In a Vase on Monday – 9th April 2018

Just dashed home from work. Wonderful to still have some light in the evening for mooching in the garden. Each week I join Cathy at ramblinginthegarden for IAVOM. Here’s a slide show of photos showing what I’m growing and putting in my flower arrangements his week.

The silver and gold-laced primulas are just at their peak. They last for a week in water and have a faint but delicate scent.

Tulips always cheer up any arrangement. These yellow and red blooms go really well with the fancy primulas.

Flower vases are still very much focusing on bulbs. I think I’ve had Carnegie white hyacinths in my flower vases every week since Christmas. These are the very last of them. I shall miss them to be honest. The scent in the potting shed is just wonderful.

Hellebores are still in flower here. This one has a pretty, frilled anemone centre and holds its head up, which is always a good trait in any hellebore. I bought this one from Hodsock Priory in February.

Hellebores have survived everything the weather has thrown at them. This one came from Ashwood Nurseries in Kingswinford when we had a a tour of owner John Massey’s private garden. Well worth a visit. Probably the best spring garden I’ve ever seen. All fees from the open days go to local charities.

Couldn’t resist these summer bulbs. Lilium Conca D’Or is a favourite for fabulous scent. And the dahlia is new to me. I’ve watched others on IAVOM growing and using this variety, so I’m looking forward to trying it out for the first time this year.

Potting shed reading this week is Secret Houses of the Cotswolds by architectural historian Jeremy Musson, published by Frances Lincoln, part of the Quarto Homes group. Photographer Hugo Rittson Thomas allows us to peek into 20 homes, varying from castles and manor houses to grand mansions. It’s like stepping into another world to be honest. And a glimpse of the gardens through open windows- so tantalising! I just wanted to jump in the car and visit them all. But of course they are not open to the public. So I shall have to be content with gazing longingly at the book.

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In a Vase on Monday ….. er Wednesday.

Defeated by torrential rain, I’d given up on gardening until today. Here’s a brief glimpse into my day.

A quick peek in the greenhouse before I go off to work. And it’s sunny in here. At last. Yippee!!! Windows opened. Wonderful scent. Just love primulas. So cheerful.

Second year hyacinths are never as good. But they still have a value. I love the intense blue of this one, set against the yellow of the dwarf daffodils. I’m growing Tete-a-tete in pots for picking. And in honour of my wonderful Welsh grandmother, Tenby daffodils, which grow wild in Wales.

Love my newly acquired plant pots. The green one on the left is from Burgon and Ball , and the one on the right is from new company Plant Furniture.

After a quick snip of flowers for the show, I’m off to Radio Leicester for the Gardeners’ phone-in, 11-12 on a Wednesday. A fun place to work. Sophie and Jack the producers look after me. I’m always so grateful for all the encouragement and support they give. I probably couldn’t do it without their kindness to be honest.

We chatted about growing tomatoes. I’m growing bush tomatoes in containers and hanging baskets alongside programme host Ben Jackson. We’ve got cherry tomatoes from Mr Fothergill’s, Suttons and Thompson and Morgan to try out. And we’ll be growing them in Dalefoot sheep wool and bracken compost as an alternative to peat. It’s always more fun growing something with another person. I haven’t got an allotment, for example, where you would have neighbours to chat with and share hints and tips. so I’m going to grow along with Ben, and we’ll share seeds and compost and compare results. It will be a fun project to do over the summer.

We always have a laugh on the gardeners’ programme. If I see something a bit unusual, I’ll take it in to show the team. Today I took in these Badger Paw gloves. I spotted them at the Garden Press Event a few weeks ago and thought they looked interesting. The event showcases new ideas, new seeds, tools and machinery, containers and plant pots- all heading for supermarkets, garden centres and nurseries this summer. The Badger Paw is said to be perfect for preparing soil, planting, weeding and clearing roots. It’s made by Creative Products and has breathable stretchy fabric. What we couldn’t work out though was why the claw is only on one hand. It’s an interesting concept and I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

My posy of flowers this week also contains hyacinths – which just seem to keep on flowering. They love the cold weather. Tucked inside my paper wrapping are iris reticulata, hellebores, snowdrops, and dogwood twigs from my new florists’ “Hedge-in-a-Box” kit from Hopes Grove Nurseries. I spotted their ingenuous hedge kit for gin makers at the GPE. On the stand there was a sign saying make any suggestions for new hedge kits. So I asked if they could design a hedge for florists with coloured stems and flowers for all year round picking. And my wonderful “hedge-in-a-box”arrived on Monday! I’m really thrilled with it.

Thanks for joining me today. Thanks also to Cathy for hosting this meme and kindly allowing me to join in later in the week when either the internet – or the weather – has let me down.

