Foliage Follow Up – November 2015

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Having managed to do the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post in a timely fashion this month I thought I would also join Pam over at Digging in the Foliage Follow Up.  I have read Pam’s blog ever since I started blogging some 8 years ago and met her when I went to the Garden Bloggers Fling in San Francisco.  Having a growing preference for foliage it is a logical meme for me to join but I often find myself thinking oh I have shown this or that and so I don’t join in.  This month it dawned on me, I can be a little slow at times, that I should show some of the foliage on my decidious plants so this month I am focussing on the Birch jacquemontii which lives in my front garden.

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My sons bought the tree for me probably about 8 years ago and I love it.  Its one of the few plants that I will be upset to leave if I ever move house and I keep an eye out for seedlings which I might be able to pot up but they are few and far between.  I see this tree every morning from my bedroom window when I look out to see what the weather gods have decided to present us with and it struck me yesterday morning what a wonderful colour the leaves had turned.

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Due to our mild temperatures this Autumn the leaf colour seems to be changing quite slowly and amazingly the birch seem to be hanging on to the leaves despite the strong winds we have had.  The leaves look almost orange in the photographs but this morning in the dull light of an overcast day there was a distinct pale yellow glow to the tree.

So there’s my foliage follow up post this month, not a succulent or evergreen leaf to be seen, makes a change for me.  To see more fabulous foliage pop over to Pam’s Austin garden and check out the comments box for other links.

Ornate: A WC to Behold


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate” I am sharing with you the indulgence that is Helen Dillon’s downstairs WC as I think it fits well with the definition of ornate as “breathtakingly extravagant”.  For the non-obsessive gardeners amongst my readers I should explain that Helen is a well-known garden writer who lives in the suburbs of Dublin.  I blogged about a visit to her garden back in July which I visited as part of a garden tour to Ireland.


Being an older property, I am guessing Georgian, the downstairs WC is shoe-horned in under the stairs so is a tiny space with a sloping ceiling which means that I had to take close-ups rather than take a photo of the glorious whole.  I should say that Helen was very keen for us all to visit and see this space, in fact we were almost ordered to do so and I know from friends who have visited with other groups that this was not peculiar to our group.  If you can imagine a small downstairs WC with the basic facilities of toilet and small sink and then every bit of the wall and ceiling is covered in shells all in intricate designs then you are half way to imagine this extraordinary creation.  I have to admit that I found it a little intimidating and a little frightening as some of those shells are quite large and sharp-looking!


The whole creation had been commissioned some years previously and what was even more extraordinary was that one of my fellow tourers recognised the artist who it turned out was a friend of hers – small world.


Careful – Weekly Photo Challenge

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This week’s  Daily Post’s  photo challenge theme is  “Careful.”  

‘Careful’ makes me think of small things.  We are careful with babies, small children, delicate ornaments for fear of injuring them.  “But what am I careful with I wondered” and more importantly I added “that I can illustrate with a photo”. Fiddly things come to mind, things I have to focus on – so sowing seeds and embroidery.  “Easy” I thought “I’ll take a photo of my current embroidery project”.

Foolish me, it’s not easy to take a photo of yourself sewing; not unless you have someone else to take the photo or you can set the camera up on a stand.  How do you focus the camera on your own hand when you have to hold the camera?  Impossible.  So I have ended up with a photograph of my embroidery without my hand doing careful sewing.  It is a careful occupation and the photograph was taken carefully – so I have doubly completed the challenge!


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Here is my response to WordPress’ weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

I thought for a while about what I might have seen this year that was extraordinary. I was reminded of my trip back in May when I took my Mum to Rome.  She had a desire to see the Trevi Foundation whilst I was determined we would go to the Pantheon and see its amazing brick-built dome; the largest unsupported dome in the world.  My mother was rather blank about this place I kept mentioning. Luckily it wasn’t that far from the Trevi Fountain and with lots of eateries in the small roads around it an ideal lunch destination.

I have been to the Pantheon once before; some 9 years ago the day after my 40th birthday.  I was in Rome on a mad work trip which lasted little more than 24 hours.  Our hosts were so determined that I should see the sights that we did a tour of Rome at midnight which was quite magical but the Pantheon was the one place we couldn’t look inside at that time of night.

I am so glad that I insisted we went to the Pantheon.  It was the highlight of the trip for me.  I found the vastness of the interior awesome especially when you think it was built around 125 AD in the reign of Hadrian, he of the long wall. The opening at the top of the roof is 8.8m in diameter that’s 28.87 ft ; the total diameter is 43.2m (141.73ft). Added to this is its religious significance. I’m not a religious person but whatever your faith or lack of faith you cannot help but be moved by the religious imagery throughout the building.

The Pantheon – a truly extraordinary place.


GBBD October 2015 – Its all about the Asters

Aster frikartii wunder von staffa

Aster frikartii Wunder von Stafa

Having spent the day recording the new RHS Symphyotrichum trial at Old Court Nurseries I thought it would be appropriate to focus on ‘Asters’ in this month’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post.  Above is one of my real favourites, Aster x frikartii ‘Wunder von Stafa’. I love the large daisy like flowers, it has a nice open habit and being of short-medium height works well in the border.

Symphyotricum 'Les Moutiers'

Symphyotricum ‘Les Moutiers’

Symphyotrichum ‘Les Moutiers’ is another one which I have been admiring for the last few weeks.  It has strong stems so needs little supporting and the flowers are more pink that it seems in the photograph.  It has a very elegant habit and a nice height of 4-5ft (difficult to tell on my slope) and is clumping up well.

Symphyotrichum 'Ochtendgloren'

Symphyotrichum ‘Ochtendgloren’

Another aster whose photo doesn’t really show its colour properly is Symphyotrichum ‘Ochtendgloren’. In reality it is a much pinker purple.  A medium height plant so good in front of taller grasses such as Calamagrostis ‘Overdam’.  I am hoping my plant will clump up well as it is such a pretty colour and bounces well off the nearby Cotinus.

Aster trifoliatus subsp. ageratoides 'Stardust'

Aster trifoliatus subsp. ageratoides ‘Stardust’

On a much shorter scale is Aster trifoliatus subsp. ageratoides ‘Stardust’.  I don’t think it is as pretty as the others but it doesn’t mind a bit of shade which makes it a good doer for brightening up woodland planting at this time of year.

Aster novae-angliae 'St Michael's'

Aster novae-angliae ‘St Michael’s’

Finally we have Aster novae-angliae ‘St Michael’s’.   I have to confess that I bought this some years ago as it is named for a local hospice charity, as opposed to the well-known department store, and some of the price went to the charity.  However, it has really been attention grabbing for the last few weeks with its big bluey-purple flowers and interestingly was one of the varieties that we identified today as one to really watch through the trial.  Mine has found it way through various plant moves to the woodland border and is surprisingly looking very good.

So those are my October blooms, for other bloggers’ blooms pop over to May Dreams and check out the comments box.