Six on Saturday 27-7-19 – Mid-Summer Bulbs

Agapanthus Alan Street (?)

Such a relief this morning to wake up to persistent rain after the heat of the past week.  The garden has stood up reasonably well to the heat but I am sure a day of light rain will freshen everything up.  I’ve done a Six on Saturday post on bulbs before so I thought I would do another one on mid-summer bulbs as bulbs is somewhat of a weakness of mine.

First up is one of my Agapanthus and I am pretty certain, well 90% certain, this is Agapanthus Alan Street as I know I bought this a few years back and it flowered and is a dark blue.   I have quite a few Agapanthus most of them planted in the borders, as this one is, as I tend to go for the hardier varieties.

Agapanthus africanus ‘Twister’

Another bedraggled Agapanthus, this time Agapanthus africanus ‘Twister’.  I honestly don’t remember acquiring this one so was thrilled when the flower started to open especially as I kept looking at this variety when I was away last week – luckily I didn’t buy another one.

Galtonia candicans

Galthonia candicans is for me a wonderfully glamour plants which I would like to see grown more.  The flowers have a sort of waxy look to them which I love.  I have planted it several times in the past, and even grown it from seed one, but it doesn’t come back reliably year on year which is maybe why more people don’t grow it.

Habranthus brachyandrus pink

Another surprise is the Habranthus brachyandrus which I found flowering in the greenhouse.  I expect it was flowering when I bought it a few years back but it hasn’t flowered since.  I suspect the heat over the past period has helped. The flowers are completely disproportionate to the thin grassy stems, so much so it makes you wonder how the flowers are held up.

Another allium, again no labels to be found.  I like this one as its a small allium and has gentle soft look to it.

Tulbaghia violacea alba

And finally Tulbaghia violacea alba which is a lovely reliable bulb and works well against the silver foliage of the Artemisia

For more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagator’s Blog.

A Dream of an Herbaceous Border

I spent most of last week trundling around Yorkshire with a large group of friends indulging in visiting gardens, plant buying and eating cake – what’s not to love.  I have been on this holiday for four years now, to different parts of the UK, and this year for some reason I was acutely aware that my taste and preferences in terms of gardens had changed, or maybe had become clearer.  I also found it interesting that some of my preferences were at odds with many of my travelling companions and this seemed to be possibly a generational divide.

It is some years since I wrote ‘reviews’ about specific gardens as they can become quite repetitive to read and my plan was to write a post which captured the gardens that I loved, and why I loved them as well as what I didn’t feel enthusiastic about but maybe others did.  However, looking at my photos I got stuck at the first garden we visited which I adored and took so many photos of.  So before I write a more analytical post of the gardens I thought I would indulge in a little flurry of herbaceous border photos.

The garden in question is Felley Priory, which is in North Nottinghamshire – we stopped on the way to Yorkshire.  I had never heard of it before but I learnt from fellow travellers that it hosts a wonderful plant sale later in the year so obviously is well known in the area.

If you asked me if I liked topiary I think my response would be indifferent but when I stop and think about it I realise that there is a deep sub-conscious attraction to some of these idiosyncratic creations.  I love the topiary at Levens Hall in the Lake District which reminds me of Alice in Wonderland and whilst not on the same scale as Levens Hall I loved the humour in the topiary at Felley Priory.  The topiary is something you encounter before you come across the herbaceous borders which are behind the yew hedges you see in the photo above.

For me the borders were breathtaking.  The planting was of an exceptional quality with a high level of unobtrusive maintenance.  Being someone who struggles with plants flopping I spent some time peering between the plants to see if I could see what supports were being used.  Our group, including professional plant growers and gardeners, all felt that there was no support so well was it hidden.  But supports there were, hidden away and clearly demonstrating the benefits of putting in supports early in the season so the plants grow up through them and not my approach of retrospective staking which never looks good.

