An Instagram retrospective of January and February 2018
2018 began as most years do here in the south east corner of the UK, under dull, grey skies, but after two weeks away from my gardens and feeling a bit like a prune from too much exposure to central heating and stove, I was delighted to get back outside.
First day back at work after the Christmas break, and feeling a bit like the berries on this Pernettya mucronata – all dried out after too much time indoors (me, not the pernettya. I don't know what his excuse is). Still, that was quickly remedied as the heavens opened after about an hour. Wonderfully refreshing, though a bit of a grey start to the year. Sun, please! ✨✨🌱 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #penf #olympuspengeneration #fb
So dark and grey outside today, I'm not at all convinced the sun actually bothered to get out of bed this morning. But through the gloom, as I wobbled about on a ladder tweaking the wisteria, I spied a solitary pink #rose and, well, having bored you all with #pink #roses through most of 2017, I thought I'd see if I could do it again this year. Bring on the pink! 💕🌸🌹🌸 #thepinkstagram 🌱. A new post has arrived on the blog, in which I strenuously attempt not to make any gardening resolutions for the new year. And fail, utterly. Link in my bio. 🌱. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #penepl7 #hellojanuary #antijanuaryblues
Christmas money burning a hole in our pockets, we dashed to the garden centre and loaded up with ferns...
This lovely creature is the Virginia or blue star fern, though it's Latin name, Phlebodium pseudoaureum, is rather an enjoyable one to intone. It's fronds are a pale, greyish blue green, and present a wonderful contrast to the deeper verdant tones of the other ferns we've started assembling in the cosy, but admittedly slightly dingy living room. I can't promise that this will be the last photo of this one. #sorrynotsorry 🌱💚. #houseplants #ferns #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #fb #penf #antijanuaryblues
...which we've spent the past two months watching slowly dessicate in the arid conditions in the house, in spite of being constantly doused and misted. Most ferns do really like humidity, though they can put up with the cold. We thought the bathroom might be the best place, but even here all bets are off as to whether they can make it through to the longer days of spring, and put on enough new growth to offset the fronds that have copped it, or whether they'll just turn up their toes and we have to admit we're not good at keeping ferns inside, which would be a shame. I‘ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, the tropical greenery seems to be more than happy, with new growth on the monstera and the schefflera...
Of all our #houseplants, I'm afraid the schefflera comes in for the least love. I don't know why the poor umbrella plant should be given such short shrift, perhaps it's because it's so reliable, so ubiquitous and relatively unshowy. But this morning I discovered that in spite, or maybe because of this apparent dirth of affection, it's put out a new leaf. How cute is that? Like it's waving at us. It might just have become my favourite member of our #houseplant family. 🌱. All the houseplant chat a person could ask for on @j.l.perrone's splendid #OnTheLedgePodcast, do check it out, I'm learning so much from listening to it! 🌱💚 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #penf #fb
...and the wider houseplant family is doing quite well, thank you.
Wondered if you might like to see an informal roll call of some of the indoor jungle? Here are the troops, lined up in motley fashion in the living room. No time to make them look pretty, but I still think they're a ruggedly handsome lot. This is the kind of nonsense that listening to @j.l.perrone's #OnTheLedgePodcast gets you into. Do go and look it out on iTunes if you haven't already! 🌵🌱🌿✨💚 #houseplants #todaysgoodthing #botanicalpickmeup #aslowmoment #underthefloralspell #thebotanicalseries #liveauthentic #allthingsbotanical #seekthesimplicity #aquietstyle #lifeandthyme #oneperfectthing #smallmomentsofcalm #jeweledlight #indoorphotography #interiors #heitermoments
With perhaps the odd exception, inevitably, from the pelargoniums.
