A Week of Flowers:Day 4 – 25/11/2020

Cathy at Words and Herbs is spreading cheer and sunshine this week (22-28th November) by posting daily flowery pictures. She has asked everyone to join in if they can, to combat Lockdown, Covid and other stresses and worries. You can do one post or seven posts or seven posts of montages of your favourites (colour-coded, chronological or themed in some other way).

I am a slow starter, this is my first! Hope that you enjoy these rather bright, glossy tulips:

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Why not join in and play it forward!

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Six on Saturday – Ultraviolet Vision


So this happened again:


But luckily nothing that hadn’t already been blackened/slimed was affected. Nevertheless, there aren’t that many exciting flowers left in the garden. So this is a bit of a mish-mash for Six on Saturday, the inspirational meme hosted by Mr Propagator.

1 A New Toy

OK, I admit that my eye-sight isn’t what it was. I was having trouble last week deciding whether the salvias I’d just lifted were covered in tiny greenfly or just had furry leaf axils. After inspection by three other people (who could also do with glasses!), we decided that they were OK, but meanwhile I ordered a cheap jeweller’s loupe. When it arrived I discovered that it’s magnification is a bit high for what I want, but it does have an ultraviolet light bulb that you can turn on while inspecting tiny things. So, I’ve spent the morning playing with this magnifier, checking out a cross-section of the remaining flowers to see if any of them have fun UV landing markings for pollinators and the like.

And the answer is yes. Result! Geraniums have markings along the veins leading to their central nectaries, rudbeckia have glistening hairs along the petal edges. But the best one is cosmos (see photo inset), which has sparkling, cyan pollen in star patterns on the anthers and burning purple arcs along the stigmas (particularly obvious in the middle):


Examining flowers under UV light with a jeweller’s loupe (inset: Cosmos)

Great fun!

2 Recycled pallet = Useful, rustic trays

I asked Steve to cut up an old, wooden delivery pallet, so that I could use the released small pieces of timber to make trays. After a summer of procrastination, I got a hammer and nails out and got cracking. The wood wasn’t brilliant, but I am rather pleased with the boxes themselves. I imagine they will useful for cropping potatoes, carrots etc. They could also be used for dahlia storage or even as seed trays if I line them with news paper:


Homemade trays (made from a delivery pallet) are useful for harvesting or planting seeds etc.

3 ‘Bull’s Blood’ Beet

We are gradually working/eating our way along the various rows of beetroot in the raised beds. This year I’ve grown Bull’s blood beet for the first time and found it to be a wonderfully ornamental vegetable. Definitely potager worthy!

21 sos3

‘Bull’s Blood’ beets in the veg plot

4 Auriculas

A few weeks ago I sent away for some auriculas from the famous Barnhaven nursery (in Brittany since 1991 – I hadn’t realised that!). Part of the reason was an interest arising from their propagation at Wimpole, but also, after reading some notes on the extra certification required for plant material movements after Brexit 😦 !

So, I decided to act in advance of the red tape. I bought three: Mick, Larry, Greta!!! Don’t you love those names? Understandably, Greta is a Fancy* auricula, whilst Mick and Larry are respectively gold and light-centred varieties.

Meet the newly arrived Mick, Larry, Greta:


Pre-brexit delivery of 3 Barnhaven Auriculas

* A fancy auricula is one whose body colour is not black. They can have green, grey or white edges and frequently display a red or maroon body colour.

5 Redevelopment

… Of the bin area. Bit boring, but after the damson trees were torn asunder by the early storms this year and then the neighbours replaced their fence, we decided to do some clearance and tidying work on this unused area. It’s not finished yet, but you can see that I will now have a trellis to grow climbers up and an extra half metre of border to plant up to the right. Round the oil tank, there will be hard-standing for a couple of cold-frames and lean-to plastic green houses (on the Christmas wish list – fingers crossed). As a bonus, the bins will no longer get stuck in the mud all winter.


