Autumn planting, Spring colour.

This year there is a new planting plan for the raised beds bordering the patio. This will be the first year I have not planted tulips here instead there are Wallflowers Persian Carpet, Digitalis Suttons Apricot and Forget-me-nots’. These have all been grown from seed a considerable saving on plants along with not buying tulip bulbs.

I have saved tulip bulbs from last year, these will all be planted in pots, then if they do not perform well they can be moved out of sight.

The tulip bulbs have spent the summer in the greenhouse they are now clean and ready for the planting.

The Foxglove, Digitalis ‘Pam’s Choice’ has been grown for the main border.

What have you planted for spring colour?

Open Gardens and Flower Festival.

This bank holiday we joined in with 16 others in the village for the Open Gardens and Flower Festival.

Some of the tulips had gone over however the Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Heaven’ were just beginning to open.

Their true beauty can be really appreciated when photographed up close.

I created a short video of the garden during a quiet moment between visitors.

Please turn on your sound, select Watch on YouTube then select full screen.

Tulips and Blossom.

I have begun an experiment with tulips this year, following an article I read by Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter regarding which tulips they found to be perennial.

The most reliable ones being the Darwin Hybrids, I planted three varieties in November, two in pots and one in the borders.
The real test will be next year if they flower as well. One indication mentioned in the article was whether the bulbs had divided into several small ones or remained as one big bulb, these being the ones worth saving.

I planted Tulip ‘Apeldoorn’ in pots placed in several areas around the garden. Please Click on gallery pictures to enlarge.

These remind me of the traditional cottage garden tulips similar to the ones I brought home from my Great Aunt’s garden.

Tulip Hakuun aka ‘White Cloud’ in large white pots in the White and Green garden.

Tulip ‘Daydream’ was planted in bulb saucers in the borders along with
Forget- Me-Nots and Wall Flowers.

Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’ has already proved to be perennial here, these tulip bulbs were purchased three years ago.

Tulip ‘Ballede’ was planted in the borders ten years ago and while its numbers have reduced over time, I think for such a beautiful tulip, it will be worth topping up next autumn.

Providing some spring cheer in the welcome rain is Clematis ‘ Pamela Jackman ‘ with pots of Azaleas at her feet.

Along with Apples ‘Rosett’ and ‘Blenheim Orange’…..

….is the Crab Apple ‘Golden Hornet’.

Have you found any tulip varieties to be perennial in your garden?

Some Colourful Relief.

With all the terrible weather, gales and floods that the UK has recently experienced,     I hope some spring colour will help to bring some relief.

(Fortunately whilst we live close to Upton upon Severn, currently Upton in Severn, we are away from the floods).

Tulip ‘Johann Strauss’        The label said, flowers March to April.

Crocus ‘Gipsy Girl’.

Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’ and Primula ‘Little Queen Red’

Crocus tommasinianus


Here’s wishing for a sunny, dry spring.

Tulips, Pots and Saucers.

The beginning of November saw the planting of pots with, crocus, iris, narcissus and species rock tulips.

Old hanging baskets used to keep the squirrels away.

Two large pots either side of the banana bench were planted with Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’, Siberian Wallflowers and Forget-me-Nots.

When the rain finally eased I managed to complete planting my remaining tulip bulbs.

Those of you who regularly follow my blog will know that I rotate dahlias with tulips in the raised beds edging the patio. Last year I used three bulb saucers for the tulips as an experiment to see if it was any easier, when it came to lifting them in the spring.

I was suitably impressed to use them for all the tulips in these beds this year. I purchased extra ones to have four 30cm ones for each bed. One hundred flaming spring green tulip bulbs were shared out between the eight saucers, four pots of Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Heaven’ saved from last year, Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ planted around the edge with Wallflower ‘Vulcan’, grow from seed planted in July, in between the bulbs. Forget-me-Not’s will be added in the spring from self-sown ones from around the garden.

Hopefully they will all be putting on a show for our opening on the 2nd and 3rd of May, in aid of the village church, when we will have a plant stall to raise funds for St Richards Hospice, based in Worcester.

Here’s looking forward to Spring.

April Top Ten.

A quick tour around Our Garden@19 to capture my Top Ten, joining Chloris at The Blooming Garden.

The White and Green garden, Lunaria annua ‘Alba’ and Tulip ‘Spring Green’.

Lunaria annua ‘Rosemary Verey’ and Cytisus ‘Golden Cascade’

Cytisus praecox Albus

Clematis alp. ‘ Broughton Bride ‘


The Lego inspired Bug Hotel with Roof Garden.

Tulip ‘Angelique’ and violas.

You can see more April Top Ten by visiting The Blooming Garden

Do you have a favourite or a top ten of your own?