Here's Wendy Jane, looking good! My winter pelargonium care skills are on the up! Just don't ask me about Lord Bute, who spent most of the winter just outside the back door going "I'm fine, I don't need to come in, it's not even cold!" – until a couple of days ago. looks a bit shifty Ahem. Just don't tell @fibrex_nurseries. Heather was almost thinking of taking me off the naughty list. Talking of Fibrex, the home of the national collection of pellies (and ivies, along with ferns and more), they're having a 60th birthday weekend event in June at the nursery, with talks and tours and CAKE. Tickets available now. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #fb #penf
Books on houseplants have been arriving with similar alacrity to the vegetation.
Not content with a growing army of houseplants, we're also amassing a growing library of books about houseplants. This is my favourite at the moment for a combination of design inspiration and information, House of Plants by @houseofplants! It's a very beautiful volume and never far away when I'm indoors, would highly recommend it. 🌱🌵🌿💚 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #hellojanuary #antijanuaryblues
Inexplicable levels of joy from this recent acquisition, one from a batch of four or five old Observer's Guides I went trawling the second hand books on Amazon for the other day. Why should this be? Of course they're delightful little objects, dinky, pocket sized volumes with cloth bindings and titles embossed into the coverboards. And a wealth of topics to choose from, so of course mine are all plant and nature related – I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot of them on my grid from hereon in. So I don't know if it's partly smugness at finding a new collection so pleasing, and so pleasingly inexpensive, to begin to acquire, or the sympathy between this book's title and one of our other household collections (the #houseplants). Or whether it's just the outrageous yellowness of this particular title. But I can't stop smiling. ✨🌱🌿🌵💛 #observerguides #observersbooks #cacti #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter
A dreary old day out, making me even more glad for our indoor jungle. The houseplants and us are still getting the measure of each other. They don't quite want to go where we'd like them to go, so we're trying to be good listeners and observers. As well as misters and leaf-sweeper-uppers. The aspidistra and the palms are staunchly no-nonsense though, it's the ferns that are being more troublesome than expected. We'll get there, hopefully without too much collateral damage. 🌿🌱💚 #todaysgoodthing #livefolk #feelfreefeed #botanicalpickmeup #thehappynow #aslowmoment #momentsofmine #lovelysquares #thebotanicalseries #natureinthehome #liveauthentic #allthingsbotanical #seekthesimplicity #aquietstyle #lifeandthyme #storiesoftheeveryday #indoorplants #indoorgardening #plantphotography #smallmomentsofcalm #jeweledlight #houseplants #therealhouseplantsofinstagram #houseplantclub #greenyourfeed #plantsofinstagram #millennials #heitermoments #nestandthrive
...while beyond the back door, the perfume of the Christmas box wafted it’s way towards the house,
One advantage of a windy day is that it throws the delicious scent of the Christmas Box (Sarcococca confusa – so called cos no one can remember HOW MANY Cs???!) even further afield than it's normally able to waft. One of the stars of the garden in January. Quite unruly, but marvellous – a bit like my hair. Getting it to stay still for a photograph in the tempest is quite another matter, though (and here I could be talking about either my hair or the plant). 🌱🌿💚✨💨 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #hellojanuary #antijanuaryblues #thatwinterspringthing #fb
...ushering in that transitional time between winter and spring, and prompting me to launch the hashtag #thatwinterspringthing on Instagram.
I'll be unashamedly sticking to the hellebore theme for the next couple of weeks. The first signs of glamour in the garden as winter starts to think about moving along. I'm also launching a new hashtag #thatwinterspringthing for images that conjure up that lightening of the spirit we all feel as this season transitions to the next. There's never really a clean break, is there? The wind is howling outside just now, though – if I were a snowdrop or a hellebore, I might stay tucked up for another day. ❄️✨🌱 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #antijanuaryblues #hellojanuary #fb
Naturally, there have been hellebores...
