Hellebore flowers- Don’t waste them

The flowers are nearly over and the new foliage is taking full advantage but don’t cut the flowers off  and throw in the compost just yet, look how lovely they are, as cut flowers, in a vase right now with some flower heads of Tellima grandiflora or ‘Fringe cups’

Hellebore flowers/seedheads look fab in a vase right now
Hellebore flowers/seedheads look fab in a vase 

I’m no expert in flower arranging, but the colours are just gorgeous.

Count down to the big Plant Swap Event (just outside Brighton)

IMG_2336New meet ups this week with the Chelsea fringe in Brighton Group have picked up the excitement for the event. It is now only 3 weeks away…

I had my posters and flyers delivered today (c/o Ty Abiodun), so I will be on the road this weekend to hand them out.

On Tuesday evening I’m having some volunteers around to help make signage and bunting for the event, helped along with a few nibbles and a glass of wine, of course.

I am now on twitter – check out Wendy A Rose, and a Facebook page called Recycling Plants.

We have more plants being offered for swapping

Scabious, Crocosmia lucifer, Irises, Day lilies, House Leeks and Plumpton College have offered quite a few annuals.  Please do join in the conversation of what you might be bringing.

Can’t wait to see you all on the 18th May Newtimber Place, 1 – 5pm BN6 just £2 entry.  If you don’t have a plant to swap just come along to enjoy the garden, tea and cakes.  Carol has started baking already with some gorgeous lemon drizzle cakes..

Proceeds will be going to the charity

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Tulipa Lilac Wonder, I eat my words

In the early years of gardening for me it was a challenge to get to know my plants – their names, habit, tolerances and when they flowered, why they died and why they flourished, and then, did I really really like them anyway and why?

The next stage is planning good planting combinations where it is all about timing, structure and colour.  When your flower border has reached it’s pinnacle for the year and looks fabulous.  This is often planned, but of course can be quite by chance.

If you are extremely clever, with a good size budget to match, the third stage is for the border to hold its interest for all four seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with wonderful successional planting. For that we have to turn to the great plants men and women such as Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto who were quite brilliant at it.

Back to me and a chance happening.  The Tulip Lilac Wonder that, whilst I admired the beauty of its form, the colour, let’s say surprised me a little! But now the Clematis montana is out and stunningly covered with blooms, the match is perfect.  A chance meeting but one that will be repeated I’m sure…

Clematis montana meets  Tulipa Lilac Wonder. Cool.
Clematis montana meets Tulipa Lilac Wonder. Cool.

(Unfortunately the photo doesn’t do it the justice it deserves 🙁   )

Are your Bluebells delicate English or Spanish thugs?



The Spanish bluebells are often found growing in our gardens and the English  variety, the native bluebell, on common land, verges and mainly in

English bluebells
English bluebells


There are very noticeable differences.

1. The colour and size of the bells. The English flowers are generally a darker hue, smaller and more refined, with curlier tips.

2. The stems of the English bluebell are thinner allowing the top few bells to gently arch over.

3. The strap like leaves are much narrower and less numerous on the  English variety.

4. The white fleshy bulbs of the Spanish bluebells can be perfect balls the size of a large pickled onion or oddly shaped like a spring onion or a mini  butternut squash. The Enlish bluebell bulbs are more the size of silverskin onions.

5. Finally the beautiful and distinctive scent of the English bluebell.

The Spanish ones don’t smell.

(You may well come across hybrids that are just there to confuse you!)

Of course we all know which one we like best!
Of course we all know which one we like best!

The last frost?

The first week in May is usually the date in the gardening calendar which we, (in the south of England) really look forward to.  Our greenhouses are bursting with plants that we desperately want to get out into the garden to make room for our tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines to be planted in their final places inside the greenhouse.  Even my kitchen table at home has become a seed nursery and dinner is now on trays. The Dahlias that we have overwintered in the garden with a good covering of fern mulch to protect against the worst of the winter weather and frozen soil, are still covered up, but we can see the new foliage peeping through.

There have been rumours, given we had such a mild winter, that we have seen the last frost until October.  Whilst it has been very cold still at night, and I know we are only half way through April, I made the executive decision this week to remove the mulch and expose our treasures to the elements.  Half our Dahlia stock was dug up last October, divided, potted up and left in the shed.  These too are showing new growth, so we have had a week of popping them back in their final growing positions. Digging some up in the winter is a great opportunity to plant them somewhere else each year for a change.  A bit like moving the furniture!

Mother goose had already done some of the job for us as we caught her on her clutch of eggs in the corner of our garden.  A great surprise for all of us, as we haven’t had geese here before.IMG_0337

How can I concentrate on planting Dahlias with all this activity?

Positive rewards from an impromptu Spring Clean

As I was clearing out some old paperwork this weekend, I stumbled upon an old folder of planting ideas that took my fancy several years ago.  Usually I find articles and ideas like this in August or November when nothing can be done about it, but as it happens it must have been my lucky weekend

I have no shame, this is my  borrowed inspiration for a summer pot display..  I stumbled across Jasminum officinale Fiona Sunrise at my local nursery and ordered the seeds of Rhodochiton atrosanguineus on-line.  If I can create a pot that looks as good as this by the end of summer I will be delighted:


Bluebells – what a difference a day makes…





This was the scene on May 18th 2013… The bluebells are out  a whole month earlier this year.IMG_2232

All part of our working week

IMG_0312 The Corn Snake – Click toIMG_0311 view

We are introduced to the new family snake -Rapunzel.  The last snake escaped into the house 2 weeks ago and is probably quite happily living off the mice and rats that share the same abode…

We won’t be staying the night.

We witnessed the lambs born just 30 mins before.  How amazing it is that that they get to their feet and find their way to the udder so instinctively.  Sadly only one of them made it to the next day 🙁

We love wild flowers

Cardamine pratensis.  It is here in abundance this spring. Have you got it near you?
Cardamine pratensis. It is here in abundance this spring. Have you got it near you?


Also known as Lady’s smock and Cuckoo flower – look out for it with it’s head above the rest