In a Vase on Monday: Refreshed

We finally had a short rain shower on Thursday night, and when I got back on Sunday night from a weekend away the garden had changed noticeably. And my surprise Iris had flowered!

As you can guess, it had to go in today’s vase, to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely meme. 🙂

The contents of the vase on the left were actually in the taller carafe to begin with, but I started fiddling and fussing and eventually the stems were all too short and I started again! It consists of Irises and Moon Daisies, with the addition of Aquilegias and an early deep red peony.

I had no qualms about cutting another iris, as the hot weather is ensuring short lives for everything this spring. So, on the right is another of the lovely surprise irises which rarely flower. It must have been planted in the former water feature before we came here and for some reason only flowers every few years. I was extremely surprised this year as the ground is so dry. And I was also surprised at its scent. Mmmm! It is accompanied by some Siberian Irises, Moon Daisies, Vinca foliage, white Geranium phaeum, some white Dicentra, a few wild grasses, Hosta leaves (still intact before the slugs and snails discover them!) and a couple of sprigs of Aruncus dioicus flower buds – I love them best at this stage!

The bright sunlight and strong wind outside made photography difficult today, so I resorted to indoors in front of our fireplace…

It has just started to pour with rain as I write, with rumbles of thunder all around us, making my chosen title even more suitable! Rain! At last!

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. 🙂

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?

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?

In a Vase on Monday: Yearning for green (or white!)

After a lazy Christmas and New Year break, I am back to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with a Monday vase. 🙂

Although our winter has been very mild (and wet!) there was little to pick today apart from some pretty white Hellebores from a patio pot and some greenery from the rockery. Still, I am glad to find anything!

The garden is looking rather brown and messy right now with no snow and hardly any frosts, and it is far too muddy to do any tidying up. I think I prefer frost and snow to this. But there is still time for our winter to show its darker side – as it is in North America at the moment – I hope all the gardeners there are staying indoors in the warm too!

Indoors are, after all, other delights at this time of year such as candles, hot spicy tea, comfort food…. and Hippeastrums!

This one is called ‘Rapido’ and has seven small flowers on one stem. A second bud is about to open too, so this has been another success after the lovely Lady Jane did so well in December. Unlike Cathy, I have not cut any of the stems so far, but it may be necessary with this one below:

I am certain that at that angle Hippeastrum ‘Red Peacock’ will not be able to remain upright once it opens… (The pinky peach coloured Hippeastrum flower on the left is the last of Lady Jane).

Wherever you are, and whatever your weather, I do hope you can find something of beauty today to either simply regard, or to put in a vase and share with us. Now go and visit our host Cathy to admire her beautiful ruby red Hamamelis flowers.

Have a good week!

 

Top Six November Blooms

Chloris at The Blooming Garden has recently been posting her top ten blooms for each month, and encoraging others to do the same. I am pleased that I can manage to join her and post six lovable flowers this month, despite the fact that is November!

The first is one you may have seen in my vase last week:

Persicaria/Polygonum amplexicaulis ‘Firetail’.

It has been flowering since July and has just got better and better. The flowers look a little battered after some heavy rain earlier in the week, and the foliage is starting to collapse after several light frosts, but it looks like I may still have some in flower in December!

Number two is my Hypericum. I have finally found the label:

Hypericum inodorum ‘Magical Red Star’

After freezing back hard last winter I was a little worried it would recover, and it did indeed take its time. But it flowered only a little later than usual in early summer, took a break for a while when it got too hot, and then with our damp September it suddenly almost doubled in size and started flowering again! Very impressive.

I will give it some extra winter protection this year (some mulch and evergreen branches spread across it).

The third flower that has become a firm favourite is this tiny Chrysanthemum which featured in my cabbage vase a couple of weeks ago.

Cath at Absent Gardener suggested it is an Argyranthemum, but the lack of a yellow centre is keeping me searching for the exact name. I love the frilly petals and it is still looking really healthy, tucked just under my porch roof for shelter. I have no idea if it will come through the winter in its pot.

Numbers four and five are new plants bought in October and planted up in pots for winter interest.

Hellebore ‘Christmas Star’.

This pure white hellebore will be planted out in spring, along with the Heuchera below, which did not have a name on it but is one of the most common ones found here.

Heuchera foliage looks good all year round, but the little flowers on tall stalks are often quite pretty too.

Finally, number six:

Teucrium hircanicum

This Teucrium is a wonderful plant that I can recommend if you have got space, as it does spread! It loves the warm and well-drained rockery, withstanding heat and drought without any problem whatsoever. It might curl up its silvery green and aromatic leaves when it is very hot, but the next morning it looks as fresh as a daisy again. Mine is purple, but I have seen a reddish one online too called ‘Paradise Delight’, which happens to be on my shopping list for next year. 🙂

So, a big thanks to Chloris for encouraging me to go out and focus on some of the better parts of November. Why not join her too? I bet there is more out there in your gardens than you think! 😉

And to prove my point, look what I found…