In a Vase on Monday: Spring or Summer?

Despite a couple of nerve-wracking nights with temperatures dipping to just 3° above freezing (yikes!), the garden is looking like it is summer already. Poppies are about to burst their buds, annuals and the last veg are in the process of being planted out, and the Scabiosa and Knautia are in full bloom. So I picked some for my Monday vase, joining the other Cathy at Rambling in the Garden once again.

I love the Knautia and Scabiosa, as they are not only pretty but attract loads of bees and other pollinators.

We have so many buzzing around today. 🐝🐝🐝

The Veronica is opening too, so I added a couple of sprigs…

… and the red Heuchera (that should have been white and still hasn’t been moved out of the blue and white Moon Bed) was destined for a vase as soon as it showed its colour.

The best thing about this vase is the perfume coming from the pale pink Dianthus. Lovely! These pinks were a gift from my friend Simone’s garden a couple of years ago and seem very happy here. 😃

A few Nigella are hiding in there, along with a sage flower, a Persicaria, some grasses from last week’s vase, fennel foliage and some fading chive flowers. Oh, and some Pulsatilla seedheads again. I just can’t resist their fluffiness in a vase! 😉

Is your garden moving towards summer already? I wonder what defines that moment for you. In this garden I am still uncertain as the cold spell we get in early June is actually not all that unusual. In fact it has a name: Schafskälte. (Literally ‘sheep’s chill’) Early to mid June we often have a few colder days and nights that mean the poor sheep that have already been shorn feel the chill!

Hopefully this is an early ‘Schafskälte’ we are experiencing and tonight will be the last chilly night – the forecast says we are getting some real summer days at the end of the week. ☀️

Wishing you some good weather too.

And happy gardening!
🐝🌷🐝

 

A Flamboyant Parrot Tulip – Texas Gold

I grew a gorgeous parrot tulip this year called Texas Gold. It opened the second week of May and looked like this….

A lovely shape, a beautiful strong golden yellow colour, and some green streaks. I knew it should have a slight flaming around the edges as I had grown it before, so I watched it over the next week or so and on May 16th it looked like this.

Now, isn’t that pretty?

But then the petals started to develop an orangey red tinge all over. This was only two days later…

And now most of them have turned almost completely orange with only a little golden yellow remaining. Wow!

I feel I got more than my money’s worth with this tulip.😃

Did you have a favourite tulip this spring?

In a Vase on Monday: Snowballs

The Viburnum opulus in our hedgerows is flowering beautifully this year, prompting me to pick some for a vase this week. In German this shrub is called ‘Schneeball’, as the white flowers shine out from the hedgerows like balls of white snow. 😃

And here is the vase.

 

On a whim the cow parsley just the other side of the fence was picked too. And a few grasses from the hedge and the garden were also added. 😃

 

 

 

Close up you can see the ring of outer petals on the Viburnum, attracting the insects to the tiny inner fertile flowers. The berries in autumn are beautiful too – a bright shiny red.

 

I have never looked at cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) so closely before – they remind me of lots of tiny stars.

Some parts of Germany have had terrible storms over the past few days, but we have been lucky so far…. fingers crossed. Tonight another round of thunderstorms is forecast, but let’s hope for the best!

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this meme. And thanks to you for visiting. 😃

 

Himalayan Foxtail Lilies

In the autumn of 2020 I planted three strange roots that reminded me of an octopus – Eremurus himalaicus, Himalayan Foxtail Lilies.

Here is a photo I found online which shows what I mean about the octopus…

They were carefully positioned in the new Moon Bed, between the giant white Alliums ‘Mount Everest’ – after all, I wanted them to feel at home! 😉

Well, in the spring of 2021 only one showed any signs of life, with no flower. So I had more or less written them off. But this spring three clumps of leaves appeared mid-April. Hooray!

They are a bit difficult to distinguish from the allium foliage in this photo

One fell victim to slugs I think, but soon buds appeared on the other two plants. The excitement mounted, and suddenly the buds seemed to have doubled in size overnight! (Things like that happen here in May! 😉)

Or tripled?! This photo was taken on the 13th of May.

My attention was now well and truly focussed and I have been checking them daily since. By May 16th these imposing and majestic spikes had just started to open…

May 16th

The next day a few more flowers opened from the bottom upwards, clambering towards the blue skies…

May 17th

They love sunny, dry spots, and I have heard them called ‘Desert Candles’, as well as ‘Cleopatra’s Needles’. Maybe you know them by those names? Eremurus himalaicus was the first of the lilies to be taken to Europe in the early 19th century. It is also the earliest flowering one.

By May 18th both stems were open over halfway…

 

The bees like it too. 😃

On May 19th they were almost completely open. Who would have thought just two plants could make such an impression!

Well, here we are on May 21st, and I am completely bowled over by these flowers.

