Monday, 29 February 2016

End of Month Review - February 2016

February is such an odd month, it is not one I look forward to nor particularly enjoy.  It tends to be rather grey, often cold and usually icy and rainy.  This February has been like this and I think it has been about six weeks long.  It seemed to be going quickly until it suddenly stopped and started to drag on a bit.  It is in short, an odd transitional month.
The Front Garden looks ok this time of year.  You cannot see the five cypress trees very well that I planted last year as they are rather small, they are however growing well and this pleases me.
The quince hedge is flowering well and getting a little more hedgy every day.
and the sarcocca on the front step is perfuming the garden wonderfully.  I have some seedlings from this shrub now that I have potted on.  I keep visiting gardens with sarcocca hedging, they smell divine this time of year and I can only aspire to having such a wonderful thing.
Into the back garden and it is all looking a bit scrappy at the moment.  It is almost time for it to have its tidy up but the temperature keeps dipping below freezing at night so I am holding off just yet.
The Courtyard is looking quite good at the moment.  Adding in some evergreens was definitely the right move.
In the Conservatory Board some of the hellebore seedlings are now starting to flower.  It has taken two or three years for them to reach this stage but I am very pleased with them.  These are seedlings I had relocated from the Spring Border and it was a good move on my part.  I shall continue to redistribute seedlings as there are few plants I like as much as a hellebore.
Signs of Spring are starting to really get moving now.  The new growth is appearing on the roses.
These anemones have self-seeded in the borders and are flowering well.
The Crown Fritelleria are starting to grow.  I love these plants very much, I planted these out not long after moving here and some years they flower better than others.  They have slowly increased from being three plants to what you see now.  They are much loved by lily beetles as well, damn their red-shelled hides.
I have been splitting up some of the snowdrop clumps and relocating more into the borders.  Don't ask me why I have not planted more into the borders before, it is a total oversight on my part.  I was focussed on planting them out into the Wild Garden but I was missing an important part of growing them.
The Spring Border looks very Springy.  These miniture daffodils are lifting the colour really well.
In the Pond Border these sedums are adding good structure.  I divided these and put some more in the border last year.  The new ones are still rather small but I am hopeful they will make their presence more felt this year.
In the Tree Lupin border I planted this camellia the other day.  It has now been frosted and does not look quite so pretty as it briefly did.  I don't mind, that is what happens sadly.
Also in the Tree Lupin Border the Tree Peony has a rather good bud developing.  I have four tree peonies (yes I am greedy I know) and they have good buds on them this year.  This is very exciting.
The Prairie Borders are being guarded by Esme, who looks as cross as she generally is.  I will soon be cutting the grasses back in these borders and then they will look awful for a couple of months whilst the new growth starts again.
The Woodland Border/Bog Garden is not looking great, but I like to tell myself that it is just waiting for its time to shine.  It has been waiting quite while.....
The Wild Garden has lots of bulbs either just flowering or just going over.
The seed heads are starting to swell on the snowdrops.
The Edgeworthia is still thinking about whether it wants to flower or not.
and the Carol Klein acer is getting ready to leaf-up.
The catkins are starting to unfurl and the red hazel flowers are standing by for the pollen on the twisted hazel.
In the veg beds the purple sprouting broccoli is broccling well.  You can see that it is now being harvested and new shoots are forming.  This is such a good mannered vegetable, no glutting here.
and the petunia exserta is still surviving.  It has been through a few hard frosts but it carries on regardless.
I finish as ever on the pond which is looking very full.  It has some algae growing well in it too.  I shall be having to sort this out before it really becomes a problem.  I am still removing parrot-weed as and when, I am determined to keep it more under control this year.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Burgon & Ball Poc-kit review

I recently attend the Garden Press Event which is where many garden-related businesses go to show their wares to press and bloggers.  I met lots of very nice people and saw some very interesting products and as the year progresses I will be trialling various things as a result of this day.

One of the companies I spoke to was Burgon and Ball.  Now I have been aware of this company for many years and I own several garden tools made by them including some wonderful topiary clippers that I must have bought at least seven years ago and they are still going strong.  I was delighted that in the press-bag that they gave me was a Poc-Kit belt.
This belt comes in several colours but as I am a very predictable person, I spotted a red one and asked if I could have that one.  I had been looking at these belts for some time and thinking that I would really like one; it was on the list of things to investigate further.

