Garden blogging

Spring has Sprung

A little too late this morning for the solar eclipse, which in my part of the country was disappointing event due to heavy cloud, the finally sun appeared mid morning and it was a simply glorious day to do some gardening.  It was even warm enough just to wear a gillet. I hoed, edged, pruned and managed the first lawn mow of the year.  It was a very beneficial morning, not only for the garden but for me too.  Having been very low and negative for a while I perked up no end.  I even fell in love with my garden again.   It is very understandable that gardening is seen as therapeutic and seeing all the new buds on the shrubs and plants beginning to burst through the soil, it boosted my spirits no end. Last year I planted a whole heap of daffodil bulbs and was expecting a glorious display but since planting them I have had trouble with animals, cats and squirrels digging things up so what I do have I’m fairly happy with. The ones above are in the sunny border and are big and blousy.  The others around the garden are just about to flower and if we continue to have a sunny few days I think they will be out by the end of the weekend. The two shrubs that always herald spring, for me anyway, are the yellow of the Forsythia and the raspberry red of the Ribes.  Both are bursting with buds, with the Ribes being marginally ahead.

Ribes – flowering currant IMG_2223 Forsythia

The one very special plant I love to see every spring is the Peony with its red lipstick shaped shoots.  I spoke to it very nicely asking it to produce some flowers this year; it failed to flower last year.  There are a lot of Aqualegia dotted around and as I planted lots of new ones last year I hope they will come true to their variety.  Over the past years all the ones I did have reverted to pasty pink.

I am pleased to see the Astrantia has made it through to another year. IMG_2232 Last year I pruned the Montana Elizabeth a little too heavily and worried I may have killed it off.  Fortunately this is not the case, it is scrabbling over the shed and covered in tiny little buds. Followers of my blog may remember that I caretake the front garden as it is owned by the upstairs flat which is tenanted.  It has Just been re-let and new tenants are due in shortly.  I am hoping, as with previous tenants, they are not gardeners and more than happy for me to continue to look after it.   I gave it a bit of a tidy this morning and have moved into the back garden a number of the Day Lily offshoots.  It is looking healthier this year than I’ve seen for years and as it had spread considerably I thought I would dig some of it up before the tenants arrived.  After all it is a plant I put in, so I feel that’s only fair, don’t you?  It is a vibrant orange and will look good in the sunny border in my garden at the rear. Finally, I want to share the Kerria with you which is at the side of my bay window.  I love the button yellow flowers on this variety.


Happy gardening everyone!

Book Review

Book Review : First Ladies of Gardening. 

Thank you Frances Lincoln Press for sending me The First Ladies in Gardening to review.  I am a little late with this post, the book was published on 5 March 2015.

The first thing that struck me was the fabulous photo of Himalayan blue poppies and purple aquilegia on the end papers.  I wanted to stop before I had even begun to take in the beautiful photograph by Marianne Majerus.  Just the first of many photos in the book.

On turning the pages I knew this was going to be a book to linger over and savour.  I only got as far as the first couple of pages before dwelling a while on the next photo, and make notes of ideas. 

The First Ladies of Gardening, written by Heidi Howcroft, explores the influential role of women garden designers on English gardens, particularly their own gardens.  The first garden is the glorious Upton Grey Manor in Hampshire, originally owned by Gertrude Jekyll and restored by Rosamund Wallinger. 

The book has two sections, chapters about “Pioneers of Design” with gardens such as Waterperry (Beatrix Havergal)  Sissinghurst (Vita Sackville-West) and Beth Chatto’s garden.  The second section is “New Directions” featuring newer and less well known gardeners including Sue Whittington’s London garden and Helen Dillon’s garden in Ireland. 

It is packed with informative details about the gardens, the history, how they are laid out and the specialities of each garden such as the vignettes at Kiftsgate Court, along with the famous ‘Kiftsgate’ rambling rose.  I particularly liked the list of signature plants at the end of each chapter.

I have been luck enough to have visited a number of the gardens but now have added a few more to my “must visit” list. 