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In a Vase on Monday

If you look carefully, you’ll see little ice cubes floating in the vases in my potting shed today. The jam jars and jugs froze solid. And I was away in London, so couldn’t rescue them. Luckily the flowers didn’t seem to mind. They perked up as soon as the temperature started to rise. These are the very last of my Paperwhite narcissi. They’ve been fantastic value, giving flowers for cutting for three months.

For my IAVOM I have recycled my spring flowers. I’ve cut off the bottom 2cm of each stem, given them all fresh water and added lots of grey willow catkins and hazel “lambs tails.” It looks like it’s a yellow and white theme this week. I haven’t planned it, but doesn’t it look cheerful. We’ve had temperatures go from -10 to 10c in just 24 hours.

Double snowdrops, Galanthus flore pleno, from my “Hodsock” corner are still flowering well. The freezing temperatures have prolonged the display. Every year Mum and I visit Hodsock Priory in Nottinghamshire. We always stay overnight so we can walk in the woodlands just before dusk and again at sunrise -before the crowds arrive. It’s a special treat to have the gardens virtually to ourselves. Each year we buy a few pots of snowdrops for a couple of pounds. And over the years they have spread to make a corner of my garden that reminds me of our special holidays together.

Noticing that I haven’t got many vases, a relative has taken pity on me and donated these little containers. The snowdrop vase has a lovely green glaze. The brown container looks like it is made of wood, but it is actually ceramic. I’ve never seen these type of vases before. I think they date back to the 1920s and were family wedding presents. So happy they have made their way to my potting shed to be treasured for years to come.

I put some moss in the container and added some hazel twigs. It is just perfect for holding a few tiny snowdrops.

The potting shed window has miniature green hellebores this week. The leaf and flower shape looks like Hellebore Corsicus, but I’ve never seen one as petite as this. I love the lime green flowers.

Here’s a quick peek at what it’s been like outdoors here. The farm pond was frozen solid for a week. We spotted a kingfisher on an overhanging branch staring intently at the water. Many of the garden birds came closer to the house during the freeze. A little gold crest has been roosting in the potted acer by the back door all week. I’ve fed it mealworms and crushed sunflower seeds saved from the veg plot.

And the gap in the hedge view. I didn’t linger long. There were hares racing across the field and pheasants in the ditch.

Today, there is no evidence of wintry weather. I feel like I’ve stepped from one country to another – a much warmer one at that. 7c feels positively balmy after what we’ve been though. And the willow catkins give us hope.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting the IAVOM meme. Why not go over and see what Cathy and all the others are growing in their gardens and cutting for their flower arrangements this week.

How has your garden fared in the bad weather? As you can see, I’ve written it on a Monday, but not managed to post it until today. Our internet is on the blink again. BT no doubt will blame the snow. Have a good week all of you.

In a Vase on Monday – @ashnurs @GdnMediaGuild

Vases full of spring tulips and daffodils are frozen solid in the potting shed today. They will be fine when they thaw out. Hopefully. Meanwhile, I’ve run round the garden and collected some flower heads to float in water. All the window ledges in the house now shine with colour and cheer. I’m determined not to be downhearted by the big freeze. The Beast from the East- I’m not scared!

Inspiration for my flowers this week comes from John Massey’s garden at Ashwood Nurseries. I was incredibly lucky to be invited to a tour of John’s private garden. It’s three acres of sheer delight. A plantaholic’s paradise. I couldn’t stop looking at this gorgeous bowl of jewel-like flowers. John, who has a passion for hepaticas, says they last a week outdoors in a shallow stone trough. They have been frozen overnight several times, and still look fresh the next day. You learn something new every day!

I’ve seen hellebores floating in water before, but never hepaticas. And it’s useful to know they last so long. I’ve put a bowl by my front door as a welcome to visitors.

Some more photos from the garden, which is open on selected days for charity. There’s a link for more information on John’s Garden.

I came home and copied theses pink-themed hellebores. Such a simple idea for a spring display and so effective.

On a tour of the nursery, I fell in love with a deep red hellebores.

And this cream hellebore. In the sunshine the petals look like satin.

These are the new 2018 Evolution Hybrids; double and anemone centre golden forms. This is the first year they have gone on sale.

We learned how to grow hepaticas. They need really good drainage. Some of the pots had virtually no bottoms. That much drainage!

White flowers are always quite difficult to photograph, but I persevered with this one.

Here’s John explaining how to grow hepaticas from seed.

John’s garden is open on March 17, April 22, June 2, and other selected days through the year. See website for details. All entry fees will go to Wings, Wombourne special needs support group for children and young adults. Last year, the garden openings made almost £25,000 for the Beacon Centre for the Blind.

