Top Ten Favourite Plants

A notification popped up on my phone earlier this week reminding me that I was intending to write a post about my ten favourite plants. I did this a year ago and decided to repeat the post a year later to see if my favourites had changed. I can’t remember which plants made it to the top ten last year and I’m not going to look until after I’ve selected my current faves!

Number one, I’m pretty sure will have made it on to last year’s shortlist – my Eupatorium.

This dies completely down in the Winter and this is the regrowth so far this Spring. It’s starting to get its trademark purple and dark green leaves. It makes me really happy when this reappears each year.

It should be up at these lofty heights in no time.

Next up, I’m going for Stipa.

This is one of my 50p bargains from a couple of years ago. They seem to be able to cope with anything the elements throw at them. All I do is comb them through every now and then to remove the dead fronds.

Third is Cordyline. I wonder if this made my original list? I’ve added a few more to the garden now. Well, I say added to the garden, two of them are still sitting in their pots waiting for inspiration to hit me on where to plant them.

This one’s in my birthday planter and it’s thriving.

Let’s add some flair for four!

You can’t beat a Dahlia for flair! This one is new in the garden this year.

Continuing with a splash of colour – Gerbera.

This one is new to our garden this year. I couldn’t resist the beautiful bright orange.

This one is now in its third Summer. I didn’t expect it to survive the Winter, but it’s made it through two of them now.

Number six has got to be the loyal Hebe. I’ve got quite a few Hebes dotted around the garden.

This is the first one I ever bought. It’s Hebe Purple Pixie and it was from a sale table. It lives in the shadiest part of our garden and, while I guess it may have got bigger in a sunnier area, it seems quite happy in complete shade. It’s not flowering yet but it will later in the year.

I’m pretty sure number seven will have featured in last year’s pick. It’s the Fuchsia. These were my Grandad’s favourite and I’ve got three (so far!) They’re all starting to flower again, but they haven’t really got going yet.

This one is Fuchsia Delta Sarah. It’s the second one I’ve tried to grow. The first one was fine during the Summer, but didn’t make it through the Winter, despite assurances of hardiness. This second one was from Gardeners’ World Live last year, and I went for the biggest one I could afford to give it the best chance of survival. And survive it has!

This one could maybe do with repotting in a bigger pot. This is its third or maybe even fourth year and I think it would benefit from a tad more room.

Definitely a new favourite this year is Aquilegia. I know for definite that this won’t have been included last year because I only discovered it this year when it grew uninvited, but far from unwelcome, around the garden.

I did try to grow it from seed last year but completely failed. I don’t know if I then left the seeds somewhere where they could float off in the wind to germinate where they now are, or it if they’re a happy coincidence sent to us by the birds.

Number nine is my unidentified love. It may be a Cotoneaster, but it has never had any berries, so I’m not sure.

It was £1.50 from B&M about four years ago and it was in a completely unmarked pot. I left it in its pot for quite a while hoping that something would happen to help me identify it, but it didn’t, so eventually I planted it behind my raised strawberry bed, and it’s doing really really well. It’s certainly grown considerably and it has lovely dainty leaves. I go and see it most times that I’m in the garden, just to check it’s ok. I kind of wish I’d put it somewhere a bit more prominent now, but a it seems happy where it is, I’m going to leave it rather than risk moving it. Hopefully it’ll continue to thrive.

I’m going to finish with a classic. The Rose.

This one is my first ever Rose. My Mum bought it for us when we moved into our house, and it’s Rose Hot Chocolate. It didn’t flower much for the first few years, maybe one or two flowers per year, but last year it flowered repeatedly all Summer, and it looks like it’ll follow suit this year.

These two are my sale table patio Roses which are doing really well. I should’ve pruned them back into their cocktail glass shape, but by the time I thought about it they’d already got buds and I couldn’t bring myself to cut the buds off. I’ll do it when they’re done flowering.

Right! I’m going to compare to last year now!

Interesting! I have five matches – Fuchsia, Hebe, Cordyline, Eupatorium and Stipa. My other five last year were Daffodil, Diascia Cherry Blossom, Erysimum, Blue Festuca and Geum. I did consider all of those to include this year too because I do love them still.

Here they all are!

I’m off to do some crochet now as the garden is off limits today as it’s finally enjoying some rainfall.

Non-Jamaica Party

Anyone who read my Six on Saturday post yesterday will know that we were due to fly out to Jamaica yesterday. Plans got thwarted by Corona Virus and the holiday was cancelled, the same as thousands of other people during this time.

We should’ve been waking up this morning in paradise, but hey, we’ve woken up at home, safe and well and with our fur babies, and the sun’s shining so things could be a lot worse. Perspective is a great thing.

Still, I would love to see this place another time …

… and wake up in one of these cute beach bungalows.

We decided to embrace our non-Jamaica holiday with a Jamaican themed party for two at home. One of the major pros of lockdown, and in particular, being furloughed, is time. I find myself with lots of time to do things that I wouldn’t otherwise manage to fit in. In many ways, this is a good trial run for retirement! I spent some of my extra time over the past week planning and preparing our Jamaican party. I made and coloured in Jamaican flags, I researched Jamaican food and added it to our online shop, I made a Jamaican playlist on Spotify and I ordered Jamaican themed props!

Here we are channeling our inner Usain Bolts in the garden, modelling our Jamaican flag and Rasta hat complete with dreadlocks. No idea if the neighbours saw us, but I bet they were a bit confused if they did!

