Saturday, 26 July 2014

The end of July: jungle beasts growing

July has been hot! a time to sit and enjoy the garden rather than doing lots of work. The majority of things are now all ok and doing well however there is a slug and snail army which is attacking at every turn. Last night we picked about 15 slugs and snails off a 6ft Dahlia imperialis taking great pleasure at stepping on the snails and cutting the slugs in half using some sharp scissors.

NGS opening wise, I worry how some plants have been damaged too much as there are 2 dahlias which are having trouble coming out of the ground and a few salvias that are decimated however we shall see.

I have been surprised at how well the Ricnus are able to cope with the slugs (and surprised that they can eat something so toxic!) however those seedlings which I planted out and then had to rescue have done as well as those that went straight in the ground and next year I may keep them in pots until they are taller.

There is still lots to do as there are a few gaps and the huge area taken up with the Scotch thistles is about to look very empty as they are withering away and producing so much seed that I could stuff a pillow. Thankfully there are some gems that have managed to seed themselves with some 3cm high Nicandra popping up and also a forest of spiky solanum.

Anyway a July wander...

The palms are getting big! supplemented by a still sulking bamboo and Musa sikkimensis

i am very pleased with this...a huge Musa sikkimensis in a pot with a Schleffera macrophylla which is still alive!

pots on the wall....lots of red from the Hedychium greeni and Ensete

other side of the terrace, Brahea and Ensete that is already too big for its pot!

HUGE Plume poppy and cardoons

Wider vists with the arches covered in Cobea that I am having to wind in to keep controlled

Cobea being very prolific

The Kangeroo Apple has gone crazy this year as it wasn't knocked back by the frosts and has actually grown too much! I have had to cut back huge swathes of it to keep it in check!

The Paulownia is already as big as it got last year

Clerodendron a go go.....above is C. trichotomum and below bungeii

Emerging dragonfly on a water arum

The first canna flower!

I have hopefully solved a dry corner where nothing grows by creating focal point with a large pot of Thaila

vista of the pond and growing Ensete...holes formed by slug mauled salvias....

hurrah first flowering water Canna
 Finally a picture of Mirabilis longiflora, a native of SW USA/Mexico. The flowers open at dusk and have an amazing scent. I also marvel at how long the proboscis of the moth that pollinates it is as the flower is very very long!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The July garden

With all the summers warmth the garden is beginning to look very lush and tropical. The Paulownias are already giants and the bamboo is threatening to take over all of Camberwell

As the garden ages it is becoming more and more about the  perennials as things like the Tetrapanax forest gets bigger and crowds out space for annuals and Dahlias. Dry areas remain problematic as things in them shrivel in the heat and I scratch my head to see what I can put in instead. I'm being more and more drawn to things in pots as you can water and feed them better and I love jigging things around as they grow...

Motivation to garden in the hot weather is also a challenge as is the random decision as to whether I should host a group of 35 visitors lead by the 'Austrian Alan Titchmarsh' visitors in August 2015!?! sometimes being part of the NGS can throw up some random things...

So a July wander... 

We have moved around the terrace and have a huge pot of 12ft Musa sikkimensis in the middle adding height and hiding the neighbors.  

My Schlefera macrophylla is still alive, hurrah! at the bottom is a Petasites in a pot which I am rather pleased with as it is so much better than those in the ground

Canna musifolia begins to get tall and the Ensetes are also bursting back to life

Paulownias are up to 10ft? although the surrounding Dahlias are just poking through the ground thanks to the slug and snail plague...

Bean tree...a little abused but flowering merrily

Tetrapanax coming into their own

My problem area, dry shade where everything seems to struggle..

Kniphofia northiae with Lobelia tupa behind (and below)

Juvenile Musa basjoo and Tetrapanax with exploding nasturshums and horseradish 

Self seeded verbascums...usually they are only 2ft where I plant them, but they are all abotu 6ft where they chose to plant themselves 

Scotch thistles

The bees...currently 3 hives topped with 9 supers. the up and down relationship continues...

Leaning Echium whose days are numbered with sad Washingtonia

Huge bamboos continue to shoot skyward


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Grow London: a new plant fair/experience for London

Last Thursday I had the good fortune to manage to blag a ticket to go and visit the new Grow London contemporary garden fair. This was exciting stuff as I had heard about it ages ago and wanted to visit, however I had to persuade the husband that this was a better thing to do than have a romantic evening out.

So off we trotted to Hampstead, following their random unsignposted route from the tube to the show through backstreets and the windy ye old England of Hampstead with occasional grunts from the other half about whether or not I knew where I was going interspersed with attempts to look at maps on our phones.

Our mood on arrival at the fair, on the outskirts of the heath was immediately lifted by tables of free booze and wishes that the guy serving knew how to pour fizz. There was also a DJ making this a very un-RHS experience which was exactly what I was hoping for, as regular readers know I do rather hope that the RHS could modernise their shows a bit although their recent attempts have been rather more exciting (those Heucheras wrapped in rope lighting with dry ice were enough to raise a few eyebrows)

Wandering around there was a nice feel to the show as there were stands from companies I wasn’t familiar with and lots of interesting bits of garden furniture to lust afterwards however it was rather lacking in plant stalls. Later looking at the program (through wine googles) it seemed only approximately 10% were plant nurseries.  

Half way through I was expecting to come across lanes of nurseries brimming with plants, but it was more of the same however we did bump into Mark and Gaz of Alternative Eden fame which made the evening a lot more exciting (they go to all the best openings, you can see their write up here). When chatting we said it reminded us a bit of a job fair as it had that kind of marquee corporate set up. If it was a job fair I would definitely want to work for Crug Plants. Having them there was a big coup and made the event as they are still the most exciting nursery around and perusing the plants with a glass of wine was dangerous as I bought an expensive and sensitive looking Piper which on refection is far to sensitive to deal with my neglect!

Glorious Crug Plants

Overall it was an interesting experience, and there was the amusement of Joe Swift, James Sinclair and Cleve West doing a skit half way through. I think it was disappointing not to have more plant stands there as I do think this needs to be the cornerstone of a garden show. Within the stands themselves there also wasn’t much space for plants, and they were oddly laid out

Would I go again? Yes, probably if I got another free ticket and there were free drinks (I am a very cheap date)

Would I feel disappointed if I had just gone and paid £16 on the door?...yes.

Are they giving the RHS a run for their money? Not yet, although there is potential. They gave a fresh approach to things and had some different people there, certainly a lot more modern, and holistic in terms of a gardeners needs, albeit one with cash to splash. The way the RHS does things is very polished, staid, but polished and very plant focused which for me is what was lacking at Grow, however they do seem to want to be more holistic and are certainly a lot cooler. I wish them luck for the future and hope that they do grow and become a good alternative to the RHS as a bit of competition would be very healthy!