Flowers, Garden blogging, In a Vase on Monday, Photography

In a Vase on Monday – Being Non-symmetrical

Yeah!  This week for In a Vase on Monday I am displaying flowers, not bought from a shop, or cut from the garden flower patch, but a little posy chosen from pots on my patio.   Whilst I was deadheading and I thought to myself there was no reason why I couldn’t arrangement a few in a small jug.


I dug out a very pretty Royal Albert China cream mug from the cupboard – the pattern is called ‘moss rose’ which in itself is floral and eminently suitable.


I arranged the posy in the jug very carefully and, because I have OCD tendencies, I tried to make it look symmetrical, but it didn’t work because with a handle one side and a pouring lip the other, the jug itself is not a uniform shape. Then having visited the many contributions to Rambling in The Garden’s weekly meme and seen how clever people are in their displays, I did a little rearranging.


The more I looked at it, the more I realised that with the handle on one side, it would look a more interesting composition with the Angeliona pointing out the other, a bit like a teapot spout,  even though I say it myself, I’m quite pleased with the finished article!

The flowers used are Verbena ‘peaches and cream’, Angeliona ‘raspberry’ the colour picks up the roses on the jug, Achillea ‘terracotta’ (although looks more yellow to me!) and Lewisia Cotyledon.  Oh and I put in a few sprigs of Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’ for added perfume.

I hope you like my non-symmetrical posy.  For some great ideas on arrangements please pop over to The Rambling Garden. 

container planting, Garden blogging, Patio plants

A Late Comer to the Party – A New Patio Container

There are days, especially when it’s too hot to do anything, retirement can be BORING!!! Maybe I’ll write a blog post about retiring and moving into a new area at the same time – I don’t recommend it.

This morning I Googled ‘Best Garden Centres’ near me and an independent nursery called Meadow Farm Nursery on Hayling Island popped up.  With nothing better to do today, I killed two birds with one stone and went garden centre and local beach visiting.


I did wonder where I was going down a narrow road and negotiating a bin lorry, then a single track road but found Meadow Farm Nursey – delightful independent nursery and very soon was drawn into buying plants, I couldn’t help myself!

Lovers of Full Sun pot 


1. Alternanthera – Purple Knight   I bought two of these and read that it is a tropical plant and the colours are even stronger in full sun.  Ideal for my baking south facing patio.


2. Nemesia – Aroma Rhubard and  Custard.  I always though ‘Wisley Vanilla’ was highly scented but the sweet fragrance of this plant wafted through the car all the way home, especially in the heat.


3. Angelonia – Archangel Raspberry.  I came across Angelonia recently and have a white one in one of my posts with Black Velvet Petunias.  It is another drought tolerant plant originating from Mexico.


So with new plants placed within a larger container (also new) and yet to be potted up, here is my ‘Lover of Full Sun’ pot sitting with the other patio pots and although joining the party late looks very much at home.


As for my visit to Hayling Island, well I found it a case of “Move along there, nothing to see”, but I did have a nice honey and ginger ice cream and there was a much appreciated cooling breeze off the sea.




container planting, Flowers in the Garden, Garden blogging

Six on Saturday – Patio Planting 23-06-2018

I am an infrequent contributor to Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator Blog but coming back from my holiday and welcomed by a glorious display of colour on the patio I have to share them with you.1. My Container Garden 28550C20-5A53-4A9D-83C9-F2F2DE717D7F2158B714-66B3-4929-90B3-B9158559B776It wasn’t deliberate that the brights are on one side and the gentle shades are on the other, somehow it just developed that way.2. Gentle bluesF9BC0163-68ED-4CB9-9ACE-4B42085B75E3The above container has hidcote lavender, white petunia, scaevola and brachyscome.  I had been looking for a Salvia when making up the planting but it wasn’t in the garden centre at the time so I plumped for the lavender.3. Black and white2FFA7EE2-EF1B-4E88-90FA-F2CF882AB9BDThis is my black and white pot with petunia ‘black velvet’, angelonia ‘carrara’, the beautiful vanilla scented nemesia ‘Wisley vanilla’ and calibrachoa ‘black cherry’.  4. Sunshine3B41B16F-9686-42A8-9299-A97C6A3CA813I call this my sunshine pot.  It needs much more attention than the others because the bidens need regular deadheading and, as you can see, having been away there is a lot of deadheading to do.  I have overplanted it with the bidens ‘charm’ so that is another job to thin it out.  The other plants are dahlietta ‘coby’  and a trailing golden  lysymachia. 5. All the CoralsDDD1E61A-B6CC-41D0-A483-E0FC5146A618I found a beautiful coral ‘pelargonium’ in the garden centre tucked behind loads of reds so grabbed it quickly and hunted around for matching plants.  I came away with a trailing verbena ‘peaches and cream’ and calibrachoa ‘orange’ .6. A Rockery collection31F04DC0-CAD1-4F84-9363-3DCD979D1ECDThe last of my six is a small collection of rockery plants.  My patio is south facing and bakes in sunshine all day, apart from a couple of hours in the middle of the day when the sun is behind the trees, so this little collection are more than happy.  There is a white osteospermum, a very pretty lewisia in shades of pink to peach flowers and an armeria ‘ballerina lilac’.That’s my Six on Saturday for this week.  Hop over to The Propagator Blog to check out the Six on Saturday posts from other bloggers.

