HELLEBORE - Scandal
What is it about hellebores that all of us seem to love? If you are not sure, just look at the picture above to see. These beautiful plants will bring colour into a very dull winter picture. My step-mum bought me the above plant for my birthday in 2006, helleborus 'Red Lady'. I remember a nice healthy looking plant but with only a couple of insignificant buds, so I planted it and pretty soon it disappeared from above, only to be forgotten. Have any of you planted a plant half expecting to never see it again? At the time this is what I thought, so imagine my surprise when I came back from being away to find this little beauty, looking not only healthy, but flowering so well too.
The hellebore above is the first I ever bought. I chose this particular plant because the flower was a beautiful yellow colour, which over the years, seems to have faded to more cream.
Above is a Corsican hellebore. This variety has become quite large in my garden, so remember to plant in a large space. The flowers last for months, infact I end up cutting the plant back when it starts to look bedraggled, as it tends to swamp other plants growing alongside it which appear later in the year.
Sweet sentiment from one of my favourite children's illustrator, Mabel Lucie Attwell. Hope you likes!
Today I have been dividing perennials and have made new plants from eryngium, achillea and coreopsis, and dug up three clumps of tradescanthia, moved one of them and giving the other two away. You can really save money by doing this, as these plants can cost a fortune to buy at this size from the garden centre, and at the same time you are able to swap your plants with others.
I seem to be forever turfing out plants and moving them, every year, never being quite satisfied where I have put them.
TETE-A-TETE - Regard, Unrequited love, Respect
How I like to get head to head with these little beauties, they are a ray of sunshine, especially after a long winter. A lovely dwarf daffodil, so ideal for all those narrow bare strips of soil around the place. Everyone loves big old blousy daffodils, including me, but I just haven't got the sort of garden where I can fit any in, or where I am not going to keep digging up the bulbs by mistake. I hate to be one to miss out, so these are perfect.
Notice that piece of old terracotta in the picture, well my soil is full of it, and shards of glass. For decades, dating back to the early 1900s, the area was the home of a thriving greenhouse and nursery trade, mainly chrysanthemums but also vineries, being demolished to make way for the building of homes in the late sixties, that very site being where I live.
If you want fresh vegetables in the winter, leeks (Musselburgh) are so easy to grow and for a novice vegetable gardener like me, this is good news. My method of growing is to start seed off in a litre pot and when the seedlings are competing against each other (about 8 inches long), that is when I transplant them to the bed. I use the method my Dad uses, which is to simply make a hole in the soil, place the seedling in, and then just fill the hole up with water. Works every time, and this is the result, picked quite young, but of course you can leave until they become fatter, in fact I always leave a few in the ground to go to seed, as the heads are so ornamental and can give any variety of allium a run for their money.
Click on British Leeks for everything you need to know about leeks, including recipes. I love leek and potato soup, but quite often I just saute some in a little butter, add to mashed potato and top with cheese, delicious.
CROCUS - Youthful gladness, Cheerfulness
Thanks so much to everyone who has so far voted in my January/February poll, but don't stop now, we have a few days to go yet! I know it is a tough decision to vote for a favourite spring bulb, as in my eyes, every single one of them deserves poll position, but so far crocus hasn't received a single vote. I hope the photos that I took yesterday of crocus in my garden, will sway someone into casting a vote, crocus really are beautiful.
As some of you may be aware I have spent a whole month away and left my garden, well in its winter state. I couldn't believe on my return how much it has changed, you don't tend to notice this so much when you are living with it day to day. The crocus have not only sprung through but are in flower, as are the snowdrops and leucojum, and the narcissi and jonquils which I have in pots, are well on their way too!
I must confess that I wasn't really prised to my garden bench for a whole month, I was on an unforgettable trip to Australia. The photo above was taken from a distance and you can just make out the little fellow sitting up high in the tree. We were very fortunate to have seen this lovely koala and more of his friends and family, in their wild habitat on Kangaroo Island, which lies south of Adelaide. A lifetime ambition has now been fulfilled.
Eucalyptus, or gum trees, are the most characteristic feature of the Australian flora. It grows to 115 metres (375 feet) and has a smooth blue-grey trunk, and long, narrow leathery leaves with a bluish-green hue and many oil glands. Flowering during late summer, it also produces fruit shaped like spinning tops and coated with powdery wax.
Yorkshireman and Australian emigrant, Joseph Bosito, first discovered the volatile oils in Eucalyptus in 1848, and began distilling them. Commercial production started in Victoria in 1860 and, since then, out of the 300 species discovered, 30 have found medicinal use.
The tree's amazing ability to dry out marshy soil also led to its use in eradicating the malaria mosquito in Africa, southern Europe, and India.