Showing posts from April, 2016

Against the Odds: Primroses

And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie... 

William Shakespeare, in: A Midsummer Night's Dream. As Shakespeare is the man of the moment, so consider the above as my small contribution to the festivities.

Primroses are amongst our favourite spring flowers, especially as they're a native wildflower. It's name is derived from the Latin, prima rosa, meaning the first rose of the year, though it's not a member of the rose family.

Primrose-beds aren't as common as they were in Shakespeare's time due to over picking. Now they're protected by law and I'm always pleased to see a huge bank of them on my way to my allotment at this time of the year. A perennial plant, they can reach maturity in a single year and may self-seed prolifically. It means they can recover well if conditions are right. We found lots of them on holiday in Cornwall too.

A more surprising sight was the pictured plant at Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum. Pr…

New Covent Garden Flower Market

Friday saw an early start for a thrilling study morning at the New Covent Garden Flower Market with the Garden Media Guild. I'm fascinated with horticultural life behind the scenes, so this was an opportunity not to be missed.

Friday is a busy day at the Market, so apologies were made for there being less for us to see than usual. However, as you can see from the above collage, this did not mean there was a lack of eye-catching floral candy for us to ooh and ahhh over.

I loved how some suppliers group their wares by colour, whilst others showed off the rainbow of possibilities available per flower, just like these gerbera.

Whilst it was an early start for me, it's nothing compared to the life of a trader, who regularly start between 2 and 3am in readiness for the Market's opening at 4am, 6 days a week. The Market closes at around 10am, but then traders have to catch up with paper work, new orders etc etc.

Graeme Diplock of Zest flowers, a trader for 30 years at the market…

Introducing... the Great Green Wall Hunt

The first garden photograph I took at the Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto last year was before the Fling had even started. NAH and I had gone in search of a healthy breakfast at the supermarket close to our hotel, where we found the fresh fruit and yoghurt as expected. Then on the way to the checkout, the totally unexpected hove into view.

Until then I'd thought green aka living walls were the sole preserve of more upmarket establishments - like the one at the Athenaeum hotel I visited last year - rather than everyday supermarkets. I think it's a wonderful way of thanking customers for their visit and it gave us something pleasant to look at whilst we waited at the checkout.

It was the first time I'd seen one indoors too. This one's in the supermarket's basement - a surprising location until you realise a lot of shopping in Toronto is conducted underground owing to Canada's severe winters. Longo's green wall won an award in 2011 and its location means it&…

A Beautiful End

Winter returned to VP Gardens over the weekend in the form of two sharp frosts, which means these 'St George' tulips won't be standing proud on their name day next week.

Yesterday's sunshine allowed me to capture their sparkle with my camera, so I can at least admire them for a while longer here on the blog. Frosted plants often look their worst - or prettiest depending on which way you look at it - at first light, owing to the additional physiological drought the frost brings.

A few hours of warm sunshine can bring a remarkable recovery, as it did with the daffodils, violas and hellebores elsewhere in the garden. Alas, it was not to be with these tulips and the opened flowers on my neighbours magnolia tree.

Luckily we both have flowers waiting in the wings. The magnolia has plenty more to come from the buds still protected by their furry coats. I have a couple more pots of these tulips, whose noses are just beginning to peer above the soil. I planted them up quite la…

GBBD: Brickwork

I've been tidying up our patio this week, which has given me plenty of opportunity to ponder the self-seeders in the contrasting brickwork.

The yellow plant on the left is lesser celandine (aka Ficaria vernia), which probably harks back to nearly 20 years ago when our garden was a farmer's field, close to a stream. It pops up in a few places in our garden; in the gravel, the lawn, and this one spot on our patio.This plant likes damp ground, so I'm surprised it's found a home in the driest part of the garden.

It's considered by many to be an invasive weed, but like Hillwards said earlier this week, I've not found it to be much of a problem as long as it's left alone (*crosses fingers*), and I like it. Soon it'll melt away and I'll forget it's there until it pops up again early next year.

The wild garlic top left (aka Allium ursinum or ransoms) is my fault as I bought a pot of it, which is still dithering in the side garden holding area whilst I …

Plant Profile: Lavender

I love lavender. It thrives on neglect, is loved by bees and the merest brush against it releases a gorgeous scent. What's not to like?

I confess it's taken a while for me to learn to look after it properly. I had to grub out a wonderful 20 foot long lavender hedge in the front side garden after the trees on the public land next door shaded it out.

Then the selection I grew at the front of one of the sunny terraced beds in the back garden became too woody and ugly because I didn't prune it properly.

That was before I learnt a top tip from Jekka McVicar - prune them back to the merest hint of the current year's growth in August (L. stoechas) or September for the more hardy varieties (e.g. L. angustifolia). That keeps the plants nice and compact and the timing allows the plants to recover from their haircut well in time for anything winter may throw at them.

Time for another confession: I find this quite hard to do when they're still flowering quite freely. I hate s…

Postcard from Mevagissey

We've just got back from a glorious week in Cornwall, where there were plenty of dancing daffodils and preening primroses gracing the hedgerows. There were flowering camellia hedges and magnolia trees to admire in everyone's gardens too.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the camellias as I can only grow them in a pot owing to my limestone clay soil. They truly deserve to be free to grow into large shrubs or trees as they do in Cornwall. Then there was the sight of magnolias at least twice the height of those grown around here... some with blooms as big as my head. Magnificent.

We stayed in the traditional fishing village of Mevagissey, in a cottage called The Salt House, which recalled its role in the heyday of the pilchard fishing industry. It was good to see the fishing boats still outnumbered the pleasure boats in the harbour, though that may change later in the season.

We happily whiled away many an hour eating locally made ice cream whilst we watched the boats sail out or la…

GBMD: In a Garden

Seen at the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, USA in 2014. You'll find another of my views of the garden here.

The rest of Dorothy Gurney's poem - God's Garden is read by Emma Fielding in the YouTube video below. This entry also says there's a missing stanza in the reading, which goes after the verse I've featured above.

Here's the link if the embedded version doesn't load.