In a Vase on Monday. Potted Pleasures and the Scents of Winter.

My first pot of Iris reticulata in the greenhouse is full of blooms and I thought I would put some in a little vase with an unusual primrose. I don’t know how long these irises keep fresh in a vase, but in the event I couldn’t bear to pick them. So this week I am bending the rules of Cathy’s meme and showing plants in pots.


I love these little irises in the garden in February, but I always force a few pots in the greenhouse to enjoy in January. This yellow one is a new one, it is Iris reticulata ‘Sunrise’. It is buttercup yellow and very pretty.

Iris reticulata ‘sunshine’

Purists may disapprove of the primrose and I probably wouldn’t plant it in the garden. But again I love to have a few brightly coloured primroses in the winter greenhouse. This  blue and white striped one is called ‘Zebra Blue’ and it was developed in Belgium from Primula ‘Tie Dye’. It is similar to one I grew a few years ago called ‘Denim’.

Primula vulgaris ‘Zebra Blue’

I love blue and yellow together. I married them with a little variegated ivy.

They are all sitting in a large Villeroy and Boch ‘Botanica’ bowl.

The greatest pleasure in the winter garden is the delicious fragrance of early flowering shrubs. As it is dismal outside today, I have brought a few sprigs of my favourite fragrant plants indoors.

In a tiny pot I have Winter Sweet, Chimonanthus praecox, a witch hazel; Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Vesna’, named after the Russian Goddess of Spring. Also  the winter flowering honeysuckle;  Lonicera standishii ‘Winter Beauty’, Sarcococca hookeriana  var. humilis with its strangely haunting perfume, and my absolute favourite Daphne bhloua ‘Jaqueline Postill’  which stops visitors in their tracks.

Chimonanthus praecox

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Vesna’

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis

Daphne bholua ‘Jaqueline Postill’

A sprig of rosemary and a little sweetly scented snowdrop completes the vase. Such a tiny pot but the fragrance fills the room.

Thanks to Cathy at ramblinginthegarden for hosting the meme. Do go and see what she and her enthusiastic followers are putting in their vases today. My money is on the witch hazels; Cathy is the Hamamelis Queen and what pleasure a collection like hers gives at this time of the year.

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Happy New Year!

Janus, the Roman god of beginnings was always depicted with two faces , one looking back and one ahead. So New Year’s Day seems like a good time to have a backwards glance at some of my favourite blooms of 2017. And then onwards with the plans for this year.

And now for the forward planning. The big treat for this month is browsing through the seed catalogues. I made my lists of must- have seeds and the total is eye -wateringly expensive, so some drastic pruning was necessary. Even pruned to the  bare bones the total is more than £100. I left it for a few days to see if I could reduce it a bit more but the result was I added a few. I was pleased that last year I sacrificed a few brassicas and used one of my raised vegetable beds for cut flowers. So this year I will do the same thing. And I love the dried flowers I grew, so next year I will dig up the strawberry bed and grow more of these. There is a strawberry farm only a couple of miles up the road so I don’t need to grow strawberries.

Here is the list .

For the cutting garden.

Ageratum ‘Timeless mix’

Ammi visagna ‘Casablanca’

Aster ‘Valkyrie Mixed Seeds’

Calendula officinalis ‘Orange Porcupine’

Centuarea americana ‘Aloha Blanca’

Centaurea americana ‘Aloha rosea’

Clarkia amoena ‘Memoria’

Cleome spinosa ‘Mixed Colours’

Cosmos ‘Velouette’

Cosmos ‘Sweet Kisses’

Cosmos ‘Pscyhe White’

Cosmos ‘Double Click Cranberries’

Coreopsis ‘Roulette’

Crepis rubra

Daucus daura

Delphinium consolida ‘Misty Lavender’

Dianthus chinesis var, heddewigii ‘Black and White Minstrels’

Didscus caeruleus ‘Lace Mixture’

Gypsophila elegans ‘Kermesina’

Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Sahara’

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Fata Morgana’

Tropaeolum majus Ladybird Rose’

Zinnia elegans ‘Mazurkia’

Zinnia elegans ‘Benary’s Giant Lime’.

