Some years ago, I took over from a friend who was helping a very old man with his garden. Mr J had moved to Dorset on retirement and built an award winning garden from scratch. The way he’d planned out the garden from a bare plot round a bungalow was amazing, and he’d then filled it with unusual shrubs and perennials. By the time I knew him, he was in his nineties and the only gardening he could manage was some pottering in the greenhouse. His daughter begged him to move nearer the family but he was obstinate, telling me that if he left the garden, ‘I’d be dead in mumfs.’ I’m sure it was love of the garden that kept him going. He kept an eye on it by whizzing round on his mobility scooter in the most terrifying manner. Once, he managed to tip himself into a hedge; luckily he was wearing his panic button but he still had to wait a while to be rescued.

He had a man in to do the ‘cuttin’’, as he called it, and me to be his weeding, watering and tidying slave. Goodness, he was an old bossy boots but I got fond of him and missed him when he died, aged ninety six. Unlike many keen gardeners, he wasn’t very generous about giving away roots or cuttings, claiming that if he gave away everything people asked for, he’d have nothing left. I did manage to get some seed from a lovely tree peony he had. I was successful with the seed but in my old garden I already had one tree peony and couldn’t decide where to put another. So I just kept potting it on into ever larger pots. I brought it with me when I moved, then when I’d cleared a whole bed of rubbishy stuff and was ready to replant it from scratch, in went the peony at last. Ten days ago, I found this.


and now )

We’ve been living inside a cloud here for the past few days. Most plants look pretty sad. Yet at the end of October, the starry flowers of this little saxifrage come to cheer me up. The plant has loved the wet summer and the foliage has been a joy: rounded, scalloped leaves, which are a shiny green on top and red underneath. I have it planted just where I can see it from a window. This is the only way to enjoy the garden at the moment.


May. 29th, 2012 08:56 am

I love foxgloves and the spotty ones are my favourites. I don't mind where they seed themselves but they're very easy to move to wherever you want them. When they've finished flowering I leave any white or pale coloured ones to seed, in hope of getting some interesting crosses.
more pics )

It’s wonderful how these fritillaries are always out for Good Friday. After a frosty start, it’s been a beautiful day, although chilly. Now it’s clouding over, so I was out dead-heading daffodils just in time. Why don’t more people bother with this simple task? I drive down the road shouting, ‘Dead-head your daffodils!’, safe in the knowledge that the culprits can’t hear me.

This Dicentra is one of ‘my’ plants, which I put in last spring. I’m delighted to see it up again and looking so much at home.

In other news, I have just been phoned by the optician *on Good Friday*. Whatever next? The poor woman wanted me to make an appointment, which I declined to do until next week.

Perfect weather today and this chap was very interested in my activities. I wanted to get rid of this lot

because I knew that hellebores and snowdrops were hidden underneath and didn’t want to miss them. Cutting back the ferns is a pain, with spores flying everywhere (probably bad for you). Once you can see the crowns it gets easier but no less hard on the back. Three barrowloads later
after )
For years I kept up a tradition of a Shakespeare flower count: everything in the garden flowering on Shakespeare’s birthday. Although I have far fewer flowers here I decided to revive the idea. Here’s the list.

Alpine strawberries
Brunnera macrophylla variegated one, can’t remember its name
Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’
Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’
Erysimum either ‘Apricot Delight’ or ‘Apricot Twist’. Whichever, it’s definitely orange, see below
Euphorbia polychroma
Flowering quince
Flowering cherry
Geranium robertianum, a weed really but so pretty I leave it in a few places
Grape hyacinths
Lily of the Valley
Omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’
Pelargonium in greenhouse
Periwinkle, blue
Periwinkle, violet
Primroses everywhere
Pulmonarias, various types
Solomon’s Seal
Speedwell, another weed
Stitchwort in the hedges
Violas in basket. They’ve been flowering since November and have survived temperatures of -12

Bubbling under (just coming into flower)
Centaurea montana, the perennial cornflower
Clematis montana
Geranium macrorrhizum

Chaenomeles speciosa or Flowering Quince. I think this one is ‘Geisha Girl’. It’s a huge shrub here and very pretty just at the moment. I took the photo yesterday afternoon when I got back from the Spring Flower Show. Oh dear. Entries and attendance were both down and I felt bad about not entering anything. I could fully have won the class for Primroses and I’m sure my patterned socks would have beaten the only other knitted entry.

