Tag Archive | Plant

Garden progress

014After last week’s Sunny Sunday at the garden centre, the weather today has been very kind to me and, although there is a strong breeze, it is a warm one and when the sun peeks through the scudding clouds it is perfect for planting.

I have a small garden, but having stripped the borders last year, it’s amazing how many plants you need to start again without them looking sad and isolated. There is nothing worse than eking out a few plants over a large area and I prefer to focus on a small area first and make sure it is planted effectively. I still leave plenty of room in between for future growth but I’m convinced that plants are much happier when they have a leafy neighbour close by to whisper to.

I like to plan my garden so that it contains a high number of evergreen shrubs which not only look good in the winter but also provide a great backdrop in the spring and summer for the more colourful perennials and bedding plants. There are lots of shrubs which make great canvasses and I love adding the splashes of bold colour to complete the picture. I love bright colours and funky shapes and my garden will undoubtedly reflect these preferences.

I also love their names. I have bought many a plant because of its name and I have never been disappointed. My garden is full of “”William’s” which is my son’s name and include the gorgeous fragrant red rose Royal William, the dark purple/cream Aquilegia William Guinness and of course, Sweet Williams. I’ve even found an very unusual Dahlia-Willie Willie!

Dahlia Willie Willie

Dahlia Willie Willie

Some of my latest additions are pictured below and there will be many more to follow. The garden is taking shape again and I just need to find some more poppies to replace those I have lost. It’s a little early yet, especially after all the cold weather we’ve had but it won’t be long now.

Spring has sprung at last!

Twisted Willow Dark Snake

Twisted Willow Dark Snake

Hebe Green Globe

Hebe Green Globe

Contorted Hazel

Contorted Hazel


Hebe Pink Elephant


My new garden….coming soon!

001 - CopyI love my garden, and it has given me great pleasure in the past but last year it was looking a bit tatty and so I decided to ring the changes. I dug out all my plants from the back garden and put them into the front border where they proved to be a huge success. I replanted them just at the right time when the ground was still wet and we had several days of lovely warm sunshine for them to bask and settle in. It was lovely to see them all blossom during the summer and we could enjoy the gorgeous flowers greeting us every time we came home.

As an experiment, and to give the clay soil a bit of a breakdown, we then planted the borders with vegetables. Runner beans, courgettes, herbs and potatoes. They were lovely but it just wasn’t the same as looking out over my  beautiful  shrubs and flowers and so this year I am going back to the drawing board.

BeFunky_002I have started to buy selected shrubs and perennials to plant over the next few weeks when we get a prolonged spell of temperatures above freezing ( I hope!). It’s so exciting but I am determined to wait until I have enough plants before I start to plan the  borders and and decide where each one will sit best.

Strangely enough, although I love new and different varieties of traditional plants, I still have my favourites; Californian Lilac (Ceanothus), Hebe’s, azaleas, foxgloves and aquilegias. They are all waiting patiently on the patio ready to move into their their new home. Today I am off to a garden centre for a long look round and in hope that I will be able to add to my collection. Hubby is leaving me to browse for a couple of hours whilst I pick and choose, change my mind, sigh and deliberate over colours, blooms, frost-hardiness and price, so I am up, ready and raring to go.

BeFunky_0014Of course, poppies are top of my shopping list. The first hairy fronds are usually peeping through the soil by now but I can’t see any sign of my favourite beautiful orange poppy plant that this blog is named after and so I must face up to the fact that the very harsh winter has taken its toll and I have lost my beloved poppy plant. All is not lost however as I will be able to replace it and hopefully the new version will do just as well, if not better, than the original.

It will take several weeks to get organised but it is a work-in-progress and that’s the amazing thing about gardens. They literally grow in front of your eyes.

How satisfying is that.

037BeFunky_001 014

Catmint, cannabis for cats

We have two cats. Tessa, a lively and feisty three-year old black-and-white female and Tom, a typical relaxed and chilled ginger Tom cat . Tom came with two speeds, slow and stop and never breaks into so much as a trot until “foodie” time. Tom now weighs nearly 7kgs so is a “big” cat and our vet did warn us that ginger toms are prone to relaxing a little too much and gaining weight so we try to kick him out of the house (not literally) as much as possible so that he gets some exercise.

