Alpine House, Harlow Carr, 20th February 2015

The Alpine House at North Yorkshire’s Harlow Carr both inspires and depresses me, for the plants are only displayed when in absolute prime season and no ordinary gardener can keep up. But the plants inspire far more, a theme park of what life in garden paradise can be. I tried to photograph the names as far as possible. This first Iris “Pixie” was sensational.

I have just planted my own narcissus bulbocodium varieties in garden pots for the Spring.

Narcissus “Cedric Morris” is one of my target acquisitions for this autumn’s planting but they are as rare as hen’s teeth. It is the earliest flowering narcissus I know, flowering in November in good conditions and lasting into the new year.

The cute scilla “Spring Beauty” is well named.

And again, the Narcissus romieuxii were so inspiring that I searched the catalogues and have already planted small pots of these unusual “hoop petticoat” varieties.


"Poppies Wave", Yorkshire Sculpture Park, September 18th 2015

Unlike certain politicians I could mention, Yorkshire folk prefer their poppies red. I have honestly never seen the Sculpture Park so packed. It did not match the five million visitors to the Tower of London earlier in the year but give us time.  On a balmy sunny day, I’ll let the images speak for themselves. Derbyshire artist Paul Cummins and theatre designer Tom Piper have managed one of the spectacles of the year.

Autumn and Colour at Chatsworth House, 18th September 2015

Each year we travel to Derbyshire’s Chatsworth House for its world class sculpture. I shall leave that for a later post and concentrate on clouds, wild flowers and world class autumn colour.

The menacing cloud never actually came to anything except for this image of the Emperor’s Fountain.

Wild flowers are all the rage these days. My home town of Doncaster has them on the roadside verges to great effect. I’ll take a few shots before they disappear. For now, two more from Derbyshire.

 The maples come into their own at this time of the year.


This colchicum was simply bursting out in a parkland clearing.

And the tree that is not a genuine tree will lead me on to sculptures when I next post on Chatsworth.

Names I’ve forgotten . . autumn colour this morning in my garden

Japanese anemone are indispensable at this time of the year.  I have several varieties whose names I forget but the double pink and double white are the most eye-catching. They are easy to look after albeit they send up shoots everywhere.

And talking about names being forgotten, somewhere on file I have the name of this startling dahlia growing in a pot and shortly to be assigned to my newly renovated rockery for the last month or so of this year’s life. I used not to like dahlias as they were too linked up in my mind with summer’s end. I’ve changed.

 My fuchsia over-wintered and looks good tumbling over a firethorn.

Ah..  Cosmos, so easy, so cheap. Each year they grow again from discarded seed that suits a lazy gardener.

I believe this to be one of the English Roses whose name I could obtain after some searching. It certainly is praised by visitors for its freshness and scent. Some blemishes on the foliage I note.

Galanthus ‘Spindlestone Surprise", 8th February 2015

I commenced top dressing my snowdrops today, adding a six month fertilizer to take them through the growing season.

I now have a few yellow snowdrops, not all of them thriving. ‘Spindlestone Surprise” is one of the least expensive but price does not always determine the best galanthus varieties. Anyway, this was a new planting from last winter. I will trace its development.

Autumn Cyclamen hederifolium in pots and gardens

Three years ago I had a very healthy crop of two year old hardy cyclamen, courtesy of “Chiltern Seeds”. At winter’s end I opened up the cold frame to find fat slugs and precious little else. Still, I have a healthy crop of the most common ones such as the autumn flowering hederifolium.

I always pot the odd specimen from the garden. If one looks closely above, the germinated seeds of thyme can be discerned. Bare soil under a scented thyme is asking for trouble.

The specimen above was spectacular last year, its particularly bright foliage as attractive as the dinner plate huge plate-sized tuber that I have sprinkled over with grit and slug pellets – only those in pots because I feel guilty using poison for fear of birds being harmed. This year the flowers are not yet quite as prolific so it will be back to the garden for this old fellow after flowering.

The pure white ones look, well, pure in the pot.

And here, at the bottom of the garden where sunlight fears to tread, the plants carpet the soil until their kid brother and sisters coum out in the winter – get it?

Olden, Norway, 27th May, 2013

Our trip to Olden on the cruise ship “Azura” was remarkable for the scenery and weather. Olden was a particular favourite. As this is a blog on plants and gardens, I’m not attempting a travelogue but it occurs to me how ambitious I would be with my garden were I to live in such a stunningly beautiful valley.

Astonishingly we moored a few yards from the bright timber houses.

I asked the guy tending to the grounds of the church the name of the “weed” that coated the fields but he only had the Norwegian word for the flowers. I have seen them in British fields but have still not learnt their name.

A close-up of the “weed”

Olden had a beauty and grandeur to rival Switzerland or Austria.