After this I set about preparing our exotic fruit platter for lunch. I had no idea that you heat up a coconut before preparing it (thank you Google!) It makes the shell come away from the flesh so you can separate them easily. This was followed by a protracted sit in the bistro (which, coincidentally I’m pointing to in my Usain photo) whilst listening to the aforementioned playlist in the sun.

When lunchtime came around I prepared beer can (bacon) sandwiches for lunch and we enjoyed them with Old Jamaica drinks and the fruit platter.

I know Nando’s Peri Peri sauce isn’t Jamaican (Portuguese I think) but I’m sure Peri Peri is popular in Jamaica and this is the only one I could get! I had the grape soda and it really got me in the holiday mood because the only time I’ve had grade soda before is in Orlando which, whilst not exactly on Jamaica’s doorstep, is a lot closer than we are here! Everytime I have it I can’t decide if I actually like it or not! It’s a very unusual taste which doesn’t resemble grapes in the slightest!

I really didn’t know if the Jamaican fruit flag would work, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

After lunch we whiled away the hours sitting in the sun, listening to Bob Marley and reading or playing swingball (another perk of lockdown – who knew how much fun swingball is?)

The menu for dinner was Jamaican jerk chicken with rice and peas and coleslaw followed by banana and rum cake. I found the recipe for the jerk chicken on the BBC Good Food website, but I have to admit that the rice and peas was from a packet. We didn’t have quite all the ingredients for the jerk chicken marinade but I cobbled it together. I blended a couple of spring onions, a small onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a splash of olive oil, a pinch of dried thyme, a splash of soy sauce, some lazy ginger, a couple of chillis, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a tiny pinch of Chinese five spice (it was supposed to be all spice but we didn’t have any) and then put a few slits in some chicken breasts and slathered them in the paste. It was supposed to have lime juice in too but we didn’t have any limes. Could’ve tried lemon juice I suppose. I left it in the fridge for twenty four hours to do its magic and then just bunged it in the oven for forty minutes yesterday. Et voila …

I made the banana and rum cake on Friday after I managed to finally get self raising flour – whoop! This was also a BBC Good Food recipe and it turned out pretty well. It didn’t taste loads of rum but there was a definite hint of the Caribbean about it.

Here it is just out of the oven …

… and nicely presented. I just shaved a few bits of coconut over the top, added the chopped banana and whipped up some sweet cream cheese ‘cream’ to go with it. Delicious!

You may have noticed the cocktails behind the jerk chicken. Well, you can’t really have a Jamaican party (even a non-Jamaican party) without rum! I had lots of fun pimping up our cocktail glasses (jam jars because we were jammin’!!!) with fruit, umbrellas, stirrers and little flags that I made.

Here’s the ensemble.

So there we have it. Our non-Jamaican party! It was lots of fun and now I’m going to attempt to spend the next week not thinking about what we would be doing in an alternate universe where we had got on that plane yesterday! I’m especially not going to think about that from Wednesday on when the weather’s going to take a turn for the worst. For now, I shall bid thee farewell and traverse to the garden for some sun while I can, and I may even take a cheeky slice of banana and rum cake with me. Happy Sunday all!

Six on Saturday 30th May – a Jamaican Affair

So right about now we should be about twenty minutes into our flight to Jamaica but instead, ‘wat a gwaan?’ That’s Jamaican for what’s going on? (apparently!) We’re having a non-Jamaican lockdown party for two instead. We’ve got Bob Marley playing on repeat, we’ve got all sorts of Jamaican themed food and beverages planned, and this happened in the garden earlier.

So I’ve decided that the theme for this week’s Six is yellow, green and black in honour of the Jamaican flag. Yellow and green is obviously easy to find in the garden, but I’ve had to be a bit more creative with the black!

First up is this lovely Pansy which is yellow and as close to black as you generally see in nature. I’ve added a lot of pots filled with bright bedding plants to the garden this year. It’s nice to have the time to spend titifying the garden at the moment (although I would really like some normality soon). At least the weather’s good so we can all get out into our gardens for some light relief (those of us that are lucky enough to have them, of course).

I’m counting this next photo as green and black (like the chocolate – yum!) Well, it’s green runner bean plants in a black flexi-tub! I hardened these off for a few days early in the week and planted them out on Friday. It’s my first time growing runner beans so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good crop. You can’t see, but I drilled lots of holes in the flexi-tub for drainage.

I may have included this Geum in a Six before, but it’s beautiful and it fits in with my theme so I hope you don’t mind seeing it again. It was a sale table find last year and, as so often happens with sale table plants, it didn’t do a lot last year, but this year it’s covered in flowers and the bees love it. My other Geum (Totally Tangerine) has just five petals per flower, but this one is wonderfully layered and was a real surprise because I was expecting similar blooms to Miss Tangerine.

Next I’ve included another green and black offering, my gorgeous Pittosporum. I’ve a feeling I paid full price for this because I just couldn’t resist the contrast of the two colours of leaf. It lives quite happily in a container by our swing chair so we can enjoy it while swinging (that sounds wrong!)

Here’s some green. These are Nigella seedlings that have, overnight, developed their first true leaves. I sowed these in a pot and they’ve been in the greenhouse ever since. I think I need to do some research to see if I need to thin the seedlings out. There are rather a lot of them.

I’ll finish with more yellow. I guess many people would count Buttercups as weeds, but they’re bright and cheery so I’ve left some of them this year. They remind me of my childhood too – who hasn’t held a buttercup under their best friend’s chin to find out if they like butter or not?

Right, I’ll get back to my non-Jamaican party now. It’s nearly midday so it’s almost acceptable to have a Pina Colada, right? 🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲🇯🇲

Don’t forget to pop over to see the Propagator for more (probably not Jamaican themed) Sixes.