Foliage Follow Up – June 2018

A day late but am joining in with Pam’s Foliage Follow Up meme.  I thought I would share some photos of my front garden which is in transition from its spring bulbs to late summer perennials.  However, I am thrilled at how much texture and interest there is at the moment just from the foliage.

There are numerous grasses including Stipa tenuissima, Molinia ‘Skyracer’, and Calamagrostis ‘Overdam’. The verticals are added to with Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and another bronze leaved crocosmia which I don’t think I have ever known the name of, as well as a Phormium.

The horizontal leaves are made up of sedums, geraniums, euphorbia, rudbeckia, persicaria and asters.  Currently there is a pale chartreuse glow from the Alchemilla mollis. Airiness added with the bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare purpureum). The structure is provided by trees and shrubs including two different Sorbus, Grevillea‘Canberra Gem’, Grevillea victoriae, Corokia cotoneaster and Cotinus ‘Grace’.

 

A Spring Day

Saturday was a much needed sunny day, finally after weeks of grey and damp; the garden positively zinged with freshness.

I think green comes into its own in Spring.  More than any time of the year it acts as not only a foil to the spring flowers but the emerging shoots and leaves have their own vibrancy.

I am particularly pleased with this combination of epimedium and drumstick primulas.  Orange and purple are complimentary colours, making each other sing.  This was a colour combination we saw used so well at the Ascot Spring Garden Show.

Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’

Ranunculus ‘Brazen Hussy’ is a quiet major contributor to the garden, providing a soft glow under the shrubs.  I do like the mix of the yellow flowers and bronze foliage.

Finally, I will leave you with a quick project from this weekend.  I had some old bee solar garden lights which were no longer working so I removed the bees from the cabling and wired them to the trellis. I’m rather pleased with the effect.

 

 

Windy Ridge 

Windy Ridge, Little Wenlock
There is a faint possibility that my gardening mojo may be within faint sight of the horizon, it certainly has been away somewhere for most of this year. However, I am spending a few days with gardening friends visiting gardens largely based in Cheshire, last year we went to Essex and Suffolk, and there is the twinkle of inspiration forming somewhere in my mind.

Our journey north today was broken up by three gardens, all very distinct from each other not only in size but in style and it was the second one, Windy Ridge that I enjoyed most.

As you might suppose from the garden’s name it is located on a ridge and is windy according to the owners. However I think any wind is mitigated by the wealth of trees, hedges and shrubs in and around the garden.

This is a plantsman’s  garden but one that benefits from having at least one of its owners with an eye for colour, texture and form. The owners, Fiona Chancellor and her husband, whose name I strangely didn’t get, have gardened the two thirds of an acre plot for some thirty years. As you can see the quality of then horticulture and maintenance is exemplary but whilst the quality of the lawn may have impressed me it was the planting around the pond and also the gravel border that I really enjoyed.

I love gunneras but have never had a garden big enough to accommodate it. Here at Windy Ridge you push past the gunnera to find your way down a path to the back of the pond. I love planting that grows in volume as the season progresses bringing with it a temporary feeling of mystery and surprise to the garden. In any case I am a bit of a foliage nut so all the ferns, bamboo and oversized gunnera leaves were bound to make me happy.

More sumptuous foliage, there is hardly any colour in this picture except for green and yet it is alive with interest from the tall vertical leaves of the irises to the round shiny discs of the water lilies, one texture building on another giving depth and interest.

I’m not generally a fan of topiary and have a perverse dislike for box purely because it seems to be what everyone grows; the more people rave about something the less likely I am to engage with it. However, I did like the box at Windy Ridge. I liked the way the box ball give structure and rhythm to the planting. Their presence allows the surrounding planting to be freer and almost more informal; I suppose the balls anchor the planting.

So there was lots to learn from Windy Ridge, things to mull over in the future which is a nice feeling.

Foliage Follow-Up – April 2017

Blechnum chilense

Sorry I’m a day late in joining in Pam’s Foliage Follow Up although to be honest it is months since I last joined in but I’m sure she will forgive me.  I thought I would take ferns as a theme this month especially as it is the month of the emerging ferny frond, with croziers and fiddleheads all over the place.