Having been ousted from his pad however, Tom will usually stroll out of the kitchen door and straight into the garage where he has his comfy seat on some of the outdoor furniture stored in the dry whilst this incessant rain continues. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind.

Tom doesn’t roam far preferring surroundings that he knows and loves. Our garden is full of little trees and plants under which he can hide undetected and, with his selective hearing, ignore calls for him to come inside.

One thing Tom does adore, is catmint. I have grown some plants from seed and they are now big enough to plant out but I have a problem. Tom doesn’t just paw the leaves and roll in the bushes he eats them. I understand that sniffing the leaves gives cats a “high”, and may also be hallucinogenic (like LSD) whilst eating the leaves induces sleep. I may have found the reason he spends half his life asleep but I suspect that our neighbours have no catmint left!

My dilemma now is, where do I put the plants so that they can grow into big bushes?

Hanging baskets!

Sound idea, but I need to be a bit more imaginative with the placement………..

November in the garden

There’s nothing like some fresh air and gentle exercise to lift your mood and boost the Vitamin D levels which tend to lapse a bit through the winter months so, although early morning was a little grey, misty and uninviting I set out into the garden to do some tidying up. It’s very long time indeed since I’ve been outside in mid-November in a t-shirt and I can’t remember ever seeing cowslips and fuchsias in full flower as well as self-seeded foxgloves, aquilegia and hollyhocks already well established for next year.

The grape-vine which trailed across the garage and into next-door’s garden (clearly aiming for the pergola to cling to) is now trimmed ready for winter and a barrow-load of grapes which shamefully went to waste this year is now in the compost heap. I hope the scavengers enjoy the intoxicating effects of fermentation as much as these elephants clearly relished the ripe marula fruit!

My garden rallies round

I love my garden and over the years I have chosen my plants carefully. Every one has a meaning or significance and I have spent many hours nurturing them to maturity. The harsh 2010/2011 winter took its toll and I lost several of my favourite plants, and many others are but a shadow of their former selves and are still recuperating.

But gardens are amazing things and although it isn’t quite as spectacular is as usually is at this time of year, it is rallying nicely. With lots of patience, hard work and imagination I’m sure that this time next year I will be looking out onto my garden back to its full glory.

In the meantime I have gaps to fill, shrubs to prune, and plants to move into more favourable positions so that they are more sheltered next winter. I have hanging baskets to plant, pots to pot and a vegetable patch to cultivate. The grape vine is sprouting and will soon cover the garage and the arch, the peonies are in bud and about to burst into pale pink bloom and the hostas are shaping up to be magnificent again.

Having spent a day in the garden I feel re-energised, healthily tired from being out in the fresh air and my Vitamin D levels have been topped up nicely.

Now all we need is some rain!

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Plants for the Planet

50 ways to kill a slug…..

I love charity shops. I can’t walk past without popping in and scouring their bookshelves for little gems. I found some on Saturday and whilst I wouldn’t have spent £4.99 on a little green book called “50 Ways to Kill a Slug” I was more than happy to hand over 75p. It was worth every penny!

I grow some gorgeous hostas, one of the principal targets for slugs and I am always trying to find ways of deterring these grotesque slime-balls  from munching their way through the luscious leaves. I have tried beer traps, WD 40, Vaseline, sawdust and egg shells. So what advice does the author give in her book as we head into Spring and those tasty green shoots start to appear? Here are my 10 favourites.

  1. Keep your garden tidy- clear out all secluded dark moist areas and compost what you find, including the slugs!
  2. Expose the clutches of white slug eggs and watch the birds feast. Caviar.
  3. Grow mint, chives, garlic, geraniums, foxgloves and fennel.
  4. Collect all that hoovered up dog and cat hair and spread it around the base of your plants.
  5. Copper tape wrapped around plant pots will not only provide a physical barrier but will also emit small shocks when crossed. 🙂
  6. Upside down grapefruit skins attract slugs so make sure they are provided with a door to enter the dome and they will congregate in their newly created “house”.
  7. Encourage hedgehogs and frogs into your garden. They love slugs for breakfast.
  8. Feed them to next-door’s chickens!
  9. Fill a bowl with beer and the slugs will drown in a drunken haze. What a way to go.
  10. Pine needles can be a fine deterrent-too prickly to persist.

The author finishes off her advice with “If all else fails……

Venture out into the garden armed with this book. Locate a slug, remove it from among your plants, place the book unopened on top of the slug and squelch down with your foot. Then flick off the dead remains. Finally, wipe down your book!”


