In a vase on Monday – Late Spring

 

I was inspired by a couple of beautiful feeds on Instagram (@simplybyarrangement @kreettakreetta and @derletztewolf) to pick some late spring flowers from the garden and to attempt to arrange them artistically. I use the term ‘attempt’ as flower arranging is not my forte.  I’ve never been taught and to be honest I really like the bunch in a vase look.

The thing that really appealed to me about the 3 IG feeds is the Dutch Still Life feel many of their photos had.  I love Dutch Still Life.  I like the darkness of the backgrounds, the richness of the colours used and also the strangeness of some of the arrangements.  Obviously tulips lend themselves to this style given their history which is inextricably entwined with that period of Dutch art.

But my tulips are more or less over so my vases have a selection of what was looking lovely in the garden yesterday morning after the rain.  The large bunch is a mix of Deutzia, Aquilegias, Alliums, Geraniums, and some other bits and pieces.  Then there is a little charity shop vase with Lily of the Valley in it. I have loads of Lily of the Valley its becoming a bit of a weed in my garden.  ‘Chatting’ with @simplybyarrangement I have discovered that you are meant to pull Lily of the Valley rather than cut it i.e you pull the flower stem and it comes away from the supporting leaf which is sort of wrapped around it.  I will try that if I pick any more.  This vase is currently in my bedroom and the perfume is wonderful.  That leaves the Rhododendron ‘Happy’.  Every year I think I must pick some Rhodo flowers as they are up the garden and I never look at them much but life gets in the way.  Now as life is generally on hold I have sufficient head space to enact that thought and a beautiful flower is sitting on my coffee table for me to admire up close every evening.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting ‘ In a Vase on Monday’ meme – its hard work hosting a meme.

 

End of Month View – March 2020

It is ages since I posted an End of Month View post.  I have been hosting this meme for something like 10 years and I think that I just ran out of steam. But now I have started to post again I thought I would post an EOMV post and as I haven’t posted much for ages I thought I would give you a tour of the garden – front and back. You can access a plan of the back garden here

So we are starting in the front garden.  I have quite a deep front garden and a couple of years back I decided to get rid of the front lawn as it was just boring. I put a path in purely for decorative purposes and to allow some access for me to manage the plants.  The driveway runs parallel to this area, and the photo is from the top of the driveway.  The planting has filled out a lot over the last few years.  There are a lot of asters and grasses in the area to the left of the path, which is much deeper than the photo implies.  I am now working through removing most of the asters as I want interest throughout the year not just in late summer.  I have this last weekend added the Anemanthele lessoniana to the border, which has been relocated from the back garden.

This is a rather boring photo of the front of the house but I am super pleased with the new path that went in last year.  I’m also really pleased with the narrow border under one of the front windows.  It has been a difficult border for years, due to the builders rubble but the various succulents seem to thrive here; so I’m going to do the same on the other side of the front door.

So we go along the lovely new path and down the side of the house, past my son’s wood store and you come to the back patio and my random pile of pots and compost.  But this photo does show you the difference in the height between the patio and the back garden.

Here is my patio, not the most glamorous of patios but it does the job.  Lots of seedlings in pots to be sorted, the majority of these are peony seedlings from a couple of years ago; turns out I’m quite adept at germinating peonies.

A warts and all view of the other end of the patio.  The area to the left used to be the fern border.  However, the ferns were deteriorating as the rosemary was shading them out.  The ferns were moved about a year ago and I decided to remove the border and continue the paving to make this area bigger and more practical.  However, life got in the way and I haven’t yet completed shifting the soil.

You go up the steps at the end of the patio and you find the bark path to your left.  The border to the left is the rose border.  I have accumulated a number of roses here over the years and the border is backed by 3 step-over apple trees which I have trained from whips.  I started off with just roses and herbs but the other week I have added a few plants from the Big Border (to the right) including some Agapanthus divisions.

The border to the right is the Big Border that is going to be home to my edibles, see last post.

If you continue straight up from the steps you come to the grass path on your left and this goes across the top of the Big Border.  The grass isn’t in very good condition at the moment and is covered in soil from my work clearing the border.  I built the retaining wall to the right of the path this time last year and it has worked well.  It has reduced the slope of the border and the plants seem to just look better.  I also like the structure it gives.

View from the other end of the grass path – not a great photo but it gives a sense of the slope of the garden.

