Tuesday, 31 May 2016

End of Month Review - May 2016

It would appear that this year is now five months gone, this is rather speedy.  May has been a bit chilly at times, but also quite sunny and warm and a reasonable amount of rain.  Pretty good growing weather all in all and the garden has responded by growing rather a lot.
I have not shown the driveway for a while, it is coming on fairly well.  There is quite a lot of colour from forget me nots, red campion and buttercups. It was getting a little out of hand so I had to mow some of it, the drive was disappearing.
The front garden is looking ok.  The knot garden is getting a bit shaggy and will soon need trimming.  The Gertrude Jekyll rose by the front door is flowering really well.  The flowers are just at the right height to give lots of scent as I leave and return.  The lavender edging, however, is a total mess.  It is full of weeds and aquiligea and I need to do something about it.  I do not want to dig it all out but it is a distinct possibility.
The days and nights warming up means that pots are starting to appear.  This Verbena Purple Sparkle was sent to me by The Vernon Nursery and it is incredibly pretty.
My little collection of agaves and succulents has also made it outdoors.  I am not sure if baking them on the metal coal bunker is a good idea but they seemed to like it last year.
This collection of pots is a bit random, but now includes two aeoniums.  I think that any collection of random pottage looks better with added aeoniums.
Whilst still on the pot theme, the Courtyard is blooming and full of the scent of the rhododendron luteum.
and the pelagoniums have made it through the winter and back outside again.  I have taken a few cuttings, whether this works or not I will let you know (or not if it fails - thems the rules).
The borders overlooking the formal lawn are getting some colour.  There are spots of yellow and red appearing.
It is still quite green though.  I like this shot as it shows the pleached hornbeams quite well.  I am getting a little smug now about the pleached hornbeams, from a distance they look quite convincing.
In the borders there are weaves of welsh poppies and the yellow wild wallflower that has decided to self-seed around quite happily.
The Conservatory Border is full of aquiligea, I like them alot but they will need thinning out.  I try and remove the seedlings as much as possible, I appear to have missed a couple....
The Spring Border is looking less springy now, which is allowed as we are now heading towards summer.
The foxgloves are reaching up for the sky now.  I am very fond of them and let them roam about the garden as they please.
The Prairie Borders are starting to take shape again.  The Stipe tenuissima is growing well and will soon by at its wafty best.
The Tree Lupin border is morphing into an Exotic Border.  You can tell this as there are now bananas planted into it.  You can also see the red of the Tulip Sprengeri.  This is an expensive tulip that will apparently self-seed if it is happy.  I am not holding my breath, but it is a thing of great beauty and I shall have to buy another one this autumn I think.
The Woodland Border/Bog  Garden is now looking quite lush.  The irises planted out a year or so ago are doing very well. I have added in a couple more ferns to the bog garden and thinned out some of the primulas.  It is coming on well now.
A look down the garden from this corner shows the purple beech pillars quite well.  I know that calling them pillars is more anticipatory than reality, but they are getting there, slowly.
The view down the other side of the woodland border shows the edge of the Wild Garden.  You can see how the grass has been held back the addition of yellow rattle can't you?  No, neither can I, I probably need to sow more and let it gain momentum for a year or two.
The top of the Wild Garden is a froth of cow parsley and forget me nots.  This makes me very happy.  I do have to control the cow parsley as it does like to take over given half a chance, but I do find it very pretty.
The Four Sisters are growing well.  The Carol Klein Acer is growing very well and the edgeworthia is still alive.
The newly planted up fernery is coming on ok.  I even found two tiny ferns that had self-sown themselves elsewhere in the garden so I moved them to this spot.  The Boy Who Waited looks on and has been pleased to discover that his name is Philip.  Yes, this is now called the Philip'n' Fernery, which dates me more than it does this part of the garden.
In the veg garden the spuds are growing all of a sudden.  One minute there was no sign, now they are definitely there.
I had to go and buy some emergency french bean plugs and I only successfully germinated 2 cobra beans.  When I thought about this I realised I used last year's left over beans, that might have been an error.  Anyhoo, there are now some Blue Lake and a yellow bean I have already forgotten the name of growing in the garden.
I have also planted out some sweetpeas in the veg garden, it is my own, rather pathetic, pickery a la Easton Walled Garden.
Inside the greenhouse there has been pricking out of seedlings.  It almost (from a distance) looks like I know what I am doing.
and the pond?  Well it is still a bit of a gooey green mess.  There is (still) a tale behind this and hopefully (very hopefully) it will be resolved.  It is heaving with tadpoles and on a sunny day damsel flies are making whoopy on the surface.  So green sludge, or no green sludge, it makes me happy.

Thanks as ever to Helen for hosting this meme.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 Part 1 - the cold one

The day we went to Chelsea Flower Show it was cold. I have never been to a cold Chelsea before, I have been to warm ones, hot ones and rainy ones, but this was a new experience.  The word of the day was 'chilly'.  I am not going to feature all the gardens, this is a very selective view, but they are the ones that really my eye and that I managed to photograph through the crowds.

