Four Seasons

Yew Hedge – April

 

Finally the borders are springing into life. It was only a month a go that we were under snow.

 

 

The weather’s also been so wet that I missed photographing the pretty yellow miniature Tete a Tete daffodils that did a valiant job of heralding Spring in adverse conditions last month. The dainty white narcissus are still going strong though.

April is one of my favourite months of the year. Nature produces colours which are bright, fresh and zingy. Such a relief from Winter’s muted, drab hues.

The yellow tulips and my favourite zingy lime foliage look great planted with purple honesty.

In our North facing back garden there is a more subtle planting scheme which is more suited to the sheltered, shady position. We have the most beautiful hellebores, dancing about in the breeze. I had planted quite a collection of hellebores in our old garden so was pleased to see we have some equally lovely specimens here. I have also brought a couple of plants with us.

 

This white one looks good planted with the frothy pale blue forget-me-not flowers.

This week I’ve spotted yellow Erythronium with their dainty, nodding star, shaped flowers and. glossy, wavy green leaves. I’ve never seen these before and I’m sure they will become old friends in the coming years. They are daintier than the bold yellow tulips in the front garden. They like moist, partial shade so seem quite happy in the back. I am really enjoying seeing what each season brings and making friends with new flowers in the garden. I am very grateful to Gwyn for her expertise in the garden. It is very clear that she knew what to plant according to the conditions and has an eye for colour like me! I have a lot to learn.

 

 

Equally at home are the Pulmonaria which likes humus rich, moist, but well drained soil and partial shade. Mum used to call this plant Joseph & Mary and I’ve also heard it called Soldiers & Sailors because blue and pink flowers occur on the same stem. Looking Pulmonaria up in The Englishman’s Flora by Geoffrey Grigson there are numerous other local names. Good Friday Plant, Jerusalem Cowslip, Bottle-of-all-sorts, Sage of Bethlehem and Virgin’s Tears. In folk lore it was thought that the Virgin’s milk or tears had fallen on the leaves and spotted them.  As Pulmonaria was used as a medicine against the infirmities and ulcers of the lungs it  also became known as Lungwort.

In addition to the plants that have sprung up in the garden I have planted violas and primroses in a pot near the front door. These are cheerful flowers which can also be crystallized and used as decorations on cakes as they are edible.

 

I had fun over Easter making seasonal cupcakes decorated with edible flowers from the garden. We had a charity event at work where I even wore an Easter bonnet decorated with Spring blooms for the occasion.

It was our wedding anniversary this month. We’ve started a new tradition of taking a photo outside our front door each year and here’s the first. Unfortunately we’ve had to remove the passion flower and vine from the front of the house as it had been growing under the path and coming in the house! We may source a large Greek Urn to control the roots of a future climber. As I cut the grass for the first time this week and made sure the edges were trimmed neatly I hoped Bob, the previous owner would approve!

 

 

April 2018 – Mr & Mrs Smiles

 

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Plot 16B – Patsy Smiles Flowers

One of the first things I did when we moved to a village was to sign up for an allotment. I’ve got dreams of an idyllic oasis of calm amongst my home-grown flowers, fruit and veg. I want to create a beautiful place I can cycle to on my Pashley bicycle. I found I couldn’t cycle off road on my Pashley as she’s just too heavy. However she looks pretty and is built for carrying home grown produce in her big basket.

 

I’d like a shed on my allotment which I can sit outside on a balmy sunny evening amongst pots of herbs and brightly coloured geraniums with a glass of wine relaxing on a deckchair. I’ll enjoy sketching the fruits of my labour too.

I’m now the proud owner of Plot 16B, which has cost me the vast sum of £2.50 rent a year! My first job this month has been to assess the site. I’d chosen this one as I was informed that it had been worked in the last year, had been well manured and although overgrown the weeds were mainly annuals  and not perennials, so should be easily brought back to life.

My first visit was a bit daunting. I couldn’t see the edge of my plot and didn’t quite know where to start. However I could see there was potential. The previous occupant had left a few fruit bushes behind. There were quite a few raspberry canes with ripe fruit and what appeared to be a gooseberry bush. There was also a delapidated cold frame filled with an assortment of rubbish.

I wasn’t sure if the broken cold-frame was rescuable or whether it was in the right location. However I’ll be able to use the wire netting and the drain pipe and there’s a nifty fire grate which might be useful for building a bonfire.

Plot 16B faces North. In the South West side of the plot was a Christmas tree and an overgrown gooseberry bush entwined with weeds and grass. We are not meant to grow trees so the Christmas tree had to go. The gooseberry bush may be rescuable so I cut it right back hoping to rejuvenate it.

The South East corner of my plot is rather overgrown with raspberry canes. It looks like there is a mixture of Summer and Autumn fruiting raspberries and there were a few fruit lingering on before the first frosts. I’d like to keep the raspberries, but get them under control. They’re no longer in neat rows  and are spreading out over too much of my plot. I can see that I’ll have a good fruit area and will move my Uncle’s old rhubarb, strawberries and currants to join the raspberries and gooseberry already there.

The area at the Southern end of my plot might be a grass path bordering a piece of communal fallow land. However it rather looked like I needed to hire Ross Poldark with his sythe to deal with the overgrown couch grass which was creeping into the fruit area.

Sadly Ross Poldark was not available! However I have made some lovely friends on the allotments. Octogenarian, Lew, rents several plots including one to the right of my 16B. He was more than happy to help me out and get me started. He might not own a sythe, but he does have a nifty rotavator! He felt it was ok to rotavate most of my ground as it contained mainly annual weeds. I dug out the dandelions and other weeds which needed digging first. This part didn’t have couch grass. Whilst I started on the fruit area Lew mowed my weeds..

I’m quite fond of the impressive tall yellow spikes of Great Mullein flowers. However I’m not sure I wanted this one in the middle of my allotment so it had to go. However at the North East corner is a clump of comfrey.  It’s half on my plot and half next door. The comfrey can stay as I can make a liquid feed with the leaves.

The next visit I made to 16B I found Lew had not only mowed but also rotavated my main growing area. What a difference!

Mean while I had set to on the fruit area. I don’t mind digging up couch grass. in fact I find it quite satisfying doing battle with nature. Will I win or will nature have it’s way?!

However I found the part in front of the broken cold-frame extremely hard work. I stuck my fork in and hit … carpet! Not exactly a goldmine. There was layer upon layer of carpet. It had obviously been put down to surpress the weeds. However the couch grass had taken over so another carpet layer had been put on top. Digging up carpet was hard work as the dirt on top was very heavy. However another allotment owner set to work and gave me a hand. Derrick arrived just at the right time. I had been getting a bit despondant about my carpet pile. With Derrick’s help we got it all up quite quickly. I went home mulling over how I was going to get rid of piles of dirty, heavy rain sodden carpet.