 For drying:-

Acrolinum Double Giant Flowered

Helipterum roseum ‘Goliath Rose Red’

Helipterum roseum ‘Pierrot’

Linomium suworowii

Rhodanthe manglesiii ‘Mixed’

Grass:-Hordeum jubatum

Briza media


Cobaea  ‘Alba’

Ipomoea ‘Spanish Flag’

Lathyrus rotundifolius

Thunbergia alata ‘Superstar Orange’

For scent.

Alyssum ‘Snow Cloth’

Reseda odorata ‘Ameliorata’

Dianthus monspessulanus

Dianthus superbus ‘Spooky’

Because I wouldn’t be without it.

Zaluzianskyia capensis ‘Midnight Candy’

Omphalodes linifolia

Agrostemma githago ‘Milas Snow Queen’.

Beguiled by the catalogue description.

Ceratotheca triloba (and lots more which I have pruned)

And of course I keep thinking of more. Each year I like to grow a couple of different aquilegias. I fancy a big pot full of the stunning Lobelia tupa. Azorina vidalii looks fabulous in a pot too. And what about some primulas?  Snapdragons? Stocks? Help!

I have to prune the list some more of course, I haven’t room for so many flowers in the cutting garden. And it is still way too expensive. I would love to hear what other people are ordering from their seed catalogues. What have you fallen for this year?

Whatever you grow in 2017 I wish you a wonderful year in the garden and I am looking forward to reading all about it.

A Happy New Year to all my lovely blogging friends and a big thank you for reading my blog and for sharing your gardens with me.



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Ten Blooms for December.

Gardener, if you listen, listen well:

Plant for your winter pleasure, when the months

Dishearten; plant to find a fragile note

Touched from the brittle violin of frost.’

From ‘The Garden’. Vita Sackville-West

I love the outline of trees against a violet winter sky.  I love the texture and shape of evergreens without the distraction of flowers.  I planted a large part of my garden to enjoy in winter, with coloured bark and interesting foliage. But the icing on the cake of course, are the delicate looking flowers which brave the worst of the winter weather.  None of them are flamboyant; most are shy and retiring and you have to seek them out. Many of them are fragrant because they rely on scent to entice any bees brave enough to be out and about.

Each month when I write about my ten favourite blooms  I try to stick with plants that are blooming in their proper season. December is the most challenging month for finding ten beautiful blooms to recommend,  because many of my favourites don’t really get going until later in January and February.

I’ll start with my favourite flowering shrub. It is the Winter Sweet, Chimonanthus praecox and it comes from China. It grows to about seven feet tall. I love the flowers which look like pale lemon claws. They open from little round buttons. Graham Stuart Thomas said they are dirty cream. Actually the colour is variable; some are primrose yellow and I have seen one in Cambridge Botanical Gardens which is white. They have inner petals which are maroon.

Chimonanthus praecox

The scent of these flowers is fabulous; it is spicily sweet and a small sprig fills the room with a wonderful fragrance. The drawback is that it needs a warm, sunny position, preferably in front of a south-facing wall to flower well. This wouldn’t matter if it didn’t look so coarse and unattractive in summer. I get round the problem by growing a viticella clematis up it. I have never succeeded in striking cuttings but it has little lantern- like seed cases full of seeds. They germinate readily but do not start to bloom until they are about seven years old. I grew mine from seed about twenty years ago. It moved around with me during a turbulent time in my life and clearly resented being dug up four times in three years; it showed its resentment by not flowering for a few years. This year it is full of bloom and looking happy again, I think it has decided that it has come home.

