Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Quiz

No prizes, but fun to find out the answers - I'd love to hear some of them.

1. Name 5 plants which flower (naturally) in the UK in December.

2. What is the latin name of the Christmas Rose?

3. How would you propagate mistletoe?

4. What is the meaning of ivy in the language of flowers?

5. What is the common name of the shrub Sarcococca?

6. List 5 red berry bearing flowers, shrubs or trees.

7. Spring and Summer Snowflake are varieties of which species?

8. Which garden writer is the author of 'The Winter Garden'?

9. What colour are poinsettia flowers?

10. What was your favourite flower of 2013?

You can find my answers by clicking this link, but there may be more!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

All I want for Christmas is…. no viburnum beetle

It's not every week that the predominant question asked by my teenage son is:
"Mum, did you find a pick axe today?"

He has had a bee in his bonnet about it since last weekend when he and his father decided that they'd take on the gargantuan task of removing my much lamented viburnum tinus 'Eve Price' from the spot where she has kept sentry over the compost bins since we moved here several years ago.

But sadly, like the rest of us, Eve has got a bit smelly and moth eaten in her old age, thanks to a heavy and ongoing infestation of viburnum beetle. A younger, sprightlier and much smaller golden variegated holly is waiting to jump into the space she has long filled with such vigour.  The only issue has been actually getting her to release her grip on this patch of long uncultivated soil.

Under a foot of accumulated compost and ground elder roots lay a sheet of thick black plastic which had obviously not fulfilled my purpose of keeping the ground elder at bay.  Instead, it formed yet another layer of resistance in the great removal operation and had to be surgically sliced apart with spade edges and gardening knives.

Eve was lopped, sawn and generally maltreated but refused to cede her ground.  Trenches were dug around her, and battle was waged against her tenacious roots, to minimal effect.  Hence the repeated question of my son, on returning from school  every night this week.

And what young teenager would not get a glint in his eye when his prayers for heavy garden weaponry were answered. Friday yielded a sturdy mattock/pick axe combo which aforementioned son and husband have wielded with much gusto this morning.  And alas, poor Eve, she is no more - apart from a very significant uprooted stump now waiting for disposal at the recycling centre.

Just the ground elder to deal with now, before planting my juvenile holly. And a further viburnum to go in order to remove the last dwelling places for my stinky beetle friends.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

End of term and time for the big clear up

Last Christmas fair of the season today and my wreathed out fingers are breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love making them, I have now officially reached wreath saturation. Just one more tiny circlet to do to surround a pillar candle, and then I'm done for the season, website orders permitting.

It has been an informative first Christmas for me and the flowers.  I now know that I need to plant my hyacinths for forcing in September for bigger poky nosed sprouters to sell at Christmas markets, and that crocuses are great for starting off in the dark. But my biggest lesson has been that I can plant as many crocus teacups as I can lay my hands on and that I'll probably manage to sell them all!  They have been a roaring success, and quite rightly so, as they are the perfect quirky gift for that hard to buy for person.

Doing workshops with enthusiastic wreath makers has been great seasonal fun and it is always amazing to see just how differently people can construct a wreath from the same set of ingredients.  A fun way to spend a few pre-Christmas evenings to get into the spirit (and the mince pies).

Two wedding orders under my belt to bring in the New Year, leave me feeling that things are ticking along nicely for Tuckshop Flowers.

So, with dahlia tubers drying in my porch, the contents of tulip bulb packets finally tucked into the waiting flower beds and only one packet of muscari still begging to be planted, I am almost ready to curl up and enjoy the Christmas holidays - when I have been to the recycling centre with my hacked down viburnums (damn damn damn damn those pesky beetles) and when I've finally cleared out the wreath making detritus from the living room, that is….

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Berry bounty for the wreaths

The hedgerows have yielded luscious Christmas trimmings this year and my school run (or should that be amble?) has never been so foragingly productive.  Star turn of the day were the Snow Whitesque apples found in the park - perfect for wiring onto wreaths at tonight's workshop to make some globes of stunning colour.

Foraging for wreath fodder makes you look at things in a whole new light.
Even the insides are gorgeous! What IS this variety? Want one!

While Christmas decorating in this house doesn't start in earnest until later in the month, there's one room of the house which the festive season has taken over, for this evening at least.

All lined up and ready to wreath...

 The wallpapering table has had its legs reinforced in readiness for the bounty which will get woven upon it and Frank Sinatra's Christmas album has had the dust blown off its cover in readiness for the occasion.  It even had got an preliminary airing while I made pastry this morning.  The cats ran off into the garden as I yodelled along with gusto….

 Really looking forward to this evening as tonight's participants are a group of friends and I reckon they'll be very pleased with their creative efforts by the end of it - wreaths truly are such satisfying things to make.  My dry run last week (a red wine and natterfest) with one of my mates was very enjoyable and she was delighted with the wreath she produced.

Just a batch of mince pies to make, and some mulled wine to warm and then it looks like we're all set for a very Christmassy evening.  Must remember not to sing though.