Saturday, 31 October 2015

End of Month Review - October 2015

I seem to have missed October, I feel like it has been and gone before I have had chance to really say hello.  I could say that I've been really busy and whilst I think I have been, I cannot show you anything much that I have done.  I shall just put it down to someone unknown stealing a couple of weeks of it when I was looking the other way.
I shall start in the driveway where things have been growing rather well.  This hydrangrea aspera has been doing very well this year and the yellow leaved shrub (lost the name) but it is looking really wonderful this time of year.
The Pin Oak has done well this year and is turning flame red.  I still love this tree very much and I am hoping that next year it will put on a lot of growth as it will have had time to really put down roots by then.  I think it takes trees a couple of years to really settle in before they start to properly grow away.
By the front door the red rose and white anemone are doing that thing they do every year that makes me smile.
and the quince hedge, which is not quite hedgy enough yet but it is getting there.  There is also some self-seed Verbena bonariensis in the cracks in the path.  I let it grow but I do have to hack it back every now and again when it starts to get hard to get in the front door.
Around to the back of the house, the Rosa Maidens Blush is having its final flower of the year.
In the borders there has been a bit of a penstemon outbreak.  This one is still flowering well.
The garden is looking distinctly autumnal.  This picture really sums up the garden for me at the moment.  The field maple in the background is about to turn an incredible yellow and flames of autumn colour are rippling along the pleached hornbeams.
In the borders the asters are still flowering well,
as are the chrysanthemums.
The nasturtiums have had better years, but the flowers are always welcome.
This aster and amaranthus mix really pleases me.  I want to claim that I knew the pink centre of the aster would look good with the red of the amaranthus, but this would be a lie.  I forgot it had a pink centre when I planted it.
There is still quite a bit of colour in the garden when looking along the Long Shoot.  You can see the windfall apples waiting for me to tidy them up.
The grasses around the pond are looking fantastic this year.  They have taken a few years to really mature as they were grown from seed, but now I am very happy with them.
and where-ever I turn there is usually a little brown Esme cat watching me.
The Four Sisters are growing well.  The Carol Klein acer is colouring up well and the Edgeworthia in the background is looking healthy and strong.  I shall be watching it anxiously over the Winter as usual.
The other side of the pleached hornbeams are the Three Cousins, they are also colouring up well.
As I look up into the Wild Garden there is a ginger Bruce cat looking back at me.
The Euonymus is putting on its Autumn colour beautifully,
the Catalpa on the other hand just looks mucky.  It is not a graceful season end for this tree.
I like this view along one of the paths through the Prairie Borders, one of the Aldi acers is having its moment to shine.
and even as the season declines into Winter there are signs of Spring already, the fluffy buds on the Magnolia stellata are forming already.
In the veg borders the broccoli is broccling.
and the cabbages are cabbaging.
The greenhouse is quite full of overwintering plants, sheltering from the oncoming frosts.
and the pond is still looking fairly clear and is filling up a bit from recent rains.  It is good to be able to see reflections in the pond again.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

A conundrum of conifers

I don't like conifers.  I have said it before and I will (most likely) say it again.  I have never liked them.  They sit there looking lumpy-like and pretty much unchanging all year.  They have very little going for them.

Except, of course there is an except.  The one word to start shouting at this point is gingko.  Now I love a good gingko and have two of them in my garden.  They are of course a deciduous conifer.  Aha I can then retort, it is deciduous, not one of those flipping evergreen ones that sit there lumpy-like and pretty much unchanging all year.

Also in the acceptable range of conifers is the larch, specifically the japanese larch.  I have one of these planted in the driveway and again it is a deciduous conifer.  At the very end of the drive is a large solid looking evergreen conifer.  I do not know its name; it is lumpy-like and pretty much unchanging but it does house a couple of nesting wood pigeons each year so it does have a purpose.  I would not have planted it, if it dies I would not cry, but it does not offend me enough that I want to remove it (yet).

I have, however, recently purchased three small conifers.  This has been the result of a gradual turn about-face.  I saw one that I liked and then I realised where they would look good, and, well, purchasing occurred.

I hereby annouce the presence of:
 Pinus mugo pumilio.  This was the one that started the trouble, let me go in a little closer to explain.
The devil is in the detail, these little sparks of purple sold it to me.  It is also very slow growing.  In fact, perfect for growing in a container.

Let me also annouce:
Crytomeria sekkan sugi.  Also very slow growing and perfect for a container (are you sensing a theme yet?)  I look at this and think that really I should hate it.  I am not hugely fond of variagation and it might have helped that it was a cold wet day when I went out to buy this.  The colour just shone and I love the shape and form of it.  It has a waftiness and swoop that gives it grace.

and now the third and final annoucement:
Juniper pingii hulsdonk yellow (I almost bought it mainly for the name!).  But, but I hear you say, Alison this one looks rather lumpy-like and it is not going to change very much is it?  I know I know, but again let us move closer.
there is a cream, green and glaucous blue thing going on with it.  It looks like it has its own fairy lights attached.  I know I should not like it, I do not like plants like this, and yet....... and yet......

Of course you will probably have guessed by now where these have all ended up...
..... they have all been potted up and now reside in the Courtyard where I think they are adding something.  Can you see how the Cryptomeria is shining out?  As I write this I am happy with this.  I might change my mind, but I am thinking that they have added texture and form and are a good addition to my Courtyard.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

RHS Bridgewater - interesting times ahead

After a good fews months of anticipation the RHS has announced where their fifth garden, which we now know will be called RHS Bridgewater, is going to be.  It will on the site of Worsley New Hall, a now demolished stately home  just outside Salford.

