Monthly Archives: June 2018

End of month view – June 2018

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“The best fertiliser is the gardener’s shadow” I first read at Kew – must be twenty years ago when I was working four days a week, had two children under three and a garden and an allotment to look after.  As you can imagine, it struck a chord – there was never enough time, and the garden and/or allotment often suffered.

Fast forward and the shadow is still often absent, and the garden continues to suffer.  Different garden and different excuse (a lovely one this time, away for the daughter’s graduation in Durham – not very handy for the Isle of Wight).  We arrived home around lunch time today and everything is so parched!  We did spend last weekend setting up some trickle hoses but we didn’t have them on whilst we were away.

Despite the drought (I genuinely can’t remember when we last had rain, it feels like it was May, but can’t have been!) some plants are thriving – not surprisingly often the Mediterranean plants like the Lavender above and below.
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Taking you on the usual tour, you can just see, oh what a shock, the decking has still not been replaced in front of the office.  To say I’m rather miffed would be a bit of an understatement, but let’s not dwell.  Instead we’ll admire the Silk Tree (Albizia julibrissin f. rosea) planted last year.  Sadly it’s showing no sign of flowering yet, but I am enjoying the foliage.

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Now that the stocks at the back have finished flowering, I’ve planted Cosmos and Pelargoniums in the the metal troughs.  They are a long way from ‘filling out’ which is a shame as you can clearly see the rather ugly dripper hose we’ve laid out.  Not surprisingly these troughs do get very hot and dry so hopefully the dripper will help (if we’re ever feeling flush enough to turn it on!DSC01073

The Veg patch is the other place we’ve put dripper hose. This is another tricky area as the veg are largely planted amongst the huge bay trees so they’re always competing for water and we rarely have particularly good productivity from any of the plants.  I’m hoping the dripper will help change that this year.  We’ll see.

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Like last year, I’ve planted some cutting flowers in with the veg – here you can see my very pitiful sweet peas.  I live in hope they will eventually get going and I’ll get some lovely blooms, even if very late.DSC01077

In the Swing Beds the pink Geraniums at the front of the beds have largely gone over, but there are still plenty of rose blooms and Penstemon.  

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The Grass Bed has finally been cleared of the spent forget me nots and the bed planted with Zinnias.  In addition to the Zinnias are self sown Nasturtium and grasses (not Stipa, I’ve forgotten what it is.  I grew it from seed years ago and now I can’t get rid of it!).  The lack of water has meant they’ve struggled to get going, but I’m concerned I haven’t planted them close enough and they’ll never cover the ground in the sort of wonderful display I saw at West Dean gardens here .  To be fair, the photo at West Dean was taken at the end of August, so perhaps we’ll get there.

You can see just how many of the Stipa tenuissima were lost over the winter and I’m still deciding whether I should replace them.  I read recently that they do have a ‘life’ of only about five years and I’ve definitely had them longer than that, so perhaps it was inevitable and I should try something else.DSC01080

I’m really enjoying the pot of poppies with the chicken.  I’ve sprinkled some of the ripe seed on the Grass Bed – wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a whole bed like this next year?!

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The Mid Century bed is looking a little flat now.  The roses are taking a break having (I think) got too dry, and the Dahlias and annuals have not yet got going.  However the lovely Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ (centre) planted last year is now looking well established.DSC01082

Round to the west side of the garden takes us past the rather bleached looking Flower Carpet roses

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and two newly planted pots.DSC01069

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The Bronze Bed is also having a lull while we wait for the Dahlias to start blooming and the roses to recover from lack of water.  Lovely to see the Wisteria having a second flush though.DSC01067

Looking the other way you can see the second (original) Cercis, and the shrubby planting which borders the road.DSC01068

Making our way back to the greenhouse, I can show a happy conclusion to something I suddenly started worrying about when we were away.  These are little Hosta seedlings, grown from seed collected from my own Hostas and planted at least two years ago.  I was fretting they would have curled up and died in our absence, but no!  Very dry, but not even really showing any distress

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Sadly the same can’t be said for the salad and peas growing in the (shallow) raised wooden beds.  They’ve looking very peaky, and some have definitely been lost.DSC01092

On a more cheerful note I’m getting excited to see how the greenhouse beds will look this year.  It’s a rather bold combination – you’ll have to wait for next month to see what it is!DSC01085

Into the greenhouse and this is what greeted me when I opened the door – the lovely Plumbago had fallen over and was almost blocking the door.  This is one of the original pair of plants bought years ago.