I also loved the colour combinations in the borders which was wide ranging but not clashing, as many of the borders we saw later in the week were.  There is also something about the scale of the flowers to each other.  Nothing is big and blowsey and overshadowing anything else.  Each plant is part of the overall whole but allowed to shine in its own way. Some of the other borders we saw elsewhere had a complete imbalance of flower size and colour meaning that the border did not make a cohesive whole but felt very bitty to me – well that was my view.

I really liked this part of the border which is essentially red, white and blue but so subtle due to the inclusion of the burgundy scabious which provides a good link between the red mondara and the blues of the phlox and the eryginium. The skill is that the mondara is a bluey red, if you know what I mean, as opposed to an orangey red again adding to a harmonious whole. I also loved that the gardeners were happy to use white meadow sweet which many would worry was a weed.  The meadow sweet isn’t planted in a large clump or solid ‘drift’ but instead the planting is starting to move more towards the matrix style of planting which we came across a few more times on our trip and is, for me, the way forward.

 

 

Six on Saturday 20/7/19 – A Soggy Interlude

Dahlia Little Robert

I’ve been away for a week visiting gardens in Yorkshire, very inspiring and I will probably share my thoughts and images with you soon.  I only had time on arriving home to unload my plant acquisitions  so I didn’t have a chance to walk round the garden until Friday morning when it was absolutely pouring.  The rain is well overdue and the garden will benefit and hopefully the humidity will be lifted but the rain isn’t very helpful for taking photos and having a look around the garden so these are not my best.

The dahlia is the only one that has grown for me this year.  I bought four tubers and this is the only one that has grown, which is a huge disappointment. I doubt I will bother with dahlias again as they are generally too large and dominant for my planting style.

Gladiolus flanniganii

I love this gladiolus, I have a whole pot of it which I drag under cover each winter to protect it.  Its a small gladiolus and originates from the cliffs of the Drakensburg, I expect I bought it from am alpine nursery when I was dabbling in alpines a few years ago.

Phlox paniculata ‘David’

I did spot that the Phlox paniculata ‘David’ is flowering.  This phlox does really well for me and it smells amazing.  I saw quite a lot of phlox in Yorkshire last week so I bought another one to see if it will grow as well.

I’ve included the flowering agave as the flower is so disproportionate to the size of the plant.  I suspect it is long overdue for repotting; another job to add to the long list of jobs to do.

You may have wondered earlier what plant acquisitions I made so I thought I would show you a picture of them recovering in the rain. Some of them spent 5 days sitting under a coach so they have done very well; we were lucky that our coach driver is also a gardener.  He has driven us for each of our trips over the last four years so is part of the gang now although this year we really challenged him with filling the underneath of the coach and every available space inside the coach with plants. I think I ended up with 21 plants including an echeveria, a fern, a couple of alpines and numerous plants for the Big Border where I am trying to improve the grassy pollinator look.

The other new acquisition on the patio is a new patio set of two chairs and a small table.  We wanted chairs which were conducive to reading and relaxing and these chairs are incredibly comfortable.  I bought them just before I went away so I am now looking forward to having a nice sit down outside when I get home from work next week.

Those are my soggy Six on Saturday, for more posts visit The Propagators blog.

 

Six on Saturday – 13th July 2019 – Boundaries

My six this weekend are all about the boundaries because I am celebrating getting my privacy back.  Long term readers of this blog will know that my old neighbours neglected their garden and it was overgrown with a thick barrier of ash and sycamore trees between our two properties which gave me reasonable privacy.

When the new neighbours moved in 3 years ago they did what any of us would do and cleared the garden.  It was quite alarming for me as I suddenly felt like I was in a goldfish bowl.  All the screening above the fence line was gone.  This might not seem such a big deal but our gardens slope up from our houses and so with all the angles you often feel like you can be seen by your neighbours in your garden and they can see you which I don’t like.