It is a plant with character, shining out above most of the other plants. It has presence. Whereas with other favourites  my reaction might be to grow more of them in a clump, with the Himalaya Foxtail I feel these two flowers are enough to make a statement. Well, three would also be lovely of course, and perhaps the third one will flower next year. I have since read that they can take a year or two to get started. But there are several other species that have different coloured flowers, some of them even taller than these…. perhaps I will be tempted to try some orange or yellow ones in another part of the garden. 😉

This is one of the loveliest plants I have ever grown. 😃

Would you give this plant space in your garden? Or perhaps you already grow them?

 

World Bee Day, 2022

I just saw Eliza’s post about World Bee Day, so felt compelled to post something before this day goes by unnoticed. Like Eliza, I ask all gardeners please not to use chemicals to get rid of weeds or pests. There is almost always a kinder alternative that will not harm pollinators.

This is my Peony ‘Claire de lune’ which opened yesterday, with a bee in her ruffles. 😃

 

Fascination of Plants Day, 2022

Fascination of Plants Day is May 18th every year.

Steve, from ‘Portraits of Wildflowers‘, alerted me to this date the other day, which I must admit I had not heard of before. I don’t feel guilty about that though, as there is zero awareness of it in Germany. All the more reason for writing something to mark this day. 🌷

 

First, a definition:

The sixth international “Fascination of Plants Day” will be launched by plant scientists across the world under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).

The goal of this activity is to get as many people as possible around the world fascinated by plants and enthused about the importance of plant science for agriculture and sustainable production of nutritious food, as well as for horticulture, forestry and the production of plant-based non-food products such as paper, timber, chemicals, energy and pharmaceuticals. The role of plants in environmental conservation is also a key message.

As a gardener and plant lover, I find plants fascinating full stop.

But as a vegan there is the additional interest because they form the basis of absolutely everything we eat. We substitute oat and soya drink for milk, coconut milk for cream, and use nut ‘milk’ for sauces. We eat products made with wheat, lupin, pea and soya protein. Amazing… meat alternatives made out of lupin protein… 😃

We consume leaves, fruits, roots and tubers, seeds, vegetable oils, pulses and grains.

Like many Germans, we heat with wood in the form of wooden pellets. We all wear clothes made of plant fibres.

And since becoming vegan I use far more herbs and spices for flavouring than before.

To put it in a nutshell, plants are our life, and not just for vegans!

But as I said, I am a plant lover at heart and the flowers that I grow fascinate me for so many reasons…

Their shapes..

Their resilience…

Hellebore on a frosty morning

A couple of hours later

The way they produce pollen and seed…

 

And their ingenious strategies for surviving…

For example, this year has been a mast year for spruce, which means they are producing more flowers/seed and hence pollen than usual, rather than putting their energy into new growth.

Spruce this spring

This is often considered to be a reaction to drought or disease; to reproduce as quickly as possible to preserve the species for the future. It does happen at irregular intervals regardless of climate or environmental conditions though.

Here a few fun facts I found while thinking about what to write for this post:

  • The average strawberry has 200 seeds. It’s the only fruit that bears its seeds on the outside.
  • Peanuts are not nuts! They are in fact legumes, related to beans and lentils.
  • It can take up to 50 years for an oak tree to produce its first acorn.
  • An estimated 100 billion bananas are consumed worldwide each year!

What fascinates you most of all about plants? And have you heard of this special day before? Maybe a botanical garden near you is marking this day in some way. Why not check and see. And if you know any unusual facts about plants, do share in the comments below! 😃

I will certainly be giving plants a bit more thought today while drinking my coffee, picking my radishes, or cooking some vegetable or other with herbs for dinner!

 

Have a great day and happy gardening!

In a Vase on Monday: The Might of May

Isn’t it amazing how much energy is lying beneath our feet as we walk around our gardens? Think of all that power, as the shoots and buds burst up and out with such vigour and strength. Alone the rate of growth of the grass is alarming. Fortunately my Man of Many Talents takes care of most of the mowing. 😉

May is the not the month for dallying, but I have been stopped in my tracks more than once this past week by a new flower opening, or new leaves appearing. The oaks are now fully clothed, the May is starting to open, the broom along the roadsides are all in flower, and the lilacs have bloomed and started to fade almost before I could inhale their gorgeous fragrance.

That is why I chose to use a sprig of lilac as the centre piece for a vase today. I am joining in the In a Vase on Monday meme with our host Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden.

Lilac ‘Andenken an Ludwig Späth’ is accompanied by some Geranium phaeum. The tiny dark flowers are the centre of attention as far as the bees are concerned at the moment. (And they have attracted some attention from me too!)

I also used some pale Pulsatilla seedheads along with a couple of pinkish ones too. These are so pretty in vases and go on looking good for ages.

Tucked away on one side are some Pulmonaria ‘Opal’ …

and at the back some white hellebores that have faded to a lovely shade of green…

I added some hellebore and fennel foliage, a few grasses, some Heuchera stems with tight buds on, and some spikes of white broom.

The ‘ice saints’ came and went with no sign of frost, so the vegetable garden will be the focus in the next week or two, and then the annuals will be planted out. I wish May was twice as long! 😉

Hope you are all enjoying this mighty month as much as we are. 😃

Happy gardening!