Monthly Archives: July 2016

End of month view – July 2016


Another set of rather bleached photos as these were taken around midday when I found a minute spare.

After the big clear out in June, the grass bed was planted with Ammi, Cosmos and Calendula and all are starting to fill out.  I hadn’t really thought through how tawny the grasses would get, and the colouring is working well with the marigolds.  I’m hoping by the time they’re exhausted the Ammi and Cosmos will be in full swing and I can just turf them out.

Meanwhile the Swing Beds are rather overrun with Diascia personata but are at least looking more flowery than they were this time last year, but that won’t last long if I don’t get some water on them.

I’m trying to add more blues to these beds with some Scabious grown from seed (Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Blue Cockade’) as well as the sister’s Penstemon (P. Stapleford Gem mentioned here) but they’re still not really making any impact.  And although I have chopped back the pink hardy geranium at the front, there’s still too much of it, and it does leave a large uninteresting green patch when it’s stopped flowering.IMG_1403


In the Mid Century bed the Rhodochiton which were such a success on the obelisk last year, still haven’t got going and a couple have definitely perished.  I do have some spares so need to get those planted before it’s all too late.  I’ve pulled out all the poppies now but they have been replaced by the rather gaudy Gladioli Black Star (discussed here).  Annuals here of Antirrhinum and Malope are still just getting going.



In the Veg Bed the most striking thing is the Sweet Peas.  I’ve actually planted two rows this year, there’s another wave coming behind, opposite the runner beans.  As for actual veg the courgettes are (predictably) taking over, and there’s plenty of chard.  The French Beans, Runners and Mange Tout have all been a little slow to get going, and they too would benefit from a really good soaking.IMG_1398

Highlight of this area for me has to be the home grown Agapanthus.  As I’d hoped, they’re obviously loving the heat of the wall at the back of the strawberry bed.


At the other side of the garden in the Bronze Bed the Dahlia ‘Happy Single Dates’ are going from strength to strength and proving how much happier Dahlias are with their feet in the ground.  The number I’ve still got in pots are clearly feeling (and looking) rather disgruntled.IMG_1380


In the greenhouse the tomatoes and cucumbers are hurtling up the bamboos, but haven’t been too productive to date – more water (and food) required, I feel.


The aubergines have their first flowers.  Quite how Monty Don was harvesting fully grown aubergines weeks ago I have no idea!IMG_1391

Non edibles include my lovely Plumbagos as well as this glory lily (Gloriosa rothschildiana).IMG_1396


And there are new biennial seeds coming to start the whole cycle again.IMG_1394


And to finish, a few pots currently looking good.  IMG_1407




With thanks to Helen at the Patient Gardener who hosts the EoM meme.

In a vase on Monday – gardey loo!


Whilst my late planted annuals are just starting to get going, there are two things already available in abundance, so I though I’d bring them together.

Firstly, the Flower Carpet roses just go on and on.  I did give them a water and some feed as they were starting to look a little exhausted, but they seem to have perked up.IMG_1240

And the second is sweet peas.  Whilst the ones in the greenhouse have pretty much ground to a halt, those in the garden are in full swing.  These bright pink ones are Lathyrus odoratus ‘Annie B Gilroy’ and whilst they’re not a perfect match for the roses, I rather love the clashing pinks.IMG_1242

The pinks were joined by some lovely fresh green mint sprigs, and, having already got sweet pea arrangements in three other places, guess where I put it?!IMG_1244

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

West Green House Gardens


You know how I love a garden visit?  And how I always try to find a garden when I’m in an area for another reason?

Well, Saturday saw me near Basingstoke as the OH is taking a break from golfing to go salmon fishing in Scotland (it’s all go) and he, together with waders and rods, needed delivering to a friend’s house, so Saturday also saw me garden visiting.  It was an absolute scorcher of a day so some of the photos have struggled a bit with the differential light levels, but what a garden!IMG_1322

West Green House was originally built in the 1720s for General Henry Hawley, and his descendents continued to live there until 1898.  Since then there have been a number of transformations, firstly, a garden redesign at the turn of the 20th century, and then further enhancements to the garden by Evelyn, Dowager Duchess of Wellington and her cousin, Yvonne FitzRoy up until 1939.  The house and garden were left to the National Trust in 1957.

