Sunday, 31 January 2010

End of Month View - January 2010



The advent of a new year was a welcome prompt for me to join in with Patient Gardener's 'End of Month View'. It was a challenge to decide which part of the garden to select as the whole is in need of a makeover. It was also a challenge to take a photo of the selected area with not only snow on the ground this morning, but also a big pile of paving blocks in my way. Don't ask about the blocks :) When and I say when the blocks are out of the way, I can take another photo of the border facing me, instead of head on and sideways.



This border runs alongside our dwelling. It is east facing, about twenty feet long and seven feet wide. I am not sure yet where it is going but it definitely needs an overhaul. There are some plants that need extracting, thinning out or repositioning and I have some new arrivals waiting in my coldframe to go in. I am debating about what to do with the fatsia japonica which I put there temporarily but before I knew it had taken off. The border does need more height at the back. However I am wary of it becoming overgrown as we have squirrels visiting the garden regularly. I do not want to provide them with ready made access to the roof. I may have said it before but garden planning and design leaves me bewildered and bamboozled.

There is not much sign of life there at the moment apart from some emerging hellebores and the smallest gathering of snowdrops which I have no recollection of ever planting.





Hopefully a monthly summary will give me the chance to record my progress or lack of it as 2010 unfolds.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

'I Can Sing A Rainbow'

but oh it's a most lopsided one! Over at Prefer To Be In The Garden Rebecca has issued an invitation which allowed me to escape for a much needed fix of colour, on a dire grey January afternoon. I spent some time looking back on last years garden and allotment photos. I already knew that the colour palette in my garden was limited but it is even more top heavy than I thought in favour of blues, pinks, purples and white. I have almost no red apart from berries and fruit. The only red flower that I grow unless my photos and memory have conspired against me is crocosmia 'Lucifer'. I do not have a respectable photo of it to include here so my reds are the needs no intro strawberry and the berries of rosa rubiginosa. The latter has small single pink flowers and the foliage is stewed apple scented, noticeably more pronounced on damp warm evenings. It self seeds so I have taken down a spare to the allotment ~






Then it came to orange and I realised that again there is a big gap. At the allotment I grow nasturtiums, pumpkins, carrots and calendulas and a dahlia by the name of 'Orange Baby' but not one plant in the garden has orange petals. I am not quite sure why this has arisen. It is not as if I have got it in for orange - well I would never wear it but apart but from that ...... I am pleased that I am trying to remedy this omission. In my plan to introduce more late summer/autumn colour, sitting in the coldframe waiting to be planted are the orangey/yellow rudbeckia fulgida var. deamii inspired by Artists Garden and a helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' as featured in the vase below ~



I was surpised to see that despite my aversion to the colour I actually had more yellow than I thougt including various daffodils, primulas, courgette flowers and alchemilla mollis ~









For greens apart from foliage here we have peas at the allotment and the new to me last year mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream'. The green bracts slowly become tinged with pink as the season progresses.





Blues could have a post to themselves - I debated over which to include but start with bluebells which were already growing on the plot of land that became our garden, then polemonium caeruleum, brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' and hardy geranium lost labellus ~









I find indigo and violet hard to distinguish in my mind so here is a selection which between them I think captures both hue - the long flowering clematis 'Petite Faucon', geranium pratense 'Plenum Violaceum' and sweet pea 'Matucana' ~







I was much intrigued by Rebecca's reference to Roy G.Biv in her post which turned out to to be mnemonic for the sequence of hues in rainbows, similar to our 'Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain'. Thanks for the fun Rebecca and also for reminding me that I must introduce a more well balanced spectrum of colour in the garden. The garden is missing out !

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Home Sweet Home

B IS FOR?



BIRD BOX!

A bird would have no problem finding its way back here to this bright nesting box, fashioned in the style of a pillar box . These beautifully made bird boxes were on sale at the Arley Hall Garden Festival last summer. Too expensive for my budget but still one can look albeit briefly.

Be sure to be quick and make your way over to ABC Wednesday where lots of folk have beavered away, to bamboozle you with lots more on the letter B!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Blog Post Formerly Known As ......



'Take A Walk On The Wildside' but Arabella Sock beat me to it with the title! I started this post some months ago after visiting Wildside in August 2009. I faffed about trying to decide which photos to include as I took so many, that the post went on the back burner. Arabella's post came and went and still I faffed. Recently Rosthchild Orchid posed the question where should she go on her garden odyssey ? Without hesitation I suggested Wildside, at the same time deciding that I must stop dallying and write about our visit to this exhilarating garden.



We visited the garden at the end of the first week of August on way home from France. After embarking from the cross channel ferry at Plymouth in previous years, I have persuaded himself that our campervan must steer itself homeward bound via The Garden House in Buckland Monachorum, Devon some ten miles or so from Plymouth. However I had read that Keith Wiley, the former gardener at The Garden House had moved on and had been creating his own garden and nursery at Wildside, some short distance from from the Garden House. Oh joy of joys as luck would have it we got back to England on a Thursday, which last year was the only day that Wildside opened to the public! So once we had escaped from Plymouth we headed for the moors, circumnavigating (me with heart in mouth) the odd few wandering wild ponies and then on to Wildside. Above the noisy diesel engine that propels our van I was aware of himself muttering away that as usual that any garden/nursery I want to visit is in the back of beyond and takes some finding. All part of the experience I tell him.

