Just wanted to write a quick update to the post I wrote about the posy of flowers I received from Wiggly Wigglers. Today was their final day, they have just gone on the compost heap. That was exactly 2 weeks from receiving them, which I think is pretty impressive. I don’t normally get that long from florist flowers.
I visited the National Collection of Michaelmas Daisies on Saturday. It’s one of my favourite local gardens for its profusion of flowers and late season colour.
The collection is based at the Picton Garden in the village of Colwall just next to Malvern in Worcestershire. Asters have been bred and sold on this site since 1906. The present owner’s father Percy Picton bought the site in 1952 and he and then his son continued to create new varieties and sell Asters. The 1.5 acre garden has been developed to provide a setting to display their collection of Asters. The garden is a beautiful celebration of late summer/autumn planting.
Combining Asters with the prairie style planting of Rudbeckias, grasses and Heleniums, amongst others. The garden shows the importance of late flowering plants like those on display as a source of pollen and nectar – the garden teeming with bees almost delirious at the sight of so many flowers. There is also a good selection of trees and shrubs including Acers, Hydrangeas and Liquidambars, providing extra interest and a lovely backdrop from which the Asters can shine.
Old Court Nursery that is attached to the garden has an excellent selection of Asters, as one would expect and if you can’t make a visit then they sell via mail order too. The garden is open from late August to late October when it is at it’s peak but the nursery is open a few days a week from May. The garden is set in a beautiful part of the country with the Malvern Hills and the pretty town of Malvern close by.
For more information go to www.autumnasters.co.uk
I’ve just had a lovely long weekend. It’s been the first weekend for a while that Wellyman has been free (he’s doing an OU degree) so we made the most of the beautiful autumn sunshine and went to the National Arboretum at Westonbirt on Friday. I felt a little guilty knowing there was a lot to do on the plot and in the garden and that I should probably be making the most of the good weather to tackle all those jobs but the jobs will get done at some point.
Westonbirt is on the southern edge of the Cotswolds between Cirencester and Bath. It is famous for the Autumn colours on display at the moment and this year is playing host to the BBC’s Autumnwatch programme.
There are 2 main sections allowing you to cover one section, grab a spot of lunch and then do the next section. There is one of the finest collections of Japanese Maples in the UK, some beautiful pines and some fascinating fungi.
I love trees, in fact I have been known to hug a tree. I find it fascinating that under the bark, in the trunk there is so much going on that we can’t see; water being pumped from the roots to the very tallest of branches, energy created in the leaves moving around the plant and slowly the tree getting fatter and taller. I love looking at the bark, staring into all the tiny cracks and crevices that provide homes to an incredible number of creatures. Oak trees can support over 400 invertebrate species.
The autumn light on the trees was amazing, some trees looked as if they were ablaze.
I also took the opportunity to collect some Acer seeds and Sweet Chestnuts and I’m going to try growing both of them from seed, following my Sorbus seedling success from last year. I’ll leave you with a few more photos from glorious Westonbirt. For more information visit the Forestry Commission’s website.
I’ve been a bit reluctant in the past to buy plants mail order. I like to have a good look at what I’m buying before I hand over my cash. However, recently I’ve become quite frustrated with the plants on offer at my local garden centres and I haven’t got the time to travel around the country searching out the varieties I want. So I have found myself giving mail order plants a try. I have to say I haven’t had any problems so far.
It’s actually quite nice when the postman turns up with a package saying ‘Live Plants – open immediately’. I half expect something to leap out at me when I delve into the packaging.
So my Blackberry ‘Reuben’ arrived on Wednesday and then today I received a delivery of vegetable plug plants from Delfland Nurseries. Delfland are the leading organic commercial grower of vegetable plug plants and they also sell seeds, have a good selection of sundries and sell a selection of flower plug plants such as sweet peas. They have Soil Association approval and work hard to minimise their impact on the environment. They use peat free compost, their cardboard boxes and loose fill packing materials can be composted and a biomass boiler provides heat for their glasshouses.
Between March and October they have plug plants to send out. Maybe you don’t have the space to sow seeds and grow them on before planting out or you’ve missed the opportunity to sow seeds of particular crops. Well this is where Delfland comes in. You can purchase separate varieties or choose their selection packs. They have a club root resistant selection, tried and tested tomatoes and Jill’s chilli selection amongst others. You could have a delivery every month throughout the growing season and not have to worry about starting seeds off.
