Friday, 31 May 2013

End of Month Review - May 2013

This time last  year we had apparently had 'a bit of heatwave', this year we are all talking about the coldest Spring in 50 years.  It has been a month of cold, dry, rain and some sun too, we must not forget the sun we have had.  So, here is how May looks in the garden:
I start in the front garden where the knot garden is waiting for Derby Day so it can get trimmed.  Tomorrow the topiary shears will be in action to neaten it up a bit.  I remain pleased with how it is looking, the simpler pared down design has worked well.
The magnolia by the front gate still has flowers on it, a little manky in places, but still looking good.
The Acer Orange Beauty in the front garden, which is one of the Thompson and Morgan trial plants, is doing very well.  Of the three I have this is clearly the aspect that suits it best, quite sheltered and rather shaded.
The gravel garden is just finding its feet for the year, there are more self-seeded additions and I think it makes a nice patch.
To the back garden, where there is now more colour than there was in April and  the borders are filling out nicely.
In the coal bunker border the welsh poppies and aquilegeas are flowering now and the Cirsium rivulare is starting to flower too, it a great favourite with the bees and me.  I have been editing out many of the aquilegea, they have been a bit too prolific and are taking over the space.  So I am waiting for them to flower and then deciding if they can stay or not. 
The white rheum is also making me happy.  I have two rheums grown from seed and I think they are wonderful plants, so structural and so dramatic.  I trim back the lower leaves from time to time to let light through around them but they are generally well behaved and just a great point of interest in the border.
The courtyard is cominated by this rhododendron lutea, the scent from it fills the space and when the conservatory door is open it floods into the house too.  What a brilliant plant.
Over to the conservatory border and the red rheum (red rheum rheum) is flowering magnificently.  Probably my favourite plant in the garden at this moment in time.
There has been a big change in the conservatory border, the dead tree fern has finally been removed.  I still cannot quite let go of it, so it is now lying by the side of the conservatory with its self-seeded plants growing from its crown in rather a pleasing way.
It makes the space lack definition a bit, but I have planted the Poncirus trifolata (Japanese bitter orange) that I bought the other month in there so it will fill out again eventually.  It looks a little odd to me with the tree fern gone, but it had to happen one day I suppose.
As I move along the border the cardoon is looking brilliant with the alliums.  This combination makes me really happy.  You can see a few tulips still flowering away as well and also a large self-sown teasel, which has been allowed to stay there for now.  I remove so many but I like to leave some in the border as they do make great punctuation points.
Around the Bramley Tree to the Spring border and the second Acer Orange Beauty is doing ok, not quite as big as the one in the front garden, but these plants are growing very well and I like the colour.
If I turn around I look across the prairie borders, these are coming on well now, the grasses are starting to grow and the echinops and verbascums are growing with some vigour.
Up to the top of the garden the ornamental cherry has flowered well this year and looks good in the cow parsley.
This eucalyptus, bought several years ago on the Isle of Man, is just a joy to behold this year.  The new growth is shining.
The woodland border, which is half bog-garden that has never been treated as a bog-garden has had some work this month.  I have removed much of the forget-me-nots and the white stuff that I don't know what it is but it is one of the most prolific self-seeders I have ever encountered.  There are now some ferns, some iris, some day-lilies and some phlox planted.  I am hoping it will look a bit more like someone cares about it from now on.  I am really hopeful for the ferns, I have bought a few for this area of garden as I do love their structures and forms.
To the side of the woodland border is the teasel patch.  I loved how the sun was shining through them as I was taking my photographs.
The top of the garden is cow-parsley-central at the moment.  It might need some controlling next year but at the moment I am happy to let it rampage around in the wild garden.
The wild garden is looking good at the moment, I enjoy cutting paths through it and just watching it evolve.  Apart from the initial native wild-flower plug planting and some tree/shrub additions, I now just let it be.
The quince is looking hopeful this year...
I so want a quince, just one fruit, just one would make me happy.
In the Tree Lupin border the tree lupin has been heavily pruned, it had become massive and toppled over a little.  It has responded well to the pruning and is growing quickly, the flower buds are forming well.
The woad is in full froth and this angelica emerging through it is a self-sown bit of magic.
The pond border is looking quite colourful, the roses are getting ready to flower now.
I bought this wisteria in Devon last year, I am growing it as a standard, I am so pleased it is going to flower, I thought I might have to wait a few years before it obliged.
The long shoot is just getting into its stride, I have decided there is further shaping to be done here, I have plans for the autumn that more grass will disappear.....
A bit more of the Coal Bunker border, in the front where it looks a bit sparse it will be cosmos, amaranthus, zinnias and of course, poppies.  There are some new roses in this border too, two Rosa Alan Titchmarsh which I have been sent by Thompson and Morgan to trial.  They are growing well so far.
The veg beds have veg in them, this is good.  They need edging a bit with a strimmer but otherwise I am pleased with how it is doing.  The spring sown onions are growing well, the garlic has done well.  I have harvested one asparagus spear and the broad beans, cobra beans and peas are growing well.  The courgettes are planted out and the sweet corn.  Also there are some yacon sent to be by Thompson and Morgan to trial.  It is growing, I have no idea what to do with it, but google will tell me.
Still lots in the greenhouse to be planted out and potted on.  Most seeds have done well this year apart from the ones that have not.  I have totally failed to germinate any tithonia seeds, I am very upset about this.
These however are my Dahlia Imperialis seedlings, I am very very happy that these germinated and I am watching them closely to keep them from harm.
I end looking at the pond, which is fairly full though has been a little low before the rain started again.  It is full to bursting with tadpoles this year and Tiny the newt has been spotted a few times.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.  Now to get ready for June.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show 2013 - show gardens episode 2

