Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Lilies are poisonous to cats

I have some large terracotta pots at home which are planted with sumptuous lilies, all gloriously in flower at the moment and smelling incredibly heady in the late afternoon particularly. Last year we had such heavy downpours that they were spoiled very quickly; this year they are making a wonderful display. I thought I'd post my blog this week about lilies because so many people don't realise that they are very poisonous to cats. This is especially a problem with cut flowers - they might be left on a low table and brushed against by a cat or the flowers chewed. The pollen is so thick - not a good idea to get it on your clothes! and some people cut the stamens off for this reason - and cats may easily groom themselves and injest the pollen. This can cause renal failure, vomiting, blindness, paralysis and death. More details can be found on the Cats Protection website amongst others. I first came across this when I saw a press cutting about it, stuck up with drawing pins in a village noticeboard in Sawrey in the Lake District (near Beatrix Potter's house, Hill Top) by some public spirited cat loving person.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Sanguisorba Collection at Chesters Walled Garden

High summer, though you wouldnt know it from the weather, and the Sanguisorba collection is out into flower. Some of the plants will be flowering well into autumn, some, such as salad burnet, are due to be cut back already - so for a long period there are always some plants within the collection in flower. They have had a bit of a battering from the wind and rain and are staked with rusted iron supports which hardly show. I love their flowing forms and mass of small flowerheads waving on long stems. In the foreground is Sanguisorba stipulata (which used to be called S. sitchensis), then Sanguisorba obtusa with its pink candyfloss flowers and behind that a variety of Sagnuisorba officinalis (the wild greater burnet) known as 'Martin's mulberry.'

The garden wildlife is amazing as usual. There is something interesting happening every day, and yesterday it was a young nuthatch that flew into the shop. It kept settling on the wooden beams and I had to turn out the lights to encourage it to fly out of the open door. Also yesterday, I saw the first hawker dragonfly in the garden, newly emerged. This is a bit later than last year (see my blog entry for June 07). Two greater spotted woodpeckers flew onto the nuts whilst some visitors had their backs turned and were choosing plants in the sales area - they were youngsters and less cautious than the adult woodpeckers who will wait until people are rather further away.

I went to photograph a local National Gardens Scheme garden yesterday morning - Cheeseburn Grange at Stamfordham - so that I can write it up for my piece in The Journal. New to the Scheme, it has been transformed from a wilderness over 15 years and I hadnt known what to expect. I was delighted by the garden and felt I could have spent much longer imbibing the atmosphere. For the full description go the Journal archives after next Saturday (