Monthly Archives: May 2015

End of month view – May 2015

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Sadly the Swing Beds are currently having rather a lull after the gorgeous bulbs in evidence last month.  Whilst in April and early May they were bright with a succession of tulips, now, whilst the roses are starting and there is a vast amount to come, the main blooms are the rather quiet, understated Nectoscordum.

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I moaned about them last year, so I really think they’ve had their day and I should replace them with something jollier and more visible from a distance.  Shame Alliums don’t come in the shocking pink of the Pink Impression Tulips!

The right hand swing bed is showing a little more colour with the geraniums, Cerinthe and self seeded foxglove.IMG_7611

And it is lovely that the roses are finally making a real impression on the pergola (four years after planting).

You can also see the netting erected for the sweet peas.  They’re currently being a little shy and seem currently to have been rather stopped in their tracks by the shock of being moved out into the ground.IMG_7609

The Grass Beds, to the right of the Swing Beds, still have their rather exhausted forget me nots, and I really need to clear these to make way for some annual planting to take their place.  Last year I planted some seed grown perennial Verbascum chaixii album in this bed and they’ve come back better than ever.  Problem is, I’m not sure I really want them there…IMG_7612

The troughs are resplendent with last autumn’s planting of Allium Purple Sensation.  They’re growing amongst the gloriously scented stocks, Matthiola incana, but sadly are also accompanied by a rather tatty array of decaying daffodil foliage.  Last year I had the bright idea that I should turn the troughs around to hide the dying foliage at the back.  This would have been an absolutely brilliant solution if only we could have lifted the troughs!   Hopefully the foliage has now done its job, so shortly I should be clearing it to add some annuals for the summer.

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The Lavender Beds are rather dominated by the Erysimum Bowles Mauve, but hey, there are worse things…IMG_7597

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One bed I rarely show is the drive bed.  I planted new alliums here this year too, this time Allium Violet Beauty, which are slightly larger and paler than A. Purple Sensation.  Also, I moved numerous Sisyrinchiums here as they were threatening to take over the Swing Beds.  I was inspired by this vase, as I thought the Sisyrinchiums would echo the colour of the Rose, R. Snow Goose.  The Sisyrinchiums aren’t quite in flower, but I live in hope that the composition will work and be enhanced by the Alliums.  We’ll see (in a week or two…).

As for the self seeded Gladiolus byzantinus, well, I think I’ll leave them be for the minute.  But, ooh, light bulb moment, is this what I should be adding to jolly up the Swing Beds?IMG_7591

On the other side of the drive, the Cytisus is looking spectacular and the colour is now picking up on the buds and flowers of the inherited rose.

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Progress on the new beds is still reasonably slow.  The Mid Century bed has precisely two blooms, both Ranunculus I planted as bulbs.  They’re not exactly as ‘bruised’ as the planned colour scheme, but they’re the first I’ve ever grown, and I love them.IMG_7613

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Just as a little aside, in 2012 I visited the Flower Farm at Carlsbad, California, and the Ranunculus there were absolutely unbelievable – see photo from their website below.

I’d love to start a Ranunculus farm here, but really not sure the island can quite match the Californian climate…

Anyway, back to home.  The new Bronze Bed isn’t displaying anything in the way of blooms other than the Calendula Sunset Buff, sown last year.  Like the Swing Beds, there’s plenty to come, but I am starting to worry that the Hamamelis, now in leaf in the centre of this bed, is taking up too much room.  Hmmm.IMG_7592

On the far side of the lawn from the new Bronze Bed above, you can see how the over-the-road-Oak’s shadow almost completely covers the Oak Bed.  I really need to try to add some more interest here, but the lure of planning and planting the new Bronze Bed  – in almost full sun – is of course far greater.IMG_7594

Another shady area is this bed, running along the north side of the porch.  This has been completely given over to hostas, which are now bulking out nicely after three years.

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Meanwhile, in the veg bed, the canes are up and the first wave of peas and beans are in.IMG_7606

And to finish, a view of the utter chaos in front of the greenhouse.  These are just some of the seed trays, turfed out of the greenhouse and hardening off all over the gravel.

And no, I don’t know where they’re all going to go.  So don’t ask!IMG_7617

With many thanks to Helen at the Patient Gardener for hosting everyone’s End of Month Views.

The Cutting Garden(s) – May 2015

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So finally I can join Julie, at Peonies and Posies‘ party to talk about the cutting garden.