Surely among the most demure of flowers, I often find myself wriggling about on the ground trying to get a shot as the hellebore hides her face behind her petals. This one wasn't having any of it. No wonder people cut them and display the blooms floating in bowls of water. Somehow, I've never been able to bring myself to do that, part of the plant's personality seems to be its bashfulness. 🌱 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #thatwinterspringthing #hellojanuary #antijanuaryblues #thatwinterspringthing #fb
I was feeling so left out that everyone's hellebores were opening before mine, so pleased to find this little chap doing his best for me. Who knew #fomo could extend to your flowers? Have a Happy Wednesday folks, it's #humpday! 🌱. A new post has arrived on the blog, in which I strenuously attempt not to make any gardening resolutions for the new year. And fail, utterly. Link in my bio. 🌱. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #fb #hellojanuary #antijanuaryblues #thatwinterspringthing
Things are looking up! Well, these hellebores are, which means I didn't have to get quite so muddy taking their portrait. Still stealing the show a bit in the garden, bit I'm sure the snowdrops are coming up close behind to muscle them out of the way. It's a contest I'm happy to watch, while waiting for tulips. 🌸🌱 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #hellojanuary #antijanuaryblues #thatwinterspringthing #fb #photooftheday
...and snowdrops, of course...
Ferny cow parsley foliage and a patch of #snowdrops rising out of the leaf litter (which is prodigious, this garden backs onto the village's little wood). One of the many things I love about Friday afternoon's garden is that, even in the bits where no one really goes, there's always something rather wonderful going on. 🍂🌿🍂🌱🍂. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #hellojanuary #ihavethisthingfordarkness #fb #woodland #antijanuaryblues #thatwinterspringthing
Snowdrop, anyone? We're not tired of them yet, I hope? . . I've had a fantastic Monday on one of the Study Days at @greatdixterofficial (finally got to meet the legendary Perry, the man behind the social media accounts and key member of the Dixter family!) and spent hours soaking up fantastic garden wisdom from Fergus and his wonderful team. It's such an inspiring and welcoming place, obviously a beautiful house and garden, but with a real heart for education too. .... Probably pics to follow tomorrow. These snowdrops are actually from my Thursday garden. #thatwinterspringthing ⛄️🌱✨ #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter
...and crocuses have appeared by now.
Snowdrops and crocuses (croci?), doing #thatwinterspringthing rather well, don't you think? ⛄️🌱✨ Though in all truth, yesterday started off all spring like, warm and sunny, and got progressively more wintery. Think it was a temporary hiccup though, rather than an indication of a general reversal of seasonal direction. Flipping hope so, anyway. #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #fb #penepl7
More scented shrubs...
In the winter border again. This is Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' (sorry, no common name. Not even a comedy rude one, more's the pity), against the orange glow of the wonderful coloured dogwood stems of Cornus 'Midwinter Fire' 🔥🔥. The viburnum flowers now, before the leaves are out – marvellously eccentric. It also possesses a scent which is wonderful in the garden, but begins to smell a bit like cat pee if you cut it for a vase indoors. Just so you know. #thatwinterspringthing ⛄️🌱🤣 #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #fb #penepl7
After a miserable, dull and wet weekend, getting Monday off to a zingy start with the lemon zesty flowers of witch hazel, Hamamelis something-or-rather (can't quite recall the variety just now, age is a terrible thing!). I put this in a bed with other winter scented shrubs including Sarcococca hookeriana and Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn', so it's a bit of a tickler for the nostrils at this time of year. But none the worse for that. 👃🏼✨👌🏼🌿#mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #penepl7 #thatwinterspringthing
Seedheads of solidago (DAY-go? Or DAH-go? I never know, and always mispronounce everything. Which I've heard you shouldn't judge someone for, as it means they learned the word from a book). Anyway, it's golden rod, which is kind of like a mad tiny-flowered aster with sprays of golden flowers like Ken Dodd's tickling stick that seeds and runs and … why ever did I plant it? Cos it gives instant height, and movement as it sways, and looks pretty splendid, that's why. And if it gets where you don't want it, just hoik it out. Can't tell you the exact variety as I bought it off eBay years ago! Anyway, must go, four tonnes of steaming manure to get on the beds… happy Friday! 💩🌼🌼 #thatwinterspringthing ⛄️🌱✨ #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #penepl7 #fb
