Vera Morris - The Anglian Detective Agency Series.
The Ship of Death – published October 2020 Headline
The Loophole – published 2019
The Temptation –published 2018
Some Particular Evil – published 2016
An autumn riot.
Rudbekia, cyclamen and daisies.
In March a huge oak tree came down in strong winds and took a big holly tree with it. In the devastated are nature has taken over. Verbena bonariensis and evening primrose plants germinated from the compost put down in the winter. Nil input from me!
I found this when I was pruning a rose bush. I hadn't seen one before. I consulted my Plant Gall book – every home should have one – it's a Bedeguar gall, or Robin's Pincushion, caused by the plant's reaction to the gall-wasp laying eggs in unopened buds. A well-known and beautiful gall. Never too old to learn something new!
When I was in Yorkshire, last week. i visited RHS, Harlow Carr. It was bitterly cold, but the primulas were wonderful.
Autumn has truly arrived.
The vegetable garden is not a success! Slugs have eaten seedlings and still only four runner bean plants. Never mind – gardeners are made of strong stuff! A few chewed radishes with a wool barrier which was only partly successful.
I've planted sweet peas, garden peas, French beans, and a solitary runner bean plant, the only one to germinate. Also onion and shallot sets.Today I sowed radish, spring onions and carrots. Then the rain came. It was torrential and I think my seeds will have been washed away.
Magnolia Black Tulip
Will I ever get into the garden? Weather so cold and wet. My sweet-peas are drowning. However, we're promised warm weather for the Bank Holiday. Peas, broad beans and French beans have germinated in the conservatory, but runner beans refuse to show. 50 canes arrived so I can prepare for planting out when the frosts have passed. Magnolia Susan looking magnificent.
Has spring arrived at last? I spent a few hours in the garden yesterday giving clematis in pots a feed of rose fertilizer and a top up of compost. Primrose Lady Greer, a small. delicate looking plant is flowering well. Despite its refined appearance, it's as tough as old boots, seeds well, and my original one plant, bought from Carol Klein, before she was famous, has multiplied into many.
The magnolias are flowering; hope the frost keeps away.
Completed one part of the fruit and veg garden. A row of raspberries planted with manure and bone meal, plus a row of dahlia tubers – they got the same treatment. Must confess – have a chap coming in to help me with the heavy work. I point – he digs!The magnolia flowers are beginning to show. I hope they don't get frosted.
Like many other things in my life the garden has been neglected, but when I have managed to get out and spend some time weeding and edging the borders I've felt so much better.
Giant Andy has brought two out of control hedges under control, and other work is making the garden look much better. Camellias are coming into their own. I never stop being amazed at their beauty. this camellia is Adelina Patti, with a lovely pink and white flower.
Aconites – if we get some warm days (!) the honey bees will be busy.
Camellia St Ewe and Helleborus orientalis
The acorns keep falling, and the autumn daisies keep flowering.
The oak tree near the house always produces more acorns than the others. This year it's surpassed itself and the acorns are bouncing off the conservatory, sounding like gun cracks!
All the autumn daisies are out providing late nectar for the bees.
First days of September.
First autumn crocus are pushing their way through the soil. they are called 'naked ladies' as their leaves appear later.
The last day of August.
I've made an effort this year to tackle some of the 'wilder' parts of the garden. This means they are full of perennial weeds. I hate using weed killers, but sometimes it's the only way. One area was riddled with twitch grass, so it got a dose of Roundup. Now I'm trying to remove ivy, (not killed by Roundup) which has insidiously crept from the hedgerow and partially covered the bed, My knees are suffering! But there was a reward. Underneath dead twitch and suffocating ivy were ivy-leaved cyclamen.
Everything in the garden is so far advanced; I feel we are into September. Fuchsia, apple, Japanese anemone and Rudbeckia.
We always visit the gardens at Chatsworth when we're in Derbyshire. Each year there is something new to marvel at.
August 2017 Lots of hot colours and cyclamen are coming up early.
I have been gardening - honest! Lots of lovely flowers.
Rose, Buff Beauty
No rain to speak of for many weeks. We had a bore hole drilled several years ago. As soon as it was finished the rains came! Now it's coming into its own. Picture of bore hole being drilled. The garden was a mess but having four stand pipes around the garden is fantastic. Worth not having a few holidays!
Peony Molly-the-Witch looking wonderful.
March 12 2017
Garden is full of colour from camellias. First saw this camellia, Adelina Patti, in Burncoose Gardens in Cornwall. It's a wonderful single with great petal-texture; lasts well as a cut flower
March 2 2017
We had some tree work done on Tuesday and Wednesday by the marvellous Andrew; a giant of a man who did great work cutting down an old apple tree, festooned with ivy, a rotten greengage and some needed work on a yellow Banksian rose which had grown all over the front of the house; now we can see out of the windows! It's a thornless, beautiful thug. I love it. In a few years it will need cutting again.
February 12 2017
It's grey and cold! Spent an hour raking oak leaves dressed as a bag lady! Retreated to my computer.
Clivias in conservatory are beginning to flower. A lovely, fiery orange - warming!
January 28 2017. A lovely sunny day. The snowdrops are showing their white globes and everything in the garden is sighing with relief.
Some very cold snowdrops! It has been -5 to -7 degrees c at night, and not above freezing during the day. Most of the snowdrops are waiting to flower, but a few are braving the cold.
