Six on Saturday: Hostas

The recent warm and wet conditions here in Warwickshire have created a rich, lush feel to many parts of the garden.  The hostas in particular are looking wonderful at the moment.

Originating from China, Japan, the Korean peninsula and the Russian far east¹, these shade tolerant plants are often grown for their foliage alone although they do have attractive flowers later  in the year.  Interestingly, hostas are often grown as a vegetable in their native lands although I have not tried them myself (yet!).

I can take very little credit for these hostas.  My wife Carol has certainly got the knack of growing these and keeping them looking wonderful from year to year.  Managing the slug and snail population is always a challenge but we find that copper tape around the pots is particularly successful.

Every spring when the hostas begin to shoot we take a selection of the plants in pots, divide them and refresh the compost.  Any spare divisions are planted out in the flower garden.

Here are my six for this week.

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Hosta 'June'
Hosta ‘June’

Many of our hostas have been acquired or gifted to us over the years and we have lost track of most of the names unfortunately.  However they don’t need name tags to be treasured.  If you know any of the names please do let us know through the comments.

Family:  Asparagaceae

Toxicity:  Edible (although toxic to dogs, cats and horses)¹

Hardiness:  Full hardy


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

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Six on Saturday: Blossom diary for 2018

What a wonderful year for orchard blossom we have had.  More importantly when the blossom has been out the sun has shined and the bees have been flying.  All bodes well for a bumper crop I hope.

I always find it fascinating to see the signs of spring moving up the country each year as I read other garden bloggers’ articles.  As the temperature rises and the days get longer the blossom slowly emerges across the British Isles.  I have always felt that the flowering here in Warwickshire is about 2 weeks later than where my mother lives in South Oxfordshire.

The 2015 study conducted by Coventry University in association with the Woodland Trust, British Science Association and BBC Springwatch concluded that spring moves up the country at about 2mph travelling from the south west towards the north east (how fast does spring travel up the country).  There is some evidence that it is now travelling up the country more rapidly that it did between 1891 and 1947 when the figure was around 1.2mph.

For this week’s Six on Saturday I have recorded the flowering dates for the blossom in our fruit orchard using the dates on the various pictures I have taken over the months.


One:  Apricot (16 March 2018)

IMG-20170316-WA0001 Apricot


Two:  Early flowering Pears eg. Winter Nellis (23 April 2018)

P1000922 Early Pear

 


Three: Sweet Cherry (23 April 2018)

P1000941 Cherry


Four:  Late flowering Pears eg. Conference (3 May 2018)

P1010104 Late Pear


Five:  Apples (Early flowering  eg. Egremont Russet, Golden Noble – 3 May 2018, Late flowering eg. Lord Lambourne, Bramley – 8 May 2018)

P1010106 Apple Blossom


Six:  Quince (8 May 2018)

P1010211 Quince

We are located near Warwick in the UK Midlands.  If you live in the south or north it would be very interesting to hear when your trees flowered so we can get a feel for how long it has taken spring to move from the south coast to the north and across the border to Scotland.

More information on the varieties we have in the orchard can be found on a previous blog (The Orchard – beautiful in spring, productive in autumn ) with a specific article on Quinces and how to cook them at: Quinces.  I have also previously written on our annual cider activities at:  How to make cider from all those spare apples.

 


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

Six colourful “cabbages” on Saturday

We may be very used to eating their green vegetable cousins but some members of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae) prove to be very colourful, and in some instances highly perfumed, garden plants.

Here are six that are currently flowering in the garden or will be coming into bloom in the next few weeks.  Some like wallflowers, honesty and sweet rocket are biennials and we seeded these last summer  (To sow or not to sow? When is the right time to sow seeds for the flower garden?) and planted out in the early autumn to overwinter in the flower beds.  Others (eg. candytuft and aubretia) are fully hardy perennials.

The old family name Cruciferae is derived from the structure of the four petals of the flowers arranged in the shape of a cross.  Most have pod-like seed heads and some (eg. honesty) provide beautiful cutting and arranging material in their own right.

Although some of these may be considered rather ‘old fashioned’ flowers, I think that with good design they can be used to great effect to create strong vibrant and highly scented combinations that work well in a contemporary setting.

It is worth being aware that being  closely related to other brassicas these varieties can suffer from the same pests and diseases as other members of the cabbage family.  It is worth rotating their position around the garden trying not to plant into the same soil year after year.