When I got it home I had a think about how I would use it.  I realised quickly that as a knife holder it was very useful and it also has one of those holes to let you have string/twine readily to hand.  This is just the most useful thing ever!  Well, ok I might exaggerate, but the moment you think "I need string for that" then usually "that means going back to the greenhouse" now is "oh look, I have some string in my useful belt-thingy".
I could not, however, fit my hori-hori into the pockets.  There was a moment when I considered it but even with my poor spatial ability I could see it was just too big.  This was a disappointment.  A moment or two later and a little bit of fiddling about with the buckle and I had  successfully attached the hori-hori holster onto the belt.  I now felt like Batman reborn!  The utility belt that most of us who grew up watching Adam West as Batman have craved for was finally mine.

Happy days.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

A stop off at Belton House

When my children were younger we used to visit Belton House often.  It was one of the few National Trust houses that they willingly would visit as it had a superb adventure playground.  We used to take a picnic and it would always be a good day out.  After visiting Little Ponton the other day we realised we were close to Belton so we decided it would be nice to visit again.
It is a very fine house and it sits well in its landscape.
It has impressive architecture that just shouts wealth.
and also some rather wonderful ornamental quinces flowering up the warm-coloured walls.
The formal gardens are very well proportioned.
and you turn from one way to the other to admire the lines and focal points.
We peered through the windows of the closed camellia house.  It looked warm and steamy in there and we could see the flashes of orange fish.
There were, of course, plenty of snowdrops.
There is this tree lined avenue to the house, which when you turn around.....
reveals the edge of a ha ha and a focal point in the distance.  This worked perfectly.
Plus some moments to stop and enjoy the little things.
I loved this bumpy hedging that creates an arch over the pathway.
This curved wall was a beautiful piece of detail.  It is around the back of the house in a corner and so could be easily missed.  It has many roses growing up it and I need to return to see them in flower.
I was stopped in my tracks by this, I think it is a wisteria, it is beautifully pruned and spread its arms far and wide.
We also found some naturalised drifts of snowdrops and daffodils.

It was a really nice couple of hours wandering around, I don't think I had every walked around so much of the gardens before.  I shall definitely be returning when the season has turned again.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Snowdrop Kokedama

I first saw kokedama being described on Gardeners' World earlier in the year.  Kokedama is a plant that is growing in a ball of moss, held together with string and then tied up so that they dangle.  Just think 1970s macrame plant hangers but with a twist (or should I say more moss?).  I confess I was not totally bowled over by what  I saw of them and dismissed them to the back of my mind.

I went to Easton Walled Gardens the other day where I saw some close up for the first time.
and I was rather taken with them, particularly as they were so simple and understated with these snowdrops gracefully nodding in them.
They formed part of this rather wonderful entrance display.  I am also not a huge fan of hanging baskets, but....
..... these are a cut above the usual hanging-basket-fare.
These small clumps were sconced onto the wall.
and these baskets with cyclamen and hellobores formed part of the display.  I would never had thought of baskets like this and I thought they were wonderful in their simplicity and use of plants.
I was hugely taken with the whole effect.  I think I might be a convert.

These beautiful creations were made by Alexandra.

More about visiting Easton Walled Gardens to see snowdrops can be found here.

Postscript:

As I was writing this I was humming CopaCabana by Barry Manilow, well, actually I was humming CocaCabana, a song Barry Manilow did not write but I have misheard for the past 38 years.  It was only when double checking I was spelling it correctly for this blog that I learned my mistake.  I gift this earworm to you, pronounced however you wish.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A return to Little Ponton

It is a year since I last visited Little Ponton, but it was a return visit that was always going to happen.  This year the gardens only opened on the 13th/14th February, so everything else had to go on hold as I did not want to miss out.
This season has seen things start early so the aconites were further on than last year but still very much in evidence.
Part of the magic of this garden is the mix of spring flowers.
In much of the garden it is wonderfully informal yet incredibly pretty planting.  I spent a lot of time kneeling to try and get the right angle to photograph these little flowers.  I had a bad case of photographer's knee when I got home (one muddy knee).
The formal gardens are immaculate.
Even on the cold winter's day that we visited (and it was cold), the gardens are beautifully laid out.
Even the flooded area looked very scenic.  We mused on whether they should create a lake here as it seemed to want to be one.
We also stopped and paid our respects to the snowdrops that had jumped the fence and were making a bid for freedom.

We also might (did) buy a plant or two.
In fact so many plants that one of the gardeners kindly fetched a trolley to help us get to our respective cars.
This is my part of the haul.  Yes snowdrops had to be bought as well as a Daphne mezereum 'Alba', a ginger, a calla lily, an Impatiens niamniamensis which is also known as a Congo Cockatoo (I am pretty sure this is a euphemism); a species fuchsia and.......... a clivia.  Yes I have finally bought one, it had to be done.  They had some last year and I did not buy one and I regretted it all year.  Now I own one and you will be bored with pictures of it when it flowers...... oh yes.