Going to be busy seed sowing soon

Hardy Plant Society and Baker Creek Seeds

Hardy Plant Society seeds arrived today, I’m most grateful to the people who take the time to gather the seed and those who then facilitate the distribution.

It seems that many plant societies and gardening clubs are experiencing dwindling memberships. Our local village garden club appears to have folded as no-one has stepped forward as chairman, (Hey I’m not a joiner – OK?) which is one of the reasons for the decline I guess, nor are others – and perhaps I should?

Baker Creek Heirloom seeds from Missouri also arrived this week. I got walloped with customs duties and a Royal Mail handling charge so they come rather expensive! Is it my imagination or are UK customs getting hotter on stinging small stuff like seeds? The seeds came to $31.46 before penalties, so borderline for duty- the Etsy effect??

Their packaging is certainly distinctive, the website is comprehensive. Some US suppliers seem to bring a bit of quirkiness and zest to the gardening party. Another favourite is the Annie’s Annuals website. Do we in the UK take this gardening thing all a bit too seriously, earnest and rather tweedy? Guilty Moi?

I remember in my twenties turning up with plants, including I think it was Valeriana phu Aurea, for a garden society plant fair at The Garden Museum a long time ago now. An elderly lady took one look at my carefully potted-up and grown on offerings, hissed Virus! at me and stalked off. Somewhat off-putting for someone newish to gardening. I’ve also seen nursery owners ignore younger punters in favour of the older and perhaps more informed. Although I know it’s difficult juggling customer’s demands on a busy day.

Hey Kari, what’s happening in the garden?

Cyclamen coum silver leaved

Snowdrops nowhere near out, they’re in the same tightly clasped state as the picture Jannicke Leknes tweeted today from Norway. Monty Don also tweeted today that the temperature had hit the heady height of 6C in Herefordshire, ’tis 6.3C here in Wiltshire. The frost and cold we’ve been experiencing will definitely be sorting the borderline hardy’s out now.

Cyclamen coum are coming on which is a pleasing, as very little else is in flower, apart from Witch Hazel Westerstede which sadly doesn’t appear to be scented, a rather tentative effort at the moment from Daphe Jacqueline Postill and some Sarcococca confusa.

A rather glossy rat has discovered the bird feeders, it joins the 3 squirrels, pigeons and Collared Doves all scrabbling for the leavings from the sunflower seed feeder. One squirrel emphatically saw off a Blackbird which had had the temerity to try to join the feast, chasing it all the way down the garden. A female Sparrowhawk swung by on Monday but went away empty taloned.

The cacophony of birdsong is building towards the breeding season, morning and evening. I believe the finches are colouring up, the male Greenfinch looks that little bit greener, the male Chaffinches sport more deeply blushed chests and the male Bullfinches are plain showing off.

I’m glad we weren’t too tidy in the autumn, on the margins of the stream 3 Goldfinches were feeding on the seedheads of the Hemp Agrimony this morning.

I do believe the hornbeams are starting to shuck last year’s leaves – they must be waking up. Must remember to record the flowering time of each hazel in the garden, they flower in succession, but is the succession the same each year?

I need to get on with some seed sowing, this week nurseries have been tweeting pictures of this year’s fledgling seedlings.

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frost world

Digitalis parviflora seedhead

Today at 10:43AM the temperature is -2C but rising. The sun is beginning to clear corners of fields, green re-emerging from the glaze of white, drips patter down lightly as the frost melts. The Snow Queen is banished where the sun touches.

Currently two squirrels (grey), chaffinch, greenfinch, bullfinch and blackbirds are under the bird feeder, there is incessant to-ing and fro-ing from the feeder filled with sunflower seeds, primarily by Great Tits and some Blue Tits with an occasional intervention from robins. One squirrel is a great burier so I have a feeling there will be sunflowers emerging in random places when the time comes. Continue reading

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The shortest day 2016

Cyclamen coum flowering in December

Cyclamen coum album

Typical run-up to Christmas weather, relatively warm, damp, often grey. Our village is living up to its squelchy name, particularly the green and the parish field.