Then to make matters worse because the garden had been neglected for so long the fences hadn’t been cared for and in some places it was only the trees and shrubs that were holding things together.  So over the past two winters the fences have disintegrated or have bits missing and it has looked a real mess.

Not any more, they have had the fences replaced and we now have a lovely 6ft fence which is rather beautiful.  Sadly, for the neighbours, as they are at the end of the road they are responsible for all the fences around their property so this must have cost a lot but I think it is fab.  Suddenly, I have my privacy back and it brought home to me just how much I had missed that privacy.  I think there is actually even more privacy than before as the fence is higher than the old one.

Not only have I got my privacy back but I have gained about a foot along the fence line.  I need to fill in the trench left from where they dug out all the old tree roots etc but once I have done that I can play around and give some of my plants more space.  I had left some Hawthorne seedlings grow up in recent years in anticipation of new owners clearing the garden and now I think I will cut the Hawthorne trees back to create more of a hedge along the fence which will in turn allow my Liquidamber tree to have more light and thrive.

The new fence at the end of the patio.  The fence here was previous held up by a variegated ivy that I planted which was OK.  The bamboos in pots were added when they cut all the trees down as it meant they could see straight from their garden down on to my patio which was horrid.  The new fence is higher and somehow I think has obstructed the view but I think the bamboos may stay.  Now they have a smart backdrop I may think again about what is around them and smarten it up.

As I am fixated with fences at the moment I thought I would include my back fence which you can just about make out through the undergrowth.  The garden slopes up to it and last year I removed the path that used to run along the top of the garden as it was never used and was a waste of growing space.  I am encouraging a wild and hardy exotic look up here. There is a huge thistle which has appeared from somewhere which sort of messes up the look of the planting but I was intrigued to see how big it would grow.  Behind it is a fig tree which I had to prune hard last year as it had a lot of long branches going off at angles and I wanted more height than width.  This year it is smothered in figs.  I need to work out when I am meant to harvest them and what to do with the fruit as I don’t think I’ve eaten fresh figs before.

And finally my side fence which is the same style as the neighbour’s new fence but shorter.  I thought I would include this as my final six as it another boundary photo and includes my marmite rose which I included in a previous post.  I inherited this rose when we moved in about 16 years ago and for years and years it had one or two flowers.  Then my other neighbours also indulged in some heavy handed pruning and cut everything back hard meaning that the rose suddenly benefited from light and more rain and this is the result!

For more Six on Saturday posts visit The Propagator’s blog.

I’m off to Yorkshire later today garden visiting for a week so I hope to have some interesting gardens to share with you soon.

 

Garden Visit – the birthplace of Crocus

Last weekend I had the delight of visiting Brockhampton Cottage, near Ross on Wye with a group of friends from Hardy Plant Society.  Brockhampton Cottage is the home of Peter Clay, part owner of Crocus (the online plant company) and was designed with the help of Tom Stuart-Smith.

The house sits on top of a hill in a site of several acres.  As you can see the views from the house are stunning, probably more so from the upstairs windows.  You can see for miles. Peter showed us around the garden and spent time explaining the ethos behind the development of the garden and how it inadvertently led to the creation of Crocus.

Peter is not a gardener by trade, coming instead from a marketing background but having inherited the property back in the 1990s he decided to create the garden of his childhood dreams – that country garden surrounded by wild flowers and meadows; the ideal of many a retrospective childhood dream.

He learnt that with a large space he needed to plant in large quantities and quickly became frustrated with phoning around nurseries tracking down a couple of plants here and a couple there.  This led to a evening conversation with a close friend, where fuelled by beer, they postulated about how the new worldwide web should be able to change things and make it possible to choose plants to decorate your outside space just as you could chose furniture and paint to decorate your inside space. This mad idea is where Crocus was formed leading to Peter having a career he had never envisaged.

Around this time Peter met a young designer called Tom Stuart-Smith and asked him to help him with his garden, their collaboration on the garden as continued ever since.