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The second one died last year – but look, the cuttings I’d luckily taken from the original were planted up last year and are possibly looking better (certainly less leggy) than the original.

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The rest of the greenhouse has now been planted up with aubergines

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cucumbers and tomatoes.DSC01089

So, back to the ‘gardener’s shadow’ – well, I’ve already been out watering this evening and hopefully tomorrow I can spend the whole day in the garden.  Goodness knows, it’s about time!

With thanks to Helen who hosts our End of Month Views.

 

In a vase on Monday – Queen Red Lime and friends

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I’m embarrassed to say I’ve tried for at least two years to grow Zinnia Queen Red Lime and either germination has been really poor, or I’ve managed not to look after them as seedlings and they’ve damped off and died.

This year I’m really excited that they’re growing and flowering.  At the moment the stems are very short so I used the milk bottle circle to show them off.

I’m sure they’re not to everyone’s taste but I just love the rather sludgy pink of them and decided to go for a rather low key colour scheme to keep them company.IMG_4149

In addition to the two Zinnias (there’s also a green one, Z. Benary’s Giant Lime) I added a rather random mix of Astrantia, poppy seed heads, Erysimum ‘Red Jep’ (bottom left) and a little Sedum.IMG_4148

Here’s a more bird’s eye view.IMG_4147

And to finish, last week’s ‘on a desk’ arrangement.  Yes, more ‘Queen Red Limes’ but altogether a much more sombre palette.  Turns out it was pretty appropriate for last week’s work mood, so this week I’ve picked a much jollier bunch to see if that helps!IMG_4111

With thanks to Cathy who hosts all our Monday vases.

 

Kew Gardens – Birthday treat #2

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My actual birthday was a Monday, so, having visited Petersham Nurseries the day before, I was back at work.  However, in search of a flowery treat on the day itself, I availed myself of a ‘Friends of Kew’ perk – being eligible to visit from 8am (ahead of the normal opening time of 10am).

I must have visited Kew Gardens hundreds of times having lived in the area for over 25 years, but of course visits have been much rarer since we moved to the Isle of Wight ten years ago.  This time I was particularly interested to see two things

1. how the ‘Great Broad Walk borders’ had filled out since a previous visit in 2016  and

2. to see the recently reopened Temperate House, which has been closed since 2013 undergoing significant restoration.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Not only was I blessed with the most glorious morning, but Kew was looking as beautiful as I think I’ve ever seen it, and there was an added joy in having it largely to ourselves.

We entered through the main, Victoria Gate, and walked first around the back of the Palm House through the rose garden.  Of course it was the perfect time of year for this as shown above.

From here we headed to the Great Broad Walk borders.  As the sign tells us, these borders are 320m long which trumps the fabulous double borders at Hilliers at ‘just’ 250m!

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Just before the flaaars, see below the signage Kew has put in place to communicate the planting.  Whilst I completely applaud and appreciate the intention, personally I don’t find these the easiest to read – and I know what most of the plants look like!  I particularly don’t like the rather distorted photos for some of the blooms, but that’s a tiny niggle for what was an absolutely stellar display.IMG_4049

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Whilst the planting was fabulous, I was also blown away by Kew’s amazing trees which make such a superb backdrop.  Obviously these have been there for decades, but it’s interesting that I seem to notice trees, on all garden visits, more than I used to.  Perhaps it’s an age thing!

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From the long borders we walked back past the Princess of Wales conservatory to visit the spot where my mother’s ashes are scattered (officially, in case you were wondering!)IMG_4066

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And then, as time was ticking on, a stomp the not trivial distance to the Temperate House, which was looking absolutely stunning.IMG_4070

It took a little while to gain access as it was largely still locked, but a walk around the back, past the turfing activities (!) and we were in.IMG_4071

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It really was the most perfect start to a birthday ever, thanks Kew.