In the 1980s, Quinlan Terry added various follies and birdcages for the then tenant, Lord McAlpine, but an IRA bomb in 1990 badly damaged the house to the extent that the National Trust considered demolishing it.  Instead, they elected to repair the fabric and sell it on a 99 year lease to someone who would complete the restoration of the house and bring life back to the magnificent garden.

And that person was the Australian Chelsea Flower Show medallist, Marylyn Abbott.  In 1994 she purchased the lease from the National Trust and consequently funds the restoration of the house and garden herself.

Since her tenure the gardens have not only been restored but developed further and, using her links to the Sydney Opera House, she has also introduced opera to the garden, and by coincidence La Traviata was due to be performed later that evening.

The garden has a formal walled garden close to the house with wonderful colour themed planting – hot in the centre,IMG_1315


with cooler planting at the perimeter.IMG_1317


In addition to the herbaceous planting there is a potager area with wonderful witty sunflower arches festooned with borlotti beans


There were a lot of these (I think) ‘Teddy Bear’ sunflowers around in pots, which I’d seen previously in seed catalogues and rejected for not being very sunflower like, and also being dwarf, but actually, in common with many things in this garden, they were great fun and really worked.IMG_1320

The garden is absolutely full of structure, not only endless immaculate hedging and topiaryIMG_1323





but also numerous plant supports for vertical accents.IMG_1318

Beyond the stunning walled garden, the ‘Dragon Garden’ leads you out to the wilder area around the lake.IMG_1339


Here the planting was largely shade loving plants including hostas and hydrangeas, together with some wonderful mature trees.  Oh, and look what we espied across the lakeIMG_1341

We got a little closer


and closer still.


I wish I had a ticket!

On our way back to the car we were able to visit the stunning U shaped greenhouseIMG_1357





And to finish?  The most elegant chicken shed I’ve ever come across.IMG_1332

With thanks to West Green House Garden and the Marylyn Abbott.  Witty, interesting and inspiring, it was an absolutely joy.  I’d definitely like to return, preferably next time with a ticket to the opera.  I wonder if they always have such perfect weather?

In a vase on Monday – return of blooms on a desk

photo 1

I’ve been taking flowers to work again for weeks now but I thought I’d share this one from last week as it was a bit different.

Firstly, I’d picked Plumbago for the first time, and actually it lasted very well.  This was joined by Scabious ‘Fata Morgana’.  I grew this from seed for the first time last year and planted it in the Bronze Bed expecting it to be quite peachy.  As it is it’s rarely more than cream which was disappointing in the bed, photo 2

but worked with the Sweet Pea Lathyrus ‘Jilly’photo 4 (1)

To these I added Salvia horminum ‘White Swan’.  I was prompted to grow these after the success of S. horminum ‘Oxford Blue’ last year.  I love the green veining which makes it looks so fresh.  However, the truth is these blooms were picked directly from the seed tray where they were still languishing, and when I returned home last Thursday they were looking a bit peaky and I still haven’t planted them out in the ground!  I’ve given them a good soak this evening and hopefully they’ll last the week and I can dream up somewhere to plant them next weekend…photo 3 (1)

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

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – July 2016


Plenty of dahlias this month after my splurge earlier in the year.  Some of these are still in pots, and, not entirely surprisingly, not very happy.  I’m trying to keep on top of feeding and watering, but there’s no doubt they’d be happier with their feet in the ground, if only I could find some ground for them….