As last year, my cutting beds are spread about a bit which isn’t ideal, but I’m still very fortunate to have space for cutting blooms.  Again I’ve been allowed to use some space in my neighbours’ walled garden, however this time I have had two different areas allocated.  The first, shown above, is an area that used to be inhabited by chickens, but sadly they were dispatched by a fox earlier in the year and haven’t been replaced.  I’m glad to say there is another area with (live!) chickens just above, so I’m not without company.IMG_7587

The bright green in the photo above is some (I assume) self sown lettuces that I didn’t feel I had the rights to dig up and discard!

As well as (let’s call it) the Chicken Bed there is also a smaller area next to one of the walls.IMG_7589

Whilst the Chicken Bed slopes to the south and is sunny, if rather stony and sandy, the Wall Bed is to the east of the wall and loses the sun relatively early on.  However the soil here seems richer; I think there’s been manure added (you’d think the chicken area would be rich with chicken poo, but it doesn’t seem so).

If you look closely, you can see I have now planted both areas out and I’m interested to see how they fare comparatively.  I haven’t planted any sunflowers in the wall bed as I didn’t think they’d be happy, but I have planted some seedlings in common across the two.

So, seedlings planted so far include Antirrhinum majus Orange Wonder, Centaurea cyanus Black Boy, Cosmos Click Cranberries, Cosmos Dazzler, Cosmos Double Click Snow Puff, Helianthus deb ssp cuc Italian White, Helianthus deb Vanilla Ice, Helianthus Ruby Eclipse (thanks Cathy!), Salvia horminum ‘Oxford Blue’, Stocks Ruby Punch, Ten Weeks Mixed Stocks.  In addition I’ve planted a couple of Dahlia Roxy plants I had spare.

I’ve also got multiple different Zinnia seedlings ready to go in the Chicken Bed in a week or so, as well as plenty of sweet peas that I don’t have space for at home (largely because of my new wider spacing strategy).

As well as the two beds at J&A’s, I’ve also got the two raised beds I used for the first time last year.  The photo below shows them in August last year.

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Both the Antirrhinums (front left) A. Liberty Crimson and the Euphorbia oblongata behind have overwintered and are looking good.   I’ve planted out some shorter seedlings here,  including Molucella laevis and Calendula.

Whilst I still seem to be up to my neck in seedlings, I’m already regretting some omissions of plants grown last including Amaranthus viridis and Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy.  I also don’t think I’ve got nearly enough foliage and fillers (I seem to recall Sarah Raven suggests you should have a similar quantity of flowers and foliage, well I’ve failed there!)

However, there are two bigger issues, firstly will I have any blooms to speak of for my daughter’s 18th on the 19th June?  And, conversely, later in the year once the cutting garden is in full production, what on earth am I going to do with all the blooms I will have?

Something I never confessed at the time, was that last year, when I wasn’t working, I sold flowers twice a week at the local post office (mostly small bouquets in tin cans, see below).  The trouble is, whilst I could still attempt to sell blooms, what I’m concerned about is that if I’m not there to pick them mid week will they all go to seed and stop flowering?

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With many thanks to Julie at Peonies and Posies, (who has a completely glorious cutting garden) for hosting this meme.  Do go and take a peek.

 

 

Wildflower Wednesday – late May 2015

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I’m a day late joining the Wildflower Wednesday meme, but excited to report that it’s Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima) time again on the Duver.

As last year, I’m struggling to convey the scale and beauty of these wonderful blooms.IMG_7537

In this photo, the thrift is joined in the foreground by Silverweed (Potentilla anserina).  This has a pretty silvery leaf (clue’s in the name!) and spreads by runners.  It seems to be increasing its hold on the Duver, with significant areas now covered in an argent carpet.IMG_7548

Also joining the Thrift are the first spires of Digitalis, projecting through the marram grass.IMG_7553

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Further out on the sandy spit, the first of the Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis are also blooming.IMG_7567

The small patch of Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris) is just coming into bloom.  As I mentioned last year, according to Sarah Raven it’s ‘edible and said to taste like peas – the young shoots are good in a spring salad or as quickly wilted greens’ but I’ll continue to leave the wild campions alone and instead pick my peas at home!IMG_7204

And to finish, two photos of the field opposite the house.

The first was taken a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t remember ever seeing the cow parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris so tall, or the Alexanders, Smyrnium olusatrum providing quite such a lime green sea.IMG_7175

Yesterday, the scene was rather different as the fluffy white clouds have been strimmed away. Bizarrely it reminds me of a newly shorn dog, all exposed and uncomfortable.  Doubtless it will all grow back and soften up once more.IMG_7529

With thanks as ever to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting the Wildflower Wednesday meme.

Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – the Grand Pavilion

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As I said last year, I enjoy the Grand Pavilion more and more.  Once upon a time (and I have been coming to Chelsea for a good 20 years) I really couldn’t see the attraction.  All that peering at new introductions and admiring stiff rows of tulips or delphiniums.  And now?  I’m peering with the best of them, and loving it.

