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Friday, August 21, 2009

Gothic Gardening?

Greenfingers gave me the idea for this post when he said that he liked Dahlia Chat Noir (Black Cat) because it 'appeals to the ageing rocker in me'. It really is a striking looking flower with its dark and dramatic colours. Say hello to Greenfingers here. I've never grown dahlias before but I'm tempted to try this one.

Dahlia Chat Noir

In the last couple of years very dark coloured flowers have been highly fashionable such as this glorious Tulip.

Tulip 'Queen of the Night'

It looks fantastic either on its own or complimented with other varieties of tulips in paler colours. Can you imagine it teamed with a snow white tulip? Wow! I've grown Queen of the Night together with a pale pink tulip and it gave a lovely show.

This is Iris Chrysographes, the nearest variety to a black iris.

Iris Chrysographes

........ and here's a grass that would look just right in Count Dracula's garden!

Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens

..... how about this, the ultimate in gothic gardening?

Tacca chartrieri (Bat Flower)

I haven't tried this one yet but I do know that it was highly sought after on eBay this year. It looks stunning and would make a great talking point in the garden. Imagine sitting out for afternoon tea with granny and auntie discussing the finer points of this little beauty!

I like bats. We love to watch them flutter round the house at dusk. I'm going to have a go with this plant..... if there are any left to be got!

There are lots more exciting dark coloured flowers. Here's a list of others to look out for:

Helleborus orientalis (Hellebore) 'Black Beauty'.
Viola 'Black Jack'.
Viola 'Bowles Black'.
Viola 'Black Moon'.
Day Lily (Hemerocallis) 'Starling'.
Sweet William (Dianthus) 'Sooty'.
Hyacinth 'Midnight Mystique'.
Bearded Iris 'Superstition'.
Dahlia 'Arabian Night'.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And the winner is........

This Summer I've grown lilies that have bowled me over, fuchsias that have taken my breath away and artichokes that have made me gaze in awe, but my favourite flower of the season is the little annual nemesia. Nemesia originally comes from South Africa and likes to grow in full sun. It's very easy to grow from seed and looks beautiful in the border and in containers. It reaches a height of about 12 inches (31 cm) and comes in a variety of pretty colours.

I've had to restrict it to this tub to prevent it from being flattened by the dogs! It makes a good combination with the nasturtium Alaska behind it. Nemesia is a pretty, dainty little flower with wispy leaves. It's not particularly dazzling..........

....... until you view it close-up and it begins to look like a mini orchid!

I wonder if the nemesia was named after Nemesis, the greek Goddess of justice and retribution? And, if so, I wonder who gave it this name and why? Looks like lots more googling for me!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What is this life, if full of care.......


    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    No time to stand beneath the boughs
    And stare as long as sheep or cows.

    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

    No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance.

    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began.

    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

    W.H. Davies

This is one of my favourite poems. Most mornings, weather permitting, I sit on the stone steps in the garden with my first cup of tea of the day. It's the best time of the day, before lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, car alarms and a host of other noises can be heard. If you sit quietly, within the space of about ten minutes, the creatures round about you come to accept you as part of the garden scenery. All at the same time my company included bees, a robin, a baby dunnock, a great-tit, a blue tit and several field mice, all almost within touching distance.

I seem to be the source of fascination for one of the adult mice (I'm assuming it's the same one who does it). He has a vantage point for viewing me, under the Geranium Johnson's Blue on the wall beside the steps where I sit. It's only about a foot away. He peers out at me for ages and only scampers away if I make a movement. Maybe he's wondering what kind of creature is this that appears at the same time as the crumbs of bread and seed!

As much as I appreciate the company of people, I'm so glad that the world is inhabited by other species, and the garden is a mini-world full of creatures with which we share a quiet acceptance.

Update on Billy and Martin's garden
The hedges are trimmed, there is now a lawn of sorts (though it's all lumps and bumps!), it's fenced off, a few flowers have been planted as well as about 100 onion sets and there is a well-dug patch ready for potatoes to go in. And the best bit is, Billy and Martin are now able to reach their washing line to peg out their long johns!

A little sadness.....
It occurred to me this Summer that I have lost my sense of smell. I'm unable to smell the Sweet Peas, the Lilies, the Roses and all the other scented flowers in the garden. I had a respiratory infection earlier in the year so that could be the cause, in which case (hopefully), the loss will be temporary. I'm hesitant in going to the doctor about it as I'm not keen on the idea of having a tube shoved up my nose (nasal endoscopy)! I know there are far, far worse disabilities in life, but for a gardener.......... well, I was so looking forward to enjoying the scent of those Sweet Peas.