Friday, 31 August 2012

Name that bloom #5

I imagine most of you will know this. I bought it from my favourite garden centre, Riverside in Bristol on one of those boy moments - 'oh that's cool, I'm having that'. It was a combination of the distinctive colour, the rich red and lime green, and the tiny crab-like centres that made this stand out.

Stepping back it creates an almost kaleidoscopic pattern, and a sense of awe close up at the perfection of the colour and shape.

But of course, I threw away the label.

So, can you tell (me) what it is yet?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Hocus crocus

In my previous post I asked for help naming what is my favourite plant in the whole garden. Thank you to everyone who helped me out - and you all agree that it's a Crocosmia, which I just think is a name that conjures images of a sneaky reptile appearing in the garden. Appropriately enough this is kind of how it behaves. For ages just long streaky leaves doing little of substance, then bam! Yes, before you know it you're caught in its visual jaws, utterly helpless.

However, unlike the animal, this one is all about the colour and vibrancy, and having spent the early morning out in the garden admiring it, I thought I'd share some pictures with you.


Friday, 24 August 2012

Name that Bloom #4

I think this is my favourite display in the whole garden - just look at that colour!

Orange is much maligned. It does not sit comfortably with anything no matter what any colour wheel tells you. A poor man's red? Or just a bit too my fake tan.

But here ladies and gentlemen is a specimen that demonstrates where the colour belongs - not on skin but amongst the greens and browns of the garden. This particular beauty appeared towards the end of my first summer here, planted by the landlord before my time. I think it's superb. 

Currently it is preparing to burst in to flame and you can just about feel the theatre that awaits.

However, for all my love of this plant, I haven't a clue to its name. I'm sure some of you will be able to help, and any stories about its origins in a similar vein to Poppy's rather wonderful comment on Name that Bloom #2 would be very much welcome.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Mighty Bush

Inspired by the Woolly Green girls I thought I'd share a little piece of advice I was given by two girl friends after work one evening, in the pub (wisdom is always best shared in pubs).

Gentlemen should always prune their front gardens.

Now, thankfully for the urban gentleman, the Woolly Green girls have set out on their fantastic website just the tools one may need for the bushiest of bushes, but more on that shortly.

Back to the pub and of course I left that evening's tavern feeling rather anxious. Why were they telling me this? Had they both seen it? Before you gasp, I am not so proud of it that I show it off to everyone, but it is nice for people to appreciate it every now and again.

Then I remembered that one of them had seen my back garden once! Maybe they were subtly saying I'd let things go back there?

And in truth gardeners, I have. Things continue to go nuts out there and, in particular, this bush really needs pruning:

I do like it, it's a shrub that gives the garden substance and along with shrubs around it has produced shelter to attract the birds and flowers to attract the bees, so no problems on that front. But still, I think it's time for a trim (note the engulfed, unused barbeque, the symptom of a British summer).

I've looked through the Woolly selection of pruning saws, and do have something similar that I used for my work on the apple tree that they kindly mention. But as a novice with shrubs I am a bit nervous that if I trim too much I may end up with a different kind of chaos. And, Woolly girls, if I may say, I think I need to be a bit careful as one slip to the wrong, ahem, branch could prove fatal.

Perhaps I'm better off letting it be. Sometimes letting it grow wild can end up being quite cool eh?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Name that bloom #3

Ok, lets get down to business. The mother of this innocent looking thing was growing in a small pot by my herbs. I had thought her delicate and in the shelter of other more glamourous plants, who were fighting for attention and power. I expected her just to happily enjoy her time without much excitement and need for me.

Then came a surprise. Earlier in the summer I had cleared a container of salad leaves and was hoping to plant some more, when this nipper appeared. I instantly realised who the mother was and where this young chancer had come from.

The yummy mummy in the pot, hanging out by the herbs had batted her eyelids, and as my friends will know that's all it takes. 

