I went over to Liverpool this morning – through the tunnel (no gulls!) and back on the ferry (gulls). Circling the ferry and sometimes floating on the water were some immature Herrings and some Black-headed Gulls in their winter plumage.
There are lots of Primulas and Primroses out around the garden – mainly in tubs – but very few of them look any good. Although they have been flowering continuously since last spring nearly all of them are pecked go bits by the birds. I wonder why the birds tend to go for primulas and primroses and so few other flowers.
One of the delights of this time of year – irrespective of weather – is the variety of foliage plants that I have around the garden. Among the brightest and biggest of these are the Cordylines and Phormiums.
Cordyline is a genus of about 15 species of woody monocotyledonous flowering plants classified in a wide variety of groups according to the authority one consults. The genus is native to the western Pacific Ocean region, from New Zealand, eastern Australia, southeastern Asia, Polynesia and Hawaii. The above is the Cabbage Palm (Cordyline australis purpurea). Cordyline trees are generally considered extremely delicate plants, but they flourish in the South of England and seem to be quite happy on the Wirral where there are specimens ten feet tall in neighbouring gardens. Established plants will tolerate a reasonable amount of frost, but the real killers are usually cold wet roots, or a cold damp head. The plant grows on a single trunk that over time, often develops a distinct lean. Cabbage palms are slow growing, but they do grow, and may attain a height of 5 or 6 metres within a reasonable time.
New Zealand flax describes common New Zealand perennial plants Phormium tenax and Phormium cookianum, known by the Maori names harakeke and wharariki respectively. They are quite distinct from the Northern Hemisphere plant known as flax (Linum sp.). New Zealand flax produces long leaf fibres that have played an important role in the culture, history, and economy of New Zealand. Phormium tenax occurs naturally in New Zealand and Norfolk Island, while Phormium cookianum is endemic to New Zealand. Both species have been widely distributed to temperate regions of the world as economic fibre and ornamental plants. There are hundreds of cultivated forms of Phormium - this was described on its label as Phormuim tricolor.
This is another Phormium, variety unknown.
These photos were taken from a gardening programme I saw the other day and show a New Zealand woman who makes clothes, rugs, etc from the Phormium plants. The family photo is just that - a photo of her family. She now teaches others the process.
By contrast with the harmless Phormiums I have a Yucca. This is one of the most vicious things in the garden. The leaves are stiff and so sharply pointed that they think nothing of spearing me through the thickest gardening gloves. Not a plant to have with children about – they could easily lose an eye to this so-and-so. The yuccas comprise the genus Yucca of 40-50 species of perennials, shrubs, and trees in the agave family Agavaceae, notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal clusters of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry parts of North America, Central America, and the West Indies.
I mentioned the Black Grass the other day. While splitting it yesterday I found one lonely little fruit on it. These photos were all taken yesterday but I doubt they will have changed much overnight! (Though the large Cordyline did find itslef rolling round the other side of the patio on one windy night last week!)
I have concluded that the fern I mentioned in January (http://pensbyetal.blogspot.com/2008/01/16th-january-2008.html) may be one of those which I bought rather than one which came from the self-seeded 'weeds' in the caravan garden. It may therefore be Dryopteris erythrosora - Autumn Fern or Japanese Sword Fern - a foriegn species from the same genus as the Hay-scented Buckler Fern.. Described on a garden website as follows. "Evergreen all winter AND not ragged, ratty evergreen! Actually beautiful and fresh looking all winter when everything looks dead. The reason it's called Autumn Fern -- all summer it sends up new fronds that are a rusty Autumn Color ... but they're at their peak in Spring when all fronds are emerging. Such a great colour then when everything else is Spring Green. "
“If you would be happy for a week, take a wife. If you would be happy for a month, kill a pig. If you would be happy all your life, plant a agrden.” Chinese proverb
“Gardens are not made by singing “Oh how beautiful and sitting in the shade!” Rudyard Kipling
“All gardens are a form of autobiography.” Robert Dash
“To cultivate a garden is to walk with God.” Christian Bovee
“By planting flowers one invites butterflies.... By planting pines one invites the wind... By planting bananas one invites the rain.... And by planting willow trees one invites the cicidas...” Chao Ch’ang
“Probably more pests can be controlled in an armchair in front of a February fire with a garden notebook and a seed catalogue than can ever be knocked out in hand-to-hand combat in the garden.” Neely Turner
Gardens should invite exploration with a path that curves out of sight; it may lead nowhere, but has the effect of making you feel that more is to come.” Penelope Hobhouse
“The worst ENEMYES to gardens are Moles, Cats, Earrewigs, Snailes and Mice and they must be carefully destroyed or all your labour all the year long is lost.” Sir Thomas Hammer 1653
One of the neighbours had a gull battle going on overhead this morning. A Herring Gull was sitting on the roof and its presence was obviously upsetting a flock of Black-headed Gulls which were circling around squawking at it and dive-bombing it.
The weather continues to be pretty yuck but today we had a spell wherein I was able to get out into the garden for a couple of hours and do some serious gardening. A most enjoyable experience. As always the Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are the most delightful of the sights at this time of year and even the early flowering Daffodils cannot compete. I think that in my next life I shall buy a woodland and plant a whole streamside bank with snowdrops.
I did some cleaning up of the ponds and removed some of the dead leaves that had found their way in over the winter. It is a process which has to be done almost leaf by leaf because there are so many tiny Newt tadpoles which have to be rescued and put back into the water.
One of the flowers that has only just finished its summer flowering is the Kaffir Lily (Schizostylis coccinea major) and even its stems of seedheads provide an attractive addition to the border.
Otherwise the main plants of note at this time of year are the dwarf conifers, some of the ferns and the grasses, bamboos, sedges and rushes. Those pictured above are one of the Golden Striped Rushes (Acorus gramineus varieties, either Ohgon or variegatus) and a Bamboo (Fargesia murielae Mae).
This is called Black Grass. In practice it is not a grass at all but a flowering plant Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens which has loose clusters of pink, white, blue or purplish flowers in summer followed by fat black fruits. I love it but so far have had little success at getting it to spread. Perhaps one needs to buy a lot of them for a good display.
Thanks for stopping by! Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? And please, sit for a spell. If you enjoy my posts, please feel free to follow me or subscribe to my blog. This is a word verification free, family friendly blog, so everything I share here is for all ages. I am a happily married man in my late sixties who lives on the Wirral peninsula, near Liverpool, in the UK.
I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite. I used to blog as Scriptor Senex which is Latin for Old Writer but now Google only lets me post as John Edwards.
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)