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My Garden Journal 2019 – July

We move into the second half of the year with this visit to my 2019 garden journal, where we shall see what the garden has to offer and take a look at some of our gardening tasks for the month.

The first double page spread featured borders in our front garden, beginning with a follow up look at the New Garden, where I wrote, “July began hot and humid so during the first week gardening wasn’t easy. Every job was tiring, but there is lots to look at. Let us visit “The New Garden” to see how it has developed over the last 4 weeks or so.”

“Three different Agastache, including A. ‘Kudos Yellow’ and A. ‘Kudos Gold’ and an unknown blue flowered cultivar.”

“Step across the grass from “The New Border” and we come to one of our two “Doughnuts”. This one comes in two halves, an airy meadow of Dianthus and Briza backs onto our sun-loving ferns and euphorbias.”

“Dianthus carthusianorum”                  “Briza and Dianthus”

Festuca glauca flower buds.”

“Dianthus cruentus”                    “Rosa Prince’s Trust and R. Enchantress”

Foxgloves feature on the next page and opposite we look at the “Layby Border”.

“This year is definitely the year of the foxglove, and throughout June and into the middle of July Digitalis rule the border roosts.”

“Digitalis fontanesii”                                                            “Digitalis grandiflora”

“Digitalis lutea”

 

Across the drive we can have a look at how the “Layby Garden” is coming on.”

 

The next double page spread deals with some of our Achilleas, of which we grow many as we love them as much as the wildlife does, especially bees, butterflies and hoverflies.

I wrote, “Last year we decided to develop a section of our Beth Chatto Border, which is our gravel garden planted with grasses and herbaceous perennials which never need watering. We added a river of Achilleas.”

 

On the next page I concentrate on pink and white flowered Achilleas where I wrote, Variations on a theme, “Pink to White”, caused by so many self-seeded natural crosses made by bees and their colleagues. Thank you bees!”

Turning over to the next double page spread, We look at the perennials in the Shrub Border and then some of our jobs for July.

“Staying in the front garden it is noticeable how the perennials towards the front of the Shrub Border are giving extra colour.”

 

“July is a busy month, but this year it is extra busy as winds and frequent heavy showers mean lots of tying up.” 

“Ready to topiarise the box clouds”

“Low level and high level pruning.”

 “Deadheading climbing and rambling roses.”

Eryngiums or sea hollies feature next.

I wrote, “Mid-summer is when our Sea Hollies, Eryngiums, are at their best, their blue and silver stems, bracts and flowers take on their metallic tints.”

 

The first set of photos are of E.bourgattii ‘Picos Blue’

The next four photos are of E. Jade Frost.

The four photos below are of E. ‘Neptune’s Gold’ with its bright green foliage and metallic blue flower heads.

“Eryngiums add so much to the garden in virtually every month. Amazingly textured, coloured and sometimes variegated foliage plus metallic flowers and bracts.” 

These are exciting plants to finish off my entries into my Garden Journal 2019 for the month of July.

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colours garden design garden photography gardening gardens half-hardy perennials hardy perennials July Shropshire shrubs South Shropshire village gardens

My Garden Journal – July

So it is already time to share my July entries in my garden journal. This year in the garden seems to be moving on so quickly. I began my July report by writing, “The arrival of July moves us into the second half of the year and the summer is well established. Colours seem extra rich on bright days as petals shine glossily.”

“One family with flowers that glow are the Lychnis family. Below are two members of Lychnis, the variety L. chalcedonica and another variety L. coronaria.”

“Lychnis chalcedonica “Dusky Pink”

 

“Lychnis chalcedonica “Vesuvius” and Lychnis chalcedonica “Maltese Cross”

 

“Lychnis coronaria”

   

Over the page I move on to look at an unusual Foxglove, Digitalis parviflora “Milk Chocolate” and a berried shrub, Hypericum x inodorum.

“Plant of the month, July, is a special Foxglove or Digitalis, Digitalis parviflora Milk Chocolate.”

“No two flower heads are the same.”

 

“Densely packed flowers.”

“Most berrying shrubs begin to show colour in their berries in late summer through the autumn, but already by July our various cultivars of Hypericum x inodorum have brightly coloured and very glossy berries.”

