Tuesday, 31 August 2010

La Maison Fleurie

G IS FOR?



GNOMES!

~ strictly speaking some of these little fellows are Snow White's companions so they might object vehemently to being referred to as gnomes. We stumbled across this garden by chance earlier this summer when driving through Normandy ~ of course himself had to pull over so that the camera for the camera to come out . I would have liked to see this establishment at night as there was a myriad of lights ready to twinkle in the darkness.



Go to ABC Wednesday now for some great posts on the letter G !

Sunday, 29 August 2010

By Royal Appointment


Now it's not every day that a prince of the realm comes to your assistance with plant identity queries but that's what happened when we visited Highgrove last week. To readers who might are not familiar with the British royal family, Highgrove is the estate of the Prince of Wales which comes complete with some 13 acres of gardens. I have been puzzling over the name of the above autumn flowering plant in my garden and there it was for sale in the plant sales area of the Highgrove shop most obligingly labelled. Out came the notebook and pen.

Our garden club applied to visit Highgrove some ten years ago and finally got the royal seal of approval last October. Although perhaps not the best time of year to visit any garden I was looking forward to the occasion but then had to pull out because my presence was required elsewhere by family. That was that or so I thought ~ another ten years or more to wait but happily since then the system for visits has changed and our garden club was offered another visit which we made last Monday.

We ambled down to a warm and sunny Cirencester in our camper van on the Sunday but unfortunately the severe weather warning materialised into reality overnight. Camper van plus lashings of torrential rain resulted in little sleep for me but himself snored his way through the dark hours. Waking to dull leaden grey skies we made our way to Tetbury where we met up with the rest of the group ~ I was so pleased that himself had decided to become an honoury garden club member for the day and was accompanying me on the visit. From Tetbury a short journey to Highgrove, where our coach was greeted and searched by her one of her majesty's constabulary at the gates before being waved on to park up. We were formally welcomed and once our credentials had been checked we were introduced to our official guide for the visit.


Photos are not allowed presumably for security reasons, so I am unable to illustrate this post with photos of our visit, otherwise the first one you would see would be of our group taking shelter underneath trees, as an amazing torrential cloudburst descended on us less than five minutes walk into our tour. The look of horor on people's faces was priceless. To say we got wet is an understatement - himself had to take off his undies, when we eventually got  back to the van some three hours or so later. However at least it was warm rain and only lasted for ten minutes or so before we were able to squelch onwards, through some alarmingly large puddles. I now know that my trainers are waterproof. By the time we approached the Woodland Garden the foliage was sparkling as much to our joy the sun had emerged. This turned out to be my favourite part of the garden ~ I could have quite happily stayed there for hours but our guide pressed us forward after a magical but albeit too quick a glimpse. I also particularly enjoyed seeing the Southern Hemisphere garden, the Walled Kitchen Garden, the Carpet Garden and the famous Thyme Walk. It was a delight to see some of the beautiful and unusual trees which have been planted by the prince over the last thirty years. You can read more about some of them here.

I drooled over some of the statues, sculptures, huge urns and other artefacts that we came across. I coveted the 150 year old olive tree that has recently been planted on the terrace outside the house. Apparently the terrace had been out of bounds to visitors this summer so we were most fortunate to be one of the first groups to see this new addition close up. I was delighted to see that there were weeds despite the presence of nine or so gardeners. I had expected to be wowed by the contents of the planted containers near the house but that was not the case and there were one or two other disappointments. I was upset to discover that the two hundred year old giant cedar of Lebanon which I had seen in photos is no more. I did not particularly warm to the various busts of H.R.H. and other prominent people that were dotted about the garden but then I suppose when you are the recipient of such gifts you are obliged to display them.

All in all it was a most interesting and memorable afternoon. Although the garden is very much the creation of an influential and an undeniably extremely wealthy man there were still ideas that I could take home and incorporate in my garden. I would really welcome the opportunity to visit again in another season. In the meantime as this still might be some time off, I am now reading 'The Garden at Highgrove' by Candida Lycett Green as well as looking forward to a television programme featuring the garden, which is due to be screened on BBC2 in the next few months.  This will show the garden in June. I am also looking forward to hearing about the experiences of a bunch of fellow bloggers and tweeple led by The Patient Gardener who will be descending on Highgrove later this week. H.R.H. has been warned that they are on their way!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Five A Day

F IS FOR?

