Thursday, 5 March 2015

Launde Abbey snowdrops

Or a bit of Leicestershire Wolf Hall....

Lets face it, in terms of television highlights of the year, even though we are just into the third month, Wolf Hall was good wasn't it?  Leicestershire has a couple of links to Wolf Hall.  Abbey Park which is just outside of the city is where Thomas Wolsey died on his way back to London.  He did not die in the park, he died in the Abbey that the ruins of are in the park.

Launde Abbey was the home of Thomas Cromwell's son, Gregory, and Gregory is buried there.  It is now a Christian retreat and it was open at the weekend for a snowdrop walk.  I had never visited before and it is not far from where I live so I thought I should go.
It was a cold breezy day and rain was threatened, but whilst we walked it was chilly but only spotting with rain every now and again.
The walk through the grounds was pleasant and there are several points such as this labyrinth that are there to help people pause and think if they wish to.
 There were many snowdrops and also winter aconites.
Plus many aged trees and remnants of trees.  This arched trunk was just begging to be photographed.
As you would expect from an old abbey there was the remains of an old orchard in the grounds.
Plus a walled garden with glasshouses that contained this beast of a plant.  I really expected it to undulate at any moment.
There was this little chappy in the glasshouses, I thought it was quite chilly but it could have been a little 'otter (sorry).
The potting sheds outside the walled gardens had these wonderfully mossy roofs.  There were wrens stealing the moss to make nests with but I failed to get a photograph of that.
Under this tree it was mainly aconites and I think the blue is scilla.
We wandered into the chapel and found the memorial to Gregory Cromwell.  I say found as if it was difficult to spot, it is pride of place by the alter and takes up a whole wall.
Either side of the alter were these rather fine paintings of saints.
Including this one of John the Baptist holding a head.  I assume it is his own head except he appears to have his own head still in place.
Back in the Abbey itself we found a panelled room and we thought that this might be Thomas Cromwell carved above the fireplace.  I am not sure he looks much like Mark Rylance though.
We walked out to go home to the most beautiful view of the Leicestershire countryside.  We paused a moment and took in this wondrous sight happy after a pleasant afternoon.

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.