This is not a small book by any means, definitely one for the coffee table to be browsed through at leisure.  Whilst you may not buy this for yourself, it would make a wonderful present for anyone who loves gardens.  In fact, it would even whet the appetite of those who have yet to discover the joy of beautiful and interesting gardens. 

The publishers Frances Lincoln have very kindly given me a reader’s offer,  to order First Ladies of Gardening at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP: £20), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG290. 

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from oversea

Mopheads are Marvellous

I love this time of the year when the Mophead Hydrangea blooms start to change colour and are ready to be used as dried flowers.  I have several plants in the garden; a large pink one in the front garden…

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…a smaller pink in the back and a beautiful white one in a pot on the patio.


I would like to have a blue variety, as a happy reminder of my youngest daughters wedding – she had them as table decorations and the bridesmaids bouquets.


Whilst the white hydrangea will always stay white, to obtain the blue they must have acidic soil.  Not possible in my garden, which is heavy clay and alkaline.   If you have neutral or alkaline soil and want blue flowers, hydrangeas will grow quite happily in containers with ericaceous compost and watered with rainwater.

Now we are on the cusp of autumn, the white hydrangea flowers are turning shades of pale green.


The pink hydrangeas are starting to take on their antique shades and are just asking to be dried for indoor displays.

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If picked at the right time the blooms could last for up to a year.  It is getting the time right to cut them that is important, too soon they are still full of water and too late they will lose their colour and become a dull brown.   The end of August to early October is the best time.  Try and pick blooms without spots or marks on the petals – which in my garden is difficult.   Place long stems in about 10cms of water in a vase with a good space around each flowerhead.   Place away from sunlight and allow them to dry slowly as the water evaporates over 2 weeks, adding more water if necessary.  The whole point of drying them out in water is to prevent them from drying too quickly and losing colour.

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I always keep  Mophead flowers on my shrubs throughout the Winter and then prune them in the Spring remembering that hydrangeas flower on old wood.

I am aware that they are not everyone’s favourite but I find they are a great all year round shrub and a beautiful plant for late Summer borders.

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

Flowers in the Garden, Garden

In a Vase on Monday

I have often said that reading interesting and varied blogs is a bit like peeling an onion.  You can find other blogs mentioned within the one you are reading and move on to visit them.   Actually it is more like pass the parcel with a little goodie inside each layer.  Let me explain a bit more.  I love looking at Liz’s blog  Gwirrel’s Garden and when viewing her latest post “In a Vase on Monday“, I discovered Cathy’s blog Rambling in the Garden and her post “In a Vase on Monday“.

Excellent idea for a Monday post which I have joined in today.

I have a large selection of little jugs that I have collected over the years, ideal for small posies of flowers from the garden.

This little posy, consists of Dahlias, Fennel Seedheads, white Cosmos “Seashells”, Nigella seedheads and a pretty, un-named White patio rose and a couple of Calendula flowers.

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Pay Cathy’s blog a visit by clicking HERE and enjoy unpeeling the layers as you find other bloggers’ contributions to In a Vase on Monday.


EOMV, Garden, Garden blogging

End of Month View : June 2014

I was totally inspired by Helene from Graphicality-UK.blogspot  who posted a short video of her garden to last month’s Patient Gardener End of Month View,   Since then I have been turning my hand to movie making, although I am not sure if I can manage doing anything other than a very short movie.  This month I recorded over 10 minutes of film on my iPad, and once I uploaded it to my PC and set about cutting it down to a manageable and interesting 3 minutes I was almost beaten.  It took me most of the afternoon!!

However, I hope you will take just over 3 minutes of your time to watch – it’s hardly worth buying popcorn for, but I think it will give you more of a feel for the garden than just photos which I will be reverting to again, as videos are too much hard work to do too often.

This is just the back garden. The Day Lilies in the front are looking fab but I am saving them for another blog post.

Enjoy the movie! You may wish to turn your volume down as I can’t quite master the volume control when adding music!


The music is a Royalty Free download called “Chill Jazz (Royalty Free Music for Restaurant, Wine Bar and Lounge)”