FRUIT!
I am so excited as I have finally bought three apples trees which are destined for the allotment. It has only taken us about us as many years to get round to this ! We visited Ornamental Trees Nurseries in Shropshire this morning and selected the trees which are all on dwarf M27 rootstock. This will hopefully mean that the trees will not reach any great height. Strictly speaking fruit trees are not allowed at the allotment but I have noticed that fellow plot holders seem to get round this by growing dwarf rootstocks. I have a corner plot and am planning on planting the trees alongside the fence which overlooks the main path, so there is no danger of the trees casting shade on neighbouring crops. The three varieties we chose are Katy, Sunset and James Grieve - the first two are eaters whilst the latter is dual purpose. Tonight the plants are sheltering in the greenhouse as it has been that windy that I had visions of them toppling over, snapped branches and sustaining other damage before they are even in the ground. They will make their way to the allotment soon. I am still not sure still that I made the right selection but time and tasting will tell.

More fun featuring the letter F can be found over at ABC Wednesday.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Complete With Government Health Warning!





Here's what I hope will be the first of two posts for Vegplotting's quarterly Out On The Streets  feature. I think that I would rather gaze on a patch of weeds than this display but then each to their own. I came across this riot of in your face colour on the streets in Portsmouth this summer. I did not linger long as my eyes could not cope even on a relatively dull day. I hope to be back before the end of the month with news and photos of a local community project.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Conundrums










This week's conundrums ~

1) Why is there yet another book trying to prise my purse open? The culprit in this case is 'Thoughtful Gardening' by Robin Lane Fox which is due to be published in early September.

2) Does the lifting of the hosepipe ban yesterday mean that we will now have some dry weather? The imposition of a hosepipe ban on 6th July was followed by six weeks of almost non stop rain.

3) Why did the dwarf French beans I haphazardly stuck in the ground the day before I went on holiday flourish, whilst the ones I planted carefully earlier this week suffer from mega mollusc damage during their first night in the ground? Picks up roots and weeps.

4) Why is there always yet another mange tout pea winking gleefully at me whenever I think I have finished picking them?

5) Sweet peas sown from seed all out of the same packet ~ allegedly the same colour ~ so why is there an odd one out ~ luckily it still colour coordinates with the remainder.

6) Why did 20 plus year old viburnum tinus prove to be such a stubborn ****** when it came to being extracted from the garden? Picture a most sweaty himself sitting in campervan, ropes tied to campervan and aforesaid shrub, in a make or break effort to remove the stumps.

7) Why did I buy another plant yesterday morning when I have a cold frame full of plants waiting to be planted?

Answers on a postcard please!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

A Red Letter Day

E IS FOR?

A SPECIAL EVENT!
Our family celebrated a most special event last Friday on the exciting occasion of my parent's diamond wedding anniversary. The day was more precious as my father was very poorly earlier in the year. There was cake, flowers, kisses and much laugher too ~


Enjoy more on the letter E over at ABC Wednesday where participants expand on a different letter of the alphabet each week.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ August 2010


Today was our allotment summer celebration and amazingly the sun shone for the duration. About thirty of us both adults and children enjoyed a barbecue which was enhanced by contributions of homegrown produce. My August blooms are not my own but belong to my allotment neighbours. Some of these glorious dahlias and glads were picked to decorate the table. The glads were purchased from Costco for the princely sum of £1.00 for ten. Must try to remember to pick some up for next year.

More seasonal blooms can be lingered over if you proceed to May Dreams Gardens kindly hosted each month by Carol.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Visiting The Garden Museum, London

D IS FOR?



