Tuesday 28 June 2011

Moaning about the weather and Petasites

I love being British....we moan that it’s too cold, then that it’s too dry, then too wet and this weekend too hot. Without the weather what would be talk about?
Yesterday was very hot; and I must admit that today it’s nice being inside being away from the glare of the sun as I am still feeling a little frazzled. However a very productive weekend as I dug the final bit I needed to plant a big Trachycarpus with a front of Echinacea and Echinops. I’m quite a fan of Echinacea in a jungle garden as there is something odd about their big flowers, however I’m not quite ready to dig everything up to create a Prairie garden yet.
I had the slaves working in garden yesterday clearing up the last remnants of the dug up rubble (still plenty more to excavate). It is great to get everything clear and sorted, although I do feel a little guilty getting my Dad to lug bag after bag of rubble whilst I sipped iced cocktails from the sidelines (not quite). Digging and clearing rubble was about all I did from Jan to May and after a little break I’m not feeling as fit as I was and it was hard work (the six pack is also still well protected).
I have also finally managed to find a place for some interesting bits of wood I found whilst initially clearing the site. As I rummaged around in the brambles, emerging with chunks of wood the parentals were looking a little unsure, my mother muttered something about ‘artistic temperament’ and Dad just shook his head.  I think if Kevin McLeod were there he would say something about keeping the integrity of the site, I would just say I think they look nice! There is something very beautiful about wood and I think this makes a good feature...quite how long they stay up I don’t know.
 I have a lot of other bits of wood on the site as South London is a hot spot for Stagbeetles and think it important to give them a home. Saying that Stagbettle larvae are about the ugliest scariest looking grubs you can imagine. I always remember the first time I found one in an apple tree trunk as it really freaked me, I gave a very girly scream and  then killed it immediately....however they do need a home.

Watch out, they are coming to get you!
There were three NGS gardens open locally, two on Camberwell Grove, one of Camberwell’s poshest streets. I went with Dad who was probably just as interested as seeing the houses as he was the gardens, although entry to the gardens was by a long walkway round the back through old Camberwell passages and ancient walls.  Despite the poshness of the address the gardens were relatively thin and narrow making me very appreciative of the size of my own garden as I think you would need to be good friends with your neighbours.

The first was very well kept, well laid out with a good use of plants and would be a pleasure to live in. Both had garden summerhouses I was very envious of. The second was more appealing as it was done into a series of distinct areas with a beautiful long thin (but deep) pond. Rectangular and about 8ft long, 1 ½ -2ft wide and 2-3ft deep with big fish. Strong design, with big leafed marginal’s/bog plants. Also good cake on offer!

I am becoming more and more enamoured with clipped hedges as they are a great way of punctuating a space
Finally was a garden in Lyndhurst Square which I saw last year. Mature with a large wide lawn giving a feeling of space from the house. The back was partitioned off and had a formal layout with beds of lavender and lollypop Olive trees. At the back, the bit I liked to most was a bed over run with Petasites hybridus which was about 4ft high and wonderfully jungle like as it felt like it was taking over. I went home and gave my own Petasites a bit more fertilizer hoping it would get bigger!

Their lovely Petasites, poised to take over the world

ooooh, you cant go wrong with a gothic folly
My own Petasites, but a wee youngster, but already growing a lot

Dahlia coccinea 'Great Dixter' I like the simplicity of the species

Loving my Paulownias at the moment as you can almost see them grow


  1. Your paulownia is manufique. I presume you pollard it (at at Great Dixter) rather then let it grow into a tree? Ours are originally from seed and are growing at an incredible rate at the moment.

  2. Yes...im loving them at the moment as they seem to grow by the second and the colour of the leaves is magnificent. Im currently dreaming of making a forest of them but dont know if they loose vigour over time