Vase of Viburnum X bodnamtense Dawn This hardy shrub has rich rose-red flowers, paling with age and the most wonderful perfume.
A new gardening year!
Today, New Year's Day I've cut flowering stems from Winter Sweet and a witch hazel. Their perfumes are different, but both are lovely.
Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus against a winter's sky.)
The swollen buds of a magnolia and behind, variegated holly and box and an oak tree.
A cold , but sunny day. Time to rake up some of the fallen leaves.
A sheltered fuchsia is still flowering.
A wonderful early winter's day. With all the excitement of Some Particular Evil being published, the launch party, visiting shops in Caversham distributing flyers and posters and trying to master Twitter and Facebook, I haven't done any gardening for weeks. Today the sun shone, there was no wind and I was glad to get into my wellies and get down on my knees attacking hellebore leaves and raking up golden oak leaves.
I potted on some red lilies. They were splendid this year, a vibrant colour. The bulbs looked healthy and, in a bigger pot, I hope they'll give a good show next year and also multiply.
The last flowers of Autumn
The last flowers to appear in the garden seem so delicate, often pale blue or pink, like the Kaffir Lily, Schizostylis, or Michaelmas daisies. I love them.
A basket of Michaelmas daisies.
Gave away prizes at local Horticultural Show
These cabbages took first prize. So fresh and squeaky, I wanted to take them home and cook them.
I had a lovely afternoon with friendly and knowledgeable people. Gardners, the ones I know, are such kind and thoughtful people.
Today in the garden
My gardening friend, Suzanne, gave me some seeds of Cerinthe major, honeywort. Mr T sowed them, I potted them on and today i've started planting then into the borders. It's an annual, as it's mame suggests, attracts bees. should self-seed. My favourite kind of plant.
This week in the garden
I've been making sure all the areas in the borders where the cyclamen live are clear of weeds. Pink and white flowers are appearing and soon there will be sheets of colour.
Another favourite flower at this time of the year is the Coneflower. I bought a plant of Rudbeckia deamii several years ago from Carol Klein at an RHS show in London, before she was famous! I tried to knock down the price, but she wasn't having any. Said it was a good plant. She was right. From that one plant I have many more than I can cope with, and many have been given to friends. I'd recommend it: its hardy, soon multiplies both by vegetatively and seed.
The roses are almost over, but other flowers take their place.
Mr T's sweet peas. Gorgeous colours and a wonderful perfume fills the house
Pink tiger lily
Last of the roses. Rambler rosr Chevy Chase.
Spring plants soon to disappear for another year
Erythronium revolutum, White Beauty.
Relative of the dog's-tooth violet.
Ice-white reflexed petals, crimson-brown centre and pale yellow anthers.
It's very vigourous and increases well
Fritillaria meleagris. Snake's head daffodil
Native to the British Isles.
It's grown well in the garden in shade and sun, happily seeding itself.
One of the loveliest spring flowers.
Camellia Ruby Wedding.
The plant won't disappear but the pure red flowers will.
One of the best reds.
Exhibition at RA
I went with friend J. We both love gardening and visiting art exhibitions. We both felt underwhelmed. This show had very good reviews? Was it us? We tried to analyse our feelings. Some pictures were lovely, but there were many, in our opinion, that didn't move us at all. We both love the work of John Singer Sargeant, but his garden painting was not one of his best. I prefered paintings which included the human figure; this gave relevance to the garden. There was an interesting article in a newspaper this week which pointed out there was little British art in the exhibition; just two canvases, one a study of Gertrude Jekyll's boots. Did anyone else go? Love to hear what you thought.
Writing and Gardening
There are two places I'm happiest. One is in front of my computer, lost in a world of my own making; the other is on my knees, surrounded by plants.
Gardening and creative writing have several things in common. In both, you have an idea, a dream of what you want to create. In writing I fill my novels with characters, create situations for them to interact in, and then? In making a garden I have an idea as to how the garden, the border, will look after I've chosen the plants and planted them to create a certain picture, and then?
The book or the garden never turn out as I envisaged. They are never right the first time, or the second. The book, the garden, needs constant adjusting. You need to edit, kill your darlings, move plants about to find the right place for them, throw those that haven't earned their keep, or have died, onto the compost heap. You need to prune words and prune plants. I've learnt in both activities you need to be ruthless. You never reach the end. The joy is the journey. After all, what would you do if you arrived?
Sometimes I'm happy with what I've written or the picture I've created in the garden. Not often - but I love writing and
I love gardening.
Gooseberries. See eating blog
This soft fruit got its name because it was the main ingredient for a sauce to accompany goose. It's difficult to find this fruit in the shops. so why not have a bush in your garden? It won't takee up much room and will supply you with lots of fruit which you can freeze.
We have one bush; the variety is called Invicta. This fruits early to mid-season and is mildew-resistant. tt's importnt to choose one with resistance to this disease. Watch out for small, brownish caterpillar-like insects. these will be sawfly larvae and they'll strip the foliage before your eyes!
April. Some plants in my garden
On the left of the garden there are several oak trees and the soil is acidic and suitable for growing plants like camellia and magnolias. Here are some camellias in flower.
Camellia Adelina Patti
Camellia Donation and Magnolia stellata