A Taste of Spring and a ‘Vase’ on Monday

Since the end of last November we have had hard frosts almost every night, and every morning I look out at my poor hellebores lying prostrate and forlorn…

… then a couple of hours later (if temperatures have risen above freezing point) they will be standing upright once again… a daily miracle that I have wondered at time and again!

A couple of hours later

I am very impressed with the pink Ice ‘n’ Roses ‘rose’ hellebore I planted last autumn. It has flowered non-stop despite the frosts. My white one – ‘Christmas Carol’ – has also done well and both have large enough flowers to be visible from some distance.

I recently visited a nearby garden centre to look for another one to join them. There was little choice (garden centres here are half empty at this time of year, since the ground is usually frozen) but I did find a small ‘Double Ellen Purple’ which had been on my wish list. With some sunny days and milder nights forecast I will plant it out later.

Double Ellen Purple

How wonderful it is to be out gardening once again!

Other news in my garden:

  • The rosemary seems to have survived the winter…so far! (A late March freeze last year got my last one, so I mustn’t speak too soon)
  • The greenhouse is in the process of being planned – it will have a solid foundation with a base wall, so planning permission and building work will mean it might be up by the autumn. I’m a gardener, so I have patience!
  • My Man of Many Talents has kindly dug over a new patch of grass for my next project: the Sunshine Bed. I am so excited about it! (More on that when planting starts in April)
  • We have dozens of mistle thrushes feeding on worms on the ground all around the house at various times of the day – even when there is still frost. They hop a few steps and cock their heads to one side as if listening and then…. ‘peck’ and the worm is gone! They are such pretty birds, but very shy, so this is the best shot I have got so far.

Mistle thrush

Mistle thrushes feeding

I am pleased we have enough worms for them!

Finally, a little taste of spring in my teacup…

One of each of my hellebores: Ice ‘n’ Roses ‘rose’, Double Ellen Purple, and Christmas Carol.

Thanks go to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting the In a Vase on Monday meme. Go and visit her to see what she and other bloggers around the globe are finding in their gardens for a vase (or two) this week.

In a Vase on Monday: Snow Day

Have you had snow?

Well, the snow plough managed to get through the woods this morning after we were snowed in all of yesterday –  all day Sunday it snowed heavily non-stop so we have about 40cm of fluffy white stuff with drifting too. Several trees and branches also came down across the road, which my Man of Many Talents is now dealing with. ☃️

Can you spot the herb bed in this view?

The colour of my flower for this week’s contribution to Cathy ‘s meme (Rambling in the Garden) is appropriate – snow white. The name is less fitting – ‘Alfresco’. I won’t be spending much time outdoors as, despite beautiful sunshine today, it is below freezing!

Hippeastrum Alfresco

Last week’s Amaryllis flower is now over but there are more to come!

Do visit Cathy to see what others are finding in the middle of winter to put in their vases.

Hope you are all getting some winter sunshine!

 

(Not) In A Vase On Monday: November???

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to celebrate the fifth anniversary of ‘In a Vase on Monday’. Congratulations to Cathy and all those who have joined in over the past five years!

This meme has enabled me to see flowers, foliage and grasses from places in the world I will most likely never visit, as gardeners share the secrets of their beautiful gardens in a vase each week. And it has been an opportunity to share my flowers with others too. I remember being so hesitant at cutting materials when I first joined in, but gradually developed my garden so that I always had plenty of flowers for bringing indoors. And now my new garden at our house out in the countryside is being planted with vases in mind too. What a brainwave this meme was, and it is still going strong!

Well, my neglected garden at the old house has amazed me this year. With very little attention, and no watering during the months of drought, here are some summer flowers still looking good in NOVEMBER!

While doing some tidying up at the weekend I stopped for a brief cup of coffee and took my mug out into the garden. It soon became a provisional vase for trimmings, so I decided it would suit for Cathy’s theme ‘Not in a vase on Monday’ for today. I realised afterwards that it is my ‘Happiness Garden’ mug. (Zoom in and you will see the print). How appropriate!

The Persicaria is still flowering like mad, and the lovely purple Geranium too. I found a few half-decent golden asters (Chrysopsis speciosa ‘Sunnyshine’), some fresh lavender(!) and a couple of roses from my red patio rose. A sprig of Miscanthus, some golden Euonymus, various Hypericum flowers and some sedum also went into the mug. The orange ‘lanterns’ from the Physalis alkekengi are so cheerful dotted around the rockery, but I have pulled a lot out again or they would take over. The best seedheads are then always saved for decoration.

Has your autumn also been so mild? Despite a couple of early frosts and some foggy mornings it has been more like spring than autumn, and many plants are growing new leaves.

Now, do go and visit Cathy and all the others who have posted vases today. A big thank you to Cathy, as always!

🍁🍄🍁

 

 

New Flowerbeds 2018: Update

If you visit here regularly you will know I had two new flower beds dug at the beginning of the month. Well, I was extremely lucky and our beautiful October weather continued long enough for me to get the plants in that I had ordered, as well as several hundred bulbs.

Here is a photo of the herb bed in the sunshine…

… and on a frosty morning (We even had snow flurries today!)…

This contains my kitchen herbs as well as some for pure decoration such as a red-leaved Hypericum. I added some grasses – a couple of Pennisetum, an Erogrostis trichodes and several small Stipa tenuissima (will the Stipa survive our winter I wonder?) – and a Viburnum (‘Eskimo’) as a focal point in the middle. The rosemary has been planted out, rather optimistically, from a pot. Depending on how cold the winter is it should survive with a bit of coddling (i.e. mulch and fleece). (Any tips on overwintering rosemary?)

The other bed is the ‘Butterfly Bed’…

… and has already been visited by a few late butterflies, including this one (no idea what it is), posing on this newly planted Aster pringlei ‘Pink Star’…

I have also planted a lot of different grasses here as wind protection as well as for their love of dry and open positions. But among the grasses are geraniums, lavender, verbena, Japanese anemones, Perovskia and three buddleias. I am not sure if I should cut the buddleias back as they are only about 1m tall anyway. Any buddleia experts out there?!

I also bought this lovely Hellebore “Ice ‘n’ Roses, rose” from a garden centre. It is a new hybrid from the north of Germany and is supposed to flower from December to April! Well, this one is already in flower, brought on early for the nurseries, and it is so very pretty.

It will be nerve-wracking to watch these exposed beds through the winter, but most of the plants were small, well-rooted specimens from my favourite trusted online nursery (in southern Germany) costing only a few euros each, so hopefully any casualties will be minimal and not too expensive to replace. With our last two springs being so very warm and extremely dry, I have become wary of spring planting and am taking some risks.

Do you prefer to put in new plants in autumn or in spring?

As I write the rain and sleet is hammering against the window – a fine start to our ‘winter time’, as we turned our clocks back last night. Do your clocks change soon too? The debate is on in the EU whether we should finally get rid of daylight saving and stay with ‘summer time’ all year. But it may take some time before a decision is made. I will just wait and see, as I can’t see much of an advantage either way!