Night-scented delights…

When you get the chance to sit outside on a warm summer’s evening (OK, let’s just draw a veil over this summer and plan ahead!) enjoying a BBQ with friends, or reading, or perhaps just dozing and enjoying the night air, what could be more wonderful than the subtle fragrance from night-scented flowers enhancing your experience?

Some plants, such as roses, offer up their scent during the heat of the day while others, such as rosemary, release their fragrance only when their leaves have been disturbed. And then there are those plants that hold onto their scent during the day, only releasing it when the sun has gone and the cooler evening has arrived. These are the night-scented plants.

Why do some plants only release their scent after dark? The reason is pretty logical really – to attract night-time pollinators such as moths and beetles. The scent acts as a guide for the insects, they follow it direct to the plant in search of nectar. For this same reason the flowers of night-scented plants tend to be pale, often white, as this makes them easier for the insects to see in the dark.

These night-scented plants need to be positioned where you will most get the benefit. There is little point in planting them in a part of the garden that won’t be visited after dusk. So, plant them in beds and pots close to your patio, along paths and next to doors.

Do bear in mind that these plants are doing all they can to attract moths… so if you don’t like moths, don’t plant them!

Night-scented plants include:

 

  • Nicotiana Evening Fragrance – A mix of pink, red, lilac, purple and white trumpet-like flowers
  • Night-scented Stock – Delicate stems of small lilac flowers.
  • Hesperis – Commonly known as “sweet rocket” with clusters of small white flowers.
  • Evening Primrose – Large single yellow flowers.
  • Night Phlox – A profusion of small delicate flowers above lance-shaped leaves
  • Jasminum Officinale – White-flowered jasmine producing very fragrant flowers

Pictured, from the top: Nicotiana Evening Fragrance, Night-scented Stock, Hesperis, Evening Primrose, Night Phlox and Jasminum Officinale.

 

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Is this the end of the traditional british holiday…?

It is August and prime holiday time down here in Devon so we tend to keep away from the coast until the end of the school holidays when it quietens down again. But yesterday, I had some business near Torquay and I walked past a family about to go onto the beach and a distinctive scent transported me instantly back to my own childhood summer holidays – the smell of Ambre Solaire suntan cream! I absolutely love that smell but now, as a confirmed non-sunbather, I hadn’t smelt it for years. Goodness, how it brought the memories flooding back…

Seaside holidays were such wonderful things when I was a child. What I call ‘traditional’ holidays – well to my generation that’s what they seemed. We had sticks of rock, donkey rides and Punch and Judy shows – although I was personally terrified of Mr Punch! It all seemed so innocent then, your parents organised one or two weeks in a guesthouse somewhere in the UK. You had the meal that was served every evening (no choices from the a la carte!) and we’d never heard of ‘ensuite’, so bathroom sharing was the norm. I can remember my Mother packing our preferred brand of tea and biscuits – goodness knows why we couldn’t have bought some locally, but it was all part of the tradition, the excitement of being somewhere different and slightly exotic even if it was still in the UK. Does anyone still do that now that we have a Tesco and Sainsbury’s in every town in every county?

Deckchair photo copyright Dave HeatherAnd what about ice creams and saucy postcards? This was in the days before Magnums so if I was lucky I might get a choc ice that always melted and dribbled up my arm before I was even half way through it. Or I might have had a 99 with that soft whipped ice cream piped into cornets that tasted exactly like cardboard. As for the naughty postcards, I can remember gazing saucer-eyed at the revolving racks of cards outside the beach shops and, while not understanding what was going on in those gaudy images, feeling deliciously guilty and daring! 

Sadly, well sadly for my era, it is all changing. When did you last receive a postcard? I can’t remember when I did. But I’ve seen lots of people’s holiday snaps on Facebook. Today’s holidaymakers no longer have to weigh themselves down with a suitcase stuffed with paperbacks, technology has saved the day again with the invention of the Kindle. But it’s not the same. One of the joys of holiday paperbacks was reading them and leaving them behind for someone else to enjoy. I discovered all sorts of interesting reads by ‘inheriting’ other holidaymakers’ castoffs, but there, times change…

Of course, many changes are for the better. Largely gone are the in–car arguments over wayward map reading by one parent or the other, for now we have the sat nav. If we don’t like our holiday, we can tell everyone on Trip Advisor and hope it brings some improvement and perhaps provides a little salve for our disappointment.

