Monday, 24 December 2012

Season's Greetings

A holly, jolly Christmas to all.

I was going to post a seasonal photo here, you know a robin or something, but the local robin seems to have gone on holiday, so I settled for a cute photo instead. Actually, speaking of the robin, I have seen two of them in the garden recently, but not today. And two blue tits are showing a very early interest in the nest box. Ooh spring is just around the corner.

But back to today. I thought I would write about holly, traditionally used at this time of year. There are lots of holly bushes in the woods and hedgerows around here. So I decided to do a little digging; on the internet, not in the garden, it's too wet.

Apparently, way back in 1725, Lord Oxford and his entourage travelled through Sheffield. As they crossed over Birley Moor, Lord Oxford remarked on the large plantation of stunted holly trees, or hollin as they were known in those days. It was used for keeping sheep in the winter. Where the plantation ended became known as Hollins End, or Hollinsend as the area is known today.

Of course, those trees are long gone, but wouldn't it be nice to think that the holly tree in my garden, may be distantly related to those old trees on the moor. Distant in miles as well as time, but still possible I suppose.

Oh, and Lord Oxford also remarked about the bad state of Sheffield's roads as well. Some things never change.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2012

It's that time of the month again.
To show what's in bloom in the garden.

Pansy Colossal, purchased this autumn for next spring's display. They obviously didn't read the instructions on the pack.

Primrose, purchased a few years ago. Yes it's another one for the spring display.

Antirrhinum majus Madame Butterfly, purchased last spring for a summer display. I forgot to tell it which summer, so it didn't begin flowering until autumn, and is still producing blooms despite the recent frost and ice.

Lobelia erinus Superstar, purchased last spring, and flowering throughout the summer. Amazing that it is still in bloom after the severe frost.

Apart from the violas, that I have regularly featured recently, that is all that is in bloom today. Last week's weather has really sent the garden to sleep.

If you want to see what is in bloom around the world today, please visit May Dreams Gardens where Carol is hosting this meme. Thanks Carol.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Darling Buds Of.....December

Now that just doesn't sound right.
But there are buds a plenty:

This is a nice, healthy bud on Rose Princess Alexandra of Kent, one of the David Austin roses that I planted last autumn. Somehow, I don't think it will open because of the severe frosts forecast this week. But it is in a very sheltered position, so who knows?  Maybe.

This, on the other hand, is Helleborus argutifolius, which normally produces buds at this time of year, and should be flowering in a week or two, and will continue to bloom right through the winter whatever the weather.

And this is a 'twirly' (too early.) Another Hellebore, to give it its full name; Helleborus orientalis Double Ellen Red. I bought it two years ago from Hayloft Plants. The first year I grew it in a pot, and the second year I grew it in a deep hanging basket, but no flowers appeared. I then discovered that these Hellebores like a really deep root run to get established. So last summer, I moved it from the hanging basket into the ground. The cold, wet summer must have tricked it into thinking I had planted it in autumn, as now it is on the verge of flowering. It is in a very sheltered spot so hopefully any early flowers will survive.

And finally, I'm pleased to report that Long-Tailed Tits have returned to the garden. A flock of about a dozen of them have been feeding in my neighbour's conifer. Although I have put out fat balls for them, they seem more interested in the sunflower hearts at the moment. Maybe I should put a notice up for them.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Wild West

Well it's not really wild, it's a cultivar.
But it has a wild habit of growth.

This is Fuchsia Tom West, a hardy fuchsia, believed to be a mutation from Fuchsia riccartonii. It originated in France in 1853. So here we are in December, and it is still flowering. It is growing in a shady border, protected by privet hedges, and has survived the two recent severe winters, so it really is hardy.

And the wild bit?  Oh yes, well, it sends out runners. It thinks it's a strawberry. Most of the growth is upright, but it also produces branches that run along the ground, and root several feet away from the main plant. Plants for free, requiring no work on my part. Result.

But there's another habit that is not so helpful. The plant has variegated foliage, but sends up branches with no variegation, as can be seen in the photo above. These branches need to be regularly pruned out, otherwise the entire plant will revert back to green.

The squirrel has been at it again, trying to get into a squirrel-proof feeder, but this feeder really is squirrel-proof. Although the squirrel didn't think so.

I'll give him ten out of ten for effort, but he didn't get any food. Not this time anyway.