I didn’t need to worry… over night a mystery carpet fairy appeared and whisked the carpet away! In fact I found Lew proudly stoking his bonfire. My carpet had disappeared in a puff of smoke together with a lot of the enormous pile of dried couch grass I’d pulled up. Three cheers for Lew! Not only has Lew got me off to a cracking start in my first month down on Plot 16B Patsy Smiles Flowers, but he has also provided me with a lovely crop of potatoes for dinner!

Octogenarian Lew has given me a wonderful start to my new allotment venture. However his potato heart is reserved for his new lady friend!

Do join me down on my Plot next month to see how I progress…

 

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Yew Hedge – October


Earlier this month we moved into our dream house in a beautiful Oxfordshire village. When we walked up the drive we knew we would love to live here. I fell in love with the garden even before we walked through the front door. It was obvious Bob and Gwen had lovingly tended their garden as it was crammed full of interesting plants.

We haven’t quite been in a month. However our dreams have come true. I am looking forward to seeing what comes up over the next year.

We have gardens at the front and the back. Both are quite different. The front is South facing and apparently gets very hot in the Summer, so the grass will get quite parched. Above our porch at the front is a vine and a passion fruit. The large lounge window looks out over the front garden and is beautifully framed with vine leaves and passion flower orange fruits. I have discovered they are not to be eaten, even if they do look like luscious apricots.

One of my favourite blooms in the front at the moment are the Kaffir Lilies. I’ve never grown them before and I like their graceful beauty.

It’s interesting moving to a garden where someone else has influenced the design and planting. I didn’t have any fucshia plants in our last garden. The ones I’ve seen growing were lack lustre. However I rather like the dainty ballerina pink coloured one.

The dainty pink rose `The Fairy’ is still growing strong outside our front window and the magenta pink chrysanthemum is a magnet for butterflies even in late October!

Gwen told me that a large Viburnum tinus plant was moved as it smelt unpleasant. It has been replaced with dahlias and helenium. I hope they survive the Winter as they didn’t cope well where we’ve moved from. In time I might like to add a few ornamental grasses alongside for Autumnal interest.

We have a riot of colour with the red berries of the Pyracantha alongside the Yew Hedge.

Just this week little iris flowers have come out to greet me as I arrive home from work.

The back garden is much more shady, but equally lovely. We have a low wall which backs on to a neighbour’s wild life area, full of bird friendly shrubs and trees. I have embraced the bird feeders and we have seen 10 goldfinches, blue tits, blackbirds, great tits, green finches and a robin. They are rather fond of sunflower seeds consuming the contents of a giant birdfeeder in a few days.

Gwen had planted brightly coloured geranium spilling out of the pot lying on it’s side. I decided to pot them up to over winter and have replaced them with bright `n’ cheery cyclamen which give the same effect. They give a nice splash of colour when you look out of the kitchen window to watch the birds on the feeders.

The alstroemeria looks very healthy so I’ll enjoy cutting a few stems to arrange in the house together with the Winter flowering Jasmine.

The water feature is a nice addition and was very proudly constructed by Bob the previous owner. Next time I must switch the water on for my photo! There’s a tiny pond with a resident frog which I spotted when collecting fallen leaves.

So there we have it – a quick tour of our new garden. I look forward to sharing more photos with you over the coming months and years.

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Chelsea Blues

 

Meconopsis Lingholm – Kevock Garden Plants

I spent a wonderful Patsy Smiles kind of day at RHS Chelsea flower Show last week. I went with the flow and missed most of the Show Gardens and avoided pretentious conversation. If the concept behind a garden design needs to be explained then it just doesn’t work for me. Nevertheless I came home full of inspiration. It’s the little details that caught my eye rather than the big picture. 

My favourite Chelsea blooms this year were the azure blue of Meconopsis Lingholm on the Kevock Garden plant stand. I’ve never seen a blue poppy before so was fascinated by these beauties. Turquoise blue is a bit like marmite as it is such a vibrant, zingy colour. I love the colour and chose to use it in my branding. For me turquoise represents the sea and happy sunny holidays. I spent some time on the Kevock stand admiring the gorgeous colour palette. I realised that there had been some very deliberate planting of colour combinations. I chose to use turquoise blue, lime green and coral in my branding.

The coral of the Primula japonica Apple Blossom made the blue more noticeable as blue and orange are complementary colours.

Complementary Colours are colours that are opposite to each other on the colour wheel. When used together they stand out and create contrast. For example orange and blue, yellow and violet, red and green.

Colour Wheel

In part of the display I spotted a Triadic Colour Scheme with the blue Meconopsis, coral Primula japonica Apple blossom and yellow Trollius.  By adding yellow into the mix and combining with the blue and coral  Kevock created a visually appealing Triadic Colour Scheme. This scheme is made up of 3 colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel. The best way to create this colour harmony is to choose one colour to dominate with less of a second and a touch of the third or a mix of tints, tones and shades.

The Alpine Garden Society also had a fantastic display of Meconopsis and launched a new lavishly illustrated book at RHS Chelsea. `Meconopsis for Gardeners. The lure of the Blue Poppy.’

I opted for a couple of books which I will find more useful. Having chatted to the friendly exhibitors on the Kevock stand I realised that meconopsis will not grow well in our garden. Much more useful for me to buy a couple of wildflower Field Guides.  The Harrap’s guide has good photographs and the other book will be invalauble for Mediterranean holidays.

Other than the poppies I was rather taken with a plant called Anchusa azurea Lodden Royalist. It is rather similar to the wildflower bugloss I have spotted in the countryside, but with a bit more drama. A lot of designers chose to use this plant to create a wild, natural effect.

I saw quite a few examples of Anchusa used as a backdrop to make orange flowers stand out,  as can be seen here with the orange of the Oenothera versicolor ‘Sunset Boulevard’ against the blue.

I made a note of these little gems too. Omphalodes cappadocica ‘cherry ingram’ reminds me of tiny Speedwell wildflowers I have seen recently. I thought the blue flowers looked very pretty in a shady, woodland spot

I was attracted to the lemon yellow and blue colour combinations in this display. I might not be able to grow Meconopsis in our garden as they are quite tricky to grow. However I come home full of inspiration to incorporate the colour blue in future garden projects.

 

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Mallorcan Flowers

Plumnbago Watercolour
Bougainvillea watercolour
Lantana camera sketch

Last month I had a wonderful relaxing holiday staying at the Monnaber Nou Hotel in the middle of the Mallorcan countryside. The name Monnaber means ‘Hill of Flowers’ and the hotel is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of fruit trees typical of Mallorca including almonds, figs, pomegranate, carobs and olives.

monnaber nou sketch

Monnaber Nou itself had an abundance of flowers for me to enjoy. I had a wonderful time pottering with my sketchbook, wildflower books and my camera.