But oh, do the modern generation know what they are missing? Will they ever know the thrill of brewing tea on a primus stove in a tiny beach hut while shivering with cold? Wrestling with deckchairs that want to nip your fingers and swallow you whole or – joy of joys – walking to the end of the pier in a gale force 8 and getting soaked? I think not and somehow, perhaps, we are all a little the poorer for those losses.

What are your most enduring summer holiday memories…? Do tell!

 

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Butterflies and stitching

This beautiful theme for a card was something Suzanne Saltwell designed for us many years ago and I have adored it ever since and used these ingredients myself.

This is just perfect for any sewing friends that you have. There’s a little extra expense as you need a wooden embroidery hoop, special fabric that you can print onto and some sewing bits and pieces.

I have kept every one of these that either Suzanne or I have made as samples, I think they are so gorgeous – or should that be ‘sew gorgeous’ – no maybe not!

Print out something from a CD or a file that you have, find matching backing papers ­– on this card we have used some Signature Dies lace butterflies to stay with the butterfly theme!

A perfect match – crafting and butterflies with a bit of sewing on the side – that must be ideal for many crafters.

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Butterfly beauty takes centre stage

Who doesn’t love butterflies, they’re pretty, look great flitting round the garden and, as cardmakers, we use them endlessly as embellishments.

This card, however, has them centre stage as the main focus. The image is from our Jody Bergsma pad and is one of my favourites among the collection.

The raised butterflies are made by using a second sheet and cutting out just the butterflies – really effective I thought. 

The great thing about something as pretty as a butterfly is that it happily takes the leading role on the card and you just need subtle papers, ribbons or dies to add little extras – you’re bound to have something in your craft stash?


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Know your umbellifers!

Everyone’s in love with frothy planting it seems! It looks so light and pretty in borders and can also be very useful in flower arrangements. Many of these gauzy beauties are ‘umbellifers’ which, you have to agree is a fab name! Umbellifers are members of the cow parsley family and have tiny flowers held on domed heads which spread out to form an open umbrella shape – hence the wonderful name.

Umbellifers cover a huge range of plants, many of then extremely well know and much loved – or equally much loathed! Common cow parsley, or Queen Anne’s lace is everywhere and our roadsides and hedges would look lost without it. Angelica and the wild carrot are also umbellifers and come under the ‘loved’ category, while the very nasty water drop wort and hemlock, fall very much into the ‘loathed’ category as both are incredibly poisonous. It pays to ‘know your umbellifers’ me thinks!

Giant hogweed has been much in the news lately, with tales of children being blistered and burned by it. This puzzled me as, like top gardener Monty Don, I remember playing with it as a child and never suffering any ill effects and no one paid particular attention to giant hogweed back then. Giant hogweed is a ‘phototoxic’, meaning it contains furocoumarins, especially in its sap. When skin is exposed to furocoumarins in combination with bright sunshine, painful sores and blisters can result. So, it’s best to take care, but I have no idea why it seems to have become so much more of a menace lately…

Angelica, like its angelic name, is a thoroughly good plant! It self-seeds vigorously so you need to keep on top of it to stop it taking over, but in the right place it is an absolute joy. No plant is more popular with butterflies, hoverflies, bees and wasps than the lovely, plum-coloured umbellifer Angelica gigas.

The refined garden form of Queen Anne’s lace is ‘Ravenswing’, with dark ferny leaves underneath the tiny white sprays of flower making it really very pretty. All umbellifers attract into the garden beneficial insects like ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings, which are a great defence against aphids, and gardeners should welcome them. Birds too are attracted in autumn by the seeds, so they instantly enrich the wildlife in your garden.

Photos top to bottom: Angelica, giant hogweed, hemlock, water drop wort and Ravenswing.

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