How d’you like them onions? Scicilian Honey Garlic

It’s been a lovely day winkling out ideas for the garden from a trip to Sissinghurst Castle (more on that another post) and a sudden detour on the way home to Merriments Gardens and Nursery, Hurst Green in East Sussex. 

They have some beautiful garden layouts with lots of ideas that can be transferred to your own more modest plot. 

I like the way you can wend your way through a variety of garden types. Meadow, dry garden, herbaceous borders, cottage, woodland shade, bog. The choice is many. Seating ideas also give you a chance to sit and enjoy the surroundings. It did cost £7 each which felt a lot but there is much to see and mostly on our own. Lovely! 

We were rather taken by these…


Nectaroscordum Siculum. A member of the Aliums better known as Scicilian Honey Garlic. 


They looked rather grand in large groups nudging above other green leaves so we popped in to the nursery and bought a couple. A little researched says they’re easy to grow, will self seed around the garden and are fairly disease resistant. Suggestions were even found on using them for self seeding around a wildflower meadow. Hmmm…

Here they are in their new home. 


                            ***Miss T***

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Getting a Garrya Eliptica?

When we moved here there was a fairly nondescript shrub growing at the end of the kitchen extension. Well, the boot room tagged on to the back of the house which was turned in to a kitchen somewhere along the way.

During our first winter we began to get the idea that this shrub has it’s moment of glory during these months. A few tassels appeared but they were few and far between. This dud help me to identify our nondescript shrub as the rather special Garrya Eliptica or the Silk Tassel bush.

Through a little research it was clear this evergreen shrub had been trimmed at completely the wrong time robbing poor old Garrya of it’s moment of glory that season. Early spring is the right time once the catkins are fading, then the new tassels will be produced on this years growth. Reading done I hoped I would be able to get things right this year.

There was definitely a marked increase in the number of tassels developing around the Christmas holiday.

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It really is stunning once allowed to do its ‘thing’. This one is pretty much at it’s mature best now at about 12 feet.

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Over the coming weeks they really do get increasingly longer.Like little Christmas tree decorations. If you want some cracking tassels make sure you go for the male form. Those are super long!

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It has suffered a little scorching on the easterly side as they do need some shelter and storm Doris has taken her toll so if you want one make sure you site it somewhere out of the prevailing wind.

You can see I pruned it completely underneath to get more of a tree effect. Nice and tidy now for some light under planting.  A spectacular shrub in winter it’s always a talking point when gardeners come round.

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I heartily recommend one but sadly ours may have to go when the new kitchen extension appears. I’ll be planting a new one though and have seen some beautiful examples grown as small trees.

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…  Miss Trug …

Snakes On A Compost

Ok, so it should be ‘in’ a compost. I couldn’t resist the movie nod however Samuel L Jackson’s tough guy is not required here.

Mr T was digging out the first compost bay and turning it in to the second whilst I was doing the day job. If something interesting crops up then he will always text me  a ‘look what I found’…’did you know’…’look what I made’… message.  You get the idea.

Mid July a few photos appeared. Something reptilian was lurking in the compost. Mr T had noticed lots of burrowed holes networking the bays which made sense when a beautiful  snake  was unearthed and quickly made a swift exit out of one bay and in to another.

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He had seen them last year but only briefly before they slithered away to their hiding places. Never enough time to shout for me so I could see them for myself. Was this one a grass snake or a slow worm?  (Oh, no need to help me out here. I know a slow worm is a lizard. I’m on it dear reader ; )

I’m not squeamish about snakes or reptiles in general. My 70s childhood is full of memories toddling after one tan and one black tortoise that patrolled our little garden drawing in the neighbours to giggle at their shell bashing shenanigans. When Leslie died and then Esme was stolen (grrr!) we purchased Marigold from the local pet shop. A handsome girl with a hot temper. She was one of the last spur tortoises imported for the British pet market. Of course, I am so glad they no longer do this but she has had a great life and continues to create mayhem and carnage in my parents garden. Toes must be protected from her determined nips on a hot day when she comes stealthily under the garden table. All visitors are duly warned.

My point to this walk down memory lane, is that I am rather at home with creatures of a scaly nature. Despite risking the neighbours whispering ‘that weird woman is staring at her compost again’ I do spend time down there in the sad hope I might cop a glance of old Natrix Natirx.

Another photo popped up.

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Last year I recall The Anxious Garden blogging about grass snake eggs in the compost. We didn’t find any in ours but this year has been altogether different. Mr T luckily uncovered these by a well placed dig of the spade which caused the compost to gently drop away exposing the clutch. No broken eggs, phew! Perhaps the snake that sped away was mum? Mr T made note of the position of the eggs in the bay and carefully moved them in to the same position in the next bay. There is, of course, a risk that exposing them to air temperatures and moving them will cause the eggs to fail but we can hope. Marigold laid eggs the summer she came to live with us. Perfectly round ping pong balls in her straw nest in the garden. With research we moved them to a sand box in the airing cupboard and with eagerness an eleven year old Miss T inspected them daily for a glimmer of baby tortoise that might arrive. A tiny shell could be seen developing inside one egg but sadly it wasn’t to be. No mini Marigolds appeared. I do hope this won’t be the outcome for our snakelets (neolate is just too sciency don’t you think?) and that they hatch to help the population continue since they are in a worrying decline.

Another photo arrived.

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What a beauty. I know many of you will have seen them too but I do find it thrilling to know that something so exotic is slithering around in our little patch.

The end note to this blog is how this snake sighting did bring about a little nervousness in the household of The Trug. Last year Mr T came across a snake in the compost which we guessed was a grass snake.  This year’s identification has made us certain that last year’s visitor was definitely an Adder. Sadly he wasn’t able to snap a shot of it before it disappeared but from now on a healthy dose of respect will be exercised when moving logs and various bits and bobs down there in the copse if Adders are making it their home.