From the grass path you can see the back slope of the garden, which is quite steep.  If you look at the garden plan on the blog you will see that there used to be a path along the top of the slope. I have got rid of this over the last couple of years as it served no purpose.  Instead I have more planting space and I have been moving shrubs in along the top of the slope to create some shrubby cover.

And this is the far top corner, which I call Maisie’s Corner as my beloved cat is buried here.  The compost bins were here until a couple of years ago and we removed them as they were a nightmare to manage.  Instead I have a large shady spot and have moved a number of the ferns from the patio border here, along with some shrubs which had outgrown their homes. We buried Maisie here as it was one of her favourite places and I still find it hard to garden here as I miss her so much.

So there’s my garden warts and all at the end of a reasonably wet March.  Given that we are self-isolating now for a while I hope to be able to get out and start to sort it out more.  However, the reality is that my work is very demanding and I’m finding myself stuck in front of a laptop every day but at least I get to sit in the garden for lunch on a sunny day which is a definite improvement on the normal working week.

 

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.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Lathyrus vernus

I’m starting this month’s GBBD post (possibly the first one this year) with a favourite plant at the moment which I think is very overlooked, Lathyrus vernus; I also think the photo is rather nice.  This is the pink version but the most common is a blue/purple version.

Lathyrus vernus

If you don’t know it then I would recommend it to you.  Part of the pea family, a low growing perennial which appears at this time of year, flowers and then disappears so good to plant around late summer perennials to keep the interest going.

Just by the Lathyrus vernus is this herbaceous clematis (I have no idea of its name) which picks up the colour well, albeit it unplanned.

Narcissus Beautiful Eyes
Narcissus ‘Freedom Stars’ – probably

The garden has had a lovely display of Narcissus over the last month which is still going strong.  I added quite a few new varieties to the main border, having identified that it looked a little flat this time last year.  They have made a real difference and I want to do the same in some other parts of the garden for next year.

The tulips are just starting to flower.  There are a few variegated ones which will be opening in the next week but I thought I would share this rogue one. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to any of the other tulips I have added so I am assuming it is a rogue bulb that got into the wrong bag at the bulb merchants – however, it is rather gorgeous.

Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’

Last of the bulbs that I thought I would share this month – Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’.  I’m not the biggest fan of the general Muscari as they spread everywhere and produce a disproportionate amount of foliage but ‘Valerie Finnis’ is very different.  I love the pale blue flowers and it seems to be fairly well behaved in terms of foliage.

Hertia cheirifolia

Just by the Muscari ‘Valeria Finnis’ is Hertia cheirifolia which I added last summer.  I bought it on a trip for its grey succulent foliage so the flowers are a bonus.

A couple of my epimediums, they do have labels but they are buried well beneath the plants.  I do like epimediums, their foliage is a great foil for other plants during the year and then at this time of year there is the added bonus of these dainty flowers although sometimes you could be forgiven of overlooking them.

Magnolia stellata

A finally, my little Magnolia stellata.  I have had this for years and it just sat there doing nothing, so I moved it a few years ago to a different location with more shade, better drainage, and less competition and it has rewarded me with a growth spurt and now I can see a flutter of white flowers from my living room window.

I hope you enjoyed my highlights for this month and thank you to Carol for hosting this wonderful meme.

 

A Love Letter to Gardeners

Sometimes the smallest thing can transform your day.  Receiving an email from Lawnstarter this morning telling me that I had received a golden trowel award and was in their list of top 70 garden blogs was great but what really made my day was how they described my blog:

“The Patient Gardener is a love letter to gardeners”

I love that, it actually made me a little emotional.  I have always treated my blog as a personal log, after all thats where the term blog comes from weblog.  I write as I talk and edit spareingly.  I think that gives my writing a real voice.  I suppose my writing style is very influenced by having studying Virgina Wolf and loving her ‘stream of consciousness’ style.

Lawnstarter judge their blogs on five criteria:

  • Gardening knowledge
  • Quality and consistency of writing
  • New gardening topic or approaches
  • Memorable voice or personality
  • Presence on google and social media outlets.

Interestingly, I don’t recognise many of the blogs – it just shows I haven’t been as engaged as maybe I should – but its great  to see blogging friends Dee, Helen and Sarah,  Jean, Gerhard and Pam in the mix.

I’m even more pleased as whilst I have blogged more than last year, I am nowhere near as proflic as I used to be, but this might just give me the impetus to write a little more – its nice to be appreciated.

