#WordlessWednesday – finding seed heads in the garden. 

I don’t cut back plants until spring. Any creature requiring a duvet of leaves, or a seed head sojourn, is welcome in my garden. Caught in sunlight, seed heads provide a heart-sing moment in January. Just when we all need some cheer.


Rudbeckia seed heads. Sunny all summer, a joy all winter. I love the mini five “petal” flowers in the centre of the seed head. A flower within a flower.


What are your favourite seed heads at the moment?

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#WordlessWednesday – finding seed heads in the garden. 

I don’t cut back plants until spring. Any creature requiring a duvet of leaves, or a seed head sojourn, is welcome in my garden.  Caught in sunlight, seed heads provide a heart-sing moment in January. Just when we all need some cheer. 


Rudbeckia seed heads. Sunny all summer, a joy all winter. I love the mini five “petal” flowers in the centre of the seed head. A flower within a flower.


What are your favourite seed heads at the moment?

#Perennial Party…..Taking a piece of my garden with me.

I don’t travel well. I’m much happier surrounded by familiar sights and sounds. I’ve become accustomed to green fields and birdsong.  My favourite place is the potting shed. A quiet, peaceful haven- shared with a cheeky robin. The scent of potted Carnegie white hyacinths and creamy Paperwhite narcissi wafts around. I’m reluctant to leave….

But I need to travel to London. So after much fussing with packing and checking train times and tickets, at least 50 times,  I set off for the unfamiliar.

Just at the garden gate, I see some violets in flower.   Nearby, the first snowdrops are in bud. There’s a primrose poking through the leafmould. And there’s a tiny hellebore flower wearing a hat of  compressed beech leaves. The leaves have protected the plant and forced the flowers into early growth.

So I pick a few flowers and gather them into a tiny posy. I wrap them in dark green gutta tape  to lock in moisture. I twirl around some string, add some lavender from the potting shed table, and set off for London- carrying a tiny piece of my garden with me. A talisman. A kind of amulet. Protection against the noise, hustle and bustle.


Propped up on the flip-down table on the train, the scent from the violets is a welcome reminder of home. I look about to see if anyone else is bothered by the noise and diesel fumes. They don’t seem to notice.


I’d forgotten that snowdrops have a strong honey scent. The flowers start to open as we travel along. These are   Galanthus elwesii, the first to flower in my garden.


The hellebore is called Jacob. It’s a  strong, healthy variety. Dependable and hardy. The violets and primroses arrived  as seedlings from my grandfather’s garden. I have happy memories of grandad Foulds arriving each Sunday with a little piece of his garden; a cutting, a seedling, or division. He loved walking around the plot, pointing out the weeds, giving advice on growing veg and cut flowers. After we had  pottered in the greenhouse and orchard, he’d settle down in a cosy armchair with home-made cake and tea. Such memories are a comfort, brought back to life by these few flowers.


And this is the place I’m travelling to. The Barbican conservatory, for the annual party for Perennial. I’m a fish out of water. A country mouse. But I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone to support a charity that is dedicated to helping all people who work in horticulture.  I’ve been lucky enough to make my living from horticulture for this past 20 years, and I care about the gardeners, contractors and tree surgeons I work with. Perennial provides a “lifebelt” to anyone in a crisis. Advice, help and financial support, for anyone of any age.


The auction featuring luxury holidays and events  raised more than £11,000, and there were raffle prizes too. It’s the most hectic and noisy event I’ve ever attended. But I’m glad I’ve pushed myself out of my little potting shed. The chance to support a valued charity, and see friends from all over the country, has been worth it.


Looking in the pink are from left to right  Fran SuermondtTanya BatkinPerennial’s Laura Garnett,  host James Alexander-Sinclair,   writers Naomi Slade , Alison Levey, and in front, Barbara Segall.

Do you have a favourite charity to support? Do you ever carry a piece of your garden with you on your travels? What measures do you take to cope when you are stepping outside of your comfort zone? I’d love to hear your news and views. 

Read more about Perennial here.

Summer Sunshine- for anyone who needs some today

Not everyone likes winter. By mid January, we’ve eaten all the Christmas cake, planted all the bulbs, and start wishing for  sunshine and warmth.

Easton Walled Gardens can always be relied on to provide some sunshine. Just as temperatures start to tumble and frost and snow hit, they announce the winners of their summer-themed photography competition, Halcyon Days.

OVERALL WINNER - TessaSmith - Early morning Somerby.jpg

Tessa Smith from Somerby, Leicestershire, takes us to “Early Morning” in her overall, first prize-winning entry. We can almost feel the rising warmth at dawn and smell that fresh-new-day scent.

 

Geoffrey Leng won the Summer Life category with his photograph called “Fun in the Sun.” Brings back happy memories of family holidays and  time on the beach with my two  daughters. Hold on to those  heart-warming thoughts. They are so precious.

 

Karen Antcliffe won the Wildlife category with her entry called “Sitting Pretty.” I’m currently planning more flowers to attract butterflies to my own garden. One of the joys of summer.

 

Maralyn Smith won the Countryside At Work category with this striking image.It makes me want to join a photography course right now. There’s so much energy in this photo.

HC - EWG - Peta Banks, Grassy Terrace in the Evening Sun.jpg

Peta Banks  was highly commended for  “Grassy Terrace in Evening Sun” in the EWG category. This is a favourite view of mine. Mum and I have stood on the lookout platform and surveyed this scene many times. It’s a sight that makes the heart sing.

WINNER - Plant Portrait, WilliamCollison.JPG

William Collison won the Plant Portrait category with this fabulous close up. The flower looks like it has been sugar-coated. So beautiful.

There were well over 1,000 entries in the competition which was sponsored by Savills. The gardens, just off the A1 near Grantham have been restored over the past 17 or so years by the Cholmeley family. There’s been a garden on the site for around 400 years, and it’s  famous for its sweet peas in the summer, and snowdrops in the winter.

Ursula Cholmeley from Easton said :” We’ve had a fantastic response with entries from all across the country. The overall winner captures the peace and tranquillity of a summer’s morning. Something in the depths of winter, we can all truly appreciate.”

A gallery of the winning photos and runners-up will be open at Easton during Snowdrop Week from 11th to 19th February.  For more information about opening times and for travel directions look on the website at Easton Walled Gardens.

Hopefully these photos have helped to dispel any winter gloom. And if you are a keen photographer, why not send in an entry this summer. You never know,  you might find  your work appearing in the  annual Easton exhibition, and be £500 better off!

Day 23 of my #AdventCalendar for gardeners 

Remembering my grandparents. Amazing gardeners. My inspiration. They taught me to love nature. Sending my love to them, and to all of you today. I’ve grown paperwhite narcissi, red anemones, and chrysanths to go with the foliage from my garden and rosehips. My relatives are never far from my thoughts. 



WordlessWednesday. Walled garden doors 

Found at the National Trust’s Calke Abbey. We love the panel sides. Someone took a pride in this job. It’s right next to the Orangery, which dates back to 1777.

 How many gardeners have walked through this doorway into the walled kitchen garden over the past 250  or so years. It’s good to stop and ponder as we close one door on 2016 and think about opening new doors in 2017.