Monday 30 May 2011

Ginny on the pot

I was out in the garden yesterday, busily potting on a buddleia and a couple of box bushes, and within two minutes of me being out there, Ginny came strolling down the garden, jumped onto her favourite pot and surveyed my activity with a knowing stare.  She then posed very obligingly and even looked at the camera for me.  Both cats enjoy watching me gardening, and really love to be in the garden when we are out there.  However, I do have to protect some of my lovely plants from Ginny's claws ( I am sure she purposely chooses my best plants) as you can see from the chicken wire wrapped around the trunk of the magnolia in the photo above.   This pot is one of Ginny's favourite places as it is high enough to give her that feeling of superiority which she loves, and also big enough for her to sun herself on.

Saturday 28 May 2011

My favourite Chelsea Garden 2011

The above photo shows my favourite Chelsea garden from this year's show, "The Skyshade Garden", which won a silver flora medal for the designer, Marney Hall.  Actually, it was the gorgeous Hares sculpture that I loved, with the naturalistic planting around it.  I only caught a glimpse of the sculpture twice through all the coverage, but looked on the BBC website and there was the photo.
This is how the garden is described:
"This is an eco-friendly office and garden for a lover of plants and wildlife. The office, made out of sustainable materials and powered by photovoltaic panels on the roof sits in the corner enjoying the view out into the garden and its variety of habitats.
A stream runs through the garden and is planted with water-loving plants which are also good for insect nectar sources. The movement of the water through the stream also creates sound in the garden to make the space and office feel tranquil and cut out external noise such as roads.
A meadow, created from year-old turf with extras sown in (like ox-eye daisy, salad burnet, meadow saxifrage, horse-shoe vetch and bird's foot trefoil) sits in the centre of the garden with a wildlife border to one side and a woodland to the other. The wildlife border contains plants, which from Marney's own observations, are great for wildlife. The woodland is planted with Swedish Whitebeam, Rowan and Silver Birches and underplanted with shrubs and native forest floor plants. 
A herb area is dressed with gravel designed to soak up heat and attract butterflies who prefer to lay eggs on plants in warmer areas (so the larvae develop quickly and have better chances at survival). The herbs spill from the garden onto the path waiting to be crushed under foot, filling the air with scent attractive to wildlife and humans alike."

I did like areas of planting from lots of the gardens, but no one garden really grabbed my interest.

The RBC New Wild Garden by Nigel Dunnett (awarded a silver-gilt flora medal) also had some lovely planting and a very clever use for a storage container.  I particularly liked the trees and the insect habitats created in the stone walls - artistic and useful.    One day, I shall actually visit the show, just once, to say I have been.  In the meantime, I shall continue to watch the coverage and dream about my bigger garden and how beautiful it will be...(probably with a Hares sculpture in it too.)

Monday 23 May 2011

A (small) bouquet of roses

 I know, more roses, but I had to cut these yesterday because they kept trying to attack me when I walked down the path.  I was on a mission to re-pot my large Magnolia 'Susan', which I had been meaning to do for about three years at least.  I have had to massively root prune the poor thing and I'm not sure I haven't overdone it.  It may be a fatal re-pot, but I am trying to remain positive and am anxiously checking it.  I did give it three watering cans full of feed and water once it was in a bigger pot, so I am hoping it will survive.  Anyway, I digress. 

The roses are (left) 'Jacques Cartier' and (right) 'Geoff Hamilton'.  Rose 'Geoff Hamilton' has ball shaped blooms which don't hold up well to being rained on, but that hasn't been a problem this year.  It does have a lovely scent, which is wafting around the kitchen.  I have about twelve roses in my very small garden - when I get my larger garden (one day, hopefully when I am still physically able to look after it), I shall have lots and lots of roses.  'Gertrude Jekyll', 'Molineux', 'Margaret Merrill', 'William Lobb', 'New Dawn', 'Constance Spry', 'Rosa Mundi', 'Mary Rose', 'Geoff Hamilton', 'Tuscany Superb', 'Crocus', 'The Generous Gardener', etc., ... one day...

