Sunday, 24 July 2016

Cotinus - the smoke bush

You gave me diamonds, I gave you smoke.
You gave me water, I gave you hope.
You gave me earth - I rested my feet.
By the shed in my garden we used to meet.
You gave me sunlight that shone from above.
At the end of the summer I glowed with your love
My colours were many, red, brown, orange, yellow
Our love became strong, bonded and mellow.

Copyright Stella Jones 2016

Monday, 18 July 2016

Honeysuckle - Lonicera periclymenum

Honeysuckle is one of my favourite plants of all. It is easy to care for and has a wonderful scent, particularly in the evenings. This one was new last year and it has done really well, filling up a vacant space against the fence on a south-facing aspect.

The honeysuckle should ideally be place in a position of half-shade, where it will bloom from June - September. In five years, it will grow to 1 meter.

Bees love honeysuckle, as do moths, who visit mostly in the evening when the scent is at its strongest.

The flowers are several on each stem and the plant has a clever way of attracting insects to pollination. When the flower first opens, the stamens are prominent, the stigma more enclosed so that when the insect lands in order to suck the nectar from the sac at the bottom of the flower, it cannot avoid being covered in pollen. When it passes over a second day flower, the stamens have dropped downwards and the stigma is prominent, allowing the pollen from the insect to drop off onto it and cross pollinate. You can see the difference in the next two pictures. The stigma is more prominent in the second picture. The stigma is the long protuberance with a bobble on the end.

Pruning should take place at the end of winter, beginning of Spring.

In Autumn the plant is covered in beautiful red berries, some of which are edible and can be made into jam or jellies. Always check first before using them for culinary use because some varieties are mildly poisonous.

This honeysuckle is the yellow and white. I recently bought a pink and white one. I'll let you know how it does.

Happy Gardening!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Our Goldfish at feeding time.

We've had our garden pond for nearly three years now and at the moment it's doing well. The water is clear, the fish are happy and the water lily is thriving. We have water snails and oxygenating weed to help and so far, no green slime on the top. It hasn't always been easy to keep the pond in good condition and we have tried various pumps and weeds with varying success.

So far though - no babies. Of the five fish we have in there, there must surely be one female, or more.  I've had ponds before and one year we looked and saw many babies swimming around - hard to see at first because they were brown. This time, nothing so far. 

We have a toad that makes an appearance from time to time, but so far no frogs and no frogspawn either. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for next year. Once they find us, we'll have them forever (I hope).

Mr. or Mrs. Toad

What have been your experiences with a pond in a small garden? Have you any tips you would like to share?

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016


If you suffer from migraine, like I do sometimes, this plant could help you. Best taken in tablet form, available from the health food shop, the properties in feverfew can help. If you prefer to use the actual plant, eat two or three leaves (washed) daily. You can even freeze the leaves for use in the winter.

It is an easy plant to grow and in fact it was the very first plant I grew in my garden when first we came to live here in 1985. I bought a packet of seeds and planted them in Spring, March is best if sowing in seed trays. Alternatively you can sow the seeds outside in April, in shallow drills. Nearly all of them took that first year and soon the garden was full of small, pretty daisies bringing cheer to a neglected space. Each year the plants seeded themselves until soon I had (nearly) too many. The plants grow to 18 inches so form a nice globe in the border providing a foil for other more colourful plants.

If you wish you can take stem cuttings throughout the year, but they will take better in the Spring.

If you want to keep the plants for later use, gather the whole plant and dry it off in a shed or outbuilding during June/July.

I don't think you can have too much of a good thing but gradually as other plants, shrubs and trees were planted, the feverfew receded into places where it could thrive and be left undisturbed.

Other plants which could be helpful in relieving or preventing migraine are:
Wood Betony, Vervain, Cayenne, Rosemary and Lavender.

If you use aromatherapy oils, Lavender and Chamomile are effective

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Sweet Williams, cottage garden favourites.

I love these old fashioned flowers. They are easy to grow, give a wonderful show in mid summer and go on flowering for a long time (several weeks).

In Geoff Hamilton's lovely book 'Cottage Gardens', he describes the Sweet William like this:

'Dianthus barbatus - Sweet William
Height: 15-60 cms (6 in  2 ft)
Lovely old fashioned flower making a large head filled with individual florets like auriculas. However, flowering in mid-summer makes it an awkward customer, so it's now rarely grown, with the preference being for longer-flowering half-hardy bedding. If you can find room for at least a few, they're well worthwhile.'

Sweet Williams are bi-ennial so need to be planted now, as seeds, in order to have flowers next summer. I usually plant mine in a trough first and then, when the plantlets are big enough, I put them out into the garden to establish. The plantlets overwinter very well and grow steadily until they flower in June/July/August time.

I suppose they'll come back into fashion one day. I do hope so.

Millie being nosy.

Happy Gardening

Monday, 4 July 2016

Rose 'Apricot Abundance'

When you buy roses in bud, do you ever wonder if they will turn out just like the pictures on the labels? I did and do and sometimes they don't and I'm disappointed. This one, however, is perfect, apart that is, from the colour. To me it looks pink, not apricot, but it is so beautiful I really don't mind. This rose is in its third year of flowering.  It will never be a huge bush. It stays small and compact, but it blends in beautifully with the other flowers in the border.

The weather looks to be beautiful today and everything in my garden is lovely, as they say.

Happy gardening!