Sunday, 30 September 2012

End of Month Review - September 2012

Crikey!  What happened to September?  I am sure it only had three weeks in it, maybe only two and half, it was never a whole four weeks, I just don't believe it!  It has been a month of change, the season has definitely turned, summer (we sort of had summer, ish) finished with a nice warm early September bit and now we are in quite a nice, largely sunny, early autumn bit - with some rain (buckets of the stuff at times) along the way.  So, here is where the garden is after all that:
The roses are doing well this year, it's been a good year for the roses as Elvis (C not P) would say.  This is Rose Ballerina in the shady corner of the front garden.  I first grew this rose at a previous house as a symbol for my daughter, so whenever I move I have to buy another one so that the rose is always with me.   For my son I plant a Silver Birch but that is currently not doing very much so will be for a future post.
This border in the front garden is looking quite good, there are some wonderful purple salvias that are part of the Thompson and Morgan trial I am taking part in, the anemones and the red rose that is one of the few original plants from when I moved into this house.  The rose is really doing well this year, a bit of liquid seaweed has perked it up no end.  I am not going to spend a lot of time in this review on my front garden as the main part of it is work in progress.  When the renovation work is complete I will let you know.
The begonias are still doing amazingly well....
and are now joined by some Thompson and Morgan pansies and a hardy begonia in the Armcote Bee pot I bought the other week from Whichford Pottery.
The gravel garden has also enjoyed the recent rain.  The mexican daisies are waving away and the Thompson and Morgan gazanias grown from seed are also still flowering well.  There is virtually no soil in this corner, it is gravel and sort of sand underneath, but they seem happy.
The Manx Fuscia is winding itself around the bird feeding pole and the phlox, it has had a very good year.
The vegbeds look autumnal, the sweet corn has finished, the courgettes are having a late surge.  I am letting the last of cobra beans dry out for planting next year and the caulis I sowed appear to be cabbages.
I have sown green manure this year for the first time, it is a bit patchy at the moment but I am expecting great things from this.
The Persicaria Orientalis is flowering at last.  It must be seven foot tall, what an amazing annual it is.  I absolutely love it.
It is reaching to the sky!
The wild garden has been mowed, it is its annual cut.  This totally changes the look and feel of the garden.  It suddenly has more space again and opens right up.  I miss the chaos of the wild garden but love this period of space and calm. 
 It gives me different views of the garden, this is the view across the dancing lawn with the apple tree on one side and the dahlia border on the other.  In the distance (not that far really) is the grassy knoll and the prairie borders.
Rosa Wild Edric is growing up the apple tree, it is doing really well this year, wafting its scent across the dancing lawn.
The woodland border looks a bit scratty, it might soon be renamed the fuscia border, it certainly has several in it now, a Manx, a Devon, a Hawkshead and Mrs Popple.
The cyclamen are flowering for the first time, I have been talking the ants and requesting that they carry the seeds around a bit to spread them through the wild garden.  I am not sure if they listened or not, they were too busy biting me.
The amalanchier leaves are on the turn, the flames of red are flickering around the edges.
I'm still really happy with my prairie borders, they make me smile.
The dahlia border has been good this year, the Coltness Mix dahlias have flowered well, though are a little shorter then I would ideally like.  The zinnias have done well too in this border and have kept flowering for weeks.
The main lawn with the pond border to the left and the coal bunker border to the right is looking pretty good I think, well actually I'm not that bothered about the lawn itself expect it is a wonderful stretch of green that shows off the borders well. 
The coal bunker border is a mass of roses and asters and cardoons.  I am pleased with it this year, but really should have staked the asters better, they have flopped over.
The pond border is dominated by Helianthus Lemon Queen, Tithonia and cosmos, but the Helianthus are soon to be thinned out.  I have about four clumps, it is too overwhelming in most of the border so I am clearing it out to have just one, large, clump. 
The Conservatory border is looking quite good, a bit patchy in places but the roses, echinacea and rudbeckias have created a good framework.
There is a monster aster in the border too, which I love, the purple is wonderful with the yellows and pinks. 
The Hellebore Border is largely full of hellebores (amazing!) but also keeps producing welsh poppies, so my garden still has a good supply of poppies even though it is so late in the year.
The hedges are full of autumn bounty, my hips are great this year (!)
good haws too (!!)
lots of sloes
and of course blackberries, always many blackberries
I finish as always on the pond, it is pretty full, but also quite full of green slimey blanket weed.  I spend a lot of time twizzling it out with a stick, which is remarkably theraputic.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Whichford Files

A couple of weeks ago I went to the bulb sale at Whichford Pottery.  It is about an hour's drive from me so I decided to make a day of it and visit a garden on the way home.  I had long wanted to visit Sezincote this was the excuse I was looking for.  I will talk about Sezincote in future post.
I went to Whichford to buy bulbs, and buy bulbs I did: Tulipa Lilac Rose, Backpacker, Honky Tonk and Whittali.  Some Alium Atropurpurleum and Crocus Chrysanthus Cream Beauty.  Because I spent a bit of money I also received a free pot and some Crocus Blue Pearl.
I did not only go to buy bulbs, I have been hankering after a Armscote bee pot for some time and this was my chance to buy one.  So I did.  When it is planted up I will post a photo of it.
I might also have bought a cat plaque and a pot cat from the gallery.  Well I am working on becoming scary cat woman so it seemed the right thing to do.  Yes I had a little shopping frenzy but it all came in under budget and I was happy.
Of course now I have to start saving for a cat pot.

