Dreading Winter

After Remembering Summer comes Dreading Winter. I know we need some hard frosts to kill off the bugs , slugs and snails and other undesirables  but  I really hate the snow. When it snows we have to struggle down to the nursery and spend a very unpleasant hour or so knocking off the snow from the shade netting over the shade tunnel. This involves the two of us , armed with brooms banging them upwards into the snow that is lying in drifts on the netting. Failure to do this after every snowfall results in split shade netting particularly if it has frozen before we get there ,however the process of doing it results in being showered with snow , in your hair, down your neck and up the sleeves of your jacket .Another unpleasant result of this activity is felt the following day when our shoulders and neck muscles are begging for mercy.  All in all we at Harrell’s Hardy Plants are keeping our fingers crossed for some decent frosts but NO snow!!

These photographs are all the white stuff I want to see. Not dreaming of a white Christmas.2011-0142011-009


Today has been the coldest so far this winter and we’ve spent a very unpleasant couple of hours this morning finalising preparations for winter protection at the nursery. The cold has made me look back at the summer via my photographs, with longing trying to recapture the warmth (not that there was a huge amount of that here in Evesham!)

The first photograph is looking up the Hamilton bed which was a haze of Scabious, Phlox, Penstemon, Leucanthemum, Echinacea and grasses oh and an unknown pink rose,one of our auction buys, which flowers prolifically all summer.

The second photograph is looking across the Sunshine bed towards the Pink bed and features the “must have” plant of our garden visitors this year – Epilobium “Stahl Rose”. It was a huge success and we sold out quite early on however being an Epilobium it’s not difficult to propagate so we will hopefully have enough for next year. The deep red, low growing plant in front is a Sweet William, we decided to give biennials a try last season and used them and wallflowers with great effect. The added bonus with Sweet Williams is their lovely scent.

Roll on next summer!



A Mystery Solved……?

dsc01340I like seed catalogues and seed lists from garden societies. I enjoy trying out new plants from seed – you never know what you may find. So it came as no real surprise to find, about four years ago, that the Veronica kiusiana seed that I had bought, because it’s a delightful plant – upright, wedgewood blue flowers in summer and gorgeous butter-yellow foliage in autumn-wasn’t. Not only was it not kiusiana but it wasn’t like any sort of Veronica in our nursery.

It grew really slowly from seed, taking three years to develop and another year before it flowered. It has silvery foliage, almost white on the reverse, a woody stem which tends to grow laterally in a rather ungainly manner when potted, and then – finally – a spire of intense blue flowers in October. Right now, it’s still in full flower in our nursery garden, (see photo taken yesterday) and therefore, since the nursery is closed and we haven’t been out to a plant sale since the middle of August, it is hardly a best seller!! It should be. Who wouldn’t like a plant in flower in late autumn?

I have made several forays onto the internet to try to identify it but nothing really struck a chord until the day we received some plants from the Hardy Plant Society – The Conservation Scheme. We have been asked to grow on and assess some of the plants on their list, and one of these was Veronica ornata. It’s still too early to make a positive identification, but it looks awfully like my mystery plant. Watch this space – well, don’t bother for the next 12 months, because it could be a while before our HPS plant shows it’s true colours. But that’s gardening for you, isn’t it?


Not Nigel!

There’s been a lot of media coverage just recently of Monty Don and his dog, Nigel. Naturally, I’ve seen a lot of Nigel (and let’s not forget the newbie, Nelly!) as I’m a devoted fan of ‘Gardeners’ World’ – from the Geoff years onwards. So I’ve had quite a while to admire Nigel’s perfect ‘on camera’ persona, and to envy Monty his placid companion. Watching Monty casually lob a ball for Nige, who then WALKS OFF WITH IT!!! makes me sooooooo jealous.

Now. Imagine the filming at Harrell’s nursery garden.

Gardeners’ World.  Music – Monty strolls into view, pushing a wheelbarrow – music fades.

Monty: Hello. Welcome to Gardeners’……..  (Milly, at his heels, spots the camera man.)

Milly: Bark! Bark!  BARK!

Monty:….. World. TonightBark! BARK! Quiet, Milly!.. I’m going to ..( camera man suddenly lurches to one side as he is struck by Sophy hurtling up from the garden on hearing a stranger’s voice) … be planting …. ( picking up the ball that Maisie has dropped at his feet and throwing it)…. my runner…(picking up the ball that Maisie has dropped at his feet and throwing it a long way)…. beans…Bark! Bark! BARK! ( Camera man can’t follow Monty to his raised bed, as Sophy is hanging on to his waist with her paws) .. now that …(picking up the ball that Maisie has dropped into his newly-dug runner bean hole and throwing it as far as he can) Bark! Bark! BARK! Quiet!! Milly….all danger of frost…(picking up the ball that Maisie has dropped on his runner bean plants and hurling it into the trees) …has passed…. OFF SOPHY!! QUIET, MILLY!! Right. Let’s stop filming for 5 minutes while I shut the dogs in the shed. ( Cameraman heaves a sigh of relief as Sophy is pulled off him. Monty grabs Milly and Sophy and shoves them into the shed. There’s no sign of Maisie, as she’s lost her ball and is now deaf to any and all calls.)

