Showing posts from January, 2015

Puzzle Corner: Answers to What's in a Name Part 2

How did you get on with part 2 of my Latin quiz? Here are the answers with some examples from my garden, as are the items marked *, also pictured above.

Latin NameMeaningExamplenemorosusgrowing in woodsAnemone nemorosaofficinalisused in medicineSalvia officinalis*pleniflorusdouble flowersKerria japonica 'Pleniflora'*quamashfrom the native American for sweetCamassia quamashrigescensrather stiffDiascia rigescenssativussown, planted, cultivatedCrocus sativusTulipafrom the Turkish for turbanTulipa tardauva-crispacurly grapeRibes uva-crispa*vulgarecommonFoeniculum vulgare*wherryinamed after an American scientist
(Edgar Wherry 1885-1982)**Tiarella wherryixanthocarpuswith yellow fruitSorbus aucuparia var. xanthocarpayedoensisfrom TokyoPrunus X yedoensiszonaliswith a distinct band of a different colourPelargonium zonale
** = an apt choice in this International Year of Soils as he was a soil scientist and botanist.

I'm crossing my fingers these names and examples don't change. W…

"... but it's too cold for salad!"

"...but it's too cold for salad!" is a regular teatime cry lately at VP Gardens. We eat salad year-round here because it suits our constitution, but when NAH's days involve hat, gloves, thermals and a 28-ton girlfriend, the hours of cold seeping into his bones defeats that intention.

I plan our meals and shopping with salads in mind, but I regularly have to improvise with store cupboard ingredients when the weather demands something piping hot at this time of the year. I then have a problem with what to do with my home-grown and any shop-bought salad ingredients** lurking in the fridge.

As you can see my usual solution is to make soup as this features regularly on our lunch menu. I chanced on The Guardian's "13 recipe ideas for leftover salad" recently which has some different ideas. I must admit I giggled at first as we rarely have any leftover food, but of course in this instance that's exactly what I have.

I'm definitely going to try the rec…

Hoary Morning

You may have noticed my sidebar says I'm looking forward to some magical hoar frost.
I'm pleased to say it arrived.

Puzzle Corner: What's in a Name? Part 2

Here's part 2 of my Latin quiz, which covers the letters N to Z. Can you match the meanings with their correct Latin names? There are some culinary examples this time to sit alongside last week's floral and shrubby ones.

Latin NameMeaningnemorosuswith a distinct band of a different colourofficinalisfrom the Turkish for turbanplenifloruscommonquamashgrowing in woodsrigescensfrom Tokyosativuscurly grapeTulipaused in medicineuva-crispadouble flowersvulgarewith yellow fruitwherryirather stiffxanthocarpusfrom the native American for sweetyedoensissown, planted, cultivatedzonalisnamed after an American scientist
Have fun and I'll publish the answers next week! If you'd also like to have a go with A to M and missed them previously, here's Part 1.
If you're looking for some more fun to help while away the winter blues, last year's Puzzle Corner strand included a wordsearch, a cryptic word grid and a garden scramble.

Wordless Wednesday: Groovy Grass


Book Review: Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds

This isn't a conventional book review as I have to declare an interest. Victoria - one of the authors - is a very good friend of mine, so I've witnessed snippets of this book's birth for nearly 2 years. Not only that, she's generously mentioned me in her Acknowledgements - squeeeeeeee!

When Victoria told me about her commission and the title, I giggled as I thought there are very few gardens in the Cotswolds which are secret. Indeed it's one of the most well-known areas in the world gardens-wise.

The next time we met up I presented her with another book about Cotswold gardens. "Please make sure it's better than this one", I begged her, "this effort is little better than what you can find online".

I needn't have worried, this book is far, far better. Victoria has done her research thoroughly and I've visited just one of the gardens. Most are only open one or two days per year and some not at all, so these are gardens awaiting discove…

Puzzle Corner: What's in a Name? The Answers

How did you get on last week? Here are the answers with some examples from my garden. The items marked * are shown above.

Latin NameMeaningExampleaquifoliuspointed leavesIlex aquifolium*balearicusfrom a group of islands in the Mediterranean sea (The Balearics)Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica*cirrhosuswith tendrilsAs abovedioicushaving male and female organs on separate plantsCarex dioicaEchinops/Echinaceafrom the Greek word for hedgehogEchinacea purpureafloridusflowering abundantlyMiscanthus floridusGalanthusfrom the Greek for milk and flowerGalanthus nivalis*hirsutahairyPrimula hirsutainvolucratushaving a circle of bracts around the flowersAstrantia major subsp. involucrata*jonquillalike a rush (i.e. Juncus)Narcissus jonquillakermisinuscarmine or purplish redClematis 'Kermesina'lanatuswoollyLavandula lanatamollissoftAlchemilla mollis
 Tune in next week for N to Z!

