Sunday, 28 September 2014

End of month review - September 2014

September has been officially (or allegedly, take your pick) the driest September for fifty years in Leicestershire.  I have not lived in Leicester for fifty years but it certainly the driest start to autumn I think I have ever known.  The established planting is not suffering too badly but the annuals and newer planting is looking worried.
I have finally got around to painting the front of the shed.  I have only painted the front as until I get the roof fixed there seems little point in spending too much time on it.  The sides are not so weather-worn as the front either, the rain (when we get any) must come in most often from this side.
I have tidied the front garden and clipped the box hedging so it looks better again now.  I am seriously considering putting gravel inside the knot garden as the attempts at planting I have tried have not generally done well.  I am thinking about this though, I have not quite made up my mind as yet.
The gravel garden is looking okay despite the lack of rain.  In true gravel garden style this part of the garden is never watered, it sinks or swims (without water).
The pots on the way into the back garden are still doing well.  The banana is thriving, the passiflora has produced a bright orange fruit and I am managing to keep them sufficiently watered.  Lawrence decided to photobomb this shot so I decided he could feature too.
The Pond Border is looking quite colourful.  This large aster and the perennial sunflower at the rear have not needed any watering and add great colour this time of year.
This border is making me very happy, from this angle it looks pretty good and flowery.
This patch of planting has worked very well this year and has not really been watered since it established earlier in the year.
But just walk a couple more steps along and this patch is looking dry and in need of water.  The soil varies hugely in the garden and in this border, some areas are far more water retentive than others.
The shady courtyard has not needed too much watering either, the buds are appearing on the camellia and the rhododendron 'Luteum' is taking on its autumn colour.
The view across the Conservatory Border is looking more autumnal too.  There is now an aster 'frikartii 'Monch'' which is giving some good colour even though it is quite small as it was only divided earlier this year.  This patch directly in front of the conservatory has always struggled a bit.  This is largely my fault as I allowed Geranium 'phaeum' to self seed unchecked and it swamped out this corner.  I have now got that more in check, but it has been a bit bare this year because of this as it took me a while to replace the planting.
The rest of the Conservatory Border is looking quite dry too.  The annual planting in this border has pretty much failed and it is a bit gappy because of this.
The Spring Border is also very gappy as it is not fully planted up yet.  It is also disappearing under a carpet of Bramley leaves.
The Prairie Borders seem to be coping well with this dry weather, but the rudbeckia I planted in there only last month have struggled and I am not sure if many will survive.
The Tree Lupin Border is looking quite bright with dahlias.
I have planted sunflowers in this border and they have been excellent,  I am totally converted to these dark coloured ones.
The Bog Garden is struggling in the dry weather.  This is a very dry part of the garden unfortunately, but it does seem to spring back ok when it gets a bit of rain.
There has been a lot of planting in the top corner of the Wild Garden.  Now the threat of impending tree-falling which has been hanging over me all year has finally gone, I can start to develop this part of the garden as I intended.  It is incredibly dry so I am having to keep it watered frequently.
This Peltoboykinia has been stomped into the ground twice by the tree people, but it keeps popping back up.  I am watering it as an encouragement not to give up.
In the other corner the grotto is being watched over by Bubo the owl, he will hopefully weather up quite soon.  I could try the yoghurt trick, but somehow announcing I am going to douse my owl in yoghurt sounds a bit weird.
The Wild Garden has been mowed and is looking incredibly dry.  The trees are starting to look more autumnal as well.  Lawrence decided having got away with being photographed once he would repeat the performance.
The tulip tree has grown really well this year.  The leaves are so large and are turning a wonderful yellow.
The small gingko is also getting that edge of yellow.
Whereas the wintering flowering cherry is getting budded up ready for flowering in a few weeks.
I need to harvest the medlar crop, the tree is covered in them this year.
I still keep staring at the changed skyline now the huge poplar is now just a stump.  It has created a big gap in the squirrel's runway, they used to be able to get from one side of the garden to the other by running along the trees, now there is a mega-jump to bridge.
and I keep staring at the stump and thinking of building a model of it out of mashed potato a la Richard Dreyfuss.  Maybe I watch too many films.....
The pleached hornbeams have come on well this year.  I think I can actually call them pleached now.
The Four Sisters have grown well this year.  The Carol Klein acer has put on quite a spurt of growth and the edgeworthia is looking healthy.  This is good, I will soon be on edgeworthia-watch again and hoping that it gets through the winter (and maybe even flower!).
The veg beds are looking reasonable and I have had a good crop of sweetcorn this year.  This has made me very happy if not a little smug.
The greenhouse is reasonably full of cuttings, seedlings and chillies.
and the table is still full of pots.
Bruce sleeps on the grassy knoll, he has made a nest for himself in the grass.
and the pond is getting really quite low but is still a total disgrace as it is so full of parrot weed.

