Sunday, 30 April 2017

A pixie, a wizard and a green man

I seem to start every blog this year by apologising for being so absent – this month I have been so busy I didn’t even think I would be able to put together a blog post but I keep taking gardening photos all the time and I managed to film last Friday so here I am again, writing a last minute post.

There is still no news on my bathroom, no work is started but there is hope it might start sometime in May. Yay! I have been allowed to make choises for just about everything if I want to (as opposed to the council just choosing what they think is OK), so I have spent hours and hours on the computer trying to find suitable taps, tiles, flooring, bathroom fan, bathtub, goodness how much time it takes. I have to keep within reasonable prices, and with companies they shop from – no luxury fixtures I am afraid, but I think it will look very nice once everything is done. Now, if we could just get started?!

At the moment I am looking at paint for one of the walls, the other three will be white tiles with a border. I have an iPhone, an iPad and a Windows computer, the colours look different on all three devices. I had to order paint samples and I paint them on paper plates so I don’t ruin the wall. The colours you see on your computer are probably very different from the actual colours, but they are all dusty plum colours. Eeny meeny....

And the paint samples are for matching my new towels.

This will hopefully be the border on the 3 tiled walls. Can’t wait to see it finished!

OK, some photos from my garden now – and boy does it look different from a month ago. The green leaves on the trees kind of fill the garden and makes it looks smaller and more enclosed.

My waiting room garden bench seems to never be empty of patients to attend to, I hope to clear this soon so I can sit here.

The Japanese Bed is colourful and the Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ has got a piece of decoration – can you see him?

He is called ‘Green Man’ – when I found him online I thought of this space straight away :-)

There are some new occupants in my Woodland Bed too.

A wizard, a pixie and a frog. They look a bit too ‘new’ still, but will weather with time.

Back in the Japanese Bed, the new Acer palmatum 'Pink Passion' is just as gorgeous as I imagined.

Just look at these leaves!

My 4 year old Acer palmatum ‘Ariadne’ is pretty good on gorgeous leaves too, starting with pink, turning to orange, then green in the summer and flaming yellow and red in the autumn. I love it!

My earliest rhododendrons and azaleas started flowering in January and I have had some in flower ever since. This is Rhododendron 'Princess Anne' and it is at its peak right now.

I have rhododendrons with huge flowers and leaves – like Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Sneezy'....

....tiny flower and leaves, like this dwarf Rhododendron 'Carmen'....

....and this is somewhere in between, Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Doc'. Both ‘Doc’ and ‘Sneezy’ are part of the 7 dwarf series of rhododendrons and you might remember I had ‘Dopey’ in my previous garden – the new tenant there is hopefully enjoying the flowers of it right now.

I still have a few spring flowers left, this is Ornithogalum nutans 'Star of Bethlehem'.

I wish you could smell my dwarf lilac, it has the most exquisite scent! This Korean lilac has a much more fruity scent than Syringa vulgaris.

I have done a lot of work in the garden the last month, this bed has finally been planted. Give it 3-4 months and it will be filled with flowers.

The front garden has also finally been planted, in the ground are roses and penstemons.

And the small square bed in my Woodland area has been dug up and replanted. I have filled it with a few lilies in the middle and hemerocallis’ – probably too many but I just had so many in pots that was languishing in my pot jungle so I stuffed in as many as I could manage to fit.

The lilies are growing tall already (must start to stake soon!) and the foxgloves are already flowering. Are they not supposed to flower in June? It’s April - and it’s been a chilly April!

I grew these from seed last year and they are the only foxgloves I had. The seed packet says Digitalis purpurea 'Camelot Cream' – but these look peach to me. Not the first ones to come out wrong from Sarah Raven for me.

I have got a nice collection of Dicentra by now, this is Dicentra spectabilis 'Valentine' – or Lamprocapnos to be correct, I can never remember that word!

And this is one of my new ones, Dicentra cucullaria ‘Pink Punk’ – and this is actually a dicentra. I got some dicentras sent me from a fellow blogger last year and I love the unusual flowers on them. Thanks Roger, they are all doing well :-)

I might have planted over a hundred plants the last month, but there are still pots everywhere – they seem to have a unique ability to multiply. And there are pots of seedlings everywhere too, those the squirrels haven’t ruined already.

