Thursday, 23 June 2011

Anyone know what this is?


Now that we're here fulltime, the frugaldom garden project is now well underway. Every day we seem to spot something new or uncover more space that causes an instant reaction - what would look good in that space!

Today, H has been digging out more of 'rubble mountain' and started hacking back all the overgrown hawthorn and brambles. This is the corner where I found bamboo growing, so that has been kept. However, we don't know what this is...

It looks like a shrub and is over 2 metres high and is absolutely covered in these huge, fuschia-like flowers. It is growing by the side of the stream right next to the hawthorn and brambles.

The flowers are shades of pink ranging to deep purple and they hang down in pairs, either that or the flower is double-headed, one below the other. It's very striking and I'd love to cultivate a lot more of it.

Anyone any ideas what its real name is? It looks like a giant fuschia but the flowers are about 8cm in length.

This is the wild bird corner we've created at the bottom of what will be the orchard. Beyond this is where the nameless fuschia-like shrub towers above everything else. 'Scruffy' cat sat for ages watching H digging in here this afternoon! Or perhaps she was watching the birds?

We're going to be leading the overflow pipes through here from the duck pond that's being dug halfway up the garden. This corner is so completely different to how it was when we fist came here, so we're planning a seating area nearby for relaxing in summer to enjoy the garden more. It's a very sheltered corner, despite getting full sun for much of the day.

Next year, I'll prbably have lots more flowers planted here, to give it a real 'cottage garden' feel to it. Plans aplenty and, hopefully, plenty of time on our side.

There's also space here to build a summerhouse once all the rubble has been removed, so that's another longterm plan. As you can see, it has to be longterm, just look at what still needs to be removed. It's early days, we've only been moved in for a fortnight and the entire garden looked a bit like this to begin with, so watch this space. :)

For now, I'll be happy if anyone can let me know their thoughts on what our mystery shrub actually is and if I'll can take cuttings from it to grow some more. It really does stand out from everything else around it

You can see more of how the Frugaldom microholding project is progressing in our free forums, where I have a dedicated 'Frugaldom Microholding challenge' section. You can also set up your own personal challenges for pursuing frugal living and/or your attempts to create a microholding in your own back garden. 


  1. Sorry I have no idea what that is, but it looks like it's worth keeping, obviously a shrub rather than an invasive weed.

    It's all looking good, I can only imagine the amount of hard work you are putting in, I'm seriously impressed. You have inspired us.

    We are just starting out on your road, looking for somewhere cheaper to rent so we can begin to save in earnest for our own microholding.

    Farming as a living is never going to sustain us so we have decided to take the self-sufficiency line instead, meaning that my Lovely Hubby can work the minimum hours possible to keep us going and the rest we will do ourselves.

    Sue xx

  2. Pheasant berry. A rather lovely plant and one I'm keen to encourage. Leycestria Formosa. "A robust and easily grown shrub from China and Tibet, this is often planted agriculturally as cover for game birds. They love the ripe berries, hence the common name pheasant berry. It is an extremely handsome shrub with a long season of interest, from the time the shapely leaves emerge until berries fall in late autumn: even in winter the stems are a rich and satisfying green. The flowers are the main attraction, clear white inside burgundy-coloured bracts, which persist over the reddish-purple berries. Plants tolerate most soils and may be cut back hard.

    Common Name: Pheasant berry
    Genus: Leycesteria
    Species: formosa
    Exposure: full sun
    Hardiness: hardy
    Soil type: acidic, chalky/alkaline, clay/heavy, well-drained/light
    Height: 1.8m
    Spread: 1.8m
    Time to divide plants: March to May "

    'nuff said :-D

  3. Sue, that is fantastic news! I am so pleased for you and glad to hear that some folks are still able to make that leap of faith out of farming and into something self-sustaining that can be enjoyed as work hard/play hard all at the same time. Wishing you every success with the saving - have you set yourself any goals or time frames?

    It took us about 7 years to get here, living on a shoestring budget after quitting salaried work and downgrading our living accomodation, eventually to the £260/month semi that we've just left. It's also taken me 9 housemoves in 10 years to finally end up living mortgage & rent free, but it has been well worth all the skrimping, saving and several practice runs (all cut short) at preparing gardens.

    It'll probably take the next 10 years to put this place right but, with the UK Govt forever changing their pension plans, I'll not quite have reached retirement. (Will any of us ever, I wonder?) LOL

    Good luck, make it fun, hope you'll be blogging the highs and lows of this fantastic journey. :)

  4. Moira, many thanks for solving the mystery for us! :) I guess this one has been growing unattended for a few years, hence its size. Very interesting that there's a mention of China, as it's growing quite close to the bamboo! I could almost create an oriental garden! Or... I could rear some pheasants. LOL

    Thank you for taking the time to post the info. :)


    Here's another e-snippet about it. Looks like it's a winner!

  6. The bamboo will be useful - of course, for the peas and beans!

  7. So the Pheasant Berry is also known as Himalayan Honeysuckle and it develops edible berries. It's a lovely display and we've now found it on both sides of the burn, so it must like it there.

    The bamboo is only a couple of stalks that were almost pulled from the ground, as they were flat beneath a tangle of weeds. Hopefully, now it's propped up, it will begin to grow. Haven't researched how to cultivate this either, but will get around to it.

    Thanks for all the info :)

  8. It's an annual shrub, Nyk, and the flowers/leaves etc grown on the new growth, as it were. So, when it's died down you can cut it back to about 6"-8" over winter [and find a use for the dead stems somewhere - how about constructing a rough solitary bee house? Those ones for sale look to be just a bundle of hollow tubes...] I think I'm going to be getting some of this now too. I wonder how one propagates it?

  9. Moira, my guess would be that it's similar to taking cuttings from ordinary honeysuckle, and I'll watch out for seeds to try collecting some of those, if possible. I could always post you cuttings and some seeds?

  10. We have this shrub (pheasant berry) in our front garden. It is a beautiful plant and very prolific. I would think that you don't need to take cuttings. You can cut it right back and it will grow again the next year. It comes up all over the place. Just look at the ground around it and dig up any smaller plants to re-plant elsewhere. The flowers look good in a vase but beware when the berries come as they can drop all around the vase and make a real mess.
    Love from Mum

  11. Thanks for the info. The reason I was interested in taking the cuttings was for giving these to others who want some. I'll look out for any new plants coming up as we clear more of 'rubble mountain'. :)


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