Thanks as usual to Helen for hosting this meme.

A visit to Haddonstone Show Gardens

It was a lovely sunny late summer Sunday and I had a few days off from work coming up, so I felt I could spend an hour or so wandering around an NGS Open Garden.  I saw a link to a garden on Twitter the day before and thought it looked an interesting garden.  Better still, it was within 30 minutes drive so definitely do-able.  So I set off fairly promptly in the morning to be at Haddonstone Show Gardens shortly after they opened.  This was a good plan as by the time I left it was getting quite busy.
On arrival you can be in no doubt that you are the right place.  It did not really need the yellow sign to show where it was.  Helpfully I was given a map of the gardens, this was needed not because they are huge, but because they are quite compartmentalised and I think it would be easy to miss something if you were not checking where you were.
 It is a garden of focal points.  This is to be expected and remembered as it is a garden meant to show off the company's wares.  There is nothing wrong with this and if done well (and on the whole it was) it is very effective.  I think it is difficult to display grave stones in a decorative sense so they can surely be forgiven if at points the 'fitting into a garden' element were not even attempted.
There is of course much stone work.  This colonnade around the swimming pool was rather wonderful.
and there are statues everywhere.

I did start to think about the statues in The Prisoner whose heads move to monitor where he is.

I rather liked this neat vegetable garden, which did not really contain stone-ware so I almost wondered if I was meant to have wandered into it.
The box edging was crisply cut throughout the garden.  It was very well maintained.
I found the home of the resident monster, the monster clearly likes to play with tennis balls.  I did not linger too long in case a pair of red glowing eyes stared out at me.
I would love to own a pair of stone eagles, they would look a bit (lot) out of place where I live, but I do think they are very fine.

You may have noticed by now that I am completely distracted from looking at the gardens as such and just focussed on the stoneware.  It is hard not to do this.
I did look up and see the top of this rather good looking tree.  I wondered if I could wander around to find the tree itself.  I was not sure actually where it was or if it was even in this garden.
I found this young man lounging in the entrance to the orchard.  The orchard had some fantastic old trees.  I recognised this young man as I think I have met his (brightly coloured) brother before at The Laskett.
This lawn appears to feature two statues of naked men running towards each other with a horses head in the middle.  I am sure there is something deep and meaningful about all this but in truth...
... I don't think it is a tableau I would want to replicate on my lawn.
This one has blank staring statue-eyes, which is better than it having moving eyes, yet still there was something about her that made me think of Ray Harryhausen or the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.
Across the road from the main gardens are the Jubilee Gardens.  These felt very peaceful and were dominated by the sound of running water.
It also housed the follies.  I love these follies, I look at them whenever I go to garden shows and wish I had somewhere to put one and the funds to buy one.  I imagine that the two things go hand in hand.
This stone bench, beautifully overgrown with ivy was one of my favourite parts of the garden.
though I did still feel like I was being watched.
This is part of an old windmill that is in the Jubilee Gardens, what a great feature.
There are lots of wall plaques too, I do love a good wall plaque.
Back over the road in the main gardens there are more wall plaques and water spouts.
The top lawn is well planted and nice to see the wooden framework as it shows it is a real garden not just a show catalogue.
Statues lurk around corners,
watch over pathways,
and guard doorways.
There are benches in quaint corners,
though this quaint corner did seem to be the birdbaths' graveyard.  I think I had wandered into where I shouldn't again.
and I was getting closer to finding that tree.
there it was, by the main manor house.  This formal lawn was beautiful.  Very tranquil and a nice calming space.
I loved these gargoyles,
this one looked like he was begging for food.
and I loved this little mossy covered stone owl.  He was just adorable.

So of course when I went to get tea and cake what did I find on special offer.....
... yes my garden now contains its own guardian of the garden.  His name is Bubo.