I have to confess a moment or two of peeve that the garden is not closer to where I live.  I held a small piece of hope that it might be within an hour's drive but sadly this is not the case.  It is only a small moment of peeve as I know full well I will be visiting and even if it is two hours away, it is probably slightly closer than the other nearest garden (about three miles closer to me than Harrogate according to google maps).
It is going to cost in the region of £30m to restore and develop these gardens so this is no small undertaking.  It is not surprise then that the RHS are going into partnership with Salford Council and Peel Land and Property to be able to run this project.  It will involve the restoration of the ten acre walled garden.  Think about that for a moment, a ten acre walled garden.  That is almost the size of a small village!

The house was completed in 1845 and designed by Edward Blore for Francis Egerton, the first Earl of Ellesmere. The family wealth came largely from coal mining, which in turn led to the third Duke, Francis Egerton (the uncle of the Francis Egerton above) funding the development of the Bridgewater Canal to transport coal.  This canal is said to be one of, if not the first true canal in Britain.

The hall when its in heyday was visited by royalty, both Victoria and Edward VII visited on more than one occasion.  During World War 1 the hall was used as a hospital and in World War 2 it housed refugees, American and British soldiers.  In 1943 it was seriously damaged by a fire and then demolished in 1949.  Sadly this is not an unusual history for several great houses at this time.

There are photographs of once great formal gardens, lakes and fountains, now all disappeared under years of neglect.  Sadly as they are not my photographs I am unable to include any of them, but Google is a wonderful thing.  I am really looking forward to following the development of the site and its opening in 2019 and to be able to take my own photographs.

It is exciting times for the RHS as I am already very pleased at the prospect of the new flower show which is going to be held at Chatsworth starting from 2017.  Now I do regard Chatsworth as almost local so this is a great development from my point of view.  I think about the roads that lead to Chatsworth and wonder about traffic flow.  I think about the RHS withdrawing from the Gardeners World show.  I am reminded of this quotation from Robert Kennedy:  "There is a chinese curse which says 'May he live in interesting times'. 'Like it or not we live in interesting times.  They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history."  'nuff said.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

A Southern Weekend: episode four - Great Dixter

Our whole weekend, which was actually three days, was based on arriving at Great Dixter for one of their workshops on exotic planting.  My friend is more exotic-planting orientated than I am (I do not regard the owner of one banana and some bamboo really as exotic planting in my own garden, but more of this later).  I am, however, a lover of Great Dixter and also the chance to listen to Fergus Garrett talk about anything is something I would not miss.  I think he could read the phone book and I would be interested, though I might ask him whether underplanting Smiths with the Smithers-Jones is a good autumnal mix.  Anyhoo, we were going to Great Dixter and I was excited.
As we walked towards the front door my eyes were immediately drawn to the Autumn Crocii in the lawns.  The weather had decided it was going to be unkind to us on this day as the threat of rain was hanging over us.  Even in the grey cloud the blue of these crocii shone out.
The front door has to be photographed, it is against the law not to go to Great Dixter, fall to your knees in front of the fantastic array of pots and chant 'we are not worthy'.
as we wandered around to the side of the house and saw this display of pots I might (did) fall to my knees again.  Breathtaking.
We were there to learn about exotic planting and so we did spend quite a lot of time in the Exotic Garden (that surprised you I'm sure).  It was really interesting (understatement) and inspiring.  What we found probably most interesting was learning how the Exotic Garden changes from year to year.  Some years it is a riot of colour, as indeed it was when we had first visited Great Dixter probably about ten years ago.  Other years, such as this year, it is more green.  Fergus also talked about how he was trying to cut through the middle story of planting so that more could be seen through the planting rather than people focussing on looking up.  This was thought provoking, we realised as we walked around we were looking up a lot.
We also spent a lot of time considering leaf shape and colour.
It was that brilliant mix of being seemingly quite simple yet you know that is what is going on takes great skill.
It is a garden of the bigger picture and at the same time focussing on the detail.
I loved this view of the Exotic Garden spilling out from its hedge boundary.
I need here to pause for a moment.  I liked this bench.  I am looking for the right bench to go by pond and this bench caught my eye.
As did this one, for a moment there I got a bit bench-obsessed.
But I was soon back on track and making ah noises in front of agaves.  Did I mention I rather like aeoniums too?
I have always loved these sempervivums on the roof.
We did spend some time wandering around the rest of the garden.  In the afternoon we did get rather wet, but nothing was going to stop us making the most of every minute of this visit.....
..... for it is equally against the law not to take a photograph of the Long Border.  They check your camera before you leave (well, okay, maybe they don't, but they might).

But Alison, I hear you cry, was there not plant buying?
Of course there was.  I bought a Salvia conterfolia, which was the plant of the weekend.
and an Impatiens tinctoria, a plant I have owned before and killed so I shall try and be more careful this time.

We then wended our way home.  We talked and talked and talked, overflowing with ideas from our weekend away.  We now have long lists of must-buy plants.  I came home and ordered three bananas and a baby tree fern (as you do) for now I have thoughts of what I want to do in my garden.
I realised that an existing banana and some bamboo might not be an exotic border, but actually they are a good start.  My Tree Lupin border is ripe for a nudge over the edge to getting just that little bit more exotic.  I think the border needs making a little larger so that will happen over the winter and next year I shall be experimenting more with planting in it.  Did I come back from my weekend inspired?  Oh yes.

Episode one:  Beth Chatto

Episode two: Ulting Wick

Episode three: Lullingstone Castle