Sunday, 30 December 2018

Hodsock Priory Snowdrop Week, Saturday 9th to Sunday 17th February 2019

We had feared that Hodsock was closing down its gardens to the public and were delighted to discover that though they will not be open for their customary month, they are having a 'back to basics' week from Saturday 9th to Sunday 17th February 2019. The photograph below was taken at one of their evening events, Saturday February 17th. This year's 'basics' is a counterpoint to last year's extravagance perhaps. My grandchildren, towards the right, enjoyed the merry fun, tramping through the trees following the thespians. Max got carried away engaging in conversation the guy swinging through the trees having imbibed rather too much of the festive wine.

Galanthus in bloom now

Well, well, well. I scour the garden for those first named varieties to pop up and totally unexpectedly discover this lot amongst the fallen beech leaves at the bottom of the garden. The weather has been so mild of late the bulbs are soaring towards the light. It gladdens the heart.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Galanthus elwesii 'Peter Gatehouse'

Small, dainty and quite exquisite, Galanthus 'Peter Gatehouse' is often described as having an olive green marking on the inner petals. As can be seen in the image below, mine have a distinct yellow tinge. They were the same last year so I would say I'm a lucky guy because yellow(ish) is so very much more desirable than olive green don't you think.... When I say small and dainty I mean scarcely over 10 cms. Planted in a pot by the kitchen window where I can clearly see them they lift the spirits when the sink seems full to the brim with messy dishes from the Christmas feasting.  We're too good to our guests. But they're not getting Peter!

Monday, 24 December 2018

Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus 'Haydn'

An apology for all my many reader. I had thought this a seedling from the reginae-olgae varieties that have been in flower for weeks, flowering in the warmest, driest section of the garden, baked this summer and now a sodden swamp in the wet early winter. It grabbed the Christmas spot this year, though there are other contenders beginning to bud up. In fact today (30th December) when weeding I found the label for it and its fellows pressed hard down into the earth.  I purchased it and several others of the 'composer' varieties last year at Hodsock. I merely cheated by revising the post ensuring my error is hidden by the miracles of the internet. 

Friday, 14 December 2018

Autumn Scene: Wentworth Woodhouse Garden Centre

The former kitchen gardens and pleasure grounds of Wentworth Woodhouse are open to the public and this is my favourite photograph taken on November 7th. The 18th century gardens have a genuine historical feel, the garden centre owners having maintained them magnificently. Two more snaps, one showing the deer and the second the acer. The cafe was also pretty good today. No red leaves sadly.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Galanthus elwissi 'Remember Remember'

On one of the best known sites for snowdrops Galanthus elwissi  'Remember Remember'  is noted for its inability to remain upright in the face of frost. Also for its inability to increase. It's mild at the moment so I took the opportunity to photograph the flowers opened out, revealing the heart shaped inner green. This is the second year here and it has increased very well indeed so there are five flowering single flowered stems and a few shoots. I would say it is fertile enough. But for some reason it is late in flowering. I had great hopes of it being in flower for the 11th of the 11th, Armistice Day, Of course, the thing with these early flowering varieties is that one notices them precisely because they are early bloomers. Not so here for the snowdrop is a handsome sight, standing proudly in a garden rapidly being denuded of colour as the gloom of December settles in. The petals can have a dash of green to the base. Mine have none. Nice though. It was discovered by John Morley in his garden in 1992. John is responsible for the blissful North Green Snowdrops catalogue. Download it and dream away. One final word, the variety is often grown under glass because of its tender nature. I grow it in the most sheltered part of the garden by a south facing wall.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

White 'Tritonia'

One of the white varieties of Tritonia that adorn our garden at this time of year, braving all weathers. Imagine were this a snowdrop, blushing pink in bud and then bursting out into six petalled glory! There was a show of different named varieties at Harlow Carr last week and I should have taken more note of the names. Tritonia are interesting plants, possibly too vigorous in places and I have a red variety that flowered throughout the winter once, albeit it was against a sheltered south facing wall in a way that belies their African origins. The secret to successful growing (I've always wanted to say that) is plenty of food and ruthless thinning as the grass like leaves can smother the flowers and anything else they get in competition with. Lovely though.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Galanthus elwesii 'Barnes'

Galanthus elwesii 'Barnes' is not the first variety of snowdrop to flower in my garden. In the early days of October I had some reginae-olgae flowering in a sunny patch, determined on working out from my notes what particular name was attached, went away for the week unexpectedly and returned to find them spent in the unseasonably hot sun (and reason for my absence!) So no photograph. 'Barnes' has been in flower for a week or so, perhaps longer seeing as it is one of a number of its kin now devoid of petals tucked away beneath a shrub. I ventured out into the mild but wet and windy garden and here is the result.

