Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Restoration of the Senses

"The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses." ~Hanna Rion
The Last post before the Computer gets unplugged. I will not be able to procrastinate and go on the internet for a while untill BT connects my broadband up.
I love these flowers from Harlow Carr.I hope the new garden will be full of healthy plants, singing birds, still waters, fruit tree's, and vegetables.
I want it to restore my senses and all the people who visit it, or see it vicariously on Snappys Gardens Blog. My winter project will be to reclaim the garden from the Brambles. Then to fill it with a myriad of plants, shrubs, and flowers.
I will miss my daily posting, as it is a cultivated habit now.I will have a weeks worth of New Garden news. Ideas for lots more blog posts, and questions to pose.
See you all in a weeks time!


Today is moving day to the new house. The photo was taken from the upstairs bedroom window on Monday. The wild garden is below.I have been packing my things ready to go tomorrow to the new house.

The phone line and internet will be moving, but there will a week with no blog :(

Once I'm online I can write about what I have done to the secret garden, buried beneath fire weed and brambles that have knocked the fence over!

Hope to be blogging my progress through the winter in the new garden. For me after a year with no garden its like Christmas come early.

Snappys garden blog will be live from my own garden. I have spring bulbs galore, seeds, and the fifty plants in the flat that need moving.

See you all in a week or so when im back online!

Monday, November 26, 2007

New Garden, New Shrub?

Oh happy days.I finally signed for the house today and took the keys. This is the first blogged photo of the garden. A teasing shot.
The internet needs moving on Wednesday so there will be a week or so with no blog :(
I took the first photos today on my mobile camera. I didnt think I would have the energy after the night shift.The excitement kept me awake for most of today.
What is this shrub? I wander if its a Skimmia.Its a big shrub..
The Snappy gardener now has a garden of sorts. Its like a secret garden as the weeds have overgrown it...
Im happy :) but tired. The last post untill the new internet will be tomorrow. I have a busy few days ahead with work, packing, and moving!

New day Sunrise

The Sun rise this morning at the hospital after my night shift. The Cranes are there as part of the new building.The sky was a lovely mixture of orange and violet, streaked clouds. A new day has begun..

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Coming Days

A Winged Beastie from Hil's garden.I took this photo before we went to Tatton Park.

Im back on a short set of nights.I should finally sign for the house in the morning, and see the new garden.

Its been an uphill struggle, like the Fly walking up the grassy leaf!

Its cold now that I have woken up. I want to do some google research about Catepillars and Stripes using to predict weather. Thanks Oldroses for the comment. A gardener watches the sky, the barometer, and the wild life in an attempt to work out what the coming days weather will show.

Hope all your weekends have been good, and that your gardens are not frozen over yet.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Morning Star

The CC has finished its unfurling of its petals. The stamen and pollen are now exposed ready for some pollination. It is a spectacular star shape this morning, with the red petals opened like a windmill. They are almost Translucent so the Red shadows darken the centre. It stands out compared to the leaves behind it. Its an insects eyed view :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Swan Falls and Flower

The Christmas Cactus flower continues to unfurl its petals from the cylindrical bud.

A long day at work.It was cold this morning,and even colder on the way back. The new garden will be frozen by the weather.

In the south of England they have reported Berwick swans have settled into the waters, in numbers double of last year. Scientists take it that the Winter will be bitterly cold this year.

They have flown 3000 miles from the Artic Tundra on the cold Easterly winds that have been making us shiver.

If there is two things the British love, One is gardening, and the other is talking about the Weather. I think the Island shape of the country, and old reliance on agriculture and the sea have made us weather obsessed!

To the point of predicting the weather because of the arrival of Swans!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Christmas Cactus and Kutani Cranes

