In a vase on Monday – Late Spring

 

I was inspired by a couple of beautiful feeds on Instagram (@simplybyarrangement @kreettakreetta and @derletztewolf) to pick some late spring flowers from the garden and to attempt to arrange them artistically. I use the term ‘attempt’ as flower arranging is not my forte.  I’ve never been taught and to be honest I really like the bunch in a vase look.

The thing that really appealed to me about the 3 IG feeds is the Dutch Still Life feel many of their photos had.  I love Dutch Still Life.  I like the darkness of the backgrounds, the richness of the colours used and also the strangeness of some of the arrangements.  Obviously tulips lend themselves to this style given their history which is inextricably entwined with that period of Dutch art.

But my tulips are more or less over so my vases have a selection of what was looking lovely in the garden yesterday morning after the rain.  The large bunch is a mix of Deutzia, Aquilegias, Alliums, Geraniums, and some other bits and pieces.  Then there is a little charity shop vase with Lily of the Valley in it. I have loads of Lily of the Valley its becoming a bit of a weed in my garden.  ‘Chatting’ with @simplybyarrangement I have discovered that you are meant to pull Lily of the Valley rather than cut it i.e you pull the flower stem and it comes away from the supporting leaf which is sort of wrapped around it.  I will try that if I pick any more.  This vase is currently in my bedroom and the perfume is wonderful.  That leaves the Rhododendron ‘Happy’.  Every year I think I must pick some Rhodo flowers as they are up the garden and I never look at them much but life gets in the way.  Now as life is generally on hold I have sufficient head space to enact that thought and a beautiful flower is sitting on my coffee table for me to admire up close every evening.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting ‘ In a Vase on Monday’ meme – its hard work hosting a meme.

 

A new kind of madness

I was reading the introduction of an embroidery book yesterday morning which really spoke to my inner gardener, as much as my embroidery self.  The book,  Needlework Antique Flowers by Elizabeth Bradley is from the early 1990s and belonged to a former member of my Embroiderers Guild who sadly died earlier this year. I love ‘old’ embroidery books as they often have real instructions on all sorts of lost stitches and techniques.  This book is about woolwork which is essentially like tapestry by done with cross stitch instead of tent stitch.  Anyway, I digress, the thing that struck a chord with me was the following comment from the author:

“Modern gardeners and gardening writers seem to fall loosely into two schools.  The first are plantsmen whom I greatly admire.  They really know their charges, can remember their Latin names however often they change, and thoroughly understand what each plant needs to thrive.  Their gardens, although often beautifully designed and laid out, differ from others by their plants also growing perfectly, each well staked and with enough space around it so that it can grow properly and be seen to best advantage…..I as a gardener, fall into a second category that can only be described as the school of enthusiastic amateurs.  I love my plants and know most of their names but just will not make the time to really find out what is necessary to get best out each.”

The reason this struck a chord with me is I often like to think of myself as a plantsmen, although I recognise I am being a little presumptive. Some gardening friends seem to think I am very knowledgeable ad plants (if they read this blog they would know I can’t remember one name from one week to another) and I do research what conditions my plants need but I fail completely when it comes to showing my plants perfectly so they can be seen to the best advantage.

Maybe this passage was in my mind when I spent some time on Sunday morning tackling the big border.  What started out as a little dead-heading quickly become more involved and the large red opium poppy was dug up.  Its huge leaves have been smothering so many other plants and I have decided that it is just to substantial for the border, which I am trying to focus more on grasses, bulbs and grassland plants.  The poppy has been cut back hard and potted up ready to be planted out in the front garden, as part of the editing work that needs to take place.  The camassia foliage has added to the problem as the leaves are dense, sword like and long and when it rains are flattened down on new foliage from other plants which are trying to grow; so they too are being edited. The alliums suffered the most from the suffocating foliage and were growing almost horizontally with weird kinks in their stems. So……

…each allium ended up with its own stake – how mad is that!  I think this must surely be the way to madness.  The lesson I take away from this is to plant alliums amongst less dominating plants.

Whilst, I aspire to show each of my plants to their best advantage, because of my preference for well filled borders I don’t think I will ever grow my plants “with enough space around it so that it can grow properly” .

 

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2019

Iris Langport Wren

This month the stars of the garden are the various irises and aquilegias.  I have always loved Irises of all sorts.  My love affair started with bearded irises such as Langport Wren above.  Over the years various varieties have come and gone from the garden, mainly due to too much shade, but Langport Wren has ben a stalwart.  Now my garden is more sunny and I have more open border space with good drainage I think I might think about adding some more varieties for next year.