  

The next plant family I feature in July is Linaria, of which we grow many varied cultivars.

“Members of the Linaria family are always welcome in our garden. We love the way they self seed and hybridise. They display a huge range of colours and petal markings. Linaria purpurea is much loved by bees and hoverflies.”

    

“Our garden is home to other more unusual Linarias too, all with their recognisable flower structure.”

 

“We also grow our native Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris, commonly known as “Butter and Eggs” because of the two shades of yellow that make up its flowers. Bees and butterflies love it!”

Next I looked at plants that are spiky in texture, of which we grow many in our patch as they seem to like our sunny aspect.

“Plants with spikes enjoyed warm, sunny summer days. We grow many eryngium family, the Sea Hollies, with bracts from the palest silver to the deepest metallic blues, of which E. Picos Blue is the bluest of all.”

   

Not all of our spiky plants are Eryngiums however. We also grow Silybum marianum and Echinops ritro.

  

One of the Eryngium family is a biennial and luckily a strong self seeder, E. giganteum Miss Wilmott’s Ghost.

Turning over the page we move on from spiky plants to two much softer more delicate looking plants.

 

“Seed heads are an important element of the Autumn and Winter garden, but this little beauty I found this week while working in the Spring Garden. They are Fritillaria meleagris seed pods. I painted them in watercolours using Japanese wolf hair brushes and fine tipped fibre tips.”

“July sees many of our Salvias coming into their own. We grow most in pots so they can be moved inside for the winter.” I used pencil crayons to draw Salvia Silkes Dream and Salvia x African Sky.

Bright pinks and reds dominate over the page where I featured Begonias and Pelargoniums. Enjoy the colours!

“Begonias and Pelargoniums also have to over-winter under cover so go into the cool end of the greenhouse.”

“Brightest of flowers.”

 

“Textured, marked and coloured foliage.”

Pelargoniums – “Crazy reds and pinks!”

    

 

And that is it for my garden journal for July. My next visit to my journal will be at the end of August, a month when keeping you garden looking good is pretty difficult so we shall see how we get on in our Avocet garden.

 

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The Gardens at Hurdley Hall

We are so lucky to live where we do in so many ways, not least of which is the number of excellent gardens we can visit within a day. Recently on a Sunday we found a garden open under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme, the same scheme that our garden is a part of, and this one at Hurdley Hall was just over a half hour drive away.

We parked up in a rough pasture field alongside a farm and trudged uphill to the garden itself entrance. We obtained our tickets and walked down the drive which fell steeply to the garden itself, but this did afford us excellent glimpses of what we could expect so our expectations were heightened. Apart from the garden encompassing the house there were meadows, a new orchard and woodland to explore so we were in for a busy afternoon.

The house itself was first built in 1630 with additions made in 1718, 1820 and 2010. The garden was just 15 years old. The view from the house and garden was of a wooded valley and a steep hill which is a nature reserve.

 

Where we sat to enjoy the views with tea and cake we were close to a very colourful herbaceous border, displaying interesting colour combinations. The garden also boasted a small kitchen garden with raised beds and a shaded area with pond.

       

To one side of the house a more formal area contrasted well with the softer plantings we had seen so far. Lots of pale stonework and blue flowers gave this area its own character, almost Mediterranean.

   

After enjoying a slow wander around the garden under a baking sun we followed a sign for the meadows. We passed through a gateway and followed close cut grass paths through the meadow which gave us views of a newly planted orchard and woodlands. Come with us through the six-bar wooden field gate and explore the meadows and woods by following my gallery, which finishes off this visit to this wonderfully atmospheric garden and the land beyond.

To follow the gallery click on the first photo then navigate with the arrows.

 

 

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Another Yellow Book Garden: Windsor Cottage

Looking back to a sunny summer’s day!

Off down the A49 trunk road into Herefordshire for another visit to enjoy a fellow NGS, Yellow book garden. Windsor Cottage is near the village of Dilwyn and described as a wildlife friendly half-acre garden which has just completed a 5 year redesign.