Without realising, I'd been quite dedicated to her, given her more sun, and all the attention, and before long this little off-spring appeared. Well, all you need to do is help me name it, not determine if its mine. Thanks

Friday, 10 August 2012

Name that Bloom #2

I promised you Friday flowers every week and like the worst florist I've failed to deliver. Thank you though to all the contributors to the last 'Name that Bloom'. I've found myself walking out in to the garden with that slightly smug gardener satisfaction of 'I know what that is' now. In a few weeks time I'll be unbearable to myself, but please don't let that stop you helping me out today!

Yes, it is now a baking hot sunny Friday afternoon and what better way to enjoy it than identifying the following beauty? What's that? You'd rather a 'cider'? You must be mistaken. For those of you who appreciate there is more to life than this poisonous apple juice could you help me out with the following flower:

Again it's from my mum a couple of years ago and seemed to do ok in a pot, but I planted it in the shade at the back of the garden so as not to take up precious food growing space. Amazingly it's thriving and has reached an impressive height. I feel quite proud as it definitely doesn't get any sunshine.

So, points for its name and extra points if you can tell me about its natural habitat

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Going for mould

It wouldn't be right for this blog to ignore the goings on in London would it? Although to be honest, the goings on have led me to ignore this blog. I am hooked, despite not leaving the boundary of Bristol to immerse myself in Olympic fever.

Ok, I managed to see the torch live as it was carried across the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Yes, ok lame photo but it all got a little bit exciting, and see if you can spot it. 

Other than that small exertion from my home, I have found myself in front of the TV watching random hockey games at midnight, have been caught up in the tension of trap shooting and discovering that the tactics in the peloton are fascinating. 

I have looked back at my exercise regime of the past year with shame realising with a little, um, ok a lot of extra training I could, thanks to exotic family history, have represented Mauritius at Eton Dorney instead of representing Mauritius at ten pin bowling on a Saturday night down the Lanes (any excuse).

I haven't spent all my time on the sofa though. I found myself at the Ironbridge rowing regatta a couple of months back picking elderflowers.  Oh yes, the Ironbridge is strong, tough and imposing in rather stunning way, whilst the race required focus, effort and was the culmination of winters training, but this rower was distracted by pretty flowers.

There is an explanation. Sunday's race had been cancelled for reasons only the organisers seemed to know, and as we were packing up our tents I spotted my chance. Like Ennis on form, I dashed over to the tall flowering tree and picked a handful, with the intention of making my own Elderflower champagne.

I got home, I googled Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall because he was bound to have a recipe, and I set about making my poison. But then I had a dilema. I was off on holiday for a week and the recipe said the concoction needed to go into sterilised jars in which gas would build up. WIthout me around to release the gas, I feared the destruction of the flat, and so instead I covered the pan with a cloth. I was late for my train. It seemed a good idea at the time.

On my return I found the champagne was topped by a thin film of mould. I was gutted! My instant thought was ' it's ruined'. I poured it down the sink, as sweet scent of wine wafted up before vanishing. It was then that I wondered if I had made a mistake? Could I have rescued the situation? Does anyone know the answer? Nevermind. With all the flowers gone,  elderflower season having past, I shall have to wait another year. A bit of patience may be good for me.

For now though, I shall be raising a glass of someone elses bubbles to a man of incredible patience and dedication, Mo Farah, in the hope that his next 5,000 metres are as poetic as his last 10,000. What a run.

 (Watch Mo Farah win gold (BBC IPlayer link))

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Industrial weed of the day

Good morning gardeners, resurrecting an old favourite here today with my weed of the day.

Early on in my gardening life (about a year ago), I became curious about weeds, wondering what their purpose in life was. It must have been an uneventful day in my own life.

Anyway, I wrote in defence of weeds and following that I started to see them everywhere. On walls, on pavements and even in glamourous seaside locations. This week, work has taken me to Blyth in Northumberland, home of a former coal power station. It was here that I found out that weeds are also entrepreneurs, spotting times when the market is depressed and investing its own time and energy to regenerate forgotten lands.

These canny investors are bringing value to our industrial wastelands, inspiring new generations of weeds to attract winged friends, be they butterflies, bees or birds. In doing so, they help the world keep spinning, even when we stop.

So here's to my industrial weed of the day. I think I'll call her Mary:

The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

My photo
I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.