Two photos of the Christmas Cactus with the Red flower slowly unfurling. Usually I come back from being away to see it had already flowered, so im enjoying monitoring its progress. It has one other formed flower bud, but I hope it flowers more. It has travelled from Selby and flowered every year. This is the fourth year I think. It has also supplied some leaves for propogating another plant.
I have seen other people who have the Xmas cactus (Lisa from Millertime has a few in red and tangerine colours).
For most people here its the kind of plant that sits happily in a pot most of the year, looking green with its linked leaves. When the daylight gets shorter it triggers a flowering response. The bright colours help cheer us up as the days are darker, colder, and wetter.
The flower reminds us that Christmas is drawing nearer, with its common name. It always reminds me now of my late Nan, and their house in Selby. Sweets and Biscuits in the cupboard by the front door. Giant home made Yorkshire puddings with Sunday roasts. Trains passing by the back garden, and on Sunday mornings Church bells used to peal. The kettle was always on at Nans, ready for another cuppa...
People pass away, but the memorys remain. I know people buy plants for gifts, and celebrations and then can recall where a plant came from. The power of suggestion must be in the chlorophyll or the flowers.
In Nans house the Christmas cactus was in the drawing room, with the Dining table always set, and the french dresser polished. Nestled between the windowill and the lace net curtains was the plant. It was the Best room, reserved for Celebrations and Dinners. She must have loved the plant given as a gift, because it was in the Best room.
The Plant pot is made by famous English makers Wedgewood, and has the popular Kutani Cranes on it. I just changed the top two inches of soil in the Summer. I kept the Cranes and Peonies as its home.
I hope it keeps flowering so I can photograph it and blog it to share with the world through the coming winter months.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dahlia from an Ever Changing Canvas

A Dahlia from Harlow Carr.I am hopefully now on final stretch to get the house and the keys so I can take some before photos of the new garden. This is so bright the colour. It was sat in a pot waiting to be planted somewhere.
I hope to go back again to Harlow Carr to see whats growing and what has changed now we are in November. Its like a magic place for me where I can get ideas, and see various plantings. They have sooo many plants and tree's to photograph too.Its like an ever changing canvas, where the picture always looks different based on when you visit.
Next Spring I want to return to see the carpet of spring bulbs which I can only guess as to where they might be, and to see the extensive collection of Magnolias. In the Summer I saw the trees adorned with spent blooms, and it is mentioned in the guidebook about the Magnolia flowers.
If you plant well then every season can have interest, so you do not just venture into your garden in Spring and Summer. Im aching to get into the soil and feel the wind on my face.
I have Dahlia tubers too but not as bright as the one photographed.More news soon I hope.

Monday, November 19, 2007

White Orchids and Myrtle

Today the Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh held their Diamond wedding anniversary celebration at Westminster Abbey. All their children and Grandchildren were present.
Buckingham Palace released sixty facts.
I like the fact that her Wedding Bouquet was made of White Orchids, with a Sprig of Mryrtle grown from Queen Victorias original wedding bouquet.
The next day the Queen returned to Westminster Abbey to place her Bouquet on the tomb of the Unknown soldier, as her own mother did after her wedding day.
I am a Royalist, and love our monarchy. The tradition and history through thousands of years.

Red and Gold

This is what I bought yesterday, the plant that my friend used to buy her grandmother every year, a Poinsettia.
The Red bracts and golden yellow flowers in the centre feel Christmassy.
It has a golden pot holding it, but it was leaking water hence the white mat under it to protect the wooden surface of the stereo unit.
It was known to the Aztecs and the Sap used for treating fever, and the Red Bracts for making Dyes.The Great Aztec King Montezuma liked the plants brought to his capital on Caravans because they would not grow at altitude.
The plant is Mexican, and has a traditional legend. A poor Mexican girl was going to Church on Xmas Eve with her brother,and had no money for a gift. She saw some weeds growing along the roadside and picked them into a bouquet. She entered the church sadly but thinking a gift given with love would be acceptable to god. When she laid them at the Christs feet in the Church they burst into red flower. The people there declared it was a miracle. The mexican name for Poinsettias is Flores de Noche Buena, flowers of the Holy night.
in the 17th century the Fransiscan monks had used Poinsettias for Christmas Pageants because of the bright colours flowering around the holiday period.
A US ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsett, first brought it back to America in 1825 following a stay in Mexico. He was walking around the Mexican countryside and came across a large shrub with the red bracts. He took cuttings back to his greenhouse in South Carolina and began the American and worlds love of these plants. As the plant became more popular it needed a common name.It changed from Euphorbia pulcherrima, to Poinsettia.
Today the USA grows ninety percent of the worlds Poinsettias. My little plant in the pot could have come from the Paul Ecke Ranch in California.
61,000,000 plants were sold in 2004, and its noted to be the most popular American house plant.
I have just looked at photos of the Wild Poinsettias. The bracts are strikingly red, and the yellow flowers star like. This is another plant story that weaves its way through human history, and becoming entwined with storys and beliefs, myths and traditions.
Do you have one in your home around the holidays, or did your family have them?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Spring Shopping on a Sunday

I finally bought some spring bulbs, at half price from Home Base.There are fourty Muscari Armeniacum, ten dwarf Toronto Tulips, ten dwarf Minnow Daffodils, fifteen Anemone Blanda Blue shades, and twenty five Chionodoxo Lucillae.

