Wednesday, 31 July 2013

End of Month Review - July 2013

July has been hot this year, yes hot.  Hot for more than one day, hot for more than one week; most of July has been hot.  There has also been some welcome rain, sometimes torrential rain and also some rather spectacular thunderstorms.

As a result of all this the garden is growing at quite a rate!  Lets start in the front garden.
The front garden is doing rather well.  The lavender edges are covered in bees and butterflies, I cannot begin to tell you how happy this makes me.  Also as the heat has got in the higher numbers recently the smell of lavender as I walk through the garden has been intoxicating.
This patch of crocosmia is adding a nice bit of colour in the corner, I am glad I did not remove it when I did most of the other crocosmia from the front garden last year.
The gravel garden is quite bushy and green.  It has enjoyed the rain and heat this year.
This ignored border by the bird feeder, (this must be the Bird Feeder Border, it is now duly named), is doing fairly well.  The phlox are looking nice and the red splodge of roses are good.  It is usually mainly full of germinated bird seed though.
The way into the back garden is looking quite nice, here are the cardoons and the amaranthus, both of which are doing very well.
Looking across the Conservatory Border, the borders are doing well.  I think I have allowed too many verbascums to grow this year, I shall have to edit more firmly next year.
In the Courtyard the olive tree is covered in flowers, I expect to be pressing my own olive oil in the Autumn.  (I don't really).
The Coal Bunker Border is sort of transitional at the moment, most of the Californian Poppies are over now and the asters are just waiting to get really started.
Did I mention I overdid the verbascums?
The Four Sisters are doing well, the Philidelphus 'Belle Etoile' flowered well and the others are thankfully not suffering from the lack of rain earlier in the month.
I've been working on the pleached hornbeams a bit too.  I feel like they are getting there, bear in mind I have no clue really what I am doing, but it is pleasing to me.
A quick look behind me shows the veg beds and the Rosa Hyde Hall hedge, which is flowering away like a good'un.
The peas and cobra beans have done really well this year, though the peas are a bit maggoty now which is a shame.  The courgettes are about to deliver their first fruit and the purple sprouting broccoli, spring cabbage and savoy cabbage have been planted out and are about to be consumed by cabbage white caterpillars.  I have harvested the garlic and that has done well and the onions will probably be pulled up soon.  I have also had a few potatoes too.  I only have two sweet corn and I expect little if anything from them.  I also have some yacon growing as they were sent to me by Thompson and Morgan to trial.  I haven't a clue what to do with them but I will find out.
Anyway, through the pleached hornbeams we get into the the Wild Garden ahead and to the left and the Tree Lupin Border to the right.
The Tree Lupin border is growing quite well, and look - no look! The Dierama is finally flowering after waiting five years for this frabjous day!  I'm glad I didn't dig it up now.
The Tree Lupin Border is not the riot of colour that I wish just yet, but as ever I live in hope.  The Zinnia Spiders are in flower and the first dahlias are starting to open.  Next month, next month.....
The Wild Garden is ok this year, not great, but ok.  The grass has been too long really and then it flopped quite suddenly.  There are some nice wild flowers dotted around but this year has not been a great year for it.
The Bog Garden has suffered quite badly in the heat, I have had to keep it watered as most of the planting is new.  Some has got quite crisped but the recent heavy rainfall over the last few days has really perked it back up.
The Woodland Border behind it is doing very well, that is far more established.
The teasel patch which borders the Woodland Border is magnificent this year.  Very happy with it, it is so tall!  Not so happy when I brush past it and get scratched to ribbons, but it is a small price to pay.
The other side of the teasel patch are the Prairie Borders.  These have been good so far this year.  The blondeness of the Stipa Tenuissima has made me happy, though the torrential rain has made it flop a bit so I have given it a bit of a hair cut to tidy it a little.
Back down then from the Prairie Borders with the Pond Border on the right and the Coal Bunker Border straight ahead.
I end as ever on the pond which after all the rain is really quite full, and also quite clear which makes me very happy.  Several dragon fly larvae have emerged and there are still a few tadpoles squiggling around in there.  Every day when I get home from work I wander around the garden and go and stare in the pond for a bit.  Maybe I expect to find the secret of the universe somewhere hidden in its depths.....

.... or just a sighting of Tiny the newt.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.  Apparently we are almost at August already!

