From my garden, that is. The chrysanthemums shown here were bought in Waitrose yesterday; I can’t resist green flowers.
garden disasters )

When I grew these plants of Lychnis coronaria ‘Alba’ from my own saved seed, I didn’t imagine they’d become the centrepiece of the garden. They glow in the gloomy weather and are rather splendid.

It’s really hard to photograph white flowers, even in the rain, so apologies for the pic.

Cotoneaster, Berberis, Pyracantha, Hypericum androsaemum (awful weed, IMO), Virginia creeper (I think). I even found a few hedgerow blackberries.

This choosing a flower of the week lark gets harder as more and more flowers open every day. I’ve picked Lathyrus vernus because I love it, especially the original true blue plant. I had several varieties in my old garden.

The one shown here I bought a couple of years ago as ‘Rainbow’, from the sales table at a Plant Heritage (NCCPG) meeting, always a good source of unusual plants. If the seller grew it from seed it may not be ‘Rainbow’ at all, but it is very pretty. Lathyrus vernus is a low growing little plant, good for the back of a border because it doesn’t look like much after it’s flowered. It’s totally hardy. Last year, slugs got at this particular plant and this is the first year I’ll have a decent display. I must remember to save the seeds and see what I get from them.


Tiarellas are such pretty plants, and so good in shade. You have the benefit of attractive foliage which is semi-evergreen and in spring, spikes of little fluffy flowers rather like those of London Pride. The plant above is ‘Iron Butterfly’. After the cut, ‘Tapestry’.
pic )
I love wallflowers, with their velvety petals and heavenly scent. In my old garden they lived up to their name, seeding themselves into crumbling brick walls where they became quite large, shrubby plants and semi-perennial.

I should be enjoying a fine display of wallflowers at the moment, because last September I planted out two dozen nice tall ones. One February morning (my birthday, as it happened) I pulled up the kitchen blind to see that during the night the deer, the horrors, had eaten every single one. It’s a good job I don’t have a gun. Luckily, they didn’t find the self-seeders, like this one.


When I first moved here, I sowed, grew on and planted out two of my favourites: ‘Blood Red’ and ‘Fire King’. Ever since, they have kept themselves going by seeding around; the one above is growing in a paving crack by the kitchen door.
more wallflowers )

I love the acid greens and yellows of euphorbias in spring. The characias types make quite big shrubby plants, as this ‘Black Pearl’ has done, now that I’ve found the right place for it in the garden. It started off in the death bed, which killed it, but luckily I’d taken cuttings and so didn’t lose it. I’m particularly fond of the low domes of E. epithymoides . According to Margery Fish, this was once common in cottage gardens. I had it in my old garden, snapped up a new plant when I saw it but failed with it in that same doomy bed. I dug it out and now have two plants potted up, waiting for a new home.

Most euphorbias are lovely but beware the runners. E. cyparrisias is a low growing charmer but gets everywhere. I would never plant E. robbiae again except to cover rough, dry shade in a very big garden. It’s a real thug.

I’m trying to choose each week something which wasn’t out the week before. Tricky, because so many spring flowers last for weeks on end. I’ve picked Fritillaria meleagris, as here. The link takes you back to older posts on the subject (and better photos). There’s no sign yet of the Dicentra which you can see in one of those posts. I do hope I haven’t lost it.
Fritillaries look wonderful in meadows as here at Cricklade in Wiltshire. Sadly, such sights are rare.

In my garden, the fritillaries are growing on the bank under the hedge. Last year, to my horror, I saw that they were being attacked by the dreaded lily beetles and went into battle armed with a yogurt pot and my finger nails (work it out). They look OK so far this year but I’m keeping an eye on them. And I’m never growing lilies again, which is a shame.
After all my complaints about the bad weather we had down south over Easter, yesterday was nice and today is glorious. I cleaned the line and hung washing outside for the first time this year. I battled with BT to try to get a better deal out of them and succeeded. I started deadheading the daffodils. Then I did a lot of weeding. That was tiring so I sat in the sun (really warm!) and made these nifty plant supports out of hazel hedge prunings the gardener left behind. All that time in the Guides wasn’t wasted.


Yesterday I saw lambs in the fields; new life everywhere.

On a dark, wet day like today, it’s cheering to see all the yellows in the garden: primroses (hundreds of them, they grow like weeds here), daffodils and in one corner, a small tree smothered in pale yellow, fluffy catkins. Most people have those things so today I thought I’d write about the lesser known epimediums, or Barrenwort.

There were no epimediums in the garden when I moved here and I could see just the space for one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the variety I wanted and settled for Epimedium ‘Frohnleiten’ (from Crocus). It’s a good garden plant, which has the RHS Award of Garden Merit. The leaves are a bright, glossy green throughout the year, as you can see in last year's post here This year I cut down all the leaves early so that the flowers show up better.


Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of money on beautiful, newly introduced epimediums which I fell in love with. Sadly, perhaps because they came from Japan, they hated my clay soil and never ‘did’ for me. ‘Frohnleiten’, like the next one I’m going to mention, is totally reliable and will grow anywhere.
the plant I prefer )

This week, I wanted to choose a flower that wasn’t yellow, which tends to be the dominant colour at this time of year. So I picked Bergenia. Some people absolutely hate Bergenias, or ‘Elephant’s Ears’ as they are known. Those huge, leathery leaves! That repellent bright pink! If, like me, you have a difficult patch in the garden, a patch which I’ve named ‘the death bed’ because it seems to kill anything I put in it, Bergenias can be your friends. Plus, as you see from the photos, they don’t have to have huge leaves or be a vivid pink. This variety is Bergenia ‘Harzkristall’ and was a great bargain: £2.00 from the nursery sale and in such a big pot that I was able to split the plant immediately. So far it’s put up with being in the shade, in a poorly drained bed and, last winter, actually sitting in standing water.
more pics )

This cherry tree is at the front of my house (which is really the back), where it can be seen from the road. I’ve no idea of the variety. There’s something very pleasing about the mass of white blossom on bare branches, seen against a pale blue spring sky. When the leaves do emerge, they’re a coppery colour and in autumn there are large, dark red, inedible fruits.

This is a new idea, which I’ll see if I can keep up. It’s easy now, but what about later in the year when there will be lots of flowers to choose from?

The garden currently has plenty of snowdrops, primroses and pulmonarias in flower but my pick is this hellebore, for its triumph over its surroundings. It’s an absolutely bog standard hellebore such as you might find anywhere, unlike these. There were two or three plants in the garden when I moved here. They are either on the bank, and therefore covered by giant ferns for most of the year, or nestling up against the trunk of a giant berberis. I do nothing at all for them except to cut off all the leaves very early in the year; this helps prevent a horrible disease they can get which turns all the leaves black. Every year they flower again. Wanting more hellebores, I bought a lovely white one, planted it in my shady bed, stood back and admired. The next year it had completely vanished. A mystery to me as I’d never known such a thing happen before. It just makes me more appreciative of these old, semi-wild trusties.
primroses )


Dec. 6th, 2014 10:30 am

Past ten o’clock and the frost is still thick. Luckily, I spent some time yesterday moving pots into the greenhouse and fleecing up. Yet look at this plant. It’s a pelargonium, ‘Concolor Lace’ and in theory tender. I had so many cuttings of it this year that I tried bedding some out and it worked brilliantly. Here it is still looking fresh, if icy, after a few degrees of frost. The Cerinthes are also still green and even flowering. Marvels of nature, eh?

Now is the best time of year for fuchsias. I took this photo in early morning murk; now the sun is out and it’s really warming up.

I’m pleased with this plant, partly because it’s absolutely dripping with flowers and partly because it was such a bargain. I spotted it at the garden centre a while ago, where it was being sold as a container plant and was therefore in a small and cheap pot. I knew it was Fuchsia ‘Genii’, a hardy shrub which I’d grown in my old garden. I grew it on, planted it out and, as you see, it’s done very well.

Time to get out and do some pruning.

Picked this morning. The variegate weigela isn’t mine. Part of it is poking through the front fence from next door; I had no compunction about snipping some off.
One Fine Day )

I love foxgloves and I always associate them with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show supported by M&G, as we have to call it. Unlike the many plants which expert growers have to hold back or bring on, foxgloves are usually flowering (not last year!) in May. So it’s no surprise to see ranks of them in the Chelsea gardens.

In my own garden, I let the paler ones seed in the hope of getting some interesting colours. Foxgloves are so obliging; very easy to move around. Just now I’m digging out small plants for potting up, so that I can move them to a better position. I like a row of them against the shed. This photo is of my favourite kind: white with dark red spots inside. Gorgeous.

I keep walking into the dining room and thinking I’ve left a light on by mistake. The glow in the room actually comes from this azalea. It’s not what I would have planted as I don’t even like azaleas. I certainly wouldn’t have put it in the same sight line as a bright pink weigela which flowers at the same time. But it is rather impressive for a while.
Yesterday, in spite of the cold, I decided to do some gardening in the afternoon. I’d hardly started when it poured with rain and I had to scuttle round putting everything away. At least one corner of the garden looked a little neater. Later I cut a lot of daffodils which had been blown to the ground so they could be admired indoors. It’s jolly cold again today but I managed one job this morning, removing a shrub which hasn’t been pleasing me. Then I took a few photos. This is a general view of part of the garden and you can see that there are daffodils and primroses everywhere.

more )
No, not curly kale or purple sprouting, delicious as they are, but those useful hardy perennials which keep their leaves in the winter. Here’s a few of mine. First up, Epimedium ‘Fröhnleiten’. How fresh and shiny does it look?

more )



January 2017



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