I received some Japanese bunching onions, Winter Purslane, Winter Density Lettuce and some Perpetual Spinach. I haven’t grown any of them before so I looking forward to it.
Now all I need to do is get planting. Anyway I’ll keep you updated on my little plug plants, how they do and more importantly how they taste.
Thank you to Delfland Organic Plants.
There are few places I’d rather be than my garden or allotment but just occasionally that relaxing day doesn’t turn out quite as I would have hoped…
- My foray into the border to plant up some forget-me-nots is curtailed by the neighbour’s cat that has used the newly mulched border as a litter tray. Fortunately wellies and gloves remain clean but I go off in search of a carrier bag to remove the offending item. Of course I can’t find any carrier bags because I’m helping to save the planet, so I eventually find a freezer bag….that will have to do.
- After planting up the forget-me-nots I return their pots to the shed. But the pots are all stacked quite precariously and adding any further pots results in an avalanche of plastic and half an hour of reconstruction into a hopefully more sturdy structure.
- I eventually get round to the main job I had planned to do – potting on some seedlings but because my shed multi-tasks at this time of year as a log store I find myself sitting on the path outside the shed pricking out. Unfortunately, I’m pretty clumsy anyway and whilst tidying up I knock over several pots and squish a couple of seedlings.
- I remember to water in the forget-me-nots and newly potted up seedlings (I have been known to get distracted and forget to water newly planted plants only to remember later that night so I end up watering in my pyjamas and wellies with a torch). I don’t, however remember that the hose pipe nozzle was damaged by the frost last winter and has developed little holes along one side of the nozzle. This results in an unusual, and always surprising, sideways squirting of water along the length of the nozzle before the user can get to twist the nozzle enough so that water actually comes out the front . Damp jeans (mmm…. lovely!) generally results. So what should have been a little bit of gentle pottering has taken 3 times longer than it should have done and I wouldn’t say I feel relaxed as I go off muttering about cats, hosepipes and needing a bigger shed. Fortunately days like these are rare, which is just as well really.
I recently received a beautiful posy of flowers from Wiggly Wigglers. It was their luxury posy and it came with its own vase, a very pretty ‘Quattro Stagioni’ storage jar. The jar can be reused for storage or preserving once the flowers have died, which I think is a really nice touch.
The flowers arrived in a cardboard box. Inside the posy was held upright in a cardboard stand in a living vase which contains water and fits snugly around the stems.
I loved the colours of the posy with the dusky pink of the Sedum, the whites of the Alstromeria, the acid green of the Molucella and the silvery green foliage. It also included some Sweet Williams for a lovely fragrance.
I really appreciated the natural feel of the flowers. I often find bouquets from high street florists are a little too stylised. I think if you use beautiful fresh flowers you shouldn’t need to do too much to them. The simplicity of the glass jar as a vase also allowed the flowers to be the focal point.
I like the ethos behind the Wiggly Florist. As I said in a previous post it’s sad that the production and transport of many flowers for the florist trade is damaging the environment. At Wiggly Wigglers all the flowers they use have been grown in the UK with some grown on the fields surrounding their HQ in Herefordshire. They also only use seasonal flowers and foliage so although it is not possible to specify a choice you know you are getting the freshest possible flowers.
Bouquets are available and it is also possible to buy a mix of flowers and foliage which you can arrange yourself.
It is now 8 days since I received my posy and it is still looking fresh. The posy range varies in price from £25 for the smallest to £45 for the luxury posy. Initially I thought the flowers were a little pricey but I think the inclusion of the reusable jar and the excellent vase-life of the posy combined with the fact that the flowers are British grown and are supporting British farmers make Wiggly Flowers value for money. To have a look at the Wiggly Florist click the link below.
Thank you to Heather and the team at Wiggly Wigglers.
Last year I saw Alys Fowler on Gardeners’ World collecting berries to grow her own trees from seed, so I thought I’d give it a go. Whilst out on a walk I picked up some Sorbus berries from underneath a particularly pretty tree. It produces lovely white berries that are tinged pink.
