I’ve got so much to talk about this week that it’s hard to limit myself to six things.  Much is growing well and my mind is fizzing with new ideas of things to change in the garden.

My father had an amusing little phrase to deploy when we expected too much of him – he used to say “The name’s Simpson not Samson”.  Pace yourself and don’t get carried away – you’ll get there in the end.  It’s useful to remind myself of this when I’m expecting too much progress.

Alpine trough refreshAlpine troughs

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day so I took the chance to visit one of my favourite gardens – RHS Wisley – for a World of Alpines Show.  Whilst there I took a turn around the Alpine Houses. The Alpine staff pick the best of what’s in flower in the backstage greenhouses and bring them to the Alpine House to be centre stage.  Consequently the Alpine House is crammed full of glorious plants at any time of year.

It’s difficult to know what to photograph first and as a treat I’m sharing a collage of six beauties so you get a flavour of the variety on show.

My outdoor pots and troughs aren’t quite as floriferous as the alpine house but when I got home I decided to plant a few more little plants in them.  This corner of the patio will see the benefit in late spring and throughout the summer.  The large trough was created last year by covering an old Belfast sink with an artificial stone mix.  If you want to know how to do this, click here.

Rockery Plans

To say that I am bewitched by alpines is an understatement.  Their variety and charm knows no bounds, a topic I have written about for the Alpine Garden Society.

Anyone interested in plants will find alpines of some variety to catch their imagination.  I have a friend who is a Penstemon fiend.  She couldn’t see the appeal of alpines until I showed her a selection of tiny penstemons at a show – then she was hooked.

I currently only grow alpines in troughs and pans or tucked in the crevices of walls around the garden.  To make room for my growing alpine addiction I have come to the conclusion that I need a rockery.  It’s a brave move but I’ve decided to convert these two sloping beds into a rockery.  They are either side of the steps to a woody path and will be easily admired from the patio below.

The slope helps as my plan is to use large stones to create a series of rocky terraces.  The groundwork is now complete.  Last summer I made sure there were no perennial weeds in the area, and last weekend my husband dug out a huge stump, the remnants of which can be seen in the picture.  I’m in the process of sourcing stone.

Whilst I know this will be a major job, and one which I can’t do alone, I’m excited at the prospect of my mountain slope in the Chilterns.

Pelargonium ‘Ardens’Pelargonium ardens

Whilst visiting some Chiltern AGS friends this week to look at how they built their rockery, I was delighted when they gave me this bonny plant.  It’s called Pelargonium ‘Ardens’ and I’ve shared pictures of this plant before.  As a reminder, here’s a close up of its flower.

Pelargonium ardennes

Whilst softwood cuttings are possible, it’s difficult to find material for these because of the habit of the plant, usually growing from a strong single stem.  The best way to get new plants is therefore to look for root offshoots.  The picture below shows my friend inspecting a plant she is potting on.  At the base of the plant’s woody root is a small piece of fresh root, which she removed and potted on.  The lovely plant she gave me came from just such a source.

Snakeshead Fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris

If you’re on social media, you’ll see lots of pictures of these at this time of year.  The chequerboard patterning is something to behold up close and the large but dainty bells grow on strong, slender stems.  These enable the plants to dance enchantingly in the wind.

I have been planting a few more of these each year in an attempt to get a colony going.  They seem happy in the dampish lawn of my little orchard and once the seed-heads set I pop them open and spread them about in the hope they’ll grow in time to flowering size.

I also picked a few to bring into the house, as I like to photograph them.  In doing so I discovered that they continue to grow in the vase.  Three I picked yesterday have grown 5cm in thirty six hours.  Cut tulips in a vase share this quirky feature and I’m wondering how many members of the liliaceae family do the same…

Daffodil Show time 

These multi-headed narcissi are a winner in the garden.  They are tall, take much buffeting from wind and rain without toppling and best of all, have an amazing scent.  They also did very well this week at my Horticultural Society’s Spring Show, winning the prize for Best in Show.  Sadly, I don’t know what the name is.

This year the show had many more exhibits than last year, probably because spring has been kind to us all, but possibly because we were all encouraged to “bring a daffodil along”.  It is was fantastic to see how many varieties of daffodils people grow and ooh and aah over all the entries.

Spring flower arranging

spring flower arrangement

I haven’t usually done very well in the flower arranging section of the show so this year I determined to try a bit harder.  This class calls for a ‘Bowl of Spring Flowers for all round effect’.  This is trickier than it looks as the stems of home-grown flowers don’t always behave how you’d like them.

Helpfully, I found a little bowl vase in a charity shop, costing £2.50.  It has a metal lattice lid to hold the small delicate stems in place and I also put a metal spike in the base to stop the stems slipping sideways.

The arrangement contains pretty yellow and blue flowers from my garden; Narcissus bulbocodium, Narcissus ‘Minnow’, Aubretia, Anemone blanda, Muscari, Primula and a white Snakeshead fritillary.   I used a spinning cake decorating platform to make sure I arranged evenly all the way round.

I was delighted that the spinning platform helped me to create a rounded effect and I received a red rosette and a chocolate Easter Egg.

If you want to read other contributions to the Six on Saturday link up of gardeners click here to go to the page of host The Propagator.