 

Iris Pacific Coast Hybrid

By contrast the Pacific Coast Hybrids are fairly new to me.  The one above I grew from seed and I thrilled it has two flowers this year.  I think they should be know more in the UK as they do very well in dry and shading conditions such as under decidious trees or around conifers.

Dutch Iris – variety unknown

The Dutch Florist irises are also coming into their own.  I add a pack of two each year and have learnt that you need to plant them amongst the late summer perennials so the new foliage of the perennials hides the long gangly stems.  They are like rockets of colour emerging from the undergrowth.

Dutch Iris Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon is this years new addition and I am really pleased as it appears most of the 20 odd corms I planted will flower.

There is a lot of blue in the garden at this moment and this Aquilegia is the most amaze azure blue, it really is a vibrant as the photo indicates. All of my aquilegias come from various seed packets from various seed exchanges so aren’t named varieties and you get some amazing ones but also some not to good.  Another couple of favourites below.

I’ve previously shared my sea of blue camassias which have just gone over but now the cream ones are flowering.  They aren’t as prolific at multiplying and are more elegant than the blues; I like the contrast of the cream spires against the foliage.

Sweet Cicely

Sweet Cicely is another plant that looks fabulous at this time of year.  A wonderful confection of frothy white flowers above the sweet aniseed smelling foliage.

This Centaurea plant sits quietly on the corner of a border but at this time of year is awash with vibrant lilac flowers – so pretty.

In the front garden, which I am trying to remember to include more, the Libertia is drawing attention to itself with its papery white flowers.  The only trouble with Libertia, as far as I am concerned, is that the flowers translate into seeds which translate into a mass of seedlings which get everywhere and are a pain to extract but there are worse problems in the world.

And finally, my first Alliums to flower this year.  I have quite a few types of Allium flowering all through the summer.  I can’t remember the variety of these but they are good doers and come up year after year and the leaves aren’t too large to cause a problem in the border.

Those are my May highlights – for more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit Carol at May Dream Gardens.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – May 2016

Lamprocapbos spectablis ‘Valentine’
Lamprocapbos spectablis ‘Valentine’

Every gardener I know seems to be saying this last week ‘Goodness hasn’t the garden shot up this week’ and yes we have been blessed finally with warmer temperatures which coupled with the rain has given plants a real boost.  Needless to say having moaned about the cool spring for weeks and weeks those same gardeners are now moaning that they can’t keep on top of things!  Personally, with my more lackadaisical approach I don’t worry too much about weeds or that the last bit of lawn needs cutting – they will all be dealt with as and when I have time.  At this time of year I am spending more time looking and spotting familiar friends reappearing or studying new acquisitions to see how they grow. So for this month’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post I am going to showcase my favourite flowers this weekend.

Trillium albidum
Trillium albidum
Trillium grandiflorum
Trillium grandiflorum
Unknown Trillium
Unknown Trillium

I am completely obsessed with the trilliums that have reappeared this year, there are two more but they aren’t flowering yet.  To be honest I had forgotten about two of them so did a ridiculous little dance when suddenly I spotted them in the border.  I can’t work out what the bottom one is, it might be that the flower will develop more and be easier to identify over the next week.

Uvularia
Uvularia

Another woodland delight that took me by surprise but not for long and I soon remembered what it was.  Such a pretty dainty flower and I do like the way the petals twist.

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On a larger scale in the shady side of the garden the rhododendrons are flowering, these two are my favourites.  If I ever am lucky enough to have a larger garden with the right soil I will definitely indulge myself with lots more rhododendrons especially those wonderful ones with furry leaves.

Sweet Cicely
Sweet Cicely

Moving out of the shade into the sunshine the first of the umbellifers is flowering, lovely Sweet Cicely, such an pretty flower.

Allium cameleon
Allium cameleon

Allium cameleon is in its second year in the garden and already bulking up well.  It is a short, front of the border allium, much daintier than alliums such as Allium Purple Sensation.  I really like the way the flowers are blushed with pink.

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One of those bigger blowsy alliums just starting to open; I can’t remember which but I suspect it is Purple Sensation.  I do love alliums in all their varieties and have them flowering in the garden right through to high summer.

