Malvern Autumn Show

There is something quintessentially English about a flower and veg show that I doubt you could find anywhere else in the world.

I love Malvern Autumn Show as it heralds the start of Autumn, a season I love with its colours ad abundance.

The show as so much to offer for everyone with all the key components of the traditional country show: giant vegetables, tractors, llamas (well this is Malvern), agility dogs – its all at the show to enjoy.

Over the years the horticultural element has increased with a few more nurseries each year but the show is really a country show and my favourite is the Autumn Show marquee.

Here there are a number of shows within a show with various societies having their shows alongside the Malvern open competition.  The quality and number of exhibits never fails to impress.

The embroidery design course I am doing has, I think, given me a new appreciation of textures and colours and I think this comes across in my photos this year.

I found myself attracted to strong colours and interesting foliage.  I loved the vibrancy of these hot dahlias against the dark foliage – stunning.

As for the wrinkly texture of this savoy cabbage – I can see this translated into a textile design.






Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – August 2014

2014_08130028logo Here we are at the end of August and I have been lamenting the lack of colour in my garden.  I have been more interested in foliage in the last year and I wondered whether this has had a negative impact on the floral display however looking at these photographs it is clear there is plenty of colour but much is in the cooler tones rather than in the rich colours that are common at this time of year.  I think I need to add some brighter tones to the borders so I will be seeing what I can find at the local nurseries over the coming weeks.


I have a few Asters but I am struggling to work out which is which as the poor plants have been moved so many times over the last two years.  I will have to ask my friend Helen Picton to identify them.  However I do know the small-flowered white one above is Aster umbellatus – the flowers create a sort of white hazy above the rest of the planting.


Keeping the unintentional cool theme going in the Big Border, along with the Asters, is this herbaceous clematis.  I bought it last year but for the life of me I cannot find the label this evening  but I love the softness of the blue which reminds me of wedgewood china.

2014_08130023logoThe liatris is looking wonderful at the moment in fact this is the best it has ever been and it seems to be thriving in its new location in the Big Border so much so that I think I will try to bulk it up or buy some additional plants to make more impact. There are some Rudbeckia about to open in this area which should really zing up the border.

On the patio the colours get stronger with the Dahlias really stealing the show.  However, I seem to have a number of deep burgundy ones and I think I could do with some other colours to add a contrast. Below we have Con Amore, Juliet, Jowey Mirelle and Chat Noir

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In the front garden is my new Crocosmia Sunglow which I hope to plant out this weekend.  I do like the orangey yellow Crocosmias more so than the bright red ones.

2014_08130012 I’m not sure which Crocosmia this is as I have had it for years.  It has wonderful bronze foliage and is a mass of flowers. 2014_08130005 Finally I will leave you with a Japanese Anemone.  I have had these plants for ever and they are currently located in the shady corner of the front garden in front of a bamboo.  They seem to be doing well here and there is plenty of space for them to spread out so they may well get to stay put!


For other Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit Carol over at May Dreams.

My Garden this Weekend – 26th May 2014


For a change the weather gods have been kind to me and the forecast rain has  held back and allowed me to garden to my heart’s delight.  In fact I stopped when my back was aching after some five hours of happy pottering and contemplating.  The garden is going through one of its lulls of transition from the spring bulbs to the summer perennials.  All the colour seems to be coming from Aquilegia and the odd Geraniums at the moment.


You have no idea how happy this view makes me despite the weeds in the patio.  The 2014_05260023whole patio has been covered in pots of one sort or another for weeks.  There was no way you could use the table which was also covered in trays of annuals and the seats didn’t even have anywhere to go.  I have spent the morning potting up the dahlias and the last pelargoniums and set them around the garden. This is the first year in ages when I haven’t planted up hanging baskets or mixed pots but they have been such a faff in recent years that I have decided not to bother.  However, I needed a home for the dahlias which were in the Big Border last year and had come through the winter stored in wood shavings in the garage so I decided to plant them up one per pot.  Hopefully they should look quite stunning once in flower.


The new seating area also has a small selection of pots but as you can see I need to get more gravel to do the rest of the steps but thats a job for a few weeks time when my son is here to move the bags for me.2014_05260026I even bought a new pot for the Acer I won in a raffle recently.  I have positioned it on the bottom of the top steps adjacent to a large weed which I have obviously overlooked and need to sort!  What you can’t see is that my original Acer which has been in the ground for some six or more years and is in the border to the left has died for reasons unknown.  I am a little upset as the boys bought it for me with their late Aunt but plants come and go and I am seeing it as an opportunity to try something new in this area.