Holiday Sketchbook

Latana camera is widely cultivated and naturalised in Mallorca. The shrub can grow up to 1.5m. The flowers are usually yellow or orange, changing to red, or all yellow or all red. I spotted some very pretty pink and mauve flowers too. The fruit is a small black berry.

Lantana camera sketch

Lantana camera sketch

lantana

lantanalantana

 

lantana-43-2
lantana

 

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is an impressive exotic looking deciduous shrub growing up to 3m. The leaves are deep green and shiny. The flowers are  bright rose-red with prominent protruding red staminal column and stigmas. The shrub is widely planted in parks and gardens or along roadsides. Other colours include apricot, white, cream, pink and yellow.

hibiscus

hibiscushibiscus-mallorca

Hibiscus watercolour
mallorcan-watercolour-36

Hibiscus watercolour

Hibiscus pen and wash

hibiscusMallorcan Posy

It’s always a very pleasant challenge sketching by the pool whilst drinking a cocktail or two on holiday!

monnaber nou campanet

monnaber nou campanet

mallorcan-watercolour

I am particularly fond of the beautiful magenta climber Bougainvillea. It’s one of those plants which symbolises sunny, Mediterranean holidays to me. The flowers themselves are actually insignificant whitish blooms, but surrounded by large leaf-like purple bracts.

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea watercolour

 

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea Posy

 

In the grounds of Monnaber Nou I spotted the aptly named Four O’Clock Plant, Mirabilis jalapa. It is so named because its flowers usually open in the afternoon. The one I spotted liked to open an hour later at Five O’Clock!

four-oclock-plant
Four-o clock-plant
four-oclock-plant

Another flowering shrub frequently planted in gardens and on roadsides is Oleander. The flowers can be pink, red or white and grow in dense clusters. The Oleander flowers through the height of Summer when many other Mediterranean plants are past their best.

Oleander

 

 

oleander
oleander
oleander

mallorcan-watercolour

The other Mallorcan flowering shrub I am particularly fond of is Cape Leadwort or Plumbago auriculata. This scrambling shrub has beautiful sky-blue flowers. I remember picking a few snippets of Plumbago and Jasmine to decorate my favourite sunhat last year.

Mallocan Hat

plumbagoplumbagoPlumnbago Watercolourplumbago

I spotted quite a few vibrant blue Mallorcan flowers this year. At home I valiantly battle to try to eradicate the bindweed in our garden. However Morning Glory, Ipomoea purpurea is in the same family and really is very attractive with it’s bright blue flowers.  It has naturalised in hedges and roadsides in Mallorca and is also grown in gardens

morning-glory

morning-glory

morning-glorymallorcan-watercolour

Another tiny blue flower that caught my eye was the Blue Pimpernel. It was poking through the wooden slats near the pool and I almost missed it. It was close to a Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis which got me quite excited!

blue-pimpernel
mallorcan-watercolour
scarlet-pimpernel
scarlet-pimpernel

Mallorcan countrytside

Mallorcan sketch

Campanet

The hills behind Monnaber Nou are very rugged and the ground was completely parched in September. I enjoyed a few early morning runs amongst the olive and carob trees. There wasn’t much to be seen in flower except the very brown looking Carlina thistle, Carlina corymbosa. I didn’t think this thistle was very attractive until I looked more closely. Then I saw the beauty of the fluffy, yellow flowers. This thistle likes dry, stony places.

carline-thistle
carline-thistle
carline-thistle
carline-thistle

Carlina corymbosa

carob-tree

Mallorcan countryside

 

On a couple of afternoons I had a stroll with my camera and saw Sea Squill, Urginea maritima. Sea Squill is one of the Mediterranean’s characteristic plants. It flowers in late Summer after the glossy leaves have died away. It grows from a huge bulb, up to 15 cm across, which is often half buried in the ground. The flowering stem gradually develops after the leaves have withered and can be up to 150 cm high. This bears several hundred star like flowers.

sea-squill

sea-squill
sea-squill
sea-squill

 

Sea Squill SketchSea Squill Sketch

Another plant adapted to the climate and steep rocky ground is the Century Plant, Agave americana. This is a very robust perennial, up to 7 m tall in flower. The bluish grey-green leaves are very large, spear shaped and form basal rosettes close to the ground.

agave

 

agave

agave

Many species of Cactus are cultivated including the Prickly Pears, Opuntia ficus-indica. Found on rocky hillslopes, cliffs and roadsides. It was introduced from the Americas by Christopher Columbus. The fruits are often seen for sale in markets.

prickly-pear

Prickly Pears

In the grounds at Monnaber I also spotted a Squirting Cucumber, Ecballium elaterium. The small green fruit, like a small cucumber explodes suddenly when ripe, squirting the seeds out in a pulpy liquid.

squirting-cucumber
squirting-cucumber

This is just a taste of the flowers I saw on my holidays this year. I hope you enjoyed my Mallorcan  Floral snippets as much as I did!

Flower Sketch

 

 

 

Mallorcan Posy

monnaber nou campanet

 

Monnaber Nou Hotel, Campanet, Mallorca

 

 

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July Wildflowers

Spear Thistle
July Wildflower Sketch
Common Poppy Sketch

  Oxfordshire Field Margins 

Chicory Sketch
Chicory, Cichorium intybus

Daisy Family

Erect, stiff branched stems 30 – 100 cm. Leaves lanceolate and pointed. Flowerheads 2.5 – 4 cm wide on thick short stalks. Florets bright blue. 2 rows of bracts, inner bracts longer, erect, outer row shorter.

Flowering Season: July to October

Habitat: Grassland, roadsides and banks. Calc. soils.

Chicory

Chicory

Chicory

 

 

Common Poppy Sketch

Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Poppy Family

Bristly erect annual, 20 – 60 cm tall. Pinnate leaves. Flower heads 7-10 cm across with scarlet petals, often with a dark basal blotch. Capsule globular.

Flowering Season: June to August

Habitat: arable, wasteland, roadsides and bare ground.

Common Poppy
Common Poppy

Common Poppy

 

 

 

Hogweed

Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium

Carrot Family

Robust, roughly hairy perennial plant growing up to 250 cm. Hollow, ridged stems with downward pointing hairs. Grey-green leaves 15 – 60 cm. Flowers white or pinkish.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: roadsides, hedge banks, grassland, waste places and open woodland.

Hogweed

Wild Parsnip

 

Wild Parsnip, Pastinaca sativa

Carrot Family

Erect, downy, branched perennial growing up to 100 cm. Hollow, furrowed and angled stems . Grey-green leaves 15 – 60 cm. Flowers yellow

Poisonous – sap causes severe blisters due to skin becoming hyper sensitive to sunlight.