Chimonanthus praecox with last year’s seedheads

The Christmas rose, Helleborus niger lives up to its name most years and blooms on Christmas Day. I used to have one with huge flowers called ‘Potter’s Wheel’, but I haven’t come across it for some years. This plant grows in woodland in its natural habitat so it likes partial shade and lots of leaf mould. Unfortunately, slugs enjoy munching on the flowers.

Helleborus niger

I love Helleborus orientalis and once they get going later in the winter they bloom for months. I decided to have some that I could enjoy in the greenhouse this year, whatever the weather. I chose the lovely hybrid Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’. This was bred by Rodney Davey and named after Anna Pavord. It has stunning pinky red flowers and marbled leaves.

Helleborus ‘Anna’s Red’

Helleborus ‘Anna”s Red’ leaves

The other hellebore I have in the greenhouse is Helleborus ‘Silver Lace’. When I bought it, I thought it was Helleborus lividus which comes  from Majorca and is not reliably hardy.  Actually it is the Corsican Helleborus argutifolius so it is quite hardy and  can be planted in the garden. I love the silvery, spiny foliage.

Helleborus argutifolius ‘Silver lace’

Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ blooms in the spring with pink flowers but I prefer it when it has the dark red buds in winter. It is perfectly hardy in the garden but I have one in a pot in the greenhouse for a bit of colour.

Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’

Of course snowdrops feature strongly in my top ten December list of favourites. This is the reliable Galanthus ‘Farringdon Double’.

Galanthus ‘Farringdon Double’

Galanthus ‘Remember,Remember’ bloomed for Armistice Day and was still looking good well into December.

Galanthus ‘Remember, Remember’

Also in bloom are several Galanthus elwesii and Galanthus ‘Three Ships’ which reliably blooms for Christmas’.

 Galanthus’ Three Ships’

I suppose I should include viburnums as they obligingly bloom throughout the winter months . I can’t say I love them though. These flowers go a bit brown in the frost and ice but carry on happily when the frost lets up.

Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’

One winter flowering viburnum that is definitely not one of my favourite December blooms is Viburnum tinus. I have it everywhere even though I have dug up several and I do dislike it. The leaves are often covered in white fly and as I have said before it smells awful when it is wet. Someone near here has planted it all the way up his long drive and I should hate to walk there when it has been raining. But having been so rude about it I have to admit that if you remove all the leaves it is quite useful for a vase.

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’

The lovely winter flowering Iris unguicularis seems quite unconcerned by bad weather, the flowers look too delicate for the middle of winter. If you pick it in bud it will open in water. I love the sky blue one but I also love this pale lavender one.

Iris unguicularis ‘Walter Butt’

I suppose I should mention winter jasmine as it obligingly blooms all winter.  Wherever the stems meet the earth it roots, so you never need be without it. It’s not a plant  which makes the heart beat faster, but it is useful.

Jasminum nudiflorum

Another climber is a clematis which sounds  more like a liver disease rather than a plant. It is Clematis cirrhosa ‘jingle Bells’. I forgot to take a photo of it so I have just been down the garden in the dark to pick a few flowers.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’

I used Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ in my Christmas vase. I love these delicate winter flowering clematis. They look so fragile but they are quite hardy.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

I have already cheated a bit by showing plants in the greenhouse rather than the garden and now I am going to take you indoors to see my lovely slipper orchid which is blooming for the third year. I have lots of Phalaenopsis or Moth orchids which bloom for weeks on end on the kitchen window sills. But this is a bit more special. It looks as if it is made of wax.

Orchid paphiopedilum

I will finish with my favourite December flower. It is the diminutive daffodil, Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’. Most years it manages to be in bloom for Christmas Day. It is rare and wonderful and very elusive. Just as you think you have a lovely big clump it will fail to appear one year. I think it is very vulnerable to attacks from Narcissus Fly, I don’t know why it should suffer more than other daffodils but over the years I have lost quite a few. It is always a relief when it appears. For a little more about the history of this daffodil click here.

Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’

So there are my top ten blooms for December. Next month there will be some more exciting blooms as more fragrant shrubs come into flower.  If you have any treasures to share,  I would love to see them. If you can’t find ten, just one beautiful bloom is a treat in December .


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In a Vase for Christmas.

Many years ago Tony Venison, who for years wrote a gardening column for Country Life, told me that he went round his garden on Christmas Day every year and picked a posy of flowers, including just one of every variety he could find in bloom. He counted them and kept a tally from year to year. Christmas Day in my house is always rather busy, but for years now I have picked a Christmas Eve posy for the table. The number of flowers varies from year to year according to the weather, but even in the coldest years I am always surprised at how many blooms I find once I start searching.  Hunting for flowers on one of the darkest days of  the year is a lovely thing to do.

This year we have had ice and snow and there are not so many stray summer flowers lingering on, but still  17 is a respectable total and it should be more but I  forgot to include a couple of blooms.

So here they are.

In the pink pot I have the last of the nerines and a sprig of Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ from the greenhouse.

From the winter garden I picked some heather, Erica carnea ‘Springwood White’. The clematis is the winter flowering ‘Freckles’. There are a couple of sprigs of viburnum in there including the much maligned (by me) Viburnum tinus.

In the next pot is a rose and some fragrant Lonicera purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ and winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum with chunky rosehips and a sprig of Abutilon megapotamicum which is rarely out of bloom. The variegated foliage here is Eleagnus ebbingeii. This has lovely yellow and green leaves but the unvariegated part takes over quickly when you are not watching and grows strongly. The whole thing has got too big for its boots and has to go. The pink berries belong to Symphoricarpos, another  Devils’ spawn plant which I spend hours trying to exterminate.

In the little pot there is a sprig of the deliciously fragrant Chimonanthus praecox with a snowdrop, Galanthus ‘Farringdon Double’ a primrose and a bit of  Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ with white winter Clematis cirrrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’.

In the other little pot there is a Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, the  last of  Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’, a pansy and a sprig of Coronilla valentina. The blue is lovely Iris unguicularis which I preferred when it was called Iris stylosa because I can’t spell ‘unguicularis‘. The red berries are Skimmia japonica which I have used for Christmas decorations as all the holly berries were eaten by birds three weeks ago. They don’t seem to like skimmia berries.

Thank you Cathy  at Rambling in the Garden for inspiring us to cut our flowers to enjoy in the house all year round.

A very happy Christmas to all my blogging friends.



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In a Vase on Monday. Ghosts of Summer.

I have got a bit behind with blogging as we have been to beautiful Bruges for a pre- Christmas jolly.


And then we came back to this…

I was hoping to find ten blooms for December and  something pretty for a  vase on Monday.  But  that’s not really an option at the moment.

But never mind, I grew some flowers for drying in my cutting bed this year. So we are not entirely flowerless.

I used Helipterum roseum and the lovely white Helipterum ‘Pierrot’ which has white flowers with yellow and black centres. I also used Helichrysum bracteatum.  I wish I had grown more of these in separate colours now. I also dried a few flowers of Centaurea americana ‘Aloha Blanca’ which you can see in the above picture. The funny buff -coloured thing peeping out on the left was an experiment to dry Bupleurum longifolium ‘Bronze Beauty’. And I have kept some of the Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ from a previous vase. The container with dried chestnut leaves is from last year.

I am sorry to offer you withered flowers today but I am not ready for Christmas bling yet. I prefer to hang on to my little ghosts of summer for a while longer.

Cathy, our indomitable hostess for this meme has picked some of her precious snowdrops for her vase today. Do go and see.

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In a Vase on Monday. Frosty Days.

Goodness we have had some weather. Really high winds.


And frosty nights. The poor garden is huddled and lying miserably with its ears back waiting for the next onslaught; I read that it is going to get even colder. It is going to be a challenge finding Ten December Blooms which are interesting enough to write about later in the month. But we will see. In the meantime I have used my silver lustre vase to represent the frosty appearance of my garden this week.