New bin hardstanding has released another half metre of garden … hurray!

6 Rhubarb, rhubarb … fungi

I was clearing up some of the melting rhubarb leaves last week when I noticed this forest of fungi. Anyone know what they are? I hope the rhubarb is unaffected!


Explosion of fungi around the rhubarb

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to visit Jonathon’s blog.

Have a good weekend!

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Wordless Wednesday – Late-to-the-show cosmos


Once again our Cosmos has taken all summer (and autumn) to flower, but look what a sight it is in November!

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Wordless Wednesday – Sunrise over Wimpole’s South Avenue

Dramtic sky above the South Avenue

Sunrise silhouetting the triangular canopies of lime trees that make up Wimpole Hall’s 2mile South Avenue.

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In a Vase on Monday – 7th Anniversary Challenge: A ‘Bloomless’ vase

Congratulations to Cathy on arranging her way to 7 years of weekly, beautiful, quirky and inspiring vases! Each week Cathy collects and accessorises her vase with an object of interest (sometimes that is just the vase itself). The object reflects her theme and often allows her to relate a story. So if you’ve never noticed this meme before, see what you’ve been missing! Click straight over to Cathy’s blog and take a gander at today’s ‘challenged’ entries: An arrangement without blooms (there’s a little tale behind that of course … go check).

Anyhow, for my vase I’ve concentrated on leaves. Fallen wisteria leaves in fact, because after two weeks of illuminating our patio with a golden roof, they’ve fallen off, en masse. I am going to have to clear the mess up fairly soon, but in the meantime I’ve been making faux flowers with them today. Is that allowed? Is it in the spirit of the challenge? Maybe not, but I’ve had fun anyway.


A leaf flower, made from fallen wisteria leaves clustered around a heliopsis seed head and fixed together with a bit of wire.

To start with I was just bunching leaves together. Then I thought that they would look better with contrasting centres, rather like a rudbeckia flower. So I collected some heliopsis seed heads and made those the centre of the flowers. This worked well as it gave me a stem to hold and made fixing the wire around the bunch much easier.


Vase of wisteria leaves!

In fact I got lazy and started fixing the flowers together with those small elastic bands you get around bunches of asparagus in the supermarket.


A flore pleno version of the wisteria leaf flower!

I experimented a bit with the number of leaves to include. If I’d started to work on the vase earlier I might have had the time to play with dark leaf inner rings and brighter, larger leaves at the outside. Ah well, next time!

vase 4

Leaf flowers arranged posy style with surrounding green leaves

Then I set the ‘flowers’ in a small, flared glass vase and arranged them posy-style, surrounding the wisteria leaves with more leaves: echium leaves, oak leaves, cosmos leaves and some birch twigs.

And so, at least I get to enjoy the wisteria’s autumn colour for a bit longer and I do hope that this vase meets the 7 year anniversary challenge!

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Six on Saturday – The Just-In-Time (JIT*) Concept

What a glorious day: sunny and mild, plus the White House is getting a new resident!

Unsurprisingly, a series of clear skies this week has resulted in some rather cold mornings. We’ve had a couple mornings of sub-zero temperatures (and car scraping), then a further two days with air frosts and fog. So it is not too surprising that some of the dahlias, cannas, alstromeria etc have gone a bit slimey. Fortunately though, around our patio, where everything is a little more protected, things are continuing to grow and flower, giving me a few things to share for Six on Saturday, which is hosted by Mr Propagator. To see more gardening delights click through to Jonathon’s post and remember to check out the huge comment section!

1 Lobelia tupa

Only one of the Lobelia tupa I ordered from Derry Watkins during the first Lockdown made it to flowering this year. JIT for the frosts! Luckily, it is on the patio.


