Wordless Wednesday: Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’

The Harlequin Glorybower.

When the rest of the college is looking like this…..

And this……..

There is one particular shrub that is not alway’s commonly known, that is looking rather spectacular ….. Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii (Harlequin Glorybower).

A true gem of the garden, that is perfect in every way especially at this time of year.

I was originally going to use this as a ‘Wordless Wednesday’ but then thought, this deserved a few words to go with it …. even in my very strange and incoherent way.

I’m not one for doing a plant of the month thing (not yet anyway) but this for me is the plant of the season. This time of year I could of gone for one with spectacular autumn foliage, that one would have been too easy, as there are literally hundreds to choose from.

Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii is from western China, a deciduous shrub or small tree (eventual height and spread 5-6 metres), that is spectacular from late summer when its heads of pink buds open into scented white flowers. These later develop into bright blue berries, surrounded by a maroon star-shaped calyces.

It grows well in fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil in full sun and in partial shade; we have two on site and the one in partial shade is the better of the two.

This shrub certainly ticks all the boxes for me, I could this time of year, just sit and gaze at it all day …. now that’s one way of getting out of doing some of the leafing ūüėČ

Wordless Wednesday: Poncirus trifoliata




And the Weather Forecast for 2013 is……

Autumn … what a wonderful time of year, the leaves are beginning to turn, the trees are glowing with colour; it’s time to lean on them rakes again and reflect on the hot dry spring and summer we have just had….




Aright, apart from March it has been a tad damp. In March, I can actually remember preparing for a long dry season like the two previous years … how wrong was I. Nevermind, at least we have the winter to look forward to, all the plans and idea’s we have ready to be implemented for the following year, but will the weather allow us to see them through?

Having been a gardener for a few years, I completely understand that the weather affects us greatly in the garden, it’s the extremes that we have experienced in the last few years, that concerns me.

I have touched on this subject in previous posts, but planning long term is getting increasingly difficult, especially on a large scale. We ourselves have an area of over 36 acres, approximately a mile long, with roughly 37000m2 of lawn (not including the wildflower areas), large cobbled areas, herbaceous borders, mixed borders, large specimen trees and the odd small hedge…

Our little bonsai Beech hedge.

I know it is the same for all us gardeners, as it doesn’t matter if your garden is large or small. Although I am very lucky in having a great team of gardeners with varying skills and a wide range of horticultural knowledge, so by putting all our experience together, it does make future planning a little easier.

As an example, last year I stocked up on lawn wetting agents ready for this years long hot dry spell. Instead, this week I have been combating fungal problems in some of our main lawns, due to the fact that the rain has washed a lot of the nutrients out of the soil, as well as not being able to keep up with our usual lawn management again due to the weather; this has caused Red Thread to develop. Admittedly not a serious fungal condition as it rarely kills the grass, but it has attacked the finer fescues in the lawn and it looks unsightly. Aeration, a light scarify and a good feed will rectify the problem without resorting to using chemicals.

Red Thread

So what is the weather forecast for 2013 and what planning can we start doing now? For myself, after this year … a change of career. This has definitely been the most challenging year weather wise since I have been in gardening. Seriously I would never change my career, the weather has always been a challenge but with the extremes, it just means the weather may get a little more challenging in the coming years … so bring it on!

After looking at many sites on the internet …. you soon realise there is a lot of crap out there, including this blog. But starting with the winter 2012/2013, we are either going to have a, mild run of westerlies bringing more wet conditions or we could experience something similar to what we had in late November and much of December 2010. Many say this is because the Jet stream sticking and also the Arctic sea ice being at its lowest since records began. Well last year I brought extra Ice crystals because of the previous winter, plus also, it was predicted that we would have a very cold winter, apart from a few days days in November and again in February ; we had a rather quiet winter. So I am already geared up for the winter … probably more so than the councils will be.

What about the spring/summer of 2013. Well, scientists in the US believe there is a 50 per cent chance that the El Nino system will kick in during the second half of next year. With El Nino years tending to be hotter around the world this means, there is a chance that next summer will be hotter and a lot drier than it was this year …. here’s hoping! On the other hand, it could be a very wet spring/summer, but the truth is …. does anyone really know?

What you can guarantee is that, being from this part of the world, the weather will always be a major talking point, we will always complain it is either, too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too windy or complain it is just right. But us gardeners are tough and whatever the weather is, will come out the other end smiling.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” ~ John Ruskin

“For the man sound of body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.” ~ George Gissing

Wordless Wednesday: Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’



For Whom the Bass Tolls.

