Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Gardens2you gift review

To be perfectly clear on this, Gardens2 you sent me some free gifts and they did say that I did not have to write about them if I did not want to.  In my world it would have been a bit rude not to have written about them and the only reason I might not have written about them would have been if I did not like them.  If I had not liked them I would have returned them and that would be that.

Now I think most gardeners dread the phrase 'gifts for gardeners'.  We all know that as Christmas (sorry, but it is approaching) gets closer the more we will see those words.  I know that for our respective non-gardening friends and families that these words are like a beacon of good ideas.  All they have to do is look at this plethora of stuff and in there somewhere will be the right gift.  In truth this is so, I look at these gifts and there will always be something that I want, but always plenty that I do not.  So imagine the challenge when someone says they are going to send you some things to see if you like them when they do not know you at all.  What are the chances that I will like what I receive?  I would have guessed slim.

I guessed wrongly, I often do.  So, in my garden there now resides:
A small spade with a thermometer in it.  Probably not something I would have chosen for myself, but I put it outside and I rather like it.  There is a common thread about all the things I have been sent that I will explain at the end.
A flying pig.  I love the flying pig beyond what is reasonable.  It made me smile when I opened the box and I knew immediately it would look great alongside the stone cherub.
A cast iron bird feeder.  The birds love this! I lost my bird table in one of the storms last winter and I had not replaced it so having something that the birds can perch on and dip into is perfect.  At first I thought it was rather small but actually it is a great size as it means it gets topped up with fresh seed often.  As it is cast iron it is pleasingly heavy and has so far withstood all the birds that have visited it, including the magpies.

I have to confess one item has not made it into my garden, I thought about it long and hard and I even thought about where I could put it and it would be fun, but I know myself too well and this gift has been given to my daughter as a housewarming present.
Small and perfectly formed it may be, but I do not like spiders very much.  I wish them no harm and only remove them from the house if they are dancing the hokey-cokey on the bedroom ceiling and threatening to fall on my head (in my mouth) whilst I am asleep.  I thought it might be fun to put it in amongst the pots on the garden table, but I know I would forget it was there, see it out of the corner of my eye one day and have a bit of a scare.

What I like best about all of these gifts is that they are made of cast iron, they are not resin.  I have a real issue with resin things in the garden (gnomes, statues, bird feeders etc etc did I mention meercats?) I like things to be stone or iron, real stuff.

So I am grateful to Gardens2you for sending me nice things.  Thank you.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

End of Month Review - August 2014

It seems hard to believe we are two thirds of the way through the year already, but here we are at the end of month eight and summer is almost done.
The driveway is progressing, the painting of the shed is not.  It is a bit hard to see from this picture but shrubs are appearing.
The first ones planted could almost be described as thriving, this makes me happy.
Meanwhile into the front garden and I am getting displeased with it again.  It is my fault, I have not looked after it too well this year and it needs a good sorting out.  This will happen sooner rather than later.
I always like this red and white combination by the front door, it works well this time of year.  The rose was here before I was but was a scraggy, straggly thing.  I have pruned it often and kept it fed and it now has lots more flowers.
The Gravel Garden is looking a bit past its best, not that I am sure when its best was.  This garden, like all true gravel gardens, is never watered and fends for itself.  This is pretty much true of the rest of the garden so why I say it as if it is something different I don't know.
The pots on the grey tin box are happy enough.
As are the motley collection of herbs and fuchsias.
This collection keeps getting added to, there is a new Brugmanisa, a Romneya and a Passiflora added in the last month.  These have not been put into proper containers though as they will just go in the greenhouse soon and then get potted on next Spring.
The pots on the table continue to grow in number.  I can still balance my mug of tea on the edge though so all is well.
The garden itself is looking quite green, I tidied up the pleaching a bit the other day and now looks better.
This corner of the Conservatory Border makes me happy, a nice mix of Rose Sir Clough and a Manx fuchsia.
The rest of the Conservatory border is looking quite yellow at the moment.  The Rosa Blythe Spirit has been adding yellow for weeks now.
The pots that lead to the Conservatory are all doing well.
The Courtyard is still full of random house plants that will need to come back indoors soon I think.
The Olive Tree has had a much better year now it has been moved more into the sun.
The Long Shoot is edged with colour and this makes me happy.  You can see the red of the Hesperantha on the left and the tagetes glowing gold.
At the back of the Pond Border is this thug of a perennial sunflower.  It is the thuggiest thug I have ever grown and I have to control it every year, yet I love this huge clump and would not get rid of it altogether...... yet......
Elsewhere in the Pond Border I am pleased with the planting.  These funky chrysanthemums have been great this year and I will grow these again.  The sedums are just starting to open and are clumping up well.  I shall divide them next year as I need more.
The Persicaria orientalis is getting ready to flower.  Every year I think it will not get around to it, but thankfully it always seems to.
The new areas of the borders are still looking a bit sparse, they are getting planted up slowly.
They will get more planted up in the Spring as I will be dividing various plants then.
The Prairie Borders are probably at their peak, they are wonderfully blonde and echinops makes great focus points along them.  I have also added some rudbeckia and verbena bonariensis this year and after a lot of consideration I think I am happy with how they look.
The Tree Lupin Border is looking quite colourful from the dahlias, gladioli and tithonia.  One day I will make this border look like I want to, it gets a bit closer each year but its still not there yet.
The Wild Garden is currently dominated by lumps of fallen poplar.  In truth this has dominated all of August for me, I feel like I have thought of little else.
This has been causing me quite a lot of anxiety as  each huge limb causing damage when they fall.  I no longer have a Davidia and I am really cross as the one I had put in earlier this year was doing really well.  Also, for obvious reasons, I am avoiding going down that part of the garden as it is incredibly dangerous.
At the moment I just keep looking up at it and wondering when the next bit will fall.  The due date for work to be done has been agreed so if you could all keep your fingers crossed for me I will report back on how things have gone.  The Black Poplar is a good ninety years old and is dying, sadly it needs urgent work though I am hoping they do not remove it completely if they can possibly manage not to.
In preparation of the tree work being done I have moved the Iford Cherry and the daphne I bought this year to the veg borders, they had not rooted in yet so I think (hope)  this will not set them back.
There are some veg still left in the veg beds, this sweetcorn is just about ready to pick.
The Pin Oak is still in the veg border though, once the leaves have fallen I will put it in its new home in the driveway.
In the greenhouse various cuttings have taken and there are some tree lupin seedlings coming on quite well.
Outside the greenhouse are these other rooted cuttings and baby shrubs.  I am not planting them out until next Spring as I want to over winter them in the greenhouse just to make sure they will be ok.
I hardly dare mention the pond.  It will be cleared out soon, promise.