I see from Jane Brocket’s blog that she’s already picking large bunches of tulips from her garden. So far I have one in flower.
Cairo )
Gardening two afternoons running! I know some parts of the country are less well favoured but here it’s like spring has sprung, although not that warm. The cherry is in bloom, the bank covered with daffodils, primroses and celandines. So pretty. But oh, my poor back. I’m trying to clear a bed of rubbishy old self-seeded plants so that I can put in things I’ve chosen myself. Unfortunately, some of these plants are mallows, which have roots over a foot long and take some getting out. Then because the bed’s been neglected everything is matted; digging out grass is difficult because it’s worked its way in amongst other plants. I have to limit my activities so that I’ll be fit for more tomorrow.

I love the blue of this Pulmonaria longifolia.

I also took a picture of Omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’ but it was rubbish so you’ll have to look on the Crocus site instead. I had this plant in my old garden so when I saw one on the plant table at an NCCPG meeting last autumn I snapped it up and planted it in what I plan to be a mainly spring bed.

Tracks all over the garden and a Redwing mingling with the other birds. Shows how cold it is.
Correction: two Redwings and they're eating Berberis seeds.

After )
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 )

photo Sarah Raven

Nearly September! I have a lot of wallflowers ready to plant out. Yes, the old 'Blood Red' seed proved viable. Next year, I'm determined to have tulips with them and I've just put in an order with Sarah Raven. Not only does she have wonderful taste, the bulbs are good value and she has free postage this weekend. Of course I've included my favourite 'Ballerina', which you can see in today's icon.

Garden News

Aug. 8th, 2010 11:49 am
Time to get ready for winter! Awful, I know, but August is a very good time to be taking cuttings even though there's plenty of flowers to be enjoying in the garden, like this scabious which I bought a few months ago.

cuttings )

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 )

With deer in the garden nearly every day, I understand why previous residents didn't plant roses here. Roses are just about their favourite nosh. The creatures seem to leave this wall rose alone, though. I think it's 'Buff Beauty' and I can't seem to get a good photograph of it. Very pretty mixed up with the clematis and honeysuckle.

I'm no lover of azaleas or rhododendrons but this azalea is surprising me all over again.

Photo taken from indoors; the colour is rather lurid and shows better in last year's pic. Pity it has no scent but the honeysuckle makes up for it, wafting in through the upstairs windows. Now I'm off to watch another episode of The Chelsea Flower Show.

BTW, what was all that rubbish on the Southern News this morning about the weather being ten degrees cooler today? Forecasters, huh.
... these beautiful regal pelargoniums. As I keep complaining, I lost my whole collection in the severe winter. An excuse to buy more.

This one is called ‘Chocolate’ and is darker than it looks in the photo. It’s actually pretty much the colour of my ‘Blood Red’ wallflowers.

Those awful deer have been munching my sedums. I suppose it will save me doing the Chelsea chop. Other unwelcome wildlife: an infestation of ants around the kitchen door. No doubt Flavia de Luce could mix me a good poison to deal with them but in her absence I used Nippon.

Since moving in here, I’ve been wanting to put my own stamp on the garden without spending a load of money on landscaping. This means getting rid of plants I don’t like and planting some I do. Last week a man spent a couple of hours digging out two huge clumps of unwanted plants, leaving lovely planting space! At the weekend [profile] ramblingfancy kindly drove me up to the garden centre for essential supplies. Everything was so tempting, but I was strict with myself. I bought the plant shown here, Euphorbia characias ‘Black Pearl’ and planted it with Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’. I’m hoping to recreate an effect I had in my old garden. Next year, I’ll fill in with wallflowers and tulips (doomed, in this clay). I also bought a few perennials, good value as they are still in small pots at this time of year. All planted and I hope the deer don’t fancy them.

My one failure was with the garden hose. Every time I try to reconnect it, I get soaked. Hmm.

Very frosty this morning. When I drew the curtains, there were two young deer in the garden. Each gave me a bored look, then did one of their incredible standing jumps over a six foot bank and hedge with wire above it.

The sheep are back but sadly not in 'my' field but in the next one over. Even at a distance they looked rather wonderful in the mist and frost. The picture is very similar to a print I have by the same artist, Richard Wade.



January 2017



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