In a Vase on Monday: floral perks

My Monday vases this week are full of flowers that a) I didn’t grow, b) I didn’t pay for, and c) I didn’t even pick. They’re all leftovers from our village Spring Show on Saturday. One of the perks of being on the gardeners’ association committee and helping to put on these shows is that you’re able to give a good home to any unwanted blooms that people leave behind.

I’m completely in love with the large pale pink tulip – it is one of the three stems that won ‘Best Exhibit in the Horticultural Section’ and they drew much admiration on the day. The woman who entered them didn’t know the variety of tulip but I think it could be ‘Pink Impression’. I also love the lily-flowered purple tulip which could be ‘Purple Dream’. If anyone knows for sure which varieties these are, please leave a comment below – thank you.

I was surprised by the number of entries of Narcissi because most of the daffs in my garden have either gone over or failed to flower. Only one of my beloved N. ‘Actaea’ has bloomed so far this year, the rest have come up blind. Talking to fellow gardeners around here, we reckon the very long dry summer last year is to blame. I’m hoping that if I feed and water them well this spring, they’ll recover and flower again next spring. If not, I’ll buy some more. (I’ll probably buy some more anyway!)

There was an impressive variety of beautiful Narcissi shown on Saturday and I was very lucky to bring a few home. They’re filling the room where I sit typing with the most delicious daffodil scent and brightening up a dull corner. There’s a white frilly edged tulip nestled in there, too, which could be ‘Daytona’. Again, if anyone knows, please let me know. I particularly like the pale daffs and have made a note to plant more this autumn. Good white and pale varieties are ‘Thalia’, ‘Elka’ and ‘Pueblo’. There are several multi-headed and highly scented varieties too. When you think of daffodils, it’s usually the traditional yellow version, but it’s amazing just how many varieties there are in all shades and combinations of yellow, cream and white, some with orange centres, tall and short, large flowers and small, single heads and multi-headed. As with most plants, there’s a variety to suit almost everyone.

It’s the school Easter holidays and with my two school-aged children off on their travels, I started the week off by having a lie-in. Bliss. It’s been such a full-on time recently that I’ve decided to take my foot off the pedal a little for a few days, to do as little around the house and as much out in the garden as possible. I hope you have a thoroughly good week, whatever you have planned.

As usual, I’m joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday vase gathering. Do visit her blog where you’ll also find links to other garden bloggers around the world.

In a Vase on Monday: quiet anticipation

If you stand outside and shut your eyes, you can definitely hear it – the birds know it’s coming; their songs have shifted up a gear – and in the warm sunshine of recent days it’s easy to feel in your bones that early spring is here. Of course, winter could come back and bite us but I’m taking it as it comes at the moment and savouring the simple pleasures of a blue sky, a calm sea, busy birds on our feeders and the joy of finding early spring flowers dotted around garden.

Snowdrops in the lawn and in clumps in the borders, primroses in the wildflower patch and in borders, violets and muscari in the cracks and crevices in the paving. We have divided clumps of snowdrops and spread them around the garden (post-flowering) in recent years but the violets, muscari and primroses appear where they want to and we’re happy to let them do their thing. Spears of the narcissi I planted in the lawn under the window where I sit at my desk are around 20cm tall so those will be flowering in the next few weeks and the new tulips in pots are coming up. The tulips in the borders are a little behind but they’re pushing through the soil and there are bluebell leaves already carpeting the area under the cherry tree by the bottom gate.

There is so much floral loveliness to look forward to but in the meantime I’m enjoying the bright sunshine colour of these daffs (4 bunches in tight bud for £3 at the market on Saturday which opened within 24 hours in the warmth indoors) and a small posy of tiny spring flowers I picked in the garden this morning – violets, primroses, snowdrops and a single muscari. I seared their stems for a few seconds in boiling water to hopefully keep them looking perky for a few days. For more flower therapy, do visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other garden bloggers from around the world have found to put in their Monday vases today.

It’s half term this week and my younger two are off school. My first-born has also come home from university for a few days for home cooking and laundry services. He’s still in bed (I think he misses his bed most of all) but my younger son is out having a driving lesson and my daughter is in town with a friend so all is quiet here. I can hear a robin singing its heart out in the garden and the soft snore of my dog dozing after a good walk this morning. It should be a fairly laid-back week with a few appointments and commitments but plenty of time to catch up. I have an appointment at the fracture clinic on Friday (oh, I am counting down the days) and I’m daring to hope that the cast will come off at last. I’m eager to start strengthening exercises so I can get busy in the garden as soon as possible. My secateurs are calling me!

Wishing you a thoroughly good week.

Early spring in the garden (March EOMV)

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A lovely climbing rose (‘The Generous Gardener’) is sitting on the wall waiting to be planted. Soon, the raised beds and the sloping bed will be full of tulips and Narcissus ‘Actaea’, my favourite daffodil but they won’t be out in time for the village Spring Show next weekend, sadly.