An Alpine Spring Welcome.

Welcome to Our Garden@19.

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Alpine boxes and Pots

Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’

Narcissus bulbocodium var citrinus. Hoop Petticoat Daffodil.

Ipheion ‘ Alberto Castillo ‘

Ipheion ‘ Alberto Castillo ‘

Arabis procurrens ‘Variegata’

Tulip clusiana

Hepatica Triloba

All we need now is some Spring weather!

Top Ten for March.

Weather lore says: “March, in like a lion out like a lamb.”

March is a month of transition, a much used word of late. In a gardening context I think emergence is a more suitable label. The garden and plants are emerging from winter into spring.

It was traditionally the month for planting spring crops, mainly spring barley, when the  March winds would help to dry out the soil as it was cultivated in preparation for the drill. Warm April showers would follow to help germinate the seed.

Joining in with Chloris at the Blooming Garden  and the other bloggers posting their top ten flowers of the month, I decided to post pictures of emerging flower buds and leaves,( There is a theme emerging here!)

These pictures were taken during the month – we haven’t recently had snow.

Forever the optimist, here are my ten ‘potential’ flowers to brighten the spring garden.


Tulip ‘Red Riding Hood’.

Allium Kartaviense

Fritillaria ‘William Rex’, already producing its distinctive smell!

Hyachinth ‘Blue Pearl’.

Camassia leichtlinii ‘Sacajawea’


Magnolia ‘Stella’

Paeonia Lactiflora ‘Duchesse de Nemours’.

Rhododendron Yakushimanum ‘Grumpy’


Even the Head Gardener emerges occasionally!

Please visit Chloris and see what she and all the other bloggers have posted as their Top Ten.

What is emerging in your garden?

The Birds and the Bees…

Today (Friday) was the first day of sunshine here and after too many days of rain, it does bring a song into your heart.

I ventured out into the garden to finish pruning the climbing roses, before I began, I decided to do a tour with the camera. The gardener’s friend, was as usual, keeping an eye on me while providing his own welcome tune.


The Mohonia in full flower, with the sunshine, brought the honey bees out from their hives.

Mahonia Bealii


They were also visiting the Clematis which scrambles all over it.

Clematis cirrhosa balearica

The Flowers and the Trees.

By the front door there are pots planted up for a seasonal display with Carex, Ferns, Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’,  Erica x darleyensis ‘Phoebe’, Thuja ‘Goldy and the…


…Snowdrop elwesii…

Galanthus elwesii

…and a hellebore.


Another pot contains the Sarcococca ‘Winter Gem’.

Sarcococca ‘Winter Gem’

On the other side of the door an Euonymus is trained against the wall with Sarcococca confusa in front…

Sarcococca confusa

…the powerful scent from the Sacococca ( Christmas Box) fills the house every time the door is opened.

Sarcococca confusa with Euonymus Emerald & Gold

In the Oriental garden the Hamamelis is in full flower, I have mentioned before I would not recommend this variety, because it holds on to its dead leaves. I removed them all before taking this picture.

Hamamelis Moll Pallida (Witch Hazel)

The sunshine was highlighting the Erica ‘Albert’s Gold’ by the entrance to the White and Green garden and the standard variegated Holly, Ilex ‘Argentea Margenata’ at the back.


Around  the Holly are planters with variegated Myrtle, Tulips just starting to show and Vinca minor ‘Alba’

Ilex aquifolium ‘Argentea Margenata’ & Myrtus Communis Variegata

The snowdrops are beginning to open around the garden, especially where the sun reaches…

Galanthus nivalis

…the common double, which was given to me by a friend, are clumping up well, ready to divide later on…

Galanthus ‘Flore Pleno’.

…as is the winter aconite, although more slowly.

Winter Aconite
Eranthus hyemalis

The Prunus Serrula always looks wonderful with the sunlight on its bark, its mug decorations ( Mug Tree) have so far survived the winter.

Prunus serrula

Around its roots is a Skimmia and variegated Ivy. Many gardeners fear ivy in the garden, I like to see it, the variegated forms are not so vigorous, while providing some colour to lighten a dark area of the garden along with being good for wildlife.

Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ & Variegated Hedra.

It is easy to ignore plants such as Skimmia when everything else is in full flower, however at this time of year they make a welcome contribution to the garden and this one below is a little more unusual than most.

Skimmia Hermaphrodite

The House Sparrows are gathering in the top of a Viburnum before diving down on to the ground feeders.

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What ‘Birds and Bees, Flowers and Trees’ are making you sing in your garden?




Tulips. (From Hanley Swan).

