End of Month View – June 2015

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Well that was June.  It seems as though I blinked and missed it and I suspect July will be the same given my diary.  I posted yesterday about my new found enthusiasm for the garden so I wont repeat myself, suffice to say that the garden is already looking better for my work yesterday.  There is some colour from the foxgloves but not as much as I would wish for in the centre of the garden but I am now working on that.

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The borders around the bottom path are looking more colourful. The roses are blooming, some of them are not as floriferous as I would like so they may be on the hit list if they don’t perform better next year.  The penstemons are starting to flower and are adding much needed colour around the stems of the roses.

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The shed view up the stairs and the border to the left is beginning to fill out.  The poppies and Ammi majus have looked lovely and I am now anticipating the agapanthus and zinnias which will flower in a month or so.

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The other shed view from the bottom path.  The asters have really put a spurt on over the last month and will I hope really colour up the Big Border in a couple of months.  I really like the mass of foliage and plant material here but it will need to be kept an eye on to make sure one plant doesn’t swamp out another but at least you can’t see any weeds which may be lurking in the soil below!

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The main woodland border is really full and the Hosta ‘Sun and Substance’ dominates.  I need to do some thinning around it I think so it looks its best.  I think the Solomons Seal to its left needs a slight relocation so both plants are shown off better but I am pleased with the coverage.  I also think there is scope for a little variety in texture so maybe the addition of a fern might help to the left of the border.

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The newish planted woodland area is beginning to fill out and I think I will add some bulbs through here, maybe some dwarf narcissus and crocus.

So that is the garden at the end of June.  The summer temperatures appear to be about to rise drastically over the next week so I will have to keep an eye on the new plantings.

Any one is welcome to join in the End of Month View and to use it how they wish.  All I ask is that you add a link to this post in yours and a link to your post in the comments box below.

 

Sissinghurst – a Romantic Confection

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As I was staying in Sissinghurst village for my visit to Great Dixter at the lovely Milk House, which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone visiting that area, it would have been madness for me not to visit Sissinghurst garden.IMG_0447

I have to admit to having mixed feelings about this garden visit.  Sissinghurst is one of those gardens that, as a gardener, you feel you should have visited and be able to reference. Interestingly during conversations on the study day at Great Dixter quite a few people were, shall we say, a bit sniffy about Sissinghurst, saying such things as ‘well I have visited but I don’t feel a need to go back’, which was intriguing. I need to say now that my mindset on arrival was somewhat distracted as I was having car issues and I was worrying whether the car would get me the 4.5 hours home (in fact the car was OK which was a huge relief). So I didn’t have the relaxing contented visit I had hoped for.

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I had the benefit of being one of the first through the door and instead of exploring the tower I set out to see as much of the garden as I could before it become crowded.  More by luck than design I found myself firstly in the renowned White Garden. Now I am not a fan of White Gardens I find them sort of static, I much prefer contrasting colours or even harmonious colours and the way the colours work with each other.  However, I have to admit that this part of the garden had a nice calming atmosphere, particularly given my frame of mind.

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Again in the Cottage Garden, which is planted up in hot vibrant colours, I wasn’t thrilled with this combination – the yellows are all the same and I would have liked to see some possibly lighter shades of yellow or an orange verbascum such as Clementine to jazz it up.  However to be far this was just one small planting in the Cottage Garden, the rest was a mixture of strong yellows, red and oranges and lots of textures.

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One of the things I really liked at Sissinghurst were the vistas through the various walls or hedges leading the eye to the next garden or an area you wanted to find your way to.  I have quite a few photographs of vignettes such as the one above and also of large planted pots planted with a single type of plants – an interesting contrast to the mass groupings of pots at Great Dixter.

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Like the White Garden I find the Nuttery with its shady woodland planting relaxing.  I have a weakness for ferns and I was bewitched with the way the sunlight was bouncing off the fronds in this mass planting and showcasing the statue.  I would like to try to do something similar but I don’t know if I have the space.