GBBD: Helleborus 'Anna's Red'

I fell in love with this hellebore 2 years ago when I visited Great Dixter, but I only realised later my love was a tad on the expensive side to acquire. Since then, her price has come down slightly and she finally came to stay with me last year.

I've started to choose plants with more meaning for my garden. Ideally they need to be a reminder of something; good times - a visit to a fantastic garden perhaps, or good friends, or maybe something else. Helleborus 'Anna's Red' encompasses all three: the aforementioned visit, my friend Naomi who organised it, plus the couple of times I've met Anna Pavord, who is delightful and for whom this hellebore is named.

I agonised for ages where my plant should go and finally decided a pot on the patio is the best spot. There I see it frequently whilst I'm pottering outside, plus the veined and marbled deep green leaves continue to provide interest and architecture after the flowers have long gone.

I went to Tom Mitchell'…

The PR Files: Call Me 'April'

It appears we're all badly mistaken. According to a number of emails I've received lately...
My name isn't VP, Veep or Michelle; it's AprilMy blog has nothing to do with vegetables or gardening. Instead I have a 'fashion forward sense of style' which allows me to rock various outfitsAfter careful scrutiny of my website which is called tuscanymotorcyclerentals -  not Veg Plotting - I could also do with some help from an 'ethical internet marketer'... whatever that is I kid you not - here's some of the evidence with their exclamation and quotation marks retained to prove authenticity. The first piece is from November - I binned the one I received in October, before I realised 'April' was going to have quite an extensive correspondence...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hi April,

My name is Korrie, I'm the Outreach Coordinator at Here at DailyLook we believe the "little black dress" is essential to every stylish ward…

Puzzle Corner: What's in a Name?

Just before I started blogging, I began a distance learning planting design/RHS course. The facilities included a discussion room so we students could interact with each other no matter where we were.

8pm on Tuesdays soon became the favoured slot for those of us who'd started the course around the same time. The only topic I remember we talked about at length was getting to grips with Latin names. We all found it very difficult, but as we hailed from Spain, Sweden, Italy and France - as well as Britain - we agreed we needed to persevere so we all could understand exactly which plants we were talking about.

I soon dropped the course in favour of blogging (as I was learning more and having fun), but I've continued to persevere with Latin as it's so fascinating. There are a whole host of clues waiting to be unravelled, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle and cryptic crossword combined. Solve the puzzle and you gain all kinds of insight about what the plant looks like, its origin, or …

Tree Following with Lucy: A New Year Dawns

Who said trees are boring? When I started Lucy's meme last year, I did wonder how I could say something different about my ash tree every month. However, seasonal changes, plus dramatic bookends to 2014's posts, meant my anticipated struggle never materialised.

Mr and Mrs pigeon have moved to another tree along the hedgerow at the side of the house to continue their canoodling and my tree's stump currently forms the favoured spot for a song thrush to sing the day's darkness. It's a pleasure to hear its bubbling calls and whistles ringing out at the end of the day.

Thanks to those of you who commented last month with some reassurance the stump will most probably regenerate. Until that happens or the rot visibly sets in, I'll be calling time on my tree following posts. I feel I've invested too much in this particular tree to follow another one for 2015.

In the meantime, I have a shady-no-more-border project to plan and plant up :)

Have a look at Loose and Le…

My Chilly Chilli Challenge

My first gardening project of 2015 is to try and overwinter this chilli plant. I tried in vain last year with the 'Basket of Fire' plants I grew, but unlike the one owned by my friend Lu in Totnes, sadly they didn't make it into 2014. As you can see, this year's attempt is faring better *crosses fingers*.

Our milder October may have been a factor in this plant's survival. It started flowering again and some of the resultant fruits are now slowly turning a fiery red. I also started with a shop bought specimen of unknown variety which I fully expected to keel over. It's lost plenty of leaves, but when I inspected and trimmed it last month, I noticed there were still plenty of healthy looking clusters of leaves on the lower part of the plant.

My ongoing care regime is to water occasionally and move the plant off the windowsill when particularly icy nights are forecast. Although we have double glazing, night time temperatures can still plummet to chilly depths beh…

GBMD: The White Snow Falls

It's a time for family, quiet reflection and garden catalogues. Happy New Year everyone.