Onoclea sensibilis

Whilst Blechnum chilense (above) is an evergreen fern, many of my ferns are deciduous, going dormant over winter.  Onoclea sensibilis, better know as the Sensitive Fern, is one of the first to push up its fronds which initially emerge with a red hue to the stems but soon the frond and stem go a delicious soft green.  It needs moisture to do well, mine are in my old bog garden, and have a habit of dying back in the summer if it gets too hot.

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis, the Royal Fern, is another one that benefits from some moisture.  These emerging fronds are my favourite ones each year.  I’m not sure if it is the elegance and fragility of their appearance of the grey/brown of the stems; whichever it might be I always know the season is progressing when they appear.

Athyrium niponicum

I have a number of Athyrium niponicum in the garden, this one may well be ‘Burgundy Lace’. I certainly have ‘Burgundy Lace’ somewhere and to be honest I struggle to tell the difference between the Athyrium niponicums at times. Anyway it is a very pretty small deciduous fern that bring a nice purple and grey highlight to the border.

My final fiddlehead and not only can I not remember the name of this fern, I can’t even remember where this plant is located.  I took the photographs on Friday ready for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day so who knows which it is .  However, as with all the ferns there is something prehistoric about the fronds unfurling which I enjoy.

Thanks to Pam for hosting this meme which I strive to join in with as I love foliage but generally I fail to remember!

In a Vase on Monday – Indecision

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This week was a real struggle so I almost didn’t bother to write this post but in life we have to go with the rough as well as the smooth so here’s this week’s vase.

I wanted to do something with my witch hazel but the flowers are only just opening and they are so tiny.  I also thought about snowdrops as I have quite a number now but that was last week’s theme so I think I should let at least one week pass with no snowdrops.  Instead I found a hellebore which was full of blooms opening and lots of buds to follow  so I decided to take three stems for the post.

What to put with them was the next struggle and I thought some woodlandy foliage would work well, so I  used some epimedium foliage and fern fronds to give a background and I took photos …

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…and then I thought No I really don’t like that its too fussy and not me at all.  So I ditched the foliage and the pink pashmina – too much pink and went for one of the random bottles I have in my cupboard.  As background I have gone for the grey velvety pashmina as I thought it was an interesting contrast to the second hand everyday bottle.

Anyway, there you go two for one – choose which you prefer!

For more Monday Vases pop over to Cathy’s.

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In A Vase on Monday – Evergreens

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So this week’s In a Vase on Monday (thats two weeks now) is foliage from the garden, with the obligatory munched corner courtesy of the slugs. I think it is a good demonstration of how a winter garden doesn’t have to be borrowing or rely on coloured stems; which I’m not that keen on. The contents are a random selection of evergreen foliage including but not limited to:

  • Prostrate rosemary
  • Choisya ‘Sundance’
  • Arum
  • Buddleja salviifolia
  • Euphorbia characius ‘ Silver Swan’
  • Some form of unknown variegated ivy
  • A yellow variegated form of euonymus
  • A silver variegated form of suonymus

The vase is a simple cheap glass one, I could try and tell you that this was an artistic decision but really it was the only vase that held the foliage together.  So to make up for the lack of interest in the arrangement I decided to take the photograph outside …

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…and within minutes our Ladyship, currently called ‘The Management’ decided to get in on the act.

Thank you Cathy for hosting this meme – for more vases pop over to Rambling in the Garden

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Do you need a garden style?

 

Euphorbia rigida
Euphorbia rigida

It’s a strange thing that my thoughts about the garden are at their most clearest in the early hours of the morning when I am supposed to be asleep. I find myself seeing, with what feels like surprising clarity, exactly how a problem should be resolved and there is inevitably, as the birds warm up their vocal chords, a to do list which would strike fear into many a gardener. Some might therefore question why my garden still remains a challenge to me and the answer to this is simple – the clarity of decisions fades as the sun comes up just like Cinderella’s coach.