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The sea of camassias which have dominated the Big Border creating a delicious blue haze for the last few weeks is coming to an end.  It is only the very top of the stems which still have flowers and I can’t bring myself to remove them until they have lost every single flower.

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My favourite Aquilegia, its a seedling of the mckenna varieties with the long spurs at the back of the flower which I much prefer to the more chubby looking aquilegias which I think are varieties of the native columbine, whereas the mckenna varieties come from the USA.   I have lots of aquilegias, I went through a slightly obsessive period of growing them from seed and interestingly certain colours predominate.  I think I will weed out the ones that don’t appeal so much and maybe try to increase the mckenna varieties.  There are some who argue that over time all aquilegias revert to the muddy pink variety.  This just isn’t true what actually happens is they loose their original aquilegias and the muddy pink ones are seedlings which tend to revert back.

So those are the stars of my garden this week for other gardeners blooms pop over to Carol at May Dreams and check out the links.

 

Bulb Obsessive

Many a good gardener I know has a secret seed addiction, I say secret as its easy to hide those guilty unsown seed packets but bulbs? Well its not so easy to hide the sacks and packets bulging with bulbs and corms. I have noticed over the years I have been blogging that there seems to be a heightened sense of panic and guilt the nearer we get to the end of the year as gardeners face the fact that they really were never going to plant those 200 tulips bulbs.

I am far from guilty and each year more bulbs find their way into the garage waiting to be planted.  I do try to be good and this year in the Spring I made a note in my garden notebook of what bulbs I needed to add to what border.  I dutifully consulted my notebook when the glossy bulb catalogues arrived but as the pages turned more delights winked at me and the list grew.  But no! This year I was going to be sensible, I had a tight budget so I would not succumb to impulse buys and I didn’t, how good am I?  But then it went a little pear-shaped; I spotted some cheap bulbs in Wilkinsons and well you can never have enough narcissus and then I joined the Spalding Bulb Blogger Group and was sent a selection of 100 mixed spring bulbs as a thank you.  Oh dear, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that!

Well over the last two days I have planted around 200 bulbs.  This may not sound a lot to some but my garden isn’t that big.  I have planted Tulip Ballerina in the front garden along one side of the newly shaped lawn.  These have been interplanted with Allium Sphareocephalon which I saw earlier in the summer at Cotswold Garden Flowers (see top picture).  I have also planted Narcissus Tete-a-Tete, Minnow and Canaliculatus in the front garden among the edging of Deschampsia.  Today I finished off the patio border with some Narcissus W P Milner and also planted up some Anemone Blanda and Mixed Iris from Spalding in pans.  This is on top of the Narcissus planted last weekend.

But there is still a pile of bulbs waiting to be planted in the garage.  There are some tulips mainly Jan Reus to go on the slope to supplement the ones already there; some Allium flavum,  some Miscari and another bag which I can’t remember.  In my defence most of the ones I ordered from Peter Nyssen have been planted, it is the free ones which are looking for homes.  Oh and then I was watching Gardeners World last night and saw a tin bath planted up with masses of tulips  and now I  want to go to the local garden centre to buy lots more tulips to plant up  my tin bath.

So there you go not only am I self-confessed seedaholic but am also a bulb obsessive – healthy addictions I think as they only lead to brighten the  world.

Theraputic Poppies

I have beeen feeling fidgety the last couple of days and out of sorts – couldn’t settle to anything.  So this afternoon, instead of wasting time drifting from one thing to another I went to Hampton Court Gardens in Herefordshire.  This is only 30 mins from me so I have written about it a few times here, here and here.

I haven’t been to the garden at this time of year before, generally my visits have been in August during my summer leave so it was interesting to see what was flowering at the moment.  The garden was awash with Opium Poppies. Sumptious pinks, purples,  mauves.  Lovely tissue paper flowers perched like butterflies on top of the glaucous blue fleshy stems.

As well as Opium Poppies there were also sizzling orange Californian Poppies which worked very well as an edging and along side the Nepeta.

The Alliums  I saw in bud back at the beginning of May are now well and truely out in flower and stunning planted en masse in the borders.  It just shows that mass planting really works if you  have the space.

The worst part of the visit was that I spotted this Crambe which I am now coverting ALOT!  I really really want one of these – its on the list now, in fact at the top of the list, in fact maybe I will be able to get one when I go to the Cottesbrooke Plant Fair next weekend.

I came away feeling refreshed and recharged – the power of gardens strikes again.