I am, sadly, old enough to remember Max Bygraves singing the cheerful song ‘Tulips from Amsterdam’.

Tulips along with Dahlias are a vital element to providing year round cheer and colour here in Our Garden@19

The dahlias are all now lifted and safely stored in the small greenhouse, this one is kept frost free. There are two electric tube heaters in here, with a new heated propagating sand bench, at the rear, containing some seedlings which I am hoping to carry through the winter. These have been joined by the Aeoniums, Cotyledon Orbiculata, Colocasia ‘Black Dragon’ and Pelargoniums.


The dahlias on the bench are labeled and waiting for the ‘head gardener’ to box them up in compost similar to the ones you can see on the shelf below.


The raised beds that edge the patio have been home, during the summer, to the dahlias and annuals, it is my nod to the Exotic Garden at Great Dixter. I wrote about the dahlias I grow here. 

Tulip ‘Abu Hassan’, now follows into the raised beds along with a few Erysimum x allionii (Siberian Wallflowers) and Myosotis (For-get-me-nots.) Hopefully these will be putting on a show for the early May Bank holiday open gardens.

Raised Bed 1

Raised Bed 2

The pots contain more tulips to dot around the garden in the spring, they are wintered on the patio to help keep the squirrels away.

The Tulips carried over from last year are Tulip clusiana ‘Peppermintstick’, Tulip ‘Calgary’ ,Tulip ‘Orange Emperor’, Tulip ‘Prinses Irene’, Tulip ‘Red Riding Hood’, Tulip ‘Spring Green’, Tulip ‘Tres Chic’ Tulip ‘Queen of the Night’ and Tulip ‘China Pink’. These were lifted or emptied from their pots after flowering and laid out to dry in the small green house rotating with the dahlias.

Tulipa ‘ Ballade ‘ is left in the main borders.

These bulbs are new for 2017, adding to the ones already in the garden.
Allium ‘Beau Regard’, Allium Karatavience ‘Ivory Queen’, Iris reticulata ‘Polar Ice’,
Muscari ‘Siberian Tiger’, Scilla siberica, Narcissus ‘Thalia’ and Tulip ‘Angelique’.

Some tulip pictures to show what we are hoping for.

Have you planted any bulbs for a spring spectacular?


Growing  Dahlias has become popular again within the last 15 years or so, some credit the late Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter with their revival.

I grew up next door to my maternal grand parents and there was a large garden producing almost all of our food. A vegetable garden and orchard with chickens, pigs and bees kept my grandparents and parents busy, we were ‘encouraged’ to help with the weeding along with having our own little plot.

Besides growing food for the table my grandparents used to show an array of produce in all the local shows. Their pride and joy was the Dahlia cutting bed (how ‘today’ was that!) providing both flowers to sell and for show.

This picture below shows them standing among the Dahlias with one of their prize winning cups.


From the beginning I have grown Dahlia’s here in Our Garden@19, partly due to nostalgia, partly inspiration from visiting Great Dixter and reading Christopher Lloyd’s books.

I use them in a simple rotation, in the raised beds edging the patio and following on in the space, occupied by Tulips, Wallflowers and Forget-me-Nots. I lift and store the Tulips in the greenhouse during the summer when the Dahlias are ready to go into the garden. The bulbs worth keeping, along with any new ones, are planted in November after lifting the Dahlias to store in the green house.

The Dahlias below are the ones in the garden this year. One new one is ‘Mexican Star’, a hybrid between Chocolate Cosmos and a Dahlia. It is darker in colour than the photograph and is reputed to smell of chocolate, I can confirm it does.                                   I wrote about purchasing the tubers at  Chocolates and Flowers

The raised beds are also planted with other tender annuals such as Tagetes patula. I purchased the original seed from Great Dixter, it is their own strain selected for height and will grow to between 3 to 4ft…

..also with Cosmos…

and Calendula officinalis…

Calendula officinalis. Pot Marigold.

All of the above have been grown from own saved seed, the yellow Cosmos seed originally came from Amelia

I have copied below an updated version of a Dahlia Fact Sheet I produced for the Black Pear Gardening Club website. I hope you find it interesting and perhaps useful.


Named after Dr Anders Dahl.

There is a Tree Dahlia that flowers at Christmas.

Dahlia Imperialis grows up to 18ft high.

Open centred Dahlias are better for wild life.


Dahlias can be grown from own saved seed, but they don’t come true to type.

Cuttings can be taken in the spring when growth starts. You need to cut a small amount of tuber with each shoot, you can apply rooting hormone, pot up and keep in a propagator or put poly bag over pot. You may need to spray mist in the first few days.
When there are signs of growth, pot on to individual pots when needed.
Remove central stem from cuttings to produce more stems.
If you have a big tuber you can divide it. Wait until you can see new growth and then cut into sections with at least one shoot. Dress any cuts with yellow sulphur dust and then pot up.