Take care through that long grass. Who knows what you might come across…

Missss Trug

 

Year of the Rose

It really has been a cracking year for the roses.

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When we moved a year ago May  the roses were a bit straggly and neglected.

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I tried to give them some TLC before June arrived but a couple of weeks wasn’t enough to give them the boost they needed.

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Autumn/Winter with secateurs in hand I went to it.

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I always start gently but then inevitably end up possessed by a pruning madness.

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That said it usually is exactly what the roses need.

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You can’t be too gentle. They won’t thank you for it.

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They will just end up spindly and floppy with ground facing blooms.

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This year I took extra time with them.

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Lots of watering even though we have had plenty of rain.

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A good mulch of compost.

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A slug of rose food, dug in gently.

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With no labels I haven’t managed to identify them yet. I’m sure I shall discover a few elsewhere on my garden travels.

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I have loved to see them flourish this year.

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The previous owner may have planted them, and the season has been it’s best for them but I like to think I have nurtured them back to life.

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Miss Trug

 

 

 

Slug Wars: The Farce Awakens

 

Slug.

Gastropida; Stylommatophora; Arionidae; Arion.

Flash name for a blob of gunge that maintains an annual all out assault of mass destruction on us.

Yes, dear gardeners. This is a member of the dark side. The dark destroyer. The dark lord. The… ok, you get where I am coming from.

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Never seen slugs with light sabres before?

The reason for my winging? Hostas. Since having a garden of my own for some years now I have always had Hostas. Lush, green, glossy. A super addition to shady parts of the garden until Darth Vader of the horticultural world sweeps in on his Tie Fighter and decimates said green gloss to a pitiful skeletal pile of green bones. *sigh*

I’m trying hard not to turn to the slug pellets so as to protect the wildlife we have here but when it comes to hostas I have felt pretty defeated. I have read up. I have consulted Jedi Don and Jedi Titchmarsh as well as the countless padawans on t’internet. Until I saw a tweet by, oh, who was it? (I’ll find the tweet and let you know), but they were using wool pellets and were having some success.

Then I had a brainwave.

The Trug household have been ordering up meal packages from a certain company. Not my usual thing but they have been a god send when long hours at work ruin our healthy eating habits. Back to the point, the items which need to be kept cold until we get the package are wrapped in ice and thick wool blankets.

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Me being as eco friendly as I can, I won’t throw them away. Some sheep and farmers went to a lot of effort to make that. Inside the plastic cover is a thick wad of natural fleece. They’ve been piling up in the garage while Mr Trug gives me withering looks of ‘why are we keeping these?’ until I thought of the slugs.

The hostas were in their early stages of popping the surface of the cold ground with early shoots so now was my chance.

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I cut up the fleece. Fluffed it up a bit and pegged it around the hostas as best I could.

I know the leaves will touch other plants and the slugs in their evil Tough Mudder style gymnastics will navigate these mini bridges but it’s worth a shot I reckoned.

May…                                                      Early June…

Not bad but….

May…                                                   Early  June…

Hmmm, not so good. But I think this is because they are touching so many other plants creating the slug bridge highways. Annoying. That said, they are better than last year. I had remnants left by now.

Conclusions? It’s not foolproof but I think the fleece has helped. I’ll revisit the Hostas in a few weeks and see if the dark side is winning. If any of you have better ideas then please do let me know otherwise hosta heaven will remain but a dream for me. I’ll update later in the season to see how they are doing.

May the force be with you fellow slug fighters.

Flippin’ Fritillaries Innit…

Where have I been hiding? Well, you know how it is. I’d much rather be home and pootling in the garden but life just gets in the way. Usually ‘work’. The unpleasant kind. It is an on going distraction more and more from where I really want to be. The lottery ticket plan isn’t working just yet, but we can but hope. However, time I shook off those winter blues and work black dogs and shared the good stuff with you. Six months is ridiculous but I’m here now.

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My best buddies in the garden. Not quite this clean now.

One of the real pleasures of the garden this year has been the Fritillaries. When we moved in mid May last year they had just finished and we were left with the nodding seed heads. This year we revelled in their slow appearance. They were stunning hence they have now appeared in the header. They are so exotic, not only do they not seem natural to our English country gardens, they give the suggestion of trickiness to grow. I’ve seen them in the gardens of the national trust and similar such country piles and envied their scatterings of Fritillaries here and there. What is the secret to growing such a thing? I reflected with awe and wonder.

Nope, they are a cinch it appears. Whack them in and away they go. For us of course they are well established.

 

At one point in February I did worry. A never ending pool appeared at the base of the apple trees where I knew the Fritillaries lay sleeping.

Visions of the dainty little bulbs rotting away floated in my mind. The pool remained for weeks and finally ebbed away by April when very slowly the Frits began to appear poking up through the goo. By mid April, they were flooding the place themselves. Beautiful in the spring light.

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Thailand? Japan? Madgasca?…. Nope, back yard in Blighty.

I know so many have said it before, but the chequer board patterns are just stunning aren’t they. How can something so sophisticated be not only in our garden but also be so prolific?

Here comes the ‘multi photo saturation’ part of this blog.

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Gorgeous!

Last year I collected seed. I have a trial seed tray on the go sown last weekend. We will have to see if they are viable. This year the seed heads are being left to do their thing and scatter themselves around the orchard.

Frit seed head

I suspect the previous owners might have mown during late May and at this stage the seed heads are still green. As we are allowing some areas of the orchard to become meadow *cough*cough* I am hoping the ripe seed heads are then able to disperse seed more successfully and we will eventually have a greater spread of Frits through the whole area.