There won’t be any decorations up here until much closer to Christmas but I can understand why some people do put their trees up *much too early*. Anything to counteract the perpetual gloom we’re living in. Really, I might be living inside the Arctic Circle rather than south west England when it’s so dark all day long. Yesterday afternoon I decided to go up to the garden centre to visit the Christmas Wonderland, thinking that at least it would be bright and cheerful there. Huh! I don’t know if they’ve become obsessed with energy saving or what but it was dark there, too. The decorations area seemed to have no lighting at all except the twinkling lights on the various trees. So I was rather disappointed with this year’s Christmas effort. Star of the show was Santa’s Volkswagen, seen above, surrounded by animatronic elves and with the familiar little blue train chugging cheerfully around it. Definitely the toddlers’ favourite.
I’m afraid my pictures are not very good but here’s some more.
more pics )


Do come in! )
To the garden centre again yesterday for another look at the winter wonderland display, which has been up since October. I’d received my invitation to the special opening evening in August! I felt things were lower key than usual this year but there was still plenty of wackiness around and people of all ages were enjoying the festive scene. You don’t often see a Christmas banjo, so I liked this chap.

more! )
How I wish I’d taken my camera with me when I went to the nursery sale first thing this morning! I’d love to show you the crowds of happy shoppers with their ridiculously laden trolleys. The garden centre holds these sales several times during the summer and there are great bargains to be had. It’s a funny thing, but whenever I pay £10.00 for a plant, it dies, but anything snapped up for a pound or two at these sales flourishes. I came back from the last sale feeling very disgruntled. I picked a trolley which I couldn’t manage, the plants were arranged so that it was hard for people to get round and bargain hunters were pushing and shoving quite rudely. Humph!

Today was much better. There was the usual snaking queue, just like a jumble sale, and people chatting in a friendly way to complete strangers (well, I was). This time they’d used a different area of the nursery so the plants were on benches in a great circle, easy for people to filter past. I bought: Astrantia ‘Buckland’; Thalictrum ‘Evening Star'; a dark pink dahlia for late colour. All for £8.00. Win! It’s quite a social event for me as I have so many horticultural friends and acquaintances, I’m sure to see someone I know.

Now I’m wiped out because I put in all the new plants plus another I bought last Sunday. It may not sound much, but I had to dig out some tough stuff first and I also tipped two sacks of home made leaf mould on the beds and dug it in to give the new treasures a better start. Phew, I deserve to loll about listening to the cricket.
A very hectic week, due mainly to tedious domestic problems and having MEN around the place and no peace. So I was really glad to have today to myself.

After doing a few jobs I was early at the garden centre. I had a print-off voucher for 10% off if I presented it before ten o'clock, today only. I thought I might get a hanging basket, as I hadn't made up any myself this year: too cold! When I arrived, I found an extra offer: £14.99 baskets on BOGOF. TBH, they weren't worth £14.99, but were a good buy at half price.

I'd already done some potting up and today I decided some of these pots must leave the sheltering greenhouse and take their chances outside. So I had a good sweep up and made a start. Below, red geraniums outside the chalet; there are three pots each side of the door. This was so successful in last year's awful summer that I decided to repeat it.

more pics )
It was sunny(ish) this afternoon and much warmer than yesterday, so I took myself out. Just up the road I found myself following a genuine red vardo drawn by a horse with lovely feathered feet. Far from being annoyed by the delay, drivers were beaming, and a couple waved from their front garden. Parked at the garden centre was a lovingly preserved MG Midget covered with badges; I gazed at it in admiration for quite a while. It felt quite spring-like and I wandered round looking at plants which I used to have in my old garden and had to tell myself strictly that I have no room for in my new one. I can resist the resin garden animal ornaments but if I could think where to put it I’d buy a small gothic mirror like this to create some garden magic. It was cheaper locally. [ profile] aellia, I think you’d have loved some of this stuff.

Back home in my garden I saw lots of jobs crying out to be done and some dead plants in the greenhouse. More encouragingly, in flower now are: cherry tree, primroses, snowdrops, pulmonarias, miniature daffodils, hellebores, bergenia, a few crocus, including the large purple one which comes up in solitary splendour each year, and Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’, which is almost never out of flower. Pleasingly, my erythronium plants are showing shoots. I can almost believe in spring.

Garden centres have had a hard year of it, with the terrible weather making it hard for people to stay interested in their sodden gardens. So it’s even more important that they recoup some of their losses at Christmas. Our garden centre has gone OTT as usual with a startling display. As you walk in, you are greeted by huge furry reindeer, almost life size. Singing creatures on wires whiz about above your head. There are table settings, variously colour themed, and aspirational Christmas sets.
more glittery delights )

The C Word

Oct. 17th, 2011 04:17 pm
Yes, already. Over the weekend [ profile] huskyteer and I went to look at the Christmas wonderland at the garden centre. We shrieked over some of the merchandise on offer but the things which made us go ‘Eeuw!’ rather than ‘Hee!’ were *plush reindeer heads*. Yup, sad decapitations to fix on your wall in an old-time yuletide spirit. Some of the displays were nice, though. I’ve always had a weakness for little light-up village scenes like this one.

more )
In a word: hot. It was a nice drive there, with bluebells out. The shops in town are dressing their windows with union flags, commemorative china and good luck messages. Not to be outdone, the Country Garden Centre has put up a sort of willow gazebo with tasteful decorations.

