Sunday, 15 September 2019

I got sunshine, on a cloudy day: Rudbeckia fulgida var sullivantii 'Goldsturm'

Rudbeckia fulgida var sullivantii 'Goldsturm'

Truly, if there was ever a flower to give you sunshine on a cloudy day, Rudbeckia fulgida var sullivantii 'Goldsturm' must be it.

This flower glows even through the night; I can see it through the heavy frosting of our bathroom window!

I did try cutting some for the house, but found they didn't like being in a vase. Something this strong needs the outside, it seems.

I discovered that one flower has some petals coming through it's central cone. A type of fasciation I believe.
Fasciation literally means banded or bundled. Scientists aren’t sure what causes the deformity, but they believe it is probably caused by a hormonal imbalance. This imbalance may be the result of a random mutation, or it can be caused by insects, diseases or physical injury to the plant. Think of it as a random occurrence. It doesn’t spread to other plants or other parts of the same plant. Source: Garden Know How
It's happy in my heavy acid clay, and after only a year in the ground, is clumping up very nicely. I've notice bees and butterflies are attracted to it's charms too.

Flowering from late summer through autumn, this Rudbeckia gives me sunshine every day, even through autumn storms.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Garlic giveaway 2019

Update Thursday 5th September 2019
This offer has now been oversubscribed, so I can not take any more requests

Garlic drying in the sun

 My garlic did really well this season. I've sorted through it, what I'm keeping to sow in Autumn, and what I'm saving to eat through the coming year. And I have enough to also do a bit of a garlic giveaway!

I've included some basic info below, but if you'd like to know more about the individual varieties, do take a look at my Garlic Record. If you would like to know more about growing garlic in general, please read my Spoonie Veg: garlic post first.

As there is only 2 packs (each pack contains 5 cloves) available for each variety, you can choose up to 2 varieties you'd like to try. Or I can choose for you if you're not bothered. Then email me your address details to: jgp @ I plan to send these out in batches, during September. Note: if I get inundated with requests(!), then I might reduce it to 1 variety per person, so more people have a chance to try them.

Due to postal restrictions, this giveaway is only available to people in the EU/UK. This offer is available until 22nd September 2019, and is on a first-come, first-served basis. And yes, this is a free offer :)

Garlic ready for harvesting, at the end of July

Varieties available
Unless otherwise denoted, the variety has a medium flavour, and will grow ok in pots.

Georgia Fire: storage 4 months.

Martin's Heirloom: storage 5 months.

Metechi: medium-strong flavour, storage 5-6 months, not happy being container grown.

Music: storage c. 5 months.

Persian Star: storage 4-5 months.

Rosewood: storage 5-6 months

Silver Rose: 6 months, not happy being container grown.

NOW GONE Susan Delafield: storage 6-8 months, this is the best variety if you want to grow in containers.

Apart from Silver Rose, which is a Softneck garlic, all other varieties are Hardnecks (see below). All can be sown in Autumn (October/November).

General information
Hardneck garlic: Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon: always produces a flower stalk (called a scape, see photo at the bottom of the post), is considered to have a stronger flavour, and is considered to have shorter storage qualities.

Softneck garlic: Allium sativum: doesn't produce a flower stalk unless stressed, has better storage qualities.

Soil: alkaline to neutral soil. Do not grow in acid soil. Most don’t do as well in heavy clay, garlic needs decent drainage.

Storage: the length of storage time is based on the conditions I have stored the garlic (more about this in the Spoonie Veg: garlic post).

Container growing: you can grow garlic in containers. I found 3 cloves per 10 litre pot gave me the best harvest. See my Container grown Garlic experiment post for more information.

Posts about growing garlic:
Spoonie Veg: garlic (for an overview of growing garlic)
Container grown garlic experiment (optimal conditions for growing in containers)
Garlic scapes (for Hardneck garlic varieties)
Getting the garlic in (sowing garlic in Autumn)
Garlic Record: my record of growing these garlic varieties since 2010. It gives more detail on the growing of each variety
Garlic growing back in June, with a garlic scape, which is edible too.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

On the pollinating menu

Allium millenium is a much later flowering allium than most, with blooms in July and August. It's only 40 cms high, but it's a pretty little thing. And this year, it seems to have been the prime choice on the pollinating menu for honey bees, and two types of butterflies, the Gatekeeper and the Meadow Brown. On a daily basis, I see 20 or so in the garden at one once, and most of them can be found on or around this Allium.

On the left at the back is the Gatekeeper butterfly, and on the right at the front is a Meadow Brown.

Gatekeeper butterfly, Pyronia tithonus.

Meadow Brown, Maniola jurtina.

A Gatekeeper (right) and Meadow Brown (left), supping on the same flower.

And they don't mind sharing with the honey bees.

