Monthly Archives: October 2016

End of month view – October 2016


It’s beginning to look a lot like… autumn.  The over the road oak’s papery leaves are just starting to fall and the autumn tints of the Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ are showing off the beautiful heart shaped leaves.

Elsewhere at this side of the garden my beautiful Dahlia ‘Happy Single Date’ has completely given up the ghost and there’s not much to admire in the Bronze Bed except the wonderful Melianthus major in the background.  In the centre you can see part of the ribbon of Carex buchananii grasses grown from seed and planted out this year.  The idea was that they would remain evergreen (ever-brown actually – my mother in law thought they’d died) and provide interest through the winter and combine well with the Hamamelis before the bulbs. It will be interesting to see if this works, or whether they do indeed just look rather dead.


Across to the eastern end the Swing Beds are still green but really not very colourful apart from the Salvias.  As well as some late colour, after completion of my planting course last year I’d really like to introduce some better structure here.  I’d deliberately not planted anything shrubby to the back of the area immediately either side of the swing because I grew sweet peas up netting at the back for a few years.  However, they’ve never done that well and so this year I didn’t bother and think the lack of height here – particularly bearing in mind the size of the Phlomis and Elaeagnus further out – is a problem.  But what to plant?  Hmm.img_1846


The plan for the grass bed this year was to have a froth of Cosmos and Ammi, but I planted some Calendula along the front edge to cover up the gaps until the other two got going.  So where are we now?  Er, completely overrun with self seeded Nasturtiums!  I really must dig these out as I do love the forget me nots in this bed and at this rate there won’t be any.img_1852

These two make a pretty autumnal combination, but so not the white effect I’d planned!img_1851

The Salvias are making their mark in the Mid Century Bed too, but I also like the dark AntirrhinumsA. majus nanum ‘Black Prince’ and there are still some dahlias and even roses coming.  Plenty of new Cerinthe growth too, with the odd plant actually in the bed rather than the paths!img_1854

Here’s Rosa ‘Falstaff climbing’ looking a little chewed on the obelisk.img_1853

In the Veg Beds there’s not much to see except the Kale.  I do love the look and colour of these leaves, and have even used them in arrangements, but they do give a rather cabbagey aroma which is less than ideal!img_1843

In pots there are plenty of Pelargoniums still pumping out the flowers including this beauty P. Surcouf,img_1842

and a number of succulents having a late bloomimg_1841

or just looking bonny!img_1832

The raised Cutting Beds have been pretty hopeless this year due to lack of water, so rather a shock to see the Zinnias pumping out the flowers now too.img_1837

To the right of the raised beds you can see the Shady Bed which looks much the same as always except the gradual increase in size of the Sarcococca confusa.  This is finally making its mark both in looks now and scent later in the winter.  Perhaps I’ll even allow myself to cut a few sprigs next year.img_1838

And to finish, the greenhouse.  Whilst the veg in here are coming to an endimg_1839

I’m excited at the prospect of new babies for next year – firstly cuttings in the propagatorimg_1840

but also Winter Sweet Peas, still in the packet as I type, but I can’t wait to see these again come next April!IMG_0199

With thanks to Helen at the Patient Gardener for hosting everyone’s EoMVs.


Jardines de Alfabia


So the Golf Captaincy has come to an end and all that’s left now is hosting the thank you dinner for 14 next Friday.  Not quite sure why we’re doing the thanking, but hey, what do I know?

Anyway, to celebrate the handover we’d discussed all sorts of potential long haul adventures but unfortunately, by the time we got to proper planning, it turned out I could only take a week off work so we ended up with five days in Mallorca!  Ah well, the sun shone occasionally, and it was definitely warmer.

The Jardines de Alfabia are situated between Palma (where we were staying) and Soller on the slope of the Sierra de Tramuntana.  img_1127

There is a beautiful old train which has been running between the two towns since 1912.  Apparently it will make a request stop at the gardens, but we wanted to go to Soller anyway so we took the train there and got a bus back.


Clearly it was late in the season to experience a great deal in the way of flowers, but the garden, originally owned by the 12th Arab Viceroy, has a Moorish character and the associated design features were easy to admire without blooms.

