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Bibury Gardening Club photographic competition: the results are in!

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We asked our members to submit pictures of their gardens this summer – the Summer of Lockdown. Originally, there were three categories: single flower or plant, container, or general view of the garden. Sadly, we didn't have many entries, so we combined the categories and asked Bibury resident Glynis Cox, a photographic stylist, to do the judging. The photographs were sent to Glyn without any identification apart from a simple tag (white clematis, rose arch etc) so that we could both be sure we were talking about the same picture when Glyn came to select the winners. First, Glyn and I both wanted to make general points about photographing your garden.  1 Try to get the light right. Low sunshine is better than midday sunshine, so in high summer go out early in the morning or in the evening. The picture below was taken in late summer, in the afternoon, so the sun catches the drifts of flowering grasses and makes them glow. 2 A professional garden photographer once told me: "Your

Camassias! And more about narcissi

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Camassias, Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus, white bluebells and the lime-green flowers of Bupleurum rotundifolium The camassias are the last of the bulbs to flower in what I call the "spring bulb meadow". This isn't actually a meadow – far from it; it's a crescent-shaped swathe of grass punctuated by ornamental cherry trees. I have another small circular "bulb meadow" around another cherry tree, and in both of these areas, the flowering season begins with snowdrops, then crocuses, then daffodils, then – finally – camassias and bluebells. I got the idea of a spring bulb meadow from Rosalie Dawes, owner of  Birtsmorton Court , in Worcestershire. She had created one on a patch of grass beneath deciduous trees and at this time of year, it looks superb. Rosalie explained that wildflower meadows are not only notoriously difficult to sustain, but also mean that the grass has to be kept long until June or July. Birtsmorton is very popular as a wedding ve

Daffodils and narcissi

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When I was little, I thought daffodils were yellow flowers with trumpets, and white flowers with orange centres were called narcissi. Now, of course, I know that they are all narcissi; that daffodil is a common name for just one member of the genus. I've since found out that the name daffodil is a corruption of “asphodel”, the flowers which were said to carpet the floor of Hades. I still tend to cling to my childish belief that white “narcissi” with orange centres are somehow much more exotic and interesting than yellow flowers with yellow centres. The only exception to this  are the ones with salmon centres, such as ‘Salome’. I do have some ‘Salome’ in the garden, and I know people love them, but to me they always look as if they’ve been left outside in the rain, and then faded in the sun. (I can be very conservative when it comes to certain plants.) Actually, the more intense the contrast between the tepals (the ring of petals) and the corona (the bit in the middle), the mo

Gardening around bees

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I was having a conversation with my bees this morning.  I was doing all the talking, needless to say, but I could tell from their body language what they were saying in reply. It was like when you go into your teenage son or daughter's room and ask them if those T-shirts on the floor need washing, or if they are ever going to pick up that plate with the pizza crust on it. That "It's fine , Mum, just  leave it" look. The bees have come through the winter well, thanks to the mild weather. At the first sign of sunshine, they are out and about, foraging among their favourite flowers. Hellebores are high on this list, as is any kind of prunus blossom. They also love euphorbia. Anyway, having sorted out the bees (I was putting supers on for honey), I still had my bee-suit on so I thought I'd do a bit of tidying around the apiary, if that isn't too grand a name for three hives. There was a huge flower spike on the phormium left over from last year, whi

Plants in a time of coronavirus

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For gardeners, one of the most frustrating things about the lockdown are not the restrictions, but the lack of gardening kit. It's fantastic having time at home at this time of year, but not so fantastic when you can't get hold of compost, or aggregates, or even seeds. Most of the big seed companies have been swamped with orders for vegetable seeds, and are struggling to cope. The local builder's merchant where I order things like soil conditioner and gravel has closed for the duration. However, you can still buy plants. There are lots of small independent nurseries continuing to do mail order, mainly because they are run by just one or two people, who can run the business despite social distancing. "Small is beautiful" is a theme of the coronavirus crisis here in the UK. The small shops have stepped up very quickly to meet demand. Our village post office and the trout farm shop, which usually make a lot of their money selling souvenirs to tourists, now stock t

Waiting for blossom, and happy birthday, Rory!

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My son is 30 today. We had planned to spend his birthday here in the Cotswolds, with his girlfriend and my daughter and his grandmother and whoever else wanted to come, but of course we can't. We are FaceTiming instead. Happy birthday, Rory! I feel a bit sad about this, but I'm trying to stay cheerful. The family is all well, albeit spread out across southern England, and I don't really have much to complain about. So I took myself into the garden this morning to see if any blossom had appeared yet. Boy, was it cold! The temperature is actually 8C (46F) but with a blustery north-east wind blowing, it feels more like -8C (17F). I had to keep scuttling back inside to get my fingers warm. I always think I have two mature ornamental cherry trees in the garden, but in fact I inherited three. One has grown horizontally over the paddock next door after being crowded out for years by a horse chestnut and a beech, so it doesn't look as if it's actually in my garden. My ni

Back to blogging!

I'm not old enough (quite) to be officially self-isolating, but I might as well be, because most of the things I do during a normal week have been shut down. No church, no choir practice, no garden club, no craft club, no Pilates class, no pub lunches. I don't want you to think I'm complaining. I'm lucky to live in an area that, so far, has a relatively low coronavirus infection rate. I want to keep well, because my mother, who is 90, and my stepmother Diane, who has had chemotherapy and two operations to remove tumours, are relying on me and my sisters for support in these crazy times. We lost my father in May 2019, so Diane has been coping both with his loss and with her own illness. My mother was very ill, and in and out of hospital in December, so the past few months have been quite stressful. Coronavirus, despite its challenges and the changes it has made to the way we live, has reminded me that I began blogging because my husband was ill with non-Hodgkins Dise