Archives for posts with tag: hellebore

I was going to write about seeds this week, but Lord knows there is plenty of time for that!. Instead, I’ve decided to write about my little trip to Bellefield last Saturday to the Spring Plant Sale. I say trip, but it was only just a few minutes over an hour’s drive for me to get there.

Baton Rouge

Cornus ‘Baton Rouge’, a purchase from Bellefield Plant Fair

I love little trips like this and, while I enjoy the company of friends on such trips, there’s something very peaceful about going for garden visits on your own. A cup of coffee in a paper cup, an apple, a banana, an orange, a cheese sandwich, directions written in very large print (no GPS gadgets for me! Vive la map!), a camera and appropriate clothes for the weather — that’s all you need to enjoy your little trip. Oh, and most importantly, very strong shopping bags (mine are the ancient Tesco ones that hold absolutely loads) to carry your plants in — you always know the plant sale aficionados because they are carrying empty shopping bags as they come in. Five euro notes and 1 and 2 euro coins come in handy as well.

Upon arrival, do a quick sweep of the plant sellers. Don’t buy anything on your first go round (unless you absolutely cannot resist and there’s only one of what you want). Have a look at it all and don’t be shy to ask prices if they are not marked. Then go back and buy what you like. I’d give the advice not to buy things that you don’t have a place for at home, but I won’t say a word about that because I never heed my own advice. If plants are your true love, then buy anything you like, space be damned.


Hellebore at home

Bellefield has a very nice garden. It’s a funny time of year to go for a garden visit. But if you like snowdrops and early bulbs, hellebores and the like, it’s a great time for you to be out having a look. I’m more of a galantholiker than a galanthophile. Looking at different green markings on the white petals of a snowdrop is akin to trainspotting, if you ask me. But some people go crazy over snowdrops. Daffodils were just coming up; Iris unguicularis was flowering and hellebores as well.

Helleborus foetidus

Stinking hellebore at the Little Garden, grown from seed

Hellebores are lovely. I have one very large specimen of Helleborus foetidus I grew from seed and I have a dusky maroon-coloured one. Both are as sheltered as they can be in my garden. If left out in the wind, they go to tatters. And you have to cut last years’ foliage off in the early spring so that it does’t detract from the flowering.


Lupin wakes up after winter

If I didn’t have my own garden to tend to and another very Big one, I’d be out and about every weekend visiting gardens.

Next time… final touches on vegetable bed? Sowing seeds? Polytunnel ready?


A couple of years ago I decided that it was time to start hacking away at the rough field just to the east of the house at the Little Garden.  The area was dug and I immediately started plonking plants in, mostly because I had nowhere else to plonk them.  Bad move.  It wasn’t long before the weeds took hold and started to swamp my plonked plants.

The new bed before filling

The new bed before filling

So I’ve had to rethink the area.  I’ve decided that since it is so close to the house, which also shelters it from the prevailing winds, it would be a good place for some veg and flowers.  I am loath to use the word ‘potager’ because it sends my pretentious asshole meter through the roof.  But that’s actually what it will be in a rough sort of way.  It would be lovely to have bricked paths and fancy, neat beds, but I’m going to have to go with stone-edged beds and re-used Mypex on the paths to begin with.  That’s what the budget calls for.

New Bed Filled with the Recipe

New Bed Filled with the Recipe

As you can see I’ve gone all permaculture.  First I made my circle with stones; there’s no shortage of them around the place.  Then I gathered a heap of cardboard boxes from local shops.  They were only too happy to get rid of the boxes.  I flattened the boxes and removed the plastic tape (this doesn’t disintegrate for about a billion Carbon years).  Then I put the boxes down, a couple of boxes in thickness so that there are about 4 layers of cardboard over the whole bed.  I have a good amount of scutch grass that would be only too happy to poke up through a thin layer of cardboard once it gets wet.



The next step was to fill up the bed with my secret recipe.  Well, it’s not really a secret and it’s not much of a recipe either (whenever I use the word ‘recipe’ I always think of the Baldwin sisters from The Waltons).  Recipe:  well-rotted manure (2 types – one with straw and one with sawdust, both horse manure), top soil, garden compost, and old potting compost – no measuring, just whatever I feel like at the time.  I don’t throw potting compost on the compost heap anymore because I found that it made for a dry kind of compost.  So I keep it separate and use it to lighten up the clay soil that I have.  In the case of this new bed, it’s a good, bulky material to help fill the area.



And that’s it.  I could go ahead and plant today if it wasn’t blowing a gale outside (again).  At least it has warmed up a bit, but every time I go outside it immediately starts to rain.  So I’ve been sowing seeds this morning:  another batch of lettuce, loads of different kinds of peas, and a second sowing of leeks (if you don’t sow leeks here by April you don’t get very big leeks).  I think I’ll probably sow some flower seeds now… for my new pah-tah-zhay…

Shoots of Paeonia 'Buckeye Beauty'. Watch this space!

Shoots of Paeonia ‘Buckeye Beauty’. Watch this space!

I’ve taken a few more photos of things now in flower at the Little Garden (here for your viewing pleasure), including shoots from my favourite plant at the little garden, Paeonia ‘Buckeye Beauty’.  Wait till you see her in flower.


Flower buds of Willow 'Mountain Mist'

Flower buds of Willow ‘Mountain Mist’

Happy sowing!