Going to be busy seed sowing soon

Hardy Plant Society and Baker Creek Seeds

Hardy Plant Society seeds arrived today, I’m most grateful to the people who take the time to gather the seed and those who then facilitate the distribution.

It seems that many plant societies and gardening clubs are experiencing dwindling memberships. Our local village garden club appears to have folded as no-one has stepped forward as chairman, (Hey I’m not a joiner – OK?) which is one of the reasons for the decline I guess, nor are others – and perhaps I should? Continue reading “Going to be busy seed sowing soon”

Bip bam bop frost

Galanthus Brenda Troyle
Galanthus Brenda Troyle

More gardening observations have passed on by as I’ve been too lazy or busy (depending on your perspective), to write anything down over the last few weeks.

January brought flooding in the garden and then two nights of -8C (only -8C I hear some exclaim!) it’s certainly sorted the tenders out.  I figured things’d be OK in the unheated greenhouse which dipped to -5C (laziness again). The Pitcairnia certainly took a big hit (OK so it comes from tropical South America) as did the Aeonium (although there’s one in reserve in the conservatory). Outside the Lobster Claw which survived last winter hasn’t this year.

I thought I was being clever digging and potting up some Galactites tomentosa Alba and putting them in the coldframe. This attractive annual thistle doesn’t reliably survive the winter as seedlings outside, they didn’t survive in the coldframe either. I’ve had to buy some more seed from Plant World seeds.

With the frost the lusty foliage of Zantedeschia Luzon Lovely was felled and Crinums collapsed in slimy heaps, but all should be OK underground unless we have more concerted harsh weather.

Spring is gathering at a proper pace

Currently the wind is whipping across the garden and the sun has come out (crocuses will be beaming). It feels more like it should for February – I know it’s only the 1st today.

I did a 100 mile round roadtrip from Wiltshire to Oxfordshire today. Early plum blossom is dusting the treescape, briefly softening the still stark woods and hedgerows. Snowdrops are emerging and starting to make themselves known although I admit there are many well advanced daffodils for this time of year. In my garden though daffodils seem to be on the ‘normal’ schedule.

Three Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were chasing each other raucously through the garden and drumming. Robins nit pick at each other asserting their territories. Birdsong is building in complexity and volume

Road kill and the plight of small mammals

So far Red Kites haven’t got to us but on a road near Wantage today 5 or 6 had spotted roadkill and were circling, a big bird took off from the road in front of me flashing its rusty feathered rump.

Barn Owl in flight with prey
Barn Owl (sorry Chris Packham not up to your standards!)

We’ve been lucky over the last few weeks to see a Barn Owl. We’ve had them before but only passing through (or across) the parish field. A few weeks ago it spent an hour from around 3:00PM to 4:00PM quartering the field, perching, dropping, quartering again. It caught at least this one small critter. Since then it seems to come through around 4:00PM but moves on.  I’ve seen it in the half-light at 7:00AM and flying in misty rain. Presumably there’s not enough food about?

Last week our wildlife cam showed us two young deer, a squirrel and a fox’s brush disappearing off into the darkness as well as two beaglers (during daylight), there was, I must hasten to say, no link between fox and beaglers.


I can’t help it (well I could but…) I’ve been busy ordering plants which one could also call lazy – my seed sowing is fairly dilatory and plants I do have sit waiting to be potted on in the conservatory. And still I buy more.

Recent purchases include some hardy orchids from Laneside Hardy Orchids; Panicum North Wind and some other plants from Knoll Gardens and potted alliums from Beth Chatto for a vaguely Oudolfian scheme being planned, plus a clutch of unusual plants from Crug (with a little help from Robbie Blackhall-Miles). Last night I discovered a new fuchsia supplier Other Fellow Fuchsias so have dipped my toe back into fuchsia waters this year (which’ll be at the expense of dahlias).

Meanwhile in the conservatory

kalanchoeKalanchoe in Ski yoghurt pots (and spider plants), memories of school fetes from years past. Who’d a thunk they had flowers like these?

No idea which they are. This large orange flowered one has variegated foliage. It’s been in bud for months and has just started flowering now. It was out against a south facing wall all summer.




Kalanchoe in flower


This one arrived free in a pot of cactus courtesy of the North Devon Cactus Society when they had a display at RHS Rosemoor a couple of years ago. It’s one of the one’s which produce mini-me babies all along the leaf edges so it gets everywhere. What elegant flowers and unusual colouring.


