In a Vase on Monday: Gold Dust

The pollen has been dreadful the past week or so. Thank goodness I am not a hayfever sufferer, but even I have felt my eyes itching and nose running. It seems everything flowered at once: the maples and sycamores, oak, lime, beech, all the evergreens, the larch, and the birch. The birch is apparently releasing extra pollen this year too, as it is a ‘mast year’ (see links below). Apparently birches have mast years every other year, while other trees only every 6-8 years. We have had ‘pollen storms’ where the sky has literally been a hazy yellow, and everything is coated with yellow dust – hence the title ‘gold dust’!

And my vase, as you can see, is golden this week. 😉

The Kerria japonica is looking gorgeous, as are (don’t laugh!) the dandelions! I added some more weeds – Lamium (yellow archangel) and some fern leaves as well as a sprig of green Euphorbia (unknown/forgotten) and some of the small Euphorbia polychroma. Then a stem of Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’ went in, and finally this elegant lemony yellow tulip. The Forsythia vase was used again simply to complete the colour scheme, but with the plain back facing.

Why not join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden too? Her addictive meme is such fun, and visiting vases from other parts of the world is always an inspiration!

🙂

 

Information on mast years:

https://www.britannica.com/science/mast-seeding

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mast_(botany)#Mast_seeding

Top Ten Flowers for April

Every month Chloris at The Blooming Garden shares her favourite ten flowers…. and often a few entertaining anecdotes or snippets of information too! We are encouraged to join her and, since I now finally have something flowering in my garden after a very cold March, I am pleased to join in the fun this April and share my top ten!

First off, the Hepatica – usually a March flower, but the ones in my garden didn’t really get going this year until early April.

These magical little blue flowers have such intense luminosity. They show up on nearby roadsides and at the edges of woodland even in poor light. In fact, they really are magical as the violet petal colour is able to transform light into warmth, thus protecting the flower from hard frosts. You can see an older post I wrote on Hepatica here. On occasions I have caught a whiff of their elusive fragrance. Like violets, it seems to disappear as soon as you have smelt it, and I thought I was imagining it until reading about this phenomenon in ‘The Secrets of Wildflowers’ by Jack Sanders:

‘The blossoms may or may not be scented. Naturalist John Burroughs, who called hepatica “the gem of the woods”, wondered about this oddity in several of his essays. “This flower is the earliest, as it is certainly one of the most beautiful, to be found in our woods, and occasionally it is fragrant,” he wrote in A Bunch of Herbs. “Group after group may be inspected, ranging through all shades of purple and blue, with some perfectly white, and no odor to be detected, when presently you will happen upon a little brood of them that have a most delicate and delicious fragrance.” Elsewhere he wrote that more often than not the scent will be found in the white flowers, but that one year after a particularly severe winter almost every blue hepatica he came upon was scented – another of the little unexplained peculiarities of wildflowers that make them so fascinating.’

Another favourite in April is Pulmonaria. I have several in varying shades of pinks and blues. Here are some of the prettiest…

 

Number three is my little ornamental cherry ‘Kojo-no-mai’. It never ceases to produce a gasp when I open the blinds one morning and there it is in full bloom!

Fourth: Geranium phaeum, which often doesn’t flower until May

I love the delicate chocolatey coloured flowers, somewhere between maroon and brown, and the foliage mottled with matching brown markings. This plant seeds itself profusely, loves warm dry spots with poor soil and can cope with heat well. It will go on flowering until it gets too hot, then I shall cut it back and it will come back again. 🙂

Fifth: Pulsatilla pratensis

The blue ones grow on our open chalky hillsides but this pinky red one (possibly ‘Rote Glocke’) lives in my garden and is cherished not only for its gorgeous flowers, but also for the fluffy seedheads which stay looking pretty for many weeks and are perfect as fillers for arrangements in vases. 🙂

Sixth: Violas

Some have self-seeded in the path, and others are thriving in pots planted in March…

 

Seventh: Viburnum ‘Aurora’.

The scent of this is simply gorgeous, but this year the mini heatwave mid April shortened the life of the pretty flowers. My bush has put on lots of growth this year though, so I will no doubt start picking some for vases next spring! 😉

Number 8: Epimediums

Two reliable ones in my front garden are a yellow E. ‘Sulphureum’ and the orange ‘Orangekönigin’, but my favourite is this orange one – ‘Amber Queen’ – with spiky petals making it look quite elf-like, or perhaps UFO-like? Chloris also featured this one as a favourite for April.

 

My last two favourites are from trees…

Number 9: This may sound strange, but these teeny weeny flowers always inspire wonder when I see them – mostly on the ground after a strong wind has knocked them down – the larch flowers. They are only about 1cm in diameter and are usually too high up to see with the naked eye.

 

And finally, my tenth flower for April is the Japanese Maple. As soon as the tiny flowers appear the bees are there! The tree also emits a musty aroma which always reminds me of fried food – not unpleasant, but a bit weird!

Thanks to Chloris for suggesting we share our favourites each month – posting about them is extremely useful as a personal record and reading about other people’s favourites is not only fun but also very informative and inspiring. 🙂

In a Vase on Monday: A Fairytale

Monday has come round again and I am happy to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely meme.

Many of the ingredients for a fairytale found their way into my forsythia vase today. After all, the hot weather has made the forsythia look past its best, and the vase deserves to be used more than just once a year!

The inspiration was the wand-shaped stems and fairy-like white petals of my sweet-smelling shrub which I assumed was an Exochorda, but since it looks so different to all those I have seen elsewhere I have decided it must be a Spiraea. The flowers are so tiny and the scent quite sweet, but the growth is somewhat wild!