Garden, Garden blogging, Gardening Course

MyGardenSchool – Week 4 Summer Luxuriance

MyGardenSchool very kindly offered one of their courses to me in return for writing a review of their 4 week on line courses. This is not an advertising feature, MyGardenSchoool do not have any input as to what I have written and my views are entirely unbiased.



Over the past four weeks, I have discovered why my container planting does not give the wow factor that I always strive for.  The planting and maintenance of containers is far more time consuming than general gardening, however they provide a great scope for planting all sorts of things that wouldn’t otherwise grow under your garden conditions.  Done well and properly the end results will be very satisfactory.

During the four weeks of Container Gardening, tutored  by Harriet Rycroft, we have covered the principles of container gardening, winter and spring planting and are now into summer luxuriance.  The choice of shrubs and plants in summer is endless.

Assignment 4 asks what is our favourite colour in the garden. I am not sure what my favourite colour is, most years I aspire to having a bright cheerful garden in a mixed colour scheme, but never achieve it.  By default and not by design my predominant garden colour is shades of pale pink to deep rose.  For summer 2015 I decided on a purple/burgundy colour scheme but the flowers didn’t stand out, instead they blended too easily into my pink colour scheme.

The second part of the assignment was select a tall plant, a bushy plant and a spreading or trailing plant featuring our favourite colour.  As this is a theoretical assignment I have decided to step out of that comfort zone of mine and go for warm, hot summer colours using plants which, in my opinion, would not sit comfortably within my cottage garden flower beds.

My initial thought was to have a prairie garden in a container. When browsing in the local garden nursery for assignment 2 (Principles of Success) I came across some beautiful grasses including Pennisetum Orientale ‘Karley Rose’ but it’s pink and I want to get away from that.

Photo Credit: J Parkers

Having dismissed the Karley Rose, I remembered the other grass I liked was Imperata Cylindrica ‘Rubra’ also known as Japanese Blood Grass. It is a great red, and contrasted well with the white Echinacea ‘White Swan’.

Photo taken by me at Haskins Garden Centre

That still doesn’t fulfill my warm, hot, summer colour scheme so I turned to Pinterest. I typed ‘prairie container gardens’ into the search engine and a myriad of photos appeared, I really was spoilt for choice. Cracked it! Be really brave and go for Cannas, these are hot and mixed with Begonias would really be a hit you-in-the-face planting scheme. This container looks as though it has Calendula, and although I recognise the green trailing plant I can’t remember what it is called.

Photo credit:

Somehow the more I looked at it the more it failed to strike a cord with me, I am not sure what is wrong with the planting but to me it is dull and lifeless, which is an interesting lesson in itself in what not to plant.

Then I found exactly what I wanted – a tropical planting. With no information other than a photograph trawled the internet and found similar plants.

This is my summer luxuriance planting:-

* Cordyline ‘Red Star’ – it will give focus, structure, height and colour.

Photo Credit: Crocus

* Ghost Lady Fern – I chose this because this is more tolerant in dry conditions that other ferns. If I had room, I would also plant a Dryopteris Filex-Mas, but as it prefers partial or full shade I would have to be careful where I placed the container.

Photo credit:


Photo credit:

* Begonia ‘Million Kisses Passion’ – great name for a plant! It has wonderful orange trailing flowers.

Photo Credit: Hillier Garden Centres

Below is the photograph that has inspired my choice, I think it looks wonderful and the container is just great.

Photo credit: Barbara Peake Wise

I think they would live together very happily.  Placed in a partially shady place on the patio, this combination should give welcome colour to the garden, the cordyline and ferns can be put in a frost free place during the winter and bought out again in following years.

If you are interested in doing a short on line gardening course, have a browse through the MyGardenSchool website, and take your pick.   They are offering 15% off all online gardening and floristry courses in October.  Quote code MGSBTS

Garden, Garden blogging, Gardening Course

MyGardenSchool – Week 3 Planting Pots for Winter Interest and Spring Joy

I have now completed week 3 of my free online course with MyGardenSchool.  This is not an advertisement for MyGardenSchool, they are not able to edit this post, my views are entirely my own.

Week 3 was planting a 24″ wide x 12″ deep pot to give winter interest and spring joy.   Coming at the time of year we are beginning to decide and order/buy bulbs for our spring joy, doing the assignment this week virtually and not actually proved quite tough.    Not only was a 24″ pot larger than I would normally use, mainly because I like collections of plants that I can move around, it was no mean feat to keep my purse closed. Designing on paper is something that doesn’t come easily to me.