Wordless Wednesday - butterfly on cardoon

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Tatton Flower Show - giraffes and fascinators

Yet sadly not giraffes wearing fascinators.
I do not go to Tatton Flower Show every year, but when I do go I always enjoy it.  It is a nice friendly show, it feels relaxed and has lots of open space to just wander around, chat happily and just enjoy a day out.  I went with an old friend who usually I go to Chelsea with, but to be honest the venue doesn't matter, it is our annual catch up (which we really should do more often!)
We left early to get to Tatton, had a very good drive there and arrived shortly after nine-ish.  This was fine except someone (me) hadn't checked what time the show opened so we were standing outside until 10am.  I have never queued to wait for a flower show to open before, it was a novel experience.  So as we stood there, chatting, watching the planes fly (sometimes quite low) overhead it became apparent that some of the women in the queue appeared to be dressed for a wedding.  There were high-heeled shoes, posh frocks and a distinct outbreak of fascinators.  Now many women were wearing hats, indeed I was wearing a hat, but mine was my garden-visiting hat that lives in the car and prevents me from getting sun-stroke.  There were many definite gardening hats in the queue, but there were also the fascinators.  I fully confess I have never owned a fascinator, I have been to many weddings where people wear them and I actually do not understand them (the fascinator, not the people).  They appear to be a feathery thing that you stick on the side of your head.  It is neither hat nor, well anything really.  So apologies to you who like them, apologies to you who wear them, but they are not for me, in truth I think I was absent the day that they did the girly lessons, most things like fascinators, hair straightening, applying make up with any degree of skill is totally beyond me.  The point of this (sorry has this got a bit ranty?), is that we stood there wondering what was going on.  So I did the remarkable thing of looking in the show guide that I had received previously.  The same show guide that would have told me what time the show started and also would have told me that Friday was Ladies Day and people (well ladies) were being encouraged to dress up.  I wasn't scruffy, I had quite a nice frock on because it was going to be a nice sunny day, but I could not say I was dressed up.  Nice idea as Ladies Day probably is, even had I have known beforehand I would not have taken part.  I go to flower shows knowing I will be doing lots of walking so being comfortable really matters.  I could not have managed half of what I wanted to do had I have had to wear heels. 
It was rather nice though to see the ladies dressed so prettily.
We had a really nice day, looking at the various gardens though actually not really making a point to go and look at them.  Its no good, no matter how I try I get too distracted by other stuff at Tatton to focus on the gardens which is a shame when so much time and effort has gone into them.  I find I can miss them if I am not careful, some I just never seem to find at all.
There was quite a theme of yellow flowers I thought, which really did look quite different and I rather liked.
There were also a lot of giraffes.
Several giraffes, there is clearly a market for giraffe-based ornaments in gardens.  I always think that if there was no market for them then no one would make them though I don't think I have ever seen one in an actual garden. 
I pondered briefly whether I should be one, be ahead (a neck) of the fashion?  Maybe I could get a giraffe and buy a fascinator for it?
No, I don't think Leicester is ready for giraffe based ornaments just yet.  I will stick with my gnome for now.

(Big thanks to Michelle for linking giraffes and fascinators, ta!)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Trial 10 - a rose called Titchmarsh

Yes, its Rosa Alan Titchmarsh, sent to me to trial by Thompson and Morgan, yet I soon discovered that it is a bit more complicated a trial than others have been.

So let us start from basics, I like roses and grow quite a few.  To be sent a rose randomly is quite a challenge as I am very choosey about whom I allow into my garden rose-wise.  There are criteria they have to meet in terms of colour, size, shape and scent.  Well, the same as any other plant I allow in really except I think I am fussier about roses.
There is another aspect to this trial, which is almost the elephant in the room.  I grow various roses named after people of things that mean something to me.  I also grow some just because they are beautiful, but I have never really had to consider before about buying a rose with a name of someone I might not like.  Well it is a consideration isn't it?  I don't hugely dislike Mr T, but I also am not in the 'adoring wildly' category.  I thought about this further, would I buy a rose called Monty Don?  I don't actually know, I did buy sweet peas named after him and they were incredibly beautiful sweet peas.  I am absolutely certain that I would not buy a plant named after someone who politically I was opposed to, I just couldn't.  So would I have ever bought a rose called Mr T?  Well I might buy a rose called Mr T but that would be more to do with the A Team then dear Alan!  On balance, after all that thinking, I think I might have bought this rose.
and I haven't even told you anything about the rose yet.  Well it is a rather good rose.  A nice pale pink, not too wishy washy, just a pleasant colour.  The scent is quite good, there is better but there is certainly worse.  The flower is a bit ball-ish, but that might be because of the really hot weather there has been lately.  It is not a bad shape anyway.  I received three bushes as bare root plants and they have all grown strongly and are flowering well.  This is a nice plant, I can recommend it if you want a rose named after Mr Titchmarsh.