Flowering Season: June – August

Habitat: roadsides, grassland, waste places and scrubland especially on dry calc. soils. Widespread in S Britain, rare in the North.

Wild Parsnip
Wild Parsnip

 

 

Ragwort Sketch

 

 

 

Ragwort, Senecio jacobea

Daisy Family

Stout, erect, leafy furrowed stems 30 -100 cm.  Stems branch towards top. Leaves pinnately lobed with large blunt end lobe. Flower heads 15 -25 mm in diameter aggregated into flattish-topped umbel-like clusters. Bright yellow.  12 – 15 ray florets.

Highly poisonous.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: Very common on neglected grassland, roadsides, wasteland and dunes.

Ragwort

Ragwort

 

Ragwort Small-16

Mallow, Malva sylvestris

Mallow Family

Robust plant, stems 45 – 90 cm, erect or spreading. Leaves sparsely hairy, palmately lobed, the lobes shallowly toothed. Flowers stalked, in axillary clusters up the stem. Petals 12 – 30 mm, rose purple with darker veins. Petals are 2 – 4 times the length of the sepals.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: Roadsides, wasteland and hedgebanks.

Mallow

 

Mallow

 

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle, Cirsium vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect stems 30 – 150 cm. Stems branched above with spiny wings. Basal leaves 15 – 30 cm long, shortly stalked, deeply pinnatified, wavy edged and toothed. Lobes and teeth with long stout spines. Stem leaves are stalkless, smaller, with long terminal lobes. All leaves are prickly-hairy above and not shiny. A few flower-heads are in loose clusters. Others are solitary. The heads are 2 – 5 cm long and 2.5 – 4 cm wide. The outer bracts are green with long, arched-back yellow spine-tips. The florets are pink-purple. The pappus are feathered. `Pappus’ are the tuft of hairs on each seed of thistles, dandelions, and similar plants, which assists dispersal by the wind.

Flowering Season: July – October

Habitat: Very common on neglected grassland, roadsides, wasteland and open woodland.

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle

 

Creeping ThistleCreeping Thistle

Creeping Thistle, Cirsium arvense

Daisy Family

Creeping perennial with erect, branched, furrowed, spineless stems 30 – 90 cm tall. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate, with strong slender spines on their wavy and toothed edges. The upperside is usually hairless and grey-green in colour. The leaves are cottony beneath. The lower leaves are stalked, the upper spines clasp the stem. The flower-heads are in open clusters, 1.5cm – 2.5 cm long  and 1cm wide. The flower bracts are purplish and oval in shape, with spreading spine-tips. The florets are mauve or white.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Very common on neglected grassland, roadsides, wasteland and arable field margins.

Creeping Thistle

 

Creeping Thistle

Creeping Thistle

 

 

July Wildflower sketch

 

Meadows and Grassland

 

Oxeye Daisy

Oxeye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect, slightly hairy little branched perennial. Basal rosette of long-stalked spoon-shaped, toothed leaves. Stem leaves are stalkless, clasping, alternate, deeply toothed and dark green in colour. The flower-heads are long-stalked, daisy-like, 2-5 – 6 cm across. The ray-florets are white and the disc-florets are yellow.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: Meadows, roadsides, grassland, on fertile soils.

Ox Eye Daisy

July Wildflower Sketch

Buttercup

 

 

Buttercup, Ranunclus

Buttercup Family

Buttercups are plants with alternate leaves and yellow flowers. They have 5 or 3 green sepals, 5 petals, many stamens, and many tiny carpels.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Very common in most habitats

 

Buttercup

 

Lady's Bedstraw

Lady’s Bedstraw, Galium verum

Bedstraw Family

Perennial with creeping stems at base. Flower stems erect, 15 – 60 cm tall. Leaves linear. Corollas 2 – 3 mm across, golden-yellow with pointed lobes.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: grassland, hedge banks and dunes.

Lady's Bedstraw

Field ScabiousField Scabious

 

Field Scabious, Knautia arvensis

Basal leaves roughly-hairy, usually unlobed, but often blunt-toothed. Stem leaves deeply pinnatified, with course hairy segments. Flower heads 3 – 4 cm wide, stalks stout (2 – 3 mm), 8 calyx-teeth, corollas blue-violet with 4 unequal lobes.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: roadsides, dry grassland and meadows.

Field Scabious

Field Scabious

Ragwort

Meadow Cranesbill Sketch

 

Meadow Cranesbill, Geranium pratense

Geranium Family

Erect hairy perennial 30  – 80 cm. Basal leaves 5 – 7 times palmately lobed. Saucer- shaped flowers in pairs. Petals 15 – 18mm, violet-blue to sky blue, unnotched, veins paler.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: roadsides, meadows, grassland, especially on calc soils.

Meadow Cranesbill
Meadow Cranesbill
Meadow Cranesbill

 

 

Corn Mint

Corn Mint, Mentha arvensis

Dead-Nettle Family

Downy perennial 10 – 30 cm tall. `Peppery’ mint scent when bruised. Leaves are rounded to elliptical, blunt-tipped and hairy. Flowers in separated dense whorls in leaf axils. Corolla mauve, stamens projecting.

Flowering Season: May – October

Habitat: Common but possibly declining in meadows, woods and arable.

Corn Mint

Riverbanks and Marshland

Water Mint

Water Mint, Mentha aquatica

Dead-Nettle Family

Downy, erect perennial, 15 – 60 cm tall. Leaves opposite, oval with bunt tips and teeth. Leaves fresh mint scented. Terminal rounded flower-head often with extra whorls below. Calyx tube hairy. Corolla mauve, stamens projecting from flowers.

Flowering Season: July – October

Habitat: Very common in marshes, fens, wet woods and by fresh water.

 

 

Marsh Woundwort

Marsh Woundwort, Stachys palustris

Dead-Nettle Family

Odourless bristly perennial, with creeping rhizome and erect stems, 30 – 80 cm. Leaves lanceolate or oblong, 5 – 12 cm long. Flowers are pink-purple in colour with a white pattern on the lip. Hybridizes with Hedge Woundwort.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Riverbanks and marshes

Marsh Woundwort

Marsh Woundwort

 

Hedge Woundwort

Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica

Dead-Nettle Family

Harsh smelling bristly perennial, with creeping rhizome and erect stems, 30 – 80 cm. Leaves oval-cordate, 4 – 9 cm long. Calyx has rigid triangular teeth.Flowers are beetroot-red in colour with a white pattern on the lip.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Woods and hedgebanks.

