Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Seedheads and dried flowers

I have had seedheads and flowers drying in the garage for several weeks. I thought it was probably time I did something with them, especially as I had earmarked some for Christmas decorations.

The Anaphalis triplinervis has gone into a new pink jug.

These Nigella seedheads are a nice creamy colour....

.... I also like them sprayed silver for Christmas. The other seedheads are Poppy and Dill.

Some of the Nigella seed has been saved for sowing at the Environmental Centre next spring.


Winter Solstice today. Nights will start to get shorter (not that we will notice for a while)

Sunday, 12 December 2010


I have been hearing reports on TV that unusually high numbers of Waxwings have flown here from Scandinavia. I thought there was no chance I would see them here in Birmingham but I was wrong. I glanced out of the window and saw around 25 of these birds on a tree.

After they flew away I noticed this Chaffinch, a bird I rarely see. My partner took both photographs.
After two weeks the snow and ice have finally gone. The past couple of days have been very mild but the forecast is for more cold weather by the end of the week.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

It's very cold

The snow and ice have continued throughout the week but a thaw has started today.

Despite the cold weather, the Corylus avellana has early catkins and Jasinum nudiflorum has leaves starting to appear.

I have used the time indoors to sort out seeds I've saved including this Calendula seed. I gathered them from the flowers at the environmental centre so that we can do some seed sowing with children next spring.

Sunday, 28 November 2010


The first snow of the season fell yesterday morning. Only a light scattering but temperatures have been freezing or below so it is still lying.
The view from my kitchen door.
 The snow has made some colours and shapes really stand out.
Rosa glauca hips
The hips of Rosa glauca appear from August. The birds don't eat them so they last a long time. This rose is one of my favourite plants.

Stipa tenuissima
I love the pale colour of Stipa tenuissima in winter and in particular against snow.

Lonicera nitida

I have several small leaved evergreen plants including Escallonias and loniceras. They add a touch of green in winter and look very pretty covered in frost and snow.

Achillea 'Apple Blossom' growing through Stipa tenuissima in summer.....
......and in winter.
I have always preferred plants that earn their keep in the garden.This Achillea growing through Stipa looks good in summer and winter.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

November flowers

Jasminum nudiflorum, also known as Winter Jasmine. This is such a cheerful plant, especially on a dark day. I planted it so that I can see it from the kitchen window.

Viburnum fragrans. This shrub has pink scented flowers on bare stems. The scent is lovely on a mild day.

The next two perennials were given to me so I don't know the varieties. They are both Schizostylis.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Garden Birds

I am pleased my garden  birds are back. At least I thought they were 'my' birds but it appears from last weeks episode of  'Autumnwatch' that they are probably new birds who have migrated from other climes. Either way I am glad they are here.

Young Greenfinch
This young Greenfinch appeared in our garden a couple of weeks ago. He (or she) was solitary and spent most of the time on the bird table, either eating or just sitting quietly ignoring the other birds who visited the table. We haven't seen him this week so we presume he has found the rest of his family.

Great Tit

I bought this birdbath with me when we moved here over 14 years ago. It cost very little and the birds love it. I did buy them a decorative one which cost quite a lot of money but they wouldn't go near it. It has since succumbed to frost.

I love having Blackbirds in the garden. They are quite at this time of year but in the Spring their song is so beautiful. They love rummaging for worms but also they also like the berries from the Rowan and Cotoneaster. They do visit the birdtable occasionally especially if I have put out apple or fruitcake crumbs.

All of the photographs were taken by my partner with his new camera. It has a longer lens than mine so better for bird photography. They were all taken through windows. We keep the cameras handy so that we can make the most of any opportunity.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


After the frost I mentioned in my last blog, the temperatures have increased. It has been much milder than it should be at this time of year. There hasn't been much wind so the colours of autumn are lasting well.
Acer Palmatum 'Suminagashi'
The view from my kitchen window.
The summer cutting garden is now over. I will be using twigs, cones and seedheads until spring. I made this hoop made from the stems of  Cornus alba 'Elegantissima'.

Stems from Cornus alba 'Elegantissima'

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

First Frost

The first frost of the season at the weekend.

I like this sedum. It's probably 'Autumn Joy'. It has rosettes of foliage from spring onwards. Flowers form throughout the summer which start green turning to pink then red. Finally the flowers dry and last through the winter.

Cosmos are half hardy so I cut the last flowers before the frost flattened them. Surprisingly they were unaffected by the frost on Saturday night. They were still flowering Sunday morning, and last nights frost didn't bother them either.

I am preserving these oak leaves with glycerine. I have not tried this before and I am not really sure what I am going to do with them but I wanted something seasonal for the coming months.

The birds are back in the garden. They disappear at the end of the summer.I was putting out washing when this blue tit came for breakfast. I managed to grab the camera before he/she disappeared.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


The tiny flowers of Aster 'Little Carlow', Aster frikartii 'Monch', Chrysanthemum 'Clara Curtis'.
The pink Asters are unknown. I grew them from cuttings taken from plants in my mums garden. This Aster was already in the garden when we all moved in over 30 years ago. It doesn't get mildew. It is around 5 feet tall and despite the heavy rain we have had recently it hasn't flopped over.
All the Asters are much loved by insects. As I pass the flowers I can hear a hum from bees and other insects.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

In my garden in September

The seedlings are doing well although I wish I'd sown the wallflowers earlier. The plants I bought from the show I visited earlier in the month are still waiting to go in. This is partly because I want to dig out excess plants such as foxgloves, forget me nots and aquilegias for the garden at the environmental centre.

Border with late summer flowers and rosehips

The area around the path is looking quite good with Cosmos, Asters, Sedum, Nicotiana, Anaphalis and rose hips.

