Thursday, September 15, 2005

Soaked through to my skin, but it was worth it for a bargain

Here in Norfolk we are having torrential rain, real stair rods of rain, so the weather forecast was right to a certain extent, it arrived earlier and there is more of it. Do I mind? Not a bit. This enforced day of ‘rest’ is good.

It enabled me to go on a 20 mile each way trip to Thetford to take the little mower in for repair, and by coincidence the dealership was located within a garden centre. Joy oh joy. Pat went off for a cup of tea, and I headed out into the heavy downpour to look at the plants and shrubs. It is not often I get to visit a garden centre, although I have visited a couple of nurseries this year and a huge Garden Centre in Wisbech as an aside on a trip with the Flower Club in the summer.

The rain was so heavy that I could hardly see, but I spotted a sign in the distance that said REDUCTIONS and made a bee line for it. My intention was to buy some soft fruit, but all they had were a few grape vines and one fig tree! So I spent some time looking at what was on offer in the reductions corner.

The plants were ones that had finished flowering, so there was nothing wrong with them. The looked a bit sad and soaked, but there was lots of choice. I invested in some for the allotment, part of which I am turning into a garden – at the bottom end next to the field, with those spectacular views.

I bought a Stipa Gigantica – a beautiful grass with tall arching stems of a golden colour that have wonderful seed pods along the end which make it droop downwards like a fishing rod. I might be able to split it, and have one for the garden at home.

I bought the most beautiful Silver Buddleia, which has white balled flowers – and will look glorious both in the sunshine and in dull weather, and of course the butterflies will love it. I should be able to propagate that from a cutting, if it works then free plants! It is very attractive and not a bit like the common purple buddleia.

Next to go into the trolley was a Cornus Alba, to add to my dogwood collection (now a total of three!) As the name suggests it has variegated cream and green foliage with lovely deep red stems. The cornus is a shrub with beautiful coloured stems and is wonderful for winter colour, and great in flower arrangements, particularly at Christmas. I got a big plant, so can definitely take hardwood cuttings from that.

A Eucalyptus Gunnii was my next great find, the only one there. With gorgeous pale blue leaves, like pennies; in pairs all along the stem. I shall dig up the the Eucaplytus from my front garden and replace it with this one. The transplanted one will make a lovely specimen plant in my allotment garden, and I can cut as much off it as I like. It is the more common, highly aromatic variety, with red stems, and drooping branches. It grows very quickly and you have to keep it cut to produce the smaller leaves.

My last purchase was a big pot of a blue grass with broad leaves – I am not going out into the rain to look at the label. It grows up to 8 feet tall with lovely oat-like long lasting stems. It has some stems coming out of the sides, so that will get split into several plants. All these for £15. It makes a change for me to buy shrubs and grasses, as I usually choose plants that we can eat!

Apart from growing vegetables, I love flowers and flower arranging – as well as lots of other hobbies,- and by growing flowers and shrubs I hope to not only create an area of beauty, but also to attract lots of the pollinating insects to my vegetables.

So back to the rain, which is still battering down on the conservatory roof as I type. It is a welcome friend that will soak the ground and allow me to create a flower border more easily, and I am already eyeing up some of my garden perennials that I might be able to divide and move. A project in the making for next year, and many to come, God Willing! I like a challenge.

There was a surprise on my door step when I got home. A bag of damsons, a gift from a neighbour who had been given so many by a relative that they couldn’t cope with any more. Anyone have any good recipes for damsons?

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