Here are my six for this week:


One:  Wallflower – this is wallflower ‘Blood red’ and ‘Fire King’ set amongst Jan Reus tulips to great effect.  We also have wallflower ‘Fire King’ flowering with deep blue perennial cornflowers to create a striking contrast.

Tulip Jan Reus mixed with Ballerina and scented Fire King and Blood Red wallflowers
Tulip Jan Reus mixed with Ballerina and scented Fire King and Blood Red wallflowers

Two:  Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock ( Cardamine pratensis ) – this is a charming spring flower that emerges in damp grassland year after year.  Its names derives from the fact that it flowers at the same as the first cuckoos are heard.  It is also the food plant for Orange Tip butterflies ¹.

20180511_155842 Cuckoo Flower
Cuckoo Flower (Cardemine pratensis)

Three: Honesty (Lunnaria annua) – growing here in the woodland walk and providing a vivid additional colour in the dappled shade.

Honesty (Lunaria annua)
Honesty (Lunaria annua)

Four:  Sweet Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) – a biennial that was sown last summer and nutured throughout the winter.  The purple and white flowers have a wonderful scent ideal for filling the evening garden with perfume or cutting for the house.

Hesperis in the cutting garden
Hesperis in the cutting garden

Five: Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) – this hardy perennial plant on the edge of the rockery seems to thrive every year.

Candytuft
Candytuft

Six: Aubretia – an immediately familiar plant but one that I only recently discovered was in the Brassicaceae .  In spring these mounds of Aubretia tumble down the walls at the front of the house making a spectacular sight every year.  Once flowered it is important to cut them into shape and trim off the flower heads with shears so that you get fresh lush growth to flower next year.

Aubretia contrasting with the fresh green of Euonymus
Aubretia contrasting with the fresh green of Euonymus

The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

Six on Saturday: Woodland Edge

Over 25 years ago our garden benefited from a Warwickshire scheme to plant native hedgerow and woodland trees.  These saplings have now all grown into mature trees and provide a number of wooded areas across the garden.  Along with the trees we have also seen the introduction of a number of smaller woodland and woodland edge plants.  These are not your flamboyant garden flowers but provide an interesting tapestry of small delicate flowers loved by many bees and insects.  Increase the number of insects and the birds follow.

At this time (the beginning of May) the spring flowers are taking their chance to flower and enjoy the sunshine before the leaves on the trees develop and reduce light levels on the woodland floor.  This weeks ‘Six on Saturday’ celebrates six of these beautiful flowering plants, some of which have a wonderful scent.


One: Red Campion (Silene Dioica)

Red Campion (Silene dioica)
Red Campion (Silene dioica)

Two: Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon)

P1010112 Yellow Archangel


Three: Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides)

Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides)
Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides)

Four:  Sweet Woodruff or Sweet Scented Bedstraw (Galium odoratum)

P1010114 Wooddruff


Five: Bluebells

P1010113 Bluebell


Six:  Honesty (Lunaria annua)

P1010117 Honesty


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator. Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.


Honey Pot Flowers are wedding and celebration florists based in Warwickshire in the United Kingdom specialising in natural, locally grown seasonal flowers. We grow many of our own flowers allowing us to offer something very different and uniquely personal.

Six shades of blue on Saturday

As I sit here writing this there is a crystal clear blue sky overhead, the swallows have arrived and the buzzards are mewing as they circle in the warm thermals.  What a dramatic change from last week.

The noticeable change in colour this week is the emergence of blue throughout the garden contrasting beautifully with the yellow of previous weeks.  Here are my six shades of blue for this week.


One:  Violets – this native plant is slowly establishing itself around the garden along with its white cousin.  They are very pretty and we always delight in seeing them appear in a new spot often sitting amongst the primroses.

Violet


Two:  Bluebells – the first of the bluebells are appearing in the lower copse and will steadily increase in number as we approach May.

Buebell


Three:  Blue Hyacinth – blue on its own often fades away into the distance and is sometimes used if you want to make an area of your garden look longer.  Related to the bluebell above this striking deep blue Hyacinth is set off beautifully by the yellow daffodils.

Hyacynth


Four:  Periwinkle – sometimes considered a bit of a weed we find it creates an interesting show in tricky areas of the garden.  This periwinkle has in fact been flowering since January and the blue flowers set against the variegated foliage add interest in a very dry bed under a lilac tree.

