Tag Archives: Nimbus

Duver sunshine

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I’ve blogged numerous times about the St Helens Duver – the National Trust owned area of heathland opposite where we live – but not recently.  (For a while I contributed regularly to a wildflower meme, and you can see the posts by selecting the ‘Wildflower Wednesday’ category).

Sunday’s sunshine, after Saturday’s grey, was such a treat I’m taking you on the usual circuit and sharing a few wild flowers along the way.

These hips are so fabulous I’d be tempted to pick a few, but they’re on a bramble clad bank between the path and the road and therefore completely inaccessible.  I’ll just have to admire from a distance. IMG_3686

Further down the path, looking right towards the Solent I just caught this yacht heading out,

whilst looking the other way, I spied a number of glowing Iris foetidissima seed heads.IMG_3691

At the bottom of the path, looking back across Bembridge Harbour, you can see over to Brading Haven yacht club.  There was plenty of activity there today, but rather them than me.

(I did actually sail a lot in my twenties, including racing back from Lisbon to Southampton, and from Aarhus in Denmark across the North Sea and round the top of Scotland to the Clyde.  These days I’d generally rather be on dry land, but seeing the jolly sails on such a beautiful day did start to make me wonder….)

The grassland above is one of the sites of the fantastic drifts of sea thrift Armeria maritima during May, which I’ve blogged about here.  There are still a few clinging on,IMG_3694

together with the odd chamomile – I think this is Chamaemelum nobile.IMG_3693

Rounding the corner and onto the beach I saw the dinghies has beaten me there!IMG_3707

And, while I’m diverging from the flowers, just thought I’d share a picture of Nimbus, in honour of his upcoming ninth birthday.  IMG_3708

And finally, also nothing to do with flowers, anyone else devastated by tonight’s Strictly outcome?

Sparkling Sunday

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Last week’s Wordless Wednesday reminded me how few Duver posts I’ve posted recently, so today’s beautiful sunshine prompted me to bring the camera on my morning walk.  The photo above is the view easterly across the Duver towards the mouth of Bembridge Harbour.

Lower down the hill you can see south across to Bembridge and the Holy Trinity church spire.img_1941

Looking south westerly you can see the Yarborough Monument on Culver Down.img_1943

This is a similar shot to Wednesday’s, you can see the church spire againimg_1944

and turning right you can see the far western side of Bembridge Harbour.img_1946

This is a view looking south towards Bembridge and specifically the boatsheds of Bembridge Sailing Club.  This is an amazing sandy spit which in summer is covered in Evening Primroses.img_1953

Rounding the corner and looking out easterly to the Solent you can see St Helen’s Fort, one of the four Solent forts.  This one was built between 1867 and 1880.

Amazingly, at very low tides you can walk out to it. img_1957

Looking back south you can see Bembridge Lifeboat Station. img_1963

And just for those who’ve never met him, this is Nimbus, the one who ensures there’s always a walk.  And to be honest, it’s nearly always on the Duver.img_1952

Not very horticultural but very Duver!  I hope you all enjoyed a sparkling Sunday.

End of month view – November 2014

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Unsurprisingly the garden is looking rather sad in places.  The drive bed, above, is looking better than most, with an ongoing second flush from Rosa Snow Goose, as well as some new planting below.  The strap like leaves are from Sisyrinchium striatum, which I’ve moved from the swing beds where they were taking over.  It was an early ‘In a vase on Monday‘ post which alerted me to how well the rose and Sisyrinchiums go together and so now they’ve been moved to live together, rather than just appearing fleetingly in a vase.

The downside of digging all the Sisyrinchiums out of the swing beds, is that they are now looking very bare.  And that’s not the only reason; I also dug up the large Euphorbia wulfenii Characias from each bed, as neither was looking well, and I pulled out the ‘only-two-apples’ apple tree which was starting to shade the right hand bed and looked rather incongruous amongst the perennials.  On a positive note, all the space has allowed me better access to plant my bulbs, so hopefully things will start bouncing back soon (quickly crosses fingers…)

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The grass bed hasn’t yet had any autumnal clearing, and whilst the Stipa teniussima at the back are looking rather tired, the Nasturtiums at the front are in very rude health. Consequently I’ve left them alone for the time being, but sadly, the last few flowers on the nasturtiums are rather buried by the generous foliage.

Some of you may remember that I want to clear some, if not all, of the fox and cubs from this bed as they don’t really flower for long enough to justify their position, but that work is also yet to be done – and I think I need to get rid of all that nasturtium foliage so that I can even see the fox and cubs.IMG_5488

I’ve also done some clearing in the small veg patch, which is now back to just the raspberries, the diving lady (who has new bulbs planted in her pool) and Nimbus.

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I’ve also cleared the exhausted Cosmos Purity from the troughs, but have left the stocks at the back.  They are getting rather leggy now but I just love their scent and forgot to plant any new ones this summer, so I’ll have to hope they survive the winter and reflower.

