Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ignore this if you hate Aquilegias!

These are "my" wild Aquilegias which grow up by our field gate. Despite Next Door ripping out chunks of bank with his too-wide farm machinery, I have gone up from 4 to 7 plants this year, as there are three very young ones further down where they haven't grown before. I am going to put some wire or branches in front of the plants so they can set seed without the verge murderers cutting them down.

Last pics, I promise. Just a few close-ups of flower heads as when I walked round my garden last night and REALLY looked at the flowers, I was amazed and delighted to find that I had some more unusual forms. These are better photos which show the flower head. The ones I took the other day were a bit slap-dash. I was amazed to find that I do actually have a couple of plants which have different flower heads on the same plant, so I shall be saving seed from these and marking the trays and seeing what comes up next year.

Aboe and below - a beautiful deep purply-blue clematis style flower with lighter highlights. This has sown itself into a crack in the path - don't know where its parents came from as it's the only one I have like this. Seed being saved again.

Below - a fairly standard double (and treble) petalled flower, with, on the same plant, a white pom-pom flower. Aren't they gorgeous. Again, I shall save seed and see which ones come up when they flower.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Touchwood Nursery - Aquilegia Heaven!

Faced with all this gloriousness, I was like a child in a sweetshop!

Before I leave the subject of Aquilegias, I had a lovely afternoon out on Saturday and visited Touchwood Nursery in Swansea, to look at an absolutely stunning collection of Aquilegias. I hardly knew where to look first as there were so many beautiful and unusual plants. I must have been there nearly an hour, and of course didn't come home empty-handed as I bought ten packets of seed (with a bonus one thrown in free), so I want to get those in seed trays and carefully labelled up tomorrow. I am SO excited about them.

I think the gorgeous pink and cream one is scented! Amazing and definitely something to try and develop more. To the left are some more gold-foliaged plants.

This is one of the clematis-petalled sort. I have a deep bluey purple one like this, but I think this had silver highlighting around the petals which you can't see from my duff picture.

I loved this one - reminded me of the Moulin Rouge dancers for some reason.

I wish I had seeds for this one, but I believe it's still at the experimental stage. They have to start breeding true and not producing different flower types.

Isn't this gorgeous? I've just sent our eldest daughter a necklace in similar colours - this is prettier though!

Note on the right, one of the golden-foliaged Aquilegias, which I think I chose seed for. I'll have to go and check.

Such unusual colours.

I hope that you will visit Carrie's website (there's much more than Aquilegias alone) and perhaps treat yourself to some seeds if you're too far away to visit.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Aquilegias in the garden

. . . or Columbines . . . or Granny's Bonnets, whatever your preference. I have always grown them and still remember the thrill of finding them growing wild on a verge near Arne in the Purbecks. Deep blue they were - probably garden escapees - but here in Wales they grow wild, and also grow and self-seed in my garden and I encourage them. You can't have too many Columbines . . . and they are addictive. When I spot a new-to-me one, I am done for . . . The most recent was last weekend at the car boot sale. A huge well-grown (very tall) William Guinness, which as you will see below, is virtually black with white inner petals.

I have discovered that there is a small Nursery in Swansea specializing in Cottage Garden plants, and she has couple of Open Days to view her Aquilegias, including today and Monday. I am very tempted, and think I may just be taking a little drive later today, pennies clutched in hot sticky hand . . . She has the National Plant Collection of Aquilegia vulgaris and cultivars and hybrids at Touchwood Nursery . . . and bare-root seedlings are VERY reasonable . . .

A feast for Aquilegia lovers . . . Some of the ones I have growing in my garden (and I'm about to get some more!)

My black Norah Barlow about to come into flower.

Pink stellata form near the pond.

Um . . . lost the label . . . but a dwarf form.

I have lost the label for this one to, so will have to identify. Isn't it gorgeus though? On the Touchwood site there is a single called Adelaide Addison which is similar.

William Guiness above.

White double aquilegias. I think they are also known as 'ballerinas'.

The many-petalled Norah Barlow form, above.

This is the stellata form.

Friday, 22 May 2009

A Walk around Gloucester - Part 2

If you double-click on this, you will hopefully be able to read about John Hooper, who died nearby. That's his memorial above.

This is the blue plaque you can see on the wall below (WANT that house!)

T'other side of same beautiful house.

How glorious this must have looked when the statues were painted, as in Medieval times. The money from the film company who filmed the Harry Potter films here has paid for the cathedral walls to be blast-cleaned and some external restoration work carried out on well-weathered buttresses (see photo below).

Above, wonderful memorial to Sarah Morley and her husband James, though if you enlarge it sadly, it tells of her giving birth on board ship and both her and the baby dieing on transit to foreign parts . . . Hence her holding a baby to her breast.

Above is the ornate and skillfully crafted monument (of marble and alabaster) which commemorates Thomas Machen (d.1614) and his wife Christian, who survived him by just a year. They had seven sons and six daughters, some of whom are depicted beneath their kneeling figures. There appear to be two boys short, so perhaps they died in infancy - there are two little girls at the back of the four larger ones, but the handrail partly hides them from view).

Above and below, part of the display of superb early English silver plate from Cotswold churches.

Considering the bad press that attended Edward II during his lifetime, it surprised me greatly to read of his being depicted on his tomb as a "saintly figure with angels at his head". In my first year at University, I took a course about Paleography and deciphering old documents, and one of the facsimile documents we were given to decipher referred to Edward II and the gift of land to his favourite, Hugh Despenser) I believe it is widely thought that Edward II was at the very lease, bisexual and was, as my ex-husband would have crudely put it - "as queer as a lemonade sandwich"! His sexual preferences apart, he was a weak and deeply unpopular king, and following the conclusive defeat of the English at the hands of the Scots at Bannockburn, wandered into a downward spiral which culminated in his imprisonment in Berkeley Castle (near Slimbridge in Gloucestershire), and his murder by means of a red hot poker (which is what they tell you at the castle), although according to the official booklet about the Cathedral, he was suffocated. However, no money was spared on his tomb, below.

Below, two beautiful pieces of stained glass which were, I believe, in the Lady Chapel, which has a very peaceful atmostphere and strangely, made my ears ring (Judy's too).