In search of the 287, two years later


I drafted this post two years ago, but for some reason never got round to posting it so, lacking inspiration currently (and wasn’t the weekend weather FOUL!), I thought I’d share today.  I’m not absolutely sure when I visited but I’m pretending it was still January.

As a ‘friend’ of Ventnor Botanic Gardens, I receive regular email updates and recently heard that this year’s new year flower count had totalled 287!  I’ve been meaning to visit since I’d heard and finally, on Saturday, during a long awaited dry afternoon, off I went.

I think it’s fair to say that a number of those 287 had exhausted themselves in the intervening month, but there were still many blooms to admire, not least the Magnolias, including Magnolia campbelli alba (above and below) and M.campbelli ‘Charles Raffill’ (pink).

Whilst Ventnor’s incredibly mild microclimate means they have avoided any frost damage, they have clearly been battered by both wind and rain, leaving a number rather strangely ‘naked’ like the one above.IMG_9950


The two below, still in bud, are in much better condition.  Perhaps the weather will allow these ones to flower in peace?

Magnolia x soulangiana ‘Triumphans’IMG_9954


Against a west facing wall another white flower, this New Zealander, 10ft tall Glory Pea or Lobster Claw, Clianthus puniceus albus.  It’s supposed to flower from April to June, but clearly hasn’t read the books…



A shrub I don’t remember seeing before is Buddleja offinalis.  I’m not a big Buddleja fan but this one is a lovely soft lilac and is scented and winter flowering.  Apparently it’s usually reserved for the conservatory in this country, but was thriving at VBG.IMG_9927

More shrubby interest was provided by this Cestrum fasciculatum ‘Newellii’, another plant ignoring the calendar to flower now.

I do love those arching stems, I wonder if they would last in a vase?IMG_9924

And anyone know what this one is?  It was covered in these pretty white flowers and growing in the ‘Australian’ area (hence the Eucalyptus in the background).IMG_9946


And to finish, Ventnor’s pride and joy, a little mirror orchid, Ophrys speculum.  I was lucky enough to see these growing in the wild in southern Spain last year (see post here).  They really are very special.

In a vase on Monday – Anya and friends


Taking photos for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (just posted) I realised that the lovely Hellebore, Helleborus ‘Anya Oudolf’ was flowering, and was prompted to bring a stem inside.IMG_3837

One thing led to another and I picked a few stems of my favourite wallflower, Erysimum ‘Red Jep’ to highlight her gorgeous dark red veining, as well as a couple of plain green flowers of the less special Helleborus argutifolius.  IMG_3840

Looking around for some foliage, I realised the Helichrysum petiolare leaves were a good match for the Hellebore flowers and added a few stems to the mix.

As so often when prompted by Cathy’s inspiring In a vase on Monday meme, there’s more to discover, even in January, than you expect!

So, Cathy,  thanks as ever for hosting, but thanks too for prompting me to leave the house!  It’s currently full of flu – husband still too weak to accompany me on dog walk in the pouring rain, son retreated to bed and daughter’s return to uni put back by a week – so I’ve been caught up with nursing duties ever since I got back from London on Thursday.

Thankfully I’m not yet affected, but I can’t help but worry it’s only a matter of time and off to London early tomorrow….


Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – January 2018


Not surprisingly there aren’t many blooms in January, but I’ve had a poke about and come up with the Erysimum ‘Red Jep’ above, E. ‘Bowles Mauve’IMG_3823

and E. ‘Ivory Giant’ (neither ivory nor giant!).


There are still a handful of roses braving it out – this one, ‘Freeman 1987’ was named by our children for our silver wedding anniversary,IMG_3824

this one, inherited, in the Lavender BedIMG_3826

and this, good old ‘Flower Carpet Pink’.IMG_3818

A few hellebores are already in bloom – Helleborus argutifolius and  H. ‘Anya Oudolf’

as well as various Horientalis on their way.IMG_3813

Similarly seasonal are two Hamamelis – ‘Arnold’s Promise’ in full bloom IMG_3802

and the first tangerine curls of ‘AphroditeIMG_3801

Rather more unexpected, still blooming outside are AeoniumIMG_3800



and Gazanias.IMG_3799

And in the greenhouse, not a great deal to see other than a lot of rather tatty Pelargoniums, and these – tiny little buds on the lemon tree.


