Wordless Wednesday – Sadie and a quarry full of yellow cowslips

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Sadie in the local dis-used chalk quarry inspecting the (coughs) flowers: currently cowslips, but soon it will be packed with wild twayblade orchids

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Six on Saturday – 50/50 Woes and Wows

08/05/2021

May is off to a see-saw start for me, both in terms of weather and successes in the garden. Here’s a selection of wins and woes from our garden this week for Six-on-Saturday, which is hosted by Jonathon, aka The Propagator.

1) First a woe – A broken fork

I managed to break our nice little border fork, on a combination of roots and the clay soil in our front garden. This happened when I was preparing the route for a gas connection to the house at the beginning of the week. How I completely snapped off one tine and bent another is beyond me. Don’t know my own strength obviously!!! Even more annoyingly, it turns out that they (the contractors) were able to used a ‘mole’ for the whole length of the pipe, which meant they only needed to dig holes at the beginning and end of the run.

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2) A first ‘Wow’ – Erysimum mutabile

I bought two little plants of erysimum mutabile in 2019 from the sadly now-closed Salutation Gardens in Kent. This year they are putting on a lovely, ever-changing show on either side of our patio fountain.


Erysimum mutabile

3) A second woe – Devoured cucurbits seeds

I sowed my cucumbers, squash and courgettes at the end of April and placed the module trays in the new mini plastic greenhouses. Two days ago when I checked them I found this rather heartbreaking display. Mice!!! All gone   😦

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I’ve re-sown the ones I have extra seed for (luckily, all but one). There will be fewer plants, but at least there will be some on the plot. I have stacked them for protection temporarily as they are an odd size, but a colleague at Wimpole (who has suffered similar assaults on his veg) has suggested putting them in upturned transparent lids (the deep kind) and securing fleece over the top. This will keep them safe, warm and I will even be able to water them through the fleece.

4) Second ‘Wow’ – Tulip batalinii

I’ve have had these tulips forever and each summer, after the tulips fade, I plant bedding plants on top and enjoy a second show in the pretty, patterned terracotta urn. The tulips seems to thrive on this treatment as once again they are making a brilliant apricot and orange splash on the patio. Apparently they get more bronze the sunnier the conditions.

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5) A final woe –  Ring-barking on the golden Choisya

There I was thinking that, even though the spotted aucuba is regularly eaten back to a wire protective cage by the local muntjacs, this shady corner is looking increasingly brighter because they never, ever touch the Choisya ‘Sundance’.

Well, that was wrong.

This middle branch is dying because the stem has been ring-barked lower down. Hopefully, you can make out the shredded bark in the inset photo. The branch will need to be removed, but is going to leave a big hole in the shrub.

😦 😦

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6) A final ‘Wow’ – Erodium

I had never heard of Erodium, or alpine geranium, until a couple of years ago, when I picked up a plant in a sale at Fuller’s Mill gardens, Suffolk. Erodium looks like a low growing scented geranium, but it seems to be completely hardy and flowers very early. It has been flowering in our garden, alongside the driveway for the last month, at least. It is positively loaded with flowers and is loved by bees and hoverflies. It also seems to seed around fairly easily too. Not a bad problem to have!

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So, those are my six. Many thanks to Jonathon for hosting this happy, inclusive meme.

Have a good weekend!

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Wordless Wednesday – Bluebell Woods

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Waresley and Gransden Woods, managed by the Wildlife Trust BCN, is part of the West Cambridgeshire Hundred (a collection of ancient, connected, wildlife-rich woodlands)

Enjoy!

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In a Vase on Monday – Starlight Sensation

I bought a couple of new kinds of narcissus from Peter Nyssen in the autumn. Late of course and then I quickly bunged them in pots, only for them to sit around while I decided where to put them in the garden. N. ‘Elka’ came up nicely and proved a valuable addition to the front of the borders like tête-à-tête. N. ‘Starlight Sensation’ has proved a lot slower to bloom. It is a bit taller than Elka (at ~35cm cf. ~20cm) and they are only now opening up their multi-headed, multi-stemmed flowers … and I have to say that they are rather gorgeous.

They are a rich creamy colour when fully open, but a contrasting buttery yellow before that. Since they are multi-headed and open in sequence, you get to enjoy the both colours and the intermediate changes for a good long while as they develop, like sparklers, burning down the stem.

And since they are being very generous with their blooms, I felt I could pick a few. So I am joining Cathy@ramblinginthegarden for her weekly gathering and sharing of flowers, for a vase, on a Monday (even Bank Holidays!).

Joining the Narcissus are some of my favourite, stalwart spring flowers: the beautiful blue perennial cornflowers (Centaurea montana):

and honesty (Lunaria annua):

I’ve added a bit of foliage in the form of some coppery Acer (after a bit of necessary pruning to clear the way for our sliding greenhouse door).

And that is it, for the main vase, but since I find throwing the rejected side branches away too hard to do, I’ve added the offcuts of honesty and acer to my shot-glass posey. This was just displaying three N. Tête-à-tête flowers that I picked because they had a lot more than 6 tepals each. In fact they look more like celadines with coronas!

