At It Again …

Today, seeing as how I had yet another day off work (the nerve!), the hubbie and I decided to take a trip to the nearby town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. Its exactly as chocolate-box and middle-England as you’re imagining.

This cobbled lane with its old weaver's cottages is a medieval relic that abuts the old 'Chipping' or market place.
This cobbled lane with its old weaver’s cottages is a medieval relic that abuts the old ‘Chipping’ or market place.

Cotswold stone, olde-worlde shoppes (even if every other two are antique/’design’ shops and every other three are tea shops of some description), awful parking options – that kind of thing. But we lunched and drank (mojito at lunchtime – don’t mind if I do!) – and then made out way home.


The point? That on the way home we did our weekly grocery shopping (very exciting – stay with me) and then popped in to a garden centre to buy some compost (one of horse manure, one of multi-purpose peat-free). And in this garden centre they had a rather lovely offer on packets of bulbs – one packet for £3 or three packets for £6. Be silly not to, really! So I did.

12 Narcissus triandrus Tresamble

12 Narcissus tazetta Canaliculatus

8 Allium siculum syn Allium bulgaricum syn Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum



The Merest Whiff of Autumn = BULBS

Those of you with a nervous disposition will be pleased to hear that the Great Autumn Reshuffle has not yet commenced here at AWG … it may do this weekend – it all depends on the Japanese anemone plant that seems to be flowering fairly nicely at the moment (going by the old adage of “DON’T TOUCH IT, DON’T TOUCH IT” espoused by my mum).

There is one thing about this time of year that I do particularly love – the arrival of the bulbs. Yes. I’ve said it before (alright, several times), I love spring bulbs. The Iris reticulata were a mixed bag this Spring – the ones that flowered looked great, but I had a few no-shows and a few that managed to make leaf but didn’t bud – and the Chionodoxa and Eranthis (Winter Aconite to you and me) looked good. But they were all a bit … sparse …

Consequently, the plan was to bulk up on these little lovelies and merrily plug away with more, more, MORE! Ahem. I’d been looking around online and found a few places that sold bulbs (including eBay and Amazon, as well as nurseries and garden centres). At one point I recognised my own naughtiness when I’d racked up a £50 online shopping basket. Luckily I pressed cancel instead of BUY NOW, but it was still a bit of a … niggle. This morning, when engaging in a bit of light shopping in Devizes (I have a few days off work and we had to go to pick up something from the amazing framing man) I visited the plant people in the market. I was ogling their bulbs (steady …) and saw that their prices were pretty damn good.

After a while I bought the following:

10 x Tulip Blue Parrot

20 x Iris reticulata

20 x Allium moly

10 x Chionodoxa

5 x Allium nigrum

And the price? The princely sum of £9.75. Yes. My online calculator says that’s about US$15 or AU$17 or EUR12. Is that a good price for 65 bulbs where you are? You’ll have to let me know.

I’m not done with the bulbs altogether, mind. I’d like to get more of the little Eranthis and maybe some more, and different, types of tulip. Some of them, however, will no doubt be purchased from online outlets.

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August …

Things have been fairly quiet, garden-wise, chez moi lately. Partly this is because I am now back working full-time whilst also undertaking a distance-learning degree course, but also partly because I’m not happy with how the borders have developed this year. Don’t get me wrong – there are some areas that I am extremely happy with – but there are plenty of other areas that didn’t do quite as well as I’d hoped.

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Part of that not-doing-so-well is due to the pure physical aspects of my garden – or to be more accurate, the physical aspects of other people’s gardens that affect mine. Such as my neighbour’s intention to allow his laurel hedging to grow rampant, as well as not managing his willow hedging (you know what willow hedges become if you don’t lay them? A row of willow trees) and in a long, narrow ‘urban’ garden, this is not good. I was also not quite as diligent in dealing with my clay soil before planting in some places meaning that, yep, I’ve had to deal with a lack of water retention and cracking ground (and guess where my husband decided we should plant the moisture-loving astilbe? You got it …). Too much shade. Too much dry. There are plants out there that can deal with all these things in wonderful and beautiful ways. Some of them I have, but planted in the wrong place. 

Of course, the way to correct these issues is simple – bulldoze all the houses around me and create one, large, awesome garden improve the soil and replant, removing unsuitable plants and replacing with better choices. Of course, this is somewhat of a big job and digging up plants is quite traumatic for the poor little buggers so I shall be tackling different areas on different weekends during the autumn after the flowers have finished their flowering and seed-setting (if I allow them too) to avoid overstressing them too much, and giving them a winter of dormancy to settle in and become re-established. (Of course, it’d be nice if my neighbour decided to not be such a d-bag and actually trimmed his hedges – but that’s a different moan for a different day!)