I spent the afternoon weeding, dead heading and staking in the Big Border.  I am really pleased with this border considering that it was only created last year and wasn’t planted up as it is now until this Spring.  I dithered for a while last year trying to decide on how to plant the space but needing to relocate the asters and calmagrostis from the back slope helped clarify my thinking.  The main focus of the border is late summer but I have added peonies and yet more aquilegias to give it some interest earlier in the year.  Today I added some border auricula which I have grown from seed and which are very run of the mill to the edge of the border as well as some annual scabious and corncockle to fill gaps.


I think there is lots of texture and interest in the border even without lots of flowers but then I have  a bit of a thing about foliage.  I thought through the planting carefully and I am hoping that as the year progresses it will match the idea in my head – only time will tell.


The Greenhouse Year – April 2014


2014_04190015Another month has passed and the greenhouse is full to bursting although the winter occupants are beginning to move out and the new spring tenants are starting to move in.  There has been a slight swop over with the succulents moving across the greenhouse to the slatted benching and the seedling trays moving to the gravel beds.  I think the seed trays do better with the humidity around them.  I really need to move the succulents out to make room for seedlings etc but I think it will be another few weeks before I can risk the weather.

The new shelves on the back wall are proving to be a wonderful investment.  They are freeing up some space and the agaves, aloes and pelargoniums on the top shelf seem to really like the heat.  Other


occupants include Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus) which I have grown from seed and a bulbine frutescens also grown from seed.


Seedlings are beginning to appear but I haven’t really started my sowing yet so you can see why I need more space.  The majority of seeds sown to date germinate well in the outside cold-frame but tomorrow I am planning to sow some tender annuals.  The grassy seedlings are white/cream camassias grown from seed collected from the garden last year.  I am quite pleased with them.


The lower shelves are crammed full of pelargoniums, dahlia tubers and chrysanthemums.  They could all do with more light but with some regular moving around they will be fine until its warm enough for them to go outside.


The small floor space is rather crowded with the plants that are too heavy or tall to go on the racking.  I think the Salvia involucrata boutin can be planted out on the slope soon. The Aeonium is in serious need of chopping so I might do that tomorrow.

So that’s my tiny greenhouse this month – I hope you enjoyed the tour.

My garden this weekend – 4th August 2013

2013_08040091logo I don’t feel as though  I have spent much time in the garden this weekend.  Partly, as you can see it has been raining and when I say raining I mean a lot of rain.  Which is excellent as the ground has been so dry for so long.2013_08040084logo

The dahlias are really coming into their own and I am so pleased with the choices I made this year from Sarah Raven.  I would tell you which is which but that means scrambling around amongst soggy leaves.  However I can tell you they are either from the Butterfly Collection or Essential Dark Collection.


I adore these colours and I have noticed recently that I seem to be buying more and more plants in them.   Today, I went to visit Meadow Farm Nursery which I will write about another time but the owners are heavily into Echinacea breeding so needless to say I came back with 4 beautiful pinky plants.


The Big Border has seriously filled out the last couple of weeks which is amazing considering that it was only created in April/May and the plants were put in randomly due to the workshop development.  The border is  going to be unpicked in the Autumn when the annuals and dahlias are over.   I have been struggling, even before the border went in, on how to plant it and also the best way to access it.  It became obvious fairly quickly that a path of some sort was needed to get into the border rather than my heavy feet squishing unsuspecting plants.2013_08040089logo Saturday, saw a big step forward and the path started to go in.  It is going to be a simple wood bark path just wide enough for someone to walk down.  As you can see it is edged with branches as I really wanted an informal look and the intention is that the plants will grow over the edge and disguise it a little.  However, with the best laid plans it turned out that I did not have enough branches to act as edging. The answer was to mention this to my son who reminded me that we had identified some branches that needed to come down off the Willow and Prunus but we hadn’t got round to doing it.  Within 2 hours the boys had been up the trees and branches were forthcoming along with a lot of twiggy leafy stuff which I now need to sort out.

The only problem is that I cannot complete the path as there is a whole load of annual planting in the way and it would be such a pity to be digging it up just as it is coming into its own.  There has also been much debate about the exit point.  Plan A has been deemed unsuitable as it isn’t where you would want to come out and is rather steep.  Plan B has also been ruled out by the youngest son as although it is eminently sensible and practicable it is dull and straight and provides no interest or mystery – he really has been to too many gardens with me!  So Plan C it is but this involved shifting the Stipa gigantea about 3 ft so the path will be completed in a few months.  In the meantime whilst it is giving me excellent access to the border and helping me visualise how to plant it, I am reminded of those films where the car chase ends abruptly on a section of the freeway which has just stopped being made.