It's an attractive enough flower, its significance however being the somewhat premature appearance in the late autumn garden. The most developed description and history is available from a Swiss grower and seller new to me, 'Swiss Drops'.  Shorthand is that it originates from Northampton and dates from before 1973. Very nice and it kicks off my on-line record of the snowdrop season.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Masking the burnt bottom of my Leylandii hedge

Because of the proximity of our neighbours' gardens we have grown our hedge pretty high though I trim it neatly each year. Indeed it's due for its winter crop, no small matter considering the height and extent. The problem, funnily enough with this much maligned tree, is not the height but the bottom. Because I do not want to gaze at a fairly bland green backdrop all the time I plant all sorts of things in front. Sometimes these compete for height and I do have problems with dead leylandii foliage but mainly it's at the bottom where, unless I'm careful, brown patches develop. Leylandii is a bully but doesn't like you to fight back. Touch it and it turns brown.  Box hedging plants were my first line of attack, or is it defence, and these do grow where other plants are fearful of treading. Gradually where I've had dieback the box have covered the defects without the accelerated growth of the 'host'. But neither do I want to dwell on the green of the box. I want colour and this chance seedling has delivered.

I am unable to name the plant though I have seen it at Harlow Carr underneath the restaurant and without a label. (The plant is no longer there!) I keep it from encroaching too much on the green hedging behind, cutting out any non-flowering, and therefore berrying shoots, and am rewarded for a couple of months before they ripen and become bird food, with a glorious crop of orange-red berries. Tucked away at the centre of this magnified segment one can clearly see the dead leylandii. But you have to look closely. This unnamed cotoneaster-like shrub serves a useful purpose and looks great. I do, by the way, have a low growing cotoneaster in another section of the hedge but forgot to take a picture of it for this post. It too is laden with berries.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Autumn Colour

I'll be somewhere warmer when this blog is posted but here are some of the roses and colours in the garden as I depart. The rudbeckias are stunning still, the Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' has flowered since spring, I should remember the names of the English Roses but don't, bees still flourish, and the lavender is 'Hidcote'. My photographs of the nemesia that have seeded themselves underneath their pots in welcome profusion was out of focus and it's dark outside. Lovely things. 'Wisley Vanilla'  that heavenly scented summer essential comes reasonably true from seed too and I've never had to buy a replacement.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Nerine Bowdenii 'Isabel'

Offering a similar colour to yesterday's Lobelia, here is a well established bulb that is so hardy and reliable in flowering it constantly surprises. Nerine Bowdenii is a bold plant, its 60cm flowers borne on sturdy stems that defy anything the weather throws at it. It also bursts into life just when other blossoms are tucking in for winter, bedraggled and tired. There are several named nerines and I have a few. This particularly deep variety is called, I think, 'Isabel', and is anything but tired. The flower originates in the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa where the July temperature range is 7° / -7°. The well established clump sits in my tallest terracotta urn and is untouched so far by our winters. The foliage may look a bit weather beaten perhaps, the flowers the very opposite. And such are the vagaries of photography that I include two close-ups, one taken this morning, the other as dusk approaches. The colours are totally different. Different cameras though.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Lobelia x speciosa 'Tania'

On a day bathed in bright sunshine I was complimented on the colour still in our garden. It's always good to be complimented whatever one's age. Thank you, Norman and Christine. I was asked for names of the plants and had with several plants to decline except I could have volunteered the following beauty but didn't:  Lobelia x speciosa 'Tania'  is as piercing a colour as one might desire, poking through the competition, a vivid carmine-purple. I saw it months back at Renishaw and just had to have it. I bought three, one for my sister-in-law's birthday (the Christine mentioned above) though she only saw our front garden and 'Tania' is in the back. Anyway I bought three plants in 9cm pots which have grown rapidly and Christine will be given an established plant. Perhaps she will believe I paid more than I did. She knows me too well.

At the last minute I added a close-up to show the colour. It is almost too bright for the lens.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

White Japanese Anemone

 Time to see if I remember how to post after all this time. But the snowdrops have been repotted where appropriate and slow release fertilizer added. Sad to see the occasional bit of mush despite precautions. But in the main the bulbs look healthy and some have had babies. I've added some new varieties to our garden for the season including some very early flowering varieties of both narcissus and snowdrops. I have also tidied up the side garden with a number of shelving units though I had a mishap when one collapsed in a storm, smashed up the clay pots and mixed the bulbs up. So I have a bit of identification to do in Spring and I'm moving over to plastic pots, quite the reverse of the general situation in our household as we move away from plastic.  In the meantime, I prefer the white to the pink Japanese anemones. No idea what variety this is as I have a few.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Narcissus 'Jetfire', 'Velocity' & 'Canaliculatus'

Two stunning and very similar narcissus varieties  are the well known and widely available 'Jetfire' and the less well known 'Velocity'.  Atrocious weather has not affected the former in any meaningful way. They have withstood wind, hail, snow and ice. And that was just yesterday. 'Velocity' has the slightly larger flower and is just as long lasting although later than 'Jetfire'. Quite frankly the bright narcissus are needed to lift a dismal Spring. They have increased well.