The one above is D. ‘Tamburo’, and below, another dark one, D. ‘La Recoleta.’IMG_1291

Bright pink, D. Hillcrest RoyalIMG_1274

and D. ‘Roxy’ are joined byIMG_1273

peachier Dahlia ‘Burlesque’ (with hiding visitor)IMG_1265

and even more orange, D. ‘Zundert Mystery Fox’ IMG_1260

There are still plenty of roses still blooming, including the R. Pink Flower Carpet (which really has been a carpet this year, although looking a little exhausted now),IMG_1245

R. ‘Munstead Wood’,IMG_1292

R. ‘Korizont’IMG_1279

R. ‘Jubilee Celebration’,IMG_1293

and R. ‘Pat Austin’IMG_1254

Plenty of Pelargoniums are looking good, including this one, bought cheaply last year at the local Car Boot Sale, unfortunately without a name,IMG_1289

and this rather more expensive one, P. Choun Cho, which is in a pot with the dahlia in the first photo above, D. Tamburo.IMG_1256

The annuals grown from seed are all a bit behind as I was so late getting everything planted out, but the following are starting to bloom – Antirrhinum majus nanum ‘Black Prince,’IMG_1290

Calendula officinalis ‘Touch Of Red Buff’IMG_1288

self seeded Nasturtium Caribbean Crush (here with Achillea ‘Terracotta’, although not looking very terracotta)


Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Fizzy White’IMG_1286

and Ammi visnaga ‘Green Mist’IMG_1283

Meanwhile the outdoor sweet peas are romping up the nettingIMG_1276

but the Winter Sun ones are still flowering in the greenhouse (although now rather badly plagued by greenfly).IMG_1270

Also flowering their socks off in the greenhouse are my two pots of Plumbago.IMG_1267

In the Greenhouse beds, the pink of the Potentilla nepalensis ‘Shogran’ shows up well against the wall.  IMG_1263

In these beds too there are both white and blue Agapanthus, grown from seed.IMG_1269


but there are even more in the strawberry bed.  Although these were planned to all be blue, they too have turned out to be a mix, so I think once they’ve all finished flowering I’ll have a reshuffle!


In the Mid Century bed one of last year’s Gladioli, G. Black Star, is flowering again – this was also previously discussed here.


In the Swing Beds, there are plenty of pink blooms – Diascia Personata, grown from cuttings from the original plant generously given by Nick at White Cottage Day Lilies, joined by a Penstemon


and Salvia jamensis ‘Stormy Sunrise.’


And to finish a little conundrum.  Below is one of two matching Mandevilla bought at Hampton Court to go in pots on the decking together with the Pelargonium ‘Surcouf’ in place of the rather sickly looking Clematis.  However, despite priding myself on having a pretty good ‘colour’ memory, they aren’t the same pink as the Pelargonium, so now what do I do with them?  Probably plant and be damned, as I don’t know where else they’re going to go!IMG_1271

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

Blenheim House, an NGS treat


Blenheim House, in Ryde on the north east coast of the Isle of Wight, opened this weekend under the National Gardens Scheme, and what a treat!  After the disappointment of Hampton Court, it was fabulous to restore my garden visiting mojo so quickly and emphatically. The garden is relatively small for the NGS at 116ft x 30ft, but there was plenty to discover and much to admire.

The site slopes away from the house with the views from the top terrace (above and below) towards Portsmouth.


From here a twisting red brick path meanders down through the lawnless site but clever planting ensures the end of the garden is obscured, encouraging discovery.IMG_1219

The planting is lush and exotic, with a number of magnificent tree ferns.IMG_1221


On the right hand side was the best display of Dierama I’ve ever seen,IMG_1226IMG_1235

and on the left, a spectacular display of potted succulents.IMG_1225IMG_1233

There were some lovely planting combinations.  IMG_1229

I love the dark strappy leaves below, anyone any clues?  It looked a little like a Phormium but the leaves were too fleshy.IMG_1223

Here it is again.



I liked the way the problem of a ‘flopping’ Sisyrinchium was solved by planting it behind a bench by the pond.IMG_1230

So thank you Maggie and David, for generously opening your garden, it was fabulous.




Hampton Court


The last time I was at the Hampton Court Flower Show I was pregnant with my daughter, you know, the one who’s just finished her first year at uni.  And even then I didn’t ‘do’ the show, instead I took my mother on the Gala Evening, the night before the opening as a birthday treat.

