Taking Mum to the Dahlia Show

Regular readers will know that Mum and I spend every Sunday visiting gardens -especially NGS gardens raising money for charity. But this week – we had a change in our routine, we visited a dahlia show.

We marvelled over the blousy, dinner plate- size flowers. None were nibbled by slugs or dashed by the weather, like mine have been.

We loved these huge white flowers, Kenora Challenger. They won the prize for best exhibit in show. They were literally perfect.

Here’s a slide show of our favourites. I loved this coral pink cactus dahlia.

Mum loved this single ruby collarette-type dahlia called Mills Purple Velvet.

My favourite was this small cactus dahlia with needle-like petals. Such a pretty delicate pink.

The show by Leicestershire Dahlia Society was held at Palmers Plant Nursery in Enderby. Mum and I have signed up for more information and will go along to talks and events to find out more. And in November there’s an event where members sell off their spare tubers. I’ve earmarked a few for my cut flower patch.

Best of all- at the end of the show, the flowers were sold off in an auction. I came home with armfuls for my MIL Joan. All her window ledges are now bursting with colour. Happy memories of when my dear Father-in-law had an allotment full of cut flowers- dahlias and chrysanthemums – and regularly came home with an array of first prize awards.

Have you attended -or entered any produce or flowers in any shows this year? I’d love to know how you got on.

Wordless Wednesday 

Still mild enough to sit in the summerhouse. Heaps of cosy woollen blankets to hide under. So I made an autumn wreath out of beech leaves, rosehips and cowparsley seed heads.

My wreath is made from a woven willow base. I learned how to make them from  Georgie Newbery at Common Farm Flowers. I can highly recommend the courses. I attended one for creating a cut flower patch and posy tying. I’ve never had to buy any flowers for my house and family since. I’m planning to attend one next year on growing flowers for weddings and special occasions. I’ve already bought my voucher for the course. It’s great to have something to look forward to as winter starts to bite.

The Persian ironwood shrub, Parrotia Persica still looks like a bonfire of colour.

Orange tulips, a present from a friend- the view inside the summerhouse today.

Have you got a favourite place you like to sit in the garden?

The Tuesday View- 25th October 

Autumn has always been my favourite season. Nature seems to gather up its glories for one last burst of beauty.  

The beech trees make a golden backdrop for the wedding cake tree – Cornus Controversa Variegata. Cotinus Grace is  starting to turn from chocolate to a glowing red.

Left to right, the wedding cake tree , prunus Kojo no Mai, and Parrotia Persica. Backbone shrubs that stand out in spring and autumn. Summer colour is woven through these plants.

Looking like it’s been varnished – Parrotia is also called the Persian ironwood tree. Its bark is a  beautiful mottled  iron grey.

Summerhouse in the mist. The field-side border contains eucalyptus, magnolia, flower carpet rose, and two matching crataegus prunifolia mop -headed trees  framing  the view. The 1920s summerhouse is on a turntable and facing the ploughed field today. Beyond the summerhouse is a small copse of trees where  a Spotted woodpecker nested this summer. 

My ancestors would have used different words for the seasons. 

Until the 1500s, autumn was called harvest. The word comes from the old Norse word for haust- which means to gather or pluck. 

The French gave us automne. And the Romans gave us the Latin name autumnus. But “autumn”didn’t come into common English usage until the 18th century.  

Cathy at Words and Herbs  Hosts the Tuesday View. Go along and see what’s happening in her garden and feel free to join in with photos of your garden too. 

Wordless Wednesday 

Fluffiest bee award in my garden goes to this tiny Common Carder bumble bee. Even the small cosmos flowers- the last of the season- are sought after. Flowers open smaller as the season winds down. And the bees should surely hibernate soon.

Cosmos Antiquity seed- sown in February this year. Still in flower October 19. 

In a Vase on Monday- the view from my potting shed.

Seeds are so inexpensive these days, there’s really no need to save our own. One packet of seed can produce hundreds of plants-for just a few pounds. And yet, there’s something about autumn that makes you want to dash round the garden gathering everything in. Every coat pocket at the moment contains a paper bag full of seeds of every shape and size. It’s my natural inclination to harvest, store up, preserve – to make ready for winter. I’m doing the same with jams and chutney. Capturing the summer. My defence against the cold. 

For this week’s Vase on Monday, there’s white cosmos, sweet peas, rudbeckias, verbascum, malmaison carnations and grasses  all grown this summer from seed. 

My favourite sweet pea is  the variety High Scent. It’s a deliciously creamy colour flower with a blue picotee edge. These were direct sown in June to give a late show until the first frosts. The scent is glorious on a sunny day, but at this time of the year it’s less evident in the garden. A posy on a bedside table in October though, is a joy. Heat from the log fire seeps right through the house,  bringing out the most wonderful scent. 

Rudbeckias flower all summer, whatever the weather. Reliable and long lasting in a vase. There’s usually a few stems to pick every day, until November. 

Seed originally came from Higgledy Garden. I’ve got my eye on some new seed – persicaria orientalis , and lavender larkspur for next year. But for now, my collected  seed is laid out in little containers in the potting shed, drying off and waiting to be sown again next season.  

Thanks to  Cathy for hosting this theme. 