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This proved to be garden full of very special plants beautifully grown by a couple of keen, energetic gardeners who were so keen to share their garden with us. They are both artists and their use of colour and planting companions displayed their creative flair.

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In order to share our enjoyment of Windsor Cottage with you I have created this gallery. Please click on the first picture and navigate using the arrows.

So this was a garden of great plants, two great plantspeople and an atmosphere of peacefulness and relaxation.

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climbing plants colours fruit and veg garden design garden furniture garden photography gardening hardy perennials Hardy Plant Society HPS July Shropshire village gardens

Gordon and Mona’s Place

We like to share with you the gardens owned by our fellow Shropshire gardeners and we especially sharing our visits to some excellent gardens created and looked after by fellow members of the Shropshire Group of the Hardy Plant Society. So here is a short series of three such gardens we enjoyed during 2016.

The first is owned by Gordon and Mona who also have a small nursery selling unusual plants. Gordon also gives garden talks to groups just as Jude and I do, so we have things in common. Gordon is a great lover of Salvias too, just like me, but unlike me he is very knowledgeable about them.

We followed roads leading us north-east from home towards a village known as Sheriffhales where we found the garden surrounding a house in the country. We loved the unusual entrance to the garden, passing through a narrow gateway in a holly hedge, which took us along a path to the back of the house and immediately we found ourselves immersed in the plants. It was like entering a secret garden, always a good start! Gates, hedges and pathways invited us seamlessly around the gardens surrounding Gordon and Mona’s home and comfy seats enticed us to sit a while and take in the scents and sounds of the garden. The movement of the many grasses and the bird song enriched the rest of the experience.

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Beautiful happy healthy plants growing upwards against a blue sky raise the spirits up with them.

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Gordon had previously introduced us to Commelinas, perhaps the most delicate and beautiful blue flower to be found in any garden. We now have some of Gordon’s seedling growing on nicely at home and it was good to meet them again.

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Let us now just share some of the individual plants and plant companions we enjoyed so much on this visit. Some of these plant combinations are so exciting bringing together unlikely colour partners, the sign of confident and knowledgeable gardeners.

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Salvias are Gordon’s true specialism and interest and here they are beautifully grown, sitting happily in mixed borders and flowering profusely.

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What a great afternoon visiting this lovely, gentle garden full of plant delights! Moments of magic appeared around every corner to add that little extra that raises a garden above the norm, as shown in my four pics below.

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Ponthafren – an amazing community garden.

We love visiting community gardens whenever we can find one to explore. We like to see what they are trying to do and particularly how gardening is involved in their client activities. We were delighted to find one open under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme not far away just over the Welsh border into Powys. As we approached over a river bridge and first spotted the building we were taken aback by its sheer size. It looked an impressive building with its gardens sloping down to the river bank.

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We received a warm welcome from the volunteers who ran the centre and enjoyed a tasty cup of tea and extravagant looking cup cake each as we chatted and learned more about the work of the group. We were amazed at what we heard and were full of admiration.

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We couldn’t wait to wander around the garden and see what the volunteer leaders and their clients were up to on this steeply sloping wooded riverside site.

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Bunting and flags always add to the feeling of being warmly welcome in any garden and here they fluttered in profusion.

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Mosaics were popular ways of decorating features here from table tops to sundials. The clients created these in their art and craft sessions.

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There were clues at every turn that wildlife was welcome to share the garden with the clients, volunteers and visitors.

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There was such a sense of humour prevailing throughout the community garden and many craft items created by the clients illustrated this.

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As with any garden whatever its primary function fine examples of plants are good to see.

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Productive gardening was all part of the work here with the produce grown and nurtured by the clients being sold to help raise funds for the community garden. Wormeries sat in one corner working away producing compost and liquid feed for the veg.

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We found some fine examples of craftwork in metal and fabrics among the plants on the slopes.

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We finished our tour by taking wooden steps and gravel paths down to the riverside where we ended beneath colourful cheerful bunting just as we had started. We were so glad to have discovered this special place run by such special people and they also told us of another community not too far away which may be a place for a future visit.