There is one area in particular that I have plans for. You remember my lovely white bleeding heart that’s fronted by some columbines …

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I love how this area looks during the spring – but the bleeding heart has succumbed to something like mealy bug for the last two years so gets cut back to ground level, and the columbines finish in June, their leaves becoming straggly and somewhat nothing-y. This border is backed by laurel hedging and to the left is the lilac tree – all of which makes the ground here rather poor in quality. (Admittedly, so far this hasn’t perturbed the columbines and they flower prolifically.) By August it all looks rather sad …

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But a plan has been hatched …! I am going to purchase some border edging, fill up with some decent compost/top soil mix, replant and include some (currently unknown) extras and then top with a bark mulch. This will extend around the front of the lilac tree (under which I have planted some woodland bulbs, cowslips and some Alchemila mollis) to give the whole area a bit of cohesion and some oomph

I’ll also be going a bit bonkers with the bulb buying this year too. Really ramp up the Anemone blandaIris reticulata and some more funky tulips (currently liking Doll’s Minuet and Hotpants), and also more Allium – both the ‘normal’ and also the bright yellow Allium moly. I’d also like some summer-flowering bulbs.

So, yes, big plans … 

Operation: Save Philip

Last December I decided that it was time Philip*, my Echiveria, needed some attention. He was ‘reaching’ and generally looked … well, not good at all …

Its taken me until now to do anything about it, although I bought some cactus mix several months ago. But today, enough was enough. Poor, crook-backed Philip got the chop …

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I made two cuts – first of all an inch or two above dirt level and again a few inches below the crown (basically where the stem starts to curve at the top!) – which gave me two pieces to save and the middle piece of stem which was planned to be discarded.

The ‘stump’ got repotted and I also sliced a little into the top, dividing it in half. Hopefully, this should force the plant to make two brand new shoots.

I stripped a lot of leaves from the crown – finding as I did so two little buds coming from one of the leaves – and potted up the crown. The leaves I stripped off have been lightly pressed into the potting matrix in a couple of pots.

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As Echiveria are pretty hardy little plants, I’m hoping that at least some of them will take. If they do then I’m going to have to get a whole lot more pots …

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I’ll keep you posted as to their progress!


*I have this habit of naming things … I have two spiders in my house – one called Miss Claudine and one called Roberta. I have a painting of a bull on my wall and called him Brian. And who could forget Clive and Ray?

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#Clive the #Easter #ceratosaurus #dinosaur #lunacy

A post shared by Dom Murray (@trentonpeapod) on


The Sun Came Out

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Garden Update!

Last week I finally caved.

For the first time since being back from France I actually mowed the grass. Yes. Its true. Gone is the lush acreage of sweet bee-covered clover. Gone are the perky purple pulpits of betony. Luckily this was done the day before the skies opened for 48 hours …
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… but a lull in the rain yesterday did allow me to go out and get some shots of droplets on flowers … like this Lavatera:
… and this Clematis:
… and some blue & purple Catananche:
In other news, the Buddleia davidii is flowering nciely …
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As is the Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)
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And my new (well, several months ago) Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ is also flowering. (The ‘Tomato Soup’ was heavily slug-damaged, but is recovering nicely – just no buds as yet!)
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As for my rescues … one of the Nicotiana plants has succumbed to whatever was crisping it up (possibly water/fertiliser scorching on the leaves from when it was in the garden centre) – but I have buds coming on the Osteospermum and the Rhodanthemum. I keep missing the orange gazania being out in flower, but the pink geranium its with looks fantastic.
That’s about it for now!

New Rescues

I don’t overly like big chain nurseries/garden centres. I think they breed a sense of “instant gardening” and homogeneous suburban perfection.

Saying that, however, I do quite like popping in now and again to see what’s on their clearance racks. Whilst some of it is often annuals that are past their best, often the only problem these plants face is a lack of water/sunlight/shade/room to grow and once planted in a garden would be absolutely cracking, especially so with perennials.

Today, on the way back from shopping at the large, soulless big chain supermarket (ahem) we popped in to one big chain garden centre-cum-hardware store (okay, it was B&Q) in order to buy some replacement gravel for the edges of the patio. Whilst there we checked out a clearance trolley or two …

The first find was this sad-looking Moroccan daisy: Rhodanthemum hosmariense “African Eyes”.