As well as clearing, I’ve planted some more Alliums (Purple Sensation) in this bed as their numbers seemed to have dwindled this year, so I gave them a top up.  They should follow on from the two Narcissii, Minnow and Segovia.IMG_5474

The raised beds I used for cutting for the first time this year still need clearing, but there are a few Antirrhinums clinging on, as well as one sentinel Zinnia.

I think I judge these beds a success.  Of course I would have had bigger plants and consequently more blooms if I’d planted in the ground, but I just didn’t have the space, and this is a relatively out of the way position so it didn’t matter that the whole effect wasn’t very cohesive.  I’ll definitely use the space again, but will need to replace the compost for next year.IMG_5491

Meanwhile the shady bed continues to look good in its monochrome way.  IMG_5492

Aside from the beds, I’ve also been planting up lots of pots with bulbs.  The one below is one of a pair which sit outside the greenhouse.  I’ve lain strips of rose prunings across the top to discourage marauders, and they seem to have worked so far.

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In the greenhouse I have Iris reticulata ‘Gordon’ bulbs just starting to show their green shootsIMG_5495

and the cuttings taken last month are also putting on some new growth.  Certainly not 100% success, but definitely lots of new babies to tend. IMG_5496

And lastly, a couple of sights more applicable to much earlier in the year – still a few blooms on my Plumbagos, IMG_5498

and yes! more Tomatoes Sungold ripening.  The question is, where am I going to put all my tender plants if the greenhouse still has tomatoes in it?IMG_5497

With many thanks to Helen at The Patient Gardener for hosting the end of month meme. Please visit her website to see how other bloggers’ gardens look at this time of year.

 

Classy Cliveden

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Friday saw us at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire on our way to a weekend away.  The current house was built in 1851, the third on the site set high above the River Thames at Taplow.

According to Wiki “The site has been home to an earl, three countesses, two dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor.  As home of Nancy Astor, the house was the meeting place of the Cliveden set of the 1920s and 1930s — a group of political intellectuals. Later, during the 1960s, it became the setting for key events of the notorious Profumo Affair. During the 1970s, it was occupied by Stanford University of California, which used it as an overseas campus.”

The house is now owned by the National Trust but it is leased as a five star hotel and so, unlike many NT properties, not open to the public.

I’ve been to Cliveden before, but not for years, and never with a dog, so our priority this time was a long walk in some of the 375 acres which extend down to the Thames.

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Having exhausted Nimbus (some hope) we settled him in the car in the shade and went for a quick canter through the garden areas not accessible to dogs.

Firstly the border to the left of the forecourt lawn.  This was a lovely planting of hot colours – no red, but dark browny purples offset with plenty of orange and yellow.  IMG_4806

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Moving round to the front of the house the view is of the immaculately kept parterre.  This isn’t my kind of garden, but it does look stunning on such a fabulous scale like this.IMG_4818

Close up, I don’t really like the ‘park planting’ but it does make an impressive statement. However I do love the ‘forgotten’ rake.  I’m glad I’m not the only one!IMG_4828

Round behind the house is a newly restored rose garden.  I found this rather disappointing, not that the roses weren’t in wonderful condition, they were, but the whole design of the planting seemed rather arbitrary.  IMG_4829

I’ve since read that the Jellicoe design is supposed to mirror the rising and setting of the sun. According to head gardener Andrew Mudge ‘The colour should sweep across the garden from the soft yellows of the early morning sun in the eastern beds to the bright oranges of the midday heat before finishing on the western side of the garden with the deep reds of the sunset.‘  I suppose it does make more sense now I’ve read that, but it didn’t really work for me in practice.

I did, however, fall in love with two fabulous roses – Rosa FellowshipIMG_4831

and Rosa Lady Emma Hamilton.  Just gorgeous. IMG_4833

To finish, a quick peak at the Long Garden.  Again not exactly my thing (and I was a little disappointed there was no planting in the beds), but some wonderful topiary to admire.IMG_4836

Return to the Duver, Wildflower Wednesday – late July 2014

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As we’ll be away over the end of the month, this is a quick post put together just before our departure.  

The island has been so dry recently that the Duver is really parched in areas, and yet certain plants are still performing spectacularly.  The chamomile in the foreground is, I think, more floriferous than I’ve ever seen it.  Is it the dry it likes or is this a delayed appreciation of the very wet spring?

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Another plant doing well I haven’t noticed before is deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna – extremely toxic and yet used to make the drug Atropine.

IMG_3829Whilst some plants are still coming into flower, plants previously featured are turning to seed – tree lupin (Lupinus Arboreus),IMG_3825Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)IMG_3826

and wild carrot (Daucus carota)IMG_3807

Meanwhile the grasses are still stunning,IMG_3831and full of wildlife, some small,IMG_3816IMG_3821and some really quite big!IMG_3820

With many thanks to Gail, who hosts Wildflower Wednesday from Clay and Limestone in Tennessee.