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I struggle with planting and working out what to plant with what, it’s a constant frustration. The problem isn’t so much about colour or even the combination of textures it is more about size. How much space should I allow? Do I plant for the short term and then adjust as the plant gets bigger or do I plant with the plant’s eventual size in mind? But even more frustrating is the combining of different size plants to create a cohesive whole.  I have increasingly added more trees and shrubs to the garden but they seem to be like islands in the border or the planting around them is out of proportion. This morning I was reading an article by Fergus Garrett who said something along the lines of ‘you wouldn’t plant a tiny fern next to a large banana’. Well no you wouldn’t but what would you plant next to a large banana that is of the right scale and contrasts with the leaves? What do I plant around my new Liquidamber in the middle of a border that will provide substance and a middle ground before you arrive at the epimediums, bergenias etc? These are the questions that perplex me when I am gardening.

Melianthus major
Melianthus major

I love plants and have had a very eclectic taste which has led to borders without cohesion or direction – a veritable mishmash. I am struggling to work out how to develop my garden to showcase my favourite plants. I have a penchant for large leaved and curious foliage but I’m not sure I want an exotic or sub-tropical garden because I also like roses, peonies and irises and I adore all bulbs. Whilst I love foliage I do still want the high moments of colour at different times of the year.  I suppose the question is do you need to label your style to enable you to develop the space? I have a number of friends who are very clear about their garden styles and their gardens are wonderful.  They have a sense of cohesion and clarity which I aspire to. However, the examples I am thinking of are either based on a very specific plant palette or in a setting with strong architecture which drives the approach.  Not only do I have a magpie approach to plants but my garden is the ubiquitous UK suburban garden with a standard late 1970s house of no particular architectural merit.

Grevillea victoriae
Grevillea victoriae

What adds to my frustration is my apparent inability to learn from inspiration elsewhere.  It is quite strange I have visited so many gardens which I have enjoyed, taken many photos, and looked closely at how borders have been put together but for some bizarre reason I am unable to translate it back to my own garden – it’s as if there is a missing link in my brain.  It is the same with looking at books and magazines. If I do come home feeling inspired inevitably the enthusiasm slowly fades away as I am unable to relate the inspiration to the reality.

I have started to tell myself I am trying too hard and over thinking things and I am sure this is so. There are small areas of planting which are working well I think and so I think the way forward is to focus on the small combinations rather than feeling overwhelmed by the whole garden.

But right now having written this post I am wondering can you have an exotic or sub-tropical garden which has roses and irises in it?  Would it work to combine these plants? And therein lies the problem as I will no doubt no try this and end up dis-satisfied with the outcome and maybe, just maybe, that’s why successful garden makers have a tendency to go for a specific garden style that is well rehearsed and successful.

 

End of Month View – October 2016

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Well Autumn is truly upon us now.  The Colchicums are flowering, the leaves are falling and the clocks went back an hour last night.  I’ve always enjoyed Autumn, just as I do Spring.  I remember as a child one of the highlights of the season was raking up huge piles of beech leaves and jumping into them. For some reason autumn leaves always seem to be damp these days so not conducive to jumping in.

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Hugh’s Border is slowly losing its foliage and preparing for winter but many of the plants are deciduous so some interest will remain through the winter.  Come early spring the snowdrops will flower and if I remember rightly some narcissus.

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I’m including some photos of the wider view mainly because I have treated myself to a wide-angle lens ahead of my trip to Japan in a week’s time.  We will be doing a lot of travelling to temples, castles and into the wider landscape so I thought a wide-angle lens would be a worthwhile investment – well that’s the excuse I am making to myself! The photos on this post are all with the new lens and it means I can show you the wider garden view so the different bits make more sense and you soon realise just how small the garden is and inevitably how much it slopes.

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Oh and you are probably spotted the large timber scattered around.  These are to replace some of the risers on the steps from the patio and also to provide a more definitive edge to the bottom of the Big Border.  Work has started now that many of the plants are being cut back and there is less chance of damage from large feet.  The aim is to get the new hard landscaping completed over the winter before my spring bulbs start making life more challenging for the landscaper.