It was Half price, a bargain for five pounds. I got some Hyacinths for growing on indoors too. Every year I think I will try to grow some from bulbs. These were reduced to £2 each for 3 bulbs.

There are three Lavender coloured Hyacinth Ostara, and three Hyacinth Pink Pearl. These have been planted in two plastic boxes, the only thing I had shallow enough for the bulbs. There are special shallow pots you can buy for growing Hyacinths on. These plastic boxes are sat in the dark now waiting for some leaf growth.

I also bought a small potted plant in a silver pot. After being inspired by my earlier post about plants that remind you of Xmas. My friend in Scotland used to buy her Granny one of these plants every year. Its a Mexican native, and has a lovely legend attached to it!

Christmas Torch

A second bud on my Nans Christmas Cactus.It is a light pink colour compared to the red of the other flower bud. I have some leaves sat in a pot of soil to try and grow another plant on.
The Spider plant also has three baby plants growing alongside the main plant, with the stolon pinned down with a paper clip. Hopefully they will root in the smaller pot to give me three spider plants.
They make good house warming gifts. They are natural air purifiers. Spider plants and Peace Lilys. I have the cleanest air with fifty plants on three windowsills.
This week I need to start packing the flat up into boxes, ready to sign the contract, then try to get some help to move into the new house.
My spring bulb buying yesterday was unsuccessful because the plants and bulbs had been moved into the back of the shop. In their place was Christmas stuff, xmas trees, cards, tinsel, baubles, etc.
Wakefield has switched its Christmas lights on already. As the darkness falls they illuminate the cold nights. I love all the colours of the lights.
I wander if my Christmas Cactus will flower before December 25th?I wander what plants or flowers people associate with Xmas?
I have some Holly growing, and some Ivy..but thats a future post!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Coneflower Medicine

Some Cone flower heads from the August trip to Harlow Carr.I have been under the weather today with a bad cough.

My photos have been arranged this year by month. If I do not have anything good to blog I can go through the mists of time to my favourite trips out.

Three visits to Harlow Carr, one to the RHS flower show at Tatton Park, and the Last one was The Autumn flower show at Harrogate.

Thousands of photos were taken. I love this for the warm feel, with the almost holographic seed head. These are works of natures Art I think. Bee's and wasps love them as do I.

Im thinking of trying to grow Echinaceas next year. The original purple coneflower. They are in my garden dreams.

Its Friday evening, the BBC is going to hand over the night to Pudsey bear. The Children in Need programme goes on all night with celebrities and normal people raising money for the charity. They generally raise millions of pounds.

The flower head is almost the same colour as Pudsey Bear :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Garden Dreams

Am on a day off today after two long days at work. My move date has been postponed by a week due to the estate agents retraining!!
I will have to wait a week more to get my garden! The weeds will be thinking they have survived another year!
I love projects, and the winter one will be to renovate the back garden to its past glory. It showed signs of being cultivated once.
I got a brochure today from Crocus, with some beautiful Tulips and daffodils for sale. Spring bulbs.
I will need to buy some and plant them in a large bowl untill I can get them into some soil.
My window daffodil bulb from cheltenham is showing signs of growth now.
More time to plan the winter garden, and collect boxes for moving day. My plants will all need boxes to travel in to new windowsills.
I saw a lovely half moon three layer shelf today ( called an Etagere) in the crocus book. I will keep writing seed lists from all my flower catalogues that I have accumulated.
A week more of garden dreams...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rose Mary Rose

Another Rose photo that went into the David Austin competition. It was named after the Henry VIII flagship that sunk in the Solent.
Have worked a long day today, and am back tomorrow.I finally have good news on the house, and will sign a contract friday.Gardening properly soon :)
Cant wait as its been too long with no soil on my hands..

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rememberance Sunday

A field of poppies..

