Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – February Foliage

Gosh I am on a roll!  Having not written anything on the blog for three months, all of a sudden I have found things to blog about again.  This is my third blog post in as many days – readers will be suffering from Hurtledto60 overload if I am not careful, so I will keep this post short.

What gave me incentive today for this post?   Garden Bloggers Foliage Day : GBFD.   This is a monthly meme hosted by Christina at My Hesperides Garden.

I was listening to the gardeners questions program on local radio this morning and was pulled up short when I heard “We are almost in March”. Crickey where did that time go, it seems only yesterday it was Christmas.   March means the beginning of Spring and with it brings new life and foliage into the garden.   So walking around this morning with camera in hand I found the following foliage:

Peony.   I have always loved the way the peony leaves appear, looking like tiny fingers unfolding.  Maybe they are crossing their fingers that the conditions are just right to produce a good amount of flowers this year instead of the meagre two blooms last year.

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Aquilegia.   Sometimes I think the fresh new rosettes of the Aquilegia are more exciting than when it is in full bloom.  There don’t seem to be as many Aquilegia in the garden this year, usually they are everywhere.  However, most had reverted to their natural state and were a boring dull pink so maybe now is the year to introduce new ones.

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Hydrangea.  I bought a white hydrangea last year and it lives in a large pot on the side patio and produced the most enormous flower heads.  It is now bursting with new bright green foliage and is going to be a splendid plant in its second year.

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Fennel.    The new fennel leaves are small and fluffy and, to me, look like little trees.  This is an old plant and grows to about 6 foot every year.  I often wonder if it is about time to dig it up and cook the bulbs but I think perhaps in view of its age, it may not be such a good idea and I will just let it remain in its architectural glory during the summer months.

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Then, of course, there is the hardy foliage that lasts throughout the winter months giving constant green hues to the garden.   These include:-

Euphorbia

_DSC0890 (1024x683)Eyrisium (Wallflowers)

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Ferns – I am sorry I do not remember what these two are called, maybe someone can help me out with this please.

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Not only has my blog writing mojo come back, so has my photography mojo – hurrah!!

Thank you Christina for hosting this meme and I hope those reading this will hop over to your blog and take a look at your exciting and interesting mediterranean garden.

The Greenhouse Year – February 2014

I have fallen by the wayside when it comes to writing a monthly review of my garden.  Actually, I have fallen by the wayside when it comes to looking after the garden, full stop.  This has been caused by a combination of chemo induced fatigue and appalling wet weather, which has made walking on the lawn and working on the beds not the best of ideas.

Any gardener will know that along with garden tardiness comes the lack of garden tidiness.  So, on reading Helen’s (Patient Gardener ) blog post about her greenhouse year my conscience was pricked because I am acutely aware of the fall of my greenhouse into rack and ruin.

Helen’s greenhouse is a 6′ x 4′  aluminium and glass one, with staging and full of exciting cuttings and plants germinating and propagating.   It is something to be admired, even envied and is a hive of activity.  You can step inside a greenhouse that size and potter about, even on the wettest and coldest of days.

Mine is a 4-tiered  greenhouse measuring 27″ x 20″ x 62″ you can’t step inside mine.  I have a very small garden so even the smallest of glass greenhouses would be very difficult to find room for.    I suspect owning a greenhouse is like owning a handbag, no matter what size it is you always find you can fill it to the brim and  soon are in need of a larger one.

This is where I bite the bullet and bare my soul.

Yes it is a PLASTIC GREENHOUSE!

I failed to replace the cover on my greenhouse last year – something I usually do every year.

Consequently the plastic has perished and the recent gales have ripped it to pieces putting an end to its life.

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The more I look at it the photo the more embarrassed and ashamed I feel.  However, I have been spurred into doing something about it.  I was proud of my greenhouse, and in February 2011 I even wrote a post all about it called “I own a Plastic Greenhouse” .  It has had many hits over the years, but probably only because it comes up when people run a search on plastic greenhouses, such is life and the web.

I have today ordered a new cover and over the weekend I will tidy it up and by next month it will be spruced up and used for its correct purpose and not a dumping place – just you wait and see.

