Wednesday, 26 August 2015

10 Tetrapanax

10 Days to go! and what better plant to celebrate with than Tetrapanax of which there are over 10 in the garden. A must for the jungle garden for its primordial elegance and HUGE (yes that was capitals and bold) leaves. Perfectly hardy and way more exciting in the flesh

11 Banana trees

11 Days to go! 11Banana Trees

Musa basjoo

Ensete maurelii

Musa sikkimensis (in pot) with another and Ensete on the wall 

HUGE Musa sikkimensis (probably about 15ft) with basjoo in the corner and an Ensete

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

12 Days before the garden opening: 12 things to tempt you in

The NGS garden opening is imminent. Posters are going up and the last tweaks are being made. Rain is good as it is helping make things look even more lush and magnificent!

So to count us down I am going to do lots of different reasons to visit, starting with

12 places to sit

During the opening there will be at least 12 places to sit and eat cake. this is a garden which you can visit and linger...

This is the special Helen Skelton memorial sitting area (as featured in BBC's Instant Gardener)

Sunday, 23 August 2015

I'm not big in Austria

It is with sadness that this week I realised that I am not going to be ‘big’ in Austria.

One of the many advantages of being part of NGS is the doors that it opens and the many interesting people you meet. It was one of these random doors that opened last year when I got a call asking if I wanted to offer a garden visit to 30 Austrians who were on a garden visiting cruise in September, hosted by their equivalent of Alan Titchmarsh.

Of course I would host a visit I said (after negotiating a donation to the NGS). After all it was an auspicious year for Austria with them winning the Eurovision song contest and I felt that this would bring me closer to their fabulous representative Conchita Wurst.

So all was set, and last year the ‘fixer’ and Herr Titchmarsh himself came to visit to have a poke around. I wasn’t able to be there so my mother let the Austrian whirlwind in. I don’t know how good her poker face was when they asked her if all was still ok for the group of 60 people to come in May, and where could they park their two coaches? (There had been some crossed wires and it was indeed September and only 30 people, but mother had needed a large gin to steady herself)

 The other surprise was that it was all to be recorded for Austrian TV...this was my chance to make it big in Austria, and perhaps next time I was at the top of one of their mountains skiing the man dressed as Pocahontas serving the rotisserie chickens may give me some frites for free. Perhaps when I saw Conchita she would give me a wave and ask me for gardening tips?

All was set and the date was in the diary. After the dress rehearsal of our Eurovision party in May I now have a large Austrian flag that I was going to fly over the summerhouse and am an expert at making schnitzel. So I was rather sad when they pulled out. The cruise liner has gone bankrupt.

This will not be my year for being big in Austria L

Monday, 3 August 2015

1 month terrors

The one month terrors before the garden opening have started....there has been needless watering and much discussion of where plant sales will be and who is selling honey. This is what happens when you are an NGS opener. Soon there will be the debates about how much to charge for a cup of tea.

But, when the sun is shining the garden is looking great

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Instant Gardener and 1 Month to go before the garden opens for one afternoon in aid of the National Gardens Scheme

This is a bizarre week of waiting as on Friday July 31st on BBC1 at 3:45pm I will be featured on the BBC's 'Instant Gardener' Program (well I hope I haven't been cut!). I am a bit nervous about it as I have no idea how the garden or I will come across. I was very apprehensive about letting them film in April as the garden is nothing like at its best. For that COME TO OUR GARDEN OPENING ON 6th SEPTEMBER!

However, I did it as it was a bit random and I ended up having a really fun day as both Carmen and Helen were absolutely lovely. You can read the full blog I did after the filming here

I am enjoying watching the series as although in the vein of garden makeover shows it is a little different as it is more aimed at 'normal' folk who aren't gardeners but who have an outdoor space. The makeovers are all done in a day on a very low budget and so far have all been achievable for the garden owners. Helen is of course a fabulous, down to earth presenter, and Danny the main designer/gardener is different from the mold, and I am sure that we will be seeing more of him on our screens.

Anyway, I hope that it all comes across well and makes people want to come and visit the garden when we open in a months time! The NGS describes our garden as:

24 Grove Park, Camberwell, London, SE5 8LH

An exotic garden full of the exuberance of late summer inspired by travel in Southeast Asia. A jungle of big leafed plants, bold colours and shapes incl bananas, dahlias and towering Paulownias. Huge hidden garden gives unexpected size with ponds, bee hives, sunken terrace, productive area. Lawn and lots of hidden corners give spaces to sit and enjoy. Renowned for delicious cake

This year I think things will be bigger and better! and I am busy potting up plants for the plant sale. Come! put it in your diary now!
Some pictures to tempt you in....




Tatton Park: inspiring spaces and an amazing Japanese Garden

When up north t'other week we went to Tatton Park which is much more than a flower show. Overall it is a vast working estate with one of the earliest and best Japanese gardens in the UK

Created after a visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910 Alan de Tatton was so inspired that he brought a team of Japanese workmen over to create his new garden.

I loved it as it incredibly well laid out and worked with the space with a bridge, shrine and tea room.

It also had its own Mini Mount Fuji....something I have been lusting about doing myself for years. In essence Fuji is a sacred mountain, and often a mini version is created as part of this, or for people who were unable to travel to the mountain its self. I saw a magnificent one on a holiday to Kyushu, one of Japans southern islands.

As a visitor you can only skirt the edges, which I actually like as it is that feeling of peering in and the mystery of the unknown. You can also really imagine using the garden, and having a fabulous party...

Whilst I liked Tatton park, I felt the planting of Packwood House blew it away (see previous post). But what was fabulous was the structure, and also one of the nicest ferneries I have been to in a glasshouse which was designed by Joseph Paxton (of Crystal Palace Fame)

It also had these amazing rooms...I loved the topiary and the tower

So overall a very interesting estate, certainly more than a flower show!