Time for reflections on Comrades fallen, poppy petals in Trafalgar square fountain floating...
A red Field Poppy that was growing wild on the edge of Harlow Carr, just like the ones that grow in Northern France. After the battles in the Northern region of Flanders and Picardy the only thing that grew in the decimated landscapes were fields of Red Poppies.
It has used by the British Legion here every year since 1921, in the poppy appeal. I have had the poppy in the right hand side bar this week. Red for blood, and Black for remembrance. The Guns stopped on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the Eleventh month, November 1918. Thus was remembrance day started 3 years later. It is now a key date in the nations calender.
It now encompasses all soldiers fallen in all wars, and sadly in 2007 they are still falling. The only year that British servicemen have not been killed on active duty was 1968! Its a day of reflections, respect, and memories. This poem inspired the poppy appeal:
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses , row on row
That marks our space; and in the sky
The Larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt Dawn, Saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up the quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The Torch, be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields
( John McCrae, A Canadian Surgeon in the Army wrote that in 1915.)
The Top two photos are from the Royal British Legion website. Their link is here:
Long may they continue to run the Poppy appeal every year. They really do keep the torch burning through the years. Its a great charity that continues to assist people and their families in the British armed forces, for soldiers past, presnt, and future.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Industrial Ghosts and Flowering Plants

Two stories in the news here that are both related to past Industrys. The Coal industry in Scotland, and a former Clay Quarry in Cornwall.
The first was a new finding of a rare Orchid on a disused coal mining site in Scotland. the funky named Epipactis Youngiana (I prefer Youngs Helleborine which is easier to say).

The top photo is taken from google images, the Orchids yellow bell shaped flowers found in Scotland... I love the fact we have wild orchids growing here in Britain.
This particular Orchid has only been found to grow on land formally used in heavy Industry. The Scottish land it was discovered on was a coal mine untill 1980.
The problem is these land polluting industrys where this orchid has been found growing, are no longer in existence. If this is this orchids preferred environment how do you maintain it?
By keeping the land polluted with heavy metals in the soil?
Most of these former industrial sites are not protected, and several have been developed, eliminating the Orchids that grew there. The botanists took seeds from this flowering one, so hopefully somebody from the Hardy Orchid society will be able to grow this plant so it does not dissapear from Britain.
If the orchid did not adapt to the changing conditions it would die out though, by selection pressure (Darwin again).
The second story is a corpse flower is almost flowering at the Eden Project in Cornwall. I remember when one flowered at the New York botanical gardens.
For a malodorous flower it makes headlines wherever it flowers!
I still want to go to the Eden project to see the Huge Biomes (Round domes) built on a former clay quarry, with seperate plant environments in each one. It says they have 1000,000 plants representing 5000 species from the worlds climatic zones.
How cool that somebody thought why dont we build a garden on a flooded scooped out clay pit? The project was a successful millenium project, and is in the top 10 of British attractions for visitor numbers. The glass domes and twist on the garden of Eden captivated the visitors.
Two storys linked by industrial ghosts that are no longer there, the flowers are in their place.

New Beginings

A funny day. No news on the house yet, am waiting for the new landlord to give the estate agent a contract. I over slept today for some reason. Maybe the grey clouds, strong wind, and cold kept me under the quilt!

I am blogging late (it will say about 1am).I have been trying to propogate plants. Pictured is the spider plant with the stolon pinned to the little pot.Im hoping the 3 baby plants will root in the pot.They are just sat on top of the soil with a paper clip holding the runner down.

I took some leaves from the Christmas cactus as UK Bob suggested and put them in the small pot. Six cuttings to try to make one healthy plant. If that works I will do that every so often to make plants for next years plant sale in Walton.

The media officer from Send A Cow sent me an email saying she liked the blog post about keyhole gardens. I want to order the Bag garden kit for when I move. I will see what I can grow over the winter in it. I think you can get Winter onion sets, and grow Kale...

I moved the new Chilli seedlings from the round pot with the fuschia cutting into their own little pots. I have five chilli plants growing now. Jalapeno, Friars Hat, and some unknown varieties from work. The store bought chillis are called Serenade. I have five seedlings from the seeds I scooped out.

I need to look up chilli recipies to use all my chillis if these plants grow! I hope to have positive news soon about house (with the small garden that needs my TLC and green fingers).

