12 Apr 2011

Hestia ventures into the garden

Flat caps and string - time to get gardening

The greenhouse has been cleaned (well, the dead things have been quietly taken out and burned) the spore-ridden remnants of ancient dessicated tomato plants cracked into pieces and stuffed into bin bags and today was the day that I decided to venture into the Garden Itself.

The garden is huge.  It's the sort of garden that you never actually get to sit down and enjoy because you've always got something to do.  Tartarus is slowly concreting it all to hell.  Our latest addition is a 'covered BBQ area'.  This is how he refers to it when talking to me.  It's the ' new car port' to everyone else.  But he knew I'd never agree to a car port.

Anyway, today I simply HAD to do some gardening because I had bought bulbs and tubers one evening whilst perusing the Thompson and Morgan website.  The way you do when you're bored, got a glass of red wine and no one is on Facebook to chat to.....

I bought these:

This is Crocosmia Lucifer (not to be confused with the bog-standard orange crocosmia).  Lucifer is a bright splash of red, that looks as if Satan has just run naked through your flower-beds.  Anyway, I got 40 of them.

I also bought a dozen of these:

I really wanted the deep blue colour, but they were twice the price of the usual pale blue ones, so I just bought the pale blue ones.  That's going to really disappoint my friend Viv who wanted me to get the dark blue ones.  All I can say in my defence is:  I bought a Kitchenaid instead.

Then I took leave of my senses altogether and ordered 16 of these:

Yes, it's a Dahlia.  A very dark Dahlia, but a much-reviled Dahlia nonetheless.  Most often associated with Best in Show and allotment men who keep their trousers up with string, I think that the Dahlia is due for a revival in the gardening fashion stakes.  Look at it!  Sure, it's going to be alive with ear-wigs, but LOOK AT IT, it's gorgeous!

I live on the island of Bute, which is owned by Johnny Bute, who is the Marquis.  It is said that the dahlia was brought to Britain largely at the instigation of one of the Marquises of Bute.  But that might be nonsense, but it's as close to a brush with fame as I'm likely to get.

Apart from being on the Beechgrove Garden.

Anyone outside of Scotland will be sitting reading this with a very blank expression.  It's a Scottish Gardening Programme.  I know, it seems like a total contradiction in terms, doesn't it? 'Scottish' and 'Gardening'.

Actually, I managed to procure a copy (a reprint!) of a Scottish Gardening book from the 1700s.  I'm afraid that I cannot read it without giggling like a schoolgirl every time he talks about his rose's 'fuckers' <- it uses the long S that looks like an F.  Oh how that makes me laugh.  I don't get out very often.  Certainly not unescorted.

So imagine the new border, it's at the front of the house, so all of these will be flowering against a south-facing red brick wall.  The red darts of Lucifer will arc out in all directions and above them will sway the blue fire-works of agapanthus and, punctuating the whole thing like great black stars will be the dahlia.

It's going to be FANTASTIC.  Providing that I've planted them in time.  A bit of mould doesn't mean that they're dead, does it?  Don't answer that.

Anyhoo - tell me your favourite planting combos - colours, shapes, everything.  If you're very lucky, I might buy the said plants and do a border in YOUR honour.....

And if you're out and about in the garden centres, buy a Dahlia!!!


  1. I am in the process of clearing also accompanied by a SO who thinks everything should be hacked down to ground level! Lucky you to have green house and large garden. Realistically however my relatively small plot is all that I can handle. Limiting it this year to mostly herbs.

  2. I planted Lucifer 6 years ago - they've overtaken the garden. Me, I love em but the other half, who likes ranks of soldiers standing to attention and who ties everything to PLASTIC canes, hates them because they're top heavy and flop everywhere.

  3. Oh, and couldn't agree more on the dahlias. There's loads out there; hiding under the Lucifer, of course. My father-in-law used to grow competition ones - could never see the poor bastards cos the all had Tesco bags over their heads to keep the petals inturned or something. No sense of humour either - when I once complimented him on his crop of plastic bags he looked at me blankly before explaining how essential they were. Ah well.

    Ahem - sidetracked. Dahlias are big, brash and vulgar. Remind you of anybody :-)

  4. One of my favourite gardens is in Inverew, and this time of year they are spectacular with all the Rhodies and Magnolia.
    We are hoping for great things this year, what with our wonderful supply of chicken poop. Asian Lilies, Ginger, Hollyhocks, Lupines, Wall Flowers and Sunflowers in amongst blocks of New Zealand Flax and other grasses.
    Thanks for the award. Coming from you is an honour.

  5. Heck, sounds like you live in Downton Abbey. Or a vicarage, going by the description of garden size. Good colour combo - picturing it already; those lucifer reds will be popping in the bright sunshine. The dahlias sound divine - nearly bought some in £Land but got put off by the odd-looking dust. If your expensive mail-order ones have that too then it must be some horticultural prerequisite. And dark-blue agapanthus (how do you make that plural??) can't whizz up a cake as well as the KitchenAid...

  6. I've forgotten the name of my favourite flower! Isn't that shocking. I've been searching for ten minutes online and still my memory is failing me. I actually like the dahlia very much, wish I had a garden again. The trials of living in London. x

  7. Ranunculas! That's it, those are the ones I like. Phew, was worried I'd spend all night annoyed with my brain for not being able to remember ;)

  8. WHEN were you on Beechgrove Garden?! That's a bit epic!

    I love dahlias, I like all of the more structural plants (bamboo, gerberas, lilies etc). I like ones that look like someone designed them!

