{a little project of my own...}

I feel very guilty for abandoning my blog and not keeping up with my 'Alphabet of favourite flowers' but I have a good excuse - promise! (or at least I think it is...)

I wish I could say I've been super busy outdoors creating and tending to beautiful gardens, sadly though this couldn't be further from the truth... I've been making very good acquaintance with the couch, cooking DVDs, re-reading old magazines from front to back and back to front again and speed reading books like never before.

I have been busy working on another project though, a little something called a baby!... All very exciting apart from the morning sickness which kicked in much much much too early for my liking. So whilst this little garden guru to be has been busy growing away I've been doing very little in the way of tending to my garden over summer - something I'm a little ashamed of as the front garden is quite on show. When I first started working on it, especially when the vegie patches went in, we would get a number of passers-by stopping to chat and comment on how it was coming along - and it was looking really good... Sadly, even the thought of getting outside and working in it made me feel ill. As the weeks progress though I'm able to do a little more, instead of it being all-day sickness it is now confining itself to the afternoons so I can do a little in the morning before turning in for the afternoon nanna nap I've become so accustomed to.

So a new era in the {hort couture} story is about to begin. What exactly it will entail is still a little uncertain at this stage, whatever it is though there will still be gardens and definitely flowers!

{'D' is for...}

 D is for the deliciously fragrant Daphne odora.

This darling does tend to break my heart though. One minute she is looking gorgeous the next she has dropped dead for reasons otherwise unknown.Her heavenly fragrance more than makes up for what can be a short-lived love affair though.

Again my fascination with Daphne probably has much to do with the fact my Mother had it as her wedding bouquet. A sweetly simple posy of the softly pink and white flower heads. With these as your wedding flowers there is no need to wear perfume.

You can enjoy these beautiful flowers from mid-winter to late spring.

One of the biggest issues which may lead to problems is over-watering. Daphne plants detest wet feet and will turn their noses up toot-sweet to let you know - their leaves will droop, appear limp, and feel dry and leathery. It is best to water then allow to dry out - the ol' finger test is perfect: stick your finger in the soil if it comes out dirty = don't water, if it comes out clean = give a little water! Ensure the planting position is well drained, build the site up if necessary and add plenty of organic matter to clay soils to help break up the clods of soil which can lead to water-logging. They like an easterly position where they will receive morning sun but are protected from the hot afternoon sun. Apply mulch to keep the roots cool.

Water stress can also lead to pest infestation such as scale. These little critters seem to have a radar that senses whenever a plant is under stress. Squash them with your fingers or suffocate with an environmentally friendly white/pest oil solution such as Eco Oil.

A very exciting newish release on the market is the Daphne Eternal Fragrance. This variety is said to be bred to be a much more hardy plant which is frost and heat tolerant. It will grow in full-sun to semi-shade and will become drought tolerant once established. It blooms from spring to autumn, spot flowering throughout the year. I'm definitely going to give this a shot in my garden as a low-growing hedge in place of buxus. Hopefully it won't go breaking my heart!

The Daphne genus is said to be named after a nymph in Greek mythology. The story goes that Daphne was very beautiful and was often pursued by many suitors who would fall in love with her because of her beauty. However, Daphne was uninterested in love and would choose instead to hunt in the woods. One such suitor was Apollo, the sun god. Upon being chased she prayed to her father - Peneus, a river God, to save her. Apparently his tactic was to change her into a Bay Tree! - Daphne being Greek for Laurel.

{'C' is for...}


C is for the charming  ‘Cécile Brünner’ Rose. From its most perfect form as a shell-pink tight bud, through to its full frilly-fancy party dress form I absolutely adore this rose. I think a lot has to do with childhood memories for me as my Mum had the most amazing plant that flowered prolifically despite drought and being pruned extensively by cows hanging their heads over the back fence!

The fragrance from this tiny little bud is exquisite - soft, dainty and delicate, it is by far my most treasured of roses in the garden.

Unfortunately it does tend to suffer from aphids when its soft new young growth flushes in the spring, and black spot can be a problem - despite this it is still a strong and vigorous rose. It can either be grown as a bush or a climbing rose. The climbing variety is a perfect choice over an arbour, along a fence or around cottage windows. It is a perfect picking rose making sweet posies.

Its namesake is a lady called Cécile who first introduced the rose in France in 1881.

This is certainly a must have in any garden, especially English inspired or cottage gardens. I have a spot earmarked for one (or two) in my garden!