My behind the scenes tour was organised by the Garden Media Guild. I’m pleased to have been a member for about a year. Membership can be for full, probationary and associate membership. I’ve found the GMG networking and training events very useful and I’ve met a lot of new friends. A recent newsletter states: “The guild welcomes any new garden communicator who wishes to embrace professional standards and work towards earning an income from their work. ” Courses, trips and mentoring schemes all assist probationary members. A lot of people have helped me with my work over the years. I’m always thinking of ways to help others. This might be the incentive you need to go for it and join in. Let me know if you do. Find out more Here . www.gardenmediaguild.co.uk

Opening times and details for the nursery Here

Thank you to Cathy ramblinginthegarden for hosting this meme. Why not go over and see what everyone else is growing, and putting in their vases this week for IAVOM.

And feel free to share this blog on twitter, Facebook and Instagram (crediting me with the pics and words, thank you). This photo of hepaticas appeared on my twitter account this week @kgimson. And on Instagram at karengimson1. Do come over and say hello.

Snowdrops and Botanical Art at Easton Walled Gardens @EWGardens

If you’ve never visited Easton Walled Gardens, you’ve got until 4pm tomorrow to view their stunning snowdrops. The gardens are open today and tomorrow 24/25th February, from 11am. And you are in for a treat. The winter displays have never looked better and feature snowdrops, iris, crocus, hellebores and masses of scented flowering shrubs.

I wrote about the history of Easton in a blog post last winter Here.

Here’s a gallery of photos I took earlier in the week.

If you are lucky, you will see kingfishers flying along the river. Such a special moment when you catch sight of that bright flash of blue feathers.

A favourite view of the stone bridge crossing from the meadow to the walled garden.

Always a poignant moment to stop and look at the ruins, all that remains of the mansion house that once stood on this site. New this year, there’s some marker stones set in the grass to show where the front door would have been.

We love the kokedama displays. Such an unusual and pretty way to display snowdrops.

I might try this idea, hanging basket kokedamas look spectacular in the gatehouse stone archway.

There are displays of little potted bulbs all around the gardens. This one is Iris Blue Note. The huge snowdrops are Comet.

Discovering secrets. How to dry and store seed, so that the mice can’t get at them. Easy when you know how.

There’s always something new to find at Easton. This year it’s a botanical art exhibition in the courtyard which runs until 11th March -on Easton’s usual opening days.

I loved this aconite. My camera phone doesn’t really do it justice.

The artists taking part are Norma Gregory, Dawn Wright and Sue Vize.

For more information go to www.visiteaston.co.uk .

Easton is just off the A1 near Grantham in Lincolnshire.

My Garden Right Now

Joining in with Michelle and her new meme celebrating what’s in flower in the garden right now.

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It’s been sunny and warm enough on a couple of days to open the summerhouse doors. Grace cat has appreciated the warm weather. I’ve propped up the blue hyacinths with hazel twigs. Catkins are a perfect match for spring bulbs. Tete a tete daffodils were planted in pots in October and put behind the pottingshed out of sight. Luckily I looked the other day, and they were in full flower. A week or two earlier than last year.


This is the current view looking out from the summerhouse. The mini-wood will soon be bursting into leaf.  Snowdrops bought at Hodsock Priory are starting to spread. There’s a patch of wild garlic I shall be harvesting soon to make a delicious soup.


It only takes a few years for the patches of snowdrops to bulk up. I will be dividing these in the next week or so. I will dig up a clump, break them into half, put half back in the planting hole and spread the others about, incorporating some grit and leafmould in the planting pockets.


I’m saying goodbye to the aconite flowers for another year. Finally, after years of trying, they have taken off and are spreading across the wild garden. Incorporating lots of leafmould each year seems to be the answer. Plus patience. They really do only grow where they want to. I very nearly gave up to be honest.


At the side of the pottingshed there’s another wild garden where snowdrops and tiny  crocus   are making themselves at home. I love looking out of the side windows at this view.


Wild daffodils are finally starting to spread too. This was just one flowerhead last year. I am really happy to see it settling in with three flowers this year.


I think it’s my favourite daffodil. Such a delicate flower.


Primroses are escaping from the borders and making themselves at home in the lawn. A lovely consequence of giving up on the lawn feed and weed regime. Soon the whole front lawn will be awash with blue scented wild violets. They virtually pop up overnight. Such a wonderful sight to come home to.


There are violets by the front gate and all along the sunny front hedge bottom.


Eagerly awaited every spring- Prunus Okame is the first tree to flower in my garden. A blue sky is the perfect background for such a pretty pale pink flower.


A pink corydalis is thriving under the prunus and lives quite happily underneath the hellebores in shade.


My favourite hellebore right now. It reminds me of a stained glass window.


And finally, the pottingshed windowsill has pots of tiny tete a tete daffodils and single snowdrops. You can just see the blue hyacinths and matching daffodils inside the shed where the scent is intoxicating- mixed with smells of petrol for the mower and compost on the potting bench!

I hope you have enjoyed my whistle-stop  tour of the garden today. Thank you to Michelle for hosting this new meme. Why don’t you go over and see what’s looking good today in Michelle’s garden on www.http://vegplotting.blogspot.co.uk . Join in- all welcome!