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Send A Cow

I was looking on the internet yesterday for gifts. I remembered a catalogue I got last year called Send a Cow.
For people who want to donate an animal to struggling communities to make them self sufficient.
You can send a cow (or a goat, sheep, or fruit trees etc). For example the cow produces milk for the farmers, the manure becomes fertiliser to grow vegetables. If the Cow has calves these can be sold, or used as meat. The cow is symbolic of the community becoming self sufficent. Where life is hard these small acts can reap big benefits. Another initiative they have been doing is about gardening training.
The website had a competition for schools, and children to build the best Bag garden, and for those with more room the Keyhole garden.
The bag garden is a novel way of growing vegetables in a small space in an inhospitable environment. The examples were from Lesotho which is a rugged mountainous country with extremes of heat, thunderstorms, rain, and hail.
The Bag Garden is simply a hessian sack with a column of rocks in the middle for watering, compost and cow manure, and sticks to hold the sides, and as a way of growing supports. They are very compact.
The Key hole garden is so called because viewed from above the central space is shaped like a keyhole. It is a raised bed effect, with easy access for children, and poorly adults. Sub Saharan Africa is at the sharp end of the Hiv/Aids pandemic, so the garden is easily accessible from the keyhole. It has a basket in the centre for watering, and vegetable peelings for compost. Ash from fires gives Potassium, manure gives nitrates, Rusty tin cans give the soil iron etc.
Send a cow is teaching people how they can grow their own vegetables all year around. The children now eat regular meals, and are healthier, so able to attend schools.
The best ideas seem to be the simplest, well thought out, but brilliant none the less.
Once I move to the house I will try out the Bag Garden (its ten pounds from send a cow). The project here in the UK teaches children about growing vegetables, geography, and awareness of their peers in Africa who have very different lives. The video shows an 8 year old boy tending the keygarden with his sister!
What is amazing is they love vegetables, Cabbages, Spinach, onions, and his favourite Beetroot! Children here in the UK are notorious for not eating their vegetables. These projects in Lesotho show the difference the Keyhole gardens make. All the materials are locally available at no cost, besides the labour involved. Its a matter of getting seeds!

I found the video on you tube hurray, so it can be embedded in this blog post. Its nine minutes long but is very illustrative of my post!
Its another example of the difference that the earth can make in healing individuals, communities, and making malnutrition a thing of the past. The community can see the benefits and start to copy the gardening!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Christmas Cactus in Bud

The Christmas Cactus from my Nans house has started growing flower buds the past week when i have been working nights. It is a strange plant being an Epiphytic cactus. The longer dark nights and lower temperatures I think have caused it to begin bud growth.

Sclhumbergera is the Genus name, I dont know much else about the plant except for where I got it from.

It sits most of the year quietly, occasionally dropping leaves, and sometimes looking dried up on the edges. It must be happy though if its developing flower buds. I hope they do not drop off before they open and have been photographed.

I must try to propogate it. Wikipedia says a sandy based soil will help the quarter buried leaf grow new plants. Its special plant to me because its an heirloom, a living memory of my late Nan. It was growing in her front facing dining room with the welsh dresser and dining room table. It was flowering when me and my sister were sorting the house out, and has a few times after.

This will be the first time that the Christmas cactus will be photographed for the Gardens blog though.

Gardening Spirits

Photographed is my lucky Japanese Money cat waving his left paw, with his Bib, gourd on his belt. The Maneki Neko.

I got an email asking about how gardening can make you happy, even on a budget. I replied to the Lady who has quoted me on the MSN finance site, how money can bring you happiness....

How Appropriate to use the Money Cat about an article in the Finance part of MSN.

It is strange to see your own words printed in an article on the internet.

Heres the Article link:

I am quoted at number five, "Buy some Interests"... I still hold true that growing plants and flowers, and tending the soil brings you down to earth, and soothes your stresses. Whatever your budget you can get the same pleasure. Seeds, volunteer plants, and cuttings mean if you do not have a large amount of money you can still grow a lovely garden. Gardeners are generally community spirited, and Altruistic, sharing excess plants, and helpful advice or problem solving.
Even the Internet Garden Bloggers share the same spirit (as witnessed by the amount of seeds flying over the world in envelopes. or meetings), that gardening infuses into you.

Im off for a week after my nights, expect more posts!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Brighter Day

From my Fortune cookie from the Chinese take away last night at work, It has a succinct night staff quote:
"For every dark night, there is a brighter day"
The photo is of the gorgeous Lady Emma Hamilton Peach coloured rose, taken in Harlow Carr on my last visit. It did not win the David Austin vouchers so im going to blog my best entrys. I love this roses colour, and strong scent.
I would have bought one of these rose bushes with the voucher. The roses he grows are sumptuous, and I think every garden needs at least one rose species!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Busy Lizzy

Im back after my fifth night shift. I overslept yesterday and had to rush to work with emails unchecked and blog not written.

I love this busy lizzy flower, which is flowering like mad in the kitchen. It was the only surviving plant grown from Seed!

I have had a few successes this year, along with a lot of disasters.

Its always good to savour the successes you have grown!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

White Rabbit and Pink Rose

An old picture of the Rosebush that was in flower today on the way home from work. Even after the house owners cut all the pink roses off, it has had a second flush.
White Rabbit! Its the first of November (Where does the time go to?)