Oh! Yes. I envy Nigel and Nellie, but I wouldn’t swap.


Last Blooms of 2016

I picked this bunch of flowers from my garden Monday morning then we had frosts Monday and Tuesday nights so this is my last decent amount of flowers from the garden for this year. Quite often I get the odd one or two flowers, usually roses, up to Christmas but I don’t expect enough to fill a vase until next year.

The peach coloured Dahlia has been terrific all summer, I’ve had it for ages and have no idea of its name! The Penstemon is “Alice Hindley” a really good plant, the white argyranthemum is also nameless as I’ve had that years taking cuttings late summer and over-wintering them in the greenhouse. The Helianthus is a new one to me, I bought it this spring called “Dorien Roxburgh” a bit taller than H. “Lemon Queen” and doesn’t seem to need staking and has been very floriferous. The Schizostylous I bought years ago in Cornwall and I’ll probably get the odd one or two more flowers until it gets really cold.

The roses are “Sophy’s  Rose”, “Munstead Wood”, “Hot Chocolate”, Champagne Moments” and the peachy coloured one at the front might be “Lady Hillingdon” I think!! A New Years resolution for 2017 will possibly be to make labelling plants more of a priority. (maybe)dsc01336



Well there’s been no blog for a couple of weeks as we’ve been really busy preparing the nursery garden and our own gardens for winter. Although the weather has been fine, dry and fairly  warm , there are reports in the media from doom merchants predicting heavy snow , weeks of freezing weather,plague of frogs  (!) well you get the message so to be on the safe side and not to tempt fate we are trying to get as  much done as possible. At the nursery , as well as cutting back perennials and shrubs, we are also planting up areas we have identified over the summer as needing additional planting. It’s easier to do this extra planting in autumn,  we find the plants establish so much better when put in now as  the soil is still warm from the summer.

Not all the plants are ready for winter, this Iris “Buckwheat” obviously doesn’t realise it’s almost November  and quite a few of the roses have blooms open, it will be a shame when the first frosts, forecast for next week, hits them.dsc01335

A Tale of Two Tails ( and spots! )






I lost my Staffordshire Bull terrier in March 2006 and grieved terribly for her for several months. But I really missed having a dog to walk, to talk to and to sit on the sofa and snuggle with. Also, I really really missed coming home to that welcoming presence.

Then, in June, a friend showed me a picture of a litter of miniature Jack Russell puppies to point out the one he’d chosen. He was waiting for her to be old enough to leave home. Oooooh! I wanted one.They looked soooo sweet! Luckily, my friend knew the breeders very well, both families were friends, so he phoned to ask if I could also reserve one. YES!! No, unfortunately, the whole litter had been spoken for. As you can imagine I was quite downhearted……… make that really sad.

Then, a week later, my friend phoned me. Was I still interested in the puppies because one, a bitch, which was what I wanted, was now available? The puppy had been reserved by a farmer who had come to the breeder’s farm to see his choice. He was annoyed to see that they had undocked tails and said he didn’t want her with a long tail.

I did! I said yes please and three days later, set out for the farm near Coventry to see her with her brother and sisters. Then, four weeks after that, in July 2006, Milly came home.

Milly was a bit of a princess, largely in part because my daughter treated her like one whenever she was home from university! So after 3 years, when Milly shredded the daily paper, barked at the postman, the dustmen, the meter reader, anyone on a motorbike, slept in my bed – but only during the day when she could have it to herself, I decided she needed another dog, so that she would realise she was one herself!!

Many internet trawls later, I had found a similar miniature JR, black and tan in colour, though without the 1/8th Chihuahua of Milly. I phoned. They had, unfortunately, promised all the bitch puppies but I left my phone number, just in case…..

A few days later I heard that one of the potential buyers had backed out because ………….yes, you’ve guessed it, her chosen puppy had a long tail!!! I think the person in question thought they were born with stumps for tails! So, in July 2009, Maisie came home.

On the day I fetched Maisie home, Liz’s Staffordshire Bull terrier, Lucy, died of old age which was so very sad. A few days later, in our local pet shop, Liz saw a slightly out-of-date ad for S.B.T. pups and decided to ‘just go and see them’ and found a puppy of 13 weeks, still at home because, having a skin problem, no-one wanted her. No more!! Liz immediately sprang into action and the following week, in August 2009, Sophy went home too.

So, here we are with ‘The Three Rejects’!! who are all greatly loved and perfect in every way –  in our eyes anyway.