Friday, 30 March 2012

A Golden Moment

I usually favour the blue spectrum in my flower garden.  But in spring it is different.  Yellows predominate.  In the summer yellow seems out of place, somehow, in spring it is highly appropriate for it goes so well with the fresh greens that show themselves.  The new growth of the grass, the leaves unfurling and the plant growth emerging from the dark soil.  The colours range from dark yellow/almost orange through to pale lemon.







Daffodils, Euonymous and Double Primrose

Pale Lemon Tulips
The warm weather has brought everything along beautifully although I have had to water my containers more than I would have liked for this time of year.  Alas, along with the new growth on my plants, comes the new growth of weeds

Couch grass
 I have been tackling this patch of couch grass for over 25 years - it comes through from the field behind - and unless I dig down to Australia, I fear I will always be tackling it.  It is in my rhubarb patch and doesn't look so bad once the rhubarb starts growing - it is the bane of my life and I have tried everything to get rid of the darn stuff.  Anyone got any ideas, that work, on getting rid of it once and for all?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Humble Pansy

The common Pansy is often overlooked when talking about our gardens, although every year millions are sold in garden centres.  I use them to cover the soil of my bulb containers and in my spring window box.
Pansies in the window box
They were first brought to the attention of gardeners in the early years of the 19th century by Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennett after procuring every sort of V.tricolor she could find in her fathers' garden at Walton-upon-Thames.  By 1833 there were 400 named varieties available bought by gardeners who once considered it a weed.

Pansies growing at the edge of a pavement

The name Pansy comes from the French pensee (thought) and was bestowed upon the plant because of its resemblance to a pensive human face (in August, it nods forward as if in thought).  It had many names in the past - Love-in-Idleness, Heartsease and flower of Jove, to name but a few.

Viola tricolor growing wild in Norway
 In 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' Shakespeare comments that the juice of the heartsease is a love potion
"and on sleeping eyelids laid, will make a man or woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees"
Pansies showing typical facial markings
A German fable tells how the pansy lost its perfume.  Originally pansies would have been very fragrant, growing wild in fields and forests.  It was said that people would trample the grass in their eagerness to pick pansies.  Unfortunately, the peoples cows were starving due to the ruined fields, so the pansy prayed to give up her perfume.  Her prayer was answered, and without her perfumed scent, the fields grew tall, and the cows grew fat on the fresh grass.

Pinned Image
via pinterest

Heartsease!  one could look for half a day
Upon this flower, and shape in fancy out
Full twenty different tales of love and sorrow
That gave this gentle name.
Mary Howitt
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The beauteous pansies rise
In purple, gold and blue
With tints of rainbow hue
Mocking the sunset skies
Thomas J. Ouseley
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Pansies in soft April rains
Fill their stalks with honeyed sap
Drawn from Earth's prolific lap
Bayard Taylor
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What is your view on pansies - do you love them for surviving over winter and gracing the garden with colour when little else is flowering - or do you think them a little twee and not worthy of a place in your garden?
greeting card

All information via Wikipedia

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Arrival of Spring

All through the long winter I dream of my garden.  On the first day of spring I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth.  I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.
Helen Hayes
If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring maybe your soul has never been in bloom.
Audra Fuveo
Spring makes its own statement so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments not the composer.
Geoffrey B. Charlesworth
I love spring anywhere, but if I could chose, I would always greet it in the garden.
Ruth Stout
Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Through Drifts of Wild Daffodils

Once one of the most common wild flowers to be found in the English and Welsh countryside, the wild daffodil suffered a decline in the mid-nineteenth century.  It was, however, grown en masse and harvested by entrepreneurial locals as a cash crop, capitalizing on its popularity.  The decline of this practice combined with agricultural intensification and mismanagement of its habitat probably explains why wild populations have become rarer.

As well as being a national symbol of Wales, it is also the County Flower of Gloucestershire.

It currently survives in patchy populations, often scattered across the western side of  Britain.

Wild Daffodil - Lent Lily
We saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road.  They grew among the mossy stones about and about them; some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness, and the rest tossed and wheeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake; they looked so gay, ever glancing, ever changing.
Dorothy Wordsworth

Daffodil drift
 For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood
They flash upon the inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude
And then my heart with pleasure fills
And dances with the daffodils.
Wm. Wordsworth

Wild daffodils at Stourhead
 "I hate daffodils says wild flower lover on one-man mission to rid countryside of mass-produced bulbs"  read this article here

Friday, 9 March 2012

The Flowering of Spring

Some flowers in the garden are so fleeting that if you want to record them for posterity it is essential that you have camera to hand as soon as they appear.  Iris and Crocus are in this category.  If the sun comes out they open their faces wide and smile.  The effort it takes for them to do this must put a strain on the mechanism and they quickly go over. 

Iris reticulata
I mainly plant the small bulbs in pots as they seem to make more impact that way, unless you have hundreds planted in the lawn.  They are easier to photograph as well when they are raised from the ground.  I couldn't understand where the dozens of crocuses were, that I was sure I had, it turns out I had planted them out at the allotment.  Even keeping a blog isn't a sure-fire way of recording everything you do, you have to remember to include it in a post - which I haven't!
Apart from the spring bulbs, there are one or two other early spring flowers coming into their own - the Bellis Daisies managed to come through the winter unscathed and it looks like the purple Aubretia is hanging on in there, although it is nowhere near flowering yet.
Bellis daisies
I am particularly looking forward to the tulips and hyacinths bursting into bloom and have been looking back at last years pictures hoping that this years display will be as good.  But it seems I have about a month to wait yet

7th April 2011 - ~Grape Hyacinths

26th March 2011 - Hyacinths

17th April, 2011 - Cowslips

10th April, 2011 - Tulips in window box

29th April, 2011 - Tulips and Forget-me-nots
7th April, 2011 - spring flowers mixed
As you can see from the dates on the above photos  there is definitely a month to go before the spring garden comes together as a whole.  After the bulbs will come the Alliums and Aquilegia, then the Foxgloves and Sweet Rocket - and the list goes on - everyday, something new to look forward too.  They will all flower when they decide to flower - meanwhile, I shall just have to be patient.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Hello March

The year's at the Spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn:
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!
Robert Browning
The sun shone its socks off in honour of my birthday - I was going to take it easy today - but just had to be outside - this small glimpse of spring couldn't be wasted.  Obviously the ladybirds had the same idea

Ladybird bonanza
They were literally everywhere I looked - doing naughty things - see 4th from the left (top row) all  enjoying a bit of sun on their backs.  Whereas, I, made myself useful and did some lawn edging.  I think it makes such a difference to the garden with a crisply edged lawn, my one concession to neatness.
All sorts of spring flowers decided to show themselves
Yesterday, it was a bit gloomier, but mild enough to work in - so I set to and pruned the buddleia

before and after
 I suspect I could have cut it back even further, but I ran out of steam - and space in the wheelie bin.

pear tree buds
 Even the pear tree decided to burst forth - I have never had a pear from this tree and it must be at least 10 years old - maybe this year will be the year.

The containers at the side of the greenhouse are now full to bursting with tulip leaves

Inside the greenhouse the broad beans are beginning to push through

as are the salad leaves that I sowed at the weekend

the tomato plants have been removed from the propagator and now live in the mini-greenhouse which is inside the greenhouse proper

and I have potted up my new dahlia tubers - sown some Hurst Greenshaft peas and planted the Lady Christl  potatoes in individual pots.

So, it has been a very successful 'lazy' day and I am pleased with what I have achieved this week.
And best of all the first sowing of sweet peas have germinated.  Spring has definitely 'sprung'.

via pinterest