In a vase on Monday – Original pickings

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Today’s vase is all about things I’ve never picked before.

Firstly the Sisyrinchium striatum which is taking over the Swing Beds.  It occurred to me that both the creamy yellow colour and the gentle arching of the stems could work quite well in a vase.

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Secondly the Rose, which I think is Snow Goose.   I now have two separate plantings following an ordering mix up I mentioned on Saturday and so plenty available.  I like the fact that the buds are a darker yellow matching the centre of the Sisyrinchium, whilst the more open flowers are paler, matching the Sisyrinchium’s petals.  Although I might have picked a couple of short stems of this, I’ve never realised how long the stems are and so haven’t ever used it in a tall arrangement.

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I thought about leaving it just as a creamy concoction, but in the end decided to add in the Nepeta Six Hills Giant as a contrast.

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I decided to photograph it in the kitchen, and for the shot below couldn’t resist adding Nimbus (well strictly he added himself), to the creamy mix!

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With thanks again to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this Monday vase meme.

Plentiful, pretty and pink

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If you don’t like Armeria maritima (Sea Thrift, Sea Pink) then look away now, as this post has little else.

I’ve tried hard to capture the thrifts down on the Duver, but it’s difficult with my camera skills to do an adequate job of conveying the scale and beauty of hundreds of square metres of shimmering, bobbing pink heads.

They’ve been coming out over the last week or so, and these photos were taken over a number of different days, but still don’t do them justice.

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Just pausing from the photos for a moment, Wikipedia alerts me to the fact that the British threepence coin, issued between 1937 and 1952, had a design of thrift on the reverse.  Can’t say I was around then, but I love the Art Deco look.

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And, as part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose sea thrift as the “county flower” of the Isles of Scilly.  Now I have a very fond spot for the Scillies as it’s one of the OH’s favourite places and also where we spent our honeymoon, so that’s a lovely link I wasn’t aware of.

Enough chat, back to the photos

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Just pleachy!

2014 02 014 Before we get on to the ‘pleachy’ aspect of this post I just had to share this picture of a gorgeous hellebore (as well as my gorgeous thumb).  Of course hellebores are shy and retiring and like to keep their faces downcast and demure which, when they’re as lovely as this one, is just so frustrating (hence the thumb).  And yet, in the same way that I really don’t like the idea of pink delphiniums, I think perhaps a ‘look you in the eye’ hellebore would lose some of its magic.  Surely at this time of year we’re resigned to having to work at finding things worth looking at in the garden – even if it does mean getting down on our hands and knees in the bog that used to be the lawn.

So, back to the title.  Today was rather unusual as, in addition to plants, it also involved two men and a digger – not my usual gardening style.  The day was spent outside in the bluster (but luckily not the rain) planting trees in a neighbour’s garden.  The idea was to plant a row of hornbeams to pleach into a screen.  Of course there are some wonderful ready pleached trees, but these will cost you at least £500 each.  Instead we were dealing with some trees which cost £30, but clearly there would be more effort involved.

Firstly we had to decide on the approach for the structure to both train and support them.  We wanted something sufficiently sturdy, but not so obtrusive it detracted from the trees, we wanted something which could be removed once the trees are established, so no concrete, and we didn’t want to use wire as I’d read it can cut into the branches you’re trying to train.

I think it’s fair to say there were some robust ‘discussions’ going on over the weekend as to the best approach.  And nothing had been decided by the time I had to drop my son at a paintballing event on Sunday.  Now this may seem irrelevant, but in a serendipitous way, it turned out to provide the solution, as there, at the paintballing site, were some lovely hazel rods for sale.  I picked up three bundles for £5, perfect.

So, together with the posts, the rods and the bamboo, we had our kit:

Whilst Nimbus and I were working on the structure to train the trees against, A and Andy the digger man were busy banging in the posts:

Having erected the posts, next we planted the trees.  We decided it would be easier to plant them without any other structure in place and then, once the trees were in place we would attach the bamboo and hazel frames to the posts and then train the trees onto the frames.  We used the digger to dig a long trench and then positioned the trees and backfilled with some sandier, lighter soil.  We didn’t add manure to the planting area as I’d heard that if you make the immediate planting area too rich the tree doesn’t bother to push its  roots out to the surrounding soil.  We gave them all a good soak, despite the forecast rain, and tomorrow we’ll top dress the whole trench with manure.

So, below you can see the trees in position.  Since then we’ve also put one frame in place and tomorrow we should finish the job.  I’ve already started pruning away the branches growing either in the ‘wrong’ direction, or below the level we want the screen to start, and tomorrow will start to train the remaining branches onto the four bamboo ‘layers’.

It’s not exactly instant but I’m excited to see the finished effect tomorrow – and even more excited to see the hornbeams greening up in the spring.

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