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New growth on the lavender hedge.
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More tulips on the way…
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The recent very cold weather has caused quite a bit of damage – plants that have survived through a couple of mild winters have finally keeled over (geraniums and osteospermums particularly). I’m hoping that if I give the frost-damaged Erigeron on the steps and the top of the wall (top right of pic) a good haircut, they’ll bounce back.
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You see all those green shoots? Bluebells. Oh yes!
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More daffodils coming in the wildflower area.
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Daffodils by the pond.
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The structure from our grasses is starting to take shape. I’ll cut back the Miscanthus soon to allow the new growth to shoot up. You can’t see them but there are thin white birches dotted along that line of tall grasses. One day they’ll look mighty fine.

Clockwise from top left above – snowdrops dripping with seedpods, foxgloves, miniature daffs and muscari in a pot, rosemary flowers.

Frogspawn in the pond (which is rather full of leaves and needs clearing out but we’ll wait until the tadpoles have grown) and a huge bumble bee sunning itself.

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Aubrieta looking lovely at the bottom of the garden.

At almost the end of March, I’m joining in slightly early with Helen, The Patient Gardener for the end of month view (EOMV). These photos were taken yesterday morning when it was absolutely, perfectly spring-like. (Not so today!) There is a load of work to do in the garden – clearing, pruning, mulching – but the plants are getting on with their thing without our help. There is a definite change from the end of last month with plenty of new growth and buds everywhere, and welcome colour – yellow daffs and primroses, blue muscari, purple aubrieta, pink and blue pulmonaria, greens in many shades. It’s the time of year when there’s something new and exciting to see almost every day.

I still haven’t sown any seeds this year but I’m sure I’ll spring into action (boom, boom) soon. There’s a load of seed packets to sort through before I buy any more. After a few years of clearing the garden and rebuilding walls, there’s little major landscaping to do now but there is still structure to think about. We live in a Conservation Area and we’ve had to apply for planning permission to chop down a huge and antisocial sycamore at the bottom of the garden and to do some reshaping on a few other trees. We heard earlier in the week that permission has been granted (hurrah), so we’ll get onto that as soon as possible. Then we’re going to look at year-round interest and what we can see from the house. Because of where we are and the fact we’re on a slope the views from the windows at the front of the house are all about the sea – we can’t actually see much of the garden but what we can see needs rethinking. I have plans…

How’s your Easter so far? Don’t you just love a Friday that feels like a Saturday? And then you wake up the next day and it IS Saturday, which feels like a bonus day, then Easter Sunday with added chocolate, and THEN you have a Bank Holiday Monday. I think Easter is possibly my favourite ‘holiday’ – there isn’t the huge build-up and pressure and tradition that there is with Christmas; it’s a much more relaxed affair. Aside from making sure you’ve got the Easter egg situation covered, you can sort of skid to a halt on Thursday evening and, bam, there you are – four whole days of holiday stretching out before you. Bliss. Even the weather, which is completely pants, hasn’t dampened our spirits. David and I had intended to spend a good while in the garden today but it’s been raining almost non-stop and we’re both pretty exhausted, so we watched a film instead. In the afternoon –how decadent! (‘Hampstead’; not bad; a massively Hollywood-ised version of London but it pleasantly filled a couple of hours.)

We have no specific plans for tomorrow other than to get outside to do some gardening if it’s not too wet. My brother and his family are visiting on Sunday and my parents will come over. My niece is still of the age where Easter-egg-hunts are totally acceptable, and my nephew (who’s 12) and my three cool teenagers secretly love the fact that there will be one. Everyone loves a treasure-hunt, don’t they?

Whatever you’re up to this Easter weekend, I hope you have a lovely time.

In a Vase on Monday: not a snow day

“Is it snowing yet?” asked my 16-year-old son last night, his nosed pressed against the window peering out into the darkness. “Do you think there’ll be a snow day tomorrow?” There’d been a weather forecast for snow overnight in the south east of England and all three were hoping fervently that today would dawn under a blanket of white. A snow day on a Monday would be such a rare gift of a day. But, sadly, no. So off to school they had to go.

There may be no snow but it is decidedly chilly outside with a brisk east-north-east wind coming off the sea, so I am staying indoors and cheating with my Monday vase of supermarket daffodils. They were just £1 a bunch, so I bought five and have dotted them about the house to cheer us all up.

I also wanted to show you the rosemary that I used in a vase in November and have been reusing in other vases since – all the stems have rooted and are growing (look carefully at the bottom of the jar above; the ivy is also growing). I’ll carefully transplant these (but not the ivy – we are overrun with ivy!) into a compost/sand mix, keep them out of direct sunlight for a few weeks and hopefully they’ll take. Moving rooted cuttings from water to soil isn’t always successful, so fingers crossed it will work.

I’m joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her popular international weekly gathering, so do click on the link to see more vases from around the world.

Have a good week, snow or not.