The entrance to the garden was up this striking flight of steps



At the top, a small fountain provided the source of the (limited!) water in the rills to either side of the steps.

Looking right you see the ‘covered pond’ (shown in the first photo) and peering closer gives a glimpse into the rest of the garden – and a beautiful reflection.img_1093

From here there is an extraordinary pergola img_1103

which, in the further half, has twenty four inbuilt hydrants which erupt, after a 20 second delay, when a button is pressed.  There was a comedy moment when I was about to press the button, not understanding where the hydrants actually spouted, and a Spanish couple coming in the opposite direction made it very clear using sign language that I really shouldn’t!img_1107

Looking back from the far end showed a further pergola, this one at right angles to the first and absolutely smothered in Wisteria, Bourganvillea and Morning Glory.img_1129

Here there were two amazing trees, easily 25 metres tall – Silk floss tree or Chorisia speciosa.  Sorry not great photos, but the blooms were so high up and I only had my phone.



And this was the extraordinary bark


In the lowest area of the garden were some really ancient plants, including this oliveimg_1153

and this Wisteria.img_1154

Exiting via the house (which apparently has Arabic, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Roman, Rococco and even English in its decoration!) we spotted this fabulous palm, acting as eyelashes to the Ox Eye (ojos de buey) window.  There were (understandably) a pair of these windows and each had its own little staircase, I assume for mounting your house (or carriage).


And to finish, ooh look – flowers!


Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – October 2016


Not many new blooms compared to last month’s GBBD, but I thought I’d share this lovely Abutilon, A. ‘Orange Marion.’

Other Autumn tinted blooms include this Helenium.  I think I’ve previously said it’s ‘Moerheim Beauty’, but I’m starting to think it’s ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ instead.  img_1760

The rest of the garden is still largely pink.  Many Salvias, including ‘Dyson’s Scarlet’, ‘Cerro Potosi’ and ‘Stormy Sunrise.’

Asters are still blooming well, this one, Aster novae-angliae ‘Sptember Ruby’img_1780

and this Aster frikartii ‘Monch’.img_1779

I was delighted to discover during a weekend clear out that I had taken some cuttings last year.  Hurrah!img_1764

Whilst the Pink Flower Carpet roses are still flowering prolifically, img_1751

other roses are more of an individual treat – R. St Swithun,img_1777

R. ‘Jubilee Celebration’img_1791

and this, very precious R. ‘Freeman 1987.’  This isn’t the most robust rose, but very special at it was bought and named for us by our two lovely ‘kids’ in recognition of our silver wedding anniversary in 2012.img_1794

A number of Dahlias are still clinging on, indeed some are returning after a recent drought induced pause, including ‘Hillcrest Royal’img_1792

‘La recoleta’img_1784

And, according to Sarah Raven, these are both ‘Tamburo’, but I feel the second is an imposter!img_1754


As far as annuals are concerned, sadly the majority have given up the ghost, I think due to drought.  However, this tobacco plant, Nicotiana mutablis is doing a good job of lighting up the back of the Swing Beds.img_1774

I love this shrub, Anisodontea capensis, but it has now got very leggy.  According to the RHS it’s normally grown in a cool greenhouse – thank goodness I hadn’t read that when I planted it!  The RHS also suggests it can be propagated either by seed in spring or semi ripe cuttings in summer.  I think it might be time to make some new babies so that the mother ship can be ‘retired’.img_1790

And to finish, a few Nerine bowdenii.  These were inherited with the house, and always surprise me with their exoticism at such a grey time of the year.

I can’t quite work out whether I want more or not.  What do you think?img_1762

With thanks to Carol at May Dream Gardens who hosts everyone’s GBBDs.

In a vase on Monday -in my cups!


Today’s vase was actually put together on Saturday, to take to our lovely neighbours as they had invited us for supper.  The title relates to their reliable generosity with the drinks.  I  won’t elaborate further.  Hic.

The vase started with just ‘bruised’ flowers emanating from the Mid Century bed, but they looked almost too dark and so were enlivened with some brighter pink from the Flower Carpet roses.