Today shafts of midday sun cut through elder and hawthorn trunks along the by-way. The low light shimmered off gently clattering mature ivy leaves fanned by the light breeze; glanced along the sturdy mid green blades of Hart’s Tongue Ferns and highlighted the broken and yellowed fronds of the now sleeping Male Ferns. To me, some evergreens look stronger and healthier now than in high summer. Continue reading

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Molde warp


The earthmover has been working under the carpet of apple tree leaves and fallen apples. Around this apple tree the turf is totally rucked and rumpled by the handprint-like pink paddles of the mole. I presume flooding (the first of the 2016/2017 winter season) in the lower part of the garden earlier in the week has also concentrated activity. Continue reading

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Frost stops play

Frost got the dahlias

So typical of English weather, I could feel the frost nipping at my wellies as I tried to extract a sheep with its head stuck in the field fence in the dark on Wednesday night. Then 2 days later rain, everything soggy and miserable.

So that’s farewell to the dahlias for this year, Salvia Guanajuato which had so much going for it on Monday, and some fuchsias. Farewell forever to this year’s heliotropes, Solanum rantonetti and nasturtiums. Colquhounia frazzed, survival will depend on the severity of this winter. Banana nipped and will need digging up, chopping back and overwintering just frost free. Ricinus still standing but I’ve felled it today anyway to let more light in.

Bit sad to hack down the huge water-filled stems of Dahlia imperialis, not looking forward to digging that up, each summer it puts on more nuggets of tubers and the whole lump gets heavier every year.

Like others on Twitter today, I’m glad I anticipated the frost and picked the last of the dahlia flowers on Monday including Rip City, Chee, Karma Choc and Sam Hopkins.

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Last day of October

Salvia Guanajuato

Salvia Guanajuato with bee bum

After a foggy start this morning the sun is out, although there is a faint mistiness as I look across the field. It’s 16C mid afternoon. A huge streamer of spider’s web metres long gilded by the sun glides slowly westwards.  The tick and rattle of falling leaves is loud in the stillness, the ash and chestnut are nearly all done with shedding.

On the wing

An intermittent chack of jackdaws watching the chicken run for food and occasional burst of rook banter livens up the soundscape.  In amongst this the insistent calls of Long Tailed Tits and short bursts of Great Tit ratatat. Earlier the plaintive cry of a swirling Buzzard.

I’m waiting for the Fieldfares to turn up and feast on the fallen cooking apples (the fat Bramleys create a bit of aural drama as they clatter through the branches and thump to the ground). Continue reading

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It’s all over now


The final night flowerer attempting to open on a cold October evening, this is as far as Ipomea Bona Nox got, sadly it didn’t have the energy to fully open. It may look a lot like your common or garden pestilential convolvulvus at first glance but isn’t. It’s been in the greenhouse since May, slowly building up its buds but it’s too late in the year now. Perhaps we’ll have a better summer next year. Continue reading

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West Dean Gardens – hot house delights

West Dean Gardens GlasshouseI have been to West Dean Gardens in Sussex before but a long while ago and I didn’t remember the glasshouses or cutting garden particularly. This Monday the sun shone, the greenhouses stood to attention, neat and tidy, spic and span. There’s obviously care and pride at work here.

Glasshouses were filled with an abundance of tender bedding plants, the Cuphea ‘Tiny Mice’ in particular absolutely humming with bees. Continue reading

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Not so gladdy


This rogue gladdy appeared in a batch of Mirella

I’ve developed a soft spot for gladioli over the years, both for exuberance and for their later summer flowering, but they can be somewhat trying for a mere amateur! The tawny bed is home to two primulinus hybrids bought years ago from Bob Brown, Hastings and Mrs M Rowley. Hastings, a sandy orange is increasing nicely, Mrs M Rowley is a rich claret but less floriferous. Being primulinus they are small flowered and therefore less vulnerable to wind and rain. They also fit better generally into a ‘soft’ herbaceous planting. Continue reading

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Veddw – a garden of light and shade

Veddw House Garden

Stones record the shifting of names for the place over the centuries.

Yesterday, on a sunny day with a fractious swirling wind we visited Veddw House Garden in Monmouthshire.  We had been meaning to for a while now. I might have been expecting formal herbaceous plantings in amongst the clipped hedge rooms, there weren’t any. I had to adjust my focus to better appreciate this garden.

Continue reading

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