Lobelia tupa – Soft downy leaves and strange flamingo-like flowers

2 Aster ‘Violetta’

Always one of the last asters to flower, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Violetta’ made it to the showing-a-little-colour stage, before downpours and the cold made them turn brown :(.

Nearly JIT at best!


Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Violetta’ is a late to flowering, beautiful dark purple bloom.

3 Achochas

I pulled and composted the achocha vines on Tuesday, harvesting a last haul of slipper gourds, JIT to beat the first frost on Wednesday night.


The last of the achocha crop

Kaffir lily – nothing beats that red!

New in the garden (from plug plants) this year, this stunning lily only came into flower a week ago. JIT. It’s still going, post-frosts. I am keeping my fingers crossed for further spikes, but with it getting its roots down and bulking up this year, I am grateful for any flowers.


A late showing of wonderful luminous red spikes of crocus-like flowers on Schizostylis coccinea ‘Major’ (Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’)

5 Antirrhinum Chantilly Series

I was quite taken by the idea of snapdragons with upward-facing, open-mouthed flowers, so I bought a packet of ‘Chantilly Bronze’ seeds from Chiltern Seeds . I am not really sure I like them now that I’ve seen them in the flesh. There is something brash about the wide throats showing uvula at the back. Too much lusty singing in the border for my liking! Also, while I expected some colour variations as per online photo, I seem to have grown plants ranging in colour from anything from dark reds to yellows. Maybe I got the wrong mixture??


Antirrhinum ‘Chantilly Bronze’ (seeds from Chiltern Seeds) turned out to spawn a very mixed range of colours

6 Hellebores

I was cutting back some enthusiastic red valerian at the base of a north-facing house wall when I revealed the first flowers on a Christmas rose emerging from some fallen leaves. They are a bit nibbled, but a lovely surprise.


Helleborus niger are back (if somewhat chewed)

That seems early to me and certainly not JIT!

Do you think the flowering timetable is a little wonky this year too? Hopefully things will be reset for 2021.

Keep safe and enjoy time in the garden.


* JIT or Just-In-Time is a management strategy used to efficiently match raw materials to production schedules. I like the notion that doing things at the last minute is a kosher management process!

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Wordless Wednesday – Golden Wisteria

golden wisteria

In the slightest bit of autumn sunlight our beloved wisteria, which scrambles over the pergola on the patio, is dazzling.

golden wisteria3

A Midas touch has turned its leaves to glowing gold.


And even on rainy, gloomy days the wisteria illuminates the garden with its golden, sheltering canopy.

golden wisteria4

Gradually, its twisted, embracing branches are being revealed.

golden wisteria6

Meanwhile, I find myself repeatedly at the kitchen window, gazing at its reflected glory. It’s a close run thing as to whether I like it better now than when it’s in full flower. Maybe I just need it more!

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Wordless Wednesday – Autumnal Postcards from Cambridge Botanics


Prunus serrulata ‘Alboplena’, my favourite tree at Cambridge Botanics, hanging on to the rock-garden path above the lake.


All fall down


Monkshood appears in various places in the gardens, addings its beautiful blue to a range of autumn plantings: grasses, japanese anemones and asters


The Osage orange tree (Maclura pomifera) next to the path along side the systematic beds, is loaded with fruit this year


A stunning Liquidambar, Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’, guards the lake stepping stone crossing


The trees on the grassed Fairway are displaying a wonderful mixture of textures and colour.


It’s a popular area for picnic lunches or just getting some fresh air, not just humans either, if you look closely!


Yes, that is a fox trotting around in broad daylight. No sign of him being bothered by the hoards of visitors.


The swamp cypress has just been tidied up by the looks of it and is starting to turn a lovely soft russet.


Meanwhile the acers are turning an eye-catching, luminous scarlet (Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’)


Woolly fruits on the Broussonetia kazinoki tree are breaking up to reveal sweet, sticky, orange fingers/seeds.


Island beds in the Autumn garden are prairie-inspired, with monkshood, japanese anemone and echinacea interspersed amongst clumps of calamagrostis.

