The vaguely green-fingered thoughts of a rambling rose.

New Year, new shoots.

At this time of year it can feel quite bleak.  Grey, dank and miserable.  Nothing to look forward to as winter has yet to really arrive.  After a manic week back in the office, I was desperate to seek solace in the garden.  

The Man That Can and Bumblebee busied themselves painting the new fence since it has been dry enough of late.

While I pottered round the garden for some winter joy to share on our blog.

The three birches are looking good.  The top one could do with a wash but it was a bit too nippy today.

The Tibetan cherry could also benefit from a rinse. 

These rhododendrons are fattening up their buds in preparation for their turn in the spotlight.  The one above (r. Christmas Cheer) should flower in the next couple of weeks

Beside the pond, the first snowdrops have opened.  I almost missed them.

One of the first perennials to push through the soil is this sedum (Hylotelephium) Autumn Joy. It's tight rosettes will happily shrug off the winter should it become as bad as last year.

On the fence of the Terrace Border, evergreen clematis Armandii is so close to opening its flowers. Tomorrow maybe, if the sun comes out!

These white with pink flecked bracts belong to the first hellebore to bloom while enjoying a sheltered, elevated position on the potting table on the terrace. 

In the front garden, the evergreens are dominant.  It will be some time before the two Osmanthus burkwoodii will flower but the hellebores have certainly begun their parade!

Waiting to join in with the fanfare are the snowdrops.  It won't be long.

2018. Year's End.

2018 has been a year of extremes. We had the "Beast from the East" in February and March which set the garden back for spring which then leapt up to temperatures on some days in the low 20's in April.  

2018 is reportedly the second sunniest since records began in 1929. The top spot remains 2003 with 1587hrs of sunshine. 

It was reported as the hottest summer (in England) since those records began in 1910 and it was indeed a very long hot summer that caused issues in our own garden with drought.  

Christmas has come and gone for another year and I was fortunate enough to receive some gardening vouchers from one of the consultants I work for, my husband's aunt gave me a book on topiary and my younger son gave me some proper topiary shears.

The Man That Can and I spent Saturday morning at the garden centre choosing a couple of new birch trees.

Apparently Betula ermanii Polar Bear is a "strong growing tree which quickly develops a white trunk" and that after a few years and with "a little imagination" starts to resemble a polar bear... 

The other one is the well known Betula utilis var. Grayswood Ghost. It's a more conical shape with one of the best white trunks available. 

On Sunday morning we planted them in the Pink Garden.  When I say we, I actually mean TMTC planted them while I made sure they were in the best position.  I did however spend some time tidying up some old soggy foliage from the day lilies and cleared a few weeds.  

Between the bottom step and the shed he planted the b. Grayswood Ghost as it will be a more compact shape.

B. Polar Bear is planted at the edge of the flower bed where it can spread to help with the privacy and soften the hard line of the fence.

A little more of the detritus left by the fencers was collected before the bird box was put back on the shed.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and mild, and so quiet other than birdsong.  I guess all the neighbours were either inside watching TV or at the sales!  Our gain.

It's been the year of the tree I reckon.  This year we have added another 4 to make a total of 14.  We now have 3 birches in the Pink Garden, an espallier apple tree, Kanzan cherry tree, a large potted acer, a Tibetan cherry and a liquidamber styraciflua Lane Roberts in the Yen, a magnolia George Henry Kern, acer Crimson King, syringa Sensation and a standard Photinia red robin in the Long Border.  Then in the front garden we have another acer and the staghorn tree! Not too shabby eh?

As we say our goodbyes to 2018, I wish each and every one of our readers a very happy and healthy New Year!

Gardening takes time

It would be great if we could invite TV gardeners into our patches, or afford substantial, mature plants to create an instant garden.  However there is huge satisfaction in creating and nurturing a garden into maturity, so why not take time to learn about your soil type and what will and won't grow while the plants mature with you.

