Fanny the palm

This beastie, Fanny, lives and thrives in my front garden. I’ve never decided if I like her or not, but people often pause to look at her.

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In recent months, she’s had her skirt shortened, because it was impossible to walk past her without being attacked by her thorns.

She’s already sprouting a new silver fan,

that will grow up like this one day

and she’s wearing some new jewels at her feet

which could be interesting if she’s part tryffid. She may have plans to dominate the local gardens, should I be worried?



Peony mlokosewitschii

Meet Molly, Molly the witch to her friends. I first met Molly probably around 35 years ago and I fell under her spell from the beginning. Whichever garden she lived in then, they didn’t have one for sale, but it would have been very expensive anyway.

It had been a long time since I’d seen her, but she was always a ‘one day’ plant. And then two years ago in a small independent nursery west of Dartmoor there she was. Or at least a very juvenile Molly, just a stem and a couple of leaves. She had to come home with me.

I’m ashamed to say that after all that longing, I left her in the pot, just watering her when I remembered, and of course she died down through the winter. Last year I neglected her again and I thought I’d lost her, but lo and behold a tiny shoot burst through the soil. The shoot grew big enough to actually plant in the ground, she only grew a few inches then disappeared.

Early last month I noticed a tiny pink spear, so I gave her a few words of welcome, which seemed to conjure another inch of growth and an unfurling leaf. Since then we speak every day, as is the way of witches, and this is what she looks like now.

So will she make it this year? The experts say she is shy to flower and can take five years to make up her mind. Watch this space, if she blooms you’ll see.

Anyone grown one?

Aljonushka, a favourite plant

Ten year ago when I left my last house, one of the plants that I dug up to take with me was quite an unusual clematis. It had taken me quite a while to find, but now it’s easily sourced.

It was created in the botanic gardens in the Crimea, hence it’s a tough little beauty. Every year I ignore it and back it comes to flower for several weeks each summer.

When I found this clematis, she was known as Ajonushka, now she seems to have several versions, Alyonushka, Alionushka and Aljenushka. Whatever you choose to call her, if you see her in your garden centre, she’s worth every penny!

Shadows at lunch

On my lunchtime walk today, I noticed the gentle shadows on these wooden troughs, perched on a wall at eye level. It’s simple but effective planting and I’ve seen it many times before, but the light has never been right.

Today was different, a soft glow arrived just in time, a few minutes before I scurried back indoors to escape a chilly wind.

#lunchtime strolls


Rommel told me off!

I confess I’m not very good at responding to all you lovely people who comment on my posts. It isn’t rudeness or even laziness, it’s just pure overload, full time work, study blah, blah, blah! Now Rommel is an absolute treasure and he pointed out that I asked a question but didn’t listen to the answers so now I’m going to.

2013 Aug 20_7067_     These are the berries from  a Guelder Rose, or Viburnum Opulum. The bush likes moist soil to grow in and I saw this one beside a village pond in Hampshire. The berries are a good source of Vitamin C but they have to be cooked and apparently they need a lot of sugar to make them palatable.  2013 Aug 20_7077_
These are elderberries, and not good to eat. Many, many years ago I picked bucketfuls to make wine. It was a rich, dark and syrupy drink that wasn’t really sweet enough for me, a bit like cough medicine. I prefer the light summery flavour of elderflower champagne, made from the delicate sprays of creamy white flowers. I’ve never tried making it because I worry about the little creatures that feast on the berries. If the flowers are all picked there wouldn’t be any would there? But it doesn’t make sense to simple Gypsy, because some people DO make it and there are still plenty of berries, perhaps they’ve done the maths.

This is a Cotoneaster, a common garden shrub that hugs a fence or wall and provides food for birds in winter and attract butterflies and bees. They are poisonous and would give you a very bad stomach.


Blackcurrants! Pretty and very shiny, but straight from the bush they are an acquired taste. They make delicious jam or jelly and are cooked with apples in a pie. The best possible use in my eyes is in a certain blackcurrant drink, full of Vitamin C that begins with R and ends with A!


Raspberries are one of my many favourite fruits and of course they are lovely in jam, and all sorts of desserts, especially with my dark chocolate brownies. But I prefer them straight from the cane, I never wash them just pick, blow away any lingering bugs and pop tehm right in my mouth.

So Rommel, am I forgiven?

If you don’t know him you should go and visit him, he’s been missing for a while but he’s back now and I’m so glad, he’s an absolute star.


Sonels’ Black and White Challenge: Texture

Sonel tells us that texture is,

1. The characteristic physical structure given to a material, an object, etc., by the size, shape, and arrangement of its parts: soil of a sandy texture.
2. (Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts / Textiles) : The characteristic structure of the threads, fibers, etc., that make up a textile fabric: coarse texture.
3. Essential or characteristic quality; essence : the texture of a cake.
4. The distinctive character or quality of something : the texture of life in the world.
5. The nature of a surface other than smooth woollen cloth has plenty of texture.
6. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Art Terms) Art : the representation of the nature of a surface the painter caught the grainy texture of the sand.
7. (Music, other) : the quality given, as to a musical work, by the combination or interrelation of parts or elements.

The photo I’ve chosen amused me because it looks a bit like a coiffured dog, can you see what I mean? Or do you think I’ve completely lost the plot?


Join in with Sonel’s challenge here,