Sunday 22 May 2011

My new Hydrangea 'Avant Garde'

 My new Hydrangea has arrived as you can see from the photos.  It looks a healthy plant, with big glossy green leaves and a substantial stem, all of which bodes well.  I was going to put it into a tub, but decided to pot it on into a larger plant pot first, to give it a chance to get used to the conditions for a week or two, and to start rooting into the new compost.

The size of the leaves indicates it will grow into a big plant, but I'll worry about that as and when it happens.  I shall keep a photographic record of its progress and post the photos now and again so that you can see how it develops (and whether it flowers, probably not before September). I really enjoy getting new plants for the garden.

Saturday 21 May 2011

The Shadow Line

The Shadow Line is a fantastic piece of drama on at the moment on BBC2 (Thursdays at 9.00pm and we are up to part 3/7).  It is a story of a gangland murder and all the people involved, both police and criminals and has an amazing cast.  The really great thing is that you question all the characters and they are all ambiguous to a degree.  There are no easily defined 'goodies versus baddies' here.  It is such a tense programme that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.  The stand out portrayal amongst many for me is Rafe Spall's unhinged and unpredictable 'Jay Stratton' who unnerves, threatens and makes me jump every time!  It does have disturbing scenes, but that is to be expected with a story of this kind.  If it doesn't win a huge number of awards, there is no justice in the world!
Link to iplayer and more info - see it for yourself, if you haven't managed to yet:
Chris and I will be glued to it in the coming weeks...

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Garden Highlights

 Having just had a wander round the garden, I thought I would share some of my favourite things flowering at the moment (about three weeks early, due to the odd weather).  First is Clematis 'Rebecca' whose bright petals make a great contrast with the foliage colour.  It is using the post from the bird table to climb up and seems to quite like it there, despite the odd splashing of the petals from the birds.

 Next we have one of my very favourite roses, 'Gertrude Jekyll', who has appeared on this blog more than once, but every time I see a flower, I think it deserves another mention.  I had to hold the flower up due to its weight after a shower of rain.  (And it has the most delicious scent too).

 A rather less than beautiful shrub, and a new purchase of a Blueberry 'Goldtraube', as I lost one of my two very straggly plants over the winter.  This plant is a much better shape than mine, and has lots of flowers.  About five minutes after putting it in the garden, I saw a bee happily visiting the flowers.  It would be nice to actually grow a berry - so far that has eluded me!

 Geranium 'Magnificum' and very well named.  It has been moved twice and hadn't flowered in the two years since I bought it.  This year, it is obviously feeling happier and has put out these lovely purple flowers with darker veining. 

Finally, a lime and white flower from Hydrangea Endless Summer 'The Bride'.  I bought three plants, this one, a blue and a pink, this time last year from a very well known shopping channel (QVC, just in case you are wondering) and just left them in the shelter of a brick wall over winter, so thought they might not do terribly well.  They were only very small plants, but did look very healthy.  I gave my sister the blue one and kept the others.  Well, a year on and this is the result and I am thrilled with them.  They are bursting with health and both have lovely flower buds and flowers.  I have recently ordered a new variety called 'Avant Garde' which has one massive flower and am waiting for that to be delivered.  I'll take photos of it as it grows and see if it does what was promised.  If it is anything like these two, I won't be disappointed.

Monday 16 May 2011

Latest tulip felt piece

This cropped image of a Black Parrot tulip was the inspiration for the latest piece of felt.  I knew it would be an abstract version of the image, as I didn't want an exact copy.  I was more interested in the colour blending and the swirling shapes.

 The piece almost ready for felting - I added in some more dark colours to try to give a feeling of depth and also added silk threads in various colours to add interest and shine.