What I found fascinating about this garden was the complete celebration of its location.  The view is king and Peter explained how having cleared the land in front of the house he decided to mirror the natural landscape by planting a range of trees of different sizes and shapes to reflect the variety of trees in the wider landscape.

We also learnt how having planted a selection of trees across the site, these were under-planted by box bushes which in their growth habit replicated the shrubby under-planting you could see in the distant landscape.

Close to the house the planting is more formal with wide herbaceous borders full of large drifts of perennials.  The intention is that the colour pallet is limited and is partly driven by the naturally pink coloured bricks of the house.  This house can be seen for miles and there is a conscious attempt to help it sit comfortably within its landscape through the use of climbers, with only white flowers, and the creation of three wide shallow steps across the front of the house to help ground the house.

As the planting moves away from the house the colours fade into whites and greens – many different greens and many textures again referencing the landscape.

The landscape drops steeply away from the side of the house and the view of the house is broken with these beech columns which also act to filter the wind coming through the valleys.

The meadows and the sweeping grass paths are the real triumph of this garden but tucked away along the side of the property is a shady garden with a brook which flows down the side of the property and is clothed in ferns, siberian irises and these wonderful Primula florindae which caused many oo’s and arh’s.  On reaching the bottom of the hill you find wide beds of foliage rich herbaceous plants primarily with white or cream foliage.  This planting is in large blocks following the matrix approach which Tom Stuart-Smith is known for and which works so well on this scale.

The visit was a delight and I took away some interesting thoughts and ideas to play with in my own space.

The garden opens under the National Garden Scheme each year to coincide with the orchids flowering in the meadows.

Six on Saturday 6th July 2019 – Summer Bulbs

Lillium Elodie

I have a passion for bulbs, as well as ferns and some other groups of plants, but bulbs I really love.  I love that there is so much energy and possibility packed into a small bulb, or corm.  I love that bulbs send up their flower, like a rocket, and then die down allowing space for something else to shine.

Watsonia

I’m especially proud of the clumps of Watsonia as I grew them from seed some years ago.  The clumps have got so big that they have been divided and moved around the garden. Watsonia isn’t a plant I see much in English gardens, but a few years back when I visited gardens in Ireland it was everywhere.

Asphodeline lutea

I’ve included Asphodeline lutea as I was super excited to spot it’s flower spikes yesterday.  Like the Watsonia I grew it from seed a few years ago but it has never flowered, there’s just been some wiry leaves but this year there are two flowers spikes.  Hopefully in the next few days the flowers will open.

Brodiaea

Brodiaea has been growing in my garden for a few year’s now, the original bulbs were bought from a supermarket and it seems to just seed around the garden, popping up here and there as in the gravel outside the seed where I would never have managed to plant it.

A tiny little allium, label missing, which grows in my front garden.  I do like alliums and have all sorts that appear throughout the year but I’m appalling at labelling and when I do remember to include the label the birds remove it.  But does it really matter, its a cut clump of alliums which I suspect I bought from an AGS plant sale when I was dabbling in alpines.

Crocosmia Lucifer

And my sixth bulb is Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ which also grows in the front garden is at the other end of the size spectrum to the allium.  There are two forms of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ one flowering before the other and I have the early flowering variety.  It’s a rather glamour bulb – tall and dramatic.

Those are my Six on Saturday at the end of a warm week which has benefited the bulbs greatly, especially those from South Africa.

For more Six on Saturday posts check out The Propagator’s blog

End of Month View – July 2018

2018

2009

I write this end of month post with a sense of relief as July seems to have been a very long and dry month. We finally had rain on Friday after something like 6-8 weeks with only a small downpour one day.  The rain started on Friday and has been off and on ever since.  The garden has perked up, well those bits that haven’t withered away in the heat and this gardener has also perked up.