The bass player, part of the engine in any band and there is one band that has had some of the best bass players of all time …. Metallica!

One in particular …. Cliff Burton.

Cliff Burton played the bass like no other before him. Many when first hearing Cliff play for the first time, thought he was on lead guitar.

Cliff joined Metallica in 1981 and stayed with them until his untimely death on the 27th September 1986. Whilst on tour in Sweden on their tour bus, the band drew cards to decide who slept where, after Cliff drew the Ace of Spades he chose to have Kirk Hammet’s bunk. Around dawn, the bus driver loses control and the bus skids and rolls over several times, throwing Cliff from his bunk and he was pinned under the tour bus.¬†The driver blamed a patch of black ice for the accident, this has been disputed many times and in particular, from the other members of Metallica.

Later in 1986, Jason Newsted joined Metallica from the band Flotsam and Jetsam and remained with them until 2001. His debut with Metallica was on the ‘Garage Days Revisited’, but his first studio album with the band was ‘And Justice for All’ in 1988.

Roberto Agustin Trujillo joined Metallica in 2003. He also was a member Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves, Black Label Society, Jerry Cantrell and Ozzy.

Mainly a finger style bassist, but Roberto on occasions uses a pick and also the slap bass technique.

It is not just Metallica that have the monopoly on great bass players, there have been many past and present that are worth a mention … not forgetting a certain bassist from ¬†West Bromwich…..

Phil Lynott … lead singer and bassist of Thin Lizzy. He moved to Dublin to live with his grandparents whilst still at school.¬†In the late part of 1969 Thin Lizzy was founded, becoming one of the biggest names in rock history, until 1984 when they finally split up.

Unfortunately, Phil finally succumbed to the excesses of his lifestyle and died on 4th January 1986, he was aged only 36.

Thin Lizzy are still performing today with Ricky Warwick (The Almighty) as the lead singer.

Geddy Lee, lead vocalist and bassist for the canadian rock band … Rush. Formed in 1968, Rush are still going strong to this very day, ¬†Geddy has collected many awards in his career and in¬†1993, he recieved the “Best Rock Bass Player” in a bass players¬†readers’ poll.

Flea co-founder of the Red Hot Chillie Peppers, famous for his aggressive slap bass style, he is regarded as one of the best rock bass players of all time.

John Entwistle was an English bass guitarist, songwriter, singer and record producer, who was best known as the bass player for the rock band The Who, his style of bass playing influenced many rock bass players. John died of a heart attack on the 27th June 2002, aged 57.

And now for God himself….

Lemmy…. lead vocalist, bass player, song writer and founding member of the band Motorhead.¬†Fired from Hawkwind after a drugs bust in Canada, Lemmy went to form Motorhead in 1975. Famous for his gravely vocals, facial warts, excessive drug and alcohol use, sexual exploits and sometimes his bass playing; Lemmy has done everything and usually to excess as well.

Wordless Wednesday: A View From Above



The Rain Dance

Some of you, will know where I am coming from with this one! ūüėČ

Rain Dance

It all started as a comment I made on Twitter and at work, that after three seasons with very little rain … I threatened to do a raindance in one of our main courts at work … whilst wearing a tutu!

So just the threat of doing a raindance, has seen it rain from early April right through to the middle of August;  giving us the wettest spring/summer on record here in the UK.

But where does the raindance originate from, for most people, it is the native North Americans that we associate raindancing with. The raindance was more common to Native American tribes who lived in dry, Southwestern regions which received little rain. It is also a ritual that is/was performed around the world amongst different cultures from Eastern Europe and Africa.

Many Native Americans still perform the ritual today, both men and women gather together for a raindance and wear special headdresses and clothing.

Not forgetting this one…

Now, this is a classic raindance that I am familiar with…

Now just to keep up with the Rock Garden tradition….

Iris Rain Dance

Iris Rain Dance is a standard dwarf bearded Iris that has beautiful pale blue or pale purple flowers, with glaucous green leaves and stems reaching only 30cm in height.

Now there is one thing I would like this year and that is a white christmas … hmm now I wonder … is there a Snow-dance?

No Tu-Tu was worn or harmed in the making of this blog!

Wordless Wednesday: Hydrangea quercifolia