Monday, 21 April 2014

Busy weekends: the April garden and beginning the big plant out

The garden is a very demanding mistress at the moment, one that wants more of my time than I can give and I have had a very long list of things that need doing. Fitness is also an issue and I am not half as butch as I think I am.... The weather is also very mild and everything is growing including the Cannas and dahlias, and so this weekend I have begun planting out all the tender things and some Ricinus seedlings. Last year is was so cold and wet which meant things sulked forever and only got going really late in the season, so this year I am hoping for the opposite, and by getting things out early I hope they can take advantage of the warm weather and begin to establish.

Everything seems to have survived, the only plant which is near death being a  Musa sikkimensis which was gnawed by a fox.

6ft Musa sikkimensis planted out with  big clumps of Canna musifolia around the base

I am in 3yr old Geranium maderense has just started flowering.....a beautiful plant which is currently about 3ft tall. I have never got them to flower as the frost always gets the growing point. hurrah! Behind is a Gunnera which I am trying in a pot
This continues the bog plants in pot theme with a Petasites doing better here than in the ground, although the monopeds like it...

A large pot of Canna musifolia and you can see it beginning to burst into life. It is a strong plant and you can see how much it is beginning to distort the pot.

New leaves of Stauntonia hexaphylla intertwined with a still flowering Cobea making its self at home by self seeding around the garden. fabulous alien flowers

Bog bean...

Large ajuga blending with the Forget-me nots which have carpeted everything

Nicotiana tabacum...leaves look rubbish but their flowers which are at head height are rather interesting

Eccremus which has a beautiful exotic flower....

The Tetrapanax forest looking jungly...

 I have about 5 giant Echiums which are flowering, the tallest growing about a foot a week which is great apart from if they are growing into the tree!

Planted out Ricinnus seedlings

Iris confusa looking so elegant that it is like you are in a Japanese woodcut
So lots more to do! there are still piles of Cannas to go out and although the Ensetes are coming into leaf they arent rooting yet....


Last weekend we were hanging out in Nice where all the other English people were very obvious with their shorts and white porcelain legs!

This was one of the most exciting plants I saw, a huge flowering Xanthorrohoea...

The new public park is working out very well, with rumours that locals are preferring to hang out here rather than by the sea. I *love* the misters which attract hoards of children....I would love to have control of the buttons which turn on the fountains.....

I dont know what this is but assume some type of penstemon?

Another new one...

View from the chateau...I want to be there now eating my tenth patisserie of the day!

Friday, 4 April 2014

The RHS Great London Plant Show

This week saw the second RHS Great London Plant Show which also featured an evening opening on the first day which apparently went down very well bringing in a plethora of the under 70’s to drink and be merry amongst the flowers.

I went first thing on Wednesday morning with my good friend Peter who was like honey to the bee whenever he saw something labelled as ‘rare’ as he has so much space to fill on his terraced Kings Cross garden.

Going early was actually really nice as we were the first people in the second hall and had a nice long peruse of the Jaques Amand stand which was heaving my 11am...I like them as they have lots of unusual things and the hardy orchids that I bought last year is still alive so I must be doing something right. The Arisaema fetish is also lurking in the back of my mind and I bought 2 more, A. Concinnum and A. propinqum with a vision of a well watered collection in pots.

For the first time I sat in one of the talks on the upstairs landing on unusual fruit and veg (I had thought this was just a place for ladies to dose after a hard mornings plant hunting). I was actually inspired and went out to buy a Yacon straight afterwards....this is a South American tuber, looking much like a sweet potato but tasting a bit pear ish. I am more excited about the foliage as it gets to about 4ft and has big exotic looking leaves...apparently it is closely related to Helianthus. I also learnt about how Szechwan pepper can grow in the UK which was quite exciting (I still remember my numb mouth from a plate of Szechwan pepper and chilli with chicken garnish in Hong Kong.) However the plant grows to be a large bush/6ft shrub and I don’t have the space.  

Overall I thought that it was a good show and I loved the daffodils which I could see myself collecting in later years. I seemed particularly drawn to the expensive ones with flat coronas however hate the ruffled salmon pink split corona ones which just seem monstrous.  I didn’t feel there was much new there and a lot of the regulars were present from Chrysanthemums (I tend to smell petrol when I walk past this stand) to Agapanthus however it was nice to see the London Beekeepers have a stand. Alison, the regular who I usually never see although thought it wasn’t that exciting but Peter and I had a good morning. I also think that the RHS is still going in the right direction with the shows late opening and also things like putting the exhibitor lists online which is really helpful. Thank you RHS, keep it up!