I thought it would be interesting to show how the garden has changed over the last nine years when I first started the End of Month meme.  There have been some quite drastic changes so it isn’t easy to do a direct comparison but I will do my best.  Above is the view from the top of the patio steps up to my son’s workshop (which went in around 5 years ago). Below is a similar view from 2009, but from the bottom of the steps, showing the garden before the workshop and when I still had a lawn; it was obviously from the greeness of the grass, a wet July in 2009.  In both pairs of photos the rosemary growing over the wall is a useful reference point.

The next pair show the main area of the garden but from opposite view points.  The first photo is now with my neighbour’s delightful trampoline in the background. The plants are looking a little dry around the edges but I have started to tidy up and cut back the dead flowers and foliage.  I think the garden has benefited in the past heat from my dense planting as the areas which have suffered the most are those with the most recent plantings and consequently more soil showing. I think the dense planting has shaded the soil and helped to reduce moisture loss.

Anyway, the second photo from 2009 shows the old sloping lawn and my polite narrow border.  If I have only learnt one thing over the past nine years it is that you need to be generous in your borders.  Narrow borders just don’t work you are limited on space so its difficult to create a range of height and textures.

The next two pairs of photos is the top border which in 2009 was the pond border.  The fourth photo is another view of the border in 2009 and if you peer very hard you can just make out the pond weed on the pond which is one of the reasons the pond went.  It was never a sensible place to have a pond under the large cherry tree and it was a constant battle to improve the quality of the water.  The border planting was some of my best back then but over the following years it faded and struggled and in the end I gave up on it and converted the pond into a bog garden which is the basis of what is in place now except it isnt very boggy due to over zealous puncturing of the liner!

The 2018 photo shows the workshop again and the shrubs that have been added over recent years.  I prefer the garden now and the planting in this border is slowly improving although it has always been a challenging spot. You can also see the stems of the bamboos along the back fence line.  In 2009 the fence was exposed due to us removing an huge laurel bush and I have again struggled ever since with the steep slope and shade of the trees.  You will see in the 2009 photo terracing but this has been removed this year and I am reverting back to the slope and planting up with lots of foliage and texture.

2018

2009

2018

2009

The final pair of photos show the area of the workshop.  Back in 2009 this area was a battle due to the shade created by my neighbours trees which also sucked all the moisture out of the ground.  The shed is set back into the slope to minimise its impact on my garden and it took hours for my son to dig it all out by hand.  The workshop is now very much a key part of the garden and creates a strange focal point. Long term readers will recall that I laboured over what colour the shed should be and almost went mad after a visit to gardens in San Francisco when I seriously considered painting it orange.  I’m glad I saw sense and I am very pleased with the natural and low key finish it now has.  This has been repeated on another smaller shed we have and I am thinking of treating the benches in a similar way.

I hope you have enjoyed a trip down memory lane.  I think it shows my change of approach and an increase in plant knowledge and obsession.

This post demonstrates one of the benefits of the End of Month meme as if I hadn’t started writing it back in 2009 I wouldn’t now be able to look back to see where I have come from.

Everyone is welcome to join in with the meme and you can use it however you like..  All I ask is that you link to this post in your post and leave a link to your post in the comments box below.

 

 

Potted Relief

It’s fair to say that I don’t do well in the heat at the best of times so you can imagine that over the last week or so with temperatures reaching the low 30Cs (high 80Fs) I have been pushed to engage with the garden.

I’m coming to the end of a weeks annual leave when in the past I would have really tidied up the garden ahead of the rest of the summer.  However, this week the most I have managed is to continue with the endless watering of the pots and trying to keep the newer plantings going.  Luckily, I have been distracted by a lovely day out in cloudy damp Wales and two days of embroidery workshops with friends;  the workshop room had a couple of vast ceiling fans which made it more bearable.