I love the jade green of the sea poppy foliage, Glaucium corniculatum ‘Burnt orange’. I think it sets of the Solanum laxum ‘Creche ar Pape’ really well.

And it looks good with the little snowballs of Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ which has pink buds opening to white flowers.

Other foliage includes  spiky rosemary, Pittosporum tenufoliium ‘Irene Patterson’ and Teucrium fruticans grown from a cutting  which I brought back from Corsica.

I cannot think of the name of the yellow daisy flower above at the moment, it has lovely glaucous leaves, Here they are. What on earth is it called? it’s going to bother me all day.


The fluffy seedheads of Pennisetum villosum pick up the shaggy heads of the Astrantia major.

Other flowers include the tattered remains of the blue flowers of Ceratostigma willmottianum  and the last little buds of the  wonderfully fragrant annual Zaluzianskya which has white and maroon buds and smells divine. And there is some winter jasmine which is a mainstay all winter and then white heather for luck.

Garden bloggers are creative and resourceful people and I am sure there will be plenty of lovely vases to see even as the winter closes in. Do go over to Cathy at ramblinginthegarden to see what everyone has come up with.

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Ten Top November Blooms

Number one for November has to be the chrysanthemum. I don’t grow the big mop heads. They are beautiful but they always remind me of over-primped, botoxed and made-up ladies who spend too much time at the hairdressers. Very high maintenance; the ladies and the chrysanthemums. I prefer the daisy  and small double chrysanthemums which come in such pretty colours.

Chrysanthemums start blooming in October but I avert my eyes and refuse to acknowlege them until November.  I do the same thing with bulbs which are showing their noses. These have to wait until after Christmas to be gloated over. In the darkest months horticultural pleasures are scarce and have to be spread out and not enjoyed all at once. There are enough floral treats in October but after the first November frosts then chrysanthemums are the stars for me.

I will start with my favourite ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’ which has double flowers with red petals burnished with gold.

Chrysanthemum ‘Chelsea Physic Garden’

And here are a few more. ‘Cottage Lemon’ is quite rare and on the red list. ‘Mrs. Jessie Cooper’ is a particularly vibrant pink and I love the double peachey flowers of ‘Picasso’

Number two on my list is this beautiful Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’ which is rarely out of bloom. It is at is best in November and throughout  the winter unless the weather is particularly awful. It smells divine and wafts its fragrance round the garden. It is not considered to be completely hardy but mine has lived outside for several years. Its name is a bit of a mouthful but it is a gorgeous plant. If you remember that coronilla means crown you will see it makes sense; it has crown-shaped umbels of lemon-coloured flowers.  It has been given various English names such as ‘Crown Vetch’ or ‘Scorpion Vetch’, but I have no truck with made up names for plants with perfectly good, if a little long, Latin names. Coronilla is a member of the pea family; leguminosae.  I always remember this by thinking of it as: ‘Le’ go mi nosey’.

Coronilla valentina subs.glauca ‘Citrina

My third plant is one that is new to me this year. Bidens heterophylla ‘Hannay’s Lemon Drop’. I have grown the pretty little annual bidens for years, but this is a late-flowering and very tall perennial. I don’t know if they usually flower so late but mine was very late to open its flowers and it is a very welcome sight on a November day. I can never resist daisy flowers and this has lemon daisy flowers tipped with white.

Bidens heterophylla ‘Hannay’s lemon Drop’

My number four is the lovely Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ which blooms throughout the winter months. And it is a very welcome sight too with its maroon freckles.

Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurasens ‘Freckles’

There are still some roses blooming away but I have chosen one that blooms for about eight weeks in the early summer and then after a little rest will bloom right into the winter. I love single roses and this one is an absolute beauty; the flowers start off coppery apricot and finish pink. It is Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’. It is a china rose and so needs a sheltered spot. In fact it used to be called Rosa chinensis, I’m not quite sure when the name was changed.

Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’

Another China rose which seems to bloom all year round with just the odd break is Rosa  chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’. The flowers look like flights of red butterflies.

Rosa ‘chinensis ‘Bengal Beauty’

I know a lot of people don’t like mahonias and I hate the creeping one which gets all over my garden and is so difficult to eradicate and seeds everywhere. But I like the spiky, evergreen foliage of Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ or ‘Winter Sun’. ‘Charity’ is getting over here but ‘Winter Sun’ is still looking good. These winter flowering  mahonias smell faintly of Lily of the Valley. But for a strongly scented one the late winter/ early spring flowering Mahonia japonica is the one to go for. My only complaint about these mahonias is that I have too many of them. The previous owner here seemed to be mad about them, along with  the evil, wet dog -smelling Viburnum tinus. The other problem is that mahonias can grow very tall and gawky, with flowers  so high up that only the birds get to appreciate them. But they are easy to chop down to a knobbly bit in spring.

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’

This month’s snowdrop is the dear little November- flowering Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’.

Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’

I have several different cyclamen and some of them live in pots in the greenhouse. But outside just as Cyclamen hederifolium starts to go over, the winter flowering Cyclamen coum takes over. This one is a little early but very welcome.

Cyclamen coum

I am really keen to focus each month on flowers which are blooming in the proper season. November is a bit tricky though and many of the flowers out now are hangers on from summer or early winter ones. I have a foxglove in bloom and also a hellebore. I have mentioned my lovely Passion Flower , Passiflora caerula ‘Silly Cow’ before. It is still blooming away.

Passiflora caerula ‘Silly Cow’

Silly Cow’ is indeed silly blooming so late when the frosts are around but the delicate-looking Iris unguicularis is quite safe and will bloom all winter long. I like to pick it in bud and watch it unfurl in the warmth of the house.

Iris unguicularis

So there are my top ten November bloomers. Please join me and show us what you are enjoying in the garden in November and if flowers are getting  a bit thin on the ground outside, then show us just one or two. Or maybe you have some fabulous blooms in the house or conservatory to share.

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In a Vase on Monday. Potty!

Today is a red letter day in the Monday vase- filling community. It is the fourth anniversary of Cathy’s popular meme, ‘In a Vase on Monday’. To celebrate she asks us to arrange our flowers in something that is not a vase at all. I am looking forward to seeing how inventive everyone is.

So my flowers today are sitting in a Victorian chamber pot.

I hope it is not lèse-majesté and disrespectful to the queen of the vases to celebrate her 4th anniversary with a potty. Cathy likes to use props to set off her arrangements and make a pleasing tableau, but I think even her ingenuity would fail here. I can’t think of a single prop that wouldn’t introduce a scatological note and lower the tone of this lovely meme. So no props just a pottyful of flowers. It doesn’t seem quite nice to have it on the dining room table but never mind. I am hosting my book club tomorrow,  I will see if anyone notices that  there is a potty on the table.

The frost has blackened the dahlias  and the roses hang like Farrrer’s ‘withered moths’, but there are still plenty of other blooms. To match the pattern on the po I have used pink, white and mauve flowers. The foliage consists of lovely silvery eucalyptus leaves and a few stems of Pittospermum tenufolium ‘Irene Patterson’ which has beautiful evergreen, white- marbled leaves. Also the silver-leaved Convolvulus cneorum has still got a few blooms. You can just see it in the centre of the photo above.

I have used  the lovely little stars of Solanum laxum ‘Creche ar Pape’ in previous vases; it just goes on and on blooming copiously. I used a few sprigs of  a starry  white aster; Symphiotrichum ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’.   Some of my salvias have collapsed in the frost but deep purple Salvia ‘Amistad’ seems quite unaffected. I have taken cuttings but I hope it will survive the winter it is such a lovely big plant now.
For pinks I have used  Nicotiana ‘Whisper Deep pink’ which is gorgeous.  Gaura lindheimeri has been blooming for ages and is quite unscathed by the frost. The pink Chrysanthemum ‘Suffolk Pink’ was found in a Suffolk garden. The red penstemon clashes a bit, but one is glad of any colour in November.