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garden design garden photography gardening hardy perennials July Shropshire

A Modest Gardener – celebrating a small garden

Our dear friend Jean is a talented gardener who sadly won’t recognise that she is. So I thought I would share a set of photographs with you that I took in her garden in late July so that you can enjoy her lovely garden too. Jean loves wildlife and enjoys sharing her garden with the birds, butterflies, bees and any other creatures that come for a visit or to stay. As with all gardeners slugs and snails may be one step too far.

Come on a wander with me by following my gallery of photographs all taken on the same day. It is easy to appreciate this excellent example of what can be achieved in a small space. As you run through the photos  will see one showing an old blackbird’s nest in the stems of a clematis.

 

 

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colours garden design garden photography gardening hardy perennials July ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs Shropshire village gardens

My Garden Journal in July

Here we are moving into the second half of our gardening year, with my journal entries for July. By the time I had recorded all the entries for July My Garden Journal 2016 was full, so Volume 2 will begin with my August entries.

July, being well into summer, should be great month for the garden, the gardener and gardening. We should be able to look forward to long, warm and bright days to give us time to work in the garden and relax in it too. Relaxing in their own gardens is a skill many gardeners find hard to acquire. The weather put paid to any idea of sitting comfortably on any of our garden seats dotted around our garden rooms.

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Looking back at my Garden Journal 2014 for the first week of July I wrote, “Wet and windy start to July” so things were exactly the same in 2014 and 2016.

Luckily after the first week this year the weather warmed up and the rain retreated.”

Turning the page in my journal I moved on to look at hardy Geraniums.

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“The hardy Geraniums in our patch seem happy enough with our July weather. Our favourite is probably Geranium palmatum.

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“We have been planting hardy Geraniums in our garden since we moved here. I decided to take my camera out to see how many different ones were flowering in early July. We were in for a big surprise!” Below are 4 examples, but there are so many more!”

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Turning over we find a double page spread of Geranium photographs and among them the phrase, “Pink is the colour!”

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Over another page and a third page of photos of Geraniums appears but this time featuring blue flowered cultivars, with the phrase, “….. and a few shades of blue.”

“I found over 20 different Geraniums in flower at that moment but we have others flowering earlier and later. We never dreamed we had so many.They are a good reliable and colourful family of hardy perennials.”

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There are so many hardy Geraniums flowering in our July garden I thought it would be interesting to present a gallery for you to enjoy. Click on the first photo and then use the arrow to follow your way through the gallery.

On the opposite page to the blue Geraniums I move on to consider one of the brightest flowers in the July garden, Lychnis coronaria.

“In July one of the brightest flowers in our garden borders are the cerise gems, Lychnis coronaria. They work well in many combinations with other plants despite their extreme brightness of colour. They make white look extra pure and clear, they sparkle with orange and sit comfortably with every shade of green foliage. Their own foliage is a soft, furry grey.”

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Over the next page I continue looking at Lychnis coronaria with the emphasis on the flower colour and the subtle variations among them. Among my selection of photographs to show the colour of the foliage and the variations in cerise itself I include the phrases,

“Silver-grey foliage” and “Variations of the theme of cerise!”

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Opposite this page of cerise beauties I feature a more subtle variation on the pink theme, as I found another Lychnis we grow, this one being Lychnis chalcedonica “Salmonea” and  just like the coronarias their colours vary.

“We grow another perennial Lychnis which also displays pink flowers. These blooms though are not of the brightest cerise but a much more subdued dusky salmon. This plant is Lychnis chalcedonica “Salmonea” and just like the coronarias the flower colours vary but more gently so.”

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The final four pages in my journal entries for July are all about one of the grasses families, the Carexes. I set myself the difficult challenge of painting 6 different varieties, concentrating on the flower and seed heads. A very big challenge indeed as it turned out!

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“We love grasses and use them in almost every border where they enhance flowering perennials as well as adding their own particular charm, their movement, sound and structure. We particularly love two families, Miscanthus and Carex. In July our many Carex are in full flower and they have distinctive characteristics.”

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Volume One of my Garden Journal 2016 finishes with the words, “It is good to finish Volume One of my Garden Journal 2016 with such a challenge, drawing and painting six different Carex flowers and seeds. In Volume Two I will begin with my report and photographs for August and maybe a little painting or two. I might even be tempted to draw and paint some of our other grasses.”