  9. Can you come and do my garden please??

  10. They look nice, but I know nothing about gardening.
    I just take instructions on the heavy labour from my beloved.
    You know; dig, dig more, dig faster, DON'T USE WEEDKILLER THERE YOU IDIOT.

  11. Dearest Ali, I feel for you, mine's an absolutely mess. I love crocosmia lucifer and have a few in my garden. Not that there's any sign of flowers at the moment. It's just a mass of overgrown jasmine and shrubs. I need to deal with it asap and do some planting.

    Can we have a pic of the 'covered bbq area' please?

    My favourite colour combinations are emerald green and purple, orange and purple and pale green and blousy peachy pink xx

  12. Hi Ali, I love a bit of gardening, Love your choices the colour scheme is great, will the agapanthus be all right so far North? I can't grow them here but they do really well in the Mediterranean.

  13. Bold choices - the colour riot's going to be smashing!! What is it with earwigs and Ds? You don't see one for a decade, plant a dahlia and there are 500 living in each flower. Myself I'm going to try and inject some coral/salmon/orangey-pink into the garden - its a bit hard to mix with other things, but so lovely.... goes off to peruse Sarah Raven dahlias.....

  14. I love the 'covered bbq area' masquerading as a 'car port'

    I so wish I had a large garden but I do sympathise at the work. I tend to go for orange, reds, blues, pinks, yellows and white.

  15. Dahlias are lovely, though. Your Sucker moment reminds me of the Vicar of Dibley episode where Alice is trying to read from an old-fashioned bible with the same lettering you describe. Infantile. But Funny!
    Your garden sounds very like mine (and your skills and magpie like purchases similar too) only my garden slopes back up from the house at 45 degrees. Challenging is a word that comes to mind.

  16. oh I do envy you your gardening skills....I have some pots but the things that don't die survive more by luck than by anything I do....more dead fingered than green fingered...but when staying in the country homes of my more fertile friends am a dab hand with the spade, a good harvester of fruit and veg and will weed...if I have gloves so insects and bugs don't get me!!!

  17. You're tagged, m'dear.... over at mine. :)

  18. YaH - Oh I don't profess to be any GOOD at it! I have only two house plants - everything else - including orchids (that totally thrive on neglect) has died.

    MLB - A sloping garden is so hard to manage - have you managed to split it into tiers and do a bit of flattening out? It's a massive job to do that. Mine is on a gentle incline, mercifully not towards the house, so that the hamster, in his ball, rolls inexorably to the morass at the bottom of the lawn.....

    Mrs Make Do - I absolutely love finding a good colour combination...and then I wear it to death. I discovered that a sort of chartreuse green looked quite good on me and now I've got 6 items in this colour. I look like a greenfly.

    Mrs Exeter - you're right. I never see earwigs in my garden, but plant a cauliflower and the damn thing is ALIVE with the little buggers. Where do they come from? How do they KNOW?

    Dash - we're in the Gulf Stream and they do ok here. Over in darkest Greenock, the municipal beds on the Esplanade are a riot of Agapanthus blooms in mid summer. I am hoping that it's not new bulbs every year!

    Christina - The roof will be getting put on the covered bbq area this very weekend. Providing old grumpy pants is up for it, I shall monitor progress with m'camera :-)

    TSB - Don't beat yourself up about the fish. Let your wife do it lol!

    NS - If you promise me a pub lunch, yes!

    LM - was on the Beechgrove when Sonshine was about 2...it was great fun. We had a Problem Corner (well border) in the front garden where there was a 4' drop onto the driveway. I was worried about Sonshine falling over - so they came and put up a fence and we went on the ferry to Cardwell Bay Nursery. It was absolutely nerve-racking, but Carole was really nice (but steely!) and Sonshine obligingly ate a clod of muck as they filmed him!

    Penny D - Ranunculus are fabulous looking wee flowers, aren't they. I always think if I owned a dragon, I would call it Ranunculus :-D

    Trashsparkle - Downton Abbey? Oh if only!! No, it's just a nice Victorian Villa that sucks money out of your pocket as quickly as you put it in. But we love it :-)

    Legend - I'm very partial to a wallflower m'self! Vashon is obviously much better for growing exotics than sunny Scotland!

    Di - you are my Dahlia - not because you are brash and vulgar you silly woman - but because you thrive in spite of everything and are beautiful, my wee Playboy bunny!

    Barbara - my greenhouse is often referred to as The Mortuary...so it's not always a recipe for healthy specimens! I forget to water things all the time.....

    Ali x

  19. Hestia-Alison, very impressed by your gardening plans, the plant thingies look lovely, i really like that dahlia, lovely colour; it sounds as if our gardens are similar, a never-ending task, so never-ending that I have adopted a cunning don't even start strategy, it's working well so far but can no longer find garden shed... so interesting that you live on Bute, Mr B lived in Largs when he was 16-18, he went to Largs Academy and he used to windsurf from Largs across to Cumbrae, we visited Largs once years ago just after Christmas and it was soooooo cold I jumped straight back into the car! xxx


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