Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy 2016! Pondering the year

Gosh this year has gone quickly! This has been a good gardening year…

Good things
Weather was ok, a mild winter followed by a warm spring, then cool summer with lots of watering before the garden opening

Musa sikimensis: in pots they were fabulous, and in the ground where they usually sulk they also did well…although they are getting big

Ensete ventricosum: I am very happy to have about 7 of these fabulous beauties, all slowly getting bigger year by year

Jiffling things around: the garden is definitely in the editing phase of things as things that aren’t so good are moved and others given space. Tricky to do, but essential

Year of the soil: this has certainly been the year I have invested in the soil! I can’t think how many bags of manure I have bought but I do think if you can get the soil right a lot of the rest follows

Echiums: we were so lucky to have so many monsters survive to flower. Hurrah!

BBC Instant Gardener: it was great fun to have the BBC film for an afternoon!

Things getting big: it is lovely how things are padding out and getting big, it is feeling very jungly!

Things that weren’t so good
 Vegetables: I am still a rubbish fruit and veg grower

Slugs and Snails: we were smited by great plagues

Dahlias: after 2 good years they now sulk and aren’t there amazing fabulousness

Im not big in Austria (yes I am still grumpy!)

Plans for 2016
More editing: I need to be brave and move a big clump of bamboo!

Colocasias: I see some big pots full of them

Persicaria orientalis: a current plant lust

Bees: taking off honey as soon as supers are full to better appreciate the different seasons honey

Art: I see the creation of some new idols and friends to terrify the unsuspecting visitor

Whatever you plan to do I hope you have a fabulous 2016

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Thai jungle

The thing that inspires me most with my type of garden is pure unadulterated jungle. I am to try and replicate this type of naturalism so that when you go outside you are escaping to something wild, and certainly not a manicured English garden. The easy things to take from this is about the lack of flowers, and when they are used they are sparing. There is a lot of green and big leaves, and leaves with interesting shapes with a lot of repetition. 

You feel small and know how nature is certainly boss.

An iridescent blue selaginella (similar to moss)

Saturday 5 December 2015

Thailand: royal splendor

Last month we escaped to Thailand for some R&R and as many mango and sticky rices as we could manage.

In Bangkok we went on a great tuk tuk food tour which stopped at their huge flower market which late at night was heaving with people. The orchids, all at about 75p for a bundle made me swoon, If I lived in Bangkok I would be just like Elton John with  gazillion flowers in the house refreshed daily.

Many of the flowers were for offerings...

Masses of roses all at about £2 each.

Crazily our guide was most enamoured with the few air conditioned shops selling flowers we were more familiar with  like hydrangeas. No no no! stick with your exotica!

Then back to the Grand Palace for some proper Thai gardens....amazing pots and well clipped trees *swoon*

Sadly I did't manage to fit any in my suitcase....

Sunday 29 November 2015

Winter is coming....

So last Sunday night we had the first frosts, not a little gentle dusting but a full on kill everything frost.

Although it looks like most of the garden here is tender, there are actually only a few things that need to come in namely:Brugmansias and Musa sikkimensis which were moved under cover with the huge M. sikkimensis being pushed up against the side of the house and wrapped in fleece.

Although they look like they are bubble wrapped this is only on one side to keep the worst of the rain off and to keep the fleece becoming sodden

Cannas and Hedychiums in pots were all cut down and put in the plastic
greenhouse to keep them dry

The big thing to do was sort out the Abyssinian bananas, Enstes, which have a slightly unusual way of keeping them safe namely

1)      Cut off the leaves and dig up

2)      Cut off the roots back to the basal plate
3)      Hose to wash off remaining mud and cut off dead bits

4)      Store upside down for a week or so to drain off excess moisture
5)      Keep somewhere entirely frost free until spring!

finger crossed all survived ok

The terrace before the big winter take in *sigh*

Near the end..everything in pots cut down the base. emptyness!

and after....all clear with the polythene greenhouse in the corner and Musa's pushed up against the house

Inside the greenhouse, hopefully all dry and warm!

Sunday 15 November 2015


I have just managed to escape to Thailand for some r&r, and sadly sitting at home in London just in my pants with the heating on full is not quite taking me back to the holiday spirit. More on lush jungleness to follow..

Back in London and all is blowy, very blowy! who knew that the wind could knock a good size Ensete in a very heavy pot off my high shelf! The light is also so grey and muted as oppose to Thailands to colour extravaganza.

Next week I will do the big take in, and in readyness, at the height of my jet-lag have reassembled my little polythene greenhouse (bad idea, it took a long time and I was grumpy). Things are now decidedly over, but with one or two bits of colour poking through

Dahia imperialis knocked over by the wind but just starting to flower

Salvia just starting to flower

A sunflower that didn't get the memo

Sunday 1 November 2015

Fading out: autumnal elegance

It is hardcore autumn at the moment, the ground is covered with leaves, it's misty and things are dying back faster than they are growing. I have broken my apres garden opening fast and started gardening again, planting out a large schleffera and clearing out the compost heap.

Compost heaps are magical things...sometimes things rot super fast, and other times it seems to take forever....surprises on my clear out were a 6ft banana stem that was completely unrotted after 8 months, and lots of Helianthus stems from this time last year. I always think of my grandfather when clearing compost as I helped him a couple of times on his allotment....him ancient but incredibly agile and moving compost like it was snow. Me 15 years old, huffing and puffing and terrified as he told me to keep watch for the rats nests that he was sure I would find (I never did).

I am trying to enjoy the garden whilst it is still looking amazing, but it is sliding to winter with the Paulownias dropping their leaves and new vistas opening up. Things are also now dying faster than they are growing and I think I will need to do my big take in towards the end of the month if not before.

Yacon flowering!

Hedychium greenii

Cuphea cynea?

All sorted! I feel like a proper gardener!

Saturday 24 October 2015

Size matters: giant jungle plants (and me being small)

This has been a monster year for many plants which are bigger than ever! Some pictures of how big things have got with me for comparison

Giant Paulownia...all the growth is from this year as I cut them down to the ground in spring

Giant Miscanthus 

Musa sikkimensis

Musa basjoo and Canna musifolia which are all at about 6ft

Musa sikkimensis bedded out and a Ricinus at about 7-8ft

Big Tetrapanax leaf

Steven lost in the Dahlia imperialis