My Garden This Weekend – 3rd March 2013


This weekend saw a slight increase in temperature and on Saturday the sun was shining.  There was still a nip in the air so I decided that if I was going to spend some time out side I would need to do a strenuous job to keep myself warm.

As I have intimated before since the New Year I have a whole host of projects set up for the house and garden this year.  This is part of what has been christened ‘Operation Sort it Out’ (you have to say this in an East London accent like Terry from Minder if you know who I mean).  I have said before that the last three and half years I have been in a sort of fog and functioning just enough to get through work etc.  Now that I am learning to accept the loss of my sister better its as though my eyes have been opened and I have new energy to get on top of the garden and house. – there is 3 years of neglect to deal with.  Both the bathroom and dining room have been redecorated, cupboards and a bookcase sorted and clutter removed.  With the weather warming up I can now move my energies to the garden.  First up is sorting out the patio.  Our patio is quite narrow and has my small greenhouse off it.  There have also been two tall cold frames and these have made the patio feel more like a corridor with no real space to sit and enjoy the patio (as you can see below which was taken last September).


I also wanted to get to grips with composting instead of continuing in my usual chaotic manner.  A third wooden bin has been ordered and yesterday I made myself empty out the plastic compost bin by the garage.  This is generally used for kitchen waste with the odd bit of garden rubbish.  I was pleased to discover that over two-thirds of the contents had decomposed into good compost albeit with lots of egg shells in it.  This has been wheel barrowed onto the front garden to improve the soil by the birch.  The old bin has been cleaned and is going to the my Mum’s allotment site so someone else can use it.  Hopefully in a couple of weeks time my eldest will have time to help me level the ground by the two wooden bins and put in the new bin.  I will then have a bank of three bins so no excuses for not doing it properly.


With the plastic bin gome it meant that we could  re-jig the space by the back of the garage and move the two cold frames here.  It is quite compact but I think it will work well and the patio without the frames looks vast and quite bare.


Today, feeling a little weary of all the work yesterday afternoon and recovering from an excessive dinner the night before due to my eldest taking me out for my birthday, I decided that something more gentle was in order.  I potted up all my dahlia tubers.  I have invested in six tubers from Sarah Raven.  This is a bit of a leap of faith for me as my dahlias were rubbish last year due to slug, rain and cold.  However not one to be detered, as part of the changes to the back garden, I am putting in a new border with the intention of using it for dahlias and other late summer plants.  I have chosen the following dahlias which I hope will provide  lots of sumptuous colour: Juliet, Bishop of Auckland, Classic Rosamunda, Sam Hopkins, Jowey  Mirella and Con Amore.  I also have some Castor Oil seedlings coming on in the greenhouse which should add to the effect – I hope.  Some Hymenocallis festalis  were also potted up which I am hoping will add a glorious scent to th greenhouse.

Finally, I started tidying the borders.  I  have been waiting what seems like ages to get into the garden and the list of jobs I want to do has grown and grown to the point where I just didn’t know where to start.  So I started at the top of the steps from the patio, weeding and tidying.  I had already pruned the roses during the week and also dug up the three cornus from the front garden so all in all good progress has been made with the projects – oh and the front grass got its first cut of the year.

While I pottered in the garden I discovered hyacinth beginning to form buds and daffodils flushed with yellow which I think will be in flower within the week.  Spring is definitely creeping up on us.


Gorgeous Blooms at The Garden House

Having shared with you some long shots of The Garden House which I visited last week I thought I would now show you some of the plants that  really took my eye.  The main ones were the hydrangea which was simply gorgeous as you can see in the previous post, but I suspect I am in a minority of liking hydrangea.

Anyway, the best flowers were in the walled garden and there were some lovely dahlias.  Sadly not all of them were named so I can only let you appreciate the loveliness of the flowers and we will forever remain ignorant of their names.  I haven’t had much luck with dahlias this year.  They got off to a bad start and only one has really done well and that is a species variety so quite dainty.  However I do like the large cactus dahlias when I see them in other gardens or on the display bench.

This one looks familiar and I wonder if at some time in the past I may have grown this variety.  I just love the vibrancy of the red and white and the whole over the topness of the flower.

One of the few asters still in flower and a wonderful shade of almost syrupy pink.  These are the sort of flowers I aspire to paint one day.