My poor garden

My poor garden has been brutalised by the severe sub-zero temperatures and snow this winter and as I love my garden, it breaks my heart to see the plants that I have carefully chosen and nurtured looking so woeful. I have been looking out of the window for weeks now not daring to survey the damage but this afternoon I braved the wind and spent 30 minutes in my oasis. For some of my plants it is clearly the end of the road and I will need to replace them in the Spring. I will miss the fragrant jasmine which has been stripped of its foliage and any trace of blossom and it saddens me to see it hang so forlornly over its support frame. I can’t bear to dig it out just yet…….there’s always a slim chance that it will sprout again from the roots.

“Let the flower you hold in your hand be your world for that moment”

Likewise the clematis look pathetic but again I will leave them in situ and see what happens. The good news however is that it looks like my wonderful orange poppies, after which this blog is named, have survived and feathery green shoots are already poking through. I want to tell them to go back under the soil until March but I guess they wouldn’t listen. Let’s see what happens and being positive it will at least give me an opportunity to rejuvenate my garden and perhaps add some more interesting specimens.

“Sit quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself” (Zen saying)

“Flowers feed the soul” (Mohammed)

“Tranquillity is the garden in which your soul can grow”

My garden

Rock garden, fountain
Trees, flowers, water features
Pleasure all year round 

Winter brings bare earth
Bulbs, corms, snuggled long way down
Hiding from Jack Frost 

Crocus, daffodils
Clumps of snowdrops under trees
Smile in warm spring rays 

Pink apple blossom
Red curls of rhubarb peep through
Fresh green herbs emerge 

Spikes of grass grow strong
Summer’s carpet on its way
Nurture; feed and weed. 

Roses, sunflowers
Fuchsias hanging, hollyhocks
Foxgloves, lavender 

Bees hum, insects crawl
Butterflies visit stamens
Finches peck Niger 

Woodpecker knocking
Squirrels dig up hidden nuts
Cats bask in the shade 

Frogs croak from cool dips
Breeze tinkles wind-chimes gently
Buzzing grasshoppers   

Yellow fields of straw
Bundled into bales and rolls
Heading for the barns 

Autumn leaves turn red,
Orange, brown and mellow hues
Juicy berries hang 

Leaves fall, branches bare
Plants, flowers, trees, in retreat
Evergreens come good

My garden

What does my garden say about me?

If not exactly an autobiography, my garden does reflect my upbringing. My mother preferring the hard-working, low-maintenance shrubs and perennials, whilst my father preferred the showy and flamboyant blooms of annuals, daturas, geraniums and roses.  Very interesting and on reflection I must conclude  that any garden is a fusion of personal choice and sentiment and it is a perfect way to express yourself.

Yes, there is a certain amount of snobbery involved in gardening but I suggest that you ignore this and create your own piece of Eden regardless. This is what I have done and I am never more at peace and at home than in my garden.

My garden is neither big nor small, not that it matters. What does matter to me is that it has meaning. My plants are chosen, not just for their visual impact. It is this that makes a garden special. I don’t get hung up by fancy colour schemes or rare species. I don’t spend a huge amount of time in my garden. But because everything I do is with meaning and purpose, the results are perfect for me.

I love the quote by H E Bates who said that “gardens should be like lovely, well-shaped girls; all curves,secret corners,unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves”. I certainly haven’t nurtured my garden with these words in mind, but I know exactly what he means.

I love my garden; I love the calm and fulfilment it brings. I watch and wait in January for the first glimpse of snowdrops and crocus indicating that spring is on its way. Hyacinths of all colours in March; traditionally used to celebrate Iranian “Nowruz” New Year. The magnificent dicentra in April which throws up swathes of delicate heart-shaped blooms like strings of pink pearls. I love the bees that hum away on the spring blossom; I love the butterflies that visit to suck on the juicy nectar provided by the budleias. I love sitting next to the pond listening to the gentle splash of the fountain. I love the grape vine as it grows and spreads along the garden wall and covers everything in its path, eventually producing large succulent, sweet grapes in abundance.

And when the autumn mists finally arrive, I’m happy that I have had yet another year of pleasure out of my garden and rather then regret the turning of the seasons, I look forward to another magnificent display of nature next year.

This is my haven; my oasis.

How lucky am I?