Oh, and I bought some plants for my summer pots.
gratuitous garden photo )
It’s still dark all day long but yesterday I whizzed up to the garden centre. I wanted to pick up my January card offer: 50 litres of compost at half price. Goodness, it was heavy to get in and out of the car! Lucky I have so much experience in how to tip these things about without actually picking them up. The offers for regular customers are of course intended to lure you to buy something else as well; a very successful ploy as I couldn’t resist pots of hyacinths on BOGOF. There were other pretty sights, like these primroses.

I didn’t look at the price tags, for fear of fainting from shock. Luckily my garden is already full of primroses, waiting for spring. One of these containers would make a nice present for someone, wouldn’t it?
The other day, before it got snowy, I nipped up to the garden centre to see their winter wonderland. A sad lack of mysterious flying objects and knitted turkeys this year but hey, this dog *moves*.

tree and deer )

I'm rather a snob about plastic hanging baskets but when I saw a selection containing violas on special offer at the garden centre a few weeks ago, I couldn't resist. The violas have survived heavy rain, strong winds and dark days and are still smiling at me for less than the price of a bunch of flowers. Value!
My favourite season and I’m sorry for people who don’t enjoy it. I actually liked going back to school. New shoes! New stationery (always had a thing for it)! Happy memories of going into a misty, chilly garden to pick a few blackberries for my cornflakes, sniffing the smoky smell of chrysanthemums. What happened to those ‘great tawny chrysanthemums’ which are mentioned so often in old books? This year I only have these pink ones, which were on special offer at the garden centre.

more seasonal stuff )

Not my garden but at the garden centre. First the bad news.
Drought. We’ve had hardly a drop of rain for weeks and weeks.
Deer. They’ve eaten all my phlox and sedums. Now I know why there weren’t any in the garden when I moved in.
Crocosmias. Crocosmias! I’ve already paid a man to spend most of a morning digging out the ginormous clump of ginormous crocosmias I hated so much. The damn things are like dragon’s teeth, though: they keep coming up again. Some of the corms are the size of a large baking potato. Grr.
Age. I was out in the garden at 8.15 this morning and when I came back indoors I felt twenty years older.
better news, picture heavy )

Today I broke a rule and bought a magazine after walking up to the post in the sunshine. Five minutes in the shop and it was raining again when I came out. So, I indulged in Country Living, it was very disappointing compared with their usual Christmas issues and a complete waste of money. I just wanted a Christmas nudge! [ profile] thelondonpauper has put up his tree already. NO! Too early! Yet I'm slightly jealous. Usually a stickler for not being too early, this year for some reason I can't wait for it to be time to put up the lights and play Christmas music. Perhaps it's the weather, or the fact that last year I couldn't think about anything except moving.

This afternoon I drove up to the garden centre in search of inspiration. Well! mad ideas )

It’s freezing cold and even with the heating on I’m wearing furry boots indoors. In spite of this, I love the winter countryside. This morning I drove to my usual garden centre to check out greenhouses (20% off until the end of January). The bleached look of the fields; the neatly trimmed hedges of a well managed countryside, russet where beech leaves hang on; black tree outlines; subtle greens and browns everywhere. These are the real colours of winter. I’ll have no truck with ‘winter gardens’ full of gaudy dogwood stems and phormiums; nor with claustrophobic conifers and heathers. No need to pretend that winter is actually some other season. I’d rather see the bare bones for a while and surely snowdrops, hellebores and a few select winter-flowering shrubs should be enough for anybody?

While I was at the garden centre I bought some hyacinths (white, of course) in a pot, so that I can enjoy watching them grow and eventually catch that wonderful scent. When I told the man in charge of greenhouses that I’d just moved he said, ‘Where’r yew tew now then?’ I like that. It’s strange that I’ve only moved a mile from my old house yet feel so much more in the country.

Botanists are the bane of the gardener's life because they are always changing plant names. Euphorbia polychroma or E. epithymoides? Make your minds up, chaps!

In yesterday's Telegraph gardening section Mary Keen describes how, in 1987, she sent a copy of her new book to the late, great plantsman Graham Stuart Thomas. He returned it, covered in red biro (!) with a note saying that there were 'errors of nomenclature on every page'. She goes on to say that the publication, in the same year, of the first edition of The Plant Finder, could have saved her a lot of trouble.

It is an invaluable, annual publication but don't think it protects you from botanists. The Telegraph story reminded me of something that happened years ago. I had written an article for The Journal of The Hardy Plant Society about North American woodland plants I was growing in the garden. Imagine my horror on receiving later a forwarded letter from an American professor demanding to know 'the basis of your contributor's assertion that' plant x was called plant x. (Too lazy to look it up now but I think it was Mertensia virginica.) I wrote to the chap saying that I was an amateur gardener and that the nomenclature in my article was based on The Plant Finder. Whether this satisfied him or not I don't know but I heard no more about it.

We all owe Linnaeus a debt and it's obviously a good thing that plant names should be standardised but really, these chaps are obsessive dedicated to accuracy. Gardeners refuse to learn though and nowhere is this more vexing than in the naming of geraniums. Strictly speaking, a geranium is a hardy plant, such as Geranium pratense, a British native. The 'geraniums' used for summer bedding and greenhouse decoration are mostly tender, come from South Africa and are Pelargoniums. If you call them Pelargoniums, though, other people will think you snobby or simply not understand you. I once worked in a garden centre. A customer came in demanding to see some Pelargoniums. So I showed her some. 'No, no,' she said, crossly, (it's amazing how rude people could be to you), 'Pelargoniums!' It turned out that what she wanted was Regal Pelargoniums and as she was the customer I had to bite my tongue and persuade her to buy them.

Perhaps the botanists are right after all.



January 2017



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