Patient Gardener said her Greenhouse Year post was not intended to be a monthly meme but it has struck a chord with many of her readers and it seems to have caught on.

Thank you Helen, this will be a good start to a new beginning and a diary of how I treat my little plastic greenhouse properly.

Book Review: The Cut Flower Patch – Louise Curley

It is always with delight and honour to receive a request to review a book, especially when connected with gardening.   I was more than happy to say “yes please” when The Arum Publishing Group asked me to review Louise Curley’s book, The Cut Flower Patch.

I follow Louise’s blog, the WellyWoman,  so know of her love for plants and nature.  Indeed on her “About Me” page she writes:  “For some women, they’re happiest when their feet are ensconced in a pair of expensive Manolo Blahniks or Christian Louboutins, for me it’s a pair of mud-splattered wellies”.

The Cut Flower Patch is her first book, due to be published by Frances Lincoln (www.franceslincoln.com | @Frances_Lincoln) on 6 March 2014, so I am privileged to have a preview.

The Cut Flower Patch

The Cut Flower Patch measures 19cms x 24cms and is a sensible sized book.   My first impressions were matt textured cover and the size and font of the print, which is easy on the eye and I found comfortable to read.  The next thing was the matt format and attractive photographs of varying sizes including full page photographs with mouthwatering ideas for displaying flowers.  The colour reproduction is excellent making it a lovely book to look at.

This  is a comprehensive guide for anyone wanting to grow their own cut flowers, whether it be in a small raised bed or on an allotment.  It takes you from the preparation of a site to plant layouts and a guide to annuals, biennials, bulbs, tubers and foliage, as well as detailed information and photos setting you on the path of starting off the growing of your flowers from the windowsill to sowing direct.

Louise  includes a chapter through the seasons with ideas on supplementing the cutting patch; particularly useful in the winter months.   There is a beautiful full page photograph for winter with twigs of Viburnum Bodnantense “Dawn”  displayed in an assortment of glass bottles which has made me hunt out some old bottles.

Equally important to growing your own flowers is knowing the best way to show them off.   As one would expect in a good book about cutting flowers, there is an  informative chapter called ‘Arranging your Flowers’ with floristry guides and tips, supported again by a wealth of photos of beautiful flowers in an interesting assortment of jugs, jars and vases.  One that caught my eye was a pewter tankard packed full of Scabious, Sweet Williams and grasses.

Good maintenance, support ideas, feeding suggestions, including a recipe for Comfrey, and dealing with pests and diseases in an organic way are well covered.   Louise also gives advice on the best way to cut your flowers to encourage further  blooms and prepare them so that they last longer.

Finally at the end of the book is the always useful sowing and planting calendar and cutting patch calendar.

Try as I may, in order to give a well rounded review, I was unable to find anything about The Cut Flower Patch that I did not like.  I am going to covet my copy because I know I will refer to it throughout the year for ideas and help.   You can place an early order for your own copy, which I would thoroughly recommend.   The Cut Flower Patch is published on 6 March 2014.

To order The Cut Flower Patch at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £16.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG101. 
 
Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to:
LBS Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex, BN13 3RB. 
 
Please quote the offer code APG101 and include your name and address details. 
 
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

 

A Sunday Nature Walk

I was just stepping out the shower this morning when my friend Kate rang.  “We are going for a walk, would you like to join us?”.   After debating with her as to whether my energy and fitness levels would be sufficient – I’ve been on their “walks” before – we agreed that I would join them and if it got too much I would return to the pub with a newspaper and wait for them.

Despite the horrendous weather we have had this last week, and the incessant wave after wave of wind and rain since Christmas, today was one of those days rarely seen at the moment.  The sky was a glorious blue, without a cloud in the sky and the sun was really quite warm.   We parked in the pub car park, after all we were going to be customers after the walk, donned our wellies and headed off down towards the sea.

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The bridle paths took some negotiation, as you can imagine, there were deep furrows of slippery mud and water which we stepped over, around and in some cases, in.   No surprise really considering the amount of rain that has come down, and the ever rising water table now making its presence known on the land.  However, we mustn’t complain it is nowhere near as bad as the Somerset Levels,  the areas of the River Severn and the River Thames which have burst their banks and flooded many hundreds of houses.