The finished piece, with the added threads and more definition given to the swirls.  I am pleased with the colour blends and the swirling pattern.  I am considering a bit of embellishment to the surface, perhaps with some beads or sequins, or embroidery, or both.  I really enjoy exploring just what I can do and what effects I can create, especially as I am never sure exactly what the finished piece will look like.

Saturday 14 May 2011

A Success!

 I have been so excited over the last couple of weeks to see my lovely Oriental Poppy 'Checkers' in bud.  You may feel that this is a slightly odd thing, but I have had a long relationship with this plant.  I have grown it from seed and nurtured it, first on the windowsill, then potting it on and worrying about whether it would survive the winters.  Once it was big enough, I planted it out in the border and then worried about whether it was in the right place, then whether it would survive last winter (which it obviously did!).  Then, this Spring, I worried about whether it was too dry and whether it was growing and whether it would produce any buds.  Now, perhaps, you can understand my excitement. (Looking at the buds, it bears a strong resemblance to 'Audrey 2' in the film "Little Shop of Horrors", but I won't be feeding it what Seymour had to!)
This morning, I went out in the garden, as I do, to have a good look at things and check on pests and diseases, and whether my pots need watering and was literally stopped in my tracks by an open flower.

It is absolutely beautiful, with dark purple blotches at the base of the petals and silky folded petals in a pure white.  I know the flower won't last long, but I am so proud of my achievement, I had to immortalise it in a photo.  (There are still another five buds on the plant, so hopefully I'll be enjoying it for a little while longer.)  What a fantastic start to the weekend.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Great Gardens of Italy

The garden at Ninfa (from the Great Gardens of Italy book to accompany the series)

I have really enjoyed the BBC2 series "Monty Don's Italian Gardens".  As this series followed straight on from Gardeners' World on a Friday night, I was in my element with an hour and a half of gardening.  Prior to this series, I had always thought of Italian gardens as beautifully formal and green, green, green, with masses of topiary and the containment of nature as a huge advertisement of power.  A lot of the gardens were an extension of the enormous houses and created by incredibly wealthy cardinals trying to become Pope.  However, I now find that originally, the formal lines contained a riot of colour with planting which has not been continued down the years, so our view today is of only part of the gardens.  I must admit to being very relieved about that.  I do like the formal lines, but I need the floofy planting to go with it.
There were many gorgeous gardens featured in the series, but my absolute favourite was the garden at Ninfa.  This is about 30Km south of Rome and was created around the ruins of a Medieval town.  Monty himself described it as "the most romantic garden in the world" and even though I haven't seen it in the flesh, it looked magical on the programme.  If I ever get the chance to go to Italy (I have been once but it was a school trip and didn't include any garden visits), I would love to visit Ninfa and some of the other inspiring places.
The last programme is available on iplayer:

Monday 9 May 2011

Clematis and Geranium

 The above photo shows Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' which, although having been eaten (probably by a slug or snail) while in bud, has still managed to flower and look amazing.  This is a clematis I have struggled with for a year or so as it looked really pathetic when I planted it, but it has finally repaid my patience.

This is Geranium sylvaticum 'Mayflower' which I bought from the fantastic nursery at Hall Farm last week.  It is described as having 'violet blue' flowers which they are, but there is an almost luminous quality about the colour.  It 'zings' out, especially in bright sunshine or even in shade.  I think this is a woodland variety, but it will get some shade in my garden which it will like.  I think hardy geraniums are one of my favourite plants as there are so many beautiful varieties and they are all pretty undemanding but look lovely in the border.
On a sadder note, I have finally sent my hardy fuchsias off to the great nursery in the sky.  I had left them in the hope that they would grow, but no such luck.  They had come through the previous winter, but the extreme temperatures for such a long time finally defeated them.  I have also lost a grass (used to be called Stipa Arundinacea but is now Amenathele lessoniana or something like that!) and several other plants too.  Still, that is the nature of gardening and it does gives me more planting opportunities.  However, I think that any replacements will have to be tough, hardy and easy to look after!