I was just thinking to myself that the chickens haven’t escaped their enclosure for a long while – guess what? Gawky is out! Chickens!

Let’s hear it for the crocus

Crocus chrysanthus Herald
Crocus chrysanthus Herald

I can boast two daffodils out in the garden on St David’s Day, but a whole lot of crocus embraced the sun in the spring weather a whopping 11C. A few bees were seen out and about on their travels.

The copse, spinney, bit of wood at the end of the garden is a wash of snowdrops which are just over au point, spring is quickening.  I noticed two richly coloured violet flowers out, no primroses yet, but I’ve seen them palely loitering in the hedgerows already.

Crocus biflorus Blue Pearl
Crocus biflorus Blue Pearl

A rainy squall has just passed through putting paid to any thoughts of gardening. The season is already hastening away from me, weeding to be done, seeds to be sown, the last muck to be spread, too wet, too tired, no time.

It’s also the time of year when plants that look as if they’ve toughed it out against the frost simply don’t have the energy to jumpstart themselves into the spring thing and reveal themselves as dead or on the way. The jury is currently out on the Beschorneria but one Coronilla glauca Citrina has had it.

At Bath Spa station yesterday I sat staring up from the south facing platform into the wooded cliff that rises across the river. How many times in how many seasons have I been on that platform and looked into it in over 16 years? On this early spring day the many browns of twigs and branches were at their best, smudged here and there with the yellow of hazel catkins. One loses a sense of scale, it looks intimate and close, until a small, small buzzard lazily drifts up into the sky a long way away and a tiny flashing grey dot of a pigeon passes across the canvas and disappears. Then its seems vast and special so close to the centre of this city.

Jackdaws have rediscovered the bird food fatballs now thoughts are turning to nesting, three are currently sitting in a sumach tree, one balancing precariously on the wire tube stretching out a balancing wing. Earlier the sparrowhawk was on its rounds diving into the honeysuckle after a tit but missing.

Crocus Orange Monarch
Crocus Orange Monarch

The sun is out again now golden highlights against a grey sky. We’re 43 minutes away from sunset.

No prizes to be won

Carpe Diem tile
Frosty sun

I wouldn’t do very well in the Cottage Garden Society most plants flowering on Christmas Day competition. My garden appears to be in lockdown and maybe we are colder here than other parts of the West Country as we’re on the flat with cold rolling down from Salisbury Plain? There is very little to look at flower-wise.

Trad is musing on tidying and order in the garden. I think there is a difference between tidy and order, tidy is a state, order is something potentially more decorative. My garden is neither!

Carpe Diem apparently originally meant ‘Pluck the day’, more appropriate for the garden and less aggressive than ‘Seize the day’. Today’s frost (after rain last night) is not as pretty as the previous post, a workmanlike freeze which isn’t going to lift much despite the sun. Some parts of the UK have had a snowfall but not here.

The first tentative ribbons unfurl from Hamamelis Westerstede
The first tentative ribbons unfurl from Hamamelis Westerstede

Witch Hazel Westerstede is one of only a couple of flowers attempting to bloom today. The other is Daphne Jacqueline Postill which is not quite ready to open although the buds are showing promise.

Gardening is supposed to be on the agenda today but with soggy and frosted soil it’s not much of a prospect – oh well.

Maybe it’s a day for planning the summer borders,  seed catalogues are starting to drop through the letterbox and Avon Bulbs are tempting me with snowdrops.

One day it will stop raining?

DSC01710The stream is up again, the test holes in the lawn we bored a few feet deep are full to the brim with groundwater except the one closest to the house. Snowdrops are flooded out again, but seemingly not so much the worst for it. February fill garden (again!).  Yesterday in Berkshire it was snowing.

More ‘inherited plants’ coming through. Two aconites, a few Crocus thomasiana and a patch of pulmonaria. In my pots the Iris reticulata and relatives like Sheila Ann Germany and Katherine Hodgkin are in flower, or close to. Daffodils seem to be earlier in places.

Of seed sown last autumn outside the first to germinate is Digitalis ferruginea. More seeds sown today, the first in the heated propagator including Geranium palmatum and G madarense.

Also tidied, cut dead leaves etc from the banana and various other more tenders in the conservatory.