Hedge Woundwort

 

Purple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria

Purple-Loosestrife Family

Downy erect perennial, up to 1.5m. Stems bearing 4 or more raised lines. Leaves oval-lanceolate, 40 – 70 mm long, unstalked, pointed and untoothed, in opposite pairs, or whorls of 3 below and alternate above. Flowers 10 – 15 mm in diameter, in long terminal spike. 6 red-purple petals and 12 stamens.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Water- margins, fens and damp grassland.

Purple LoosestrifePurple Loosestrife

Purple Loosestrife

 

Great Willowherb

Great Willowherb, Epilobium hirsutum

Willowherb Family

Tall perennial up to 2m. Round stems, densely downy with spreading hairs. Leaves opposite, oblong-lanceolate up to 12 cm long. Large flowers, strong purplish-pink colour up to 25 mm in diameter, in loose, leafy terminal inflorescence. Stigma with 4 arching creamy lobes.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: Damp places often amongst tall vegetation.Fens, marshes, river banks and damp wasteland.

Great Willowherb

Great Willowherb

Great Willowherb

 

Indian Balsam

Indian Balsam, Impatiens glandulifera

Balsam Family

Tall annual up to 2 m. Can be branched or unbranched, with reddish stem. Leaves lanceolate to elliptical up to 18 cm long. Opposite or in whorls of 3. Flowers purplish-pink or white, up to 40 mm long, with short curved spur. Fruit club-shaped. Naturalised from the Himalayas.

Flowering Season: July – October

Habitat: Riverbanks and damp or shady wasteground.

Indian Balsam

 

Meadowsweet

Meadow Sweet, Filipendula ulmaria

Rose Family

Perennial up to 1.2 m. Pinnate leaves, oval, pointed and sharp toothed, 30 – 60 cm long. The leaves are dark green and hairless above  and white-woolly or pale green and downy below. Leaf stalks smell strongly of germoline. Flowers in dense irregular umbel-like inflorescence consisting of dense showy panicles of many creamy, fragrant flowers, each 4 – 8 mm in diameter. There are usually 5 sepals, 5 petals and many stamens.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: Widespread in a variety of damp and wet habitats including marshes, fens, stream sides, ditches, wet open woodland and by rivers on less acid soils.

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet

 

Wasteland

Bramble Sketch
Selfheal
Bristly Oxtongue

Bristly Oxtongue, Picris echoides

Daisy Family

Annual or biennial with furrowed bristly branched stems up to 90 cm. Basal leaves oblong, narrowing into stalk. Upper stem leaves narrower with clasping leaves covered with swollen bristles. Thickly covered with blister-like bristles with swollen white bases. Bright yellow flower heads 20 – 25 mm in diameter in loose groups.  Outermost 3- 5 bracts leaf-like and triangular, much broader than inner bracts.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: Hedgebanks, grassland, wasteground, disturbed ground and drier coastal habitats

Bristly Oxtongue

Bristly Oxtongue
Bristly Oxtongue

 

 

Viper's BuglossViper's Bugloss

Viper’s Bugloss, Echium vulgare

Borage Family

Roughly bristly biennial with an erect stem up to 80 cm, dotted with red bristles. Stem leaves stalk- less and rounded at bases. Flowers in curved clusters in bract axils up the stem, forming a large panicle. The buds are pink, resembling clusters of tiny grapes. The flowers are usually bright blue or blue-violet. Funnel shaped corolla, 5 stamens, 4 of them long and protruding from the flower. 5 somewhat unequal petal lobes. Fruit rough nutlets.

Flowering Season: June – August

Habitat: Open dry grassland often near the coast, sand and chalk, dunes and cliffs. Frequently on light or calcareous soils.

Viper's BuglossViper's Bugloss

 

 

Bramble Sketch

Bramble, Rubus fructicosus

Rose Family

Numerous microspecies of bramble. Differ in stem armament and hair distribution. Brambles are a genus of scrambling, erect or creeping shrubs, mostly spiny, leaves undivided, or usually with 3 – 5 pinnately or palmately arranged leaflets. 1 – 3 m, with usually arching and angled stems bearing hooked spines, prickles and hairs. Flowers are white or pink, in panicles on the ends of last year’s stems. Berries start green maturing to red then shiny black or purple-red.

Flowering Season: May – September

Habitat: Very common in scrub, woods, wasteland, hedgebanks. Often highly invasive if unmanaged.

Bramble

Bramble

Bramble

 

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly-bush, Buddleja davidii

Butterfly-Bush Family

Shrub up to 5 m. Opposite leaves lanceolate to ovate, usually toothed, white downy below. Small, fragrant, mauve-purple flowers in a dense spike-like panicle. 4 petals fused into a tube with 4 stamens.

Flowering Season: April – August

Habitat: Very common on wasteland, neglected grassland, railways, roadsides and urban areas. Prefers dry, disturbed ground. Introduced from China. Very invasive.

Butterfly Bush-

 

Rosebay Willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb, Chamerion lutiana

Willowherb Family

Tall, erect perennial up to 120 cm. Nearly hairless. Lanceolate alternate leaves, spirally arranged up the stem. Flowers rose-purple, 2 – 3 cm across, borne in spikes. 2 upper petals are broader than the lower. Stigma is four lobed and stamens  bend down eventually.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Locally abundant on wasteland, woods and railway embankments.

Rosebay Willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb

 

Selfheal

Selfheal, Prunella vulgaris

Dead-Nettle Family

Sparsely downy perennial with creeping runners and erect flowering stems up to 20 cm tall. Oval leaves, widest at the base, untoothed and pointed. Inflorescence is a dense oblong head, with hairy purplish bracts, purplish calyx with 3 teeth. Very short flattened upper lip with bristles. Corolla 10 – 14 mm long, violet, rarely white or pink.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: Very common on grassland, roadsides, wasteland and woods.

Selfheal

Selfheal

 

Old Man's Beard

Old Man’s Beard, Clematis vitalba

Buttercup Family

Woody climber with peeling fibrous bark. Opposite, pinnate compound leaves with narrow oval pointed, usually toothed leaflets. Fragrant creamy-white flowers 2 cm across in loose clusters. Flowers in leaf axils, with 4 greenish-creamy sepals, hairy outside and inside and many stamens. Develop long white plumed styles.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: Widespread and common in hedgerows, woodland and scrub on chalk and limestone.

Old Man's Beard

Mallow

 

Purple Toadflax

Purple Toadflax, Linaria purpurea

Figwort Family

Toadflaxes have spurred corollas, with their throats closed by a 2 lobed swelling on the lower lip, called the palate. Erect grey-green leaved hairless perennial. Flowers are in long racemes, corollas violet, unstriped, 8 mm long, with long curved spur.

Flowering Season: June – October

Habitat: A garden escape on old walls and wasteland.