The dahlia is ‘La Recoleta’img_1739

and, here again, but showing an older bloom with its centre exposed, joined by a single stem of Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ and backed by some new growth of Cerinthe major purpurescens.


The Antirrhinums were grown from seed and are finally getting going.  This one is Antirrhinum majus nanum ‘Black Prince.’img_1741

Here’s the grass I mentioned in GBBD, which Nick identified as Pennisetum ‘Red Buttons,’img_1740

and lastly, the fabulously glossy seed pods of Dolichos lablab ‘Ruby Moon’ which I’m rather obsessed with!img_1743

With many thanks to Cathy who hosts IaVoM – and of course M and J for a fabulous evening!

Wonderful Woolbeding


Another off island adventure and so another excuse for a garden visit, this time to the National Trust Woolbeding Gardens near Midhurst in West Sussex.


I knew we’d be coming down the A3 and would therefore be close by, but I also remembered the garden had limited opening times.  Amazingly, it turned out the day we were passing (last Friday) happened to be the last open day of the year!  The garden is now closed until next spring, when it will reopen, as before, on Thursdays and Fridays only.

As you arrive you’re welcomed by this wonderful formal water garden, designed by the Bannermans (of whom more later), which sets the scene for what is clearly going to be quite some garden.


The Woolbeding Estate of over 1,000 acres was given to the National Trust by the Lascelles family in 1957, with 26 acres devoted to the gardens.  The house, below, is still in private ownership, and not open, but there are a whole range of similarly beautiful stone outbuildings and walls which help make the garden so special.img_1672

In 1972 Woolbeding was leased to Simon Sainsbury, and subsequently his partner Stewart Grimshaw, who developed it into the wonderful garden it is today.  Initially they focussed on the area closest to the house and, with the help of American garden designer Lanning Roper, they remodelled with ‘clear structure, elegance and restraint’, creating a series of garden rooms.

Looking west from the house are two herbaceous borders, still exhibiting plenty of colour in cool blues and purples.img_1674img_1675img_1677

Through the immaculate hedging to the hotter, more exotic feeling greenhouse gardenimg_1678img_1679



And into the greenhouse, where they still had a voracious Ipom0ea flowering.img_1683


Crossing back across the herbaceous borders and into the herb garden, with immaculate trained apples.img_1688img_1689img_1690

Through to the orangery with views of a beautiful pool.



There are stunning pots throughout the garden, including this one, with Anisodontea and matching Salvia, see below.img_1698

On to the veg area, which was huge, and, in keeping with the rest of the garden, immaculate.img_1700

I had to admire these Tromboncino (which I’d heard Charlotte Mendelson discussing in her hilarious interview with Jenny Murray on Thursday’s Women’s Hour.  I’m definitely going to read her new book ‘Rhapsody in Green‘)


On to the well garden, where I admired this fabulous combination.img_1691


Away from the garden rooms the William Pye sculpture dominates.  I rather like it but the OH definitely didn’t.img_1673

Walking round the church and south takes you past this magnificent Cedarimg_1715img_1725

and the charming Tulip Folly.  The folly has been built on the site of a 100ft tulip tree.  It was felled by the great storm of October 1987 and apparently only missed the house by a couple of feet.img_1714

A further stroll takes you to the rather separate ‘Pleasure Gardens’ which were created later with the help of Julian and Isabel Bannerman.  (Coincidentally there was an interesting article in the Telegraph on the Bannermans this Saturday).

Here there is a ruined chapel, a rustic hermit’s hut,img_1718

wonderful bordered path leading toimg_1719

a glowing yellow bridge.img_1724

Back towards the exit you can’t help but admire all the wonderful structures – this gorgeous curved wall by the churchimg_1712

living buttresses,


lovely stone buildings and attractive, classy furniture.img_1732

This really was a stunning garden.  So much structure which lent a real sense of discovery.  The formal garden isn’t that huge but as each area is so different it feels more substantial.

This has definitely moved straight into my top 5 gardens and I can’t wait to return in the spring.  Thanks National Trust and Woolbeding.  I’ll be back.


Oh and PS can someone tell me what this is please?  It was a good 6ft tall.img_1680