In a Vase on Monday: Monster Catkins

Monday, and despite yet another storm and snow and hail showers I do actually have a vase to share today, joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely meme.

These innocent little catkins found their way into a vase the other day. They had been rescued from a fallen grey poplar tree – one of the casualties of our February snow.

Only a few hours later, after a good drink, they looked like this!

They smell slightly smoky… I wonder if that is normal or because the tree they were growing on was uprooted.

I brought some sprigs of Forsythia back from our old garden last week, which started opening within two days of warmth. Everything was put into a fresh vase.

The other catkins are common Hazel. I love hazel catkins, but next to these poplar ones they are somewhat plain, don’t you think? 😉

(Oh, and the roses that crept into the last photo are from the supermarket!) Thanks to Cathy – do go and visit her for some spring colour – I think spring is springing in the UK!

 

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.

(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!

 

 

Walktober 2018

I first heard of this meme last autumn via Eliza, but I was too late to take any photos to join in. So this year I was prepared!

Hosted by Robin at Breezes at Dawn, this is a challenge to share a walk you have taken in the beautiful month of October. Since October is probably my favourite month of the year, and this October has been particularly beautiful in many ways, I am happy to share a walk with you that we have been taking regularly over the past few weeks with our dog, Gina. Once the heat of summer subsided in September we started exploring new territory to find a longer walk nearby and found this lovely loop that takes us about an hour. Unless we dawdle. Or meet someone to stop and chat with!

We start off by walking down from our house to the cycle path, but turn off as soon as we can to avoid ‘traffic’ and take this track parallel to the path…

 

It opens out onto this spectacular view…

We pass this oak that fell in the September storm. It has been partially removed, but the huge canopy remains, slowly drying up. So sad to see such an old tree uprooted. Perhaps the dry summer had weakened it.

We walk across the meadow with berries in the hedgerow…

… and look back across the path. We always walk this way late afternoon and the golden sunshine highlights the colours of the trees…

To our left, a small pond lies behind these trees. The sun is lower now…

Then we cross the path and encounter this wild bee garden that is clearly tended with loving care…

The bee house is home to several colonies of bees and is buzzing, even so late in the day and late in the season.

The next part of the walk is shady, and we speed up a bit to keep warm, but I stop to admire the wild asters…

… and the autumn leaves strewn across the footpath (do you see Gina’s ears?!)…

… as well as this large Euonymus tree/shrub…

… and this lovely old apple tree groaning under the weight of a bumper crop…

Passing an old farmhouse, this tree next to the outbuilding catches my eye.  A lovely old lime tree (Linden) with two smaller ones behind it…

We also see a lot of Sumac, an invasive species here but such gorgeous colour in autumn. The German name ‘Essigbaum’ – vinegar tree – refers to the apparent use of its fruit for making vinegar… I have never heard of anyone making it here though.

A brief steep climb away from the village we have passed brings us out on to the top of the world. Well, not quite, but it feels like it! I stop for a breather. Winter wheat has been planted here and is already making the fields look a little green again.

Now we are back down in the woods – dark fir trees to our left, but still some colour from beech and oak.

Did I mention what a great year it has been for acorns? We have been crunching them underfoot since August and they are still dropping from the trees.

Finally I spot this fungus and consider it worth a shot, although it is quite dark in these woods.

Then we cross the little brook that runs alongside the cycle path and we are almost back to where we started. Just one more short uphill stint and we are home and ready for our dinner!

I hope you enjoyed our walk. Why not share a picture or two of one you have taken this month and put a link on Robin’s page by the 28th. Thank you to Robin for hosting!