Periwinkle


Five:  Forget-me-not – these plants happily seed themselves throughout the garden but are very easy to pull up if they appear where you don’t want them.  The sweep of powder blue across the flower beds looks particularly good when combined with striking tulips in contrasting colours.

Forget-me-not


Six:  Bellevalia paradoxa – I could of course have included the standard blue Muscari in this six but thought it might be interesting to include something a little different..  This Bellevalia flowers slightly later than the standard grape hyacinths and has a deeper dusky blue colour, longer stems and an almost pointed flower head.

Muscari Paradoxum (Bellevalia Pycnantha)


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator.  Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Six on Saturday: Spring Green Texture

Despite the rather cold, grey days of the last week the garden is beginning to green up nicely with fresh leaves and shoots.  The different textures and shapes are fascinating in themselves. Here are six to demonstrate the rich variety.


One:  Anthriscus sylvestris (Cow Parsley)

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Two:  Galanthus (Snowdrops)

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Three: Stachys lanata (lambs ears)

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Four:  Aquilegia

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Five:  Nigella

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Six:  Hebe

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The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator.  Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

Six shades of yellow on Saturday

April is definitely a month of fresh spring yellow and today’s Six-on-Saturday post celebrates some of the plants that are currently at their best here in Warwickshire.


One: April would not be April without daffodils.  Common as they are there are some charming miniature varieties out at the moment in the garden.  This one is ‘Jenny’.

Miniature daffodil Jenny


Two:  The tulips do seem to be late getting going this year.  However, the cold winter weather should yield strong, tall blooms for cutting.  For us one of the earliest tulips to appear are the Kaufmanniana varieties.  This one is ‘Ice Stick’.  It stands tall, swaying strongly in the wind and stands up to the April showers well.  Whereas many of our tulips have to be treated as annuals and replanted each year, Ice Stick seems to be more long lasting coming back well year after year.

Kaufmanniana Tulip Ice Stick


Three:  My third choice is a plant that is so widely grown that it is often overlooked.  But, at this time of year the Forsythia is in its prime.  The large shrubs create a spectacular show that brightens the spring garden without fail.

Forsythia


Four:  Next on my list is a charming tree that always makes me smile, is rather fleeting, but is instantly recognisable – Pussy Willow.

Pussy Willow


Five:  The small violas we planted in the Autumn have been flowering quietly for most of the winter.  Now the temperatures are beginning to rise they are starting to grow away strongly and will continue flowering well into early summer.

Viola


Six:  My final choice from the garden is another type of tulip which only started to flower late this week, Greigii Tulip ‘Vanilla Cream’.  This fresh, pale yellow early tulip is again one that seems to be more perennial than most coming back strongly each year.

Greigii Tulip Vanilla Cream

It has actually been quite difficult to limit myself to six this week.  Also out at the moment are the primroses, yellow hyacinths and a host of other narcissus varieties.  Indeed some of the so called ‘weeds’ like dandelions and celandine are giving a wonderful show in the more wild parts of the garden.


The Six on Saturday meme is hosted by The Propagator.  Click on the link to see what other plant lovers are chatting about.

 

 

 

Six shades of pink on Saturday

Happy Easter Saturday!  There is no doubt that the yellow daffodils and primroses are now in full swing but a quick tour of the garden shows that there are also some interesting shades of pink that are looking good.  Here are my Six on Saturday for 31 March from Warwickshire.

OneChionodoxa forbesii ‘Giant Pink’ (which is actually much pinker than the photo suggests)

Chionodoxa forbesii

Two: Viburnum bonariensis (which has been flowering its heart out all winter to provide a dusky perfume across the winter garden)

viburnum bonariensis

Three: Hyacinth (just emerging and starting to create the fragrant patio garden)

Hyacinth

FourHelleborus orientalis (these have been flowering now for sometime and are wonderful at this time of year)

Helleborus orientalis

Five: Bergenia cordifolia (a very common plant but one that provides such dramatic lush foliage throughout the year with its large elephant ears)

Bergenia cordifolia

Six: Flowering cherry (providing such a rich source of nectar for the bees at this time of year)

Flowering cherry

This is my first meme outing with Six on Saturday hosted by The Propogator.  Click on the link to see what other Plantaholics are chatting about.