Mottistone revisited


Mottistone Gardens consist of 6 acres of formal gardens within the wider 650 acre Mottistone Estate.  The name is taken from a 13 foot iron sandstone Long Stone, a standing stone situated on a ridge above the village, originally known as the Moot Stone.

The manor (still tenanted and only open twice a year) and gardens were bequeathed to the National Trust in 1963.

I’ve visited the garden numerous times and have already blogged about visits in both March and June.  This time though, it was looking so good I wanted to share another visit.

The herbaceous borders above are reached via some beautiful stone steps frothing with Erigeron karvinskianus.


Here are the borders looking away from the house.IMG_1481

I find it fascinating comparing the picture above with one below from June 2015:

There were a couple of plants in these borders in two different colours that I’m sure I should know, but couldn’t name.  They were almost shrubby in size and both smothered in flowers.  Any clues?IMG_1484


Right by the house the colour palette is much hotter, with wonderful bold planting in a daring but fabulous mix of blue and orange.IMG_1478


Look at this scorching combination!IMG_1479

Walking in the other direction, south past the house, you pass the Monocot Border, laid out to show the great variety of monocots, including this wonderfully architectural Hedychium gardnerianum ‘Tara’.  I assume this is after the orange flowers have faded.IMG_1460

Beyond this border is the sheltered Lower Garden, planted with a number of tender plants including these fabulous Cannas.


From here you can see out of the garden and over to the Norman Mottistone Church (where Benedict Cumberbatch was married in February last year).IMG_1467

Despite having been here many times previously I’d never realised that the large tree to the north of this area is a mulberry, Morus nigra.  I only noticed this time as there were hundreds of mulberries littering the lawn!IMG_1463


And to finish, another mystery plant.  Any clues for this one?  I think it would look fabulous at the back of my Swing Beds.IMG_1471

So, thanks National Trust and thanks Mottistone, it really was a treat.

In a vase on Monday – Golfing gold


As you can imagine, there was great excitement chez Duver Diary about Jason Rose winning Olympic gold for the golf.  However, the gold theme of the arrangement above, made on Sunday to take to the golf club for ‘Joint Captains’ Day’ was entirely coincidental, and very much influenced by what I had in the garden that was ‘pickable’ and tall enough to fill such a huge vase.

I started with great big branches of Cotinus coggygria ‘Grace’IMG_1423

and added the large green Sedum heads.IMG_1422

To these I added the huge spires of Gladioli ‘Black Star’ (I was quietly relieved to reduce the number in the garden!)


and then finished with my gold accents, picked from the Bronze Bed (perhaps I should rename it the Gold Bed?) – both Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’IMG_1421

and plenty, plenty of Dahlia ‘Happy Single Date.’IMG_1420

As well as this large arrangement, I also made ten small posy pots for the tea tables like the ones I did here, but completely forgot to photo them!

I’m chuffed to say they all made it to the golf club intact, and when I went to pick the OH up around tea time, a (male) complete stranger passed me in the clubhouse and said ‘Hello Skipper’s wife, nice flowers.’ Praise indeed!

With thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who hosts this lovely meme.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – August 2016


Finally, a showing from some of this year’s annuals – the one above, Zinnia elegans ‘Luminosa.’

I purchased a number of seeds back in October thinking I would repeat the last two years’ practice of using a corner of a neighbouring walled garden as a cutting garden, but I’ve been just too busy to and so have tried to squeeze everything in here.  And whilst it hasn’t been entirely successful, the annuals are starting to fill out in their various (not always ideal) spots.

In the Grass Bed I have Ammi visnaga ‘Green Mist’, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Fizzy White’, Calendula officinalis ‘Touch of Red Buff’ and some self seeded nasturtiums from last year.IMG_1442

In the troughs I have the shorter Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Sonata White’ and the Salvia that was so successful in the cutting garden last year, Salvia horminum ‘Oxford Blue’.  In the cutting garden these turned into wonderful big bushes, I’m not sure they’ll ever get that big here as I always struggle to keep the troughs adequately watered.IMG_1439

In the Swing Beds these Antirrhinum majus ‘The Rose’ are finally getting going, but I’m not convinced about the colour, finding it a bit sickly.  IMG_1441

At the back of these beds I had planned to plant some tall dahlias but then decided they weren’t the right colour and so instead have planted an annual tobacco plant, Nicotiana mutablis. This one has both white and pink flowers on the same plants and grows to 1.2m.  It was planted out very late and so far this is the only plant to have flowered.  I’m hoping that by the end of the summer there will be quite a ‘froth’ of these but it may be I have left it just too late.IMG_1450

