Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Clumber Park Nativity

I thought the roughly cast wooden nativity figures were worth posting. Clumber Park does not acknowledge who is the sculptor.

Monday, 26 December 2016

First ipheion in bloom - Ipheion uniflorum 'Wisley Blue'

Ipheion uniflorum 'Wisley Blue'  is the first of the ipheions to flower this year. It has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit though it is more a pale lilac-purple than blue. "Charlotte Bishop" was first up last year and very much earlier. The plants with their onion fragrance are reliable but too untidy if planted in rich soil. I'll have to remember to starve them a little this year. They look best in a mass of colour which as yet is not the case. At this time of year I take what comes so here is the first bloom.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Galanthus "Three Ships", Hellebore "Christmas Carol" and a Christmas morning surprise

I hope you are enjoying a splendid Christmas Day. The weather forecaster as I type speaks of the potential for beating a record dating back almost 100 years with temperatures possibly beating the 15.6C of Killerton in Devon in 1920. I had hoped "Three Ships" would be more fully open for the day. However here it is yesterday with a very dependable hellebore "Christmas Carol" that looks good on my display bench by the kitchen window. Compared with yesterday's snowdrop the seasonally named "Three Ships" seems a giant. It's not. They are to come. But wait, even as I turned off the computer, a "Stop Press". Venturing out this morning to transport the recycling I noticed a miracle. "Three Ships" has sailed and a fourth ship is in harbour.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

First snowdrop of the year, and one summer visitor

Storm Barbara is blowing hard though the temperature is mild. My bulbs are certainly not as advanced as last year but here is the first snowdrop to open its bud. Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis is a tiny wee thing, looking somewhat lost in a large pot with other less early snowdrops not yet even poking through the soil and gravel. Of course, due to my new macro lens it does appear a big beastie. And let's hear it for the last man standing, Rudbeckia Marmalade, braving the wind and last week's frosts in a sheltered south facing spot.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Renishaw Hall and Gardens, 15th May 2011

Yesterday I featured Brodsworth Hall in 2011 and in the same folder I came across these images of one of my favourite gardens nearby, the home of the Sitwell family, Renishaw Hall and Gardens. The Italianate gardens and particularly the herbaceous borders are a sight to behold in summer but these images are of the less formal bluebells, Welsh poppies, Solomon's seal and sculpture. There's even one of the then recently planted laburnum arch and the old workshop in the grounds by the lake, with its fantastic chimneys. I have also featured elsewhere the house and gardens in 2012.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Brodsworth Hall, Laburnum Arch and Fountain, 5th May 2011

Brodsworth Hall's laburnum arch is something to behold though it was not quite in its full golden glory when I took the photographs five years ago - amazing how time passes so quickly. The centre piece is not actually my wife but the topiary, the fountain and the house itself made from some of the finest stone in the country and quarried very near our home. I'll post a few images from more recent times for if anything the bedding and topiary are even more spectacular. Not bad in 2011 either of course.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Malus huphensis, Hardwick Hall, 26th November 2016

Malus huphensis looks sensational in Spring with its white blossom and pretty darn good in Autumn too. Hardwick Hall has one of its inner gardens devoted to the tree. The photographs were taken before my new lens, about which much later when I've learned how to focus it properly.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Fox and Shakespeare Decorations - Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Bold as brass and striding out confidently yesterday in the sun. No wonder I don't keep chickens.

Haddon Hall was today's venue where we travelled for their Christmas concert given by The Royal Northern College of Music. It is such a delight seeing and hearing talented young musicians in convivial surroundings. More culture was on offer with the Shakespeare themed decorations of which I particularly liked the use made of various editions. 

The hall and surrounding countryside are of course splendid even on a dull December day.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis

Plant labels are monstrous things. Wind, blackbirds, clumsiness and grandchildren disturb carefully laid plans, not to mention permanent ink marker pens that aren't, "permanent" that is. Or cheap ebay aluminium labels that are too short to use, too shiny to take ink or pencil and have been consigned to the bin in favour of some newly purchased aluminium labels, matt finished and suitable for that most indispensable tool of the trade, a graphite pencil. I wrote about them here two years ago and have returned to the supplier for more - please.

It's a long-winded introduction to one of the first snowdrops to force its way through the throng and one I had forgotten was there due to the saga of the missing label. Luckily the blog comes in useful. So let me reintroduce you to Galanthus reginae-olgae subsp. vernalis, last seen on 16th December 2015. It is not fully in flower as yet but the raison d'être for the blog is snowdrops ...... I'll add some images when the two blooms emerge - only one last year!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Garden Snapshot, 16th December 2016

Having returned to confront a garden where little is in flower compared to last year, I give you a snapshot of my gardens, rear and front, after clearing the leaves and before I prune the roses.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Gardening month by month - and photographing it.

Yesterday's post was all about an idea that failed. Today's concerns one that sparks the imagination. I discovered it first when reading the excellent Edinburgh Garden Diary, produced by Joanna, a resident of the Scottish capital and a refugee from London. She photographs her garden each month (her End of Month View) and links it to scores of others via Helen Johnstone's also fabulous blog, The Patient Gardener.

Helen's blog is well established and her garden, as with the more recently enthused Joanna, a thing of beauty. Many bloggers contribute from around the globe. This blogger may well do so. When I've cleared my leaves up!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

BLACK+DECKER GWC3600L 36V Lithium Cordless Blower Vacuum

Product reviews seem the prerogative of YouTube but I'll do my best. I purchased the lithium powered Black & Decker Garden Vac and Blower yesterday, tried it this morning, returned it this afternoon. It is rare in life that one purchases something totally useless but I've managed it. Well, not totally useless - it blew the dried beech leaves out of my garage well enough though the grilled suction inlet is impossible for a right handed person to use without it adhering to your right leg. Sucking small dry leaves up and chewing them up was not quite so good however but a triumph compared with the real world.

The damp beech leaves on the lawn proved an impossible obstacle for the blower. It shuddered when confronted by larger maple leaves. I switched to the sucking tool. Big problem. The guard over the inlet would not open unless helped on its way with a screwdriver. Eventually it was removed and the nozzle for the vac part of the tool attached. Ten seconds in and a very mediocre twig jammed it. The screwdriver came in useful again but other than unscrewing the whole device it was impossible to extricate the twig and leaves to full satisfaction. It never recovered to tell the truth. I tried a second fully charged battery but no joy. And that guard stubbornly remained tuck. Even the guy in the store couldn't pull it out as per instructions. I offered him my screwdriver.

Money back! I have some excellent battery powered garden equipment from Black & Decker. This was not in the same league. I'll review other devices shortly. More positively I promise.

The kit straight out of the box and assembled easily enough.
The blower aimed rather stupidly at the hedge but I was holding the camera at the time.
The guard that should come off easily (to judge from one YouTube review) when pressing the button at the top of the photo. It didn't.
The battery is one of two I have already. Very light and efficient though expensive to purchase on its own.
Power select. Well it works but the highest setting is inadequate for wet leaves!
With the help of my screwdriver I removed the guard. The larger suction nozzle connects to this.
And here is said attachment. The collection bag is underneath and there can be spied my trusty and very necessary screwdriver. 
The handle at the top is used to wield the vac when the bag is attached. (It never got full.)
All attached and ship shape I hoped.
And here we are in action. The leaves don't look insurmountable do they.
Two batteries, one attached to charger.

And remembering .....

Sicily's Mimosa Trees, 31st March 2016