Saturday, 28 February 2015

End of Month Review - February 2015

Whoosh, that was February, a month not usually known for its speed but this year blink and you probably missed it.

It was cold, frosty, a little rainy and sometimes even a bit snowy.  All sort of wintery really.
I start in the driveway where the snowdrops are flowering.
I noticed the amazing catkins on this tree that is not mine, but just over the fence by the side of the big shed.  It was gleaming in the sun (tree, not shed).
The Aconite Lawn..............yes, well, the side lawn, has fewer aconites than I had hoped (I'd hoped for one).
On the plus side, there are real signs of growth now, it feels like Spring is on its way.
The Knot Garden is looking better as I have removed some of the lavender bushes that had got a bit large.  It looks simpler again and that makes me happy.
The Gravel Garden is enjoying its Spring colours from the crocii, black lily grass and primulas.  You can see the ever encroaching sea of ivy which needs some further cutting back.
Into the back garden it all looks quite cold and wet, but I have things to focus on at the moment so I barely notice this.
In the Conservatory Border I focus on the newly emerged irises, one of my favourite plants.
I am also watching this Geranium palmatum to check it is getting through the winter ok.  It seems a tough plant as it had survived two winters now.  I keep hoping it might self-seed a little but no luck as yet.
In the Courtyard currently this camellia is the centre of attention, I'm watching the buds swell and get ready to open.
Natasha and Elsie have some new Easton Walled Garden snowdrops to keep them company.
and I've popped a couple of sempervivum into a hole in a stone in the Pond Border, well why not I thought.
In the Woodland Border this eurphorbia is my centre of attention and it is turning out to be one of the best performing plants I have ever grown.  It really is doing something every week of the year.
In the Tree Lupin Border I am focussing on the Prunus Ben chidori which is thinking hard about flowering but not quite yet.
Back to the Pond Border and these sedum are providing wonderful structure and colour.
The Prairie Borders provide a blonde pause.
The Illicium simonsii in the Wild Garden is growing really well, every year it gets more established and earns its place as one of the few evergreen shrubs I allow.
and the Edgeworthia is still alive (does happy #edgeworthiawatch dance).
Whilst I am wandering around the garden his gingerness as ever demands my attention.
Yet whilst I am concentrating on individual plants, in the Wild Garden the snowdrops are flowering well and now forming definite clumps.  This makes me happy and reminds me I need to buy another 200.
and in the greenhouse under the covers the plants are getting through the winter.
Finally there is, as ever, the pond.  Currently not frozen and waiting for its first frogspawn, it is only a matter of time now.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Garden Press Event

I decided the other day to go on a bit of an adventure.  Well in my small world it was an adventure as it was something I had not previously done and it was down in that London.  I went along to the Garden Press Event which was celebrating its tenth anniversary.  The purpose of the event is for garden-related organisations/businesses to show off their wares to the press and media.
It is a big event and full of many different types of stalls advertising all sorts of different things such as these wonderful topiary figures from Agrumi.
I was also really pleased to get talking to Maria from Jersey Plants Direct who are branching out with a new venture called 'garden wants'.   Whilst I had not met Janice before we quickly realised that I had trialled growing an aloe for them so it was rather nice to meet in reality (the aloe is still growing well by the way).   Garden Wants is aiming to provide the busy person's gardening needs including those who may be less confident with gardening.
They sell just about anything you can think of including these hanging baskets that you can buy a continuity plan to have the right plants sent to you at the right of time of year so that you have them working all year around.  This may not attract the more experienced gardener, but for someone just putting their first toe in the gardening world it could be a stress-free first experience.

I also had many interesting conversations, such as with the Crop Protection Agency.   They had a stand there as they were promoting a new educational scheme aimed at helping retail staff to understand current legislation onselling/working with chemicals including advising when and when not to use and safe disposal.  This is a really important scheme because no matter what your view is on using chemicals what is not debatable is that they are out there and people are using them.  What has to be best on all sides is if those people are making informed choices by getting informed advice.  Of course if you wish to be organic then the CPA is probably not the people you would turn to, but don't you want to know that if you wanted to dispose of those garden chemicals lurking on the top shelf of the shed that there are people out there who can give you advice what to do?

I left with goody bags full of all sorts of things, from seeds and lilies to notepads and fudge; a beautifully shiny 'Moulton Mill' trowel from Gardman and a rather oddly shaped hand held fan (well, I think it is a fan....).
I will be writing further follow ups from this event.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Buckminster snowdrops