Lifting and storing Dahlias.

Lift after frost has blackened tops, cut off tops, shake most of the soil off and place in frost free environment upside down to dry. Dust tubers with yellow sulphur powder, especially on any damaged tubers, before putting in boxes of compost right way up with the stems just showing.

I store in boxes lined with newspaper in a mix of cheap compost and vermiculite (approx 10:1). A cheap form of insulation is polystyrene tiles placed under and around the boxes.
In very cold weather you can also throw over horticultural fleece but don’t use bubble wrap over the top, as this does not allow any air into the box and the tubers could rot. Bubble wrap is ideal for lining greenhouses to provide extra insulation in winter. Check during the winter and if the compost becomes too dry, give a light watering on a frost free day. Also remove the fleece to allow fresh air to circulate or mould can develop.

Around mid March start to apply some water to encourage growth.

In April I put the tubers into big pots with good compost to give them a good start before
moving them outside on sunny days to harden off before planting out in late May – June. They are well grown by the time they are planted into the garden, which helps to  reduce slug damage.
If you have free draining soil and wish to leave in the ground cut back after the first frost and provide an insulating mulch of compost or bark. You will need to apply slug protection early in the spring.

Pest and Diseases.

Virus – yellowing of the plant. (Destroy plant don’t compost.)

Earwigs – only a problem if growing for show. My Grandfather use to put inverted flower pots stuffed with folded newspaper on canes by each Dahlia he would then shake the earwigs out into a bucket and feed to the chickens! If you want to use as cut flowers, cut the Dahlia flower, hold upside down and shake vigorously to dislodge insects before taking inside the house.

Slugs – use any method that you find works. I use organic slug/snail pellets and nematodes in the garden. (Nematodes don’t work against snails).


Dahlias are heavy feeders; good garden compost or old farm yard manure can be incorporated into the planting hole along with a high potash fertiliser, Vitax Q4, a Rose fertiliser or for organic gardeners Blood, Fish and Bone. A second application will be needed later in the growing season to keep them flowering. If grown in pots use a slow release fertiliser and some water retaining gel.

Except for dwarf varieties, Dahlias will need staking. The Great Dixter method, for individual plants, is to tie a piece of string to a stake and then loop the string around each of the main stems and tie back to the stake. This prevents that bunched up look you see when string is tied around the whole plant and allows each stem some individual movement.

Dead head during the flowering period and you will have a good display all summer.

Over time Dahlias have come and gone, here in Our Garden@19, the one constant presence is my favourite ‘David Howard’. It is a robust Dahlia, producing large tubers from which to propagate.

I realise orange is not to every ones taste in a flower, I recently read it described as ‘Butterscotch’, however I think along with its dark foliage it has the ‘Wow’ factor.



Not quite up to Grandparents standard, third prize in our village show.              (Apparently the stems are too short).

Do you grow Dahlias and have a favourite one?

Holiday Time.

We have just returned from an enjoyable holiday in Cornwall.

Seaton Cornwall.

Staying at Tregrill Farm Cottages, owned by Peter and Diane Bellamy, who previously  lived near to us in Worcestershire.

My holiday reading (along with my blog list), I was attracted by the title, it perfectly describes my gardening philosophy.

We visited gardens (More of these in a later post), which of course led to some retail therapy.

On Gardener’s World on Friday night ‘Monty’ in his list of jobs for the weekend mentioned dead heading tulips.

Oh well back to it….although it will be a day off tomorrow visiting the Malvern Spring Show, which is right on our doorstep (More RT?)

Tulip Time Plans 2017

Our village of Hanley Swan has for the last few years held an open gardens during the Early May Bank Holiday weekend. I usually plant tulips in the garden and pots to provide colour and interest during the weekend. This year it looks as if my plans are in jeopardy due to the early spring weather. These pictures show some of what might still be on display.

The pictures are in order of flowering.



This one came from my Great Aunties garden.


China Pink

IMG_2354 (1)
Queen of the Night

In the raised beds…

Flaming Spring Green.


Abu Hassan.

In the pots…

Prinses Irene.

Orange Emperor. New this year, it has three buds per stem.

Spring Green.


This year the tulips are two weeks earlier than previous years. I have moved some of the ones in pots into the shade to try and delay their flowering until the open weekend.

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Either side of the Summer House doors.

Red Riding Hood.

In the White Garden.


Tres Chic.

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In the Blue Border.




The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,         Robert Burns 1785.

What is affecting your plans this spring?