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We arrived at the sea in Goring which was extremely busy, full of people and their dogs all making the most of the break in the weather.  The sea was still slightly rough although nothing like the raging sea as it has been.  The sun was glistenning on the horizen and the swoosh of the gravel as the each wave ebbed was loud and lovely.

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You could see where the sea had swept the shingle beyond the boundaries of the coast path and along the road edge there was a tide mark of seaweed and sea shells.  Clearly the sea had come in some way during the height of the storms.

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Walking along the edge of the tide, there was an abundance of flotsam and jetsam, including large pieces of ships rope, plastic containers and SEA COAL.   No I had never heard of sea coal either, but there was a lot of it, and quite large lumps also,  bigger than your head.

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Just like when you were at school and went on a nature walk to learn new things, I learned all about Sea Coal – that is thanks to Google!

Sea Coal is coal that has been washed up on the beach, coming from coal seams in sea cliffs or underwater deposits.  For centuries this coal was collected and used for cooking, heating and forging metals.  In places where this coal occurred it could be a dependable source of fuel and there were professional sea-coal gatherers and small local industries existed to gather and sell the coal.  It is a mineral coal, as distinct from other types of coal such as charcoal, with a distinct odour and very little ash.

It was considered superior to pit-coal, burning hotter and cleaner with less ash.  The process of being washed in the ocean might serve as a natural cleaning and sorting process, with the best coal ending up on the beach.

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I loved the piece of coal in the photo above, but sadly it was far too big to put in my pocket!

It was with great relief to get to the top of the road and see the pub and the half pint of cider went down exceedingly well after a walk that took just under an hour and half and I completed!

If you live near the sea what interesting things have you found on the beach after a storm?

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited

Signs of Spring: February 2014

Despite a really strong wind, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and more important it is NOT RAINING!!  I grabbed the moment this morning to check the garden for any wind damage and take a view on what is surviving the wet and wind.   We are in the first week in February, and bar one or two days have avoided heavy frosts and it is still relatively mild, so everything is slightly confused.  There are signs of Spring around

I found a primrose in flower growing happily under a Spirea shrub, albeit being nibbled by something.  This happens every year and I am yet to find out who or what the culprit is.

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I wandered around to find anything else that was looking Spring like but there was nothing much in the back garden.  The Ribes is just about to bud as is the Forsythia so there will be a photo opportunity for them in a couple of weeks.   The Sedum caught my eye.  I love the way the new rosettes nestle at the base of the previous years growth …

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…and the raindrops tucked in the new growth.

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The front garden is a different matter.  It is full of snowdrops which I see every time I look out of the lounge window.

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Strange  how simple thing can excite me, I was delighted to see that flowerbed under the lounge window seems to think that Spring has arrived.  There are narcissus almost out.

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The Kerria has tiny little yellow buds appearing.  To dispel any confusion this stem was tucked behind the Buddleia, which is the leaf you can see in the photo.

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I even have some tulips coming through, although I am not sure how they will make it because, as with the primrose, something is nibbling at the leaves.

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As I returned to the back  garden, I inspected the side garden which is full of daffodils and bluebells just poking their way through – way behind the daffs in the front garden and not very exciting to photograph so I gave them a miss.

The Pieris Forest Flame  is covered in buds.  This plant is in a very large pot and battered by the wind as it blows down the ide of the house but would seem to be holding its own, despite being blown over several times just lately.

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I can’t leave this post without including a couple of photos of the Hellebores growing contentedly under the Choisya.  It doesn’t seem to like to spread itself but it has been there for many years.

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The soil is so wet the weeds are having a great time, but it is also making it easier to dig them out as their roots are not gripping their surroundings.  I have removed lots of dandelions this morning, so before the next tranche of rain, due this afternoon, I have had a beneficial morning.

What are the signs of Spring in your garden?

© Hurtlingtowards60 and Hurtled to 60 and Now Beyond ©AarTeePhotography; Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited

Related posts: 

Seven Signs of Spring:  17 February 2013  (hurtledto60.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge “Ready”: 7 February 2012 (hurtledto60.com)