I appear to be on a snowdrop odyssey this year so when offered the chance to wander around some unknown to me snowdrops it felt churlish to refuse (especially as a pub lunch was included).  I have driven through the village of Buckminster quite often as it is on the road between Leicester and Easton Walled Gardens so I knew it was not very far.
We met at the church, which is a pretty church with a rather fine mausoleum in front of it which is called the Dysart mausoleum.
There are many snowdrops to be seen, drifting off into the distance.
There is this rather nice temple (?) in the grounds, nicely set off by the snowdrops and the wonderful mature trees many of whom must have been there for a good century.
and for the second time this year there was a very fine garrya.  I am having to re-assess my views on garrya as this one I liked a lot.  I shall show this picture to my garrya and tell it to buck up!
In the walled garden there is a fine glasshouse with a row of vines growing.  I loved seeing the roots being allowed to grow in the cool outside whilst the main plant kept warm.
There was also this topiary ship in the walled garden, from one angle it looked a bit like a shark's fin, but once I walked around it I realised it was more ship-shape.
The main house is private, but you could glimpse these topiary pepper-pots on the lawn.  I really liked these, they made a good statement.
There were also these paths made out of wonderful small brick sets.  You can just imagine generations of gardeners trundling their barrows along them.
There is much fine brickwork in this garden.  I know that I am meant to be looking at the gardens, but the structure matters and this curving retaining wall is a thing of beauty.
and this, dear reader, is the Repton landscape that the house and gardens look out on.  I would not have known this if I had not been told, but I thought it was rather special.
We then wandered into the church for a cup of tea and biscuit.  I had no idea so many churches served tea.  Inside the church was this model church made of matchsticks, it is not a model of the actual church so I did not have to worry that I might get trapped inside some sort of time-space continuum rift.
Of course I bought some snowdrops, how many times do I have to explain it is rude not to?  I will find where these will be planted and record in my journal their location so that I do not forget.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Snowdrop time at Easton Walled Gardens

I am enjoying myself very much this year visiting several snowdrop gardens.  Easton Walled Gardens is always a favourite this time of year as each garden has its own character and own charm.
and Easton has much charm.  This display is always well-used when I see it and I think each time I wish I had something similar.  (and yet still do nothing it make it happen, oh well).
The snowdrop slope is a great sight.  There are many snowdrops around the garden but I think I always like this part best.  Maybe it is because it is not accessible the rest of the year so a walk along here feels like a treat.
It is a sheltered site, the bank is home to many snowdrops and shrubs.  This one has the remains of a bird's nest in it.
There is the aconite corner where the white fades into yellow.  Again this is favourite spot on the walk though I go home and curse my aconites for their lack of co-operation.
The snowdrops have swum across the stream to make a break for the fields.
and this mild spot also means that the daffodils are much further developed than mine are at home.
The snowdrops pop up everywhere, the way they do when they are really happy and well-established.
It was Valentine's Day when we visited and we found this heart someone had left on the bridge.  How sweet.

and of course snowdrops were bought:
I had to put them in this holding space until the next day when I could plant them out.  I have a growing collection of Easton snowdrops after several snowdrop visits.  I would even go so far to say they are almost a clump.  

Now to look forward to the next visit.....

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Little Ponton Hall - the Aconite Sea

Little Ponton Hall is about an hour's journey from where I live and whilst I had heard of it, I had never visited previously.  It is not open very often but it does open for snowdrop and aconite days.
The Hall is a pretty eighteenth century house.  It is beautifully situated with the River Witham running through the grounds.  When you first arrive you do get immediate hints that they may have a snowdrop or two.
Firstly though we had to visit the immaculate walled garden to look at the plant sales.  They had some very good plants for sale which meant choices had to be made.
We were stopped in our tracks by the sight of this mistletoe growing at eye level on the fruit trees in the walled garden.  It was just such a wonderful sight, everyone who noticed it stood and admired it for a moment.
Once plants were purchased we wandered into the grounds proper to see the snowdrop sights.
Quickly you realised there is more to Little Ponton than snowdrops.  There are many snowdrops, it is a good snowdrop garden, but.....
....the swathes of aconites are a sight to see.
Seas of yellow where-ever you look, absolutely seas of them,
I do mean there are lots, that yellowish tinge under the trees is aconites.
If you think you are snowdropped-out and fear you have snowdrop fatigue, then go to Little Ponton and be carried away on an ocean of yellow. 
It is a very beautiful place, the river running through it seems to give the snowdrops and aconites a good location to show off.
and the mature grounds host some wonderful trees like this cedar, which has apparently taken some lightening damage but still is something to be seen.
The nearby church of St Guthlac is also worth a visit whether you are a christian or not.  If for nothing else there is the beauty of the aconite lined path.
You look out from the path and you can see that the snowdrops and aconites have escaped into the fields.
It is the most colourful setting, with the mossy walls trying in vain to hold back the marauding snowdrops and aconites.
The church is fascinating with its decorated walls,
and 1000 year old horse heads by the roof.
and of course around the head stones the snow drops make themselves known.

I thoroughly enjoyed my morning there and made a note to return again.  It is a definite gem of a garden.

Did I mention I bought some plants?  Well of course there were snowdrops, it is rude not to buy snowdrops.  This little pot made me very happy as it contained some single and double snowdrops.  I have made sure they have been planted where I will know that they are the Ponton snowdrops.
I did not buy any aconites, my garden eats aconites so it was pointless to even think about it.

I did buy this small pot of Scilla misctschenkoana,
these are now sitting on the front door step adding a bit of brightness.

and finally......
this rather wonderful Cornus officianalis.  This was bargain plant of the year and was such a lovely specimen that I could not leave it behind.
It is now planted in the driveway adding a bit of much needed colour.   A good bit of plant buying I thought as aid memoire of a nice day.