The dahlia above was new on me – Dahlia coccinea ‘Great Dixter’, what a fabulous pink with a good sized blooms (ie not too big) and darkish foliage.

Another dahlia I admired was Dahlia Twynings Revel, below.IMG_7402

Of the bulbs, I liked Tulip Havran,IMG_7430

Tulip Sky High Scarlet (didn’t look very scarlet to me, and all the better for it)IMG_7456

and on the beautiful Avon Bulbs stand, this gorgeous Ixia, Ixia Mabel.IMG_7434

There were two Verbascums which caught my eye, with a view to adding them to the Bronze Bed – Verbascum Clementine                      IMG_7419

and new on the Hardy’s stand, the rather peachier Verbascum Firedance.IMG_7470

The OH is always trying to persuade me to grow the blue Meconopsis but think if I was going to go to the effort, it would be this one I’d try – Meconopsis punicea ‘Sichuan Silk.’  Great name too!

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Another exotic bloom was provided by this Leucospermum – L. lineare x glabrum ‘Tango’.  IMG_7424

There were two climbers to share from the Tynings stand – this one, Actinidia kolomikta I hadn’t seen since I visited a garden over 10 years ago and I saw it growing with a perfectly matched pink clematis growing through it.  Now where’s a spare wall where I could recreate that?IMG_7428

And this fabulous coloured Black Eyed Susan, Thunbergia ‘Orange and Red’IMG_7429

This Anthyllis, was also a wonderful firey colourIMG_7416

Another plant with local Duver wild relatives, was this super coloured thrift, Armeria pseudoarmeria ‘Joystick Red’.IMG_7418

The only shrub that stood out for me was this one, Indigo himalayensis ‘Silk Road’, with dainty pink pea flowers.IMG_7452

And to finish, three plants from the RHS Plant of the Year.  Whilst the winner, Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Kilimajaro Sunrise’, was lovely, my two picks were the fabulously scented Harkness rose, Rosa SusieIMG_7494

and the gorgeous coloured, salvia from Dyson’s, Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’, which was placed third.

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Yet another plant to add to the shopping list I fear!

Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – show gardens

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So, very late to the Chelsea blogging party, and, whilst I very nearly didn’t post at all, I was spurred on by the number of times I’ve referenced last year’s two posts (here and here) myself, to source plant or nursery names.  Consequently, if I’m the only one who reads this, so be it!

I attended this year on Tuesday, after work, and as always, the show was fascinating, but for me, not quite as impressive as last year.

Two Artisan Gardens stood out for me – the Breast Cancer Haven Garden, which won Peoples’ Choice and a Gold medal, and IMG_7268

Edo no Niwa – Edo Garden, by Ishiihara Kazuyuki Design.  Again the moss took centre stage and, like last year, I found his design fresh and beguiling.IMG_7272

In the main show gardens, whilst I hugely admired Dan Pearson’s Chatsworth garden, to me it’s not what Chelsea’s about.  It was undoubtedly beautiful, moving and completed ‘owned’ its triangular plot, but I like a Chelsea Garden to inform my own gardening and leave me with dreams and ideas about what I could do back home; on the basis that I’m not about to start craning in huge rocks and I’d rather admire wild flowers on the Duver, for me it was brilliant but not inspiring.  Does that make any sense?

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And, whilst the Sentabale Hope in Vulnerability Garden, also wasn’t exactly relevant to a garden on the Isle of Wight, I somehow completely forgave it.  Partly, I think, because it was for charity, and partly because I just loved all the wooden construction and how evocative it was, even in the gloom, of the colours of Africa.IMG_7319IMG_7320

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The second garden related to breast cancer, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, was also striking, particularly the contrast between the hard landscaping and the softness of the planting.  I also found the sculpture, by Rick Kirby, really moving.  It is designed to symbolise the ‘courage and dignity of all those fighting the disease’.IMG_7400

I think my favourite planting was at the Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw.   After the show, the garden will be transferred almost entirely to form the centrepiece of a new community project that is being launched by Morgan Stanley in East London.IMG_7364

Much of the planting used the sort of ‘bruised’ colours I’m trying to bring together in my Mid Century Bed at home.  I particularly liked the Lupin Masterpiece andIMG_7375

and Verbascum Merlin.                                 IMG_7371

Another garden where I enjoyed both the planting and the design, was the Pure Land Foundation Garden.  There was something so fresh about the organic white walls and the warm oranges and yellows of the planting.  Plenty of inspiration for my new Bronze bed here.