And in the Mid Century bed these Antirrinum, A. majus nanum ‘Black Prince’ are also blooming now and to my mind are a far better colour than the pink.IMG_1452

Away from the annuals, I have a some good repeating roses – R. St Swithun, IMG_1440

R. Munstead Wood,IMG_1448

R. Jubilee CelebrationIMG_1445

and R. Pat AustinIMG_1425

And plenty of dahlias still going, I’d like to say ‘strong’ but after the over purchasing earlier this year, I’ve ended up with a number in pots and they’re not too happy, so perhaps I’ll just stick with ‘going’.  Many have succumbed to powdery mildew and one has a whole colony of blackfly, which I’m not prepared to spray, so am currently praying for ladybirds!

The old favourite D. Happy Single Date (much darker when the blooms are young) has its roots firmly in the Bronze Bed and is thriving, IMG_1426

D. Fifteen Love (pertinent as Andy Murray is currently playing in the Olympic Gold medal match as I type), doing OK in a pot, IMG_1434

D. Bacardi, also doing pretty well in the two greenhouse pots,IMG_1431

D. Hillcrest Royal (very mildewed)IMG_1436

D. Tamburo, also rather mildewed IMG_1428

and D. La Recoleta, with a very nasty case of blackfly.IMG_1444

But to finish, a shot of my seed grown Agapanthus lining the back of the strawberry bed.  Not the greatest photo, but you get the idea.


With thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens who hosts everyone’s GBBD.

Kew gardens – what a buzz!


To Kew Gardens for my first visit in a while to see the Hive installation by Wolfgang Buttress.  The Hive was commissioned by the UK Government for the Milan 2015 Expo and moved to Kew earlier in the summer.  It has been designed to highlight the importance of pollination in the food chain and poses the question, “how can we protect our pollinators in order to feed our growing population?”

I was accompanied my son (who studied Art A level and is currently studying at UCA) and is my usual exhibition buddy, and we both loved it.  As you can see from the people in the photo above, it is huge in scale (over 17 metres tall).   You can walk inside it and look out


and up.IMG_0554

The idea is to give an insight into a real bee colony and within the Hive are around 1,000 LED light which have been connected to one of the real hives at Kew and the lights turn on and off according to the vibrations of the real bees.  As well as the lights, there was also music, a “symphony of orchestral sounds performed in the key of C – the same that bees buzz in”.   I wasn’t so convinced about the music!IMG_0552

The Hive has been sited atop a beautiful wild flower hillock


and from here I had an elevated view of a section of the new herbaceous borders, known as the ‘Great Broad Walk borders’.

Whilst these are apparently the longest in the world at 320 metres, I’m afraid they didn’t blow me away like the fabulous borders at Hilliers I wrote about here.  Part of the problem is that for much of the length the beds are not that deep. The design does have a number of ‘bulges’ where the beds broaden, a bit like beads on a sparse necklace, which are more impressive.

The actual planting design features repeating ribbons of the same plant, rather like the Oudolf borders at Wisley, and where this worked (which it definitely did in many places) it looked very effective, but somehow even then it didn’t look like a normal herbaceous border’s bold domes of plants.

The main problem however, was that it hadn’t really filled out, which is not unreasonable bearing in mind it’s in its first year and I did visit a couple of weeks ago which is pretty early for a herbaceous border.

I’ve recently discovered that as a ‘Friend’ I can visit from 8am in the morning, so, bearing in mind I live in Richmond during the week, perhaps I’ll treat myself to a return visit one morning before work to see its development.  It’s certainly a vast improvement from what was there previously, so well done Kew.IMG_0560






To bee or not to bee #3


I’ve blogged here and here about this year’s new foray into keeping red mason bees.

After a rather shaky start with an inadvertent toasting of the cocoons by the Aga, I was glad to see that some of the nesting tubes have been ‘capped’ suggesting that new cocoons have been laid in there.

On Saturday, witnessed by my Book Club ladies, I did see a bee coming and going from one of the uncapped tubes, but of course when I returned to photograph it it got camera shy and disappeared. I certainly haven’t been aware of, or troubled by any extra bees this year and did wonder whether none had actually survived, but they clearly have and I’m chuffed to bits to have a count of five capped tubes.

The tubes will be returned to Mason Bees UK in September and in return they will send out new cocoons next spring.

I’ll keep you posted of the final count, but in the meantime I’ll look forward to a bumper veg harvest thanks to my friendly little pollinators.