Its interesting looking at these photos how much colour there is still in the garden and how much of it comes from foliage as opposed to flowers – reinforcement of my view that if you get the foliage right the flower are just the icing on the cake.

Anyone is welcome to join in with the End of Month meme.  You can use it to follow a specific part of the garden through the year or to give your readers a tour of the whole garden – whatever works for you. I like to follow one area through the year as it helps me to be more critical of the space and make improvements.  All I ask is that you leave a link to your post in the comments box below and link back to this post in yours – that way everyone can connect.

End of Month View June 2016 – Hugh’s Border

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A quick End of Month post from me as to be honest I had lost track of where we are in the month.  The garden is at its most full and even more so given the amount of rain we have had over the last few weeks.  Hugh’s border is looking fuller than ever, and in some places too full.

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The other end of the border which is shadier but not as shady as it used to be due to the neighbours cutting down the trees along the boundary.  This end is the home to some of my earlier fern acquisitions which are now quite substantial, there is also a Paulownia although it is battling with a rogue foxglove growing through the middle of it.  My idea is that the Paulownia will form a leafy canopy over the border but I think that will take a few years.  I spent some time this last weekend digging up Pulmonaria which grew along the edge of the steps and had started to self-seed around.  It was great when the border was so shady but had well outgrown its space so I have replaced it with another fern and some more siberian irises which I hope will bring some new textures to this end of the border.

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The front edge of the border which is a lot better than in previous years but at the moment lacking in colour.  There are some foxgloves, crocosmia and a fuschia about the flower so in a week or so it should colour up.  My approach these days is for the foliage first and then the flowers to add colour highlights during the year.  However, I need to work on how I combine the foliage.  I was very impressed with some of the combinations I saw in the gardens last week so there is food for thought on how to improve the planting.

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The back of the border from the bench and you can see this is particularly chaotic and probably too full.  I need to do some editing here and make some decisions about what should stay but I enjoy that side of gardening as it stimulates my creative side.

So that’s a whizz around Hugh’s border before I go to work.  All are welcome to join in with the end of month meme I just ask that you put a link to your post in the comments box below and link to this post in your post so we can all track you down.

Patterns of the Palm House

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Last week, on a rare dry day, I made my very first visit to Kew Gardens in London.  It is almost ridiculous that I have never visited before but living where I do it involves at least 6 hours on trains so you can understand why I have talked myself out of a visit time and again.  However, as I wanted to meet up with some horticultural friends who live in London and who I hadn’t seen for just over a year it seemed a good venue for a Christmas get together.

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The main attraction was the Palm House, which was particularly apt as I was with a group who are very into exotics and knowledgeable on the subject. However,  I found myself distracted completely by the structure of the Palm House with most of my photographs looking up beyond the foliage to the roof.  The Palm House was built between 1844 and 1848 by the architect Decimus Burton and the iron maker Richard Turner.  It was the first large scale structural use of wrought iron.  Sadly the Temperate House, which is even larger, is closed for restoration and will probably be shut until 2018 but I might get around to another visit by then!

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I loved the spiral staircases which take you to the top of the Palm House and on to a walkway from where you can look down on to the foliage.

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You also get to see close up the detail of the building’s construction.

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I found the contrast of the lush tropical foliage with the hard and geometric structure fascinating, especially with the benefit of a beautiful blue sky in the background.

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Just like the structure of the building many of the plants housed here have strong architectural shapes, such as this Dioon spinulosum (I think!).

We also visited the Alpine House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which I really enjoyed but is hard to photograph well unless you take plant close-ups which I didn’t as again I was distracted by the overall view.

All in all it was a lovely day out despite leaving home in the dark and a return journey completely in the dark.  Maybe a summer visit will allow a longer visit with the opportunity to explore the outside of the gardens more.  Maybe an overnight visit would be an even better idea, maybe to coincide with RHS Chelsea – I feel a plan forming!