Narcissus 'Canaliculatus' looks similar in size in the photographs but images can lie. It's a tiny flower, dainty and pretty.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Narcissus 'Altruist': early, sweet and long lasting

Narcissus 'Altruist'  was described in the catalogue as April flowering. Well it is despite having been in bloom since February. Perhaps the absolute freshness has gone out of the blooms, but it was photographed yesterday at 6.30pm on a gloomy day and it still evinces the colour of summer, a scare commodity this spring. Tall and elegant, they stand upright in the large containers for my clematis varieties. Indeed, they were planted as an afterthought after their original container disintegrated in last year's frost. I'd forgotten about them and suddenly in the February frosts and snow they were in flower, drooping dramatically until the temperatures rose and, like springy plastic, they jumped up to attention again. And I have not yet mentioned the sweet fragrance. The catalogue never mentioned it either. Descriptions vary. Some sellers declare it is non-fragrant, some fragrant. Mine are the latter variety of the variety. As long lasting as the snow that is falling on a dire Easter Monday.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter Sunday Narcissus

Compared with last year my narcissus are three weeks late. 'Swift Arrow' defies the weather. In close-up many of these narcissus look very similar. 'Swift Arrow' is taller, very upright and has a rich colour. It is not well known but worth the effort of a search.

When we went to Harlow Carr last weekend the variety that stood out, other than the ubiquitous 'Tete a Tete', was 'Peeping Tom'.  The bulbs have increased well since last year and with their long, inquisitive noses, they compel the eyes. They are a must have.

'Trena' is another favourite. Its distinctive contrasting colours and sturdy quality allows it to stand up to the cold and deluge of water that has cascaded upon it these past few days. A stunner. Three fabulous varieties so far.  The snowdrop season has ended but there are compensations. Usually it's the weather. Not this year.

'Perky' by name, perky by nature. The contrasting colours of this variety make for a fresh sight on a cold Easter day. We are again moving down in the size scale. Again this is a bulb that increases well. Again it takes the eye.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Is there a problem with Galanthus 'E.A. Bowles'?

Here is Galanthus 'E.A. Bowles in its pomp, 24th February 2016, a very good year and a stupendous snowdrop, easily the finest in my collection at the time. Well last year it failed to flower. When I checked out the pot it had rotted away. Given that in 2011 it was a world record breaking snowdrop, a loss like this is not to be tolerated. I replaced it and then, this spring, I checked the pot and there was no sign a bulb had ever existed. None. At the beginning of March I obtained a three nose sprouting bulb from a very reputable supplier, the price having gone down as rare snowdrop prices invariably do. This was to be a present for my sister-in-law. It has not flourished. Indeed when I opened up the pot the bulb was rotting, and black inside when I cut it open.

There are a number of reasons why bulbs give up the ghost. Narcissus Fly is one, compost that is not sufficiently well drained another. Neither of these factors applied here or indeed earlier with the bulbs.

Now I am informed by a very reputable grower that she has experienced the same problem with the cultivar. She no longer grows it and two other well known growers in her experience have also given up on this beautiful bulb. Luckily I was reimbursed for my failed bulb by the seller and I have a source for a free replacement.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Galanthus 'Mighty Atom'

'Mighty Atom' is weeks later than last year. Here is the very same snowdrop in flower on 26th January two years ago and that was a week later than the previous year.  I've given up any certainty about flowering times for snowdrops. Yes there are earlies, yes there are lates, no I'm not completely certain of when or indeed 'if' for there are a few competitors around. If you Google the name 'Mighty Atom' you will discover different snowdrops, often being sold as 'Bill Bishop'. I purchased my 'Mighty Atom' from Matt Bishop some years ago and it is sightly different to 'Bill Bishp'. So it is that I present my own contender just filling out, short of stem and big of flower. And late.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Lake District, Derwentwater, Borrowdale, 29th October 2014

We're planning a few days in the Lake District. The following images accelerated our desire. One of the most beautiful places in one of the most beautiful National Parks. And my birth county.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Looking Down on Phil and Barbara: Galanthus 'Phil Cornish' and 'Barbara's Double'

I take a lot of photographs of snowdrops at eye level, so as best to appreciate their finer points. Of course, the natural viewpoint is from above so here are two snowdrops I have written about previously, 'au naturel': 'Phil Cornish' and 'Barbara's Double' are shown directly from above so it's hardly natural, just another perspective. Don't they make a bonny couple! I'd venture to suggest the former is one of the nicest marked snowdrops on the market. It's not a cheap buy but better than some, possibly all, that I have seen for huge sums on eBay or at plant fairs. 'Barbara's Double' is one for the collection, just such a pretty snowdrop.

