Monthly Archives: October 2015

End of month view – October 2015


For a moment last weekend I thought the 31st was on Friday, and, as I was headng away for a few days, thought I’d have to take my photos on Sunday.  How different they would have been!  In less than a week the garden has become so much more autumnal.  Not only my Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ colouring up in the centre of the photo, but the lawn almost completely obscured by fallen leaves from the over-the-road-oak.

By the Drive Bed, the Cherry’s leaves are now now nearly gone (and those of the Photinia in front were largely sacrificed for the Drive In vases)IMG_9487

In the Bronze Bed the Dahlia Happy Single Date is continuing to flower and the colouring sits well with the now very tawny Hordeum Jubatum.  At the back, the Melianthus Major is providing a rather incongruous, fresh looking contrast.


Elsewhere the palette is rather less autumnal, with the Grass Beds still showing some colour with Cosmos, Salvia and Asters all clinging on.IMG_9477IMG_9478

In the Mid Century Bed the Salvia Dyson’s Scarlet and Rhodochiton atrosanguineus are the main survivors, with the feathery foliage of the Mimosa, Acacia baileyana pupurea in between the two.


One definite disappointment in this bed has been the Daucus carota ‘Black Knight’.  Not only has this provided great umbels of white rather than the bruised purple I was expecting, but they’ve completely flopped everywhere too.IMG_9501

On close inspection, I have found some evidence of the colour I was expecting, but you’ll need your glasses…IMG_9503

Most of the roses are now finished, but the odd ones are clinging on, and here they’ve been join by the Nerine bowdenii, bulbs I thought I’d lost earlier in the month.IMG_9481

There are still plenty of pots everywhere, many containing tender plants.  As ever I’m playing Russian Roulette with the weather as I try to eke out the last tomatoes in the greenhouse before I pull them out and fill the space with pots.IMG_9491

The plant on the right below is Daphne x Pink Fragrance ‘Blapink’ my first ever Daphne, which I must move closer to the front door to enjoy it at closer quarters while it’s still flowering.IMG_9493

The Shady Bed, which hasn’t featured for a while, is looking much the same as always.  The Fatsia japonica at the back provides constant structure, and you can see the Hellebore leaves at the front providing promise of flowers in a few months’ time.  There are a few ferns here and some hostas, but I would like to add more.IMG_9488

The recent wet weather has kept the Diving Lady’s pool topped up, but she hasn’t got much to look at except a few straggling raspberries, beans and courgettes.


I wonder if she saw who nibbled this?IMG_9497

With thanks as ever to Helen at the Patient Gardener for hosting our End of Month Views.

Beautifying brutalist Barbican

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Some of you may have read about the recently planted Beech Gardens at London’s Barbican Centre in the Saturday Telegraph’s Gardening section and as the Barbican is less than ten minutes from my office, I decided to take a look for myself.

What particularly interested me was that the planting had been designed by Dr Nigel Dunnett, best known for the Olympic Park, whose fascinating talk I attended at West Dean a couple of years ago.  Dunnett is professor of planting design and director of the Green Roof Centre at the University of Sheffield and is passionate about “green roofs, rain gardens, pictorial meadows, and naturalistic planting design”.

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The planting here is all on a roof and has consequently been constrained by weight limitations, restricting the number of trees to just fourteen, including the silver birch and Amelanchier below.

Sadly, by the time I visited a number of plants which had been flowering when the Telegraph visited were over, but there were still plenty of grasses, Gaura and Verbena bonariensis to admire.

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And whilst in the shots above the preponderance of brown from the Sisyrichium and Sedum seed heads, softens the impact of the (now Grade II listed) buildings, in the shot below, the effect of the Cornflowers is very different; bold, cheering and almost challenging against the brutal grey.

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I have to admit that sometimes I find my weekly commute to London and the resultant absence from my garden and the surrounding countryside hard.  And whilst it’s fair to say this garden wasn’t looking its best in late October, I truly applaud the City of London Corporation for commissioning it.  Even in its current state, it provided very welcome natural colour and movement against the hard lines of the buildings.

I will definitely return, maybe in spring, when apparently red species tulips flower amongst zingy Euphorbia polychroma.

It’s good to know it’s there.

In a vase on Monday – When two worlds collide


If Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden, who hosts ‘In a vase on Monday’, wasn’t already using the epithet ‘The Golfer’ for her husband, I would definitely have used it for mine.  He joined the local ‘Shanklin and Sandown’ golf club shortly after we moved to the island and this Saturday became their captain.

A week earlier he had (casually) asked if I could produce some flowers for his ‘Captain’s Drive in’ event on Sunday, when he hosted as captain for the first time, and ran a charity competition, to be followed by cream teas at the clubhouse.  Whilst my initial reaction was ‘no’, I looked around the garden and realised there were still hundreds of blooms. What I couldn’t quite picture was how they would work together, and then I realised, they didn’t have to.

There were to be ten tables of ten, so I splashed out on some cute spherical jam jars from Nutleys and set about making two matching arrangements for each table, twenty in all.

It all seemed like quite a good idea, until many hours later on Saturday….

So here they are, Cosmos Purity and Ammi,IMG_9337

Rosa Snow Goose and Zinnia Giant LimeIMG_9338

Helianthus Italian White and hebeIMG_9325

Rosa Jubilee Celebration, Cerinthe and Antirrhinum Orange wonderIMG_9329

Rosa Pink Flower Carpet, Antirrhinum and HoneysuckleIMG_9330

Dahlia Happy Single Date, Scabious Fata Morgana and mintIMG_9341

Zinnia Raspberry Cordial, seedheads of Iris unguicularis and Photinia leavesIMG_9327

Zinnia Giant Wine and Antirrhinum Liberty CrimsonIMG_9332

Cosmos Double Click Cranberries and Dahlia Downham Royal.IMG_9334

and lastly Salvia Horminum ‘Oxford Blue’, Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ and LinumIMG_9335


And of course what happened?  They’ve already signed me up for New Year’s Eve.