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I wasn’t looking forward to the Telegraph Garden as I’m not a big fan of straight lines in gardens, and I also felt that a Mondrian inspired garden, when he used no green, seemed a strange basis for the planting, but actually I warmed to the garden as I looked more closely. There were definitely some issues with plants not yet flowering, but there were some stunning combinations including the Tulips Couleur Cardinal and poppies, growing through the grasses.

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The Brewin Dolphin Garden I’d seen on the early BBC coverage, (I still haven’t seen any coverage since Monday) and I thought the slate looked overwhelming.  In real life that wasn’t the case at all, and although the slate made a fantastic feature, it seemed to recede against the planting.IMG_7302

In the Fresh Gardens, I liked the Dark Matter Garden, with all it was trying to convey.  And whilst the concept of dark matter is rather challenging, enjoying the shapes and colours of the steel – together with the matching verbascum – was easy.IMG_7390

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More curvilinear shapes at the Royal Bank of Canada garden designed by Matthew Wilson.  The bench here definitely won my ‘structure of the show’ award.  Just stunning.

And what’s even more exciting is that the garden is being moved to the Earl Mountbatten Hospice on the Isle of Wight after the show.

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As you can see from the photo above, the storm clouds were gathering, and indeed, the heavens opened.  Time to head to the Grand Pavilion…IMG_7420

Tulip review 2015

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In common with a number of other bloggers (including Peonies and PosiesMy Hesperides Garden, The Blooming Garden and Owl House Flowers) I thought I’d share a post about this year’s tulips.

And this year, my tulips have been a complete revelation.  Always afraid the bulbs would get eaten, or I’d get stuck with dying foliage for EVER, I’ve tiptoed around tulips, planting a few in pots but very few directly in the flower beds.

Well this year I went for it, planting three varieties in the Swing Beds and have enjoyed them enormously for well over a month.  Above and below, the rather large and blowsy T Pink Impression. Sadly these didn’t last that long due to strong wind in the latter part of April, but boy did they make their mark.IMG_6911

Interestingly, the same variety was used at Arundel Castle in their pots:IMG_7089

To follow on from T Pink Impression I’d planted T Mistress and T Menton.  These were much softer and more delicate in colour and have lasted really well.  The rather more peachy one is Menton.IMG_7018

In the Grass Bed I have T Spring Green returning, which was planted in 2013 and does seem to be quite perennial.IMG_7038

As the new MId Century and Bronze beds weren’t created until this spring, neither had any spring bulbs planted.  However, I did buy a few pots of Prinses Irene to pop into the Bronze Bed.  I didn’t separate the bulbs out when I planted (you can see they look rather ‘clumped’) but what I don’t understand is why they’re so short.  According to Peter Nyssen, where I buy my bulbs, they should be 35cm, but these ones were only about half that and looked rather stunted.  Perhaps the Prinses didn’t like being squashed in a pot?

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be selecting her again, but I’m very much looking forward to chosing tulips for both new beds for 2016.

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As in previous years I also grew a number of tulips in pots.  Last year I grew the lovely pink, peony flowered T Angelique in the greenhouse pots and absolutely loved it, but this year I thought I’d try something different, and planted T Orange Angelique, together with this lovely Narcissus, N Bellsong.

Although most of the tulips had this beautiful soft peach colour, to be honest some were rather more yellow (see the one at the right hand edge of the photo) and so didn’t work as I’d intended.  Also, they didn’t last nearly as long as I remember the T Angelique lasting, so I don’t think I’ll be growing T Orange Angelique again.  Does anyone have any suggestions of another tulip to pair with this Narcissus?

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In the tin bath by the front steps I grew the very jolly T Merry go round.  I loved the size, shape and colour of this tulip, and it looked so cheerful to come home to.  Unfortunately these didn’t last that long but I think that was down to a lack of water – they bloomed early and caught the lovely April weather and I think the whole bath got hot and dry while we were away on holiday.IMG_6973

Tulips I’ve enjoyed away from my garden include T White Triumphator and T Ballerina, IMG_7138

(I think) T  Mistress, and T Paul Scherer, (not sure about the dark red one)IMG_7107

and T White Triumphator, all at Arundel Castle.IMG_7150

And lastly, Tulip Queen of the Night at Common Farm Flowers.  I just love the colour and the ‘bloom’ on the petals of this tulip.  I’d love to grow these next year but am still considering where to plant them so that they can be seen.  One of the disadvantages of my lovely hedges is that dark blooms don’t tend to show up, and it would be a crime to miss these beauties!2015-04-29 12.26.33

I hope you’ve enjoyed my review, and would love to hear any of your thoughts for tulips for my two new beds – think ‘bronze’ or ‘bruised’ or both!