Signs of Life

It’s mid January so it’s mid winter here in the UK. It’s been milder than usual here in West Lancashire with temperatures hovering around 8°C-10 °C during the day. I’m not surprised to see that there are signs of life in the garden already. Patches of bare earth have fresh green seedlings and spring bulbs are already poking their noses through the dark earth too.

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Mahonia x media ‘Charity’

It’s grey and very wet here today but this week has been fabulous with frosty starts to sunny days. I’ve been collecting leaves again. We have mature trees in the garden which usually shed their leaves in autumn. In 2016 our Oak trees held onto most of their leaves until just before Christmas. Usually the autumn gales blow many of them away. But this time it’s down to me to clear them from the borders. In places they lay 15cm / 6 inches deep so I’ve been raking up barrow loads of them to make leaf mould. I’ll add it back to the borders when the leaves decompose. There’s nothing like a spot of gardening on a dry January day to get back in touch with nature.

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Looking Good 1st July

I saw a stunning planting combination today that I wanted to share with you. I wish I could say that this was in my garden. But it’s not… it’s in a neighbourhood garden. Who would have thought that bright pink and yellow could look so good together? The pink flowers with silver foliage are Lychnis coronaria and the yellow spires are Verbascum nigrum. Both are very easy to grow from plants bought from your local nursery or garden centre or they can be grown from seeds. Sowing seeds is the best option if you want a lot of plants to create an amazing display like this.


I love the pinky purple haired stamens at the centre of each tiny Verbascum flower which picks up the vivid pink of the Lychnis petals.


Unlike most other Verbascums this one doesn’t have silver felted leaves but softly hairy green leaves.


Bees and Hoverflies love this Verbascum as it is rich in nectar and pollen… and so does the Mullein Moth. If you grow a patch of these it’s likely you’ll attract flocks of Goldfinches to feed on the seeds in autumn. It makes sense to grow plenty! Strictly speaking Verbascum nigrim is a short lived perennial but they are often treated as biennials with a fresh batch sown each summer for flowering next year.

Now is the time to sow biennial seeds.
There are several advantages to growing your own biennials:

  • The amount of flowers they produce is amazing and they are great for cut flowers.
  • Early flowering from April onwards
  • Extremely easy to grow and great for massed planting schemes
  • Inexpensive.You can sow several packet of seeds for the price of just one plant in spring.

    It’s worth planning ahead especially if you are starting a cutting patch or simply improving your spring garden. Early flowering plants such as Honesty, Wallflowers, Foxgloves, Forget-me-Not, Sweet Rocket and Sweet William can be sown this summer as well as Verbascum nigrum. If you have space for a seed bed outdoors they can be sown there and left to grow on until autumn. Alternatively they can be raised in modules then moved to small pots ready for planting out when your summer display is over.

Love GillianSo that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Sowing biennial seeds Woo Hoo! It’s good to have a plan!

You are most welcome to join in with Looking Good this week.

Do you have gardening plans for this weekend? Hope it’s dry for you! Gillian 🙂


Looking Good 24th June 2016

We’ve had lots of sunshine and quite a bit of rain this week which has really moved things forward in the garden. Our plants have responded well to the warmth and water and they are beginning to do what I hoped when I started planning things. There’s so much looking good in the garden in June it’s hard to know what to choose this week. As usual I have to go with what draws my attention and this week it’s some plants that I’ve grown from seed.

Some of our early flowering Hardy Annuals are blooming. There’s Borago officinalis which is quite hairy and produces the most amazing blue flowers that the bees go mad for. I usually grow lots of them with Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ in the herb bed with chives and mint which makes for a nice display as well as a useful patch for me to cut both for the kitchen and for cut flowers.



Sticking to the blue theme there’s one of my all time favourite annuals flowering away now. It’s Salvia viridis ‘Oxford Blue’ The intense deep blue/purple colour actually comes from bracts at the top of each flower stalk. If you look carefully at the photo below you’ll see the real flowers are blue and white and they are quite tiny. Even so they are also a magnet for pollinating insects. The common name for this plant is Clary Sage. It’s so productive I recommend you grow this if you want something in flower from early June until the end of October or even longer if the weather is mild where you live.


Our blue Irises are looking lovely too in various shades of blue from palest lilac to deep purple. I don’t know the name of the Iris on the left below… if you do please let me know! The middle photo is Iris sibirica ‘Flight of Butterflies’ and the deep purple bearded one on the right is Iris ‘Sable’. Their flowers don’t last long but they are quite lovely whilst they last. These weren’t grown from seed but I am wondering if it’s possible to propagate them like that rather than dividing their tubers. Certainly the vigorous yellow Flag Iris,  Iris pseudacorus in our duck pond seems to spread around by seed as we don’t divide them yet they are increasing year on year.


I always think it’s good to have a contrast too. When I’m growing flowers for cutting or simply for making a nice display in the garden then I try to include something with a bit of a zing. It could be lime green foliage such as Euphorbia oblongata or Alchemilla mollis or some pure white blooms such as Cosmos, Feverfew or Poppies.