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The area of the garden that I really enjoyed was the Rose Garden which was somewhat surprising.  I am liking roses more and more and I particularly liked seeing them planted with other perennials.  As you can see the alliums in the photograph above and at the top of the post provide a wonderful froth through the borders.  The scent in this garden, especially as the sun was shining, was quite divine.  I liked this colour palette which provided a really romantic atmosphere (if you ignored all the other visitors which I studiously managed to exclude from my photos).  IMG_0518On arrival at the garden there was an exhibition about Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicholson’s marriage, with copies of their letters etc.  On the walls of the barn that the exhibition was housed in were painted quotes from these letters which showed the strength of their feelings for each other and I think the Rose Garden really epitomises their love for each other.

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So what is my overall impression of Sissinghurst? Firstly, I think I was spoilt by my visit to Great Dixter the day before which really speaks to me.  However, Sissinghurst is a beautiful garden and is the first National Trust garden I have visited which has an atmosphere which, in my opinion, is so hard to come by when the garden is not managed by its creator/owner. I know that Troy Scott-Smith, who took on the role of Head Gardener in 2013, is working to move the garden away from  pristine horticultural excellence back to a garden, which although demonstrating good horticulture, also has a more artistic feel such as it had in Vita’s time.  You can really see that there are areas where this has been achieved and other areas where it hasn’t quite got there.  Hardly surprising given Troy has only been post for two years.  I think I would like to visit again in say 2 or 3 years to see if Troy has been allowed to have his way and how the garden has developed.

 

My Garden This Weekend – 21st June 2015 Solstice Delights

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I’m off today on a short garden visiting odyssey so there won’t be the usual weekly update of things in my garden. Instead here are some pictures of what is looking good in the garden I managed to take yesterday afternoon between rain showers.

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I am thrilled with the impact of the Geranium palmatum at the top of the garden.  It seems to have gone mad this year and you have to battle your way along the top path.  I suspect the amount of growth is because we had such a mild winter the plants didn’t get knocked back.

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So those are my solstice delights.  I will be back later in the week to hopefully share with you some images of the amazing gardens I am visiting down south.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – June 2015

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The colour theme for June seems to be very much purples and pinks with the odd splash of red and white, such as the Potentilla album above.  I have been more conscious in choosing plants that are within a colour palette to try to bring some cohesion to my garden.

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The roses are starting to flower.  This one is looking the best it has ever looked and is smothered in flowers.  I think it might be Rosa ‘Lucky’ but for the life of me I can’t remember where I bought it from or when. I deliberately didn’t prune my roses hard this year as I wanted them to be taller to add height to the border and with the exception of one which for some reason hasn’t produce any flowering stems it seems to have worked well.

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The second one to flower is Ophelia which is a fuller flower and prone to being damaged when it rains or there is a strong wind.  It is beautiful and the scent is heavenly but I think I prefer the form of the top rose more.

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New to me this year is Cerinthe retorta which I have really fallen in love with.  I much prefer it to the normal Cerinthe major especially the white inner flowers.  I will definitely be collecting seed from these.

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My favourite Astrantia, again I seem to have lost the label, but the colour is just stunning.  It is bulking up slowly now so maybe next year I will be able to divide it.

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One of my many alliums – I get confused which is which but I do like the shape of the flowers on this variety as they open and I really need to add more to the garden.

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Iris louisiana which I adore.  It was new last year and I was completely bewitched but its iridescent blue flowers.  It lives in the damp corner of my patio which often floods and seems to enjoy the moisture.

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I am pretty certain this is Geum Totally Tangerine; a really good plant which has been flowering already for around 6 weeks and adds a sparkle of colour to the predominantly green foliage in the woodland border.

So these are my favourite flowers this month, the stars of the show.  For more Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts pop over to Carol’s at May Dreams.

 

Introducing Hugh

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I would like to introduce you to Hugh, a new addition to the garden.  Hugh was created by my friend Vik Westaway who is a sculptress specialising in willow.  In particular she creates amazing willow people which you can place in your garden but I prefer her animals and I fell in love with the owl some time ago.   So I was thrilled that as a thank you for the huge pile of willow logs I gave her, Vik gave me Hugh who is sitting on one of the logs. I am really pleased that some of the willow tree will have a second lease of life as bits of art work.  The other half is being used by my eldest son to train his scouts how to use knifes, axes and saws so the pile of logs has been put to good use.