Purple Toadflax

Purple Toadflax

Wild TeaselWild Teasel

Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum

Teasel Family

Stout biennial, up to 2 m. In first year produces a leaf rosette of short-stalked, oblong-laneolate leaves with swollen-based prickles. In second year very prickly, branched stem with opposite, long narrow lanceolate leaves. The leaves join in a cup at the base of each pair that collects rainwater. Flowerheads 3  -8 cm long, egg-shaped. Bracts below head are linear, rigid and spiny, 5 – 9 cm long. Pink-purple corollas 5 – 7 mm long.

Flowering Season: July – August

Habitat: Wasteland, open woods, stream banks, roadsides and grassland especially on clay soils.

Wild Teasel

 

Hedge Bindweed

Hedge Bindweed, Calystegia sepium

Bindweed Family

Creeping and climbing plant, climbing to 3 m or more. Aternate leaves up to 15 cm long. Large white flowers, longer than calyx lobes.

Flowering Season: July – September

Habitat: Wasteland, hedgebanks, scrub, woodland borders and fens.

Hedge Bindweed

Field Bindweed

Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis

Bindweed Family

Creeping and climbing perennial with hairless stems arising from stout fleshy underground stems. Alternate leaves 2 -5 cm long, oblong- arrow-shaped and stalked. White and pink trumpet-shaped flowers, 30 mm across. Calyx 5 lobed.

Flowering Season: June – September

Habitat: Wasteland, hedgebanks, arable, roadsides, grassland and near the coast. A serious weed in gardens.

Field Bindweed

 

Meadow Cranesbill Sketch
Bramble Sketch
Selfheal

 

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Chiltern Chase Wildflowers

Tufted Vetch
Dog Rose
Scarlet Pimpernel

Finish

One of my other passions, apart from my love of flowers, is cross country running. I joined Abingdon Athletics Club this year and am enjoying taking part in races. The Chiltern Chase this month has been one of my favourite events so far.

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was amazed by the number of pretty wild flowers I saw as I walked from the car to the start-line at Cow Common in Ewelme.

Ewelme
Ewelme

 

Wild Flowers, Cow Common, Ewelme

Scarlet PimpernelScarlet Pimpernel 

 Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis

Primrose Family.

Hairless annual plant to 10cm with straggling stems. Leaves opposite, up to 2cm long, oval to lanceolate, pointed and stalkless. Flowers in the leaf axils, solitary on slender stalks. 5 petals, usually scarlet.  Sepals 4 – 5 mm long.Corolla 5 – 7mm long, usually red, sometimes blue and rarely pink.

Flowering Season: June to October

Habitat: Cultivated land, waste ground

 

Hedgerow CranesbillHedgerow Cranesbill
Hedgerow Crane’s-bill, Geranium pyrenaicum

Crane’s-bill Family

Very hairy 5-9 lobed leaves. Flowers have 5 oval, purple-red petals 7 -10 mm with darker veins and notched. 10 stamens

Flowering season: June to August

Habitat: Meadows and roadsides, rough ground

 

Lesser StitchwortLesser StitchwortLesser Stitchwort
Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea

Campion Family

White flowers on slender stalks. Petals notched and longer than the green sepals. Narrow leaves.

Flowering Season: Apr – Jun

Habitat: Hedges, banks and wood margins

TrefoilTrefoil
Lesser Trefoil, Trifolium dubium

Pea Family

Flower heads 5-7 mm across of mostly yellow flowers, each 3-4 mm long. Stem branched, straggling or creeping.

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Dry grassland, roadsides and bare ground

SpeedwellSpeedwell
Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys

Figwort Family

Creeping and ascending hairy stems up to 20cm tall. Leaves are opposite, toothed and hairy. Flowers are bright blue with a white eye. The stigma points down and the stamens to the side. The flowers are pollinated by hover-flies.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Open Woodland, grassland, meadows, scrub

Chiltern Chase 10K Route 

The Chiltern Chase comprises 5.4km,10km and15.4km  multi-terrain runs, in and around the beautiful South Oxford village of Ewelme. Being situated in the Chiltern Hills the courses take in the Chiltern Way, bridleways and off-road sections with numerous red kites flying overhead. 

Chiltern Chase 10k Route

Chiltern Chase Route

 Start of the 10K 

There were 299 runners competing in the 10K race this year and the start involves a hill. I kept a steady pace at the back of the pack.

Chiltern Chase Start

 

Chiltern Chase Start

As I set off up that first hill I knew it wasn’t going to be my fastest 10K time ever. It was hot and my legs were aching from a fair bit of running the previous week. My aim was to get round in a reasonable time for me, but to enjoy the countryside at the same time.

Someone had mentioned that a tactic to keep going when the run gets tough is to mentally count down from 100 and then repeat. The aim is to take your mind off being out of breath and to stop thinking about how much your legs ache. I tried this tactic and it kept me going. However I found it took away some of the enjoyment out of focusing on the view. I therefore devised my own tactic. I am passionate about flowers and I love spotting wildflowers. I made the run into a memory game. I actively looked about trying to spot a new wildflower. I then added the name of the flower to a list in my mind and kept repeating until I saw a new one. Then this new wildflower was added to my list and so it went on. So instead of repeating 100, 99, 98, 97 etc in time to my stride I was repeating Scarlet Pimpernel, Cranesbill, Stitchwort, Trefoil, Speedwell etc etc. It was quite fun, making me look closely at the hedgerows and field margins and kept me going up and down the hills.

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley,  Anthriscus sylvestris 

Carrot Family

Almost hairless branched plant to 1.5m tall. Leaves 2 to 3 pinnate, dark green, with divided lobes. Flowers arranged  in a double umbel.Petals to 2mm.

Flowering Season: May to August

Habitat: Roadsides, meadows, woodland margins

Common PoppyCommon PoppyCommon Poppy
Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Poppy Family

Hairy plant grows up to 70cm tall. Feathery leaves and toothed leaflets. Droops in bud, becomes upright in flower. Sepals fall away during flowering.. Four red petals, about 4cm long, often with black spots towards the base. Numerous stamens. The fruit are hairless round capsules with 8-18 ridges with many openings beneath.

Flowering Season: May to July

Habitat: Arable fields, waste ground, edges of footpaths

Ox Eye DaisyOx Eye DaisyOx Eye Daisy
Oxeye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect slightly hairy plant, 20 – 70 cm tall. Lower leaves are spoon shaped, notched  or pinnately lobed. Stem leaves are long, entire or pinnate.  Daisy like flowers, 2.5-6 cm across. Ray-florets white, disc-florets yellow.

Flowering Season: May – Sept

Habitat: Grassland, roadsides, Meadows

ButtercupButtercup
Buttercup Ranunculus

Stems tall and erect. Lobed leaves. Golden yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May to June

Habitat: Meadows, scrub, farmland, footpaths, wasteland

Elder
Elder, Sambucus nigra

Honeysuckle Family

Shrub or small tree. Creamy white flowers are umbel like, flat topped

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Woodland, scrub

Dog RoseDog RoseDog rose
Dog-rose, Rosa canina

Strong arching stems to 3m. Leaves with 2-3 pairs of toothed leaflets. Flowers are 4-5 cm, pink or white.