Yeo Valley Organic Garden

The other week I spent  lovely 4 days with a group of friends exploring the gardens of Somerset and Wiltshire.  One of the gardens I was quietly looking forward to seeing was the Yeo Valley Organic Garden which we were due to see on our way home.

I’ve been aware of this garden for some time now.  It regularly features in magazines and on television sometimes because of its gravel garden and sometimes because it is one of only a handful of certified ornamental gardens in the country. Interestingly, their plants come from a small organic nursery just over the hill from me.

You arrive at the garden, nestled in the beautiful Yeo Valley, through the organic diary (I eat their yoghurt every morning).  You enter through a corridor of hedges, past a stunning greenhouse full of exotics and seedlings, a vegetable garden.  Where oh where was the gravel garden?  Past some yellow themed herbaceous borders.

Very nice and interesting use of yellow foliage.

Turn right past the grass border – lovely especially on a windy day such as when we visited. And then you go up the driveway to the house and round a corner and wow!

You can get a fantastic overview on entering if you go up the small mount with the viewpoint on the top (see top photo).

The gravel garden was planted up in 2011 and I just love its abundance.  This is my sort of garden. Swathes of perennials with plenty of space for them to grow tall and strong, merging into each other creating an amazing tapestry.

There’s a pond in the garden singing with damsel flies.

The farmhouse provides a focal point for the garden and it almost feels as though the house provides the backdrop for the garden rather than the garden providing the backdrop for the house.

Oh and off to one side is the birch grove with shade loving planting, a perennial meadow and an annual meadow which had just been recently tilled.

And all of this has been done organically with no pesticides, fertilizers or other chemicals.

It was my favourite garden of the whole trip.  I have so many photos of the gravel garden which is always a sign that I loved it.   I have included just a handful of my favourite photos in this post but if you are down in Somerset I would really recommend making a small detour to visit this garden – it has a great cafe as well.

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’.

 

The front garden two years on

Its been two years, and a couple of weeks, since I, well my youngest son, dug up our front lawn.  It was  decision I laboured over for more than a year – what would I put in its place? Well plants obviously, but what? What theme would I have? Did I need a focal point? How would I get round the space? On and on the questions went until in April 2016 I concluded that I knew the lawn needed to go and I would just trust my instincts as to what came next.

The decision for how to plant the space was sort of made for me as I wanted to relocate a lot of later summer perennials from the back garden.  So a whole host of asters and rudbeckias were relocated along with a group of Calamagrostis ‘Overdam’ which is at its best at the moment with its fresh stripy foliage.

However, there is some early summer colour from various Aquilegia seedlings which have popped up here and there and the acid yellow flowers of Alchemilla mollis are about to erupt creating a vivid stream along the beech hedge.

I had the height of the beech hedge reduced by something like 3 ft last Autumn and it has made such a difference to the balance of the space. I am toying with removing the Laurel hedge at the front but I’m not convinced yet.  The Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ has become a bit of a monster.  Its well established now and has come through numerous cold winters.  I love it firstly because it’s just a strange looking plant, well here in the UK and I like strange, but mostly because I bought it with my late sister; who was thrilled to take me to a nursery she had discovered.

However, the highlight of the front garden this week is the Nectaroscordum siculum which are a real mecca for the bees.  I have a host of seedlings which I have been wondering where to plant so I think I will now add them to the front garden to extend the effect.

I need to move a few plants at the end of the season to give them more space but essentially the front garden looks after itself. I do a bit of dead heading to the bulbs and then a big cut down in late Autumn and that’s it.

So to conclude any hesitation I had about digging up the front lawn has long gone.

 

 

Pacific Coast Surprise

Its funny how things work out.  There I was thinking I would write a blog post about the gardens I saw in Austin when something caught my eye in the garden.  It was this beauty, a Iris Pacific Coast hybrid.  Now my American friends may think, what’s all the fuss about, but here in the UK they are not widely grown.  What is even more exciting is that I grew this one from seed a couple of years ago, probably from the seed exchange at my local Hardy Plant Society.  Only this morning I was listening to a discussion at the same HPS about the lack of Pacific Coast hybrids in the UK and why someone didn’t get hold of some seeds from the US and start breeding them.  I found myself remembering that I had grown some from seed but I couldn’t remember what had happened to them (I am the most forgetful gardener) and lo and behold there it was flowering away just by my kitchen window.  I am thrilled.

I wonder if I could source some seeds from the US ….off to google.