In a Vase on Monday: the prince of marigolds

There’s a sturdy self-sown Calendula ‘Indian Prince’ that’s pumping out the most glorious blooms at the moment. I absolutely love this plant, with its deep orange flowers and burnished coppery tones on the reverse of the petals. I found the original seed packet (Sarah Raven) still had some seed in it a couple of weekends ago. The best before date was last year, but I sowed them anyway and kept my fingers crossed. Several seeds have germinated but were munched by *something* in the greenhouse, so I’ve brought the tray into the kitchen where I can keep an eye on it! Hopefully, there will be a few more plants to dot about the garden in a few weeks.

Anyway, the large plant in question is encroaching on a rose, so I cut the closest flowers off for a Monday vase. Joining them are some stems of red Salvia, Geum ‘Blazing Sunset’, some bronze fennel, some Linaria and several stems of Briza  – a lovely grass that Cathy at Rambling in the Garden kindly sent me a few years ago. (Cathy hosts this Monday-vase gathering; do click on the link to see her roses and links to many other vases.) The Briza has made itself very much at home in our garden but luckily, it’s easy to pull out where we don’t want it and seeds itself into gaps where we’re quite happy for it to be.

For the past several weekends, we’ve been spending every spare moment in the garden, working hard to tame and control the chaos all in readiness for the village garden safari at the end of June. A biannual event, the safari raises money for the Pilgrim’s Hospice and it’s a great motivator for Getting Things Done. We wouldn’t have achieved half as much as we have without this deadline. I love effervescent, naturalistic tapestry planting, so most of our borders are of the ‘let’s bung this here and that there and see if it works’ approach and I’m delighted with how it’s coming together so far.

Of course there have been failures, either because our chalky soil is too alkaline (even for some plants that are meant to tolerate it), because it’s been too dry (there’s only so much watering one can do) or because we have a ridiculous number of slugs and snails. My amateur science view is that our cats deter the blackbirds, etc, who eat the slugs and snails and so there is an imbalance. We decided to do something about it after we kept losing dahlias, sunflowers, etc, year after year and have introduced a biological control (the nematode Phasmarhabditis) which is watered onto the soil where they seek out snails and slugs and, well, kill them. They are harmless to other wildlife so are a much better alternative to chemicals. Hopefully, this may mean we can grow  dahlias and other slug-food plants without them being reduced to stumps within days. Has anyone else tried this? Did it work?

In other news: the coal tits are no more, sadly. I’m fairly confident it was not down to the cats as there was absolutely no evidence of harm done to birds at all. One day, standing within a few feet of the nest, you could hear the baby birds calling; a couple of days later you couldn’t. I don’t know what happened. Maybe they fledged while we weren’t looking and are happily hopping about the hedgerows. That’s what I hope, anyway.

Family-wise, my daughter has returned from a week in Barcelona on her return leg of the Spanish exchange. She loved it there, had an amazing time and isn’t particularly thrilled to be home. Let’s just leave it at that. One week left of school and then it’s half term, exams are after half term, then it’s the gentle slide into the summer holidays. My eldest will be home from uni in a couple of weeks to work for P&O over the summer. If you’re travelling to France via the Dover–Calais ferry, he might be checking you in 🙂

I’m off to the Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow for a massive dose of horticultural inspiration. I’ll report back soon. Hope you have a lovely week.

12 thoughts on “In a Vase on Monday: the prince of marigolds

  1. Lovely bouquet with very pretty deep jewel colors that remind me of fall, but let’s not talk of fall yet.
    I’d be interested in knowing if your nematodes work. I applied nematodes last fall to my gardens as I had a specific bug that was destroying the flower heads of my echineacea. It was an expensive treatment, but it will be awhile before they bloom and I know if it has helped.

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  2. Lots going on for you, Sam. Hope everything’s ready for the garden safari in due course – definitely good to have a date to work towards. Indian Prince is definitely a good doer and I too have sown form an elderly packet of seeds with no ill effect. Mine are not flowering yet though. The jug is perfect to pick out the brightness of the calendula and geum and works really well. I am trying nematodes this year too although they do not target snails, just slugs, which is a partial shame. Have fun at Chelsea – hope you don’t get too worn out!

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  3. Such a pretty vase, I have never tried picking geums, do they last well in a vase? I agree, opening the garden to the public really concentrates the mind. Lovely to go to Chelsea, I hope there will be a blog post.

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  4. Just checked when I sowed my Indian Prince and it was 28 April. Absolutely no sign of it yet! You have such a lovely climate. Tho I did sow them outside which may be the issue. So funny, your returning from Spain unenthralled person. Brings back memories!

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  5. I love your Calendula! I hope your snail solution works. I’ve no experience with use of that nematode. I wish I could send you one of my resident raccoons – they’re one skill is ridding a garden or slugs and snails. Your cats might not like them, though – mine hisses at them from the safety of the house.

    Have fun at Chelsea!

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  6. Those lovely oranges and greens show up beautifully in your vase. My calendulas were a total failure this year…not one came up, but the seeds were out of date!

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  7. A gorgeous plant and I love your Geum too. Always a joy to see self-seeders that you want to see! Have a wonderful day a Chelsea. I shall be searching youtube for the next week or two as we get no coverage of it on German TV. 😉

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  8. Hello! I’m a new follower. Your bouquet is so lovely. I love the orange and red together – they look so nice in your red and white pitcher.

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  9. Love your vase, especially geum in there. I cant believe how much farther forward your garden is than mine in Nottinghamshire my salvia doesn’t even have flower buds yet.

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