Stephanie’s Blog

Sago Palms set the Gold Standard

the seeds of a sago palmApparently the seeds of the sago palm are of such  uniform size and weight that they were used by the gold merchants as a unit of weight in the early days of the trade.

Gardening Leave

pots of citrus treesI’m about to depart these shores for the best part of a month (and will be blogging about my travels – wifi connections permitting) so I’ve been doing as much as I can to make sure that  I come home to living plants. Despite the sudden arrival of cold weather, I’m reluctant to move the three citrus trees and a few other precious and fairly tender shrubs undercover where they would need to be watered regularly.  Instead, I’ve put them on the lawn in the most sheltered and sunny corner of the garden where they should be happy till I get back.  We very rarely get frosts here and I have moved the saucers from beneath the pots to make sure they don’t sit in water if it rains heavily. Elsewhere I’ve grouped potted plants together (again without saucers) so that they can create their own microclimate. Fingers crossed I’ll find them all thriving amongst the fallen leaves on my return.

From Full-blown Beauty to Petal Fall


The magnolia grandiflora ‘Goliath’ continues to flower, but the blooms are near the top of the tree so I decided to pick one and bring it indoors where I could admire its beauty and fragrance close-up. It has been fascinating watching its slow metamorphosis from purest white perfection to parchment and beyond.

Brugmansia looking Beauteous

these large brugmansia flowers fill the garden with scent in the evening
Earlier in the year a friend gave me a lovely Brugmansia (once known as Datura) complete with five flowers. Thanks to our long summer it has grown enormously and has burst into flower again – I’ve counted twenty flowers and buds. The scent in our courtyard in the evening is amazing. Once the cold weather arrives I will cut it back quite hard and keep it ticking over undercover for the winter.

Gibraltar Botanic Garden

butterflies feeding in Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
We’ve just returned from a weekend in Gibraltar where we were celebrating two friends’ landmark birthdays. There was time on Saturday afternoon to visit the botanic garden which was looking extremely dry and dusty after an absence of any rain since May. I failed to find any plant that was worth a photograph, but we did see some gorgeous Pasha butterflies which were a first for me. We might also have seen some Monarchs which have established on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Quite how they reached here from America is a bit of a mystery, but September is the time to see them in Gibraltar, even if they eluded us. I wish I could claim to have taken the photograph – but it is courtesy of the Botanic Garden website. Photographing things that move is not a talent I can claim, but for anyone on Instagram I can recommend BOB_PURNELL for his wonderful images of UK butterflies and insects.