Flowering Season:June to September

Habitat: Hedges, scrub and woodland margins

 

 

These photos were taken by Barry Cornelius and at this stage I look quite cheerful on my quest to find Wildflowers on my run. I even got my feet off the ground at one point!

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Barry Cornelius Photos

Herb RobertHerb Robert
Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum

Geranium Family

Spreading plant to 10 – 50 cm tall, with hairy stems and leaves. Stalked leaves opposite with 3-5 lobes. Lobes deeply separated. Petals pink 8 – 14 mm, unnotched. Anthers orange or purple.

Flowering Season: May – Dec

Habitat: Woods, scrub, clearings, walls, shingle and rocks near sea

White Campion
White Campion, Silene latifolia

Campion Family

Leaves are oval or lanceolate. Flowers white, 25 – 30mm. The 5 white petals are lobed. Where this species grows close to Red-Campion hybridised pink flowers are found.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Waste ground, , rough field margins, hedgerows

Common Bird's Foot Trefoil
Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus

Sprawling or creeping perennial. Leaflets ovate to lanceolote. Flowers yellow about 15 mm long. Pods long, dark brown, spreading out like a bird’s foot.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Dry Grassland, pastures, edges of footpaths and heathland

Bugloss
Bugloss, Anchusa arvensis

Borage Family

Erect, very bristly plant. Bright blue, flowers.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: Sandy and light soils, grassland,dunes and wasteground.

Wood AvensWood Avens
Wood Avens, Geum rivale

Rose Family

Also known as Herb Bennet. A rather straggly plant to 60 cm tall. Hairy stems and pinnate leaves. Open, erect flowers turn into slightly prickly fruitheads.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat: Scrub, hedges

Lesser Periwinkle-1Periwinkle
Periwinkle, Vinca

Creeping woody shrub with evergreen untoothed leaves. Blue/violet flowers.

Flowering Season: Apr- Jun

Habitat: Deciduous woods, scrub, calcareous soils

My Wildflower spotting kept me going. Icknield Bank Plantation was pretty, but also pretty hilly through the woodland. Just round the corner of an incline I spotted Barry Cornelius with his camera at the moment when I was about to be overtaken by a speedy 15K runner. I gave it my best shot and sped up for the camera as I knew I’d look like I was competing in the 15K!  That’s a lesson learnt in the past. Keep your eyes out for a man with a camera and perfect your smile and posture for the photographic evidence.

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Photo credit Barry Cornelius

I was now over half way and the sun was shining brightly. The water stops were a welcome relief and it was nice to be cheered on by the friendly volunteers. The second half included fields of rape and pretty cottages.

RapeRape

Rape, Brassica napus

Cabbage Family

Tall annual to 2m. Pale yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May – July

Habitat: Field margins

White Dead Nettle

White Dead-nettle, Lamium album

Leaves ovate, heart shaped at the base. Common nettle shape, but not stinging. Flowers white, 20-25 mm.

Flowering Season: Apr – Dec

Habitat: Grassy, disturbed and semi-shaded habitats

Tufted VetchTufted Vetch

Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca

Downy perennial. Leaves pinnate, with 6 -12 pairs of narrow-oblong leaflets. Bluish/violet Flowers in long raceme to 10 cm.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat:Grassy and bushy places

I must admit it was hard work crossing the open fields in the sun nearer the finish. Particularly as the faster 15k runners were passing me thick and fast. However they were very encouraging calling out `Well done Abingdon!’ I stuck to my course and let the faster runners go round me to overtake. I’ve learnt that it doesn’t work trying to get out of the way. I fall over and the other runner gets confused and delayed.

As I came back into Ewelme village the marshalls and villagers cheered me on. Then I rounded the corner to the finish and was met with a roar of applause as my name was called out towards the finish line. I gave it my best sprint finish and was ecstatic to make it over the line.

FinishFinish

Photo credit Andrew Casey

Just behind me was the chairman of Didcot Runners hand in hand with two of the Abingdon Athletics Club Ladies. Lovely to see the sense of positivity and camaraderie as they crossed the line together.

Chiltern Chase Finish

I found the running difficult on a hot June day. However my wildflower spotting got me through and I must admit it was a lovely jaunt out into the countryside. I will be back next year!

Chiltern Chase Certificate

Chiltern Chase Finish

I’d also highly recommend the tea and cakes provided by the Local school and the Hog- roast. The Chiltern Chase really does have a sense of community and a village fete atmosphere. Lovely!

 

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May Posy

May Posy

When I started to look for the ingredients for this month’s posy I thought the garden looked a bit bare! The month of May is a transition period in our garden, marking the end of tulip season and the beginning of the roses. At times I looked out and all I could see was greenery. However I did deliberately plant ferns last year to enjoy the texture and green colour. I’ve written a whole Blog Post about the use of ferns in Floral Design so decided I ought to plant some!

Fern
Fern
Fern
Fern

Fern tablecentre

Another new addition was Solomon’s Seal. I loved using this beautiful arching perennial last year in a fabulous table runner on a course with Sabine Darrall so thought it would work wonderfully with the ferns in the garden. I was right. However my new stems were too precious to cut for this month’s posy!

May Garden

Solomon Seal

One of my followers has asked to see more images of the whole of our garden and not just the detail. This meant I did have a jolly good go at the weeding and tidying up this month! When I moved into our present house I introduced Mr Smiles to flowers. He was familiar with dandelions, tomatoes, rhubarb and swiss chard but that was about it.

Virginia Way-2
Virginia Way-3

Over the next 6 years I dug borders and planted whatever caught my eye when I had finished digging and whenever I went on an outing to a garden centre. I’ve learnt a lot in the process. I didn’t make a plan. I just started digging. This means that there has not been much thought to a seasonal plan and there isn’t really a grand garden design with little cosy corners as I would like. When we move I shall have more of a long term garden plan.

May Garden
May GardenMay Garden
May Garden
May Garden

May Blooms Small-129

I roped in my father in law to build me a trellis as I wanted to grow climbing roses, clematis and honeysuckle. The good thing about the trellis is it hides the bins. However the flowers do tend to put on the best show on the opposite side by the bins as they obviously like to sunbathe! I used some clematis in this month’s posy.

I’m really pleased that we have great tits nesting in the blue birdbox again this month. I provided a choice of homes. However the middle blue residence seems to be the property of the month.

Bird Hut
May Blooms

Last weekend we spent a lovely afternoon trying to capture the great tits going back and forth feeding their young. My photography skills with moving birds need a bit more practise as the images are a bit too dark for my liking.