Personally I think I would prefer a rose named after Alan Partridge, as then I could say aha! everytime I looked it at.
I have just renamed the rose.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Mon Davidia est mort

Mon Davidia est mort, je suis désolé.  This is probably a bad translation, I only achieved CSE grade 2 in french whilst at school.  I have probably spoken french more since leaving school than I did when I was there, however I digress.  For some reason the declaration of the death of a tree just seemed better in french.

The heatwave may have claimed its first significant victim in my garden.  This is causing me some upset.  My Davidia tree is probably best described as a twig, it was not large and not very old at all, but it was thriving rather well.  I was cherishing it as it is a tree I really want to have in my garden.  As soon as I realised that it was starting to wilt I started to water it.  I think the soil where it is planted is not the thick heavy clay that most of my garden has, but is actually quite a free-draining, almost shaley bit of ground.   I think that this has contributed greatly to the problem as none of my other trees/shrubs, even ones planted earlier this year, are suffering in quite the same way.
So I am watering it every day now.  Every day it gets a watering can full of water.  Now I worry I might have drowned it! 

There is a big problem with this tree dying, bigger than may first appear.  I have a rule about plants that is designed to stop me throwing good money after bad.  It is a strict rule and I do observe it rigidly.  I can only try a maximum of three times to establish a plant.  Of course I am talking perennials, trees, shrubs etc.  It would not work if I applied this rule to annuals; except even with them if I know that last year they were pretty poor I will not bother again.  So, a golden rule, no more than three attempts and then I give up on a plant and declare it not for my garden.
So yes, you've guessed it, this is my third Davidia.  The first one just sorted of died.  The second one got snapped off at the root by I think a dog that got into my garden (in the same incident a Cercis also got snapped, that is a whole other story).  So this is Davidia number 3.  Now, as I did not kill number 2 do I count it in the rule?  Should I cheat and say that number 2 was an 'act of god (dog)' and beyond my control and therefore not a planting death?  Yet Davidia's are not cheap?  I cannot keep buying them if they do not want to grow for me.

Decisions, decisions; but not a decision I need to make today.  I have lots of time to think about this as it is not tree-planting time of year yet.  I shall see how it goes, see if the Davidia retains any sparks of life and might yet survive.  If it is dead I have to consider where-else in the garden I might try to plant one and I am not sure I can think of such a space at the moment.  I have a Davidia-place, there is a (deadish) Davidia in it.  I shall have to reassess.

ilest- ainsi il le quatrième temps chanceux ?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Some plants, a skull and some knitting

The weather has been very kind of late, it has been warm to the point of being able to call it hot.  The sun has shone and much ice-cream has been consumed.  So when someone says to you 'shall we go to Calke Abbey for a wander?' it feels like a good way to spend a warm Saturday.
and warm it was, the temperature got up to 31 deg at one stage, so a wander around the cool of the house was rather pleasant.

Really though I wanted to walk around the grounds.  I have been going to Calke for years, many many years, so I know my way around but they are always repairing something, changing something, just ringing the changes enough to make it always interesting.
There are some great sweet peas as you enter the walled garden.
The walled garden is largely veg, but also some nice cutting flowers too. 
The formal gardens are formal and I am not a huge fan of such planting.  It looks good if you like that sort of thing and if its in the right context and of course here it very definitely the right context.
The surrounding borders look probably the best I have ever seen them.  Big and blousy and expansive.
The meadow around next to the Orangery is now called 'the Garden of Imagination', it was actually a rather nice bit of meadow with paths cut through it and some things to entertain children.  This is no bad thing, I have done my time dragging children around gardens so a bit of well-placed entertainment can rescue a day.

Then after some wandering around the grounds we found this patch of what appeared to be self-seeded Nectaroscordum siculum, they looked fantastic massed under the trees.
I have never seen them let loose in the wild before and it was a wonderful sight.

Then on we went down to the grotto;
The grotto which for many years was just an odd hump/cave like thing, but now restored so that you can walk into it.  I also like you can see that the basic construction is brick, with fake rocks stuck to it.  You can see the pond which has little islands of shells in the middle.
On the way out of the grotto I spotted this skull, how gothic can you get?
However, back to the Orangery, I like the Orangery, I remember when it was in a state of collapse but in the corner was a barely alive tree fern that had managed to keep going after decades of neglect.  What it appears it could not survive was restoration, what a shame.  Why have I suddenly returned to the Orangery, because I have saved the best bit until last, this was the best best bit
Agnes had been yarn bombed - lucky girl.

(I don't know that her name is Agnes really, but I think it suits her).