I do love this allium, and given it's so beloved by pollinators, I'm going to let my patch bulk up so that I can then divide and add more to other parts of the garden in future years. After all, I don't want to disappoint the other bees and butterflies that hear about the feast to be found in my garden.

I used the Butterfly Conservation website to find the butterfly id's.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Postcards from our holiday: Cotswolds June 2019

June saw my BFF from Melbourne, Kerri, over in the UK with her sister Sharon. They hired a cottage in Broadway, the Cotswolds for three weeks, and we joined them for part of that time. In between ME resting, and Kevin being in The Hague part of the time for work, we visited a few places local to Broadway. But the best bit was of course spending time with Kerri. This is a collection of 'postcards' from our holiday.

This is a classic Cotswold village, i.e. ye olde Englande Cotswold stone buildings, and all a bit posh. Very lovely though. Unless noted, it's just random photos of pretty buildings.

Broadway Hotel area

 A wonderful old Pear Tree growing up the Lygon Arms Hotel.

 Kerri, Sharon and Kevin outside our cottage

 Looking towards the village from our bedroom

Hidcote Manor Garden
This is a kind of famous, in gardening circles at least, garden, and it has some connections to the Arts and Crafts movement. It was a very wet day when we visited, and unfortunately the ME took a bad turn and energy levels crashed after about an hour, so Kevin had to take me back to our cottage to rest. Therefore, this is just a partial view of the garden.

L-R: Sharon and Kerri

 The pond, which if it wasn't raining, I could have sat by for hours. So beautiful and peaceful.

I fell in love with this Verbascum, V. phoeniceum 'Violetta'.

This is a greenhouse to die for, with moving doors/windows that could be opened in summer
and closed in winter to protect tender plants. One can dream...

View towards the manor house from the greenhouse.

Also from the greenhouse, from a different angle.

I think this is the Long Border. I've lost the map of the layout...

That's all I got to see this time around. I'll have to return another time.

Snowshill Manor Garden
I visited Snowshill one afternoon for a couple of hours with Kerri and Sharon. They explored the house as well as the garden, whereas I just mooched around the plants.

Kerri (right) and I at the entrance to the Manor

 Looking from the pond up to the manor

 The Elder Court, in the process of being regenerated, with many plantings of the gorgeous
Sambucus nigra 'Purpurea'

Tiger Lily, unknown variety. I love the contrast of the pink of the petals to the orange of the pollen

The Well Court

Geum 'Prinses Juliana' - another one to get for my front garden
My favourite border in the Well Court.

 I adore the wonderful purple of the Lupins with the orange of the Geum.
It 'feels' like an impressionist painting.

Looking down at the Well Court and Cotswold countryside

The Well Court was my favourite part of the garden, the purples and oranges, and the lush planting, was both warm and peaceful.

Anne Hathaway's cottage
People visit Anne Hathaway's cottage for the Tudor cottage and connection to Shakespeare (her husband). However, I find getting around 400 year old cottages difficult with a walking stick and limited energy, so I again mooched around the garden on my mobility scooter whilst Kerri & Sharon explored the house as well.

It's very much a classic 'cottage garden' garden, including fruit and vegetables, and ornamentals. Whilst not a 'great' garden per se, it was a perfectly lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

They had a lovely annual wildflower meadow and it included two of my favourite wildflowers,
Cornflowers (blue) and Corncockles (pink).

Kiftsgate Garden
This was both the last day of our holiday, and the hottest. But this garden is worth the heat.

There was no accessibility to some areas, but the garden it is partially on a cliff, so that's understandable. However, some other areas could have been made easier with some very simple ramps. So I had to rely on Kevin to lift my scooter at times, which was frustrating.

Despite the accessibility issue, I loved this garden. The old Manor is an elegant backdrop to the different borders and areas of the garden.

Left to right: Sharon, Kerri, and I.

Looking from the top of the garden down to the swimming pool and the Vale of Evesham, beyond. I don't think the photo really shows how steep it was, so you'll have to trust me on that.

The Wide Border

I discovered a new 'must have' for my garden. This is Dictamnus albus var. purpureus, an evergreen shrub. It's also known as the 'gas plant' because you can set the seeds alight with a lighter and they will make a mini explosion. I can't wait to try that!

The White Garden

In the North Border I came across this gorgeous Cornus kousa 'Satomi'.

The Yellow Border with a beautiful Acer (I think it's A.shirasawanum 'Aureum') stretching over part of it.

A stunning blue Delphinium

The Water Garden.

Kevin playing/dancing to the gold leaved fountain

View from the Four Squares garden

Kiftsgate garden was fun, as well as including lots of interesting plants, many new to me. Accessibility issues aside, it's a garden which is worth a return.

* * * * *
So that's what I did on my holidays. The best part was being able to spend time and explore with Kerri.