For Several years now I’ve been promising myself a trip to Ashwood Nurseries and for the last three failing to accomplish this mission. However yesterday I felt the need for a serious horticultural jolly. Yes indeed, it is possible to be serious and jolly at the same time.
So armed with my list, credit card and Mother (I’d also been promising to take her to Ashwood for several years) I set off. The sky was blue and the sun shone, which given recent precipitations was in itself no less miraculous than the trip itself. We prepared for all eventualities waterproofs and brollies were packed, however when we arrived the sun still shone and the sky was still blue so we duly left them in the back of the car.
Ashwood nurseries, for those that don’t know, offer tours of their production areas twice a year. You get to look at (but not touch) their stock plants and have a good gawp at their plants in production. The reason for the not touching, as our tour guide explained to us, was to stop accidental pollination occurring. It’s here that the Ashwood magic occurs with cross after cross hopefully resulting in stunning new strains. As he was telling us this I watched a bee fly in through the open vent and get busy amongst the blooms*, I may have smiled.
The range of Hellebores is stunning and the pictures below hardly do justice to the hundreds of colours and forms in this one glasshouse alone.
The second part of the tour takes in a smaller, yet perfectly formed glasshouse, where there’s a fine display of Cyclamen and other winter flowering bulbs and shrubs offering up a good selection for fragrance and winter interest.
Now it was here, dear reader, that things started to change. The Light levels dropped and a rather loud, yet distant rumble could be heard. At first I put the noise down to the vents being hurriedly closed around and about, but as we made our way to the Sales Area it became apparent, as lightening flashed across the sky, the rumble was most definitely thunder.
Comments about the sky being black over Wolverhampton and wondering if Bill’s mother had taken her washing in were made as our guide fought valiantly to continue with his nursery narrative. Given the ferocity of the storm it was a battle he was never going win, with his words inaudible over the hammering of rain on the pollytunnel, it was like being trapped in a kettle drum during a never ending paradiddle.
Now if it hadn’t been for this well timed hailstorm (surely a clever marketing ploy) I would have only purchased those items on my list….
…which was namely a white hellebore and Helleborus foetidus ‘Wester Flisk’. However being trapped here for a prolonged period meant that by the time we got back to the car I seemed to have acquired a few more assorted Hellebores and the odd cyclamen or three.
*they put the following disclaimer on their seeds “We do our utmost to keep our hybrids pure however, due to the natural intervention of insects, colours and forms cannot be guaranteed”
The Canturbury Tales
Excerpt from Prologue of the The Clerks Tale
For goddes sake, as beth of bettre cheere!
It is no tyme for to studien heere.
Telle us som myrie tale, by youre fey!
For what man that is entred in a pley,
He nedes moot unto the pley assente.
But precheth nat, as freres doon in Lente,
To make us for oure olde synnes wepe,
Ne that thy tale make us nat to slepe.
For God’s sake, smile and be of better cheer,
It is no time to think and study here.
Tell us some merry story, if you may;
For whatsoever man will join in play,
He needs must to the play give his consent.
But do not preach, as friars do in Lent,
To make us, for our old sins, wail and weep,
And see your tale shall put us not to sleep.
My Grandmother always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.
Gentle reader as you know, normally I try to talk positively about the places I’ve been and the plants and gardens I’ve seen. I note however, that the cute bunny topic has, this month, been snaffled by somebody more erudite than myself. So I fear at the end of this blog post I may need to apologise to my Granny.
My Grandmother’s pearls of wisdom have stood me in good stead for much of my life, however something happened today which brought to the surface an irritation which has been vexing me for sometime. Perhaps it is my advancing years, which is causing me to become a pedant however I feel that perhaps it should now be “If you don’t know, don’t say anything at all”.
I’m often asked all sorts of questions by clients, I have almost come to relish the jam jar wafted under my nose followed by, “what d’you think that is?”. Most often I can identify said creature, leaf or flower but, on occasions, where entomological or horticultural knowledge lets me down, I am quite happy to admit that I am no Dr George McGavin or Geoffrey Smith. So rather than say in a knowledgeable tone, “ahh yes the Lesser Spotted Velouté Bug, so named for the sauce it was discovered floating in”, rather I simply say, “I don’t know, but I will find out”.
So, what has prompted this irritation? Today as I was queuing patiently I listened to a Plant Centre Manager explaining why the customer’s Hellebore looked so sick. Apparently it was not a problem with plant itself, rather the fact that they (the customer) had watered it incorrectly. Evidently the heat of the sun had scorched the leaves because it had been watered it in the heat of the day. TOSH it had a rather bad case of Leaf Spot. Also when was the last time we had sufficient Sun to scorch said leaf?
So far this year I have witnessed misinformation in Blogs, TV garden programs (on both sides it has to be said) and in Garden Centers.
So to conclude.
Scientific research has concluded that water droplets do not create a lens effect and lead to scorching of leaves and petals. Therefore, if your plants are wilting at mid-day, water them. You will however, get better results if you aim the water at the soil rather than the leaves.
If you were confused by the voice over on a recent TV gardening show talking about the division of primroses, while the camera showed a hellebore being dropping into a bucket, here’s what each one looks like.
The fruit set on an apple tree is not, to my knowledge, dependent on its rootstock but whether it is pollinated, so look at its pollination group.
This is what a British Bluebell looks like, not the Spanish Bluebell as pictured on 90% of bulbs sold at garden centers. Although to be fair they are selling Spanish Bluebells even if they are labeled as British.
Also bracts are not in fact the same as petals.
I could go on, however I sense, gentle reader you tire of my tirade (I know I do) and I fear for my raised blood pressure.
So until next time when normal service will be resumed.
For some weeks now I have found myself pacing and feeling restless. On days when I am working in the office I feel quite irritated and have to mentally keep myself on task.
I think many of us gardeners are afflicted with this ailment at this time of year. We have waited patiently, first for the Winter solstice, and then for the lengthening number of daylight hours. Each day, almost a minute more daylight, starting earlier and earlier until we wake to the dawn of a new day.
This morning, for the first time, I noticed how light the horizon was at 6a.m., it showed quite clearly thorough the Winter branches, whereas last week, at that time tree and horizon were one.
Like may people, all my seeds are raised without the benefit of a green house; and as such, I have to wait a little longer for Spring sowing to start. Although I keep thinking of all the seeds hidden away in the seed tin, I will wait impatiently to sow them; (stocky and sturdy like a Thelwell pony is so much better than a pampered thoroughbred who will sulk at the first sign of a stiff breeze or heavy shower).
So, although I know the cause of this restless feeling, (as I champ at the bit like a horse at the start of a race), experience has taught me to wait and not take the first warm days of February, or early March, as the starting gun.
However with more daylight hours on the way, we are definitely under starters orders!