August 1st, 2018
Garden visiting I find is great for getting new ideas. We had a lovely weekend away last month in the Cotswolds and called by Hidcote Manor Gardens on the way. Lawrence Johnston bought Hidcote in 1907 and turned it into a beautiful garden with the support of his mother. Now it is owned by the National Trust. From the website:
‘Today income generated by approximately 175,000 people who visit Hidcote every year ensures the garden is maintained to a high standard, and that the beauty that Lawrence Johnston created between 1907 and 1948 will be preserved for future generations to enjoy’
July 21st, 2018
We visited the Malvern Spring Festival again last month. I know Chelsea is seen as the best of the best for good reason, but we now much prefer the space, freshness and lack of celebrity of Malvern.
Two of the show gardens appealed – Billy’s Cave with the little goats was really different – a quote from the blurb:
‘The garden is designed to evoke a slow pace smallholding in rural Portugal, where a goat herder spotted an opportunity within the boundaries of his land. A cave, complete with natural spring alongside an old olive tree has become part of the area’s character’.
The other, my favourite, was the Dew Pond. In the words of the designer:
‘… this garden makes a small step change to counter the effects of global warming…. Dew ponds are rooted in our agricultural heritage and provide a rich habitat for wildlife that can be enjoyed relaxing on the deck…’
June 1st, 2018
Summer is here and the garden needs a bit of a tidy. Once the forget me nots, poppies and other spring flowers are over, I try and have a bit of a clear out to make space for some colour later on. Cosmos seems to be the go-to plant at the moment; it is certainly a class plant that fills those gaps beautifully. The main problem I find with them is that slugs and snails love them, especially when young. The best defence is to plant them as fairly well established plants, the younger and tenderer the leaves, the more slugs will happily munch them down to the ground. Cosmos come in a wide range of colours and sizes including pinks, purples, white, orange and red. They have pretty fern like foliage that makes the border look really graceful, and flowering goes on for a long time if you dead head them regularly.
May 20th, 2018
Last month we ventured down south to visit Sissinghurst and Great Dixter, two inspirational but very different gardens. Sissinghurst is beautifully designed and planted, no weeds, very neat. The spring walk, flanked by pleached limes is wonderful at this time of year. Daffodils, grape hyacinths, a few crocus hanging on, early tulips, primroses, all looked so pretty. In the nuttery, woodlanders prevail including those rather curious trilliums that seem to me to have a slightly sinister quality but I know they have their admirers! A lovely splash of colour was provided by a generous group of tulips ‘Orange Emperor’: one to look up in the bulb catalogue this Autumn.
April 1st, 2018
We’ve a long-ish south-ish facing border at the back of our house that gets the sun for most of the day. The soil here at Charnwood, like most of this area in Nottinghamshire seems to be, is heavy clay, so we ladle mulch and/or grit on as often as we have the time, energy and dosh to do so. This border is long established and has been well loved over the years, so the soil is decent and reasonably free draining. This makes it able to provides a good home for sun lovers such as iris, spring bulbs, salvias, lavender, sedums and those lovely, felty and grey lambs ears that we use for edging the paths. We keep the planting fairly low and gentle as the house wall is behind it and, when the wind whips in from the south west, it hits the back wall and charges full speed back into anything too tall or dense and flattens it.
March 3rd, 2018
If you have passed by our house recently you may have seen there is a big gap at the front where a whole load of trees and shrubs once grew. Yes, we have had the heavy mob in to sort the tangly thicket that was once a beautiful collection of flowering trees. But do not despair on our behalf – there is method in our gardening madness.
We have, in effect, been cruel to be kind. The orange blossom, lilacs, shrub roses and viburnum were becoming really tired and congested. By pruning them really hard back they will, with reasonable weather and a little luck, be rejuvenated and back to their prime; maybe not this year, but within one or two seasons . Once we have finished digging out the ivy that has smothered their roots (with the sterling work of Sam and Will) we will give them a nice dinner: a spade or two of decent compost.
February 24th, 2018
Februrary is often the month we are encouraged to prune our buddleias. I’m sure it could be done in March without a judicial enquiry, but gardening jobs are sometimes driven by custom than any real research into what is best. But for now, I suggest you go to it with a decent set of secateurs and maybe a pruning saw on the basis that it has always worked for me!.
December 24th, 2017
We have a Viburnum x bodnatense ‘Dawn’ by the front of the house. Most of the year it is a quiet, unshowy presence , but right now it is just lovely. The gorgeous scent (to me of almond, but your nose may smell something different!) is wonderful, and lifts our sprits in the dark days of Winter, flowering for many weeks.
November 12th, 2017
Peter and I had a lovely week in France in September, gently pootling along the Seine. The highlight for me was a visit to Monet’s garden at Giverny.
We went to this glorious garden many years ago in May, when the wisteria covered bridge over Monet’s favourite waterlilies was in its full glory; so iconic and subject of so many paintings and photos. That was definitely worth seeing, but in Autumn the whole garden in my view was even more beautiful and spectacular with its late summer blousiness.
October 19th, 2017
Gardening, like most things it seems, is victim to fashion. Some years ago, many gardeners wouldn’t dream of going near dahlias, now they are right back in fashion, especially the Bishop of Landaff, which has been glorious here at Charnwood this year and is still going strong as I write in mid September. If I remember to dead head it and give it a little feed and plenty of water, it will carry on until the first frost.
Hydrangeas are one of those shrubs now back in fashion. They were all over the big garden shows this year including Chelsea and some, such as Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ now has the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.