 

 

Petersham Nurseries – birthday treat #1!

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I thought I’d posted about Petersham Nurseries before, but can’t see that I did.  It holds a rather special place in my heart – partly because it’s right next to the church where the OH and I (and my parents!) were married, and secondly I love its ‘accidental’ success.

My understanding is that the old, rather uninspiring nursery was bought by the owners of Petersham House (which is adjacent to it) as they were concerned it would be sold for development.  Fast forward twenty (?) years, and not only is it now a thriving foodie and lifestyle destination, but an off shoot has recently opened in Covent Garden.

As life continues to get in the way of blogging, the visit actually took place on Sunday 10th June when we went for lunch in the tea house.  The only purchase I succumbed to was a white passion flower – I think it’s Constance Elliot – but inspiration (especially for container planting) was everywhere – and free!

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Thanks Petersham.  We’ll be back!

 

 

 

 

 

In a vase on Monday – let’s hear it for the girls!

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Friday saw my sister in law arriving for lunch and bringing my mother in law who was staying for the weekend.

Whilst normal people would have spent the previous evening (having arrived home at 8pm after travelling home by train with the dog following a Waterloo handover with the son!) tidying, cleaning and fretting about lunch, I concentrated on bringing some of the amazing pink abundance going on outside, inside.

The vase is a mix of roses – ‘St Swithun’, ‘Jubilee Celebration’ (and a couple of unknown ones), together with Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and Diascia personata.

I think our guests were much more impressed with the lobster lunch the OH knocked up while I was working, but I liked the flaaaars!

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Just before signing off, I though I’d share last week’s similarly hued vase ‘on a desk’.  Those of you who have been following for a while know that I try to take a vase of flowers to the office each week.  Bearing in mind they travel by car, ferry, train and train without water, some arrive in better condition than others, but this one was fabulous.  Beautifully scented and lasted really well.  Almost made the day job bearable!1119CC9E-A788-4C6F-9E6C-F383E3A25E54

With thanks to Cathy who corrals all of us crazy IaVoMers.  Thanks Cathy!

High on the High Line

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Before we even start talking about the High Line, I just have to record my total admiration for Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who landed an Airbus 320 on the Hudson River (above), in which all 155 passengers and crew survived with only minor injuries.  It was an astonishing feat and, strolling along the High Line looking out over the Hudson and watching the helicopters buzzing about, reminded me of the film and brought home just what a feat it was.  It was properly choppy out there!  It’s not that wide!  And lastly, it’s a RIVER!  Hello!  What a guy.  If you haven’t seen the film (‘Sully’) just do.

I was in New York with my daughter to celebrate the end of her her degree.  I’d taken both ‘kids’ to New York for their first time a few years ago and she absolutely loves it.  She’s now been back twice without me and had, in fact, already walked the High Line.  However, bearing in mind I was (largely!) paying, she indulged me with another visit.  I have to say it’s been on my bucket list since I was first aware of it and it didn’t disappoint.  Having said that, the planting – designed by Piet Oudolf – is deliberately low key, with the aim to maintain a sense of the ‘feel’ of the line when it was abandoned and overgrown, and therefore it’s not ‘flowery’ in a conventional sense.IMG_3907

However, despite this, I loved it.  I loved the vision of ‘re-purposing’ an urban space (a disused railway) in such a bold way, and I loved the way it meandered above the city streets and brought greenery and beauty to what must previously have been an eyesore.  I couldn’t get over how many thousands of people now had this amazing green ribbon to admire.IMG_3886

The first section opened in 2009 and many trees are now becoming really mature adding shade, scale with some fabulous specimens of Cercis and Cornus amongst others.IMG_3903

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In places, the original railway lines have been left, and the planting is around and amongst them.IMG_3892

There was planting for sun,IMG_3914

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planting for shade,IMG_3901

planting that matched buildingsIMG_3913

and views of iconic landmarks.IMG_3911

Thanks High Line.  Now I know what I want to do when I grow up!