Feeding Time

Ready to fly

Feeding time

It’s actually been quite a month for wildlife. I spotted quite a few white and greenfly on my roses which I wasn’t amused with. However there are also ladybirds about. Hopefully they will attack the aphids. That’s when they’ve finished mating!

LadybirdLady Love

We have had quite a few of my cottage garden favourite blooms out this month including Aquilegia and Love-in-a-mist.

I chose to use these flowers in my posy as they seemed to be representative of the month.

May Blooms
May Blooms

 

Purple AquilegiaAqilegia

Pink Aquilegia
Pink Aquilegia

Aquilegia

NigellaPersian Jewel

Centaurea montana is a great plant as it just keeps flowering. Not very showy, but a very useful filler.

Centaurea montana

One of my favourite flowers is Dicentra , now re-named as Lamprocapnos spectabilis. The arching stems have pink flowers which resemble pretty pink hearts. This is another shrub which I deemed too precious to be picked this month!  My peony with just one fantastic bloom was also a no go area for picking!

Pink Hearts

May Blooms

Coral Peony

Our front garden has undergone a similar transformation as the back. In fact the front garden really comes into it’s own next month when the roses get going. Again there were no flowers. I dug a small border and also planted a seaside area. Under our bay window we have stones. The area is quite damp in the Winter, but dry in the Summer. I’ve gradually been planting coastal loving plants. This is planting in the loosest terms. I’ve literally just shoved plants in among the stones and told them to get on with it. I have collected shells and drift wood from trips to the coast and added them in.

Virginia Way-5

Virginia Way-1

This was the border five years ago. Now I think I might need to make the border bigger…! I am so chuffed with my oriental poppy. In this image there is only one flower. This month I have poppy flowers galore!

Oriental Poppy

Oriental Poppy

May Blooms

As I had lots of poppy flowers I decided I could spare one for my May Posy to be star of the show.

May Posy

 

In addition to the poppy the front garden has a lot of allium flowers in shades of white, pink and purple. I planted the front up after the back so there is more of a deliberate plan. I have chosen to use a colour palette of soft pinks, whites and lilacs.

Allium

Nectaroscordum siculum

Allium

Allium roseum

As I have quite a few of the pretty blush coloured Allium roseum I was happy to pick some for my creation.

May Posy

The other flowers I am very fond of are my stately foxgloves as they remind me of walks in the countryside.

Foxglove

Foxglove

Foxglove

Foxglove

By the front door we still have little viola in pots. I managed to include a couple of these in my posy as I love their cheerful little faces.

Viola

Viola
Viola

So there we have it this month’s posy is a bit of this and a bit of that, which represents our garden rather well!

May PosyMay PosyMay PosyMay Posy

 

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Bluebell Time

Badbury Clump Bluebell Wood

Bluebells at Badbury Clump

The highlight of May for me has been seeing the fleeting beauty of carpets of Spring bluebells.  I went for a lovely run starting at Badbury Clump at the beginning of the month.  The Clump forms the remains of an Iron Age hill fort from about 600 BC and is famous for its beech trees and bluebells. They really were spectacular.

English BluebellsBluebells

I also enjoyed a lovely evening with my local running group,  Abingdon Athletics Club, running through the woods at Cothill.

A couple of years ago Mr Smiles and I had a holiday near Sissinghurst in May and the carpet of blue flowers in the woods was equally lovely.

Bluebells Sissinghurst

Bluebells Sissinghurst

We have also had quite a display of bluebells in the garden this year. This got me thinking about the difference between native English bluebells and Garden bluebells as they clearly aren’t the same.

Spanish Bluebells

My Garden Bluebells

Spanish bluebells

English Bluebells

Woodland Bluebells

Bluebell

Bluebell

Bluebell Watercolour

I really enjoyed the process of painting two types of bluebell in watercolour. I found the process helped me see the differences botanically.

Bluebell Identification

Bluebell Watercolour

Native Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Leaf Width: 7-10mm

Stem: Droops to one side.

Flowers: Scented. Deep Violet Blue or white. Longer petals forming a straighter tube shape, curled back at tips. Flowers on one side of the stem.

Anthers: Pale Cream

Bluebell - cream anthers

Spanish Bluebell Watercolour

Spanish Bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica

Leaf Width: 20 – 35 mm (broader)

Stem: Upright and chunkier appearance. Less dainty.

Flowers: No scent. Dark blue/pink/white. Petals are shorter and form a wider open bell-shape.The tips flare outwards rather than curl. The flowers are spiralled around the stem.

Anthers: Blue

Our Native Bluebell woods are threatened by the more vigorous Spanish bluebells.  Hybrid Bluebells result from cross pollination. The Hybrid is somewhere in between the two with broader leaves, little scent and flowers all around the stem which droop slightly. The petals are shorter and more open like the Spanish. The tips sometimes roll back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my trips through the bluebells this month.

The Woodland Trust would like to know where and when bluebells have been seen across the country. Why not join the Big Bluebell Watch and help map bluebells across the country?

Bluebell Watercolour

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Drayton Delights

Drayton Blooms

Apart from being passionate about flowers and social history I enjoy cross country running.  I’d never dreamt I’d ever use the phrase `I’m a runner’, let alone say that I enjoy cross country running, but I do!

Drayton Run
Drayton Mud
Drayton Run

 

I had admired a wonderful host of golden daffodils on my way to work and decided to plan a run around the daffs. I don’t run to be competitive. Running helps me keep a certain level of fitness  and being out and about in the sunshine or showers lifts my spirits. I also treat my runs like treasure hunts actively looking out for beauty. I don’t mind if I’m out for an extra hour when I’ve got distracted taking a few snaps of flowers that catch my eye along the way.

Drayton Daffodils
DRayton Daffodils
Drayton Run

I stopped for quite a while to admire the drifts of golden daffodils and was trying to get the best shots I could of the blooms with my camera phone. At that moment a lovely gentleman came out of his house and offered to take my picture. We had quite a chat. I discovered that he had planted the bulbs as a neighbourhood community project over 10 years ago.

Drayton Blooms

Drayton Daffodils

Drayton Blooms

After that I continued with my 6 mile route and found a few other gems to photograph along the way.

Drayton Blossom
Drayton Primroses
Drayton Blossom

Crocus

I had been so struck by the beauty of the flowers in Drayton that I went back on St David’s Day to photograph the daffodils with my `proper’ camera.

Drayton Blooms

Drayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton Blooms

At the base of the trees there were also some very pretty clumps of violet-blue grape hyacinths in flower. There is something about this colour combination that works so well together.

Purples and Yellows

Drayton Blooms

Drayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton Blooms

Anemone Blanda Hues

 

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