Thanks as usual to Helen for hosting this meme.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A wander around the Langtons

Ok I am going to deal with this straight away, yes, an afternoon with Ray, Deirdre and Tracey.  Can we move on now?
To the southeast of Leicester there are a group of villages collectively called the Langtons, but individually there is Church Langton, Tur Langton, East Langton, West Langton, probably other Langtons I have missed as well.  They are very pretty villages and the garden group I belonged too organised a lunch, a talk and a walk around them.  I did have a wonder at how long the walk would be, but I considered the average age of our group and decided that hiking boots were probably not required.  On saying that the group didn't dawdle and didn't chat as much as my companions did and we were left behind more than once.
Even though it was a garden group event, it was not hugely garden related, it was more local history based.  I did see this rather fantastic tree though.
and some fine arts and crafts masonry.
I fell in love with this front door (if you can fall in love with a door.....)
I briefly gazed at the picturesque cricketers and thought they looked picturesque.  This is probably as much thought as I have given to cricket in my life.
I admired the school building in Church Langton as it is a fine example of a victorian school and as I admired it.....
.....the Red Arrows flew over......
which was more exciting than is easy to describe.
We wandered around a church yard and I pondered why the two crosses leaned in the same direction.
and then we went and had tea and scones inside the church and listened to someone playing the organ.

The random fact I will leave with you as the conclusion to this is that this church is the first parish church to host the playing of Handel's Messiah in 1759 courtesy of the Rev William Hanbury, who also funded the School shown above and was a bit of a character it is fair to say.

Tea and quiz facts, what more could you want?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Lilac Squirrels

Or a visit to Avondale Nursery.
The a week or so ago I went to visit Avondale Nursery, which I had heard of yet never visited despite it not being that far from where I live.  They were opening their garden for NGS and this seemed the perfect excuse (like I need an excuse!) to go.
There are a limited number of gardens that I walk into and say wow.  Currently this number can be counted on the fingers of one hand.  This is still the case but with the addition now of the Library Garden at Avondale.
It is not huge, but it is packed full of the most wonderful plants.
The colours and shapes are skillfully put together and the garden acts as a living catalogue for the nursery (there is also a paper catalogue but when you see the plant growing in context that has more power than paper can ever give you).

The garden had to be studied systematically, going around the outer paths, then the inner ones, then the diagonals.  I did not want to accidentally miss a path.
Notes were made of 'must buy' plants and then into the nursery I went.  I bought plants, not many really and not as many as I wanted but I could not leave without some crocosmia, agapanthus and sanguisorbas and a rather fine bronze coloured echeveria that leaped into the cart before I could stop it.  Best of all, before buying the agapanthus I was able to ask Brian the owner for advice on why my previous ones had died.  He explained they like to be front of border and do not like to be crowded but were otherwise generally easy to please.  Whilst obviously I enjoy buying plants from nurseries, but is invaluable from these visits is the ability to ask an expert for their advice.

I had not been having a great week just before the visit (just general meh sort of week) but I realised as I wandered around the garden that when life gives you lemons.......trade them for lilac squirrels.
How can you not love a plant called Lilac Squirrel? Which is as bonkers looking as it sounds and utterly adorable.
Forget your grey or red squirrels, go for lilac.  

I predict another trip to the nursery soon, they had many asters......