In a Vase on Monday: distraction

I’m taking a little of my own advice to my revising boys: if you’re stuck and nothing is going in, stop and do something else productive for a while. Well, I’m proof-reading a book and needed a break, so out into the garden I went, scissors in hand, to snip some blooms for a quick Monday vase to join in with Cathy and other garden bloggers.

Gosh, it’s lovely and warm out there in the sunshine – the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing and the flowers are, well, flowering. Tempting as it was to sit on the Erigeron steps and soak it all in, I quickly snipped a few sprigs of the Erigeron (which is looking gorgeous), some hardy geraniums (which are just starting to flower – look at the delicate veining on that pink one!), ox-eye daisy (coming in to flower), Cerinthe major (self-sown and seemingly flowers for ever), chives, forget-me-nots (almost all gone to seed but still flowers to be had) and Centranthus ruber in bud (I prefer the tiny flower buds as they’re a darker red than the pinker flowers). They’re all plonked into a lovely new jug from Waitrose which I bought as a present to me last week for this very purpose.

I’m off to the Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow with David – a whole day out in London looking at beautifully designed and planted gardens and loads of other garden-related stuff. Yippee. I’ll take my camera and will share my highlights here later in the week. Have a good one. Bye for now.

Granny’s bonnets and other delights

Granny’s bonnets, columbine, cock’s foot, culverwort and pigeon flower are just a few of the common names for Aquilegia vulgaris. Pink ones, all-shades-of-purple ones, some bi-coloured ones, it has self-seeded all over our garden without so much as a by-your-leave but it is most welcome.

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Chives coming into flower and Nigella buds with frothy foliage. Nigella has also seeded all over the garden and made herself at home. I like that.
The chives I planted last year are coming into flower next to some Nigella damascena buds with their feathery foliage. Also known as love-in-a-mist, chase-the-devil, Jack in the green and St Catherine’s flower, this is another one who’s spread all over the garden and made herself at home. I like that.


These fiery wallflowers were looking rather sorry for themselves a few weeks back but have perked up with the warmer weather and late spring rain.
These fiery wallflowers were looking rather sorry for themselves a few weeks back but have perked up with the warmer weather and late spring rain.
Erigeron karvinskianus (fleabane) – our front steps are disappearing under a froth of this delightful daisy. The longer stems are great for cutting and we’re slowly spreading it around the garden by pulling chunks off, potting them up until they root, then transplanting to where we want it. It’s such a hardy, hard-working pretty plant.


Even before my passion for plants and gardening was kindled, I could appreciate the loveliness of certain types of garden. Not the manicured, parks-planting type of garden but those with a romantic, slightly wild and natural style. Ones with billowing clouds of frothy flowers, dainty blooms growing in cracks in paving, and gardens that felt abundant and generous, and full of soul. When I caught the gardening bug, I dreamed that one day I’d create such a garden. Pottering about outside yesterday in the late afternoon sunshine, I had a little moment as I realised that it’s happening. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I had a lump in my throat. My dream garden is emerging. All the hard labour and hours spent digging, on our hands and knees, shifting rocks and soil, rebuilding walls, pulling out brambles, cutting back overgrown hedges – it’s all totally worth it and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

The King’s Fund published a report earlier in the week on the health benefits of gardens and gardening. It contains a plethora of evidence on how the activity of gardening and being in gardens can help combat depression, anxiety and stress, be of benefit when tackling several physical conditions and help boost confidence and self-esteem. I suspect that every gardener already knows this but there you have it. Gardening is most definitely good for you. It’s official.

Wishing you a super-duper weekend. My middle child is off on his bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award practice expedition first thing in the morning – the forecast is for heavy rain tomorrow night (oh dear) – and my eldest will be revising for his first full week of exams next week (ouch). We’ll be spending as much time as possible in the garden.


Flower power

It may be feeling cosy and almost Christmassy indoors but our garden is blissfully unaware that we’re speeding towards the shortest day of the year. It’s been gloomy of late; we’ve had very strong winds and rain (but nothing like the devastating rains in other parts of the country) and not much sunshine. It has been unseasonably mild, though, and this is probably why some plants seem a bit confused.

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There are still marigolds.
A strawberry plant is flowering..!
A strawberry is flowering!
There are still snapdragons...
There are still snapdragons. They’re a bit windswept but they’re hanging in there.
The Erigeron is still flowering on the front steps - continuous flowering since April. It's such a hard-working, joyful plant.
Erigeron karvinskianus is still flowering on the front steps – continuous flowering since April. It’s such a hard-working, undemanding lovely plant.
Salvia 'Hot Lips' is still going strong.
Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ is still going strong.
Some hardy geraniums are still sending out flowers and the leaves on some others are only just starting to fade.
Some hardy geraniums are still sending out flowers and the leaves on others are only just starting to fade.
Primroses! This one has been munched by an opportunist mollusc..
And, yes, the cheery geraniums are STILL flowering. This time last year, we'd moved them all into the greenhouse for the winter.
And, yes, the cheery geraniums are STILL flowering. This time last year, they were tucked up in the greenhouse.

In other news, I took the dog for a short walk this morning – a gentle stroll (no stomping yet) up to the top of the cliffs to breathe in some fresh, sea air and blow the cobwebs away. It was windy and drizzly and grey but it was marvellous. Have a lovely weekend.

It’s all going on

photo-50 After yesterday’s heavy rain, today was one of those high blue sky, vivid colour days. It’s not as warm as it was a couple of weeks ago, though – there’s been a chilly wind which has battered my lovely tall tulips and knocked some of the blossom off the cherry tree.

The wind has loosened some of the tallest tulips' petals but they're still looking gorgeous.
The wind has loosened some of the tallest tulips’ petals but they’re still looking gorgeous.

But wait… Guess what I found peeking out from the soil this afternoon? Only our first asparagus tip! SO exciting. I know we’ll have to wait a couple of years for our first proper crop but we have asparagus! Growing in our garden! I’ve so longed to have the space to grow these precious spears of loveliness and now we have. Brilliant.

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Look carefully. It’s definitely there. The first of hopefully many asparagus spears.

And that’s not all. The autumn raspberries are properly sprouting now and the strawberry crowns we planted two weeks ago are thoroughly romping away.

The strawberry plants have quadrupled in size since we planted them two weeks ago.

The pear tree is blossoming, as is the greengage and the three small cordoned apple trees. These were hidden underneath old, leggy lavenders and gooseberry bushes when we moved here. We freed them from their clutches and I gave them a fairly tough prune earlier this year. It’s good to see that they’re doing ok.

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The first bea-u-ti-ful apple blossom.

What else is looking good? Oh yes, the Erigeron karvinskianus is coming into flower on our front garden steps. This must be a pretty hardy plant as we had major groundworks for two new retaining walls either side of the steps last year and they were trashed. It’s lovely to see this perky little plant is thriving.

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Erigeron karvinskianus

I’ll say goodnight for now and sign off with a photo of my lovely rescue dog, Cassie, flaked out after this morning’s walk because that’s how I feel right now. Wishing you all a very happy bank holiday weekend. photo 2