I got some new magnolias last year and I had no idea they would flower so soon. These photos were taken last week when they still were looking gorgeous – but the smell is out of this world! I finally have magnolias with scent!! These are pretty unique as they can be pruned as much as you like, they flower on new growth and can even be grown as a hedge. I have 4 plants and I am not sure yet what I will do with them, they are still small and I might grow two as a tall standards.

My tulips are early and all have finished by now, these photos were also taken last week of the latest ones, ‘Shirley’.

Lunaria is a new one for me, a plant I got in a swap, it is a biannual so unless it self-seeds it will be a one-off. But it has lovely flowers and leaves so I might get it again.

The first alstroemeria flowers are here, many more to come!

The first lavender flowers are here, also many more to come. This one is aptly named ‘Fat Head’.

And the first roses are here! As usual it is the pot roses that flowers first, but all the roses have buds not far from opening - a bit warmer weather and they will all burst open.

These pot roses don’t come with labels so I don’t have any names.

The last photos from the garden were taken a couple of weeks ago when the big cherry tree was in full flower.

I just thought it looked so lovely against the sunset so had to include them.

And finally – do you remember I used some of the plums from my tree to make plum liqueur last autumn? Well, the liqueur is now bottled....

....and labelled....

....and even got screw cork and bottle tops like the wine bottles you buy in shops. The liqueur needs to mature for another 6-8 months or so and will be ready for Christmas. I don’t really know what it will taste like when it’s ready, but I had a little taste when I bottled them and it was very yummy already now :-)

The garden movie today has music from the BBC TV series Poldark so if you are impatiently waiting for series 3 like me, maybe this piece of music will help a bit – accompanied by my garden from a few days ago....and the green man, the wizard and the pixie are all here. By the way, the pixie is not a gnome, elf, fairy or nisse or anything else – he is a pixie, Wikipediea will help to explain :-)

See you next month, take care.


  1. You definitely have an amazing design sense, Helene! And it shows in your interior and garden design. Everything is stunning in your garden! That cherry tree--wow! And the plum liqueur...I thought you'd ordered it, but you made it and bottled it! Very impressive! I'm a huge fan of Poldark, so I'm sure I'll enjoy your movie (typing in this comment quick before I watch it). I can't wait for season 3.

    1. Thank you Beth, it has been a fun project, hopefully the liqueur will taste as good as the bottle looks! My garden is progressing nicely and although the amount of work still to do is a bit overwhelming right now, I feel perhaps this year will be the first year when I can start enjoying my 'new' garden a bit more.

  2. Your garden is looking absolutely lovely, Helene! Congratulations both on your work in getting plants in the ground and the progress on preparations for your bathroom remodel. That new Acer is a mouth-watering color. I have just 2 ('Mikawa Yatsubusa' and 'Sango Kaku') and, although I love them, they struggle with conditions here, particularly in summer, so I'm holding firm at 2.

    Happy gardening and best wishes on moving the council forward with your remodel!

    1. Thanks Kris, I looked up your acers, they are lovely, I am hunting for one more but want one that doesn't grow too tall. 'Ariadne' is suffering a bit from too much sun on the top as it is already taller than the fence - I need a small one that stays small - with gorgeous colours - lots to choose from :-)

  3. Many of your plants are well ahead of mine. As for dicentra - it will remain that name with me. I don;t care whether it uis scientifically correct or not.

    By the some of our bathroom tiles are that burgindy colour. Are they from Ma nd S?

    1. We have escaped the colder weather the rest of the country has had so although it has been colder than usual in April my garden is not that much later than normal. I am not sure what you meant about the tiles, my photos show a silver and grey glass/metal border tile sample and flannels in two different plum colours. The glass border tiles are from:

    2. Sorry I meant the towels must have had tiles in my head or the predictive text snookered me as usual

    3. I bought the light plum towels from Tesco and the dark plum from Simply Linens. Had to search high and low for the right colour as 'plum' is not always plum - most of the time it is more like purple or grape :-)

  4. Dear Helene!
    I liked your video and music Poldark, well done!
    Your garden changes every month, lovely dwarf Rhododendron 'Carmen' and magnolia blooms, also the first lavender flowers are so elegant. You have interesting Dicentra collection, especially ‘Pink Punk’ is very unusual.
    Have a nice week!