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


East Ruston Old Vicarage

In June I visited East Ruston Old Vicarage gardens and was so overwhelmed by the scale and invention that I felt the post deserved some proper time spent on it.  Sadly, I didn’t find the time, and the moment passed.  However, preparing my yearly round up reminded me, so here it is, six months late, but who’s counting.

As the site is just 1 1/2 miles from the North Sea (adjacent to Norfolk’s eat coast), shelter belts of Monterey Pine, Alder and Eucalyptus were planted soon after the owners Graham Robeson and Alan Gray arrived in 1973.
The gardens now cover 32 acres and encompass an astonishing variety of garden styles, all, in my view, absolutely ‘nailed’.  To succeed at just one style is impressive, but to tackle so many and somehow make them work together as a cohesive whole is just extraordinary.   The different gardens are generally set within immaculate hedges, which adds an incredible sense of discovery to the visit.
I’ve included the link to the map from the website to give some sense of the scale and ambition of the project.
Please enjoy the photos – but more importantly, go and visit for yourself.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.



With many thanks to Graham and Alan for creating and sharing such a wonderful, inspirational place.




End of month view – yearly round up 2017


I’ve started my Yearly Round up with a photo of the garden in June as June saw me coordinating the St Helens Secret Gardens event (the garden opening of a dozen local gardens in aid of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance) for the first time.

I was so relieved and delighted all went smoothly – largely due to the fabulous weather.  The event is only every other year so I can put my feet up this year!

As ever, there were successes and failures in the garden, with a really annoying number of bulbs, particularly tulips, lost to some nibbling critter.  I like to think it might be one of our beautiful red squirrels as at least that means they were lost to a good cause!  However, there were also successes, and I’ve shared some favourite garden photos below:






I added a new tree to the garden – Albizia julibrissin ‘Ombrella,’

had fun with pots



and tried new edibles in the greenhouse – Pepper ‘Tequilla’ and


Aubergine ‘Slim Jim.’


I also continued creating various vases, both for Cathy’s ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme IMG_2342





as well as to take to work with me.IMG_2237

I shared a few more photos taken on the daily dog walk on the St Helens Duver –  the National Trust land opposite where we live that gives this blog its name.img_1532-1


And also shared plenty of garden visit photos, including, in March, Le Jardin de Secret


and Jardin Majorelle, both in Marrakech,dsc00100

in May, Gravetye Manor,IMG_2462

and Parham House and Gardens.


In June, The Old Rectory Gardens, open for the NGS on the Isle of Wight

In September, Hauser and Wirth in Somerset

and in October, a couple of gardens on the Cote d’Azur – Jardin Exotique d’Eze

and Ville Ephrussi de Rothschild.

On the learning front, I finished the second year of my Level 3 Certificate in Garden and Planting Design course at Capel Manor College.  I toyed with the idea of embarking on the RHS2 course but I was concerned it would all be a bit ‘schooly’ with little of the lovely gardening chat we had on the design course, so instead I took a six week photography evening class at the Bishopsgate Institute.  However, the learning highlight must have been my crafty visit to the reopened Garden Museum where I created my festive robin.image

So, another busy year chez Duver Diary – to be honest, sometimes rather too busy, and blogging has increasingly taken a back seat on occasions since I went back to working full time in February, but I still enjoy capturing and sharing photos both of my garden and others, and hope I can continue in 2018.

Thank you so much for supporting Duver Diary and sharing your likes and comments.  They are such delight when work – or the wider world – are getting me down!

Wishing you and yours a fabulous, flowery 2018.