There was a lovely little compact storksbill: Erodium “Spanish Eyes”.

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And finally what I hope will come on in leaps and bounds this summer, a fairly healthy (an complete with buds) African daisy: Osteospermum ecklonis “Serenity Peach Magic”.

They are currently soaking their feet in a tray of water, but in a while (i.e. after I’ve posted this, finished my tea and gone for a walk) I shall, er, find suitable places for them!

Getting Back To It

There’s no getting away from the fact.

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My garden has been neglected over the past 4 weeks. First by a fortnight’s holiday, then a week of iffy weather and me having interviews and sorting a new job, and finally the first week of said job. Yesterday was my first proper examination of the garden and how its fairing.

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And I apologised to it.

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I went around muttering soothing comments and begging forgiveness under my breath (partly because I do this anyway, but partly so the neighbours don’t think I’m a total lunatic ). Pretty sure I’m not the only one to do this.

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The lawn needs a mow – not that the grass is long, but I think the clover, daisy and other ‘weeds’ need a topping off. Which is a shame as this afternoon in the sunshine the clover flowers abounded with the buzzing hum of different bees and other nectar-guzzling insects. I feel slightly cruel cutting off their nutrient fix.

My courgettes don’t look particularly happy, I have to say. The other bits and pieces (cosmos, evening primrose, sunflowers) planted in the same bed seem to be quite happy growing in the horse-manure-enriched ground, though. Funny that.

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But in other news, my mallow (Lavatera thuringiaca ‘Baby Barnsley’) is flowering nicely.

2014-07-05 12.34.42 2014-07-05 12.34.58And – somewhat surprisingly – my astilbe seems to be bearing up this summer rather better than last year. Perhaps because its been fairly damp …

2014-07-05 12.46.22I have now decided that this autumn I will be having a revamp of the beds and borders in order to make next year much more pleasing!




Post-Holiday Update

I know, I’m sorry. In my pre-holiday post I intimated that I’d be posting whilst I was away … and then didn’t. This was partly due to the shoddy nature of the broadband connection at my parents house (I’m old enough to remember 56k dial-up on screeching modems, so it feels a bit #firstworldproblems to kvetch about ‘slow’ broadband), but mostly due to me having a better time outside (when I wasn’t being bitten to death by anything with piercing mouth-parts) than inside. And somebody may point out that I’ve been back a week and only just getting around to this now … part of that is down to me having a couple of interviews and then being offered a job that needed to all be sorted before I start on Monday.

Rosa 'Buff Beauty', a hybrid musk rose
Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’, a hybrid musk rose

I seem to have taken an over-abundance of photos (both with my phone AND with my actual camera – first time in a long time!). I whittled them down to about 200 and they are sitting happily in an album on Flickr that you’re more than welcome to peruse at your leisure.


One thing I had wanted to do whilst I was there was to scan a few photos of how the garden has changed and developed over the last 20-odd years. I got the old albums out. I went through photos. Forgot to scan any … Well, that’s not strictly true. I did find some old ones of me that made me chuckle …

Me, c.1995/6
Me, c.1995/6

Whilst there were some fabulous roses, poppies and nigellas in bloom, some of the most spectacular flowers were the lilies (and not a red carapace to be seen!).

I’ll have a few other posts highlighting a few bits and pieces in the next few, er, week or so – as well as the jungle (well, okay, not quite!) that I returned to!

The Wiltshire Gardener

A guest post I recently wrote for the wonderful Cady regarding gardening in the UK!

The Travel Lady In Her Shoes

A few weeks ago I wrote a post for the genealogy section of Dominic’s blog, Flibberatic Skreebles.  He also writes at A Wiltshire Garden. This is a post that he so thoughtfully wrote for me about gardening. Enjoy! Thank you Dominic!

Growing up in a small Wiltshire village amidst the rolling hills of south-western England, I had what most would call a typical childhood relationship with our garden. That is, the edges of the garden borders became havens for my various wild animal toys. The lawn was turned into prairie, savannah or – more prosaically – farmland. Camp outs, snail hunts, hedgehog spotting and somewhere to play and be free. I can’t say that I consciously took a great deal of notice of what was around me. 

I did, however, notice that not everybody had such a garden as mine, that not everybody’s mother spent hours in a greenhouse…

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One man's blog from his garden in deepest Wiltshire

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