So, that is is my May Bank Holiday vase.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a day off and may be picked a few spring flowers. We’ve finally got some rain this afternoon, but I am certainly not complaining!

Don’t forget to check out Cathy’s post and the links to contributors. 

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A blossom bower

Deep in the puffs of apple blossom,

With surround-sound provided by buzzing bees,

A cosy nest has been built.

The crab apple sanctuary

Well, I say ‘built’ and ‘cosy’, but we are talking about wood pigeons here … and that means it’s actually a few twigs balanced precariously on a branch.

At least the location is glorious!

But, how on earth do their eggs survive??

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Wordless Wednesday – The Fabuloso Fringed Fabio

Fringed tulip ‘Fabio’: A red tulip, with a yellow fringe. This rather lovely, more blended version does seem to occur quite often, if you google images of ‘Fabio’. I almost prefer it, even if it isn’t what was planned.

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Six on Saturday – Everything is better in sunshine

24/04/2021

What a glorious day! In fact, what a glorious fortnight! We’ll gloss over the corresponding nights of frosts and the damage and hold-ups they are causing in the potting on and planting out department. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of growth and some beautiful blooms, so let’s take a look around for Six on Saturday, a weekly gardening show-and-tell, kindly run and hosted by The Propagator. Check out the link and you’ll probably find yourself wanting to join in!

Here are my six things:

1 Tulips -> Tulipa whittallii ‘Major’

Species tulip: Tulipa whittallii ‘Major’

I am in love with this pretty little species tulip, which I first spied on Cathy@gardendreamingatchatillon’s blog last year. It’s a wonderful coppery red colour with a contrasting olive base. The flowers really glow in this lovely spring sunshine. Plus the petals are delightfully pointy, so that the cups look like little crowns. I’ve grown them in pots this year, but they will be going in the ground shortly to (hopefully) naturalise.

2 Crab Apple

Crab apple, Malus ‘John Downie’

I know that I am not alone in highlighting apple blossom this week, but our John Downie tree on the driveway is too stunning to ignore. The blossoms have started opening in the last three days and the bees are there, happily pollinating. In fact, it was buzzing at ear level (as I took the bins out this week) that drew my attention to the flowers.

3 Blue tits and the new, somewhat-cobbled-together, bird box

They look interested, don’t they?

I am not sure if they are properly nesting in the box yet or not, but a pair of blue tits have been checking out the hole and hopping in and out of it over the last few days. Fingers-crossed!

4 Disporum lutescens

Disporum for the shade garden

Disporum lutescens, aka Korean Fairy Bells, was a Lockdown purchase from Pottertons nursery for our shady front garden (which desperately needs more interesting plants in it). Now that the plant is in flower and I’ve added the link back to their website for this post, the ID looks a bit suspect. I need to do more research, but I’d say that my plant looks more like photos of D. uniflorum?

5 Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple Leaf’

Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple Leaf’

At the same time and for the same reason, a Corydalis flexuosa ‘Purple Leaf’ found it’s way into my online basket and is now gracing the planting on the shady side of our patio. I think it’s a really interesting colour, a little bit blue, a little bit purple and against the darker leaves the flowers appear to be slightly fluorescent. My iphone hasn’t done the colouring any justice, I am afraid. It is quite a lot more purple in reality. I have to give Potterton’s full marks for careful packaging. It seemed a bit expensive, hence the multiple purchases (coughs), but it was done very well.

6 Fritillaria acmopetala

This fritillary was added to the garden last year and has indeed returned, hurrah. (I wasn’t sure about our heavy clay soil.) The bulb hasn’t multiplied though, so I must look to improve it’s conditions … and probably buy some more in the autumn. It’s very elegant and I still love the cute flicks at the ends of its petals.

So, those are my six. What are yours?

Have a great weekend and fingers-crossed that we will break the run of frosts tonight.

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Wordless Wednesday – The Lady Detectorist

A newly rolled field provides the perfect opportunity for seeking a bit of treasure … or maybe a matchbox car … or perhaps just a rusty nail or bottle top. What do you guess?

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Wordless Wednesday: The Slow Sloe Gin Preparation

Our village hedgerows are currently heavy with sloe blossom (Prunus spinosa, also known as blackthorn) – 12/04/2021

Densely packed wands of white flowers adorn their branches

There’s a gentle drone and buzz about them and, if you look carefully, you can see the bees moving from flower to flower

Walking down the alleys is reminiscent of starting a hyper jump (ok, this may not be true if you aren’t familiar with SciFi films like Star Wars/Star Trek)

Whichever way you turn, it doesn’t look like there will be a shortage of sloes for gin later this year!

And the gin? … Hopefully ready by Christmas

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Wordless Wednesday: Easter Flowers

On a hill far away (read Royston)

There’s a glorious carpet of purple flowers

Those flowers are Pulsatilla vulgaris aka Pasque flowers.

They love it on the southern slope and appear at Easter (more or less) each year.

The flowers are soft and furry on the outside …

silky smooth on the inside

With bright golden stamen. Just beautiful!

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