    1. Yes, 'Pink Punk is not your average dicentra, although you can buy it from some specialist nurseries over here. I have a few other Dicentra cucllaria and I hope they will be happy in my garden even if I don't really have the right soil - they will be grown in pots here for that reason.
      Have a nice week!

    2. I want to add that your liqueur 'crop' shocked me and I've run to read how I might make the same with my plums, Helene. I also like the shape of the bottles and the labels are stunning.

    3. Thanks Nadezda, I did some online research before making the liqueur last September. I found 5 different recipes and I picked from each of them what I thought sounded tasty and simple to do. I used fresh, properly ripe plums without stones, cut in half, filled almost up in 1 litre glass jars and added dark muscovado sugar, star anis and cinnamon sticks. I then poured a bit of dark rum and filled the jars to the top with unflavoured vodka. I left the jars in a dark cupboard for 6 months shaking them now and them, then sifted the plums off and had a bit more sugar and bottled and labelled. And that's as far as I have come. The final product needs to mature for another 6-8 months and then I can report on how it tastes :-)
      You can use any type of fruit and berry using vodka and sugar - and suitable spices if you want.
      Good luck!

  5. Hi Helene, It is good to see your garden again! I can tell you have been hard at work; it looks fantastic! I adore the perfectly pruned Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’, as well as your lilac and your Japanese maples. I believe I recently saw 'Pink Passion' here locally. It is quite beautiful! As for your bathroom, best wishes! I know how hard it is to make a choice, when so many similar colors are available!

    1. Thank you, I love my Salix which I inherited with the garden. I pruned it hard both the first year I was here and last year, thinking it was the right thing to do, but I have seen so many beautiful photos of this Salix with long, draping branches so I am now letting it grow wild and will not prune this year. I might regret that come September! But instead I might just take out some branches here and there, it grows like mad so it is a good tree to experiment on :-)

  6. What a great series of pictures HELENE.I love the wizard.
    As Sue notes you seem to be ahead of us up north! I am going to Bolton Percy today but don't expect to find my Syringa palibinana anywhere near as advanced as yours.
    I was interested to see your honesty as I am just preparing a post about them
    Not sure about your Dicentra cucullaria Pink Punk - the pink colour does not come through with its true intensity
    I will send you some more as you might have got the ordinary cucullaria - although you have shown great skill to get such fine plants

    1. Thank you Roger, I did wonder about the colour of 'Pink Punk', but I did label them just as you had done on the envelopes. However, only two of them have flowered so I didn't have the rest to compare colours with so I thought I would wait until next year and hopefully have all 4 in flower to see if they had been mixed up. They are absolutely lovely and I hope they will be happy in my garden for years to come, I won't plant them in the ground though, don't think they will like the soil here so I think it will be best to keep them in pots. If you have any spare 'Pink Punk' when the autumn comes I would be very happy to adopt them.

      Do you remember you commented on the colour of my 'Bacchanal'? I have tried to get a true 'Bacchanal' again, but yet again I have received a pink one! What is it with these nurseries? I gave it away to someone who was very happy with it regardless of colour, will try again :-)

  7. Hej Helene!
    Det är otroligt så fint allt växer hos dig, vackra blommor och blad. Digitalisen brukar inte blomma hos mig förrän juni, juli. Gillar den aprikosfärgade mycket, och har äntligen hittat några exemplar som jag hoppas kommer tillbaka. Lönnarna har en härlig färg, och ditt blåa träd, är otroligt vackert, var det den som fick en skada, syns inte. När jag ser att du har egen plommonlikör, går tankarna till ett avsnitt av Mrs Bucket, hon köpte plommonlikör på auktion , hoppas inte din är lika stark. Proffsigt med etiketterna.
    Ha det fint /Marika

    1. Hei Marika, ja mine to ceanothus er helt utrolig når de blomstrer! Jeg har kuttet av mye på lengden for å skjule hvor den store grenen brakk av i fjor, og det har grodd fint tilbake siden da så nå kan man nesten ikke se det. Jeg har prøvd å regne ut alkoholnivået på plommelkøren min - og det er ikke lett, man kan nemlig ikke måle det med et alkometer for det er for mye sukker i det. Så det er sånn ca, men tror jeg har regnet ganske riktig og det er ca 20% alkohol, så omtrent det samme som portvin og sherry. Bør nok nytes i små glass :-)

  8. Hyggelig å høre fra deg igjen! :)
    Så langt alt er kommet i din hage. Her har vi hatt den kaldeste våren siden 70 tallet, så det sier ikke så lite.
    Nydelig lønn du viser, og den likte jeg med en gang :)
    Pink Passion var et passende navn. De Green Man tingene var flotte!