 

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colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden design garden designers garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public grasses hardy perennials Italian style gardens July meadows ornamental grasses ornamental trees and shrubs photography Piet Oudolf roses Staffordshire Tom Stuart-Smith trees

A Garden in July and August – Trentham

So back to Trentham to see how good this wonderful garden is throughout the year. Because of preparing for the first ever opening of our garden we will have to join July and August together and do just this one post. From past experience of visiting in late summer we had high expectations. We expected the River of Grasses to have grown tall and be flowering profusely and for the herbaceous perennials to be full of colour, texture and structure. So let’s have a wander to see what is going on.

We entered the gardens over the little curved bridge over the River Trent and got our first look over the Piet Oudolf gardens. The River of Grasses was showing stress after the strange weather so far in 2014, with the grasses only looking half grown and showing no signs of flowering.

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Taking the gravel path through the winding row of River Birches we were amazed by views of Oudolf’s prairie planting. After the restful green shades of the River of Grasss there was suddenly so much colour! The planting combinations worked together showing great use of contrasting colours and textures.

 

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Persicaria, Eupatorium, Echinacea, Monarda, Sedum and Sanguisorba were star performers. But there was lots more to appreciate too!

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We were sad to leave this area with its gentle atmosphere and some of the best plant combinations you can find anywhere in England. But we were here on a mission, seeking out the changes since our June visit. So off we went to the bit of Trentham we don’t like, the Italian Garden with its gaudy bedding plants. But it is part of the story so I took a few pics of the bedding. Below the balustrading the narrow border was much better with its Aeoniums, Kniphofias and Dahlias. At this time the drizzle started to fall and as usual we got our Trentham soaking.

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From the balustrade we got our first views of Tom Stuart-Smith’s redesigned Italian parterre garden. The garden seemed gentler in colour on this visit with a concentration of greens and yellows with clusters of mauves and purples.

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Any red or orange looked stunning in this company of course, especially the Heleniums and Crocosmias, with an odd surprise Hemerocalis thrown in for added interest.

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As usual the corner beds looked great encouraging the visitor to explore further. We certainly enjoyed them as we moved on towards the display gardens.

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Within the display gardens there were several little areas of interest, such as this old fence leaning on the ivy-covered wall and the delicate pink planting.

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As usual we made our way back to the car via the Rose Walk, where our senses were invaded.

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This piece of sculpture created by Mother Nature stopped us in our tracks – never before had we seen Foxtail Lilies looking quite like this with their towering stems dotted with marble-sized seeds affording a are glimpse of its unusual structural qualities.

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From the Rose walk we glanced across through the wrought iron supports to Piet Oudolf’s River of Grasses and his Prairie plantings.

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Trentham never lets us down. We were expecting to see big changes and lots of colour on this visit and we were not disappointed, except for the River of Grasses where the grasses seemed small and lacking in flowers just like ours at home. The weather this year has a lot to answer for! So next visit will be in September when once again we will go with great expectations and full of excited anticipation.

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A little woodland garden and nursery

The idea of visiting a small woodland garden with nursery and tea shop seemed a good choice for a visit on a hot, humid day. So an hour up the A49 into south Cheshire, one of our neighbouring counties, saw us pulling into the shaded grassed car park belonging to Stonyford Cottage Gardens on the edge of the Delamere Forest.

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This is a garden created around a large pool surrounded by woodland through which winding paths find their way over wooden bridges and at times boardwalks. Areas of woodland plants and waterside or bog plants give places to rest and appreciate brighter colours amongst all the shades of green. Iris ensata were glowing in their waterside shaded spots, some the most intense purple possible.

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The purple-leaved Forest Pansy at times took on a bronze hue. We found an unusual flowering shrub, the blooms of which perfectly matched the leaves of this shrub. Sadly neither of us could remember the name of this flowering beauty. We found it once a few years in a specialist tree/shrub nursery and almost bought it, but we were unsure of the conditions it desired. We have regretted not being tempted by it ever since, especially when we come across it in flower like this!

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