I have to say what a great place it is.  I loved walking around the pots, enjoying the early autumn sun reflecting off the terracotta colours.  They sell pots of all sizes, from the really tiny to the humungous!  I loved the huge pots probably best of all, far too big for my garden yet how I wished I could afford one and afford somewhere amazing to put it.

This is my favourite pot, if I could buy this I would - I can't quite decide whether to call it the breast pot or the dalek pot, either way it made me smile - let the saving commence.....
oh no, actually, this is the breast pot...
Whichford is a charming place to visit, beautifully augmented by the wonderful planting of the gardens and pots that surround it.  Harriet Rycroft, the Head Gardener, has a blog which can be found here.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, everyone was friendly and there was a good cake......
gorgeous planting....
really gorgeous planting.....
more pots than you can shake a stick at.....
interesting locals.....
and best of all I found the nursery where the pots are grown. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The little library

Recently I spent some time at Murray Edwards College in Cambridge and whilst I was there I saw their 'little free library'.
I really liked how it looked, particularly the green sedum roof, but I also loved the idea of being able to swap books and it's trusting nature.
Anyway, it got me thinking, as things do, about what books I would put in a little library. If I was stocking it with books that mean a lot to me, what would I choose. I decided to create a list of ten books, sort of a 'Desert Island Disks' of books, these would be my little library that I would want to share with others.

Some of the books were really easy to decide, some took a little more thought.  I also decided that I had to include the book I am currently reading as a sort of wild card, the random element that is about the now, not the considers emotion, so that is book number 11.  

So here is my list, in no real order:

1. Alice through the looking glass, Lewis Carroll.

2. Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien

3. Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett

4. The Men's Room, Ann Oakley

5. Tina Modotti, Photographer and Revolutionary, Margaret Hooks

6. Alters, Robert Mapplethorpe

7.  The Well Tempered Garden, Christopher Lloyd

8.  England and the Octopus, Clough Williams-Ellis

9.  The Stand, Stephen King

10.  Planting the Natural Garden, Piet Oudolph, Henk Gerritsen

11.  Body of Glass, Marge Piercy

So - of course, my question is what your library contain?

and to help you think here is a song, there has to be a song, and the little library reminded me of this:

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Prairie Borders - the story thus far

I have been quite a fan of  perenniel prairie planting styles for some time and for some time I had wondered if I could incorporate something of that style into my garden.  In my main borders I do have grasses and various plants that would fit that style, but they are more 'cottage gardeny' than prairie.  I always have a few projects that circulate in my head of things I would like to do, but finding the right space is not always possible.  Then I realised that the top right hand corner of the garden could be right for a prairie area.
So the work started in July 2011 with marking out the borders.  I glyphosated the areas I wanted to dig over.  This may not be approved of by all as a method, but I have found to my bitter experience that not doing this means an inheritance of lawn weeds that are just soul-destroying to defeat.  If only I had done this in my front garden rather than just digging up the lawn I might have had a happier relationship with it.
Then, when happy with the shapes, I dug over the borders.  This took remarkably less time than I thought it would.
I had some bark mulch left over from a previous project, so I mulched the beds.  Actually I didn't have enough mulch to do all the beds properly, but it was an attempt to try and keep the weeds down.
All the plants for these borders have been even grown from seed or are relocated from other parts of the garden.  This is the most cost effective way to fill such large beds and as I wanted a limited palate of plants it was straight forward to achieve.  
So, the greenhouse that had been full of Stipa Tenuissma, Echinops and Echinacea Pallida was emptied and the pots set out so commence planting.
The initial result is best described as underwhelming.  I sowed more stipa seeds though it was late in the season and I knew that I would not get sufficient germinated and garden-ready before winter really set in.  So I kept the seedlings in the greenhouse over the winter and planted out the next Spring.

Then I sowed another batch which were planted out several weeks later when they got to a good enough size.  I also planted some rudbeckia seedlings and relocated some verbascum self-sown plants into the borders. There are also some seed grown stipa gigantica and stipa calamogrostis which are yet to really start performing.
They are still not what I would call finished or perfect, but they are suddenly sufficiently pleasing for me to think that this project has been worthwhile.
I've also been quite pleased that the weeds have not been unmanageable in these borders, that had been a real worry.  I planted out about another 200 S.Tenuissima seedlings a couple of weeks ago and if the cats and the foxes stop digging them up I think that next year these borders will be spectacular.

I am particularly pleased with these borders as they have been a specific project, something that I thought about, planned out (yes I even drew a plan, almost unheard of for me) and set out to complete.  Not only that, they look like I hoped, in fact, better.  Now if I can just stop humming the theme from the Waltons when I am weeding them all will be well (because still I can never remember the theme from Little House on the Prairie).