 I always like a restio and had fantasies of lots of big pots with huge fountains of them, however my reality is more like a graveyars

We were rather taken by this Coryalis

Step away from the hosta display......Peter already has hundreds of hostas as he keeps them looking nice by dosing his whole garden in DDT every year, mine look nice as they shoot then get mauled by slugs.

 UG: Im not a fan of these monstrous

I do love a Puya in a pot

This was my one big discovery...Euphorbia doniii...has fabulous foliage a bit like meilfera however is herbaceous. Sadly they didn't have any for sale, however I will hunt this one down 

Spiky plant

Coral flower

This one perplexed Peter and I as a great plant or just a novelty? it is actually a clematis which is really small

I was rather taken by the color of this Kale as it was really interesting, could make quite a feature if planted on mass

Jeffersonia: another new one to me

*Love* these...but I would feel bad killing it


mmmm snakes head fritillaries....I once saw a field of these in the wild near Reading and it was so exciting

Finally an orchid we didn't know about....Peter went a bit gaga for it but on mass they don't look that special 

Monday, 31 March 2014

The garden at the end of March

Southern England continues to be really mild and looking back on pictures from last year I reckon we are about 2 weeks ahead of where we were last year which is ironic as I feel about 2 weeks behind of where I should be! This is partially due to things having been rather busy as I am about to change jobs, leaving behind the glamour of Elephant and Castle Shopping Center for Camden Town. This is very exciting for me as a plant wise as it means my lunchtimes can be spent wandering Regents Park and all the exotic gems that it holds.

There has been so much going on in the garden....I think I finished my jiggling around early in the month and most things are in their new homes, although I have a lot of plants in my holding pen waiting for a new home. It has been a relief to be able to give away some plants to nice neighbours and local folk as it has avoided the guilt of composting them! Having space for new plants is my major headache at the moment as there is only so much squeezing you can do, and as the current plants get bigger and bigger my planting is getting less dense!
Giant Echiums are alive! this one at the back is now at about 7ft
Melianthus major...fabulously exotic flowers and foliage
Surprisingly things are now drying out fast....all the pots were dry and the Cyathea was a little fried. The Sarracenias needed some emergency help as they were crisp.

I am also quite fried as how fit I think I am is very different to the ragged exhausted person I tend to be at the end of a days gardening.

So big things:

Cannas are all out of the meter cupboard and already growing....even those left in pots are shooting

Seeds are mostly all planted....this year I have about 20 Ricisnus, and the usual Tithonia, Cuphea and Coleus. New exciting things include Giant Fennel (please grow!)

The Ensetes are also now all out of the cupboard and look ok....they are still firm and dry with no rot so I really hope they root easily and come back to life

Etiolated but alive (a bit like me at the end of a days work)
Bees: I am now a three hive family and after much cursing about why I didn't order a pre assembled hive the new one (Balmoral) is now up and running and the bees settling in well. Hive 1 is mega busy and has already ¼ filled a super with honey which is so unusual. Fingers crossed it is a good year.

Hello ladyzzzz

So everything is looking good and it is so nice to be able to loll about outside (the hammock has now been out twice) but lots to do. Happy gardening

Cardoons looking nice and jungly

This area is completely re-organised with a huge bamboo being moved,and now looking so sickly :(

Is that a nasturshum still lowering from last year? why yes it is

Productive beds looking proper! thank you to Sue and Steven

A giant dahlia which is actually sprouting from last years wood!

Although it looks empty there is lots of things coming into life and things to be done

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Doddington Hall, Lincoln: go visit for NGS on Sunday 16th March

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of visiting the gardens of Doddington Hall, an Elizabethan Hall near Lincoln. I didn’t know what to expect as it is not exactly garden visiting weather, however the garden was bursting with spring with a really interesting structure made all the more special by having the hall in the background. It had something for everyone with a labyrinth, wild garden, bogs and Temple of the Winds.
This Sunday (16th March) they are opening for the NGS so go! A great trip out and something to liven the senses

Everyone likes a few balls on sticks....

dogs tooth violets
 a bit of calmness

 I didn't get lost in the labyrinth

 Rhododendron with a fabulous exotic effect leaf...I'm coming round to them more and more

Crocus's a go go

The most gnarled and ancient trees you will see in a long time

A whole avenue of globe artichokes....magnificent jungly foliage

Fabulous arum

And who can go wrong with a Unicorn topiary?

and what is more English than an old church surrounded by daffodil?

Visit! Doddington Hall is magnificent!