Six on Saturday-Agatha Christie

I have just finished reading Agatha Christie’s murder at the vicarage. Within Christie’s work gardens and gardening come up again and again. Miss Marple is an avid gardener enjoying the opportunities it gives her to observe the comings and goings in her village. Garden parties are a regular setting. Christie herself even had a rather lovely rose named after her. In Miss Marple’s final case we know she is getting on as she is advised not to exert herself gardening. So I thought this week I would look at six Agatha Christie gardening links.

1. Deadheading the roses

I understand, Miss Marple that Mrs. Protheroe passed this way yesterday evening?

Yes, she did. I called out to her, and she admired my roses.

Miss Marple spends much time tending her roses. This gives her ample time to be a busy body observing her neighbourhood. My roses are doing very well but I am now having to start on my deadheading. Lots more blooms coming through. I have a mix of repeat flowering roses and old roses.

2. Secateurs

Miss Marple favoured bypass secateurs for her pruning as do I. I’m sure she’d appreciate the gold leaf gloves as well.

3. Poison plants

Agatha Christie worked for a period as a dispenser and had a knowledge of poisonous plants. Torre Abbey even has a garden dedicated to the poisonous plants of Christie’s novels. In Postern of fate, foxgloves were planted in amongst sage the murderer knew would be collected for the evening’s meal. My foxgloves are going over but they have held up well through rain and wind.

4. Ferns

I am developing several areas with ferns. The corner near the shed has the most established. One of the supposed highlights of Christie’s garden, though I’ve never visited, is the fernery. I have found myself giving more space over to ferns and the front garden is going to be largely ferns and hostas.

5. Rocks

“Yes.” she said, it must have come as a very nasty shock for him to come across you just then. But her turned it off very well-pretending he was bringing it to me for me for my rock gardens. Only-Miss Marple became suddenly very emphatic. “It was the wrong sort of stone for my rock gardens! And that put me on the right track!”

Even the wrong sort of rock can set Miss Marple on your case. I’ve dug in a few rocks we had spare to go in the front garden. I’d like to look at cultivating the moss for a more natural look. Natural yoghurt mixed with compost is supposed to work.

6. Mystery plant

Christie wrote great mysteries so here is one for all of you. My mum gave me two of these seedlings but didn’t know what they were. Gardens hour suggested morning glory but now we have flowers I can see that was wrong. Anyone solve the case?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this literary-themed six. Any other good gardens out there in literature? Now I finished one Christie I face the problem of what to read next as everything seems inferior after.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 24-nighttime stroll

Getting outside in the dark for a wild hunt can be interesting. Even walking or sitting out in a familiar space such as your garden can reveal different visitors to the daytime.

The back of my garden has a path and behind ours is a mass of ivy and brambles. During the nighttime, this becomes alive with moths with this being a perfect combination for them.

Every so often we are lucky enough to get bats and hedgehogs visiting. The mere nearby by does offer evenings for bat watches. Bat conservation trust has a list of local groups for if you fancy getting out and seeing more. The Barn owl trust may be able to give you more information

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For younger children, the National Trust has a nighttime adventure book. Many of the ideas are obvious but still a nice bunch of ideas. It’s about to be re-released in a new edition. I’m not sure if it has changed or just a new cover.

30 Days Wild: Idea 23-Eat outside

Well, the 30 Days app suggested eating outside so let’s examine why eating outside is good for you. It has been suggested that eating outside can make the food taste better, concentration improves, eating in the sunlight can improve vitamin D and increase your immune system. I don’t know how much truth there is any of this but eating outside certainly feels like an event. Whether it’s a BBQ or a picnic these are events that can be remembered for a long time. It creates a chance for bonding as a family or just a break on yourself.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 22-Get closer to the grass

Previous years I’ve walked barefoot on the grass but as Alice doesn’t like going barefoot very much we’ve just looked today at getting closer to the ground. While she might not like going barefoot she is quite happy rolling it and sniffing it.

Grass has many potential benefits. It can improve air quality by capturing carbon and it acts as a pollution filter. Areas of grass stay cooler than many hard surfaces. Then there are the mental benefits of green spaces. Green spaces can lower blood pressure and help mental well-being. Well worth celebrating and getting a bit closer with to connect with.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 21-Wildflower hunt

Through taking part in 30 days wild in previous days I was switched onto the Wildflower Hour. This has helped develop my knowledge of wildflowers and their names. While for many people this might not seem that significant. What’s in a name? But it does matter. If we can’t name plants, insects, birds we can’t monitor their decline. Without figures we can’t gain support for protecting species. That said I mainly just enjoy taking pleasure in the seasonal shifts from one flower to the next. Paying attention to the flowers and insects around us helps to cultivate mindfullness and improve piece of mind.