A DAY OUT! ~ which is what I most certainly enjoyed on Saturday when I made a rare excursion to London to meet up with a dear friend. Our destination was The Garden Museum in London formerly known as The Museum Of Garden History. This was the first time either of us had either visited the museum ~




I must admit that I was slightly disappointed with one or two aspects. The museum itself was a lot smaller than I had anticipated so there was not as much to see as I thought there might be. Maybe I am getting rather picky in my older years but the planting at the entrance seemed rather dull and drab - perhaps this was just reflecting the hot dry summer that southern England has experienced. It could also be the fact that there was an area of wildflower planting which may have been shining earlier in the year but was looking rather tired now. Impossible to tell on on the basis of one visit.  I would have thought though that a mid season brightening up - say just a few freshly planted containers might have made a more colourful first impression.


However all was not all doom and despondency you will doubtless be pleased to hear. We still enjoyed a delightful day out. There were displays of old gardening implements, artifacts and paraphernalia to be drooled over including daisy grubbers, colourful seed packets, old catalogues and the star of the show - none other than Gertrude Jekyll's desk!

I had particularly wanted to see the exhibition which featured the life and work of the great Christopher Lloyd. In this area some of his personal belongings were on show including items from his childhood days. Reflections from friends and associates including Beth Chatto, Fergus Garrett and Anna Pavord also threw more light on this fascinating character as well as giving more insight into the development of his garden at Great Dixter. We enjoyed reading a letter that he had penned as six year old giving thanks for the gift of a viburnum, peeking into his diaries, admiring an example of his tapestry, being surprised by the size of his shoes and glimpsing the dog biscuit tin which used to contain contain goodies destined for his beloved daschunds.

Throughout the proceedings we were sustained by some delicious food and drink from the museum's  Garden Cafe which specialised in vegetarian fare. We lunched before sitting out for a while and nattering in the sunshine. We intended to lunch outside but this coincided with a short shower. The main garden  was a pleasant spot to sit and be still. The museum is in the church at St. Mary at Lambeth so the garden contains a number of graves - the most famous horticultural occupants being the John Tradescants. Its link with so much history was what I most enjoyed about the museum. Then before departing we just had to sample the homemade cakes - we can certainly vouchsafe for their yumminess. Now we have to decide where to go for our next get together.

Now don't dawdle but dance over to  ABC Wednesday where there are most posts on the letter D.

P.S. This post started with more links and photos but having finally moved to the new Blogger editor I am still struggling with its somewhat erratic behaviour or is just me  ~ whatever it is driving me demented so I am calling it a day!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Very Much An English Affair

C IS FOR?


A CUPPA OF CHAR OF COURSE!

We spent a brilliant day recently at the Chaumont-sur-Loire International Garden Festival - a more detailed post to follow soon but here is a little taste. At the entrance to this particular garden an inscribed plaque greeted us with the words:

'This garden invites us to an English teatime. Put on your Sunday best and don't forget your good manners. Keep to the traditional etiquette : never make too much noise drinking your tea, never interrupt a guest, wait to be offered tea before having some more. England and tea are made for one another. Imagine the old-style tearooms, embroidered doilies, flowery china and shortbread biscuits.

For thousands of years people have known how to use teas and herb teas for their restorative qualities for body, soul and mind. "Posh Tea, Posh People"takes you on a voyage of discovery of the traditional uses of native plants in making herb teas and of the possibilities of incorporating these plants - so often disregarded - into contemporary beds.

Every weekend at 4.00pm tea will be served in the garden. Visitors will also be asked to taste a herb tea made using only the plants around them'.



We soon came across the collection of china crockery before we ventured into the main body of the garden. What was curious was the upright light with its fringed lampshade which emerged from the greenery. It is a long time since I have seen such a contraption in an English household -  I wondered what concept some of our continental cousins have of the English :)

Now I am strictly a coffee only drinker but whilst you catch a charabanc over to ABC Wednesday for more on the letter C, I will be pleased to pour you a cuppa. Sorry though it's not Earl Grey and I am completely out of shortbread biscuits this week .....

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day ~ August 2010

' The Lake Isle of Inisfree'

"I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core."

~ William Butler Yeats, 1865 - 1939
I came across this poem as a sixteen year old - many moons ago now and since then it has always held a special place in my heart. I have deliberately not included a photo. I am unable to find one to do it justice and I am sure that the words themselves will conjure up a vivid image in your mind's eye. Here though you can listen to Yeat's deep liquid amber tones in his reading of this special poem. For more August musing venture forth to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.