Oh Captain, my Captain, what have you started?IMG_9349

Photography at Great Dixter


Monday found me at Great Dixter attending The Gardens Illustrated Garden Photography workshop with Jason Ingram.

Jason is a regular contributor to Gardens Illustrated, and his opening talk and slide show exhibited his talent with some stunning images.  A number demonstrated an approach where he shot into the very early, or even pre dawn, light to wonderful effect.  Clearly it was too late in the day to try the same at Great Dixter, and, probably also too late to become an early bird (when I’m not), but it was certainly an inspirational talk and we were then all let loose in the gardens to try our photographic hand.

To those of you unfamiliar with Great Dixter, it was bought in 1910 by Nathaniel and Daisy Lloyd who employed Edwin Lutyens to restore and remodel the house, including buying and moving a timber framed house from its original location nine miles away.

Development of the garden also had significant input from Lutyens and areas such as the High Garden, Rose Garden and Long Border which he envisaged, remain in place today.  Nathaniel enjoyed topiary and there are numerous examples in the garden still.  Indeed, the peacocks below are two of many in an entire area known as the peacock lawn.IMG_8992

However, the gardens at Great Dixter became really well known only once Christopher Lloyd, the Lloyd’s youngest child, became involved.  His first book ‘The Mixed Border in the Modern Garden’ (1957) described this new way of planting, and he used his experiences and experiments at Great Dixter to inform his writing through his entire life.

As time went on he became synonymous with both successional planting and also bold planting, and although Christopher Lloyd died in 2006, his style of planting continues under the stewardship of his head gardener Fergus Garrett and the Great Dixter Charitable Trust.

I was never in any doubt that the garden would still be looking good in October as it is well known not only for late colour (particularly from dahlias), but also, as mentioned above, successional planting. There was no way the garden would be allowed to ‘tail off’ this early in the year.  And even if the plants weren’t at their best, beautiful colour is provided in so many views by the warm, russet tones of the house itself.IMG_9281





There were magnificent pots, both large


and small.  (Coincidentally, this beautiful Nerine Sarniensis also featured on The Blooming Garden this week).


And as well as the flower gardens, there was bountiful vegIMG_8986

including astonishing squashes on 10 foot high compost heaps, requiring ladders to reach them!IMG_8980

and of course the nursery, where sadly, the thought of a taxi ride and four trains rather put me off any purchasing, but there was plenty to admire.

So, thank you Great Dixter.  As I’ve thought before, sometimes I find find your exuberance just a little too much, but boy, was there plenty to photograph.IMG_9109

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – October 2015


This month’s blooms share much in common with last month.  Many roses are still blooming well, Flower Carpet, above, Jubilee Celebration, belowIMG_8914

St SwithunIMG_8923

and Pat Austin.IMG_8906

Plenty of annuals are still hanging on, including Cosmos PurityIMG_8915

and Dazzler, in front of the matching Aster, Aster novae-angliae ‘September Ruby’IMG_8925

This has smaller flowers than Aster Frikartii Monch I was raving about last month, but has a good upright habit and masses of bright pink blooms.IMG_8921

Yet more pink is provided by Diascia Personata,IMG_8929

Achillea Cerise QueenIMG_8930

and the Rhodochiton atrosanguineus, still romping up the obelisk.IMG_8931

And to finish, two plants which seem currently unstoppable, Dahlia Happy Single DateIMG_8909

and good old Verbena BonariensisIMG_8911

With many thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens  for hosting everyone’s GBBD.  Why don’t you pop over and have a look at what everyone else has blooming now?

Back to school!


So, did any of you read this article in September’s RHS Garden magazine?IMG_8952

Or see these adverts in the gardening press?IMG_8953

Well I did, and one thing led to another…

The Garden article, by Ade Sellars, described his experience during the past year studying for the RHS Level 2 course at Capel Manor’s Regent’s Park campus at the age of 43 (ha, baby!)

It was interesting for a couple of reasons, firstly, I was feeling rather envious of my daughter heading off to uni and a whole new world of people and knowledge, and secondly, I’d heard of Capel Manor but had no idea it had a Regents Park campus.

A little research established that the RHS 2 course was running on a Tuesday evening, one of the days I’m in London, so I went along in my lunch hour to enrol.  By extraordinary serendipity, Andrew, the chap I needed to meet with, was tied up with someone else, so I picked up a brochure and started reading about the other courses they ran, and one immediately caught my eye – ‘Plants and planting design’ (Level 3).  A quick chat with Andrew established that I’d need to persuade Capel Manor’s head of Garden Design that I was capable of a Level 3 course (with no previous relevant qualifications) and a sort of telephone interview took place the next day.  I gabbled about my love of plants and planting, and promised that my maths and art were sufficiently good that I would be able to draw to scale(!) and I was in.

I actually missed the first two weeks as I was away, but have now been to two classes and am absolutely loving it.  Spending an evening talking Latin, with lovely, fellow plantaholics, and looking at photos of gorgeous planting, with an informed tutor explaining all from a design perspective.  What’s not to like?

This weekend saw me completing my first assignment, and the time flew by in a flurry of research, planning and drawing.  And do you know what I found hardest?  Drawing the bloomin’ circles!  Who knew?

Roll on next Tuesday.IMG_8955