Roll forward 19 years and I admit it, I approached Hampton Court all wrong.  As with Chelsea, I’d bought a late ticket (which started at 3pm) but then due to work commitments in the morning ended up not getting there until 4pm, and taking another half hour finding the OH who was apparently deaf to his mobile.  It wasn’t a good start.  Add to that a general irritation with carrying my overnight bag, feeling generally hot and bothered as well as overwhelmed and bewildered by the size of the site, and I was in a right old grump.

However, a restorative marmalade ice cream from Purbeck ice cream and a greenery immersion in the Floral Marquee, and I soon started to perk up.  And, of course, having spoken of my relative abstention on the plant purchasing front last week, it soon went all wrong to the extent the OH had to buy a trolley to carry everything back to the Isle of Wight!

The first purchases were two Mandevilla ‘Sundaville Pink’.  This was actually prompted by seeing Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ looking really good on another display and reminding me that the two I have growing in rectangular planters on the decking (with the lipstick pink Pelargonium ‘Surcouf’) really don’t look good and clearly aren’t happy.  The plan now is to move the Clematis out and replace with the Mandevilla.  Apparently the Mandevillas quite like being restricted so I was instructed to plant them into a larger round pot and then place that in the planter.  It also makes it easier to bring them in for the winter, although I somehow doubt that will ever happen…


Number two was this gorgeous Sanguisorba obtusa, shown off beautifully here in front of a black back drop.  I’m hoping I can find a dark hedge to achieve the same effect, but whether I can also provide the moist soil conditions they prefer is another question.IMG_1181

The OH also treated me to a packet of ‘Just Jenny’ sweet peas, but I’m not sure I’m that keen!IMG_1183

Other plants which caught my eye (but not my wallet) were Nicotiana mutablis.  I’ve just planted this out all round the back of the Swing Beds, so good to note I still like it


This Digitalis illumination ‘Cherry Brandy’ was a stunning colour, but, like D. mertonensis I was moaning about recently, it was really quite short, and I do like a Digitalis to ‘tower’.IMG_1187

Although I’m generally uncomfortable with plants the ‘wrong’ colour, I was rather taken with this Delphinium ‘Red Caroline’, but then I felt bad about it!


I loved this Coreopsis ‘Mercury Rising’.  It reminded me of Chocolate Cosmos but I assume would be a whole lot easier to grow.IMG_1167

I also loved this double Lychnis coronaria ‘Gardeners’ World’,


talking of which, guess who I spied close by.  I loved your frock, Carol!IMG_1192

Inspired by the stunning circular Hosta bed at Whalton Manor, I’m considering planting up a round metal bath I have, solely with Hostas, and a couple took my fancy, firstly H. ‘Mrs Minky’IMG_1176

and also diminutive H. ‘Slim and Trim.’IMG_1175

A last foliage plant to catch my eye was this Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’.  I’m a sucker for a lime coloured leaf.IMG_1185

Oh and the OH liked this, Allium ‘Forelock’.  Yes really.IMG_1168

Back outside I made very limited progress with viewing all the show gardens.  I did however, enjoy the Dog’s Trust garden, particularly the relaxed, relaxing planting.IMG_1194


and I also liked the sunken ‘All the World’s a stage’ garden

with some unusual planting combinations.IMG_1201

I think this was part of the World Gardens, which demonstrated a really effective contrast between the lush planting and the arid hard landscaping.IMG_1212

And these little succulents growing amongst the pebbles in the gabions on this Kent ‘Feel Good Front Gardens’ exhibit were inspired.IMG_1202

And to finish, a special mention for this Conceptual Garden, the ‘Red Thread.’  Not only was it designed by Robert Barker, an ex student of my Capel Manor tutor, John Gilbert, but a couple of my class mates helped with the planting.  I was delighted to see it won gold.



Watching the coverage on the BBC last night made it clear I had missed some real treats, so apologies for such an incomplete post, but it does beg the question whether this is one show best enjoyed from the sofa!