The grass is Pennisetum allopecuroides‘Hameln’ and the white berries are snow berries, Symphoricarpos albus, but I wouldn’t recommend this invasive plant to anyone, it is the Devils’ Spawn and impossible to eradicate.

Happy Fourth Anniversary to Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden. Do go and see what curious containers everyone else has put their flowers in today. You’ll find that there is not a vase to be seen.

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Funky succulents.

Succulent cupcakes

It seems that succulents are trendy. I am appalled. I hate to be trendy. My grandmother was very fond of succulents and cacti. For years I always thought that they were old-fashioned, nasty, pricky, fleshy or spiky things. I love them now, but only after years of gardening. How come all these young, trendy people have decided that they are stylish? I came to love succulents with maturity,  the same way  I acquired a taste for coffee,  oysters, olives and dry white wine. And now they are in vogue and all over Pinterest. They are being used by interior designers and by people who have never tasted oysters, (horticulturally speaking). They are even creeping into wedding bouquets. It’s as if  the presenters of ‘Strictly Come Baking’ (or whatever it’s called; sorry, I don’t have a telly,)  started quoting Proust. It’s discombobulating. I’ll just keep my head down and wait for it to pass. Eventually they will move on to aspidistras or monkey puzzle trees  and we succulent lovers will be able to enjoy our succulents without the awful taint of trendiness.

Agave americana ‘Variegata’ on the right.

My collecting which started a few years ago with variegated agaves is now completely out of control. I first fell for succulents when I saw them growing at Tresco Abbey Gardens where they live outside in the mild climate. Here in East Anglia they have to live in pots.

Succulents. Beth Chatto’s Nursery.

I took the above photo at Beth Chatto’s nursery last year. It is a nice sheltered corner but I don’t think the breeze blocks are the best backdrop. I prefer the way I saw them arranged either side of the shed door at East Ruston  Gardens in Norfolk last year.

They have even planted quite big ones out in the open at East Ruston and I particularly liked this Echeveria planted in the copper pot, it perfectly matches the jade green verdigris.

East Ruston

At Great Dixter succulents and cacti are planted, a little incongruously, in little beds on the Lutyens steps.

I rather liked this planter at Gravetye Manor last year.

My succulents have spent the summer round the shed.

I am not too great on succulent names but here are a few of my favourites.

Cotyledon orbiculata var. orbiculata

Aeonium tabuliforme

Crassula ovata subsp. undulata

Aeonium arboreum ‘Swartkop’

Aeonium arboreum

Aeonium arboreum ‘var. albovariegatum’

Now it is nearly November I daren’t risk leaving them out any longer. And so I have the annual headache of to trying to find room for them all. Every year, of course, the problem gets worse. This is the utility room table, the chef insists he needs it for food preparation. That might be a bit tricky.

And I still have all these in the greenhouse, they will need to come in soon. They are all babies that my niece gave me in the spring. They are growing up fast. Actually, when it comes to succulents my addiction is quite mild compared to hers. She is the Succulent Queen.

Where will it all end? Once the window sills are full I really don’t know what I shall do.  Thank goodness, it will soon be snowdrop time and I will be able to  forget about succulents and start indulging one of my other obsessions. Actually it has already started. Galanthus reginae-olgae has been in bloom for a couple of weeks now…

Galanthus reginae-olgae

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Wordless Wednesday. Ode To Autumn

‘To set budding more,

And still more later flowers for the bees

Until they think warm days will never cease

For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.‘  Keats.

Nicotiana mutabilisVerbascum ‘Snow Maiden’ Ageratum corymbosum, Salvia leucantha ‘Purple Velvet’

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