Getting out on even a short walk can find a good number of species. On just a short 100m stretch along the seafront I found a good variety of wildflowers along the grass bank.

The umbels of cow parsley out in large drifts.

Pretty little geranium/cranesbill seeding on the upper levels of the slope.

A battered dog rose attracting the pollen beetles.

A few patches of mallow.

Lots of snails out.

Further back from the seafront in a ditch there were a few yellow flag irises.

Reading the wildflower hour posts has helped improve my knowledge but a field guide is useful. I have a couple but it’s the wildflower key I go back to the most. A jewelers loupe was recomended when I started looking at IDing. it isn’t really necessary for most but it is interesting taking a closer look at the structure of plants.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my little wander. What can you find?

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Six on Saturday: 22.6.19

Time for Six on Saturday. The last week has seen a little bit more sun. There have still been days of rain but not as much as the previous week. I’m spoilt for choice for selecting my six at the moment. The roses are coming to full force along with the last few allium varieties and lilies coming through behind.

1. Allium nigrum

These alliums were bought very late on in December last year when they had been reduced. They have still come through fine. I dotted these about in little groups. Quite nice having the pure white as the purple is largely going to seed now and not showing as much now. I’ve had to stake them with all of last weeks rain but they’ve all held on. The climbing rose behind featured a few weeks back is still going strong.

2. Hosta halcyon

I’ve put this hosta in the front garden. It’s been sat in its pot from winter. It was a cheap purchase out of season when it looked like a pot of dead leaves. It is one of the few blue-leaved hostas I have. I could really do with some more but this should fill a decent space. It can grow between half a metre and a metre tall so one patch should fill a good patch of ground.

3. Coleus

Alice and Amy bought me this little coleus from Tesco’s. Coleus is a tender annual in this country. I’ve got some growing from seed currently and I’m planning to use this as filler in the front garden while the ferns and hostas fill out. The bright foliage adds some strong contrast to the largely green ferns and hostas.

4. Heuchera

I bought three of this small heuchera from the local plant sale last month. They’ve been sat in their pots and felt they needed to get in the ground. These have lovely veined leaves. They are evergreen so will mean we keep some interest in winter when many of the hostas and deciduous ferns fade away. Once the area is planted up I’m probably going to a layer of mulch and then gravel as the clay soil and bare ground doesn’t look the best.

5. Lychnis Coronaria-rose campion

This silver-leaved plant did really well through the drought last year. It self-seeded around the border. I’ve moved a few patches and allowed it to form a mass clump around the parent. The little pink flowers keep going for a good number of months. The hoverflies were swarming over them last year. With a greater mass, it will hopefully bring in lots of pollinators.

6. Yellow rose

This rose came with the garden. It grows up through the choisya and repeat flowers through Summer into Autumn if the weather is mild. The buds start as little flames. They open a bright yellow before fading to a buttery creamy yellow. I wasn’t keen on it when we first moved in as it was the only yellow in the garden but I’ve come to appreciate it’s colour shift and the fact that it has reliably kept flowering.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. I’ve got lots of tidying to do. The extension is almost finished. Just a few tidying jobs to do then we can sit in the new garden room to look out at the abundance of Summer. Dahlia seedlings need potting on and I may put some of the larger ones in the ground now. Enjoy your weekends.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 20-Logpile house

Today looking at another quick project to attract more nature to your garden. Building a log pile house. Log piles attract a whole host of insects and depending on the size they can home mammals, amphibians and reptiles. Deadwood brings in many beetles, woodlice and worms in the soil underneath. From there you get networks of spiders hunting over the pile. Over winter the pile can provide hibernation space for a number of pollinators. If there are gaps at the bottom frogs will rest in the cool shade of your pile. If you can manage larger woodpiles it may attract hedgehogs coming to eat the beetles and other treats or to find a hibernation spot.

Mine is only a small pile made from a bought bag of logs. Alternatively, you can gradually gather wood from your own prunings or gathering some on walks.

For teachers with school gardens, a log pile proves useful when you come to do your minibeast hunting as it almost guarantees you will find something. Even just a few logs left out a couple of days will attract life. Then when you pick it up and look under the kids can enjoy seeing the bugs scatter. Then you don’t spend a fruitless hour with a class spotting nothing.

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