We all know about leaving the seedheads for the birds over the colder months. But you might want to resist tidying away to quickly for other reasons.… 🌱 They remind you exactly where plants are. Chop then down early and you may well find yourself trying to plant bulbs in the middle of your hidden perennial. 🌱 They create a canopy which protects the soil from the worst of the heavy rain, making the ground beneath workable when bare ground is too soggy. Strange but true. 🌱 They give you a instant winter time reminder of the height and scale of your plants when you're planning next year's border. 🌱 You can see from the thickness of the stems when a clump of perennials would benefit from splitting. ----- Oh, I do love gardening. Always so much to learn! Cold snap on the way again, wrap up, folks, and keep those tender things covered. (I'm talking about plants! What were you thinking?) ⛄️🌱✨ #thatwinterspringthing #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter
I never tire of the seedheads of Phlomis russeliana – edged with frost, they're even more magical in their tiered geometric perfection. The leaves below are bulking up nicely on these, soon time to cut back these dead stems to make way for fresh yellow flowers. Maybe just one week more… #thatwinterspringthing ⛄️🌱✨ #fb #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter
Winter sunshine out in the pasture, mossy shade under the trees. Hovering on the margins of a hazel coppice, I could probably read too much into the notion that my favourite place to be is on the border between the depths of the woodland shade on one side and the brightness of the open fields on the other. Afraid to fully commit? Or just a creature of the liminal zones, happy to be a dweller on the threshold. I think I must have read too much Garth Nix (that's your fault, @char.l.hull!)!#thatwinterspringthing ⛄️🌱✨ #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter
...and now, just as winter should be going, snow.
Hawthorn, Huath, Queen of the May, the Faerie Tree. 🌳 Winter reveals the individual trees in our hedgerows, and this hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is a favourite of mine with its beautiful silhouette, like an etching of the Tree of Life. It's considered deeply bad luck to fell a hawthorn, so, if you're keen to remain on the right side of the Grey Folk, I'd advise against any such reckless inclination. And anyway, why would you want to? Deep red berries like clusters of garnets, leaves you can eat, and May blossom whose appearance, in spite of what the calendar might tell you, indicates the final departure of winter. Take my advice, and make room in your life (and your garden) for the Queen of the May. ❤️💚 #blessedbe #thatwinterspringthing #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter
Total whiteout here in Kent. I love snow, but this late in winter when we've all been enjoying signs of approaching spring, and all the pruning and tree work is done in the garden...well, it's a bit annoying. So this morning's post is unashamedly green, a small community of mosses and lichens on a stone urn. They'll all be nestled under a white blanket this morning, but none the worse for that. #thatwinterspringthing #mystoryoflight #peninpractice #olympusuk #tostandandstare #winter #fb #penepl7
The first full week of March promises to be milder, and soggy. Just as well. Snow’s all very well at the appropriate time, but it needs go. We’ve seeds to sow, and a gardening year to get under way.
I got chillis… they're multiplyin' . . Sorry, couldn't resist the terrible pun! But how exciting is this, my first seedlings of the year (not counting the self sown hellebores and of course all the weedlings everywhere, particularly of the Sticky Willy variety. Yes it's a real plant, Galium aparine, but who wants to use the proper name when the common ones are so, well...common?!). Anyway, these are 'Basket of Fire' from @marshalls_seeds, and they've been on top of a metal cabinet which is itself in front of a radiator by a west facing window, so good light, and some bottom heat. And who doesn't like a bit of a warm bum? Actually, don't answer that. Unless it's to say "lettuce". 🌶💚 . ⛄️🌱✨ #thatwinterspringthing
How has the beginning of the year been for you and your garden? Let me know on twitter, or in the comments below.