or amazing, but a decent start for such an unplanned decision.  The smaller bed was full of bright red zinnias some 4ft tall; this spring I hope it will be full of tulips and then I intend to repeat the zinna show.


The bigger bed which is essentially most of the front garden needs lots of work.  I need to work through it weeding and removing the perennial weeds.  I have thought that the space needed a third tree for some years to balance out the other two so back at the beginning of the month I added a Sorbus ‘Pink Pagoda’ and in the process aggravated an old arm injury and so gardening has stopped.  Hopefully if the healing continues as it is and the rain stops I might be able to do some weeding next weekend. I think the Euphorbias are too far forward but I can’t for the life of me remember which ones they are but in the back of my mind they are Euphorbia characias which might be too tall but I wanted them to flop over the path.

Anyway, there are lots to do in this area, plants to re-arrange and plants to add so I thought I would share the progress in this year’s End of Month meme.

The meme has been very well supported over the last few years, even when I have been a little lax in supporting it myself so I am hoping that some of my readers will join in again this year.  You can use the meme however it suits you – all I ask is that you include a link to my monthly post in your post and a link to your post in the comments box on my post.  I think that makes sense and will allow us to find each other.