I am fast realizing I am a ‘go with my gut feeling’  gardener, rushing in with my heart rather than my head.   The Container Gardening course tutored by Harriet Rycroft is teaching me to think, investigate technical issues and plan plan plan BEFORE planting or even buying anything.  Assignments are critiqued by Harriet giving constructive help and advice.  Whilst I was proud of my virtual planting, Harriet made important points which made me realize it was not going to be a successful one.

Sitting in front of my laptop with my student notepad I thought, investigated and saved photos of winter plants and spring bulbs to my Pinterest board.   I chose a purple/orange color scheme, starting with a skimmia ‘rubella ‘ as my key plant (I know it is red in the winter but it is a subtle red), with heuchera ‘paprika’ and erysimum ‘winter orchid’ with a wonderful peach and purple flower.

Erysimum Winter Orchid

Any gaps I would then fill with the cheerful faced Viola in a bronzy/yellow which I think will sit quite comfortably with the other tones in the container. I love Violas and much prefer them to the larger pansy. Their little happy smiling faces make me just want to smile back at them.

Choosing bulbs was not so difficult, it was deciding how any of each I needed that was hard.  Keeping to the peaches, I chose three tulip varieties to be planted at the bottom of the layer of bulbs. The first tulip is one that Harriet introduced in her video lecture – ‘Prinses Irene’. It is ideal for the peach/purple design, and is slightly shorter at 30cms (12″) than the other two, ‘Request’ and ‘Brown Sugar’, I deliberately choose similar coloured tulips as they are different heights giving a layered look – that was the idea anyway.

Prinses Irene
‘Brown Sugar’

Mistake Number 1 

Then I had a mad moment and decided to plant three Fritillaria ‘Imperialis Rubra Maxima’ bulbs.  I have never grown these and thought they would give impressive height to my spring joy.   This is what Harriet had to say on my choice:

“I think the Imperial Fritillaries might be a step too far in a 12″ deep pot. The bulbs are very big, so in order to have 6″ of compost above them (which they’d need for stability) you really need to plant them at about the same level as the tulip bulbs. This would reduce the number of tulips you could fit in. And you need to remember that the fritillaries send up very big, thick shoots, and send down a lot of vigorous roots, so will demand plenty of elbow room. Also they grow to about 3 feet tall, so might look top heavy in a 12″ deep pot. I wouldn’t put Fritillaria imperialis in containers less than 18″ deep really, in fact I usually use them in even bigger pots. Fabulous plants though! And Bold and Brave is definitely to be applauded! If you can get a really big pot, you should go for it.” 

Fritillaria Imperialis Rubra Maximus

I had a little search to find the right  Narcissi, wanting to keep away from yellows. I love brightly coloured yellow daffodils and narcissi and these will certainly have a place in my garden pots but not in this planter. Eventually I found Narcissi ‘Trepolo’, ‘Fragrant Rose’ and ‘Vanilla Peach’. The one thing I have learned from this assignment is that I don’t know how to work out how many bulbs to plant within a confined area. The larger bulbs were not too difficult but I was stumped with the Narcissi trying to plant virtually taking into account the key plant, Skimmia, the Heuchera and the Eyrsimum.  I think I wouid probably plant 10/12 bulbs of each variety.

‘Fragrant Rose’

Mistake Number 2

It could be that come the spring I would have to remove the Heuchera, having done its job in the winter to give colour, into other pots to make room for the spring shoots.

Harriet made this obvious point that I had not taken into account:

“It would be hard to remove any of the surface plants in the spring as they will have put down roots – and you risk damaging emerging bulb shoots if you try to dig or pull plants out. Better just to plant the bulbs a little less densely” 

Finally, the top layer of my spring bulb planting will be Iris Retinulata. Many of these are blue and I wanted to plant purple shades, these will be the first to flower introducing bright colour alongside the orange toned Violas and I want them to look ok when the Eyrismum starts to flower. I had no idea there were so many varieties and I have fallen in love with the pale lilac ‘Sheila Ann Germany’ and the bright ‘Purple Gem’.

This is what Harriet said:

“Iris reticulata are great for a shot of properly early colour, but as you say prefer deep planting, which takes them down to similar levels with the tulips etc, a level which is getting pretty crowded in this planting. I would usually use crocuses (eg C. tommasinianus ‘Whitewell Purple’) in a planting which has lots of deeply planted bulbs, because these only need to be about 2” deep and can be put in swathes or groups near the edge of the planting. I reckon the little iris prefer to have less root competition, so it might be worth having them in separate pots (I tend to use “long toms” which are deep but narrow) and dressing the top of the compost with some nice grit. Then they can also have the space to flower without being crowded by the foliage of other plants and bulbs, and air circulation around them is better. Mind you, I do also try them in mixed plantings – but with mixed results.”

Iris Reticulata Sheila Ann Germany

Armed with a lot more technical knowledge and some important does and don’ts I will now start to order spring bulbs and find a suitable 24″ pot for my winter interest and spring joy planting which should look spectacular.

Next week is the final part, Summer Luxuriance.   I have thoroughly enjoyed this online course and am learning a lot.  The initial website issues have been sorted out and any frustrations in connection with that are over.