In a Vase on Monday 

For the past two years, I’ve run round my garden on a Sunday and created a posy of “everything in flower” for my mother-in-law, Joan. Sadly, she can’t visit us as often as she would like. My father-in-law no longer drives, and they are both in their late eighties. So I try to create a series of mini- posies, one with scent, another with foliage. It’s a flavour of the garden that I’m after. They are simply tied with string and not arranged. Joan takes great delight in studying each stem and making her own creations.  It’s my way of sharing my garden with my in laws. Keeping the dialogue going and asking advice.  It’s become a kind of tradition. One I am happy to have started.

Blue Aster Monch, Clematis Polish Spirit, Persicaria, white Cosmos Purity and white Aster Monte Casino.

I  prepare the posies in my potting shed, stripping off the lower leaves and plunging the flowers in a bucket of fresh cold water for a few hours before tying them with string. Conditioning them like this means they will last for at least a week in the vase. More information on growing cut flowers and preparing them from  Georgie at Common Farm Flowers

Sweet pea High Scent, well named- and reliable. Blue Aster Monch, Diascia rigescens, and  Antirrhinum Black Prince. I’m sowing more sweet peas this week. Heritage varieties from  Easton Walled Garden, historic renovation project near Grantham, Lincs.

Verbena Bonariensis seeds itself around the cut flower patch and provides pickings from May to November. Alstroemeria flowers all year round in a cold poly tunnel.  

Gardening and growing flowers-  such simple pleasures-  much better when they are shared with someone. 

Thank you to   Cathy at Rambling in the Garden  for hosting In a Vase on Monday. 

Tuesday View 4th October. The view from my garden.

Step out of my garden gate, and cross the ploughed field at the back of the house and this is the autumn view.  Rich fertile farming land. Harvested now. And waiting. Ploughing sounds drone all around.  I can remember a time when the fields stood brown all winter. Now there’s barely a pause. Winter wheat, barley, oats and oil seed will be sown by November.

Hedgerows show the first  shades of autumn, while the oak and ash still stand as green as summer.

We stand and watch a kestrel quartering the fields. A rich hunting ground now the oil seed crop has been harvested. A set aside strip runs round the field margins.

Along the hedgerow walk, there’s a delicious smell reminiscent of apple pie. Crab apple fruit gently cook in the heat. It’s been 20 degrees here today. We collect the ripening fruit to make jelly. Whenever I open my kitchen cupboard doors in the winter, the jars of pink jelly will be there to lift my spirits. Little things  matter in the dark depths of winter. 

Goldfinch  feast on thistle and teasel seeds. The flash of yellow brings more welcome cheer on cold dark days. 

Rosehips galore. The blackbirds love them. We still make rosehip syrup. I grew up on a spoon of rosehip syrup each day before school. It tasted of summer. 

Viburnum opulus or Guelder Rose with sealing wax berries. As beautiful as any garden shrub. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk along the hedgerows and the view from my garden. I have cheated really as Cathy at Words and Herbs asks us to share a view of our garden and  show how it changes throughout the year. My plot is mostly a wildlife garden with patches of brambles and stinging nettles. So as a first time contributor to this meme, I thought I would show you the setting for my garden. And hopefully then you will forgive my weeds and forgotten corners where I tread carefully and hedgehogs curl up in the leafmould with geranium leaves for a roof. 

End of the Month View 

Summers end- and the garden’s still glowing. Butterflies are feasting on fallen apples. Bats overfly the pond at night. And the borders fair rustle and crunch  to the sound of hedgehogs- surely the noisiest visitors to my garden after dark. 

The garden is still full of colourful blooms. 

And yet, the season has tipped over the balance. Michaelmas, on September 29th, traditionally signals the beginning of autumn- the shortening of days. My ancestors,who were servants to grand houses, would have been paid, hired or fired on Michaelmas day. And  for later generations, who were farmers, Michaelmas signalled the end of the productive season, a completion of harvests. The end of one cycle of growing  and  the start of a new one. 

Growing must be in my blood. I can’t be happy unless I am tending and planting food, flowers, fruit and veg. I often wonder if  this need for gardening  keeps me connected to the past, to those hard working and tenacious ancestors. 

I remember my Grandfather pointing out the Harvest Moon and speaking of the Autumnal Equinox- Softly spoken words that delighted me. I always had a fascination for such things. 

There are two equinoxes each year in September and March when the sun shines directly on the Equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. In 2016 the Equinox was on Thursday 22nd September, when some of these photos were taken. Autumnal Equinox

Cosmos plants flower until the first frosts. 

Calendula pot marigolds seed themselves along the veg garden paths

Schizostylis/ Hesperantha coccinea- a September glory. Also known as crimson flag lily.

Sweet peas sown late will flower until October. The scent combines with the late summer roses still blooming here. 

Dahlias left in the ground over winter did much better than potted plants kept in the greenhouse.Slugs seem to like the softer growth of the cosseted plants. 

Sunflowers in such sumptuous colours. Seeds for the birds over winter. 

Rosa Shakespeare puts on a good late summer show, and the scent is reminiscent of old moss roses. 

Aster Monch. My favourite -totally reliable and a magnet for bees and butterflies. 

White phlox paniculata. Grown here in deep shade and poor soil at the back of the garage. Such a beautiful scent. A plant that shines out in dark places.

Sweet pea seeds came from Easton Walled Gardens where I had the most dreamy job last winter, promoting the gardens. It wasn’t difficult to say nice things about this glorious historic garden renovation project. 

Soon my garden will be full of seed heads- and I will treasure them just as much as the flowers that came before. 

Until then, to quote Alison :”It feels like autumn is holding its breath.”

Thanks to Helen for hosting this End of the Month View.