When I got home I squished them through an old sieve that I use for straining my comfrey liquid. Often the flesh around seeds contains chemicals which inhibit germination. In nature, the flesh and these chemicals are broken down by the digestive systems of birds or mammals that eat the berries and the seeds pass through the bird or animal ready to germinate. To replicate this I got rid of the fleshy pulp and rinsed the seeds under the tap and then left them to dry for a little on some kitchen roll.
I then sowed the seeds into some multipurpose compost mixed with some vermiculite to improve the drainage. Covered the top of the pot with some grit and left them outside over winter. A lot of seeds need a period of cold to break the dormancy of the seed. This dormancy period protects the seed so that it is only ready to germinate when the conditions are suitable.
So with fingers crossed I left the seeds until Spring when I noticed 2 seedlings emerging. I had 2 little Sorbus trees. I don’t know how long it will be before they are of a size that I can plant them into the garden but that’s fine, my current garden is too small anyway, hopefully by the time they are a good size I’ll have a slightly bigger garden.
Wellyman has also grown 2 oak saplings from acorns he found lying on the ground in the forest that had already sprouted. We certainly don’t have a garden big enough for oak trees so we are going to go along to one of our local wildlife trust’s tree planting days this autumn with the 2 oak saplings. It’ll be a nice feeling to think that the oak trees could be there for hundreds of years.
So why not give it a try. Obviously there are plants and berries that are poisonous so care does need to be taken – wear gloves, wash hands well afterwards and don’t use kitchen equipment you would prepare food with for cleaning the berries. I’d love to hear if anyone else has grown their own trees from seed.
I made this cake yesterday. Wellyman had an exam for his degree and he’d spent the last couple of months revising so I thought I’d make him a ‘no more revision cake’.
The recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday Cookbook but he has a pear version that is available at the Channel Four website. The recipe is exactly the same just substitute apples for the pears if you want, it’s important to use a dessert variety of apple that maintains it’s shape when cooked such as Cox or Ribston Pippin. I also used less sugar, 100g rather than 125g. I find a lot of cake recipes are too sweet for my own taste. I also added a few drops of almond extract when I added the eggs to the mixture and scattered some flaked almonds on top about 40 minutes into the bake so they don’t get too brown.
I served it with some creme fraiche and thought it was a lovely light cake. Wellyman liked it too, although he does think cheese and jam is a good sandwich combination!!
This is a sweet little book that would suit anyone with an interest in bees. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout. I particularly liked the first chapter which explains about bees, describing their life cycle, their search for pollen and nectar and the fascinating bee dance.
The book includes chapters on what plants to grow to attract bees and chapters on hives and bee-keeping equipment. The final part of the book focuses on the importance of bees and honey throughout history including superstitions and poems.
I would say this isn’t a book for in depth information but it is more a book of little titbits.
Available now from Amazon or your local bookshop.
Thanks to Stacey at Green Books.
I spent yesterday pottering about in the garden preparing for winter. The wind had finally died down but it felt quite chilly. This time last week I was in the garden in shorts and t-shirt with sun cream on, yesterday I was searching for my fleece.
I spent most of my time potting up cuttings and tender plants such as echeverias so they are ready to go to their winter homes, either a window sill or cold frame. I dug up some of my herbs, oregano and rosemary and put them in a cold frame. I find the biggest problem getting plants through the winter is wet weather and damp air. More plants have succumbed to rots and fungal infections such as botrytis than cold temperatures.
I took these Fatsias cuttings at the start of the summer. They were basal shoots that already had few roots and I just pulled them away from the parent plant. I’ve found this the easiest way to propagate Fatsias. Well they have rooted well so I thought I would give them their own home and potted them on into individual pots.
I have quite a few pots of hardy annuals that I sowed in September. They germinated well in the warmth and are now in individual pots in one of my cold frames but I’m a bit worried they won’t make it through the winter. They are hardy but the damp will probably get them. I lost sweetpeas last year and said I wouldn’t bother trying to overwinter anything again. So why did I do sow these hardy annuals? For the same reasons I sow my seeds too early in spring and then end up with the nightmare of plants too big to be indoors but it’s too cold to put them outside. I love growing plants and I’m impatient.