This beauty is prunus serrula, also known as a Tibetan cherry.  It has the most gorgeous conker coloured bark that will look great in the winter.  We bought it online as a bare root tree from Ashridge Trees. It's not the first time we've bought plants online and while I much prefer to check plants thoroughly before buying them, we couldn't find this tree locally.  The staff at Ashridge kept us fully informed of the process at each stage and let us know that there was a delay in dispatch due to their suppliers not lifting them until the right time as the longer summer meant they weren't yet ready.  As luck would have it, this couldn't have been timed better as work on the removal of the huge conifer hedge began this week.

It's a long drop into the garden at the rear - 5 or so feet!

This pair of brothers worked through two typically wet November days to remove the hedge and erect a fence which when dry enough will receive a lick of dark paint. 

They left the Yen and Pink Gardens very messy - but it was dark when they finished and it was only the small scrubby stuff to clear.

The Man That Can spent a good few hours cleaning the drive and patio on Friday afternoon.  Which meant the weekend could be spent concentrating on the Yen Garden. 

Firstly the beautiful prunus serrula went in at the rear of the arch into the Yen Garden.  As this matures, the trunk girth will increase and will provide a vibrancy against winter snow.  We purchased as large a specimen as we could afford which gave us a good thickness and height.  In the spring the foliage will go some way to provide some privacy from the houses at the rear, and that will increase as the tree grows of course, but in the low winter light will not block out light from their windows as it is deciduous.

All the containers were returned to their original spots to enclose the Yen Garden.

Next to be planted was the liquidamber styraciflua Lane Roberts.  Now bereft of its vivid autumn overcoat, it's amber coloured trunk will eventually stand out against the fence once painted a darker colour (however, that will likely wait until the spring).  It's not as far along as the prunus serrula, but it'll soon grow and again provide privacy during the months we spend most time in the garden. 

A large haul of bulbs have been planted in the sunniest part of the Pink Garden, and I've marked them with some leftover sticks so we can mind them when it comes to replanting.  These include pink tinged narcissi, bright pink alliums and tulips in various shades of pink.

There's still a lot to put into order, including clearing away the detritus left on the gravel of the Pink Garden and erecting the Folly door but now the lantern is back in position and rhododendron Christmas Cheer looks great through the moon window of the pergola, at least the view from our house is ready for winter.

A good death

If there's one thing certain about life, is that it is limited.  That's why it is so vital to live life to the full, grab every opportunity to enrich it, and have a good death.  It's a great concept in theory but unlike plants we humans rarely go out with such a finale.  Today's entry is a fanfare, a celebration of death, a closing performance if you like.

Himalayan birch 




Liquidamber styraciflua Lane Roberts 

Hydrangea Blueberry Cheesecake 

Weigela Wings of Fire 

Magnolia George Henry Kern 

Acer Crimson King 

The two acers borrowed from the neighbour's garden (above and below)


Purple Pittosporum tenufolium Tom Thumb with bright green new foliage. 

Acer in front garden 

Hydrangea in front garden 

Deep chocolate heuchera 

And Staghorn.

The bright red stemmed cornus didn't fare well behind the birdbath. I suspect cats laying in that area didn't help, so TMTC has moved it to a brighter spot.  The roots looked healthy so I think it will survive. 

The wires and eyes have been removed from the old fence across the end of the back garden, along with the mirror.

And Folly door.

In our garden since we use mainly shrubs and perennials, dying usually isn't so final.  Already bulbs are pushing through the soil and blooms are forming on winter flowering shrubs.

Inside the baby spiderlings have readily sprouted roots and the first batch have been potted up.

One has already made the journey to its new home with our Dutch friends.  The next batch have been popped into glasses of water on the kitchen window sill but there are still a great many more babies on the mother plant!

Tiny flower buds are forming on this Christmas Cactus in the sunroom.

Last Christmas, our Dutch friends cut back their large rubber plant (ficus elastica) and we helped show them how to use the sections removed as cuttings.  Much to their delight the cuttings rooted and were potted on over the last 9 months.  One of their babies now resides here with us.  I hope I can continue their care and raise a healthy new rubber plant.

And finally, bulbs from the Netherlands have also been gifted to us.  These will be planted later next month, deeper than usual as suggested to endeavour to help them bloom the following year.