February 2012

February 18th, 2012

New African hut emerging

A recent gap left by a large, nearly dead sycamore needed some serious and creative thought. A safari style hut seemed the best choice and great pal Alan came up both with a design and the skill and energy to build it. Will be fab, especially when we get the giraffe sorted. Never let it be said we have run out of ideas at 'Charnwood'! Especially when Lauraine is around...

In case you are wondering, Peter had just arrived back from a bike ride.

February 12th, 2012

Spanish sun in February

Just back from a week on the Costa del Sol so not happy, it's cold! Bright blue skies replaced by murky grey.

Some interesting gardens, one in the beautiful old town at Ronda at the Casa del Rey Moro. The house was actually never the home of the Moorish King. It was built in the 18th Century, when Moorish Spain was already a distant memory. Its apparently Moorish gardens (see picture) are even more recent, having been designed by the French landscape gardener, Jean Claude Forestier, in 1912. But it is typical of southern spanish gardens and reminded me of the Alhambra, albeit on a much, much smaller scale. Certainly the atmosphere of peace and calm order makes it a good place to be if you need a gentle space in which to reflect.

Cordoba was also a joy - plans to explore this part of Spain again more thoroughly have begun!

February 3rd, 2012

Blimey it's freezing!

Gorgeous day, but blooming cold. Long tailed and blue tits seem oblivous, chatting away and hopping about the rosemary outside the office window. Peter took a photo of the wheelbarrow - Cecil Beaton eat your heart out...

February 2nd, 2012

Seed sowing for summer

Hello winter! I thought it would never arrive. Some days in the garden in December and early January felt more like early spring – birds singing, bulbs coming through, no coat. I was weeding, mulching, pruning and trying not to get lulled into a false sense of security. It was great to be out and doing proper gardening in the middle of winter (I was even spreading mushroom compost on Christmas Day!), but when the serious and regular frosts arrived it did feel like the natural order of things had returned. A rather comforting thought now I am well into my middle age. I hope you all got your tender plants safely into the warm before it descended? My little greenhouse is stuffed full of cuttings, dahlia tubers, agave and tender perennials such as agapanthus, salvia and galtonia.


January 2012

January 30th, 2012

Late January cheer!

A wander round the garden this morning with the birds singing and the sun shining cheered me up no end. In flower or looking good at the moment at 'Charnwood': a white Christmas Rose under a red stemmed dogwood, Virburnum Tinus 'Eve Price - lovely pink buds opening white, and the bright leaves of a variegated holly livening up the back garden.It will soon be Spring!


December 2011

December 18th, 2011

Works of art in the garden

Sometimes a plant just won’t do it; it’s too dry, the season is too short, or it would simply look wrong. But a focal point is needed, or perhaps a little ‘something else’ to add some interest to a neglected corner. What do you do?

I use the phrase ‘a work of art’ ‘to cover any inanimate but decorative object in the garden (not counting your snoozing spouse, of course). So it could be a lump of wood, a mirror, a group of pebbles or shells, or an actual statue. You can add drama, humour, or all year round interest in this way and it can cost a lot or very little. Some ideas that work well at Charnwood:


November 2011

November 18th, 2011

Planting trees

If the weather forecast is anyway near accurate, we may all be up to our necks in snow by now. Writing this mid October, it is very hard to imagine as there are parts of the garden that could fool you into thinking it’s June. One little group Charnwood includes is a pink English Rose, several spikes of a rich blue delphininum, some green tobacco plant ‘Lansdorfii’ and tall pink Cosmos.


October 2011

October 18th, 2011

Getting the garden ready for winter

It can be a sad, grey month, October. The clocks change, giving us less time in the evening to get outside and the weather isn’t conducive to lovely suppers on the patio with a glass of wine. But we gardeners can look on the brighter side; getting the garden ready for winter has a kind of end of season satisfaction about it. After all, it is the time to plan for next year and if we get it right we can look forward to a great display in 2012. Even if we get it wrong there is fun in filling the gap with a new purchase next spring.


August 2011

August 29th, 2011

Bulbs for Spring 2012

Don’t wince, but I’ve actually done my order for spring bulbs next year. I know it sounds ridiculously early to plan for March and April 2012, but because we have an acre of garden, bulk buying well ahead is needed if we are to keep the cost down and get a good choice. I use de Jager (www.dejager.co.uk 01622 840229), a company based in Kent. Their bulbs are good size, they never substitute and they almost always produce good flowers. I’ve ordered 250 Lent Lilies, Pseudonarcissus Lobularis, a small, native daffodil that grows to 15 cm and will look natural and (I hope) gradually increase in our meadow. I’ve picked 2 lily flowering tulips – one called Burgundy and another White Triumphator for pots – they will flower in May if the squirrels don’t find and eat them first.


July 2011

July 27th, 2011

Purple rain!

I’ve been going through a purple phase for quite some time. It was a very trendy colour at Chelsea a few years ago, and it has lingered since as a popular theme. Purple has the advantage of combining with almost every other colour, and looks lovely next to green or grey foliage. Even those gardeners who (unlike me!) prefer gentle, pastel shades usually find deep, rich purple acceptable.