Needless to say we reached our destination and off we went into the garden. Whilst walking around we found out when talking to other visitors that the garden had very recently featured in a national newspaper. The article which you can read here describes how a former cider orchard was turned into a garden and explains the inspiration behind its development and the naturalistic plantings. I will let the photos do the talking and do hope that you click on them to see the planting in more detail ~





Down by the water ~













It was a muggy and grey afternoon in the main but from time to time the clouds rolled back and we were treated to some glimpses of blue ~











There was also an excellent nursery at Wildside stocking many of the plants which were growing in the garden. A small exhibition of paintings by Keith's wife Ros was on display. There were also copies of Keith's books 'Shade: Planting Solutions For Shady Gardens' and 'On The Wildside: Experiments In New Naturalism' for sale. Another visitor was purchasing one of the books was asked if she would like a signed copy. She was told that although Keith was out in the garden on his mini-digger, that he would be more than happy to be disturbed to sign the book. Yes this is a garden that is still in the making. I would dearly like to return one day perhaps at a different time of year. In the meantime I am looking forward to seeing more glimpses of Wildside, when it is featured on 'Landscape Man' - a Channel 4 series due to be screened later this year. Meanwhile if you find yourself near Plymouth and the garden is open be sure to take a walk on the wildside!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

All Of A Flutter



Oh what a to do. Goings on here this week included the demolition of 'The Temple' resulting in an unexpected hospital visit and a discovery. We erected the temple some ten years or more ago or so, in an effort to create some privacy at the back of the house. We live down in a hollow and are are overlooked from behind. 'The Temple' was one of himself's do it yourself creations and when completed was home to a clematis montana, clematis macropetela 'Markham's Pink', a clematis tangutica, a honeysuckle and a variegated ivy which I for some unknown reason let himself chose and have detested it since. It has now taken over the garage and some tendrils invade the interior. We are going to replace 'The Temple' with a taller structure which we hope will deal with the privacy factor better than its predecessor.

The above photo was taken last May a week or so before our garden club plant sale so there were plants and bags of compost everywhere. The clematis made a show of colour for two or three weeks each May and was scented. I am going to miss it but there are plans to plant another one. I do not know which montnana it was but will have fun doing some research before we purchase.



Himself's first job after removing much of the growth on 'The Temple' was to remove the trellises which acted as support for the plants. In doing so a lump of concrete landed on his temple ! One of the plinths at the top of a column had shattered and it was that which made an impact. I do not know why he was not wearing any protective cover on his head. He is a man - need I say more. Much blood ensued which we eventually staunched and this was followed by a trip to the minor injuries unit at the local hospital, where he was checked over and had his head glued and plastered. It could all have been so much more serious. Needless to say he has been on light work only since.



Before the injury happened himself had discovered some long forgotten items, including some wind chimes, a wooden spiral, a robin nesting box and a 'Green Man' which am delighted to be reacquainted with. He also removed some pots which were lurking at the back of 'The Temple'. I discovered them the next morning. One of them contained a little bowl which I must have at some point planted some snowdrops in. There must have been something else in the bowl too but I don't know what. The snowdrops were all leaning towards the light but am sure will right themselves up now they can see daylight. In the same small bowl were four young hellebore self seedlings which will flower this spring. I have cut the old foliage off and will plant them or give them the luxury of their own pots when they have flowered. It never ceases to amaze me that despite my efforts to thwart them that plants have such survival instincts.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

A IS FOR?

ARLEY HALL!

The garden at Arley Hall in Cheshire is renowned for its artistically planted double herbaceous borders which are at their peak in high summer. You can see some glimpses below of how the borders looked last summer. The hall and garden opens throughout the year, from the beginning of April to the end of October. It is not far from us and is one of my favourite places to visit. Arley is the scene of some special events including plant fairs and a two day garden festival held at the end of June. The latter event is held at a most auspicious time for viewing the double borders. The above bench is in a quiet corner of the garden and it is the perfect spot to watch the world go by. Looking again at the photo after some time I am amazed at the height of those white foxgloves.












Amble over to ABC Wednesday for more avuncular posts on the letter A!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Songbird



A most welcome visitor turned up in the midst of 'The Big Freeze' - a goldcrest which is the United Kingdom's smallest songbird. Now I don't know whether goldcrests have visited the garden before or not but this is the first time we have identified this bird. It could just be that the bird feeder is now situated closer to the window and can see the birds more clearly. Whatever the reason it was most exciting to see this little bird close up ~








Since our sighting of the goldcrest I have discovered thanks to Teza that there is a new digatalis on the block, which goes by the name of 'Goldcrest'. It is a new introduction and may be hard to get hold of for some time but it has gone on the wish list so I have a memento of this delightful visitor.