I really wanted to find a way to make this be called 'Attack of the clones', but as I sit down to write this I cannot find the angle.  If I fail to, please know that in my dearest heart I wanted to.

So, the second of my run around the show gardens.  A few days have elapsed since I wrote the first post so it has been interesting to look at my photographs again from the show.

Let us start at the top, the Best in Show, the Trailfinders Austrailian Garden designed by Philip Johnson.
It was best in show, it was superbly executed and planted and just a joy.  Even the large rust-coloured structure worked and fitted in.  What was not to like?  Now, ask me to I think it was best in show because it showed us all ground-breaking new design?  No, it was not, it was a recreation of a landscape that is not possible for us to see here in the UK.  We might grow some of the plants but many will not be hardy here, it is an exotic landscape that we would have to travel to see in an outdoor setting.  I am not saying that Australia looks like the garden, but as a diarama it worked.
The Mindfulness Garden designed by Martin Cook, what a great mass of planting.  Very pretty.
On press day there was a monk trying to find a bit of mindfulness whilst being photographed, I think there is a touch of irony here.
However, look away for a couple of days and the monk has turned into Andy Sturgeon!
The kiln somewhat gives this garden away, it is Stoke on Trent's Story of Transformation designed by the Landscape Team, Stoke on Trent City Council.
I liked the peachy white planting rather a lot.
The Wasteland by Kate Gould, looked great but to be honest seeing recycled materials used in artful interesting ways has been done rather a lot, dare I say over done?
Jo Thompson's 'Stop the Spread' garden, great planting, a wonderful sculpture and a good important message.
It received a silver-gilt, a not quite, and again I think it might have been right.  The ideas were great, the avenue of dead trees worked incredibly well and made a real statement.....
..... but I wondered if the message overtook the garden a little.  I know that coverage of a garden at Chelsea Flower Show gets that message out to a wide audience and that it is a really important message but maybe, just maybe, getting the message out was a little too overwhelming.  That might actually have been the issue with the Jinny Blom garden mentioned in my previous post?   Is the message here not to get overwhelmed by the message?
It was in the 'Fresh' gardens that I probably found the most exciting pieces of design.  Much smaller and also more challenging than the larger show gardens.
The First Touch Garden designed by Patrick Collins, yes it is basically a table but so well planted and a good idea.
This is Bird Columny, JAM Garden Design, yes a column but it had some really good planting.  No I would not do this in my garden, but that is not the point, it showed something else you could do.

After the Fire designed by James Basson, this was my best in show, this was the one that made me stop and say wow.  The planting was innovative and the idea was good.  There was a strong message as the garden was sponsored by Scape Design in conjunction with Cancer Research UK, but the garden was what called out strongly rather than just the message.  I loved the shapes and the colours, the burned sticks and delicate planting.  No I am not going to recreate this in my garden, but I admired it hugely.

Always best to end on a high, less 'Attack of the Cones' more a case of Rocky II?