And I’m loving the bright orange and yellow Calendula flowers with these blue flowers too. Orange in particular makes the blues seem so much more intense somehow.




Love GillianWhat’s looking good in your garden or neighbourhood this week?
Are you growing Hardy Annuals? I’d love to know.
Feel free to join in with Looking Good by adding a link to your post with a comment here and a link to this post in your blog post.

Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂

Looking Good 17th June

It’s early summer and here’s the reward for all your planning. June is the time that most gardens start to pump up the flower production. It’s that heady combination of warmth coupled with plenty of moisture in the earth which means the garden is bursting into life with colourful flowers.

This week I’ve cut buckets full of beautiful blooms and all of them give me that country garden style. Here are Clematis, Roses, Nepeta and Geraniums with Ox-Eye Daisies and Feverfew. They are all easy to grow and super productive which is just the way I like it!


I’m growing flowers for cutting but it’s not just the flowers that are looking good. There are grasses and Allium seed heads and some plants which I grow specifically for foliage and they are also producing lovely long stems now too. The bucket of yellow foliage is Euphorbia oblongata which has overwintered in one of my cutting beds. There’s a variegated Applemint in the Clematis bucket and some plain green Mint in the Nepeta bucket.


The photo below show just one stem of Euphoria oblongata. It’s an amazing hardy plant I grew from seed. Just six to ten plants will give you masses of stems.


Does your garden need a boost? If your garden is lacking a few flowering plants or even foliage this month you can soon put that right with a trip to a plant nursery. They will have all the early summer flowering perennials and roses available for sale right now. That can be expensive if you need a trolley full of plants to boost your borders. If you would rather produce your own plants (and save some money!) then you can easily do that too this month. Take softwood cuttings of perennials (eg:nepeta) herbs (eg: mint) and shrubs (eg: lilac) or sow some seeds of the lovely plants you want to see in your own garden this time next year.


It’s easy to grow your own plants. Taking cuttings or sowing seeds is simple if you know how… just let me know if you want some guidelines/photos showing how to propagate specific plants and I’ll try and help you out.

Are you joining in with Looking Good today? You can include anything garden related… fruit and veg, recipes, flowers, foliage, your local parks and allotments, garden wildlife and so on. Just comment on this post and add your link to your post which should include a link to this post. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going on in your area.

Have a lovely day and Happy Gardening! Gillian 😉



Looking Good 10th June

Woo Hoo! Rain arrived this morning after a long dry period. The water had an amazing effect on the garden. Everything seemed to perk up immediately with leaves looking lush and plump instead of dry and crispy! We receive quite a lot of rain here in the north of England and it’s easy to take it for granted… until it doesn’t arrive. So I was very happy to see glittering raindrops on foliage today.

But it’s June and flowers are the stars this month. Roses in particular. There’s nothing quite like an arching rose to lend your home that country style. It’s a cliche I know but having a beautiful Rose flowering around your front door is the perfect way to welcome visitors and of course it’s quite lovely for you and all your family too! Roses are available in nurseries and garden centres now and you’ll be able to see the flowers before you buy. They only take a couple of years to reach 6 feet or more in height so you’ll soon have that country cottage look.

This is a climbing Iceberg rose. It’s healthy and vigorous and produces masses of creamy white flowers with a delicate scent. On our south facing wall it flowers on and off from May until December.


The other rose that caught my eye today is a shrub rose. This one only flowers once each year and it’s not quite in full flower yet but the buds are all there. Each year I tell myself that I’m taking it out (I don’t know what it is… it’s not the rose I wanted – wrong label possibly) but when I see it in flower, see how healthy it is and more to the point HEAR all the bees buzzing around to snap up the pollen I forget all about removing it for a ‘better’ specimen. It can stay for now.


I’d love to see your garden this week. It’s June and our gardens are all bursting with gorgeous blooms. You are most welcome to join in with Looking Good.

Have a brilliant weekend and I’ll see you next week. Gillian 🙂



Looking Good 27th May

It’s overcast again today but much warmer than yesterday. I’ve just had a quick trip around the garden with my camera to pick out some of the plants that are looking good right now. For various reasons I’m doing a lot more looking than actual gardening at the moment. Today I saw so much coming into flower I found it difficult to focus on just one plant, a colour or a theme for this blog post.
So I’m just picking out a few plants caught my eye.

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Looking Good 13th May

I hope you don’t mind a few more photos of Tulips! These shots were taken at Gresgarth Garden last weekend when the sun was shining brightly. It’s a little cooler here today but these pictures show how Tulips can look on a warm spring day.

Here’s Gresgarth House. Leaping forward in the picture are the bright red tulips in huge tubs on the terrace. Red is an advancing colour. It hits you right between the eyes and demands attention.

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Looking Good 1st April

It’s raining and grey here in our garden today and there’s not much looking really good in these conditions. Besides I’d rather stay warm and dry inside than take photos outdoors in this downpour! So for a change I thought that you might like to see some of the pictures I took at Petersham Nurseries last week. Now that was Looking Good!

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