At the centre a prince and a princess – I will let you decide which tulip is which, or is the red one perhaps the wicked stepmother and the pale one Cinderella?

The perfect white Anemone captured me in its spell – it shines out from beneath the yew tree in my spring corner amid wilting naricissi and tulip foliage. Can you hear it whispering its magic spell over you?

Then the Epimediums, called ‘elf flowers’ in German, always entrance me with their nodding little heads and pretty frills. The orange one is the fairytale queen ‘Orangekönigin’ and the yellow one is E. versicolor ‘Sulphureum’, which I think sounds rather sinister but she is wearing a pretty disguise.

The hint of blue is Omphalodes verna and in royal purple a Geranium Phaeum (the first to open!). White Brunnera also makes a fleeting appearance as well as an unfurling fern, looking rather like an evil uncle, but which I seem to have missed in my photos.

And finally, a second vase with three tulips… the magical fairytale ‘three’ being the link here. You know, three little pigs, the three bears, three wishes, etc.

The one in the centre is possibly one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters! LOL!

We have had fairytale weather over the past two weeks now (but would love some rain if anyone has any to spare?).

Have a great week!

😉

In a Vase on Monday: Growth

The grass is growing, the fields are losing that dirty mud colour as fresh crops start pushing upwards, and the trees are rapidly turning green – you know that fresh lime green of sycamores that stands out so dramatically against a blue sky?

Talking of blue, my Grape Hyacinths are looking exceptionally good this spring, having spread everywhere I look. Plenty for a vase for Cathy’s Monday meme.

In fact, there are quite a few white ones too, as well as the pale blue Muscari ‘Peppermint’ which I especially love.

But not only the Muscari are enjoying the unusually warm temperatures this April, with the odd shower and cool nights as refreshment…

A jar of joy!

Tulips, daffodils, pulmonaria, cowslips, mahonia, snowflakes, hyacinths…

I must also show you a photo I took on our outdoor table so you can see what the rain brought with it – no, not pollen, but Sahara sand!

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme… I am late posting today, but am always glad if I have the time to join in! 🙂

My Heart’s Delight

I planted a few tulips in pots last autumn, and the first ones to open were Tulipa kaufmanniana ‘Heart’s Delight’.

 

I have grown these for several years now, and find they don’t last many years in the ground, producing just leaves. So I decided to try containers for a change. They stood outside all winter, close to the wall on the north side of the house, and were basically ignored until I noticed them showing shoots!

I watered them sparingly and moved them into a sunny position. They started flowering  about a week earlier than those in the ground.

They have dark green stripy leaves, which add to their attraction both before and after flowering. Sadly I have more leaves than flowers these days – this picture below of the spring corner was taken several years ago.

The Spring Corner (under the Yew tree)

At first the flowers are mostly white, with an egg-yolk centre, but gradually they turn pinker and pinker – a kind of sunset orangey-pink. In the picture above you can see them at both stages. Delightful, don’t you think?

With Corydalis ‘Beth Evans’

The name of this pretty little tulip reminded me of a wonderful song you may have heard of. And not only beacause of the title but also the singer! The English title is ‘You are my Heart’s Delight‘,  but the original was German – ‘Dein ist mein ganzes Herz’. It is an aria taken from a Franz Lehar operetta and Jonas Kaufmann  sang it at the Last Night of the Proms in the Albert Hall in London a few years ago. I have been smitten with it ever since! Here is a German version with Placido Domingo…

Or if you prefer to hear it in English here is Richard Tauber singing it; he was the man who made it internationally famous after its success in Austria and Germany. The lyrics are lovely in both languages!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JtgmKpcgQ30

 

Have you ever grown this pretty flower, or maybe a similar early tulip?

In a Vase on Monday: Violets etc

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden again for her weekly meme, and am pleased my violets have lasted long enough for me to use this week as it has been hot!

They look sweet in my collection of miniature violet Hammersley chinaware, some of which was given to me by my Mum, and the rest belonged to my late grandmother.

In the little pitcher there are two shades – the normal purple found growing in the wild around here too, and a paler one which I think is a truer match to the painting on this jug.

The tiny perfume bottle contains purple again, with some reddish ones which have also been turning up for a few years now.

And in the miniature ginger jar are the yellowy creamy ones – Viola odorata ‘Sulphurea’, which seem to be a deeper colour than usual this spring. I bought one plant many years ago and they have sown themselves all down the pathway now.

I just couldn’t resist picking a few other little treasures while walking around the garden and ended up with this little vaseful.

Primulas and cowslips, pinky red Corydalis, hyacinths, puschkinia, forsythia, anemones, forget-me-nots, and a daffodil. All proper names forgotten, but I am so happy to see them I am not bothered about details!

It is so lovely to have lots of vases of flowers indoors again – as I have said many times before, this meme has had a profound impact on me and my garden! Thanks to Cathy and I look forward to visiting all the other vases over the next couple of days.

Have a good week!

🙂

 

Indoor Colour for Winter-Weary Eyes

A few really warm days with lots of sunshine (and showers – hey, it’s April!) have got me outdoors in the garden at last. But indoors some of my houseplants caught my eye as the evening sun shone on them the other evening. What glorious colour!

Above, a beautiful Begonia I bought last year. I am proud to say it has flourished… I am not terribly good at looking after houseplants, but this one is easy. If it needs watering it droops noticeably. Then immediately recovers once given a drink.

I have several Kalanchoe (Flaming Katie) in various colours – also very easy to care for – but this one is new to me…

I couldn’t believe those gorgeous bell-shaped flowers belong to the same family. The thick dark green leaves are a tell-tale sign identifying them clearly. I just hope this one is as undemanding as its sisters!

Do you have some indoor colour?