John’s window boxes (again)

Violas, cyclamen and dogwood stems in a window box
St John’s Wood

I featured John’s window boxes last summer when they were filled with orange geraniums and coleus. Here’s his winter version. The cyclamen and violas are pretty, but it’s the pale green dogwood stems that really make the whole thing special.

Enhanced by Zemanta


St Albans

When I was growing up my mum and dad seemed to be constantly decorating – they still are, in fact. They seem to have rules about how often a room needs updating and I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep a decorating log book. Whenever they tell me they’re redoing a room, they tell me how many (or how few, usually) years it’s been since it was last done.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, there was much excitement in the Peerless household when Dulux brought out a range of white emulsions with a hint of another colour. ‘Apple White’ and ‘Apricot White’ made a real change from boring old magnolia and were used liberally around the family abode.

If these cyclamen were a Dulux colour, they’d be ‘Cyclamen White’. They’re the most delicate shade of pink, with pretty mauve markings that complement the violas perfectly. The silver Senecio cineraria complement the pale markings on the cyclamen leaves and bring it all together nicely.

All of the plants are available at a Homebase near you. Well done for spotting them, Mum!

Cafe A Vin


I’m not keen on modern shopping precincts that are made up of chain shops and restaurants, but I can handle the new area at Spitalfields because it has some nice landscaping, and some quite nice restaurants too.

I liked this combo outside the Cafe A Vin. It contains two of my ‘banned’ bedding plants, but I’m prepared to let that go because the white-edged leaves of the euonymus and the petals of the cyclamen complement each other so nicely.

When I walked past again a few days later, the cyclamen had all been taken out! Cyclamen don’t like being cold and wet, so maybe the snow finished them off…

Winter bedding

Regent's Park

I find this pot a bit depressing. It’s perfectly nice and everything, but the sight of it makes my heart sink a little.

Let me explain. This container contains all the usual suspects for winter interest –  ivy, tree heather, cyclamen, pansies and an ornamental cabbage. Go to any garden centre now and these plants are pretty much what’s on offer. And they’ll continue to be on offer until next spring. And therein lies my problem.

Whereas the choice of plants for summer pots is vast, with lots of potential for colour and exciting plant combinations, there are hardly any options for winter pots. It’s quite hard to find an unsual cyclamen or pansy, let alone come up with an amazing planting combination. It takes real skill and imagination to come up with anything a bit different for winter, and lots of people don’t bother.

And so, the hunt is on. I will endeavour to bring you some winter pots that are truly amazing, and hereby ban red cyclamen and purple pansies from this blog. Let’s just hope I that doesn’t mean its pages will be empty…

Casing the joint

St Albans

Today I decided to combine New Year Resolution No.1 (see previous post) with New Year Resolution No. 2 – to get fit (yawn!). So I donned my trainers and went for a run, camera in hand. It was practically dusk, but I told myself that it’s the thought that counts.

Anyway, I saw plenty of abandoned Xmas trees and slushy cyclamen and things weren’t looking good at all, but just as the light began to fade I came across this classy front garden. With plenty of structure (box balls), evergreens (Nandina domestica), grasses and seedheads (Verbena bonariensis), it was the ultimate low-maintenance garden that looks as good in January as it will all year.

Lights were on in the front room and very cosy and inviting it looked too, with a Siamese cat snoozing on the sofa. I was a bit worried that someone would walk into the room at any second and see a woman in jogging gear pointing a camera at their house. So I quickly took a couple of shots and ran off.

Five minutes later I was back. I’d got lost and had been forced to jog (okay, walk) back the way I’d come. As I passed the house, the young couple who lived there were walking down the garden path. I’d like to have asked them if they designed the garden themselves, or whether someone did it for them. But I thought being accosted by a camera-wielding jogger in the dark might freak them out a bit, so I limped on home.