When one pays a pretty sum of money for a single snowdrop cultivar it is reassuring to know that s/he will not stay single for long, and one hopes for large families. Such is the case with the very handsome Galanthus nivalis poculiformis, often referred to simply as 'poculiformis'. It is a pure white form possessing six petals and is particularly good when fully open which today it was not. That apart it is towards the inexpensive end of the Poculiformis Group or, for those whose education was unhampered by Latin lessons, 'little cup' from the Latin 'poculus'. I studied Latin to a decent level at school but believed the form denoted something to do with all white flowers. I should have studied harder for it refers to the form where the inner and outer petals are very similar. So my little fellow may be forgiven for the spot of green on the inner petal. I digress. The original bulb has clumped up very well indeed.

And another hepatica is in flower, the Hepatica japonica 'Imaizumi'. There is a huge range of such varieties sharing one thing in common: they're not cheap. So my collection is limited and will remain so until and if they seed themselves as did the seedling that closes today's blog. it is minuscule in reality.

Monday, 5 March 2018

After the Snow..... Spring

Well it's not really but it feels like it with temperatures at 12C and bright sunlight. Anyway the crocuses are out in force this afternoon. Crocus sieberi 'Ronald Ginns' looks particularly gorgeous. Just what the doctor ordered. It may not be the cheapest around but it certainly stands out. Raised by Ray Cobb from nearby Nottinghamshire - him of the yellow snowdrop that I don't have - they have increased measurably since first planting two years ago. There's nothing better on a sunny day than a field of crocuses. I don't have that much of an area, only a front lawn full of self sown seedlings. 'Ronald Ginns' however is in my biggest planter underneath the deciduous Viburnum Juddii.

It is always a relief when the snowdrops pop out of the snow untouched. Indeed some cultivars are desperately in need of splitting for next year. 'Uncle Dick' has clumped up and he is a handsome relative.

The yellows threaten to steal the show. I was a bit sniffy about Galanthus nivalis 'Blonde Inge' because, of all things, its ovary is a rather ordinary green. Churlish of me. There's such a freshness about it and for a nivalis it's a decent size. A charmer in the border.

Galanthus plicatus 'Wandlebury Ring' is a larger, taller variety exhibiting a little lateral growth at the moment. The yellow stands out. I did read a well known American blogger on snowdrops describe the British snowdrops as rather lacking in yellow compared with her own State. She put it down to the lack of sun. As she had been visiting a snowdrop garden in Northumberland she might have been unduly influenced by England's northernmost counties. I get the same feeling when visiting there in June, July, August ,,, Whatever, the yellow snowdrops are yellow even after our dull and dreadful winter.

Galanthus plicatus 'Madeleine' is very similar to 'Wendy's Gold'. I've read that it clumps up better and flowers better and is better. They both seem pretty good to me. 'Wendy's Gold' has done everything 'Madeleine' has done. And both are glorious in our Yorkshire sun ...

Now an apology. I featured 'Trymming' here at the beginning of February. Well it's still in glorious bloom but it's not 'Trymming', it's 'Trymlet'. I only read the top of the label and charged right in. By the magic of  technology I shall now proceed to change the name to demonstrate my infallibility. Trouble is I'm exceedingly fallible. If you want a spectacular spotted snowdrop that clumps up with almost magical ease, and lasts longer than a film star's coiffure, go for 'Trymlet'. If you want 'Trymming' read on. You can see that both snowdrops are very similar being bred from the popular 'Trym'. They both clump up well, 'Trymming' at present being a little shorter with bigger flowers. 'Trymlet' is the more charming perhaps being earlier, taller and with a mass of smaller though showy flowers. Both very eye-catching. Mind you, and I win a prize every time for being decisive, the two-tone markings on the petals could just swing the vote. A bit like promises on red buses. No, I'll stick with my first choice.

Finally a new look at 'Flocon de Neige'. It looks fragile but is not. Gazing downwards the six perfect petals are spread out to, well, perfection, and adopting a worm's eye view, it looks pretty good to all God's creatures.

And remembering .....

Sicily's Mimosa Trees, 31st March 2016