The chill did not put us off though, at least we did not get too hot on our wanderings.
We arrived at lunch time and this year, in a break with tradition, we did not do 'posh lunch' but had a sausage bap instead.  This meant that our first garden to look at was Diarmuid Gavin's Harrod's British Eccentrics garden.  As it was not twirling at the time we saw it, the crowds were less and made it easier to actually see.
I really liked the planting, there were mutterings of 'garish' around me, but I don't do pale.
In contrast the Cloudy Bay garden next door, designed by Sam Evans, was calmer and made a good foil to its louder neighbour.
There was more brightness to be found in Anne-Marie Powell's 'Greening Grey Britain for Health' RHS garden.
The planting of this garden was second to none and the bird feeders are just a thing of envy.  There was a discussion about buying rusty metal; about how we are now drawn to it like moths to a (rusty) flame, who knew some old metal would make us love it so?
I loved the colours in this garden, it was bold and very successful.
The Winton Beauty of Mathematics garden designed by Nick Bailey used colour extremely well.
There is a fine line between too much bare earth and well planted, this is very well planted.
There were quite a few, what I would call dry/arid looking gardens.  The L'Occitane Garden designed by James Basson was a very good example.
Even on this chilly day the garden gave a feeling of heat.  I also liked the inclusion of woad, a plant I am very fond of.
Andy Sturgeon's Telegraph Garden won best in show.  It probably was the best, we thought so as we walked around.  We also thought it looked much better in reality than it did on the photographs.  Looking back at my photographs does not make me change this opinion.
This was my favourite bit of this garden, it sums up really why it works so well. The orange against the dark shapes is stunning, and, I shall boldly claim: when people say that Chelsea is not about 'real' gardens, I think that this is easily replicable in a garden.  If you have three large chunks of dark stone, or a fence and some dark paint.
Time to move away from the dark now and into colour.  This is Rosie Hardy's first show garden and is the Brewin Dolphin Forever Freefolk garden.  I would expect a serious plantswoman like Rosie to plant a garden well and this is superbly planted.
You only have to look at the detail of how the colours of the pathway match exactly the colour of the planting.  The garden is a great achievement and I hope that Rosie goes on to design more gardens in the future.
Cleve West's M & G Garden was a masterclass in naturalistic planting.  It gave a complete sense of the Exmoor landscape.
With my eye for a good poppy I did enjoy spotting this lone orange poppy, popping up as they do.  It might have been this one singular poppy alone that made me feel that this garden did feel like natural landscape.
Jekka McVicar's  The St John's Hospice Modern Apothecary Garden was neat and beautiful.  It was a great lesson in the beauty of herbs.
Jo Thompson's The Chelsea Barracks Garden featured a lot of lawn.  This garden above any of the others you felt could be lifted up and plonked in your own garden (plonked being a technical term ofc course).  Back to my comment about 'real' gardens (and I should probably spend some time unpicking that thought in a future post, makes note to do so) this is clearly a 'real' garden in terms of what many of us would recognise from looking out of our own back doors.  A lot of people have a lawn and plants and it was very welcome to see this demonstrated at Chelsea- thank you Jo.
Chris Beardshaw is a man who knows how to use sculpture in a garden to great effect.  This part of the Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormand Street is a 'stop for a moment and think' moment.  Of course planting matters in a garden, I love plants, but this showed how not all moments in gardens are plants.
I think that this garden should be called 'The Garden of Impending Doom', apparently it is the Garden of Potential designed by Propagating Dan.  I liked it but I was worried by it, maybe I have read the story of Chicken-licken too often.
I had to say hello to the mini in the Artisan Gardens, I used to drive a mini (several minis) and I still have a huge fondness for them.  Yes I confess I did mainly look at the car and not the planting, sorry.
This chap is from the Meningitis Future Cares Garden by John Everiss.  A beautifully planted garden and the sculptures had an eerie reality about them.  Apparently they were the result of 3D scanning of real people and I think that is evident.  When I say eerie I do not mean unpleasant, it did just feel like they might move at any moment.
I think this figure reaching out was one of my favourite bits of the whole show.
Finally a vision in purple, the Papworth Trust Together We Can Garden by Peter Eustance.  I loved the colour but most of all I loved the sound of this garden.  For such bold colour this garden felt like it was about peace.  The gentle noise of the nodding water-feature which had a rhythmical knocking noise was just perfect.

Hang on a minute, I hear you say,  you can't finish there, you've forgotten the poppies.
As if I would neglect to mention poppies!  This installation designed by Philip Johnson and born from an idea from Margaret Knight and Lynn Berry is just awesome.
Margaret and Lynn set out originally to crochet 120 poppies to honour their fathers who fought in the Second World War, many contributors later and this had developed into over 250,000 poppies.  This display is based on an Anzac Day memorial in 2015 and it is fitting to remember the sacrifice of so many people from all over the world here at the Chelsea hospital.
It was beautiful and moving and and a good place to finish writing for today.  I shall write about the floral pavilion and other bits later.

Part 2 - The Other Bits