Pulsatilla vulgaris: an Easter Treat

Purple flowers with yellow stamens

Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasqueflower) has furry, feathery foliage that catches the light

This garden plant stopped me in my tracks on my walk to the local park. Purple, silken flowers were lit up by a golden boss of stamens; the foliage throwing a silvery mist into the mix.

I’ve never seen pulsatilla growing wild in the UK, and perhaps I never will. This increasingly rare wildflower must be a magical sight. The young, emerging foliage is covered in long hairs creating a halo effect around the buds. Continue reading

A Celebration Of Peonies

Close up of pink, peach and cream peonies

Peonies in pastel shades: Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’ with Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Benhardt’

If I was forced to name my favourite flower, there’s a good chance it might be the peony. I love to see the red fronds of the herbaceous type pushing through the soil back to back together in their unearthly  fashion around this time of year, full of promise for the season to come. And when their blooms appear – well, could you blame me for deserting the rose in favour of these?

Primrose Hall, a fixture at all the best UK flower shows, are currently teasing a sketch of their proposed 2019 Chelsea Flower Show design online. Arrangements of blooms tower over a garden of peonies. In the background, a garland tumbles down towards flowers floating in a traditional clawfoot bath. That’s my kind of outdoor bathroom!

The pictures I’m sharing here were taken on their stands at last year’s RHS Chatsworth and Hampton Court Flower Shows.

A large flower bouquet made from 'Coral Sunset' peonies

Paeonia ‘Coral Sunset’ on the Primrose Hall display at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

I had thought that there must be more than one peony here but as Primrose Hall’s Alec White, who kindly agreed to identify the peonies, observed, “Note that the corals change colour quite a lot as they mature!”. Continue reading

Looking At Flowers Close Up

Side view of a very double clematis, with pointed petals

Cee has invited us to share close up pictures or macro shots as part of this week’s Fun Foto Challenge – who could resist? My first is a close up of the extremely double Clematis ‘Josephine Pink’. The flower changes considerably as it opens: at this stage, mounds of overlapping inner petals are almost obscuring the bigger ones that form an outer ruff, with still more petals to come.

The great thing about a close up is the textural quality it gives. I hardly know whether the pointed petals would feel stiff or soft if I could reach my hand out and touch the flower.  Continue reading

A Red And White Dahlia With An Exclamation Mark

Dahlia flower, close up

Gresgarth Hall has a walled kitchen garden where fruit trees and vegetables grow alongside flowers for cutting, depending on the season. I was about to describe the dahlia I photographed there as bicoloured, but could not ignore the flush of peach that gives it a sophisticated look. A tricolour, then. I know someone out there is going to want to grow this when they see it, but unless an identification appears in the comments below, I have no idea what it is. The orange blurs in the background are nasturtiums and the feathery foliage, nigella.  Continue reading

Delphinium ‘Flamenco’ from the Highlander Series

Delphinium with pink double flowers, streaked green

During the summer, I dedicate more time to taking photos than to sharing them. If you’re a flower stalker too, you’ll understand the temptation. After all, a delphinium waits for no man (or woman), blooming in response to triggers we understand at an abstract level rather than feel happening at a cellular one. It’s somewhere between a pleasure and a frenzy to be in full-on photo gathering mode, so, as September taps on the door, it feels good to slow down and enjoy revisiting summer’s photo stash.

This plant wasn’t labelled at RHS Tatton Park, where I saw it, so I’ve had to look it up. Delphinium ‘Flamenco’ is part of the Highlander series of Scottish-bred delphiniums. Continue reading

Spring Flowers, Picked And Growing

Crocus flowers, picked, lying on a slatted garden table

Yesterday’s trip to Gresgarth Hall Garden for the March hellebore open day is always pencilled into my calendar. One of my favourite bits is the table of floral goodies prepared for visitors to hang over, all neatly labelled. These crocus flowers were part of this year’s display.

Crocuses growing among dead tree leaves and moss

On the far side of the river, the crocuses were flowering in their natural surroundings. Slender, arching leaves, each with its silver stripe, made a lovely contrast with moss and fallen beech tree leaves.  Continue reading

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’: A Beautiful, Unusual Form Of Hen And Chicks

Sempervivum 'Lady Kelly' (hen and chicks)

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’ with one chick growing out sideways from its mother (front, left).

Many people know sempervivum as houseleek, or hen and chicks, which celebrates the plantlets produced as offsets. It is monocarpic which means the original rosette-like plant will reach flowering size after several years’ growth, then after flowering once, will shrivel and die, being succeeded by its chicks of various ages and any seedlings.

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’ seems to be a rare form. The place where I saw it (Beth Chatto’s nursery) didn’t have any for sale and when I searched for one to buy online, I couldn’t find any source, let alone an equally reputable one.*

The rich lavender – blue – grey colouring was very striking in real life against the greens and corals. I fell immediately in love with the plant and ‘Blue Boy’ a similarly coloured sempervivum cultivar that I might share in a future post.  Continue reading