Today we have had a rather cloudy day with heavy rain and storms forecast over the next 48 hours.  Whilst it has still been very warm for this time of year the patio is fairly cool first thing in the morning so I spent an hour tidying and potting up my succulent collection.  The above are Agave montana seedlings which have been bidding their time on the patio and in desperate need for potting up.  The seeds were sown in 2016 and I expect that if I had potted them up earlier this year they would be much larger now but I didn’t.  I think they look rather cute in their matching terracotta pots and they are now residing in groups along the edge of the gravel steps.

I also potted up a few other pot bound residents of the patio including a large branching aeonium, a sad pelargonium and my Bird of Paradise seedling which may flower one day.  I finished with potting up two Sempervivums which I bought in Somerset. These are now forming a group on one of the patio tables along with a Daphne which I am trying to revive.  I’m trying to display my pots in more interesting groups, as per the pot displays I saw in Austin but I think I have a way to go yet.

After an hour I was hot and sticky and retreated back to my sewing which I wont bore you with.  Here’s hoping the promised rain arrives soon.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – July 2018

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

When I started taking photos in the garden this morning it didn’t feel as though there was a lot in flower.  My garden feels like it is in a bit of a lull between early summer and late summer which I am sure the lack of rain for the last month hasn’t helped.

Unknown Crocosmia

The roses and geraniums are over, although many of the roses are building up for a second flush, and now we are moving into the stronger colours of the crocosmia, agapanthus, asters, kniphofia and rudbeckia; but we aren’t quite there yet.

The number of agapanthus in my garden are slowly growing.  They are all planted out in the borders, apart from the white one above which is in a pot..  I have to admit that I’m not sure about the varieties as I have had some of them for years.  Most of them are in the big border which is the sunny past of the garden and relatively free draining plus the slope helps avoid them becoming too water logged over winter.  One of the benefits of my neighbours removing all the trees along the fence line is that my agapanthus now grow more upright.

Allium sphaerocephalon

Bulbs as probably my favourite plant group and the big border is home to all sorts which bring colour throughout the year.  I am particularly fond of alliums and have one variety or another flowering throughout late spring to late summer.  Allium sphaerocephalon is actually in the front garden and is left over from when I had borders and a lawn.  It pops up here and there with its long stems and pointy flower heads which waft around in the breeze.  These two are intent on being together, no matter how many times I untangled them for their photo.

I’m not a huge fan of Phlox, I find them a little fussy and their big flower heads feel a little incongruous with the rest of the plants in the garden.  However, this is Phlox paniculata ‘David’ which has the most heavenly scent.  I bought it a number of years back from Wollerton Old Hall and the scent was so strong on the way home it was almost intoxicating.  Sadly whilst it reappears dutifully each year it is very slow to bulk up.

Having said I’m not mad on the big flower heads of the Phlox I do like Hydrangeas, although it’s the dry flower heads that I have a real weakness for.  This hydrangea lives in a large pot on the patio and is flowering its socks off yet again this year.

Kangaroo Paw (Angiozanthos’
Kangaroo Paw (Angiozanthos)

Also on the patio are two large pots of Kangaroo Paw (Angiozanthos) which I am hugely proud of having grown them from seed some years back, so you have two photos so I can show off.  This is the third year they have flowered – I just love the strangeness of them.

Aloe striatula var. caesia

I also love the flowers of the Aloe striatula var. caesia which I bought probably 4 years ago.  It has come through a number of very old winters here outside planted in the ground.  The only thing I do to protect it is to cover it with fleece if a long period of cold is forecast.  It grows in a narrow border along the front of the house in full sun.  The border is predominantly gravel and builders rubble which helps with the drainage allowing me to grow a few more exotic looking plants.

Finally a trio of perennials which are adding a little sparkle ahead of the main late summer display.

Agastache ‘Black Adder’
Kniphofia ‘Toffee Nosed’
Digitalis ferruginea ‘Rusty Foxglove’

Thank you to Carol over at May Dreams for hosting this meme, which may well be the longest running garden related meme.