Here you will find a list of my recent items of news about the garden and about plants. I hope you enjoy it.
- Summer swept in
The dry May at last allowed us to get on with the spring planting which continued here right up to the Summer solstice. The challenges of trying to improve the planting are always exciting, probably probably in new mistakes, but I am also looking for improvements particularly in the late summer colour.
But an early improvement has come in the wild flower meadow with the second spring since scraping the top soil off a large area bringing a much greater diversity than the flowers which appeared in the first year. Twelve of the original items in the seed mix have been identified, and common spotted orchid has returned in surprisingly greater number than those originally planted.
The early primulas, particularly pulverulenta, were particularly special this year followed by massed rodgersia. The irises are now looking good and the whole summer show is lined up. After four years quietly thinking about it the cardiocrinum giganteum exploded on 26 June with the sheer wow it would be hard to beat. Then with the drama of an operatic diva it will produce offsets and die. Come and see it while it lasts.
- Spring in the air?
Well, yes – for these two bee eaters by the Nile in January.
But home had been like this:
And, like everyone, March brought the cold and more snow:
There is now a race on to see whether Nature can come up with its Spring miracle in time for opening the garden for Easter. My bet is that it will amaze us as it usually does.
I am delighted that the Bottle Folly has been included in a new publication, Compendium of Landscape Architecture and Open Space Design. This is a massive 510 page book giving pictures and some detail of
250 recent features from around the world, 10 of them in the UK.
- Autumn colours
Here are a few late pictures as we started on a major autumn move around. This is the last of a series of posts which I have made to illustrate the changes in the garden through the year to try to answer the question ‘What does it look like in the different seasons’. It seemed logical to start with the April pictures but the result is that if you want to view them from April you will have to go back down four posts and start from there. I hope you enjoy them!
- Snippets of late August
I find that my pictures of July look very similar to those of June so I am going to leap to those which I took this year on 25th August. These will then carry on into early September.
- Snippets of June
These are photos I took in the second half of June this year. There were still irises and primulas but some of them beginning to look a bit tired and the emphasis was changing to the larger plants like ligularia and campanula. The gunnera was already huge.
- Snippets of May
I took these photos on 28th May:
- Snippets of April
There have been several recent phone calls with the question ‘which is the best time to visit?’ Having missed my summer blogging perhaps the best way to answer that question is to go through some of the the year’s pictures. Monthly views will show the fresh open look of spring developing into the lush growth of summer and then the wistful colours of autumn. You can take your choice. Starting with photos of April 23rd:
- The whole summer has flown
In March I said that I was going to make regular updates about anything new or interesting, and failed dismally. There was always pressure to be outside where I am confident and have an infinite amount to do, and the option of a struggle with my computer was endlessly put off……until now!
It has been an exciting summer; even in the dismal weather of August and September there have been lots of people, too often under umbrellas, but apparently enjoying themselves. And for me, having finished my folly building phase, I am totally absorbed in the fascination of plants and planting and all their options and combinations. So now with the garden closed but the plants still visible and in mind we are very busy with a large and long overdue sort out, splitting, and, in many places, replanting.
There is lots that I could have written about in the summer but one thing which seems to be topical for many people is wild flowers. The meadow here runs beside the stream and is both moist and fertile and when I took it over it had rank tall grass with few wild flowers. With no access for machinery the first years were given to annual mowing, hand raking and then, with no option, burning. Three years followed attempting to establish yellow rattle but it was a hard struggle with the rattle tending to disappear unless more seed was used each year. Last year was the most successful when we had collected a lot of seed from kind friends and applied it after strimming down to bare earth in small patches covering about 20% of the whole 1.5 acre area.
But I felt that I don’t have the time for this slow progress, and scraping off the topsoil appealed. In early 2015 I scraped about 10cm off across a small area (about 50 m2) but stopped after being disconcerted that there was no apparent difference down through fine uniform loam. However, after seeding both the scraped and an unscraped area the resulting growth was remarkably different. That led to scraping in November 2015 about 30 % of the whole meadow in the area where grass had been most vigorous, followed by spring sowing with an appropriate grass and wild flower mix. The result was grass of much reduced vigour in 2016. In August we added yellow rattle in the strimmed areas throughout the meadow with the result shown in the above 2017 pictures. It does now seem that by adding additional seed varieties we have a good chance of the area developing very well.
- It’s looking good
The mild spring has brought the garden forward further than I ever remember it.
By the end of the first week of April the magnolias were looking splendid, the weeping willows were a lovely golden green and fat stalks of gunnera were three feet tall. But can this largesse survive without a frost until the safety of summer?
Problem with fritillaries
On my mind is a bed where fritillaries have self seeded prolifically, but so have the celandines.
I used to admire their sparkling yellow but now hate the thuggish clumps and can no longer cope with the impossibility of weeding one from the other when they each have the identical season and bulb depth.
Anyway fritillaries only look good when flowering randomly from grass. So a job for the next few weeks is to dig up the whole lot, separate out the fritillaries and replant them in the wild flower meadow. The damp shady dug area can cope with a May replant.
It’s now the 30th April and the answer to the question about the frost is: ‘so far, almost’. We had three nervous nights when we had many plants covered with fleece, ending on the 28th when it dipped just 0.4 deg below. Most were saved by the fleece but the few which were not covered, mainly rodgersias, were sadly blackened. But they will come back.