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Wordless Wednesday – Foraging for sweet chestnuts in Hatfield Forest


On a corner of the winding road through Hatfield Forest there is a stand of magnificent Sweet Chestnut trees.


Those trees are loaded with nuts, which are currently bursting their prickly shells, ready for gathering.



Unfortunately, we arrived at the end of the weekend and found the pickings slim!


There were enough left to stuff a few in our pockets, but next time we should probably go in the morning!

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Six on Saturday – The whole world in my hand …

It’s time to catch up with ‘Six on Saturday’. I’ve missed a few and half written other Sixes, but finally I’ve got my act together today. So I’m linking with Jonathon aka Mr Propagator (and hoards of other keen gardeners) to share six garden-related things.

1 Poppies – A new generation

And so my first ‘Six’ relates to the title. Obviously, I don’t really have the whole world in my hands, but I did have a whole globe of sprouting poppy seeds.


Opium poppy seed head sprouting next year’s seedlings through every crack and hole in the eroding shaker.

The recent torrential rains (apparently, 3rd October was the wettest day for UK-wide rainfall since records began in 1891) have triggered a lot of seeds to start into growth while still on the plants. I think that this is a seed head of Papaver somniferum ‘Black Peony’, so I will be pricking out a fair few of these next week.

2 Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’

In the past I’ve been disappointed in the actual colour of this ‘Cherry Brandy’ rudbeckia  when I’ve grown it from seed (it often seems to be a muddy orange), but this time the colour is lovely:


Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’

The petals are lush and velvety and that tight cone is a marvel of neatness and geometry.

3) Kangaroo Paws, Anigozanthos manglesii

This was one of a selection of packets of seeds given to me as a present way back in 2017. For one reason or another I didn’t get round to planting the seeds until this spring and I wasn’t too confident about their germination after the delay. Well, it turns out that the seed was still viable and I watched multiple tiny grass-like leaves emerge. Then they seem to run out of steam, so after a month or two of waiting I pricked them out into new compost and bigger pots. The roots were very fine and matted together which meant I lost of few after the process, but subsequently the re-potted plants have taken off and are beginning to look like the pictures I’d seen of this plant:


Kangaroo Paws, Anigozanthos manglesii starting to look more like themselves. Probably a couple of years before flowering though I would guess.

4 The Prettiest Pot Marigolds

I don’t often grow pot marigolds, but I love their cheerful, long-flowering faces whenever I see them. This year however, I had planned to underplant the fig trees in Wimpole’s Walled garden with a mixture of Calendula officinalis ‘Sunset Buff’, Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’, Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple majesty’ and Helichrysum bracteatum ‘Salmon Rose’. Sadly, when Lockdown prevented any gardening there, I had rather a lot of marigolds to use in our own garden. What luck though! I am loving C. ‘Sunset Buff’. The dark undersides to the petals look individually painted, complete with brushstroke markings, and that glowing centre manages to lift the mood immediately.


Calendula officinalis ‘Sunset Buff’

5) One woman went to mow a meadow …

The wild grass area in the corner of the garden has had it’s annual mow. I’ve raked up the straw since this photo, but the whole thing now needs a final low cut so that the primroses and bulbs can shine next spring. I am still waiting for an order of wild daffodils to arrive for the meadow. Hopefully next week!


6) A new challenge

I think I got carried away after reading an email from Chiltern Seeds more or less challenging recipients to try to germinate ‘Mac’s Mix’, an exotic seed mixture. As a inveterate seed collector and germinator, how could I resist??? Probably what tipped the balance was that our village cafe is called ‘The Moringa Tree’ and I’d googled the name, so when I saw that the packet may well contain Moringa seeds it seemed like Kismet.


So that is one ‘Circuit Breaker’ activity planned then! Have you got any lined up?

Hope you enjoyed my Six. Keep well!

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