    Ha en fin vår i hagen din, Helene!

    1. Hei Marit, vi har hatt det gruelig kaldt her også kaldt her er jo ikke akurat kaldt i Norge :-) Håper på litt varmere vær snart så rosene kan komme igang, de er alle på nippe til å åpne seg men holder seg i knopp som om de venter de også. Ha en fin dag!

  9. It's always a treat to visit your garden. I love all your plantings and your garden art - especially your Green Man. Wonderful!

    1. Thank you Dorothy, my garden is slowly getting there, it has been a cold spring and I am more than ready for some warmer weather now :-)

  10. Hi Helene, nice to see the pics of your garden. I especially love your pink Korean lilac and the magnolia 'Fairy Cream'. Great that you can prune the latter to keep it small and suited for your garden.
    The bottles of the plum liqueur look really cool, like they come from a professional maker!
    Wishing you a wonderful month of May!
    Warm regards,

    1. Thanks Christina, the plum liqueur project has been fun and if the taste is as good as the bottles looks I will do it again, maybe with some other fruit.
      Happy gardening!

  11. Hello Helene, your garden is beautiful. Come to think of it such short time has passed since your moving, you can really inhabit the space! The white Magnolia is simply gorgeous, I have thing for white and pale blooms! Your lilac is really pretty, we have bought a white s. vulgaris, put it in a sunny bed and it hasn't bloomed yet and it is 3 years already. Probably too dry and too sunny, although this spring we have fortunately enough rainfalls so far. There is the first thunderstorm outside this evening, but our garden is much, much later than yours, just those digitalis:-)! Plum liquere looks cool, no difference between yours and purchased ones; our friend a beekeeper has also got some preservation jars via Amazon and they were really nice. It is great you find time to write a post every month. I am looking forward to a next one! Hela

  12. Your garden looks magnificent and obviously you have been working with exceptional focus. Plum fence, towels, beverage--pink Acer--and a Lavender named 'Fat Head'!

    Happy May.

  13. Wow, everything is so far advanced compared to my northerly situation. Your Acers are gorgeous and I love your Dicentras. We have two decent size specimens of Acer Bloodgood, they were removed from our last garden and planted here in February. The leaves formed in mid April and they were looking really good, the severe bitter cold winds since then have caused the leaves to curl up and drop. Ah well, thats how it goes.

  14. It's so nice seeing you around again Helene and it looks like you have certainly been busy. Your gardens are looking so full and amazing and I cannot believe the stamina you have in planting all those potted plants! Your bathroom renovation is so exciting as well. I am always in awe as I gaze at your gardens and the "Green Man" adds such a whimsical touch. It was nice seeing you over at my blog as well. It is always a pleasure my virtual friend.

  15. Helene... I am amazed at how lush and green and how well everything grows in pots.. Wish I could see your fingers because I'm guessing they are very green :) Do you re-pot often or feed often? I love your video too

  16. I hope your bathroom will be done soon.
    As for the garden it looks so nice. I can imagine the scent of lilac. I love this smell and the plant I bought last year in Lidl had flowered this april/may and it makes me sad that I need to wait another year for this smell.
    I know there is more lovely perfumed blossoms to come, and it keeps a smile on my face.
    I hope you will have a nice gardening season, Helene.

  17. Your bathroom will look amazing, Helene, like your garden! I can't believe you have been there such a short time! You have a fabulous array of blooms -- I can smell that lavender. I am super impressed with the liqueur; you will have a very merry Christmas, I believe. My favorite is your green man. Love it all. Stay well, my friend. P. x

  18. So many choices for your bathroom. I hope all goes smoothly once they begin the remodel. It's difficult to live without a bathroom so may it go quickly! Your garden looks awesome and, as always, so well tended, happy, and healthy!