''Some say Zinnias are unsophisticated….which quite frankly is a really stupid thing to say about any flower and more than likely their eyes must have fallen out and been replaced by cold marbles. I’m not one to tell people what to like and dislike but…if you don’t like Zinnias you need a ‘check up from the neck up’.'' Mr Higgledygarden.
I love The Higgledygarden website partly because its a great name but also he makes horticulture cool, never thought I would be able to say that!
I'm having a wee re-think about my garden at the moment. I feeling the need for colour this year. I mentioned in an earlier post that pot marigolds were going to take centre stage this year (or at least supporting actor).
I'm thinking Zinnias-WOW, a scary combination, I will have to keep them apart-young Marigold is like the village festival queen and Zinnia the local tart. I only met Zinnia a couple of years ago at Green and Gorgeous in Oxfordshire, a lovely cut flower farm. Her native homeland is around Mexico way, and she looks like she would really fit in there. I've never been too sure about wild colours in my garden. When they are used well I think they are fab. I'm not sure if I can pull it off. I've ordered seeds anyway, apparently she flowers and flowers - I'll let you know.
I feel a bit like a station master, for the past couple of weeks I have been dropping off and picking up members of 'The Team' at various unsociable hours. Its 5.55am and I have just dropped Emma (13 3/4) at school for a 2 day trip to Ypres a beautiful Medieval village in West Flanders, Belgium and also the site of the battlefields of World War 1. They will visit some of the cemeteries and the Menin Gate for 'The Last Post', quite a memorable trip.
It's too early in the year for poppies in Flanders fields, but they are always a poignant reminder of sacrifice and of hope.
Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are one of my favourite flowers, they have an ephemeral beauty, a delicate (surprisingly hairy) but strong stem, a bud that hangs its head (very photogenic) and petals as delicate as tissue paper which last only a day or so. Field poppy seeds can lie dormant for years and will germinate when the ground is disturbed-so tougher than you might imagine. I often try to grow poppies but they are wilful and pop up where you least expect them. A scattering of seeds may only produce one or two flowers for me, probably because I don't plough my garden when I sow them!
If blood red isn't your thing there are some delicious varieties, 'Bridal White' or 'Picotee' in gentle shades of pink and peach.
They also lend themselves to watercolours, I painted this a couple of years ago.
I've been doing my final tidy up before Spring really takes hold. I have put off a job that I should be done in July; to prune my rambling roses. I have several ramblers in the garden, I like their attitude, daring, strong and beautiful. I have 'Veilchenblau', which threatens to drown my small garden like a purple tsunami. 'Open Arms', who for three years was adorable and well-behaved, reached adolecsence last summer and now waves her long, thorny, wayward branches in the air attacking me unexpectedly. By rights, I should have stuck to a better behaved rose like 'Sir John Betjeman' who flowers unspectacularly, but regularly throughout summer and into autumn like a bus timetable. No, my move from a large (1 1/2 acres) to a hankerchief-sized garden caught me out. Ramblers should be allowed to do just that, ramble.
I photographed a beautiful garden near Cirencester for The Garden, which boasts the national collection.
The roses grow in an old, walled orchard. They tumble over stone walls and clamber up trees. Its a stunning sight, but so fleeting. For two weeks the air is filled with a jumble of colour and scent until the delicate blooms flutter in the breeze like confetti. So all too soon, the show has ended and they morph into menacing, dark tangles of thorn. At this time in July (according to all recieved wisdom) is the best time to prune. Every year I look on disparingly at them, there is no way without pain.
So this winter, for the first time in three, I have tackled them, late I know. Will it kill them off? I hope not. I have hacked back the thug 'Francis E.Lester', who collapses every year under the weight of hundreds of shell pink flowers, and pruned to the ground my French aristocrat, 'Ghislaine de Féligonde'. You see, it is only at this time of year that I can see which branches to cut out. Only my old friend, 'Snow Goose', a pretty white double, thornless beauty escapes with just a snip here and there.
I will let you know how my dysfunctional family get on this year.
I was out and about photographing Galanthus (snow drops to you and me) yesterday. A lovely day and some interesting looking flowers. However, they are far too short and if anyone ever said that photography couldn't be a good workout, then they were wrong! To be fully appreciated they need to be viewed up close and personal. Lifting up the flower to see their bottoms is worthwhile, which means showing yours too! Is it all a little too much I wonder? Galanthophiles are going mad for them. For me, a drift of the bog standard, Galanthus nivalis does the trick.
"We want to get gardens in every school in the country. It can be a couple of square metres, it can be a roof garden, it can be decking, in pots or wellie boots - anything that won't move," said Oliver
Good on you Jamie, at last kids can get the opportunity to see how we grow our food. Finding out that food comes from the ground and not from a plastic bag in the supermarket is a good thing. Emma, my daughter had a brilliant head teacher (Mary Murray now retired) who introduced a school garden and chickens several years ago, she was so switched on.
A couple of years ago I shot a story about 'Children, chickens and allotments'. See for yourself how much fun these kids were having on a cold, foggy winters' day.
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