You can see some of Vik’s work on her website. She has been particularly busy over the last 6 months since she was featured in Period Living Magazine. She is so busy in fact, producing sculptures for Chelsea and other exhibitions, that you have to book her two months in advance for a meal out!!! One of the exhibitions will be at the local Old Court Nursery, known for its asters, so if you are in the Malvern area in August or September why not pop in and see both the asters and sculpture.

Anyway I am delighted with Hugh who is residing in the old Bog Garden.  We thought he looked good peering out of the ferns and other foliage.  And why Hugh I hear you ask? Well if you say ‘hugh, hugh’ it sounds like an owl…trust me!!

 

My Garden This Weekend – 25/5/15

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I have spent the last two days in the garden and it has been lovely.   I did consider popping over the Malvern Hills to visit some gardens in Leominster this afternoon but by lunchtime I had really got stuck into planting up part of the woodland border so I stayed put and finished the job.  This year is the first year for ages that I remember being really content in the garden.  I don’t know whether it’s because I have been pottering in the evening so more of the jobs are being done or whether it’s because I have stopped charging around exhibiting at shows and reduced the number of groups I go to or whether it because I haven’t got a major project this year but I definitely feel more relaxed and I am enjoying gardening, instead of rushing around trying to achieve half a dozen things at a time.

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Yesterday was very overcast with the odd shower, not really conducive to weeding and pottering so instead I decided to face the horror that is the collection of seed trays and pots in the cold frames. I love sowing seeds and get very excited when they germinate but I’m not so good at looking after the seedlings and growing them on.  As I said to a friend recently if I succeeded with everything I germinated I would have a botanical garden by now so one of my objectives this year is to do better.  I have two 3 tier cold frames and one of them is home to an assortment of pots and trays in which seeds have been sown and then forgotten.  The majority of them date back to 2014 and some of them contain bulb seedlings which I wait until the second year to pot up.  So I spent probably 4 hours on Sunday pricking out and potting up.  There were still some pots with no sign of life so they have gone up the top of the garden to benefit from all weathers and then if they aren’t doing anything probably by the winter they will be chucked.  I was thrilled though to discover 3 pots of Arisaema seedlings, some Paeonia cambessedesii seedlings, as well as fritillaries and acer seedlings.

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Of course one pot of seedlings soon becomes one tray of seedlings etc so it was a real jigsaw getting everything back into the cold frames and greenhouse.  I did ditch a couple of pots that were obviously never going to germinate and some of the older seedlings are having to toughen up on the patio but in the end it all got put back together.

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Today, Bank Holiday Monday, I started with planting out some Petunia exserta seedlings grown from seed from Special Plants.  This led to me weeding the Big Border which led to me relocating an epimedium which then led to me considering the woodland border and the space where the Acer previously was.  The old rhododendron only had one flower this year and has become very leggy and one sided due to the shade produced by the vast willow.  Now the willow has been cut back and there is so much more sky I am trying to get the rhododendron to bush out better.  I pruned it back and this of course revealed some more planting area.  One thing led to another and by mid-afternoon I had added two small rhododendrons that I got for my birthday and a Vestia foetida which I bought at the garden visit on Saturday.  I also added a couple of epimediums – well it would be rude not to take advantage of more shady space wouldn’t it.

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It doesn’t look much in this photograph but I am really pleased.  I had planned to trim the box pyramid but I love the bright green new shoots too much so they have been left for another week.

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I even did some weeding in the front garden which I hate working in and for once I am really pleased with the driveway border.  The geums that went in last year are coming into their own although I would have preferred it if the orange geums could have been as strong as the red ones which seem to dominate the border at the moment.  I have a new fondness for orange geums as I think they add wonderful spots of highlight which really lift a border.

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As you can see the Achemilla mollis is about to flower so there will be a limey green haze along the side of the border which links to the marjoram on the other side of the border.  I just need to try to continue this style of planting along the end of the lawn where the soil gets much drier. As readers will know I have been considering digging up the front lawn but for now I have decided to be kind to myself and not give myself too much additional work so the lawn stays a little longer.

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As you can see its all looking very lush and full but it will be interesting to see how good it looks when the late spring Aquilegia and Alliums are over.