For a long time I avoided Asters because of mildew. I saw Aster 'Little Carlow' in a garden somewhere and loved it so I bought a plant. It has done really well although I have to protect early spring growth from slugs.  The only problem I had was forgetting to stake so it flopped over leaving a hole in the middle. I have read several articles recommending taking the top growth off to keep plants shorter and more compact so I have tried it with both the asters. I am really pleased with the results and will try it on other plants next year. The other benefit is that the tips I cut off were used for cuttings so I have new plants to give away.
The other aster is unknown and came from Mums garden. Its a lovely deep pink. Neither of the Asters have ever had mildew.

Aster 'Little Carlow'

One area I want to change is this border in front of the hedge. It's been dug out and replanted so often and I'm still not happy with it. It's the sunniest and driest part of the garden and the soil is full of hedge roots. Annuals prefer a soil that is not too rich so I think I will try this for my cutting garden.

Border in front of the hedge
I am still cutting flowers for my kitchen window sill. The Aster frikartii 'Monch' I wrote about in my last post has made a great cut flower. I snip off individual flowers as they die off.

Late summer and early autumn flowers

The jug includes flowers from one of my newest purchases, Chysanthemum 'Clara Curtis' and Penstemon 'Mother of Pearl'. Both are still waiting to be planted.
Chrysanthemum 'Clara Curtis'
Penstemon 'Mother of Pearl'
The weather has been quite changeable although most afternoons have been warm. One of the benefits of living on a hill and not been overlooked is the opportunity to see glorious rainbows such as this one.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Cut flowers

Here are the photographs I couldn't publish yesterday.

Aster Frikartii 'Monch' is one of my favourite plants in the garden. It starts flowering in July and still has plenty of buds on it. Bees, hoverflies and butterflies like it too.

Clary, dark Scabious from a mix, pink Cosmos and the last of the Larkspur. The Scabious has self seeded in the brick path. It's standing upright whereas the ones I have planted in the border have flopped over. I really like the colour, I shall attempt to save the seed.

As I write this the rain is pouring and the wind is howling.

Autumn is here.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A visit to a garden show and potting seedlings.

Yesterday my sister and I went to the annual Garden Show in Kings Heath park in Birmingham. We like going to this event, it's a friendly show in a lovely environment. We bought lots of plants, looked in the marquees at vegetables and flowers, picked up some information about wildlife, and had a picnic lunch in the warm sunshine. We had a great day.


Today I have been potting up some of the seedlings from the seeds sown a month ago (in the green trays). The seedlings all had their first set of 'real' leaves but I wasn't expecting the good root growth they had all made. I keep all my seedlings off the ground because of the slugs.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
The hydrangea has been in this vase for a week. I really like its simplicity.

The cutting garden is slowing down. The Larkspur have finished, the Clary are nearly done. I am leaving the Nigella so that I can have seed pods.
A dark scabious self-sown in the brick path with Aster frikartti 'Monch' in the background

I have a vase of Aster frikartti on my window sill but it hasn't photographed well. It looks very airy and light. I'll try to photograph it again.

A job for the coming week will be to dig out all the forget-me-not and stipa tenuissima seedlings from the brick path and plant them in the borders. I will also be dividing plants to take to the environmental centre.

Incidentally, one of the plants I bought at the show is a chocolate mint. It smells like those peppermint creams that are covered in chocolate.

Thursday, 26 August 2010


The year has been quite dry but August seems to be making up for the lack of rain. It has been raining for the last 24 hours. The forecast is for the weekend is for drier brighter weather.
Through the kitchen window

It's too wet to pick flowers. I picked these Nicotiana last weekend. I still have mixed feelings about them. They are looking quite good in the garden but I'm not sure I like them in a vase. However, I have noticed the scent since I bought them in the house. The good thing about them is as each flower dies I can remove it individually.

Nicotiana alata 'Grandiflora'

Friday, 20 August 2010

In my garden in August continued

Lots of wind and rain this week making the garden look a bit battered.

The seeds I sowed on 22 July have all come up, I pricked them out. I've sown more seeds:
  • Scabious border mixed
  • Centaurea dealbata, a perennial cornflower
  • Nigella papilllosa 'Musical Prelude', this has blue and white flowers. I don't normally like more than one colour in a pack but I thought these would be ok.
  • Catanache caerula
  • Ammi Majus 'Queen of Africa' 
  • Cenolophium denudatum, a cow parsley type flower
  • Aquilegia vulgaris 'Ruby Port'
  • Aguilegia clematiflora 'Green Apples'
I think that will be it until Spring, I don't have space for any more.

Jug of garden flowers
My cutting plants are going over. I managed to have enough for a jug today. I bought an Antirrhinum from a Farmers Market along with a bright pink Cosmos. I hadn't been able to make up my mind whether to grow them. I have used both in this jug. I will grow some of the pink Cosmos next year.

The Sweet Peas are covered in greenfly. Fortunately this little chap and his five friends are munching on them.
Ladybird on sweet pea

The seedlings I dug up at from the Environmental Centre have turned out to be Lemon Balm not Mint. I am pleased about this but have discovered that it is as thuggish as Mint. I am not sure where it is going to be planted. I will dig up some mint next time I go.

Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
This Echinacea has been in my tiny front garden for a couple of years but it has never looked as it good as it does now. Lasts well in a vase.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' in late summer
Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' in winter
Another favourite plant is this shrub, Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'. It has large creamt flower heads which dry to a lovely beige colour and last throughout winter.

As plants go over, I am collecting seed heads for winter. I have poppies, nigella and echinops hanging up in the garage.