Sunday 8 May 2011

Granny's childhood home at Crayke, Yorkshire

"We went to Crayke (a small village in Yorkshire) in 1901 when I was three months old and stayed there until I was nineteen, so that all my formative years were spent there and it is nearly always to Crayke that I go back in my dreams.Crayke was a Crown living and Father was lucky to be offered it.  Crayke stood on a hill overlooking the Vale of York. The road ran up steeply between two grassy slopes. Halfway up on the right was the well from which most of the village drew water. It had an arched stone roof but the side was open and the water must have been full of impurities. There was one epidemic of diphtheria while we were in the village." 

"The Post Office and general stores was run by the B's.  Mr B made and mended boots and shoes and Mrs B kept the shop.  The H family were the carpenters and undertakers. Mr J H was the verger for many years and rarely missed a service...He rang the three bells, one rope in either hand and his foot in a loop for the third."  Doesn't that conjure up a wonderful image?
"St Cuthbert's church stood on the top of the hill.  It had a square tower and we used occasionally to climb up the worn stone steps which corkscrewed up to the first floor, where the three bells hung.  Next there was a ladder to climb to the second floor and the ladder had then to be pulled up in order to reach the trap door at the top of the tower.  On one occasion, the boys sent semaphore messages from the top of the tower to the foot of the hill.
" The Butcher, Mr K was a very prosperous farmer.  He also kept the Durham Ox..he was a church warden.
A second small shop in Crayke was kept by Miss S and her two brothers H and C.  They were the carriers of the village.  The shop sold corn and meal, flour, dog biscuits and chicken food as well as sweets.  One could get a half penny square of Fry's chocolate or a Fry's cream bar there.  Miss S was a small, stout person with a round, pale face and her hair was done up in a bun on top of her head.
We saw very little of Mr G, the blacksmith, but could hear the clank of his hammer on the anvil from the Rectory garden.
Crayke Rectory

"Another outstanding family in the village were the G's.  The eldest brother, A, had the farm at the foot of the hill and kept a herd of milking cows.  His old mother lived at the farm and was the backbone of the family for many years.  She came to church regularly with her grand-daughters as long as she was able.  I remember going to see her at the farm when she was quite old.  She sat by the fire in a rocking chair with a shawl round her shoulders and a cat or two beside her.  The hearth-rug was made of pieces of coloured cloth.
Mr G was the village tailor.  He made some Robin Hood costumes for the boys for a fancy dress party and a Puritan dress, cap and apron for Hilda Mary.
Our most remote parishioners was the M's. They lived nearly two miles away on the road to Orlston.  Mr M...was a short, round man just like a kind dwarf in a fairy story.  He has white whiskers all round his face and he wore a frock coat and a tall felt hat when he came to church.  He was usually accompanied by several small brown-eyed boys and a little girl called Emily."

I was surprised to read about the number of amenities this small village had.  Over the years, many small communities have lost these businesses, so now are left with just a pub and possibly shop/post office if you are lucky. Life then was much more self-contained, unlike today, where it is a necessity to have a car to travel to the local town or city for work and shops. The above photographs are all taken from Granny's album, but there is no clue as to the photographer.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Visit to Hall Farm

I had a lovely morning out this morning as I went to Hall Farm, one of my favourite local nurseries/gardens. The house itself is a beautiful stone farmhouse and the garden leads away from it, with compartmentalised areas and an orchard at the bottom. This gives lots of interesting vistas which lead the visitor all around the garden.
A view looking down towards the orchard area.

Looking back the other way, towards the house.

The very pretty sunken Spring garden beside the house, with forget-me-nots, tulips, hardy geraniums and alpine plants.
The view at the entrance to the garden, with more spring planting. It is the kind of garden I like best, with good formal 'bones' but lovely 'floofy' planting within that. There were tree peonies in flower, lots of hardy geraniums and camassias, bellis, honesty, wiegela all flowering away. A perfect way to spend the morning.