Colchicum Autumnale 'Blush Pink'

Colchicum Autumnale ‘Blush Pink’

Then moving on to the Front Lawn are you find some of my favourites.  When we visited earlier in the year there were lots of different Primulas in the border around the lawn.  They are now dormant and have handed the baton over to the Colchicums.  I have a large pot of Colchicums which I acquired recently with no label but having seen these dainty varieties I think I might investigate some other varieties.

Colchicum 'Violet Queen'
Colchicum ‘Violet Queen’

So as you can see The Garden House is a real plantsman’s garden and one I will visit again and again while I have the chance.

GBBD October 2010: Fading Beauty

It was more of a challenge to find nice blooms for GBBD this month.  Lots of the plants are beginning to look tired and a little worn around the  edges but there are still some blooming their socks off.  The Rudbeckia above is very bright and I am actually struggling to find the right spot for it,  its definitely in the wrong spot at the moment colour wise but I am planning to replant the border it is in soon so hopefully it will look more at home soon.

The real glamour queens of the garden at the moment are the Dahlias.  I can’t understand why more people don’t grow them.  Chat Noir has been flowering its socks off since at least August if not mid July and is covered in flowers.  Others that are looking great at the moment are Honka, a species Dahlia (below top) and Swan Lake (below bottom).

Admittedly I have some dahlias which aren’t performing so well but I will get rid of those this winter and try something else next year and then keep the ones that perform well.  I lift my Dahlia’s each year as I have quite clay soil and it can get very soggy in winter.  I just dry them out and remove any rotten bits of the tubers and then stacked them in seed trays with a little compost to help  retain moisture and store them in the garage.  It seems to work well.

I have finally managed to get a reasonable photo of my Eupatorium.  It has proved to be a very troublesome plant to photograph for some reason but I am pleased that in its first year it has put up two good flower stems.  Hopefully it will start to thrive on the bank with the surrounding grasses.

I am really pleased with this Kniphofia.  It is one of a bunch of seedlings I have grown from a packet of mixed Kniphofia seeds.  I was surprised to find it as I had muddled it up with some Cyperus glaber seedlings and it appeared in a boggy part of the garden doing better than the other Kniphofia seedlings.  I like the colouring as its not as harsh as some Kniphofias.

I have also finally managed to get a photo of the Persicaria flowers which have been eluding me for months.  I am really pleased with this plant and thinking of getting another one maybe a darker red or a white if it exists.

These are the best of the blooms this month, I doubt there will be much at all to show you next month.

For more Garden Blogger Bloom Day posts visit May Dreams

GBBD August 2010 – Daisy, Daisy

A couple of years ago I decided that I needed more daisy type flowers in the garden to attract insects.   Well I can safely say that I have now addressed that, in fact I hadn’t realised just how many daisy type flowers I had until I bought the Leucanthemum Broadway Lights above yesterday.  I couldn’t resist it and kidded myself that I was rescuing the plant which was quite large and in a ridiculously small pot.  Within minutes of being planted it was covered in insects.  It was when I was trying to place it I realised that there was a bit of a daisy theme going on. Even one of my new Dahlias, Swan Lake (below), is daisy like.

I also have Rudbeckias, both annual and perennial.

There are also Helianthus and Bidens in tight bud so in about a week there will be even more daisys for the insects to feast on.  Usually at this time of the year the star of the show is the Ligularia Desdemona (below).  It is flowering well but very stunted in height – a good foot and half shorter than in previous years so it doesn’t look as dramatic as normal which is a pity.

However, all is not lost the garden is really hotting up with an increasing number of red flowers coming into their own.  I know I like red anyway but I have realised that this preference has crept into the garden.  They mostly in the same border and include a gorgeous Dahlia Chat Noir (below)

Nearby is Lobelia Tupa (below).  I grew these from seed last year and its the first time they have flowered; I have to say the flowers are quite weird but very interesting.  There is also Lobelia Cardinalis in this border but it isn’t in flower yet and I have been wondering if it might be one red to many in such a small area!

I do have some Japanese Anemones in this border and their white flowers act as a good counterpoint to the reds and bright oranges as well as calming things down and giving the eyes somewhere to rest.  I think if you have too many similar colours together they lose their individual affect so its good to break them up.

Other cooling plants are a Thalictrum (below) which seems to have started flowering quite late this year, some Cleome given to me by Artists Garden and a lovely white rose which is on its second flush.

Those are the highlights from the actual garden.  In the pots my Pineapple Lilies are going great guns as is one of the Calla Lilies

As ever there are lots of flowers about to burst into flower which will have gone over by the time the next Garden Bloggers Bloom Day comes round so I will have to try and make sure I record them on this blog during the next month.

For more GBBD posts visit Carol’s blog at May Dreams Gardens